Living under "Slavery"
“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’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? But 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.” (Romans 6:15-17)
Paul uses the strongest possible “No” to the notion that believers in Christ could go back to their old ways and live like the world. In Christ we have a new Master, new identity, new heart, new source of strength in the Holy Spirit, new hope, new outlook on life, with salvation assurance! “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day— and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)
Let me phrase this from another angle: Those who have truly come to Christ by recognizing their sin by the Holy Spirit and repenting of it, surrendering their lives to God, have understood that they cannot continue to live in the way they once had. They see that they were slaves to a corruption that leads to death, they could not save themselves from it. They witnessed the cruelty of their old slave-master. Knowing the weakness of their natural selves, they stay far from that which would lead them back into danger. Finally, they are confident that the trade they made is FAR better, even if this new life leads them into temporary hardships. Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62) “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)
After clarifying all that Paul had prior to following Jesus, he writes, “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ— the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:7-11)
In an age of increased compromise and apostasy, those considering Jesus Christ must understand all that is at stake, and all that is offered…in other words, “Counting the Cost”. (Luke 14:25-33) Even for those who profess faith in Christ, it would be good to reevaluate your commitment to Christ in light of the threat of upcoming persecution. Are you prepared to give your very life to the Son of God? Will you truly put Him first above those other loves that vie for your attention and affection? In a society where it is no longer socially advantageous to be considered a “Christian”, would you be putting God’s estimations of you above that of others? In sharing the Gospel with the “least of these”, are you willing to help them be aware of all that is at stake in this decision, and not simply “Yes to Jesus?”
Paul put it this way to a wavering church that struggled to understand the very nature of the Gospel, “But now that you know God— or rather are known by God— how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” (Gal 4:9)
In what appears to be an increasingly chaotic, unraveling society due to a loss of the understanding of God’s Law, identity & meaning, it will most likely not be socially advantageous to become a Christian! (apart from finding a family of faith that will care for you and build you up under God’s proscription) Increased crimes will be committed by the godless against those they perceive are “hateful”, though Jesus said that “all men will hate you because of me”. I would be most at risk for taking a stand against current societal forces, because I am led by an authority above them. For those that idolize government or Marxist ideologies as the cure for society’s ills, the uncompromised Christian Church will be seen as a threat. I believe that there will come a tremendous pressure to cave in to apostasy that will rival the worst days of the Roman empire, and a Christian’s response to it will be determined by how much a “slave” they are to Jesus Christ! (Romans 1:1, Colossians 1:10)
This brings us back to the passage from Romans 6 at the beginning. If you knew that the Word of God was going to become illegal someday, how much would you seek to commit to the heart…to memory? If you were graciously granted 70-80 years in this life, but knew of the eternity to come, how would your time in the bible change? Are you “longing for His appearing”? (2 Tim 4:8) Are you “wholeheartedly obey(ing) the form of teaching to which you were entrusted(?)” (Romans 6:17) My continual prayer is that we be found faithful!