We are freed from our slavery to sin into our freedom with Christ
General idea: Paul continues his argument that if we think grace is a license to sin, we are out to lunch! Because we are no longer under the law, but under grace. Because of our gift we will not seek sin and rationalize it as normal or even beneficial. We may still have struggles and setbacks, but the general underpinning and drive is to seek Christ and yield to Him as our Lord. Then we respond to Him and others because of what He has done for us. We do this with seeking righteousness, this will translate into virtue, morality, justice, decency, uprightness, and honesty, which we will do completely. Not once in a while or when it is convenient, as the cross was not convenient to our Lord! Then we will see sin as unproductive and reprehensible and be able to see its destructive nature to us and those around us. When we refuse to yield to Christ we will earn the wages of death!
1. If we do continue in sin our regeneration is in question. Because the control of the Christian life is grace not sin!
a. For whom you preset yourselves, Since we are under Christ we are "slaves to Him"
i. This slavery of obedience is ultimate freedom
ii. In our conversion we are set free. In this process we are not contributing in the cause of us accepting Christ, because that is the work of the Holy Spirit. We are still an active, (present yourselves) participant in that we provide the faith, but the 'work' is God alone.
iii. The freedom that Paul is speaking against is the license to keep sinning, because this is still being a slave to sin and not freedom. This means we still have free will, it has not been nurtured.
iv. God's sovereignty remains pure and unmovable, because our free choices are his preordained decrees (don't bother to try to understand it!).
v. "God be thanked" (NKJV) or "thanks be to God" (NIV) refers to the grace of God, so we cannot be full of ourselves when we are full of Him!
b. God be thanked, means even though we are active in our conversion, it is God who creates and instigates our conversion. Thus, we must be grateful!
c. We cannot save our self or others, we cannot redeem or atone, or purify, for this is the Holy Spirit's job. This means that God saved us for liberty, and gives us assurance. We enter His presence through a new birth (John 3; 8:32-36; Gal. 5:1). We have our freedom, yet we owe Him for what He did for us. (The heresy of 'liberation theology' got its roots from a gross misinterpretation of this passage. The liberal theologians read into the text that God saves people for social reform. But our reform is from sin and the life to come.)
i. Our job is faith.
ii. He is Wonderful, Counselor and Mighty God!
iii. The atonement of Christ must be exhibited in us!
d. I speak in human terms, Paul uses a Greek philological argument. This passage conveys the Roman idea of "Sacral Manumission" which is being freed from your human master and indenturing yourself to one of the god's. Usually serving as a temple worker by becoming property of the god and the temple. Greek philosophers also used this theme to being enslaved to false ideas verse freeing your mind to pleasures and other ideas. Gnostism has its root in this idea.
e. Some Jewish teachers from the Occupation of the Promise Land pass the time of Jesus taught they were slaves to God and they went from the wicked master of the Egyptians to a kind Master of God.
2. Slavery is a prominent theme with Paul.
a. Slavery was much more brutal in his day than in our American history. But Paul is not referring to the brutality, but to the zeal and devotion of a slave to it's master. Especially when a good master, which was probably rare, would receive a slave who gave extra because they had a liberation that the other slaves did not have.
b. This is what we have in Christ: Love. His loving devotion to us, and our response to His love is to be obedient. We do this out of love from His love.
c. Jesus said His yoke is light (Matt. 11: 28-30)
d. Set free, the liberty of the Christian life is by surrender, as it gives us:
i. Freedom from law. (Rom. 3:19; 6:14; -15; Gal. 3:23-25)
ii. Forgiveness, acceptance and access to His presence. (Rom. 5:1-2)
iii. We do not have to base our acceptance on our performance. (Rom. 7: 7-11; 10:3)
iv. We have been freed from sin, and declared cleaned! (John 8:34-36; Rom 3:19; 6: 3-23; I Cor.15: 16; Gal. 3:10-20; 4:21-31)
v. We have been set free from our own faulty thinking and superstitions. (I Cor. 6:12-13; 8:7-13; I Tim. 4:1-5)
e. Because of the above 5 reasons we respond with obedience not out of obligation (as a slave does) but gratitude and love. This new obedience is because of a changed heart and will. We are enabled to respond and continue in our new life by the Holy Spirit.
f. What are you surrendered to?
i. What are the dominate forces in your life?
ii. If they are not His, expel them!
iii. Beware that we want it now, God works through patience.
