Tuesday, 28 May 2013
But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. Romans 6:17
In his customary excitement over the greatness of what God has done through Christ, Paul interjects a note of gratitude for what has occurred in the believer. “But God be thanked…” He has just previously shown the contrast between being a slave of sin to that of being a slave to righteousness and now his thanks go forth because, “though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.”
Yes, before hearing the gospel we were all slaves to sin. This includes all people and was what necessitated the cross. But through allowing the truth of the Christian message (that form of doctrine) to enter our heart, we have been delivered from this bondage. The word for “form” is the Greek word typon. This is a pattern or a mold. In Hebrews 8:5, it is used in this way –
“…as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, ‘See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.'”
As you can see, Moses was instructed to use the exact pattern he was shown. There was to be no deviation from the instruction. The reason why is because they were “a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.” We should have the exact same idea in our heads about our New Testament instruction. We are delivered and we are sanctified through the pattern which is set. The question is, what is that pattern? The answer is simple, the teachings found in our instruction manual – the New Testament epistles.
The gospels show us who Jesus is, what He did, and the what transpired based on His work. The book of Acts shows how these things became established among the various people groups and some of the “why” of what Jesus did, but they contain little instruction on the “how to apply” what has been revealed. It is the epistles which show us how to do so. They give shape to the “form.”
One could think of the epistles as a portion of the mold into which was poured a substance. This would then conform to the shape of the mold. The substance is the believer; the word is the mold. Our doctrine for conversion, and our doctrine for continued growth, must come from the mold or it isn’t at all the pattern set down by God!
For this reason, it is imperative to read, ponder, and conform to these letters. That which fails to conform to the mold must be chiseled away, sanded, and smoothed out. And that which is poured into the wrong mold is an unacceptable vessel; it will be rejected entirely. This was seen in the Old Testament temple worship and it is no different in the church. Conformity to the doctrine of Christ must be realized in order for us to conform to Christ as individuals. It is conforming to this form which delivers us, directs us in sanctification, and which will lead to glorification.
Life application: If you want to be conformed to the image of Christ, read and apply your Bible to your life.
Yes Lord! What a beautiful day You have laid out before me. Help me to use my time wisely and to be a blessing, not a discouragement to others. Allow me the honor of being a beacon of Your light to those whose paths I cross as well as a vessel that overflows with Your goodness. These are the things I pray for my day ahead… to Your glory! Amen.