A quick jump into Romans, picking up where we left off, and I will use the Message, as it comes across like a 90 mile per hour fastball in the World Series.
Romans 6:15 MSG So, since we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind?
Take it easy with terminology like tyranny. God introduces the law with ten commandments. Does that seem so overwhelming? No, and not only that, but most of these commandments could be classified under the category of treat people decently.
If you were paying attention in Sunday School, then you would know that the first one says, “love the Lord your God.” If you perceive that as tyranny, then perhaps you need to rethink what is going on at this point in the history of the nation of Israel, and your own life.Here is a short, but twisted history of “Israel.”
The descendants of Jacob, with the help of the #2 man in Egypt, Joseph, also a son of Jacob, settled in Egypt. However, after the death of Joseph and a span of time, there was a regime change. The new ruler doesn’t know Joseph, nor does he care, but he seems to be very aware that these Hebrew sheepherders are very large in number, and so an intentional attempt at population reduction begins. God steps in because of the cries of His people and sends them a deliverer – Moses. After a series of devastating plagues, including a night that became known as the Passover, where the firstborn son, in the unmarked homes, would die, God’s people are finally allowed to leave. One of the monumental events in this migration is the parting of the Red Sea, through which Israel walked with over a million people. But, it is also the place where, once the people had crossed safely, God released the water He had been holding back, and drowned the armies of Egypt that were in close pursuit. You might think they would be thankful and worship, but that did not happen. In no time at all, they built an altar to the god Moloch, upon which they roasted their children.
God made a keen attempt to control this nonsense and to try and remove the filth of Egypt from them. He called these instructions commandments; but apparently, many of you call them tyranny.
So the implications are clear, we don’t have the freedom to act any way we choose.
Alright then, how do we control ourselves? It’s more like, how is God going to do that in us? I say this because I live with the reality that is called me, and I know what this body wants to do, such as act out in rage. This refresher course in what we last studied should help you understand.
“knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7 NASB)
Simply put, if you have given yourselves over to Christ by faith, you have been crucified with Him. God did this so that the effects we have to deal with because of these broken bodies, MIGHT be squelched, subdued, and conquered; and, that we would no longer be slaves to sin. Granted, if you are living a life that is out of control, you are simply a slave, following someone else’s commands. I say that with a sinister snicker, as so many of you think, you make your own decisions. You don’t.So what is the grand secret to making this all work?
If, because of your “new” relationship with Jesus, you can realize that Jesus died to sin, and you have given yourself to follow His example, then as we speak, you are dead to sin as well. Now, the practicality of all this is, you may have to remind: yourself, the enemy (Satan,) and a few of your acquaintances that you died to that junk that enslaved you for so long and that you choose not to partake any longer.
This idea of choice is marvelous and freeing. You get to choose: to not jump at every whim Satan offers; you get to choose joy; and, you get to choose to forgive and forbear the bitterness that comes when you decide to be the punisher and gatekeeper of the mental prison in which you are keeping those that offend.
Alright, this is going to sting.
Romans 6:16 NLT Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.
- “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey?”
It might as well say, “what is wrong with you?” “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey?”
How many things, outside of God’s will, have you given yourselves over to?
- “You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.”
The choice is yours.
Am I saying, that to choose poorly will send you to hell, hardly, but what kind of life will you live here on this earth? Let’s get something straight here; I write to people who follow Christ. Now the reality of that statement is that you, like me, either stumbled around in the darkness, or you are there now. I am telling you, time is short, and you need to get yourselves free.
You were not called to be in bondage to anything.
What is the very next thing Paul says?
Romans 6:17 CJB By God’s grace, you, who were once slaves to sin, obeyed from your heart the pattern of teaching to which you were exposed;Note, this is all and only, by God’s grace.
- “You, who were once slaves to sin,”
- But you, “obeyed from your heart the pattern of teaching to which you were exposed;”
Many will say, we are free from the law, and …”; and that is precisely how we opened this study today; however, I need to point something out, Jesus said, I have not come to do away with the law, merely fulfill it, and that is what He did.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily, I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Matthew 5:17-18 KJV)
And the reality is, that there is not a chance that all will be fulfilled until Jesus comes roaring back on the scene as the conquering Messiah that Israel has longed for.
Are you telling me that the law is still out there, and I have to live by it? I am telling you that without thinking about it, you have been living by it, particularly if the Holy Spirit of God dwells within you.
What is the first and most important commandment, was the question asked by the scribes and Pharisees? Number one on the stone tablets, and it still stands true today,
Jesus replied, “The chief one is: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, with your whole mind, and with your whole strength. (Mark 12:29-30 Moffatt NT)And to this very day, He desires our love and attention. This is not an oppressive thing; it is the very reason He made humankind in His image, to have a relationship with. Most people who struggle with the notion that God’s desires are oppressive have usually come out of dysfunctional homes and relationships. Maybe, this should speak loudly to those of us who still have a chance to influence, in a positive manner, some young person, so that they don’t have to go through recovery like I have.
Romans 6:17 and now 18 from another translation.
You were slaves to sin. But I thank God that you have become wholeheartedly obedient to the teachings which you were given. Freed from sin, you were made slaves who do what God approves of. (Romans 6:17-18 GW)
Think about that for a moment. “Freed from sin, you were made slaves who do what God approves of.” Slaves have no rights, and may only function within the parameters of their bondage, but this relationship we are in is one of freedom. Our freedom is found within the relationship, because outside, in the enemy’s camp, there is nothing but death.
So let’s end this study with a short speech from the Apostle Paul, and Eugene Peterson’s “Message.”
I’m using this freedom language because it’s easy to picture. You can readily recall, can’t you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing—not caring about others, not caring about God—the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God’s freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness? As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn’t have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you’re proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end. But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master. (Romans 6:19-23 MSG)
While I would not use Peterson’s Message as a study bible, it certainly says things in plain English at times.
Paul said to the group reading this letter, who was, by the way, primarily Jewish, I am using this language because it’s easier to picture. Watch this.
“You can readily recall, can’t you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing—not caring about others, not caring about God—the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God’s freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness? As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn’t have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you’re proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end. But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death.”
Death is an interesting concept as it has multiple meanings. Haven’t I told you that God has engraved you on the palms of His hands; what does that mean to you? To me, it means that I can never be pushed aside and given over to Satan and the hell God has planned for him.
But, there are other meanings, such as literal death. Since your soul is eternal then a literal death would have meant a cessation of life down here.
Wouldn’t it really be a question of where you will spend eternity?
As a believer and one that may have been taken captive by the enemy, your life is not destined for hell, although it is grievous that you will have been rendered useless for sharing God’s love.
The last deathly option is one that Adam may have come to understand; separation from God.
To best understand this separation it would be good to visualize Adam. Adam had that freedom of relationship that Eugene Peterson’s Message was trying to convey when he said, as you have discovered the delight of conversing with God. Clearly, this was something that Adam seems to have lost.
The implications of this separation, that many are proponents of, are that you have become dead to God, and therefore lost to hell. Jesus experienced this same separation on the cross, and did we lose Him to hell? NO, therefore God is not going to lose us to hell either.
“…I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost,…” (John 17:12b NLT)
And He still, to this very day, intercedes on our behalf, and He will not lose any.
I know, there are unusual Bible passages, that imply that there are some that can and will fall away. One, in particular, was espoused by the Apostle John, however, I do not believe that people John is referring to, chose to belong to God in the first place.
I will tell you though, I choose to believe that God calls to your heart frequently. Proverbs tells me that wisdom cries out in the highways and byways, therefore we need to tune into God’s voice, not the other way around.
My suggestion, run to the one who loves you.