“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. 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.” – (Romans 6:1-2, 14, 22-23 NIV)
In Romans 6, the apostle Paul addresses the concept of how believers should understand their relationship with sin and the transformative power of Jesus Christ. Paul begins by asking the question, “Should we continue sinning so that grace may increase?” He emphatically answers, “No!” and explains why.
Paul explains that when a person chooses to follow Jesus and is baptized, they are united with Him in His death and resurrection. This means that their old sinful self is crucified with Christ, and they are no longer enslaved to sin. Just as Christ was raised from the dead, believers are raised to a new life in Him.
Paul encourages believers to consider themselves “dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” He urges them not to let sin reign in their bodies, but to offer themselves to God as instruments of righteousness. The power of sin has been broken, and believers are now under the grace of God, which empowers them to live a life that is pleasing to Him.
Paul emphasizes that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. He emphasizes the contrast between the old life of sin and its consequences and the new life of righteousness and the gift of eternal life.
Slavery in biblical times was a complex social and economic reality, and the biblical texts reflect the historical context in which they were written.
When the Bible uses slavery as a metaphor or analogy, it does so to illustrate spiritual or relational concepts rather than to promote or justify the practice of human slavery. Metaphors and analogies are common literary devices used to convey abstract ideas in a more relatable way.
For example, in the New Testament, believers are often referred to as “slaves” or “servants” of Christ. This metaphorical language is used to express the idea of believers willingly submitting themselves to the authority and lordship of Christ, serving Him with devotion and obedience. It highlights the concept of surrendering one’s will and following Christ wholeheartedly.
However, it is essential to distinguish between the metaphorical use of slavery in the Bible and the historical reality of chattel slavery that involved the ownership and mistreatment of human beings. Slavery as practiced in biblical times was often a result of socio-economic circumstances, including debt, war, or servitude. The Bible does contain regulations aimed at providing some protection for slaves and addressing their well-being, and in Philemon Paul is writing him to encourage him to let his slave go free in spite of the fact that the Roman law for what Onesimus running away was the death penalty.
It is important to approach biblical texts with an understanding of their historical and cultural context, recognizing that the Bible reflects the realities of the societies in which it was written. While the Bible contains moral principles that emphasize justice, compassion, and equality, it is crucial to interpret these principles in light of the broader biblical message and the teachings of Jesus, who emphasized love, equality, and the inherent dignity of all human beings.
When reading this passage what stood out to you?
How do you sense God may want you to apply what you discovered?
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