From Slaves of Sin to Slaves of God
15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! 16 Do you not know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey - either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to, 18 and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. 19 I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from allegiance to righteousness. 21 And what fruit was produced then from the things you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now, since you have been liberated from sin and become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification-and the end is eternal life! 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Today's devotion is brought to us by Becca Brockman Becca is daughter to proud parents, Steve and Laura, and a Senior at Clemson University. Becca serves as Chaplain for Kappa Kappa Gamma, Leader of FCA Freshman Outreach, and VP of Clemson Tour Guides.
This passage emphasizes two juxtaposing ideas: sin and obedience, and how we are a slave to one or to the other. Looking back at what Paul has taught us already about these ideas, we remember that sin isn’t just something we do, it’s who we are apart from God. And while righteousness leads to obedience, it isn’t obtained through obedience, but rather through grace by faith. (3:22-23, 5:1-2)
So, with these ideas in mind, I have two questions:
(1) If we are made righteous through our faith in Jesus, and not our own works, then why be a slave to obedience (v16)? Why not just take advantage of the grace we’ve been given (v15)?
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I know I’m going to heaven because I’m saved, it doesn’t matter if I ______”, you aren’t alone. This excuse has led me to falling into temptation too many times, even when I know it isn’t right based on that feeling in my heart (perhaps the Holy Spirit!). But sometimes I do wonder, what’s the point? Why strive for obedience, when Jesus already paid the cost? I sometimes need straightforward answers to questions like this, and thankfully, we find one (of several answers) in verses 21-22.
Think about the outcomes of sin vs the outcomes of obedience. Verse 21 tells us that the outcome of the things we are ashamed of (sin) is death. In my own life, this idea of death has tangibly looked like short-term satisfaction with long-term guilt, disappointment, broken relationships, anxiety, insecurity, heavy burdens, and regret.
Verse 22 tells us that the outcome of obedience to God is fruit, leading to sanctification and eternal life. In my own life, this idea of obedience has tangibly looked like decisions of self-denial, leading to an abundance of peace, love, joy, strengthened relationships, healing, and confidence in my faith.
(2) How is freedom found in “obedience” and “slavery to God”?
Obedience can seem restricting and honestly, not as much fun. But friends, those are lies the enemy whispers in our ears because in obedience and relationship with the Lord, true freedom is found. What’s truly restricting in life is the bondage to sin – the constant defaulting to our flesh, bringing about all of those previously mentioned outcomes of sin. Sin is who we are, and death is what we deserve.
But the good news is that God gives us a GIFT (v23) - the opportunity to live a live with Him and for Him, denying our flesh to experience the fruits of the Spirit and eternal life. Though we are broken, we don’t have to live according to brokenness. The bondage and power of sin is broken - we have freedom to live in peace and joy.
I heard this cliché yet powerful analogy from a pastor once – imagine that you are in a jail cell for committing a crime. The guard comes and opens up your cell door, saying “you’re free to go”. But you stand there, in the cell, with the door wide open.
This is a picture of what Jesus is inviting you to do. To freely walk out of your bondage and into freedom. He’s given you that gift, you just have to receive that gift and walk out of the door. And the great part is, He will walk with you.
What specific sins are you currently a slave to? How are they affecting your life, your ability to love the people around you, and your ability to share the Gospel?
What would it look like for you to offer those parts of you, whether it’s your mind, heart, body, words, etc., to righteousness (v19)?