Reading through Romans
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory. You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.
A reading from Romans: Romans 6:17-19 (NLT)
Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.
Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.
Reflection: Romans 6:17-19 (John Stott, The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World)
United to Christ and enslaved to God (6:1–23)
God’s grace not only forgives sins, but also delivers us from sinning. For grace does more than justify: it also sanctifies. It unites us to Christ (1– 14), and it initiates us into a new slavery to righteousness (15– 23).
b. Enslaved to God, or understanding our conversion (15–23)
Since through baptism we were united to Christ, and in consequence are dead to sin and alive to God, how can we possibly live in sin? Since through conversion we offered ourselves to God to be his slaves, and in consequence are committed to obedience, how can we possibly claim freedom to sin?
(vs 17-18) The application: conversion involves an exchange of slaveries
Conversion involves an exchange of slaveries.
First, you used to be slaves to sin (17a)…. All human beings are slaves, and there are only two slaveries, to sin and to God. Conversion is a transfer from the one to the other.
Secondly, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted (17b)…. Paul… sees conversion not only as trusting in Christ but as believing and acknowledging the truth.
‘One expects the doctrine to be handed over to the hearers,’ writes C. K. Barrett, ‘not the hearers to the doctrine. But Christians are not (like the Rabbis) masters of a tradition; they are themselves created by the word of God, and remain in subjection to it.’
Thirdly, [you] have been set free from sin (18a), emancipated from its slavery. Not that [you] have become perfect, for [you] are still capable of sinning (e.g. 12–13), but rather that [you] have been decisively rescued out of the lordship of sin into the lordship of God, out of the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of Christ.
Fourthly, [you] have become slaves to righteousness (18b). So decisive is this transfer by the grace and power of God from the slavery of sin to the slavery of righteousness that Paul cannot restrain himself from thanksgiving.
(vs 18) The analogy: both slaveries develop
Slavery is not an altogether accurate or appropriate metaphor of the Christian life. It indicates well the exclusivity of our allegiance to the Lord Christ, but neither the easy fit of his yoke, nor the gentleness of the hand that lays it on us, nor indeed the liberating nature of his service.
Nevertheless, Paul continues to compare and contrast the two slaveries. But this time he draws an analogy between them (Just as …so now) in the way they both develop.
Neither slavery is static. Both are dynamic, the one steadily deteriorating, the other steadily progressing…. Thus despite the antithesis between them, an analogy is also drawn between the grim process of moral deterioration and the glorious process of moral transformation.
Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ, as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen