Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Epistle this week, Romans 6:12-23, speaks forcefully about slavery. Yet it is not the slavery we most immediately think of. Paul identifies humans as naturally slaves to sin. We have a tendency to follow our own desires for impurity, which is incredibly addictive. By desiring our own way, we practice a form of lawlessness. In verse 19 he points out that that always leads to more lawlessness.
What is the cure? Although we would confess that salvation is entirely by grace through faith, not of our works, not based on any merit or obedience of ours, we still see Paul telling us to resist sin. We give ourselves as slaves to righteousness, based on the fact that Jesus has purchased us from sin. We are, in fact, to strive after a godly life. It’s a lot of work. And we won’t accomplish it entirely.
What hope do we have then? In verse 23 we read that the eternal life is not a wage that we earn but a gift of God. It doesn’t mean that we don’t go about our work. We are to live a holy life, one dedicated to purity, charity, and faithfulness. But we live that way not to earn salvation. We live that way because it is good. It’s good for us, it’s good for our neighbors, it’s good for our friends, it’s even good for our enemies. We present ourselves then as slaves to the righteousness of God in Christ, rather than as slaves to our own unrighteous attitudes. This is a tremendous gift of God.
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