11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
We are blessed in America to no longer live in a place that accepts slavery as the norm. We don’t live with the consequences of owning other humans and controlling their lives to the extent that a slave master controls the lives of his or her slaves. Freedom is a wonderful thing. I appreciate that I have choices that eventually define my life – choices about where to live, with whom to live, what to do with my time, and even who to talk with. Slaves do not have those choices.
In this passage in Romans, Paul makes it clear that we have a choice to make about who we belong to – who our owner is. Will it be sin or righteousness?
As I get older, I’m becoming more and more aware the reality of this principle. The wonderful strength and optimism (and dare I say arrogance?) of youth is believing that you are in control of your own choices. And to a degree that is true. The reality, however, is that when those choices involve sin we become bound to that sin. The invisible cords that keep us attached to that sin are as real as any visible thing that places boundaries in your life. More real, actually. The more we sin, the more tightly those cords are bound.
When we choose Christ those cords are broken. We have the power to untangle them and walk in freedom. They have been cut and we can walk freely. Better yet, we can run and jump and play freely. Each time we choose righteousness, we step further and further away from the cords gaining more freedom.
Each time we choose to sin, however, we allow the enemy to tie knots in those cords that had been cut and begin to re-establish the bonds from which Christ freed us. Every step back into our old life, every obedience to our old self, is an obedience to our old slave master, sin. Every step toward our new life and in our new self are steps in obedience to our new master, Jesus who is righteousness.
Joshua gave the challenge well after the Israelites had entered the Promised Land and shortly before his death:
14“Now therefore revere the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15Now if you are unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Joshua was choosing righteousness and freedom. Paul was exhorting the Romans for choosing righteousness over sin. What sin easily besets you, friend? May I encourage you to choose righteousness in that area today? Walk away from the cords that Satan wants to bind you with. Jesus has cut them off and given you the power to choose to walk in freedom from sin – choose righteousness today.