Thursday, 30 May 2013
I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. Romans 6:19
Paul begins with an idiom of the time, “I speak in human terms…” This was a way of saying that what he is telling them, and the way he is saying it, is done in order to make the argument easy to grasp. It would be like us today saying, “Let me say this so even a child could understand.”
As noted in the previous verse, Paul has used the personification of sin and of righteousness to help us more clearly comprehend the state and circumstances in which we find ourselves.
The people of Rome would clearly understand the symbolism of slaves and masters. If a person is a slave to Stevius Romanus, then he would present himself to Stevius in a distinct way; as to his rightful master. Stevius likes foot rubs at noon each day and so the slave does this. However, the slave is bought by Sergious Maximus who finds foot rubs vulgar (and a bit too tickly) for his liking. The last thing that the slave would do would be to grab Sergious by the foot at noon and start rubbing. It would be contrary to his new ownership. Sergious would be displeased and there would be consequences – especially if the disobedient foot rubs continued.
This is the thought process which Paul is using. We were slaves to Sin. Sin liked uncleanness – dishonesty, sexual perversion, gluttony, etc. Because Sin was our master, we presented ourselves in this “state of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness.” However, a new master has taken over – Righteousness. Now that we have this new master, we would be completely unwise to present ourselves to Righteousness in this way. Rather, he demands that we present ourselves as his slaves “for holiness.”
The owner of a slave has the power of rule and authority over their slave. Disobedience may result in punishment, imprisonment, or death. And it is so with us now. As a saved believer, if we turn from Righteousness to Sin, through sexual immorality for example, we may catch a disease resulting in pain, confinement from others in society, or even death. Righteousness was abandoned and Sin did its evil work in us.
Having said this, it is important to understand that Righteousness is still our master. Just as the slave remains the property of Sergious regardless of his conduct after being purchased from Stevius, so we remain the property of our new master. We have moved from the rightful ownership of the devil to that of Christ. For this reason, we are expected to present ourselves to Christ in the manner which is pleasing to Him. He is a gentle, caring Master and as our Creator, He knows what is best for us.
Life application: In Christ, you have a new Master. He has certain expectations of you which you are expected to fulfill. He asks us to be obedient because He knows what is best for us. Endeavor to live in righteousness and not as if you were still a slave to sin.
Lord God, I was in a state of slavery to sin and wretchedness. Even in this condition, You bought me back and gave me the garments of righteousness. As your servant, give me the wisdom to do that which pleases You, shunning my old master and living under the tender care and right living of my Redeemer. Guide me for Your name’s sake. Amen.