Among all New Testament books, the most profound theological discourse is found in the Book of Romans, from which we continue to draw our weekly lectionary message. Today’s focus is what Paul wrote about our freedom of faith, a state we enjoy since we are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:12-23).
Paul encourages us to no longer be captive to our sinful nature. This is great advice because once we become followers of God we have declared ourselves to be free from sin’s eternal grasp. The difficult part involves thinking and acting in a new and better way. Sin slavery is pernicious because those captive to it are often blinded to their plight. Bad habits can become so ingrained that we can fail to see them even when they are staring us in the face (especially when we look in the mirror!).
Part of our responsibility as Christians is to share God’s truth with one another such that we are encouraged to become new creatures, new faith-creations. Accordingly, we are to do whatever we can to help people choose light and life rather than darkness and death. Although we will never be sin-free in this life, we are no longer slaves of sin, to use Paul’s words. God has become our new master, to extend the analogy, and we can be obedient to light rather than to darkness.
We have a choice as to whom we will serve. We can serve God or we can continue to be sin’s captives. Enter the controversial topic of free will, which is an awesome responsibility to make choices. Paul rightly admonishes us to strive toward good decisions, which in this case involves serving God rather than base impulses which reinforce sin captivity. True, we are no longer dominated by the Old Testament ritual Law. Instead, Paul reminds us that we are set free by God’s grace under the new covenant established by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God doesn’t want to take away our freedom, but it is our responsibility to make the best choices. Some religions attempt to police humanity by offering a seemingly endless list of rules and regulations. Read through the Old Testament and you’ll find a bewildering litany of “do this” and “don’t do that” commands. The problem is that you can never come up with enough rules to govern all areas of life. Complicated, convoluted lists are not the answer. Instead, we have principles to learn and apply. Jesus reminded us that the principle of love is the greatest, that with it all things are possible and without it nothing else matters.
Do you feel free? Are you sharing God’s love that is available to set your soul free? Choose wisely by choosing to follow God on the path of righteousness. Enjoy true life liberty by accepting God’s love, mercy and grace. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
–Reverend Larry Hoxey