This powerful dream and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the heart cry of the apostle Paul regarding our deliverance from our old, cruel master – sin, to our new, good Master – God. “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. 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. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (or Master).” (See Romans 6:16-23)
Last month we looked at our identity in Christ as beloved children of God (Ephesians 1:6) who delight in pleasing Him (Romans 7:22) by being His love-slaves (Romans 6:18, 22); slaves who love their new Master (versus slaves to the cruel master sin/Satan) and desire to know and do His will. God told Moses to speak to Pharaoh and say, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.” (Exodus 7:16) God didn’t say, let My people go so they can live and do whatever they want to do. No, God said leave the old, cruel master Pharaoh (sin) so you can be free to serve Me, your new, good Master.
To get a better understanding of this it will help to look at the Greek word for slave, doûlos, and its meaning: “a slave, one who gives himself up to another’s will; those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing His cause among men; devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests.”https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?t=kjv&strongs=g1401 Though most English translations use the word, servant versus slave, it can be misleading as a servant is hired and can choose his master. A slave is bought and owned by his master and has no rights. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) The apostles understood this and opened their letters to the churches by identifying themselves as slaves (doûlos) of the Lord Jesus Christ. (See Romans 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1: Jude 1:1; Revelation 1:1) Even James (Jude also) the half-brother of Jesus the Man, did not name-drop and say James, the half-brother of Jesus, but “James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (James 1:1)
People who do not know the Lord do not believe they are slaves of sin. They think they are free and that only believers are encumbered by the “rules” of God. And many would say they’re good people and try to do what’s right. But God says in Scripture that the unregenerate are sinful (e.g., see Romans 3:9-18; Psalm 14), under the power of Satan (John 12:31; 1 John 5:19) and slaves to sin. (See the Romans 6 passage above.) Jesus told the self-righteous Pharisees that they really did not understand God’s law which they bragged about keeping perfectly. He says that by the true meaning of God’s law they were murderers, adulterers and worshiped money more than God. (See Matthew 5:21-30; 6:24) (Just a note here in remembrance of Billy Graham; he dealt seriously with the big temptations of money, sex and power early on in his ministry and thus left a good testimony to both believers and unbelievers.)
We see in Romans 6 that we as believers are free from sin but we are not free to sin. “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.” (Galatians 5:13) By the new birth we have a new nature that wants to and can please the Lord through humble obedience to our new good Master. Yet we can still choose to obey our old master, sin and Satan, but we’re not free when we do that. In fact, Romans 6:19 says we will go into increasing bondage to sin like an unbeliever does until we fully repent and turn back to the Lord our true Master and obey Him. In other words there is no neutral ground. We are either slaves to God which leads to increasing righteousness or slaves of sin and Satan which leads to increasing bondage to sin. “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” (Author unknown)
We are not saying that believers can become sinless in this life but we can gradually sin less and less. Even the great apostle Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude.” (Philippians 3:12-15)
In Romans 6 we see three truths that can help us grow in our freedom from sin and in our obedience to our Lord, our new good Master: know, reckon (or consider) and yield (offer or present)
KNOW –“We know that our old self [our human nature without the Holy Spirit] was nailed to the cross with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. For the person who has died [with Christ] has been freed from [the power of] sin.” (Romans 6:6-7)
RECKON (or consider) – “Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin [and your relationship to it broken], but alive to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11) To reckon (logizomai) means “to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over; to take into account, to make an account of; count up or weigh the reasons, to deliberate; by reckoning up all the reasons, to gather or infer; to consider, take into account, weigh, meditate on; to suppose, deem, judge; to determine, purpose, decide; This word deals with reality. If I reckon that my bank book has $25 in it, it has $25 in it. Otherwise I am deceiving myself. This word refers more to fact than supposition or opinion.” http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=G3049&t=KJV]
YIELD (offer or present) – “Do not go on offering members of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness. But offer yourselves to God [in a decisive act] as those alive [raised] from the dead [to a new life], and your members [all of your abilities—sanctified, set apart] as instruments of righteousness [yielded] to God. For sin will no longer be a master over you, since you are not under Law [as slaves], but under [unmerited] grace [as recipients of God’s favor and mercy].” (Romans 6:13-14) Even Jesus as a Man had to yield His will to His Father’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane. “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39) Since Christ is in us His yielded Spirit is in us and we can call on Him to empower us to yield to God’s will when we feel like we do not want to do so. “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18)
As we know who we are in Christ (free from the power and bondage to sin) and reckon it so in the moment of temptation (the fact is I know I don’t want to or have to sin but I want to and can obey and please my new good Master) then yield to God our Master (He owns me, I have no rights, and I want to please Him) then like our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane, we can say, not my will but Your will be done good Master.
“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” Or as The Message puts it: “I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.” (Psalm 84:10)
“Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, I’m free at last!”
Until He comes again, Len and Kristen