A CHANGE OF OWNERSHIP
Great and Steadfast God, You are from everlasting to everlasting . In this constantly changing world, You are my forever God.
Read ROMANS 6:15–23
Slaves to Righteousness
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Romans 6:23 Or through
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‘Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today.’1
In the ancient world – one without any tradition of human rights or civil liberties – slavery was widespread and, sadly, universally accepted as part of the social fabric. Israel had the memory of being slaves in Egypt and many of the first Christians were themselves slaves. They knew a lot about it. Not all slaves were ill-treated. With an owner who was kind and considerate, slavery could offer security and a reasonable standard of life. Some slaves were adopted as heirs of their masters and, sometimes, free people even sold themselves into slavery for various reasons.
Christians have exchanged slavery to sin, ‘which leads to death’ (v 16) and become ‘slaves to righteousness’ (v 18). The difference is massive. One leads to ‘ever-increasing wickedness’ (v 19), the other to holiness and eternal life (vs 19,22). It’s a binary choice. It is far more than a good career move. It is a journey into what is good, beneficial and of eternal worth. To invest our lives in serving a good and gracious master is, paradoxically, that which sets us free.
A word of caution here: it is not right to serve God for what we can get out of it. We love God for God’s own sake. We embrace goodness and righteousness because it is the right thing to do. If we sin we earn the appropriate ‘wages’ – death (v 23). If we live for righteousness, we do not earn life on the basis of personal merit: rather it comes to us as a gift from God (v 23). Christians serve God out of love, not the self- interested desire to gain a reward. Love is its own reward. Because love will never pass away, when we live in love we live in God.2
‘Grant us so to know you that we may truly love you, and so to love you that we may fully serve you, whom to serve is perfect freedom.’3
Lord Jesus, I want to be like You in Your incarnation, Your service and love, Your endurance and Your mission. Keep me daily in tune with Your values.
1 Deut 15:15 2 1 John 4:16 3 Augustine of Hippo, 354–430