Saturday 16 April 2016

Bible Book:

“But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life.” (v. 22)

Romans 6:15-23 Saturday 16 April 2016

Psalm: Psalm 75:1-7


The notion of slavery is abhorrent to Christians (and to mostother thinking people) in the 21st century but in the Roman Empireit was largely accepted as a fact of life. Many slaves werecaptured in conflict or simply taken from their native lands, but asignificant number was of those who sold themselves in order tomeet debts that were otherwise unpayable. In a way, therefore,being enslaved was experienced as a form of liberation.

This is the imagery on which Paul draws in this part of Romans.Having decided by accepting Baptism that sin was no longer going tobe in charge of their life the Christian had also decided that theywould live under a new authority. Paul calls that authorityobedience; this gives us what appears to be an odd statement of theobvious - that if one becomes an obedient slave one is a slave tothe person one obeys (verse 16). But what Paul's language here doesis implicitly highlight that the choice to live obediently, ratherthan disobediently, seems to be absolutely natural. This is slaveryto the good life and it leads to a state of holiness.

Throughout the passages at which we have looked this week, Paulhas drawn some stark contrasts - between distrust and faith (Romans4:20), enemies and the reconciled (Romans5:10), Adam and Christ (Romans5:15), condemnation and justification (Romans5:16), and sin and grace (Romans6:15). These are mutually exclusive concepts; one can only haveone by eschewing the other. Perhaps the starkest of all is the oneto which Paul alluded in Romans5:21 and which he spells out in detail at the end of chapter 6:death and (eternal) life. Once again, Paul makes clear that thereare present benefits in living as those united with Christ: afterall, he argues, living as sinners only leads to shame. But thefullness of the benefits are yet to be revealed: God is makingthose who are in Christ holy so that they might share in Christ'seternal life.

To Ponder

  • Once, it was common to see a wayside pulpit or poster on abillboard that bore the legend: "The wages of sin is death". Do youfind that a helpful proclamation of the gospel today? If not, whynot?
  • Given modern revulsion at the practice of slavery (expressed,for example, in the 2015 Modern Slavery Act), do you find theimagery of being 'slaves to obedience' helpful? Why? If not, howmight you express the opportunity and obligation to live as aChristian?
  • Paul uses a number of images to try to make his point about thenew life that the Romans have begun in Christ. What other imagesdoyou find helpful to express what it means to be a Christian?
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