We recently read out of Romans 6:15-23. When I opened my Bible to read the Scripture, I noticed an interesting subheading for the section: “Slaves To Righteousness.” It is certainly an interesting phrase and one that may cause some eyebrows to be raised in skepticism without proper context.
In an American culture that is historically rooted in suspicion of authority that can be traced back to the American Revolution, any type of submission to authority, particularly any imagery of “slavery” seems outdated and cruel.
However, the slavery that the Scripture is referring to is not alluding to the oppressive institution of chattel slavery. In fact, this type of “slavery” leads to a culture of life and life to the full when taken on. Pastor Matt Carter once said, “True freedom doesn’t mean being under no authority - it means being under the right authority.”
A culture of life comes from a recognition of our liberation. Before Christ lived the life that we could not live, took our place on the cross and defeated death, we were slaves to sin. But Jesus, at the cross, redeemed us. He literally purchased our freedom with the cost of his life and the currency of his blood. Therefore, we are now his and under his authority, because he paid the price that we could not.
We couldn’t buy ourselves back. In fact, we chose to sin and chose to be under the rule of the Enemy (Ephesians 2). But God in His grace bought us back, for His glory and because of His rich mercy and love for His sons and daughters. That kind of sacrifice, that kind of love, that kind of grace changes everything. When we dwell on the eternity-changing news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we are changed. When we realize the cost that Jesus paid for us and what he saved us from, it has to affect our response.
Our response in the light of the Gospel is how we live in light of the fact that we are owned by the God of Universe. Instead of taking advantage of that grace to sin even more and consider Jesus our ticket into heaven, our response should be a total surrender to the Lordship of Jesus. He is a kind and loving King. He is not an unfair Master, but a gentle and loving one. Our response to our God should be like young kids to their parents - we should want to imitate everything our Dad does. Our lives should look like His and we should heed His instruction and discipline on us.
Although we won't be perfect, we are hidden in the One who is. Although we don’t have the power on our own to model a life to the world like Jesus, we have the same Spirit of God in us that led and empowered Jesus. We should want to look more like Jesus and less like the world that used to own us. This is our apologetic to the world!
We have a new hope, a new life, a new trajectory and a new identity. Let us be a church that doesn’t just believe the Gospel with our heads, but may we love this Gospel with our hearts and live this Gospel out with our lives - life and life to the full.