3. Being a Christian has it's rewards and blessings (Isa. 4:18; Luke 4:18).
a. Being in sin is like working for a bad boss for terrible wages, so why do it?
b. Christ and the Holy Spirit gives us the power to overcome and the motive to go in the right direction.
c. We must allow gratitude be our motivator in trust and obedience through prayer and the Word. If not, we run into the danger of becoming lazy Christians who just rely on grace and do nothing with it, which is the reason for the book of James.
d. Always remember we are not obligated to do anything with our faith, but what good would it be? Self-interest only serves to place us on the wrong path with the bad boss and bad wages.
e. Leading to lawlessness means sin is not stagnate, it grows; it increases, and corrupts everything! The fruit of sin is death; the fruit of obedience is eternal life!
i. We are to know and yield to these truths!
ii. God's purpose is to get us into His kingdom, to be identified in Him and not in ourselves or the world (John 15:5; Gal. 6:14).
iii. The gift of eternal life is not the reward or great prize, rather it is Christ Himself!
f. Wages, here refers to the money a slave will earn "Peculium." It sill belongs to the master, making it extremely difficult to purchase their own freedom.
g. v. 23 is the classic witness verse to the lost, but it is really meant for believers over non-believers.
Whatever controls and dominates our life has our thinking and our future. It will affect all we say and do. So what is dominating you? Is it desires, pleasures, goals, work, school? Is it good or bad? Is it distorting your relationship with God? Some of these can be good things but are you being held captive or are you free in Christ? For Christians we are to be freed from the oppression of sin and false ideas of human thinking. This will bring us our true purpose and joy (Col. 3:1f)! This freedom only comes from receiving His grace; we are literally freed from the slavery of sin and false ideas into His grace. Remember when we refuse to yield to Christ we will earn the wages of death! Sin will remain our master and oppress us in ways we never can fully comprehend. Yet its oppression is real and fatal! Since the consequences of sin may remain even after forgiveness. Thus, sin is not worth the effort. Nevertheless this is still a good witness verse! Sin does not remain level; it accumulates and grows like rolling a snowball on fresh snow! God rarely demands of us, He allows us to choose, what choice are you making?
Learning Outcomes: a. Know the desires that feed sin, be able to confront others in love to bring them back. b. Be committed to wisdom and seek discernment, do not rely on feelings, innuendos, and half-truths, go to more mature Christians and to prayer. c. Be committed not to allow sin to reign in your life.
1. Have you ever been the victim of a 'slave driver', such as an over demanding boss or an out of touch teacher?
2. How and why do people of the world seek out sin and rationalize it as normal or even beneficial? Consider gay activists promoting the homosexual life style as normal, or is it? (A pastor friend of mine shared a thought with me that if the homosexual life style is so normal and healthy, why then is every other ad in their magazines for a drug related disease you get for being gay?) (I'm not saying God is striking them down, rather sin has its own consequences)
3. When you are facing struggles and setbacks, how do you or how can you seek Christ and yield to Him as your Lord, and not your problem?
4. What is seeking righteousness mean for you?
5. How and why would responding to Christ, by what He has done for us translate into virtue?
6. What is virtue? What does virtue do?
7. Being in sin is like working for a bad boss for terrible wages, so why do it?
8. What does it take for us to see sin as unproductive and reprehensible and be able to see its destructive nature to ourselves, our relationship with Christ and those around us?
9. How and why would our regeneration be in question if we continue to sin?
10. What does "slaves to Him," mean to you?
11. How can slavery of obedience be the ultimate freedom? Does this compute to you?
12. How can we be free and be slaves?
13. God's sovereignty remains pure and unmovable, so how do our free choices intermix?
14. What do you say to this, "our free choices are his preordained decrees"?
15. Does God's sovereignty mean we do not have free will?
16. What do you think of this; "we cannot be full of ourselves when we are full of Him"?
17. What does that statement mean to you?
18. What do we owe God?
19. Because God saved us for 'liberty,' what does this mean and how do you apply that meaning?
20. Some people look to God to save them for social reform. Just as the 1st century Jews wanted Jesus to kick out the Roman oppression. So what do you say to such people?
