Morning Prayer: 07 August – Romans 6:20-23 ~ the bondage that offers life

Reading through Romans

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Opening sentence

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.
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A reading from Romans: Romans 6:20-23 (NLT)

Rom 6.23

When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
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Reflection: Romans 6:20-23 (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 20-22) The paradox: slavery is freedom and freedom is slavery

Each slavery is also a kind of freedom, although the one is authentic and the other spurious. Similarly, each freedom is a kind of slavery, although the one is degrading and the other ennobling…. The way to assess the rival claims of these two slaveries or freedoms is by evaluating their benefit, literally their ‘fruit’.

  • The negative benefits of slavery to sin and freedom from righteousness are remorse in the present (a sense of guilt over the things you are now ashamed of), and in the end death (21)… meaning the eternal death of separation from God in hell.
  • The positive benefits of freedom from sin and slavery to God are holiness in the present and in the end eternal life (22b)… meaning fellowship with God in heaven.

Thus there is a freedom which spells death, and a bondage which spells life.

(vs 23) The terms of service on which the two slave-owners operate

Sin pays wages (you get what you deserve), but God gives a free gift (you are given what you do not deserve). If, then, we are determined to get what we deserve, it can only be death; by contrast, eternal life is God’s gift, wholly free and utterly undeserved.

The only ground on which this gift is bestowed is the atoning death of Christ, and the only condition of receiving it is that we are in Christ Jesus our Lord, that is, personally united to him by faith. Here, then, are two lives which are totally opposed to each other.

  • Jesus portrayed them as the broad road which leads to destruction and the narrow road which leads to life.
  • Paul calls them two slaveries. By birth we are in Adam, the slaves of sin; by grace and faith we are in Christ, the slaves of God.

Bondage to sin yields no return except shame and ongoing moral deterioration, culminating in the death we deserve. Bondage to God, however, yields the precious fruit of progressive holiness, culminating in the free gift of life.
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Canticle

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.

Blessing

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



Categories: Life around the World, Life in America, Life in Christ

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