Whose slave are you?

Everyone is a slave to something. In some cases, the enslavement is more obvious than others. We see people with addictions (another word for enslavement) to drugs, alcohol, and eating-disorders but all around us people are enslaved to all kinds of things including money, status, and various pleasures.

In Romans 6:15-23 the Apostle Paul tells us that all of these can be boiled down to an enslavement to sin. In the first part of this chapter, Paul explained that we should no longer go on sinning habitually (literally, letting sin be at home in us), because we are dead to sin and alive to God. We are no longer under law but under grace. In the second part of this chapter, however, he anticipates another hypothetical question to his answer which is this: Since we are not under law but under grace, is it okay if I allow myself to participate in planned, occasional sin, single acts of sin versus habitual sin?

Paul’s answer to this is a resounding “No!” His reason for this is that we become the slave of that to which we offer ourselves, whether it is to sin which leads to death or obedience which leads to righteousness. Verse 17 gives us some insight to help us be a slave to obedience. First he says, we need to be “obedient from the heart” (ESV). There needs to be a point of surrender in our lives when we acknowledge our sin and need of cleansing and our own inadequacy to do this. We need to agree with God about our condition and surrender to Him and the cleansing work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Secondly, that obedience is also to “the standard of teaching to which we were committed” or handed over to by God. It isn’t enough to have a feel good experience, although that is nice, but we need to grow in our understanding of who God is. Some would call this discipleship, but in Romans 12:1-2 Paul refers to our surrender (obedience) and the transformation that takes place in our lives by the renewing of our minds. This is accomplished by allowing the Spirit of God to take the written Word of God and make it the Living Word of God in our lives.

Finally, when we have surrendered and our minds are being renewed, that will lead to a fruitful, holy life. The fruit obtained by being a slave of sin is death and shame (6:21, 23). Verse 22 captures our condition, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

So let me ask the question again, “Whose slave are you?”

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