Instruments of Righteousness from Servants of Grace
Romans 6:12-13, “12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”
“You have been set free from sin and made holy; now live like it” provides a helpful summary of what sanctification means in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God did not leave us to ourselves to create a legal status of righteousness before Him, and He does not call us to effectually make ourselves holy. At the same time that He constituted a positional righteousness for us in Christ alone that saves us from His wrath to come, He also set us apart from the world as His holy people (Rom. 3:21–6:11). Although we cooperate with the Lord in our sanctification—our growth in holiness—but do not cooperate with Him in our justification, it is nonetheless true that His work undergirds and guarantees our becoming practically holy in our experience. We “work out [our] own salvation in fear and trembling,” but “it is God who works in [us] to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12–13).
In our sanctification, God sets us apart as holy, then He commands us to be holy and grants us the power and inclination to strive for holiness. Today’s passage includes a general command that is to guide our sanctification. Sin’s power has been broken, and its final destruction is assured, but sin does not give up its hold on us easily. Until our glorification, sin will ever attempt to reestablish its rule over us and make us obey its passions once more (Rom. 6:12). Of course, given the perfection of the work of Christ, it is impossible that sin will ever fully and finally succeed. But if we are not wary, sin can regain temporarily a good measure of its hold over us. Thus, we must do all that we can not to let it recapture its reign and make us obey its passions.