It’s almost as if humans have an instinct for becoming slaves¹.

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Consider the words of St Paul in Rom. 6:20-23.

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“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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[MORE]

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    To make sense of the Bible, you just can’t, or shouldn’t jerk them out of context and make them say what you want them to say. So let me add a few moments of context.

   • Paul, (1) the author of about one-half of the New Testament, (2) a schooled Jewish intellectual and (3) a one-time terrible persecutor of the first Christians, is here near the end of his life writing to those believers in Rome that he had a direct, or indirect, hand in converting to faith in Jesus Christ, the resurrected Son of God.

   • This is part of a long, detailed discussion about why people do what they do, what they should do, and the tendency of people to enslave themselves to something.

   • His main point (seems to me) is contrasting (a) one’s ordinary tendency to sin which ipso facto leads to death² and (b) escape from this death that’s made possible by receiving a “free gift” of eternal life that’s given by God (who has the power and willingness to do this) to those who will accept this gift.

   Of course, there’s more fine print, but that’s not our purpose here.

   The devotional observation here is at least four-fold:  (1) Many, though not everyone, may have “sprinklings of goodwill” toward those around them, but deep down everyone has desires and urges that hardly are aimed toward the betterment of those around us. Add to that, these are also hostile to what God wants and expects according to his Law. This results in behavior that is sin. And since that’s universal, all are sinners. (Atheistic Darwinists, would probably erase the word “sin,” considering it outdated, preferring to say something like “necessary selfishness.”)

   (2)  Whatever our predilection is to do evil, God has provided us a way to deal with it, by our “reaching out” and receiving his free gift of eternal life by trusting in and receiving his Son who died and rose again, paying the penalty for our sins. This, of course, doesn’t make us perfect, but it humbles us (or it certainly should!) and reorients the way we look at everything and act. (And let us not neglect mentioning–though it’s not included in this text–the “gift” comes with an “attachment”: we have the promise of the Holy Spirit entering our lives, one who encourages and helps, and sometimes disturbs us when that is necessary.)

   (3)  And to return to what we first said about slavery without forcing details. If we stop and look around us, it’s easy to see and sense that there are many powerful enslaving forces so easy to surrender to, and so hard to escape from.

   (4)  Let us add the generalization behind our offering this text: We at A Dozen Seconds believe that God exists, and the Bible is his Word, relevant to the needs of people today.

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¹ This devotional note, unusual for us, was written after an early morning reading of Romans and feeling deeply affected by Paul’s words.  As usual in these cases, “We pray that whatever is true and important be remembered, and whatever is false, misleading, or trivial may be forgotten or do no harm.” We claim no expertise on the complex issue of slavery or other issues lightly touched upon.

² Regardless of the connection some make to physical death here (not what we’re discussing), the contrast Paul seems to be making is between “spiritual” or eternal death  and “eternal life,” a “forever thing” which kicks in after encountering and accepting Christ.