I’ve been studying through Romans for the past few weeks, revisiting the ebb and flow of Paul’s great words of the gospel that has changed everything. Today was chapter 6. The movement of God’s work was the imagery I couldn’t let go of, so I wanted to let others in to see it. So here are a few words on verses 15-23, first my translation of a few of them, then some of my own raw words, lifted from the lined pages of my journal:
“Do you not know that the one to whom who yield yourselves to as servants poised for obediences, you are slaves to that one who you obey–either sin resulting in death or obedience resulting in righteousness? But praise be to God! you were slaves of sin…but, having been set free, you have been made slaves to righteousness.
For just as you yielded your members as slaves to unrighteousness and to lawlessness resulting in more lawlessness, thus now yield your members as slaves to righteousness with a view toward sanctification.
For when you were [yet] slaves of sin…what fruit did you have then?”
Oh this free gift that has changed everything! May that always be a truth that grows harder and harder to forget or neglect. I’m just caught up this morning in the imagery of movement seen in verse 19. There was none before. One more of the same thing, more of the same slavery (“lawlessness unto lawlessness,” literally).
But God reached down into the very midst of the old chains and pulled us out by grace–something we never could have done on our own, try as we might. And He brought us to a different bondage–bondage to Himself, to grace that moves us forward–closer to Him. “Slaves now of righteousness that looks toward sanctification.” Righteousness that looks not to what we can do, but to what He will do. This is what we have been set free for!
So why, then, do we still so often act like slaves that are not set free? Like only the first half of verse 23 is gospel truth for us today? No! We have a new master–“Jesus Christ our Lord”–a personal, intimate, relationship of freedom has been freely gifted to us and we get so caught up in the defeats of the day that we miss it. We miss Him. We miss what He can do by focusing instead on what we cannot.
Our position has been changed–from sin to righteousness.
But now we need a change of perspective–from sin to righteousness “with a view towards sanctification.”
Father, change our perspectives. Our focus gets fuzzy by the defeats of the day instead of sharpened by your great victory over the worst defeat–death itself. So also we have been raised! So may we also raise our hands today, yielding no longer to sin or self, but to the victory of your son & our Lord, Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever by our words and by our deeds. Amen.