« Last post by soterion on Today at 09:43:24 AM »
One of the concepts that has always intrigued me in scripture is that of voluntary servitude. We read about such in the Old Testament, in Exodus 21:5-6 and Deuteronomy 15:12-17. It is alien to most of us, perhaps all of us, to willingly give ourselves as slaves to somebody else. Certainly our jobs can feel like servitude at times, just having to work to pay bills and take care of the family can feel like some form of a slavery system. However, such is not the same as willingly giving up our freedoms to serve another until the end of this life.
Scripture describes another kind of voluntary slavery besides that of a man or woman serving another person. In Romans chapter 6, Paul describes a type of slavery, a type that I suspect most people are not aware of (with the exception of you good folks on this site, and others who know the word of God). In fact, I understand Paul to say that all people are slaves to one of two masters. This fact escapes many because there is no apparent giving up of certain basic freedoms, no apparent supplications to somebody who claims mastery over them, no apparent punishments for disobedience, etc. Since this slavery is not of a physical nature, such as what most think of when they contemplate slavery, most such people see themselves as free with regard to their lives and the consequences of their actions.
For this study, the key verses in Romans 6 are 11 and 22:
"So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."
"But now, freed from sin and enslaved to God, you have your benefit leading to sanctification, and the end is eternal life."
Paul specifies the two masters as sin and God. In John 8:34 Jesus said that everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. This committing of sin that Jesus is talking about is the ongoing practice of sin. This is what Paul means in Romans 6:2 as living in sin, or being alive to sin. It should automatically follow that if a person is alive to sin, and thus is a slave to sin, he is not alive to God and a slave of His. The principle found in Matthew 6:24 is true here. A person cannot serve both sin and God.
How does one change masters in this situation? Let's look at this first from Jesus' point of view. Paul describes in Romans 6:3-10 Jesus' death, His burial, and His resurrection. The key concept here is found in verse 10: “For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all...” When we talk about the necessity of our dying to sin, we are talking about having to stop living for, and in, sin. Christ had done none of this in His life; He committed no sin. Therefore, He didn't die so He could stop sinning. He died in relation to sin so as to take care of the sin problem for us. He defeated sin so that it could be put to death in us. And, He did this one time for all time. His one death took care of this for all time. Subsequent to this, He was buried and then He was raised from the dead, victorious, not just over sin, but also over death. This is the gospel. John tells us in 1 John 3:8 that this is why Christ came; to destroy the works of the devil. The devil's works are his hold over men because of sin (Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Corinthians 15:56-57).
Again, how does one change masters in this situation? Let's look at this again, but now from our point of view. In verses 17-18 Paul says that our past obedience to a form, or pattern, of teaching resulted in being set free from sin and becoming slaves of righteousness. The identification of that teaching is found in relation to Christ's death, burial, and resurrection. In verse 5 Paul says that if we have become united together with Him in the likeness of His death, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection. This, I believe, is the key verse for this concept. I believe the stress is on the union that places us “together with Him.” In being immersed into Christ, we were crucified together with Him (v.6), buried together with Him (v.4), and raise up with Him (v.4). The result of our union with Him in this is our being raised to a new life (v.4), being set free from slavery to sin (v.6), and living together with Christ (v.8).
However, Paul is not dealing just with how the change took place, but with living the new life from now on. Paul is not reaching out to the lost in this context, but rather he is trying to convince the members of the body there in Rome to not contemplate living in sin again. He wants them to live for God and not allow sin back into their lives. While verses 3-10 and 17-18 describe how the change of masters took place, the rest of the chapter deals with after the fact. Paul gave them the details of how they changed masters to remind them why they cannot go back to sin.
In verses 1-2, why can we not keep on sinning? Why should we consider ourselves as dead to sin but alive to God (v.11)? Because we made the commitment from the heart to that form of teaching (verses 3-10, 17-18), because we would otherwise be giving ourselves over to unrighteousness (v.14), because we want to be sanctified from this world and from sin (verses 19 and 22), because we are ashamed of the former things of unrighteousness (v.21), because the life of sin results in death, but giving ourselves to God results in eternal life (v.23).
In 1 John 3:9 we read, “No one who has been born of God continues to practice sin, because His seed abides in him, and he cannot practice sin.” John is not describing a perfectly sinless existence for the child of God nor is he saying that a child of God could never make a choice during his life to commit sin and even making a practice of it again. He is saying that for the child of God who is presently walking in the light (1 John 1:7) he cannot at the same time live a life of sin. The one who practices sin is of the devil (1 John 3:8) and therefore is not walking in the light. Not living in sin is a choice here just as it is in Romans 6. In verses 13-14 Paul tells the Romans to present their members to God. He tells them to not let sin reign in their bodies so as to obey it. It is a choice we have to make every day.
There are consequences to our choices. Who or what we obey has an eternal impact. All of us are slaves to one or the other. Which ever we are alive to is the one whom we serve. Inasmuch as Christ died to sin, once for all, we who have joined together with Him in the likeness of His death, burial, and resurrection have had sin put to death in us so that we may be slaves to God in righteousness.
Are we still living the sanctified life of one who is a slave of God? Are we still living as those who have the hope of eternal life? Let us heed Paul's warning in Romans 6 and abide in the life God has called us to, the life we have chosen to give ourselves to as slaves. It boils down to who and what we love. If we love sin, we will give ourselves over to it. If we love God, we will give up sin and enslave ourselves to Him. Who do you love?