Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Who Shall Be Our Master?

"But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted" (Romans 6:17).

It is interesting to see the real act of charity in this verse. Paul does not know by name the people he is addressing, and he certainly does not know the state of each soul. Paul knew, though, that surely there were some in the church at Rome whose profession was invalid. Jesus had warned there would be those who would say, “Lord, Lord,” but whose hearts would be far from Him. All the same, Paul addresses them all as believers.

Paul does not try to separate the true believers from the false, but rather he encourages all those who have professed Christ. He says that he praises God that they have turned from sin to God. Now they are obeying the form of teaching that the Gospel brings.

Paul has no fear of teaching or doctrine. Paul speaks of doctrine not as an abstract science, but rather as something obeyed. It is that “you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness” (v. 18).

Being Christ’s slave and thus a slave of righteousness is one of Paul’s central themes. As he argued in verse 16, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” All men serve something. The question is whether they serve sin and die, or serve God and live.

Paul’s first words to the Romans were “Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus” (Romans 1:1). As Christ’s slave, Paul had been turned from sin to newness of life and that is what he was encouraging the Roman Christians to do.

Americans have a particularly difficult time understanding this teaching because of the memory of slavery in our own land. We must not focus on the condition or state of slavery as much as on the Master. When Jesus is the Master, obviously the state of slavery is redefined. Paul, who knew the horrors of one form of slavery was yet willing himself to be the slave of Christ. Ironically, teaches Paul, this slavery actually leads to freedom. Have you discovered this in your own life?