Lenten Reader | Day 31

Free From Sin

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Romans 6:16-18
In 1980 Bob Dylan won a Grammy Award for the best male rock vocal performance for a song titled, Gotta Serve Somebody. As improbable as it seems, Bob Dylan captures the analogy of Romans 6:16 quite well. The chorus goes like this:

“But you’re going to have to serve somebody, yes indeed
going to have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re going to have to serve somebody”

This verse seems to indicate that we simply choose to be a slave to either sin or to obedience. But John Wesley explains that the transformation that Paul describes in Romans is more of a journey. It starts the same for everyone – bondage to sin. The journey continues with the realization of sin, the revelation of righteousness through Christ, faith that embraces that righteousness, and then justification whereby God forgives our sin. Then after the gift of the Holy Spirit, we can offer our free service of righteousness.

Through this journey we become free from sin. In our freedom we gladly become slaves of obedience to righteousness that leads to life. And we know we are free when we have within us a burning desire to know God and be known by God. Psalm 63 gives us the picture of this longing:

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole
being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my
mouth will praise you.”

May this be our prayer today.

Steve Manchester