Slaves for life

You are a slave; you were born one and you will die one. What’s more, God is delighted about it – you were designed to be one. You will always be a slave to your nature. The question is which nature will you let master you?

In my last blog entry, “Why do I sin“, I explained that the important part in defeating the sinful nature was to just sit back and believe that it was already defeated on the cross and is no longer a part of who we are.

Digging into Romans 6

I want to build on this train of thought out of Romans 6. Did you know that you were born a slave? I talked about this a little in a prior post, “What is righteousness“, when I explained that you have never been a sinner because of your actions, but rather because of your nature. Just as you were a sinner because of Adam, you are now righteous because of Jesus.

In Romans 6:2 Paul explains that we cannot sin anymore because we are dead and emphasises this from verse 3 through to 14. He utterly convinces the reader of their death with Christ. Not only that, he says that a new life has been raised with Christ and that a dead man can no longer sin. However, the passage I want to look at today is Romans 6:15-23. Paul states for a second time that we do not have a license to sin under grace, and this time gives a different explanation.

He argues in v16 that your fruit shows you whose slave you are; you are either a slave to sin, evidenced by sin, or a slave to righteousness, evidenced by obedience. It’s simple. James 2:18 makes the case for how there is no faith without deeds because your deeds show what your faith is in. Paul, in v16, here is pointing out that everyone is a slave to something and their lifestyle will show it. He states, in v18, that the believer has been set free from sin and has now become a slave to righteousness. This is an interesting phrase. How can we who have been set free be truly free if we are slaves?

Read v19 in The Mirror translation:

“I want to say it as plainly as possible, so that the most simple-minded amongst us can understand the parallel: you willingly offered your faculties to obey sin, you stained your body with unclean acts and allowed lawlessness to gain supremacy in all of your conduct; in exactly the same way, I now encourage you to present your faculties and person to the supremacy of righteousness to find unrestricted expression in your lifestyle. Sin had the full use of your body then; now righteousness does.”

A conduit for righteousness

Isn’t that powerful? Paul is saying that we were mastered by sin in our lives while we were sinners and now we should allow righteousness to have the full use of our bodies. Note that he’s not saying, try to act righteous or do good works rather he is saying that you should offer your body as a conduit for righteousness. This is what it means to be a slave to righteousness. This is what Paul was referring to, when in v13 he tells you to “present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” Your hands and feet are not things you use to do good! They are something that Christ uses to do good through you!

Paul continues to say, in v20, that while you were a slave to sin you were free in regard to righteousness. What does he mean by that? He means you that you cannot be a slave to both, that it is either one or the other. He hammers this home when he asks, in v21, how much great stuff did you do while you were “free” from righteousness? The answer is clear – in fact he points out that the fruit of such a lifestyle was the very thing the believers were ashamed of when looking back into their prior lives. In v22, he points out that the fact we are now free from sin and a slave to righteousness is a beautiful and powerful thing! Its result is “fruit to holiness, and at the end, everlasting life.”

Freedom

As a final note I want to make it clear, I am not saying that you are not a friend or son/daughter of God. I’m not saying that you are not free to do as you will, I’m not saying that God has enslaved you with no choice or free will. I am saying that you will always be enslaved to a nature, but God has freed you to make the choice over what nature you want to serve.

It is exceedingly good news my friend that you are a slave. But that is providing in one thing, you make the decision to be a slave to your righteous nature and not to your old, dead nature. Leave your old, dead nature where it belongs… at the cross, and enjoy your life fully, free from your sinful nature, relishing in the bliss that is being mastered by your righteous nature. Watch what happens when you allow your righteous nature to flow through you as an instrument of righteousness, and you start to see a radical increase of holiness produced in your life.

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