There is a great lie that we, the independent people of the West, depend upon. It shapes the way we think and behave. It informs our government. It motivates our behavior. And, in the end, the Bible declares it to be false. It is a lie.
What is this lie that I speak of? It's this: "We have the freedom to make our own destiny." We don't. The truth is we are slaves--slaves of our sin or slaves of righteousness.
We cringe at this idea. Slavery is repugnant. A slave is one who has absolutely no authority over him or herself. Romans 6:15-23 gets at this point as Paul uses the slave as an illustration of our standing with God. According to this text, we are either slaves to our sin or slaves to righteousness. Those are the only two options. On this idea, Everett Harrison says, "There is no middle ground, no place in Christian experience where one is free to set his own standards and go his own way" (EBC, 1990).
Upon hearing that we are slaves either way, one might question Christianity. "Are you not just exchanging one slave master for another?" In a way, this is true, but the exchange is magnificent. The stark contrast between the two masters so vast that when we see it for what it is we can only worship the Lord.
Romans 6:16 says that slavery to our sin leads to death. Romans 6:21 points out that we did things of which we are now ashamed. If you are a Christian looking back on your sinful life, do you feel the same of it? Why does the thing you wanted most when you were a slave to sin now feel so shameful? Likely, it's because you now see that the thing you desired before was sin and that sin would have led you to death. But Romans 6:16 also says that if you are instead a slave to obedience, you will find righteousness. But who or what are we to obey? We find the answer in Romans 6:22, which says you are now a slave of God. It reads, "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit of you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life."
As you look at this text in your House Fellowship this week, I'd like to invite you to ask the question: "To what or whom am I a slave?"
What things did you find yourself in bondage to before you were a Christian? Do you still find yourself bound by the slavery of your sin from time to time? Why?
Do you find freedom as a slave to Jesus? Does this statement sound good, or does this statement trouble you in some way? Why? Another English word that might fit here is bondservant. Are you more comfortable with this word? Why, or why not?
Some people might think it's unfair that God would call us his slaves (or bondservants). You were bought by the blood of Jesus. He could have left you for dead; so what's not fair? Fair, I suppose, would have been to leave you exactly where you were in your filthy sin and let you die. Yet, God is not fair. Instead, he made a way to set you free from your slavery to sin. (If you are unfamiliar with this way, please don't hesitate to contact us. We'd love to tell you more about it.)
I look forward to examining Romans 6:15-23 with you on January 25th. I hope you'll join us!
May God bless you,
*Photo comes from Pixabay.com and is used with permission.