Reflection on Rom 6:17-18Post date: 2018-12-15
Reflection on Rom 6:17-18
Thanks be to God that, being converted, we were given the grace to receive the salvific teaching based on the faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We have been delivered by Him from enslavement caused by sin, and we have taken the new path of righteousness.
Chapter six speaks about sin many times. It says: “…though you used to be slaves (Gr. duloi) to sin…”. Today we can see clearly what it is like to be a slave to sin. Sin in the heart of man hates above all truth and true self-criticism, so its essence is pride. It means lack of self-criticism, unwillingness to admit the truth, unwillingness to learn from our own mistake and, on the contrary, an attempt to throw the blame on others or on God, or on so-called circumstances.
Sin includes murder, seeking help from the devil in witchcraft or other occult practices; sin also includes fraud, theft, abuse, rape, unclean thoughts, words or deeds, all kinds of perversion, divorce, hatred, war. What is the fruit of sin? Suffering, tears, loneliness, prison, death. People become slaves to drugs or alcohol, they become homeless or criminals. The reality of sin cannot be denied. Nevertheless, sin is somewhat hidden; it dominates our mind, penetrates our soul and its powers, and affects even our body. All people are born in sin, born to this sad heritage of the first parents. Sin has its root in the spirit of lies and pride, i.e. the devil. In essence, sin is rebellion against God and against the order given by Him. Sin deceives man by false freedom and leads him away from God and His commandments. But this is a great deceit. Serving God and keeping His commandments leads to true freedom; man is gradually delivered from sin and its bondage. Political freedom does not guarantee freedom from sin. Freedom from sin is given us only by God Himself in Jesus Christ. He took our sin upon Himself and paid for all the sins of mankind; however, only those are forgiven who admit their sin and also receive forgiveness offered by Jesus Himself through His sacrifice on the cross for the remission of our sins. This is one thing – forgiveness. Another thing is deliverance from the slavery of sin. And this is what is specially dealt with in chapter six of the Epistle to the Romans. Deliverance is associated with our union with Christ on the cross. Verse 6 reads: “We know that our old self was crucified with Christ.” The old self programmes the lifestyle the centre of which is our ego – our pride which refuses to submit to God. It refuses to obey and submit to God’s commandments and therefore it gladly believes in lies. It creates self-deceits to defend itself and to follow its own self-willed path which is godless. The prophet Isaiah says: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.”
How many people today are slaves to sin; we say that they are addicted – addicted to alcohol, drugs, pornography, gambling, the internet, decadent music (metal, heavy metal, techno). There are also minor addictions – addiction to career, other people’s opinion, materialism, anger, envy, self-pity… We can say that we are in a time of slavery. The main slaveholder is sin and behind sin is the devil. And finally, the wages of sin is death, eternal death. The greatest tragedy is that man does not want to get out of this slavery, rejects Jesus the Redeemer, and avoids people who want to help him be delivered, or sometimes even hates and defames them.
Jesus delivers us from the slavery of sin. The condition is a living faith coupled with a total self-surrender to Jesus. Such faith is seriously mindful of death, God’s judgment and eternity, and makes us aware that our life is just a test which decides our eternity. What is more, we know neither the day nor the hour when God will call us. So we need to be ready at all times. If we bear in mind the fact that our old self has been crucified with Christ, i.e. paralyzed, then it is true that the body /soma/ of sin /tés hamartias/ is inactive /katarghéthé/ (v.6). So true freedom, deliverance from sin, also requires cooperation on our part. The point of victory lies in the fact that with a thought of faith like with a sword we cut off at the root the source of planned evil from our members, namely from our memory, imagination and mind. The main thing is – we will not bring our will under the power of self-deceit – lies, i.e. sin!
What is the motivation? The motivation is holy egoism, which means that we should love ourselves in such way as to be saved, and in the same way we should love our neighbour so that he may be saved too. This is the second commandment which comes after the greatest commandment to love God. God’s will is that we should be saved. And we should fulfil this will of God. Of course, it is an inner struggle, a struggle in our heart. It is a fight between light and darkness. A fight between the spirit of lies and the truth of Christ’s word.
Let us remember that true freedom is only in Christ. Therefore we should turn to Jesus in prayer not only when we have no troubles but also when we face trials. The struggle with sin is the hardest one, but the victory is most glorious! The crown of eternal glory is in store for us. If we fight with sin in us, we thus help others to overcome too. Partly because we can pass on our experience on them and partly because we can set a good example to them. The apostles, prophets and martyrs who were before us struggled with sin and overcame. Some even shed their blood, sacrificed their lives in this struggle. They are true saints, true heroes for us to follow. We should by no means imitate various rock stars who gave themselves over to perversion, drug abuse, or even Satanism, and lead unwise and inexperienced souls into depravity.
The Greek original uses the expression “be slaves to sin”, but it also uses the verb “be enslaved” /edúlóthéte/ in relation to righteousness. The expression “enslaved” by righteousness or by good indicates that we are inwardly united with good, righteousness or true love so much that we can no longer do evil. This “enslavement” by righteousness is true freedom. We are not free if we are slaves to sin. To be rooted in true freedom we must be rooted in Christ in faith and self-surrender. It is outwardly manifested by keeping His commandments. Jesus promises that He and His Father will come to such a soul and make their home there in the Holy Spirit. Here we find true peace, true happiness. We need not be frustrated when someone betrays us, abandons us or persecutes us. We need not even be afraid of suffering or death because Jesus is with us and in us. This is the life of victory when it is true that: If God is for us, who can be against us?
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