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Sermon #3106

The Infirmity of the Flesh

A Sermon on Romans 6:19


Romans 6:19 ESV KJV
I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. (ESV)

Sermon Description

Just as children grow up to become adults, so too new believers will grow up in Christ. As Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes in the sermon from Romans 6:19 titled “The Infirmity of the Flesh,” Paul uses an illustration. It is rare for Paul to tell a story or use an analogy, but he chose to do so by relating that Christians are now slaves to righteousness instead of slaves to sin. In Romans 6:19, he clarifies by saying, “I speak after the manner of men.” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out that this specific verse is Paul explaining why he uses an illustration to make his subject matter simple and clear. Dr. Lloyd-Jones remarks that this should be the only use of illustrations for any teacher or preacher of the Bible. Paul also notes that he only used the illustration so that others would not misunderstand what he was saying. He wants to emphasize that righteousness combines both slavery and freedom: slavery to righteousness but a freedom from the reign of sin. Paul chose to use an illustration because some of his listeners are still children in a sense of Christianity. Dr. Lloyd-Jones goes on to warn that believers should never stay children of the word of God only drinking milk, but instead should constantly be growing and maturing to take in the meat of the gospel.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The apostle Paul is explaining why he used the illustration of slavery to explain the Christian life. He wants to make his teaching clear and avoid misunderstanding.

  2. Illustrations should only be used to clarify meaning, not just to tell stories or entertain. Preachers must avoid being childish or overly academic.

  3. Paul used the slavery illustration to show that Christians are not free from righteousness and holiness, even though they are free from the law. They are slaves to righteousness.

  4. The slavery illustration is limited. The Christian's slavery to righteousness is a willing slavery of love, not like slavery to sin. The love of Christ constrains us.

  5. Paul speaks in human terms because of the weakness of human nature corrupted by sin, not because of weak intellect. Spiritual truths can only be understood through the Holy Spirit.

  6. The fall robbed humanity of spiritual understanding, not just intellect. Natural minds see the gospel as foolishness. Spiritual truths are spiritually discerned.

  7. Becoming a Christian is about spiritual understanding, not intellect. Simple and intellectual people alike need the Holy Spirit. No one has an advantage.

  8. Though Christians have spiritual understanding through the Spirit, they are still imperfect and need to grow in understanding. Understanding can develop through effort.

  9. Christians should not remain as babies but should grow into deeper knowledge of doctrine. Shallow, simplistic teaching will not satisfy a mature Christian.

  10. To those who have spiritual understanding, more will be given. Christians should progress from milk to meat.

  11. Dr. Lloyd-Jones is depressed when Christians seem content with simplistic teaching. All Christians should grapple with deep truths, though they are hard to understand. The Spirit will help.

The Book of Romans

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.