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Sermon #2442[i] — Miscellaneous Sermons


Title:                           God be thanked!


Text:                Romans 6:17

Subject:         Gratitude for Grace



I am confident that the Lord God has given me a message for you. Open your Bibles with me to Romans 6:17 and you will hear it.


(Romans 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 you.


Be sure you do not miss that little word, “but,” with which our text opens. It refers us back to what Paul has just told us about all we have experienced in God’s saving grace: all that we confess in believer’s baptism, all that Christ accomplished for us in redemption, all that God the Holy Ghost has wrought in us by his grace in regeneration, and the blessed assurance God has given to every sinner who trusts his dear Son that sin shall never have dominion over us.

Š      We’re redeemed!

Š      We’ve been saved by the grace of God!

Š      We’re dead, indeed, unto sin!

Š      We are now alive unto God!

Š      Christ is our Life; and we live in him!


After assuring us of these things, the Apostle Paul, writing by Divine Inspiration, says to you and me…


(Romans 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 you.


Oh, what great reason saved sinners have to give thanks to God and live for his glory!


(Romans 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 you.


God be thanked! That’s my subject. — God be thanked!


(Romans 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 you.


Proposition: Every saved sinner has great reason to give thanks to God for his infinite wisdom and matchless grace in saving us precisely as he has from sin.


This is what Mr. Hawker said in commenting on this verse of Holy Scripture.


“For myself, if I know anything of my own heart, I hope that I can truly say, I hate sin, I would not willingly and wilfully commit a single sin for the world. Yea, I loathe myself in my own sight for sin, the sin of my poor fallen nature. And sin becomes more bitter to me, as Christ becomes more precious. But, with all this, I say, I would rather be a sinner saved, and saved in such a way as I am saved, by the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, than to have never known sin, neither known Christ as a Savior.”


Correct Translation


1st — I want you to be assured that our translation is correct. — The words of our text, as they stand in our translation, are precisely accurate. They are in exact agreement with the Greek text. Nothing can be added to or taken from this statement, without doing injury to it and changing its meaning altogether. Paul thanks God that we were once the servants of sin, but are now in obedience to Christ. He thanks God that we were one lost and are now saved, that we were once unregenerate and now are regenerated by the grace of God, that we were once dead in trespasses and in sins and are now alive in Christ Jesus.


Most read the passage this way: God be thanked that though you were the servants of sin. But that is not what the text says. The text reads…


(Romans 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 you.


You might ask, “Can it be imagined that the Apostle would thank God that we were once in the drudgery of Satan and doing his service?”


Paul’s answer is clear. If God’s glory is thereby more advanced, if sin is overruled by him to show forth his greater glory we must indeed and delightfully say, with him…


(Romans 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 you.


Just as poison is sometimes made a medicine for healing and sickness of body is made the means of health for our souls, the sin and fall of Adam and our sin and fall in him, laid the foundation for the revelation of Christ as a Savior and Redeemer. We could never have known our blessed Christ as our Savior and Redeemer, had not our shame in sin afforded an opportunity for the display of his glory in washing us from our sins in his blood!


Reason for Thanksgiving


2nd — The holy Lord God, by infinite wisdom and grace, has made our sin and misery the occasion of our greatest possible blessedness. — Oh, what a great reason this is for thanksgiving and praise to our God! — Let no one misunderstand my words. I offer no excuse for any man’s sin. And I certainly do not excuse my own. We do not attempt, by any means, to escape our own responsibility for sin or to charge God with sin. — “God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (James 1:13). But our great God is so infinitely wise and gracious that he turns our greatest misery into our greatest good and sovereignly overrules our sin to make it an occasion for our eternal blessedness (Romans 8:28).


Yes, to quote Jonathan Edwards


“Divine wisdom has found out a way whereby the sinner might not only escape being miserable, but that he should be happier than before he sinned; yea, than he would have been if he had never sinned.”


