Questions for Littles: What are we not to allow sin to do (v12)? What is the first step in denying sin (13a)? To whom are we instead to present ourselves—and every little part of who we are (13b)? Why are we able to succeed against sin (v14)? If we take having grace as our master (v15) as an excuse for sinning, then who is our real master (v16)? What is the way that God has delivered us from slavery to sin (v17)? What does freedom from sin look like (v18)? What must we do with every part of whom we are?In this week’s Epistle reading, Scripture went hard after one of the worst ways that people abuse the truth about God’s saving sinners by grace. How can we actually think that freedom means doing whatever we feel like doing?
That’s called obeying desires, allowing sin to reign in our mortal body (v12).
So, how do we stop it? When we are fighting against sin, it feels like this giant, ugly monster (which it is) that we can take down by some great heroic act. But that’s not what our passage describes. Our passage describes our battle against sin not only in one big picture, but also in a multitude of little ones.
Every word. Every action. Every moment of time. Everything that we do is an offering, a service either to sin or to the Lord. There’s no neutral ground.
What does the life of freedom look like? It is a life of cheerful and willing obedience. v17 calls it obeying from the heart. It is also a life of theological obedience. That same verse reminds us that we obey “a form of doctrine that has been committed unto us.”
The life of freedom is also a life of slavery. That sounds counter-intuitive. Would it help if we called it a life of “devotion”? That is, ultimately, what v19 says. Slavery to righteousness is a slavery that is for holiness—devotion, consecration, being set apart to the Lord.
It is so complete, wholehearted, and full that the Scripture here calls it slavery. One cannot have two masters. So slavery means that every part of who we are, and every part of what we do, belong to the Lord so much that we refuse to belong to anyone or anything else—least of all ourselves.
Yes, it sounds bad to call ourselves “slaves” to the Lord, but that’s why the Holy Spirit calls it “speaking in a human way” in v19. Slavery may be distasteful, but it’s really the best way to understand how completely we are to belong to the Lord. Let us give ourselves to Him!
In what parts of your life could you be more intentionally offering yourself as a slave to God for righteousness? What would it look like for you to do that?Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or HB310 “Take My Life and Let It Be”