Slavery is Worship: Which Kind Are You? Romans 6
Introduction: The blog: Slavery is worship: Which kind are you is derived from Roman 6. It addresses the worshiper as one who is a slave to sin or to righteousness. Worship is an essential activity of every person. God created man a worshiping, religious being whether this fact is denied or not. It is a given. Therefore, the question that must be and that Paul answered is which kind are you? This blog helps you begin to answer the issue: Slavery is worship: which kind are you?
v.15: What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
v.16: Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are salves to the one who you obey- whether you are salves to sin which leads to death or to obedience which leads to righteousness?
v.17:But thanks be to God that though you used to be saves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.
v.18: You have been set free from sin and have become a slave to righteousness.
v.19: I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.
v.20: .When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.
v.21: What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!
The title probably garnered your attention. Good. To determine the validity of the statement we must use a proper standard. Which one? As Isaiah wrote in 8:20: to the law and to the testimony – to God’s Word – the Bible. The idea of slavery denotes loss of freedom: captivity, bondage, burdened, and servitude. The word is relational. There is a master who is in charge and a slave who does the master’s bidding.
Romans 6:15-23 powerfully explains why slavery is alive and well throughout all ages. To rightly understand any concept, we must go to the truth about God and ourselves. It is truth that sets you free – free from the bondage of deadness, darkness, and depravity (John 8:31-32). The truth, a Person and God’s Word, sets us free (John 14:6; 17:17). Paul further clarifies John’s words in Romans 6:15-23.
Paul began verse 16 with the words: don’t you know. Paul assumed common knowledge in regards to slavery. Slavery was a common phenomenon in the Roman culture and was unlike the system of slavery known in the United States. In Paul’s day, slavery did not carry the idea of chattel. It did carry the idea of ownership, submerged rights, and undivided allegiance. By the first century AD, a slave was equal to a freeborn counterpart in the Roman world. Still slavery carried the idea that the slave is not his own.
In fact, biblically, everyone is a slave and slavery is worship: which kind are you?. Everyone serves some master. Paul wanted his readers to focus on this fundamental fact. Moreover, slavery is of the whole person: thoughts, desires and actions. A person is a slave of and to sin, self, and Satan or he is a slave of and to God. The unsaved slave marches to the drumbeat of self, for self, to self, and by self. He has no concern for the master or his fellow slaves. The saved slave marches to another drumbeat: of God, for God, to God, and by God. The life of the unsaved slave is characterized by disobedience, uncleanness, and lawlessness – the person is a law unto one’s self. The life of the saved slave is characterized by obedience, righteousness, and light and life (see 6.17-19).
According to the Bible, slavery is worship activity (6:16, 19). One presents himself to the master, thoughts, desires, and actions. In our passage, Paul presents one master as self and Satan and the other as God. Serving Satan and serving self are versions of the same anti-God activity and rebellion. Serving God is a privilege and blessing as well as duty. The believer is still a slave but a slave unto God (6:17-20). He puts off self-pleasing and embraces pleasing God.
In verse 17, Paul described the results of a radical transformation in the believer: …who you once were – slaves of sin. Paul used the same metaphor elsewhere (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 2:1-3). By God’s supernatural activity the believer is not what he was. He has a new heart and new-heart obedience based on a Holy Spirit-implanted trust in God. Paul did not mean that the unbeliever obeys from something other than the heart. The unbeliever functions whole-heartedly and is fully-devoted to self in place of God. Biblically, from the heart means a whole-person activity from a changed inner man. The slave of God knows he has a new Master and he embraces Him. He thinks and desires God’s thoughts and desires and the resultant actions are designed to please God, the new Master, simply because He is God and He deserves allegiance and devotion.
Verse 18 speaks of freedom from a power or authority. Paul describes this moral drama played out in the whole person in Romans 7:14-25. For the believer, the new operative principle ushers in a new mindset and lifestyle. The master has changed – from sin, self, and Satan to God. The relationship to God has changed. Slave, yes, but it is a freeing-slavery because it is unto God. Consequently, activity has changed from self-pleasing to pleasing God and producing fruits of righteousness. Trust and obedience in and to the old master is being set aside and in its place is trust and obedience out of awe, respect, and gratitude for God, who He is, what He has done, and what the new slavery consists.
In Luke 4:18-22, Luke records Jesus’ words in His inaugural public sermon in the synagogue. Jesus quoted from Isaiah 42:7; 49:8-9, and 61:1. Jesus presented a powerful vision of release and rescue from bondage and blindness bathed in the joy of deliverance. Both Paul and Luke used the metaphor of sin/self and God as slave-masters to help you and me understand the bad news of sin and misery, and the good news of salvation and sanctification individually and corporately (the church).
In Romans 6:20-22, Paul picked up the tempo. He does not want his people to be content in the change but in changing. Paul expected fruit (v.21). He encouraged his readers to look back at their past in order to live as God-pleasers in the present and future (1 Timothy 1:12-15; Philippians 3:12-14; and 1 John 3:1-3). The fruit that Paul expected was becoming more like Christ (v.22).
In Romans 13:14 Paul drew a line in the sand that differentiated the two types of slavery. The believer is to be putting off self and self-pleasing and putting on Christ. He does this by pleasing the Father as he becomes more Christ-like in thought, desire, and action. The believer has been set free from self, sin, and Satan. He is free and able to trust and obey and please God. It is a gift, privilege, and blessing.
1. Do you have a biblical construct re: slavery or do you let the culture determine how to interpret terms?
2. Describe your slavery and its results (see Proverbs 5:21-22; 13:15b; 26:11).
3. What patterned thoughts, desires, and actions of self-pleasing and slavery to self have you brought over into the Christian life that you are replacing guided by enabling-grace and biblical truth? How are you progressing?