DEATH OR LIFE?
“I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.” Romans 6:19.
Have you noticed the progression in what Paul was saying about our slavery either to sin or to obedience? Slavery to sin sets us on a downward path to unrighteousness which is nothing but purely selfish living, gratifying every whim and fancy of our fleshly nature, dehumanising us until we are fit for nothing else but the trash heap.
Slavery to obedience puts us on another path; this one leads to righteousness, imitating our Master who loved, cared for and served others. Righteousness leads to holiness, to being set apart from sin. The more we care about what God wants above what we want, and the more we obey Him instead of following our own appetites, the more we hate the sin that once enslaved us and enslaves the people who refuse to follow Jesus. We see what it does to them and we pull away from doing what they do.
Obedience to Jesus as our Lord puts us back on the path to becoming human again, and we become more alive to God and less alive to sin and to what the people in the world do. We have the assurance that God will complete the job of perfecting us in holiness and giving us the gift of everlasting life.
“When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at the time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you receive leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:20-23.
When we serve sin, we earn wages – like an employee working for an employer. If we have never received the new life Jesus offers us by accepting His forgiveness and turning our lives over to Him, we have to serve sin because sin is our master and because we are bound to it as slaves. We earn the wages that sin pays, death, and there is nothing we can do about it.
But eternal life isn’t like that. It is God’s free gift to us. We cannot work for it; we can do nothing to earn it; no amount of effort can produce it. God freely gives it to us when we respond to His invitation to receive it by receiving His Son and becoming God’s son or daughter. Once we have received His gift, it us up to us to respond in faith and obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit who has taken up residence in our spirit and who leads and prompts us to follow Jesus.
Only those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God (Romans 8:14). When we give ourselves to Him to obey Him, we set off on the pathway to becoming fully human again , in other words, towards becoming the people God created in the beginning to be in perfect harmony with Him. God’s intention is to remove all sin so that we can once again be sinless and perfect.
Watch the progression. As we choose to obey God and to become slaves to righteousness, we progress towards holiness – separated from sin to God – and holiness will eventually lead us to eternal life. Sin leads to death. Obedience leads to life. The gift of eternal life is already ours but we must possess it by following the path to eternal life.
And so our participation in eternal life is a co-operative venture. It is impossible for us to possess it by our own efforts but, at the same time, we cannot just sit back and float towards our future. It is through trust in God and obedience to the promptings of His Spirit that we progress towards holiness and take hold of eternal life.
It begins by recognising that we died with Christ, were raised to new life with Him and are now in Him by His Spirit. It continues by participating with His Spirit by counting ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, progressing towards the possession of eternal life by choosing to do what is right, shunning sin and being perfected as true human beings once again, perfectly united to God once more when Jesus returns.
Which path are you one?
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