What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nowadays, when somebody saves somebody’s life, the hero is rewarded by receiving a printed award to put on their walls, publicized on the news, sometimes booked to appear on a talk show, and suddenly becomes a celebrity. But in the old days, if somebody saved your life, you dedicated your life to serving them (you’ll actually see this behavior in those old warrior films and cartoons). Somebody saves another while in battle, the saved one devotes his life to his hero/savior. He serves him, protects and defends him, will fight for or with him in battle, and gladly shares with everyone everywhere about their hero’s life-saving act. They give up the life they lived in the past and now live solely for the sake of serving their hero. I see Paul trying to suggest this type of behavior and mindset to the early church:
- You have been saved from death
- Jesus saved your life!
- Don’t now return to that life, but move forward with your new master, which is God.
A pretty Theologically-watered down version of what Paul’s saying, but I think it gets the point across:
- Your previous master almost killed you, even wanted you dead, and so really messed you up.
- Your new master paid in full for you. Now stick with your new master. Don’t go back to your old one who promises death to you.
In the year 2010, my wife and I adopted a Beagle. We got him from the pound, but met him by volunteering for the local Humane Society. The reason (Comet) was in the pound was because his original masters (owners) didn’t want him anymore. And of course, when they gave him to the pound, they gave them reason to believe that he wasn’t a good dog. So Comet was on death row.
When we first met Comet, he was given to me, a volunteer, to display around during a PetSmart Adoption Day. Needless to say, during that time, we clicked. I mean, sure, I fell in love with pretty much all the dogs I was ever put in charge of during these events, but Comet actually chose us. He also listened and obeyed me, he fit well also with my wife, and he was everything we wanted in a dog (previous training, all his shots, etc.). So we adopted him. The pound even asked us, “Are you sure you want HIM?” as if we were crazy. But yes, we wanted him (and when you look at ourselves and people the Lord has rescued, I can imagine some people may have been confused and responded the same way, “Lord, are you sure you want him (or her)?”
Now, long story short, after bringing Comet home, if he had run back to his original family, they would no doubt have taken Comet back to the pound, thus returning him to death row. I think he may have known that, too. But all throughout our time of having him, Comet never once attempted to escape, look for his previous owners, or intentionally disobey us. Sure he could be stubborn sometimes, or make us mad at him on occasion, but he’s a Beagle, and that’s part of who and what he is. But he recognized a loving home when he found us (and we continue to shower him with our love), and he returns our love with his great, Christ-like unconditional love.
Now, I’m not calling you a dog, but before belonging to the unconditionally-loving family of God, did your life really compare? Sure you had some fun times, as I’m sure Comet may remember some fun moments with his past family, but in both cases, that life promised death. So realizing what you have in Christ, why would you even WANT to return to the old?
One gives life, the other, death. You’re now with the family (and Master) that gives everlasting life. So why return to the life that not only offers, but guarantees eternal torment and death? You would think this would be a no-brainer, right? Yet, so many of us continue to return to the life of disobedience and sin. Why? Because we grew up with it? Throw it away then! If you grew up learning to steal and your new life tells you to give, then STOP STEALING, and give, as your new life is teaching you to do. You’ve been adopted into a new family, a family that will never recognize you as anything less than related to them! You’re now heirs. You have an inheritance now and it’s not just eternal life with God later, but eternal life with God STARTING NOW.
We shouldn’t continue to sin at all; though we sometimes do. This is not something to take lightly though, which is why we feel guilt, which brings us to repentance. And it’s by this grace that God offers, which we are under, that God forgives us when we approach Him with it, as a loving Father, a loving Master, would do.
When you died in sin, you were raised to life in Christ Jesus! Jesus Christ saved your life! He rescued you from your old owner, death. Therefore, quit returning to your old owner, and dedicate your life to serving your Hero.
- People (Christians) sometimes (often) return to their sinful ways. It’s not like they slid back or fell away, but more like they turned back and jumped back in. The worst thing is, the people that Paul was addressing returned to this sin willingly! Where you were was bad and where you are now is good. So don’t go back to the bad. Why do you think this is it so difficult to understand?
- How have you experienced Christ’s death and resurrection in your life? How have you responded to it?
- What do you do when you’re tempted to return to even just some of your old ways?
- Pray for each other for help in keeping from returning to old, sinful ways.