21. How can you exhibit the atonement of Christ in your daily schedule?
22. How can being a 'slave' to Christ give you zeal and passion for Him?
23. What experience have you had, or have seen that demonstrates that just holding to a set of values without the Lord is hollow and leads nowhere?
24. How and what is or has given you the feeling that you are in prison in your life? Before becoming a Christian verses being a Christian?
25. Read Gal. 3:23-25, what has Christ changed in you?
26. Freedom from law, means what?
27. What fuels you to be a person who forgives?
28. What do you need to do to be a person who is forgiving?
29. Our acceptance by Christ gives us access to His presence. What does that mean when your day is busy and filled with stress?
30. What does it mean when you are having fun and are carefree?
31. We have been set free from our own faulty thinking and superstitions. So what were some of your superstitions and bad thinking?
32. We need to be employed in a job so we have so we can earn a paycheck. This requires us to respond to our boss. If we respond negatively we may be fired, if we do our job well we may get promoted. In Christ we need to be obedient too, but not out of obligation (as a slave does) but out of gratitude and love. So what is the difference to you between a slaves obedience and a servant of Christ?
33. How do you receive this new obedience so it changes your heart and will?
34. What are the dominant forces in your life? Things, ideas, people, job, school, etc?
35. Being a Christian has it's rewards and blessings. So what are they, and how can you hang on to them in times of turmoil?
36. How and why do we run into the danger of becoming lazy Christians?
37. What are you surrendered to?
38. How can you not only see yourselves as God's willing bondservant, but also devote yourself to Him. How would your life and behaviors change? If they are not His, expel them!
39. How is sin not worth the effort?
40. God allows us to choose, what choices are you making? What choices do you need to make?
"The bondage of the will" Perhaps it was Jonathan Edwards who coined this phrase, but it's grasp is clearly taught in Scripture. In a nutshell we have free will to choose, this in reformed theology is called "free agency". (The degree of our freedom is debated by theologians in the reformed camp and outside in Dispensationalism and Arminianism. The reasons are too long and complicated; however virtually all agree that we do have it, and the Bible clearly teaches it. And Calvin himself spent more time on our responsibility than any other subject except prayer.) This means we make our own decisions and reap our own consequences. We have the ability to see the all the options of a decision or situation and the virtue that can come from them or the destruction they can cause. Because of the fall we no longer have the desire to seek God first, thus the need for the Holy Spirit to intercede on our behalf through what Christ did. We have a conscience which knows who God is as reveled in our hearts even without the Word (Rom. 1; Psalm 15; Isa. 40). And this will is at war with the desires of our freedom, our sinful nature to rebel as Adam first did. The bondage is that our hearts are captured by sin, thus our choices are bent toward sin and rebellion. The only way to gain true freedom is by accepting what Christ has done. It is He that sets the will free. And once free we will chose to be surrendered to Him as His bondservant. Which is the ultimate freedom! Then we will have the will that will be inclined to seek His face and live a life pleasing to our Lord. (John 8:34-36; Rom. 6:16-23; 2:20; Gal. 5:1-13)
"Perseverance of the Saints" The "P" in TULIP: That we are preserved in faith by the strength of Christ, our salvation is secure and cannot be lost. God is the one who perseveres, we are its recipients. Faith is our entire being in a right relationship with Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 11:6). We can continue in the faith for the long run because of His work and not our sanctification or growth. This is the proof of our election (Gal. 5). Our growth is a result, and effect and not the cause. Those who truly are regenerative are secure, and if they fall into sin there is forgiveness and consequence. Those who are not regenerative have no hope. (John 6:37-40; 10:28-29; 17:2-24; Phil. 1:6; 1 Cor. 1:8; 9:1; 1 Thess. 5:23-24; 2 Thess. 3:32 Tim. 1:12; 4:18) However, our desire and response to regeneration is to be humble, knowledgeable and repentive, and always seeking God.
©1998, 2001, 2004 Richard Joseph Krejcir, Into Thy Word http://www.intothyword.org/