Romans 6:15-16 — What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
In verse 15, Paul asks the same question as in verse 1, but now he asks based on what he has just written in verses 2-14.
If we feel sin can be committed without risk because of grace, we turn grace into lasciviousness.
yield (present) — as in verse 13, to put a thing at the disposal of another
obey — should be obedience, not a verb. The first usage of obedience is an effect, not personified. The second usage is personified as the alternative master. Any decision to sin or aquiesence to sin makes sin our master. Matthew 6:24 — No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
death (here) = not eternal death but death of the Christian's experience.
- Romans 8:6 — For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
- Galatians 6:8 — For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
We should observe the two lines of truth which run throughout the chapter with regard to the believer's deliverance from sin:
- 6:7 — … he that is dead is freed from sin.
- 6:18 — Being then made free from sin …
- 6:22 — being made free from sin …
- 6:14 — For sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law but under grace.
- 6:17 — But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered to you.
- 6:20 — … ye were the servants of sin …
From these passages it is evident that in God's sight, positionally, the believer has been delivered from the bondage of sin.
However, this same chapter also establishes the fact that experientially the believer may submit himself to the slavery of sin:
- 6:12 — Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body …
- 6:13 — Neither yield ye your members … unto sin …
- 6:16 — … to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey …
- 6:19 — I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh …
To the "carnal" Corinthian believers Paul listed "fornicators … adulterers … thieves … drunkards" and the like, as thouse who would be shut out from "the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), and he could have said, "and such are some of you," for some of these failing Christians had indulged in the grossest immorality. But he did not say this. He said rather, And such were some of you, and added: … but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.
Thus the Scriptures, and especially the Pauline epistles, make a sharp distinction between the believer's standing and his state, between his position and his condition. — C.R. Stam, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, pg. 151-152
Righteousness = here not used for justification but right conduct.
In this section of the epistle to the Romans, three verbs center in the will and choice of the believer, they are the plan of battle drawn up by the Lord for our Christian living. We are to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God (6:11), to forbid the reign of sin in our mortal bodies (6:12), to yield in obedience to righteousness (6:16). Each action involves acceptance by faith of a divine principle: we believe that we are united to Christ; we act by faith on the work that was done; we yield in obedience to righteousness. Donald Grey Barnhouse, God's Freedom, pg. 151.
Paul has shown how horrible is the idea of continuing in sin in order to bring forth abounding grace. Now Paul evinces the same horror at the idea of sinning because grace does about. The difference is that of position and conduct. Shall we continue in sin? (6:1); shall we continue to sin? (6:15). He is leading us to practical holiness under grace. ibid, pg. 153