Advent: December 7

Romans 6:20-23

When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.  What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

There are many more references to eternal life in John’s Gospel (link to examples), mainly from the mouth of Jesus, the one who has gained it for us. Lack of days means that we must move on to the letters that the Apostles and others wrote to the new churches scattered around the Roman and Greek world that they’d had a hand in getting started.

Paul is writing to Christians in Rome. He reminds his listeners of the connection between sin and death, which has its origins in the story of the fall of Adam and Eve, which resulted in them being subject to aging and death. Adam and Eve had disobeyed God, and this was the result. This is now the natural state of humanity. We are born into sin, as “descendants” (with or without the quote marks as you please) of Adam and Eve. It may be for you, that “Adam” is “mankind”. Either way, it holds the same outcome. Because of “Adam’s” fall, we are born as slaves to sin.

Paul tells us that we may be freed by accepting Christ Jesus as Lord, and serve him. Perhaps Paul is using strong terms when he talks about us being slaves of God, but he makes the point. In Jesus we move from sin, for Jesus defeated sin on the cross, into holiness, attaining eternal life.

The imagery of the final sentence in this extract encompasses God’s plan of salvation in a nutshell. If we imagine wages as a regular payment, then sin never paid us much, and the pension payment is nothing. In fact, sin just mounts up debt on us. Compare that with a gift, free of charge, paid for in full by Jesus, with all excess payment clauses waivered (i.e. forgiveness at the point of asking), unfading in its promise, that secures eternity in God’s kingdom for us.

The wages of sin(courtesy of Google Street View)

Was I not born with free will, to choose whether or not to sin?

Does a slave of God have freedom?

Father God, it is my desire to follow you, but I fail frequently, wandering away, disowning you or doubting you. You have sent me Jesus, the One who has taken me out of slavery to sin and into your household. Show me how to stay in him that I may meet with you. Amen.

Putting it simply…