These small group studies of Romans contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Romans 6:15-23 Inductive Bible Study


15. So what should we do? Should we sin because we are under grace instead of the law? Of course not!

16. Do you know that if you give your life to someone as a slave then you are a slave to the one you obey? You can be a slave of sin, leading to death. Or you can be a slave of obedience, leading to righteousness. Proverbs 1:16-19, John 3:19, Philippians 3:7-9

17. But we greatly thank God that even though you were previously slaves of sin, now you obey the teaching you have been given with a whole heart. Colossians 3:23-24, Ephesians 6:6-8, Exodus 35:4-6, 20-22, 36:4-6 (contrast with the story of Jonah and Dathan)

18. You have been set free from the power of sin and become slaves for good deeds.

19. I am speaking in human terms because naturally you are weak. In the same way that you used to give the parts of your body in slavery to wicked sins that continued to increase, so now give the parts of your body as slaves to righteousness that will lead to holiness. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, (armor of God, Eph 6), (commitment, faithful in little, faithful in much), Genesis 39:7-12 (Joseph fled)

20. When you were slaves to sin, righteousness had no meaning to you.

21. What good did all of those wicked deeds, that you are now ashamed to do, do for you? The result of those things is death! (example from emptiness of world)

22. But now you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God. The great benefit of this is that this will lead to holiness and result in eternal life. (living water)

23. For the fair result of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


    1. A New Heart (15-23)
      1. The Question Reiterated (150
      2. There is No Middle (16)
      3. One-hundred-eighty degree turn (17-20)
      4. Contrasting results of each lifestyle (21-23)

Key Words

Slaves (to righteousness, to obedience, to sin)- This refers to what is our master. We can only serve one side. We can only serve God or Satan. It is impossible to serve both or to please both. The two sides are exactly opposite. If we are slaves of sin the desire of our heart is to do evil. In fact we love the evil. We cannot rest or live without it. We are completely under its sway, completely under its power. But when we trust in Christ He sets us free. He does it by His power. We don’t set ourselves free. Our heart has a complete reversal of direction. No longer do we desire and covet sin. Instead we despise sin. If we make a mistake and do sin we hate it, feel miserable and desire to repent. Our heart wants to serve God in all things. He is our Lord, our master. That means we should submit our life to Him in all areas. We have a new role, a new responsibility. Our life is not our own.

Benefit- This word is referring to the results of the two paths. Either way we choose will have a definite result. On the one side is emptiness, despair, depression, loneliness, and death. On the other side is the peace, love, joy, and contentment in Christ combined with eternal life!

Discussion Questions

What is the main point of this passage?

What does it mean to be a slave? What does it mean to be a slave of sin? What about a slave of righteousness?

Can there be a neutral?

What does it mean present yourselves to “someone”? Who would an unbeliever be presenting themselves to? How about a believer?

Are we slaves of God? Isn’t it very bad to be a slave?

What is the significance of the phrase “obedient from the heart”? Aren’t our actions the most important? Why would someone be obedient if it isn’t from the heart?

Explain the phrase “to that form of teaching to which you were committed”? What form of teaching? Are you committed to obeying from your heart biblical teaching?

What “human term” is Paul referring to?

Can someone be saved if they aren’t willing to make Christ the Lord and master of their lives?

Does the slave pick and choose what he wants to obey? How about when he wants to obey? (It’s all or nothing).

What are the results of these two ways of life?

What should we do when we face temptation according to the Bible?

What benefit do we get from sin? What benefit do we get from righteousness?

Verse by Verse Commentary:

1. The question reiterated.

2. We can be either slaves of sin or slaves of righteousness. It means we can have only one Master, either Christ or Satan/self. If we have Christ as our Master we will do righteous deeds, but if we have Satan/self as our master our lives will be governed by sin.

3. Being a slave of God is good. Normally when we think of being a slave, we will have a very negative opinion of it. Anybody here want to be a slave? Why don’t we want to be slave? Normally because slaves’ conditions are very bad. Their masters are generally greedy and wicked. They are mistreated. They have no freedom. They are owned by others. They aren’t allowed to make decisions or plans for themselves. What is our position like as slaves of God? First of all, He is a perfect Master. He cares for His slaves and loves them, and even treats them as children. Besides this, He lavishes His slaves with every imaginable blessing, and appoints them as heirs of His kingdom. While He does lay down principles for us to follow, these are for our protection and our good. By following them we will have more joy. Finally, He gives also gives us a certain amount of Christian freedom as long as we live within the principles He lays down for us. How can we explain that the Bible calls us friends and children of God, yet also calls us slaves?  Because the relationship we have with God is rather complex and multi-faceted, the Bible uses several ways to describe it, including friend, children, and slave. Each one describes a different aspect of our relationship with God.

4. Obedient from the heart. While earthly slaves need to obey, they don’t need to obey from the heart. Their masters are satisfied if they do their work. They don’t care so much about their motivation or their attitudes. But God holds us to an even higher standard. He looks at our heart, our motivations, our attitudes, not only our actions. God told Samuel that man looks at the outside, but God looks at the heart. Why is it so important that we obey from our hearts? We are to worship God not only in truth, but also in Spirit. Doing the right things for the wrong reasons is also sin. Why? What reasons might people have for obeying God besides the right ones? Because our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked. While we might go to church, or give money to God, we might do so to earn recognition or respect rather than because of a personal relationship with God. In this case, our actions are selfish, not pure and spiritual.

5. Committed to that form of teaching. That form of teaching must refer to correct biblical instruction from God’s Word. Notice we aren’t committed to a particular church, or a particular mega-preacher, or home-church leader. We are to be committed to God’s Word, God’s message wherever we can find it and through whoever we hear it from. 1 Peter 2:2.

6. Speaking in human terms. This whole Master/slave thing is an allegory, a parable. It is a human way to describe one aspect of our relationship to God and our responsibilities towards Him. As a human term, it doesn’t completely describe and their are perhaps holes (this is not to go against the inspiration of Scripture, but rather reinforces that Scripture is inspired, but yet needs to be interpreted how the original authors intended. If you break down Jesus’ parables you can also read things into them He didn’t intend if you want to.) that could be found in it. Yet for the sake to let the Romans, and us, understand this principle of obedience Paul uses this term. It is much like me or any teacher using an example. These examples are not perfect, but are intended to convey normally one aspect of what we are trying to teach.

7. The result of the two courses. 1. More lawlessness and then death. 2. Sanctification and eternal life. Is it possible for believers to be saved, but never end up being sanctified?

We normally look at verse 23 in a vacuum as we share the gospel. Can you gain any new insights into this verse now that it is in the context of man entire passage? We really do have two courses of life we can choose from, two possible masters. One results in death, the other in eternal life. Also, this eternal life is not in a vacuum. Although it is a free gift, we still need to make Christ the Lord, to be slaves of righteous, and to change the way we live.