Instruments of Righteousness- Romans 6:13

In Romans 6:13, Paul gives believers the command to: “not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness”. Paul tells us here that each one of us is an “instrument”, and we can be instruments of either righteousness or wickedness. Now an instrument can really do nothing in and of itself, someone must “use” it for it to do anything. Take a guitar as an example, it just sits on its stand and does nothing until it is given to someone to play, and what is produced by the guitar is entirely dependent upon whom it is given to. Paul here says exactly the same thing about each of us. What we produce is entirely dependent upon whom we are given to, what we produce is dependent upon whose hands we place ourselves in. The same guitar which produces beautiful music when presented to BB King will produce only racket and noise when presented to a gorilla. What we produce depends on who we present ourselves to, and here Paul gives us only two options: sin or God. If we present ourselves to sin, we will produce the fruit of wickedness, if we present ourselves to God, we will produce the fruit of righteousness. So what does Paul mean by “present (offer) yourself”? The word present here is paristemi, and it means “to place at someone’s disposal”. We will look at a biblical example of this to see just what it looks like, then (in our next post) will look at a biblical explanation of it and how we can learn to offer ourselves to the right one. In Acts 4, we find the story of Peter and John shortly after Pentecost. They were in the temple and “teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 4:2). They are seized by the authorities and put in jail. They next day they appear before the leaders of Israel for questioning. Peter then stands before them and boldly proclaims that “it is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth that this man stands before you healed” (verse 10). He then proceeds to quote the Old Testament (to a room full of Old Testament scholars) and explain to them how it applies to Jesus. They then have Peter and John removed and later brought back in, and Peter is commanded “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus”, to which Peter responds by saying “we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard”, because they must obey God and not men. Peter here is faced with the choice of who he will “offer himself” to, and he chooses to offer himself to God, and this produces the fruit of righteousness, for Peter continues to proclaim what he saw and heard, and many are brought to Jesus because of it. We now fast forward to another incident in Peter’s life, found in Galatians 2:11-16. Paul here is writing to the Galatians and reminding them of something which had previously happened among them. Peter had spent time there and freely ate with the Gentiles there in the church, but when “certain men from James” (legalistic Jewish Christians from Jerusalem) arrived “he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group”. Here we have the same Peter who was so bold before the leaders of Israel (who had power to jail, flog or stone him), now afraid before some other Jews who weren’t even leaders and had no real power over him. What is the difference here? Who he presented himself to, and he presented himself by the choices he made. In Acts Peter chose to present himself to God, and the result was the fruit of righteousness. In Galatians Peter makes a rather different choice and gets rather different results. Pay particular attention to the language Paul uses in Galatians 2:12, that Peter began to “separate himself”. Peter made the conscious choice to “offer himself to sin as an instrument of wickedness”, to go against what he knew to be right, to obey man rather than God, and his choice led to the fruit of wickedness, to separation and division within the church. This choice also led Peter, who in Acts boldly stood up for what he knew to be true, to timidly back away from what he knew to be true to appease men. Like Peter, we “offer ourselves” through the choices we make, and those choices determine the fruit we will produce. Our next post will look at Peter’s own viewpoint on all of this and at his advice to us on how not to fall into the trap into which he fell.

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