By the redemptive work of Christ the sins of God’s elect are turned into a means of accomplishing greater happiness, joy, and everlasting glory than we could ever have known if we had never sinned.“Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Our great God, in infinite wisdom, ordained our fall in our father Adam and overrules our abounding sin that his own elect might forever enjoy the superabundance of his matchless free grace in Christ.


Union with Christ


3rd — Sinful man is brought into a nearer union with God in the Person of Christ our Substitute than we could ever have enjoyed had we not known sin. Had we never sinned, Christ would not be our Surety and Substitute. But now…

Š      God has assumed our nature in the Person of his Son.

Š      We are members of his body (Ephesians 5:30).

Š      The Son of God died in our place (Galatians 3:13-14).

Š      Christ is our Brother and our Husband.

Š      He who is our Brother and our Husband is our Surety, the one responsible for us.

Š      And we are the Sons of God (1 John 3:1).


Our temporary separation from God by sin has been made the means of our eternal union with God in Christ by redemption (John 17:20-23).


(John 17:20-23) Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; (21) That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (22) And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: (23) I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.


Knowledge of God


4th — Saved sinners, by reason of their sin, have greater and fuller knowledge of God, his glory, his grace, his justice, his holiness, and his love than we could ever have possessed had we never sinned.

Š      We see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ our dying Substitute (2 Corinthians 4:6).

Š      And in his death we have the love of God commended to us (Romans 5:8).

This will be the theme of our heavenly praise for ever and ever (Revelation 1:5-6).


(Revelation 1:5-6) And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (6) And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.


Love for Christ


5th — Our redemption from sin and death by Christ causes us to have a love for God that we could not otherwise have. One day this love will be brought to perfection. But even now, the love of Christ that constrains us is something Adam in innocence and the angels in heaven could never know.

Š      Great forgiveness produces great love (Luke 7:47).

Š      Great forgiveness is the greatest possible motivation for love, adoration, devotion, and praise (1 Corinthians 1:26-31; 6:20).


(1 Corinthians 1:26-31) For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: (27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: (29) That no flesh should glory in his presence. (30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.


(1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.


(1 Corinthians 6:19-20) What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.


(2 Corinthians 5:14-15) For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: (15) And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.


(2 Corinthians 5:16-21) Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. (17) Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (18) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; (19) To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (20) Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. (21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.


Faith in God


6thFallen man saved by grace, has a greater, more sensible dependence upon God than he could otherwise have. And God is glorified by his creatures’ dependence upon him. Fallen man, saved by grace, knows by painful and abundant experience that he has no hope but the free grace of God in Christ, who is our all in all. Fallen, helpless man cries, “The Lord is my Portion, saith my soul, therefore will I hope in him.”


Did you ever notice (Genesis 2:17) that the forbidden tree was called “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?” God is the One who planted that tree in the midst of the garden. And he ordained that our father Adam eat the fruit of that forbidden tree, to taste the evil of sin, because he had wisely and graciously determined that his elect might know the great and glorious good of redemption and grace in Christ. — God the Holy Ghost tells us that this grace abounding to us in and through Christ Jesus is truly a great reason for thanksgiving and praise to our great God, who is the God of all grace (Romans 6:17-23).


(Romans 6:17-23) “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 you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”


“Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound!”


Trust Christ


7thFaith in Christ is the obedience Paul speaks of in this 17th verse. — Will you obey that form of doctrine set before you in the gospel, trusting Christ alone, and be saved; or will you go on trusting yourself, your good works, your own righteousness, and your will until you find yourself forever damned in hell?


(Luke 7:36-50) And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. (37) And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, (38) And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.


(39) Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. (40) And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.


(41) There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. (42) And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? (43) Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.


(44) And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. (45) Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. (46) My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. (47) Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. (48) And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. (49) And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? (50) And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.









Don Fortner








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[i]    Danville — Sunday Morning — September 20, 2015

     Grace Baptist Church — Dingess, WV — (Saturday AM — 09/19/15)

     Fairmont Grace Church — Sylacauga, AL — (Friday PM — 09/25/15)

     Todds Road Grace Church, Lexington, KY — (Wednesday — 09/19/18)


         Reading: Luke 7:36-50