“The good man, though a slave, is free; the wicked, though he reins, is a slave, and not the slave of a single man, but – what is worse – the slave of as many masters as he has vices.”
St. Augustine of Hippo
Read Romans 6
- Verses 1-14: Paul begins the chapter by addressing a question: since we bask in the grace of God, are we then to sin so that the grace might be greater? His answer is an emphatic “No!” Paul ensues with comparing our baptism with Christ’s burial in the tomb. The emergence from the water symbolizes a new life, just as Jesus was resurrected into new life. Because we appear before the Father as Christ, we have a likeness with Christ. This likeness extends symbolically to our death to sin and a new life full of the Spirit. Paul charges us towards righteousness because we are walking in a new life by the power of God. Paul confronts our idea that somebody can be a follower of Christ and remain untransformed. A Christian who remains untransformed belittles the power of the Spirit, which we do at our peril. There is always a war and struggle with the flesh, but we ought to take heed with what Paul is saying here. It is also important to note, however, that this response of obedience is not based in duty but a response of overflowing joy. The law binds us, and the freedom of Christ propels us in love and joy towards this obedience. “The grace, the favor, the love God has shown us in Christ Jesus appeals to our hearts, and we cheerfully yield to it the obedience that our unregenerate spirits refused to render when the law demanded it.” ~ C.H. Spurgeon
- Verses 15-23: Paul continues with another warning to not use “being under grace” as a warrant to sin. Next in this section is the idea of slavery. Whatever or whomever you serve in your everyday actions is your master. If you serve yourself and your pleasure, then you are a slave to sin. On the other hand, we, “having been set free from sin… became enslaved to righteousness.” Acting in accordance with our own will leads to misery and death. Becoming enslaved to righteousness has a paradoxical effect of sanctifying (perfecting) us and the end of the road is eternal life- ultimate freedom! “Either way, all of us are slaves. One kills, one saves” ~ Beautiful Eulogy. We pay the price of whatever is due to our master. The price of sin, death. The gift of God, on the other hand, is Christ who willingly laid himself down so that we do not have to pay these wages of death. “If you’re a slave to sin, you earn demerits. You earn God’s wrath, and if he didn’t exercise his wrath, He would be unjust. The wages of sin is death, and in stark contrast to that is the good news. Wages are what you earn. The gift, on the other hand, is free.” ~ R.C. Sproul
- Since death and sin no longer rule over our lives, why do we still struggle so much with our sinfulness?
- Does Paul assert that the Torah is inherently bad and criticize his Jewish roots?
- How do we explain the paradoxical effect of enslavement to righteousness setting us ultimately free?
- Lord, you are the master of the whole world. Unfortunately, through the fall of Adam, our master has become sin. Until we are regenerated (born again), we do not see you as our master. We confess, even after regeneration, to sometimes default back to our sinfulness and defy you as our creator, worshiping what is created instead of the creator. Rid us of that fleshly desire, O Lord, so that we may better serve you in the joy of grace. Thank you for burying us in death to our sin and resurrecting us in the new life of Christ. Help us to realize that enslavement to righteousness grants ultimate freedom and help us to effectively communicate that to those around us. Amen.The good man, though a slave, is free; the wicked, though he reigns, is a slave, and not the slave of a single man, but- what is worse – the slave of as many masters as he has vices.