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By Elizabeth Ryan

Have you ever watched a performer spin plates?  It is so captivating and impressive to watch as they add another plate, then another…  All eyes on them, astounded by their ability to spin so many plates all at one time!  How do they do it? How do they keep them all going without any crashing to the ground?

They are so amazing, right?

Does this sound familiar? Are you a plate spinner? Have you ever asked yourself why? (more…)

Focal Passage:  Romans 6:15-23

Romans 6:20-21 “When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.  But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed?  The end of those things is death.”

Paul’s astonishing statement in this verse is that there was one freedom when we were slaves to our sinful desires—we were free from righteousness.  However, that is not a freedom any of us wants, especially since that freedom leads to death and destruction.  The truth is that sin kills and destroys.  It’s fairly easy to see how some sin is physically killing those around us.  Addiction to heroine, for example, becomes sadly obvious in the person it is physically killing.  However, what we need to realize is that there are millions more around us who are dying (we were one of them before Christ) because of their sin.  They are enslaved by their desires and the fruit of those things is death.  Jesus said in John 8:34, “Truly, truly I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin,” and Paul is about to remind us in verse 23 of Romans 6, “For the wages of sin is death.”  The only freedom any of us wants and the only freedom that leads to life is the freedom of obedience to Christ.

Study/Meditation:  Meditate on the phrase, “freedom of obedience.”  How are you free when you obey God?

*Father, thank You for releasing me of my bondage to sin.  Thank You for making me truly free in Christ.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 6:15-23

Romans 6:19 “I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations.  For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.”

Paul realizes that the “slave” analogy will be shocking to his audience.  After all, no one would say that he aspires to slavery.  However, the apostle’s intent is to shock, to point out something that the world claims is truth that is in fact a lie.  Rejecting God and His laws is not freedom; it is bondage to sin and to death.  Apart from Christ, the picture is of one whose very body is a slave to sin.  In Christ, however, we instead present our bodies as instruments to be used to God’s glory, and thus to righteousness.  Paul’s argument in this seemingly unlikely analogy is that since we have known the bondage of sin, now we must present ourselves as slaves of righteousness to know the freedom of holiness.  There is no such thing as freedom outside of Christ.  The freedom He offers is one that leads to life and joy and eternity, not sin and death and misery.  It is the freedom of holiness.

Study/Meditation:  How is it that one is either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness?  If freedom=happiness, then why is freedom only in holiness?)

*Father, help me today and every day as I seek to give myself fully as a slave to righteousness.  Help me discern how that must look in my life.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 6:15-23

Romans 6:17-18 “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”

Keeping in mind that much of Paul’s audience would have been slaves, he is certainly not being flippant in his comments about our being slaves.  The point he has been making is that our freedom is limited in that we are slaves to something—either sin or God.  Left to ourselves, we will invariably be enslaved to our sinful nature.  Our will is free only inasmuch as it will freely choose sin.  However, “thanks be to God” that He has made His children slaves instead to righteousness, giving us the desire and ability to choose that which is good and right.  Only in Him and only by Him is this possible, that we might choose righteousness instead of evil.  Only in Him.

Study/Meditation:  How is it that we are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness?  How can you be sure which you are?

*Father, thank You for choosing me to be a slave to righteousness, thereby giving my will the ability to choose what is truly good and right.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 6:15-23

Romans 6:16 “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

The misconception about freedom is that it means you can do anything you want, anytime you want, and to anyone you want.  The lie is that choosing freedom means choosing liberation from a master, that you are your own boss.  Paul’s point in this verse is that there is no such thing as that in this world.  If you choose self or Satan or sin, which are really one in the same thing, you are a slave to that master.  You will do precisely as it dictates you do, whether you think you’re in control or not.  This choice is self-serving and painful;  the only end result is death.  If you choose God, then your Master is good and gracious and kind, wanting nothing but what is good and right for you.  Choosing obedience is choosing righteousness, which results in life eternal.  We follow one course or another in this life and every course has its rules.  Which course do you choose?

Study/Meditation:  How is sin confining?  How might you convince an unbeliever that this is so?

*Father, You are my Master and my God.  I choose to seek You and to live by Your mandates and laws.  I know that You have my best interests in mind and I love You.  Amen.

Focal Passage:  Romans 6:15-23

Romans 6:15 “What then?  Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?  By no means!”

Paul asked a very similar question in verse 1 of this chapter.  His rhetorical question is basically, “Since we’re free from the law, can we do whatever we want?  Are we free from the laws of the Old Testament?”  The problem with how some answer this question is a misunderstanding of what “grace freedom” actually is.  You see, our problem isn’t the rules or the Old Testament laws; they are not the things that bound us.  Our problem is sin.  We were bound to sin.  Grace gives freedom that addresses our problem—sin.  It frees us from the condemnation brought by the law because we were bound by sin.  Being under grace does not mean that we aren’t morally bound to the keeping of God’s Law, which is simply a reflection of His character.  Being under grace means that we aren’t condemned by the Law.  Instead we are sanctified, justified, saved, and we are freed by God’s grace to love His Law and His statutes so that our desire is to keep them.

Study/Meditation:  Paul addresses this issue again in 1 Corinthians 15:56-58.  Read that passage and think about what Paul is teaching there and in our passage today from Romans about sin, death, and the law.

*Father, thank You for Your grace that frees me from the bondage of sin.  Thank You for this grace that covers my sin and gives me the ability to love Your Law to keep it.  Amen.