Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
July 2, 2017
- First reading and Psalm
- Alternate First reading and Psalm
- Second reading
Romans 6:12-23 | New Living Translation (NLT)
Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.
Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.
Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.
When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
We continue our journey through Paul’s letter to the Romans. It seems like we’ve been here quite a bit of late, but since we are in the Epistle three year cycle, we are going to see quite a bit of Paul’s writings.
Earlier in chapter 6, Paul asks the question, “Should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?” Very emphatically he replies, “Of course not!” We have died to our old selves and been raise to new life in Christ. This brings us to today’s passage.
Again Paul reminds us that sin is not the normal mode of operation for the one who is in Christ. Do not let sin control the way you live. Do not give in to its evil desires. In fact, we are called to just the opposite, to let God control our lives – to give ourselves completely to God because of the new life that we have in Christ. Instead of using our bodies as an instrument of sin, we should be using our bodies to give glory to Christ. We are reminded that there is no middle ground here – either sin is in control or God is in control – it can’t be both.
Interesting here that Paul tells us, “Sin is no longer your master – for the law and it’s requirements are no longer in effect.” However we do live under the freedom of God’s grace. Some would argue and now Paul goes on defense again – that since grace covers our sin, we are covered by grace. Again, reminding us of the answer at the beginning of chapter six – just because we are covered by grace, does not mean that we can go on sinning.
Again we have the choice – are we obedient to sin – or are we obedient to God. One leads to death and one leads to righteousness and it’s obvious which leads to which. The death and resurrection of Jesus frees us from the power of sin – we are free from our slavery to sin however we are commanded to live righteously.
Paul uses the analogy of slavery – either you are a slave to sin, impurity and lawlessness, or you are a slave to righteousness. Being a slave to sin will only send you deeper, being a slave to righteousness will lead to holy living.
This section ends with a plea to become slaves of God and his righteousness – do those things that lead to holiness – do those things that lead to eternal life. As this passage closes we are reminded – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Which are you a slave to? Are you a slave to sin? or a slave to righteousness?