Monday, 27 May 2013
Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? Romans 6:16
The word translated as “slaves” is appropriate. It comes from the word doulous. The King James Version translates this word as “servants.” Both should possibly be used though. In the matter of sin, “servant” doesn’t carry either the force, nor the intent of the matter. However, in the matter of righteousness it is acceptable. This verse’s objective is to show the state we were in and the state we should be in. Humans are born into slavery; slavery to sin. It is inherited and it is a bondage which we cannot free ourselves from. Jesus Himself shows us this in John 8:34 –
“Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.”
Because we were born into Adam who sinned, we are thus a slave to sin; it is our station as humans. Having said that, there were different types of slaves in the ancient world, those who were the property of the house with no rights at all and those who had, in one way or another, become “bond” servants. A bondservant is a person who works without pay for various reasons. One of these reasons would be a person wholly devoted to another to the disregard of their own interests. This is the concept that a “bondservant” of Christ would carry.
As this is so, it should be clear that the change Christ has made in us is one which requires obedience. “Do you not know” is a way of saying, “Of course you know.” It is a rhetorical question which is being asked to simply help us think clearly on the matter. And the follow up is given in the same thought – “To whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey.” Again, Jesus gives clear insight into this concept in Matthew 6:24 –
“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Master-ship or ownership doesn’t have divided loyalties. If you are bound to one master, then that is where your work is to be directed. If you are bound to another master, then that is where your work should be directed. When we were freed from the slavery to sin and the ownership of the devil, we moved to the headship and authority of Jesus. Are we now “slaves” of Christ in the sense that we take our directions without thought, or are we “bondservants” of Christ where we have (or should have) ourselves wholly dedicated to His headship? The answer, based on the surrounding text, is that we are “bondservants” who can choose to ignore His headship, but that leads to Paul’s conclusion.
We are slaves “of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness.” As you can see, the word “obedience” is crucial and it shows that we can be disobedient; the will is involved in our actions. We were slaves to sin and death and the devil had ownership over us. We have moved to the authority of Christ and now have choices to make. Will we be obedient or will we hold on to the past? If we continue in the sins of the past, even after having been freed from sin’s power, then we will suffer the death which that sin produces. Alcohol, for example, will destroy our liver.
We now have the ability, through the process of sanctification, to depart from these things and live in the freedom for which Christ has set us free. Here is the continuation of Jesus’ words in John 8:35, 36 –
“And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
Life application: If you have called on Jesus, then who is your Lord? It is Jesus. Do you want to be entangled again in a yoke of slavery? Of course not. Therefore, live as a bondservant of Christ, wholly committing yourself to His glorious head-ship. He has set you free. Now live in Him as if you believe it!
Lord God, You have offered me freedom from my bonds and You have granted me the ability to put the things of the past behind. You know my weakness in my struggles and you know the temptations I face. Give me the resolute courage, strength, and conviction to press on in the power of Your Spirit, ever-striving to emulate my glorious Lord Jesus. Thank You, O God. Amen.