The Letter to the Romans
COLLEEN MOORE TINKER
21. Enslaved by Life
19 I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.
20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.
21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)
In this passage Paul concludes his dissertation about the contrast between being enslaved by sin and being slaves to righteousness. He exhorts the Romans to choose to surrender themselves to the life-giving power of God.
1. What exactly does Paul mean when he says his readers used to offer the parts of their bodies in slavery to impurity and ever-increasing wickedness? (see Romans 1:21-32; Romans 2:6; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 4:17-19)
2. If being in Christ sets us free, what does it mean to be a slave to righteousness? (see 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Philippians 1:4-6; Galatians 5:1, 16; Ephesians 1:18-20; 3:20-21; 4:21-24; 5:8-12; Romans 14:4)
3. What marks the transition from being a slave to sin to being a slave to righteousness? (see John 3:5-6; Acts 15:8-9; Romans 8:9-11; 15-17; 10:4; Galatians 4:8-9; Ephesians 1:13-14; Colossians 2:9-10)
4. The benefit of being set free from sin and becoming slaves to God, Paul says, "leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life." Look up the word "holiness". What exactly is it, and why is it important? (see Hebrews 12;14; 1 Corinthians 1:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, 7; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Peter 1:1-2)
5. Verse 23 summarizes the paradox of the two forms of slavery described in chapter 6: slavery to sin, or slavery to God. Slavery to sin earns wages: death. Slavery to God yields a gift: life. Wages are earned or merited; gifts are not. If we are born into sin, how do we "earn" or "merit" death? (see Genesis 2:16-17; 5:5; Deuteronomy 30:17; Ezekiel 3:17-18; Romans 1:18-20; 28-32; 2:5; 9:21-22; 5:12-14; 7:5; 8:13; Galatians 6:7-8; Ephesians 2:3; James 1:13-15)
6. What is the difference between a person who is earning the wages of sin and a person who is receiving the gift of life? (see Ephesians 2:9; Deuteronomy 9:4-6; Romans 4:2; 2 Timothy 2:8-10; Titus 3:8)
7. From what "impurity" and "ever-increasing wickedness" has Jesus freed you through the Holy Spirit?
8. In what ways or areas of your life are you still a slave to sin?
9. What "good works" do you cherish which seem noble and worthy of God's approval and reward?
10. What area of pride, arrogance, or fear in your life is God asking you to surrender to him, leaving behind your preoccupation with doing the right thing?
11. Tell your story of being born again.
12. Ask God to reveal the things he wants you to surrender to him. Ask
him to fill you with his Spirit and to empower you to let go of your "right"
to be in charge of your life and destiny. Ask God to make you willing to
know the truth and to free you from slavery to your brokenness. Thank God
for Jesus and his incomprehensible gift of death and life. Praise Him for
putting His Spirit in you and for teaching you how to live in true freedom.
Copyright (c) 2004 Graphics Studio, Redlands,
CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted April 17, 2004.