Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey— whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. 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.”
Paul knew there were people that would misconstrue what he wrote and would mistakenly come to the conclusion that they were free to do whatever they wanted to do because “We’re under God’s grace; you can sin as much as you want to.” This is so far off the mark! Once again, Paul answered with a resounding “By no means!” This is why we spent time yesterday looking at what grace means. We’ve got to fully understand what it is and what it means for us to live under God’s grace.
Paul’s strong retort was a rebuke to wrong thinking. There is a danger in misapplying grace. It can lead us into captivity; it can make us a slave to wrong thinking. The truth—objective reality—is that we are free from the law, but not lawless. Grace means freedom to serve the Lord, not sin against Him.
By placing our faith in Christ alone as our atoning sacrifice, we are justified before God. It’s a once time event in the life of the believer. From that moment, we begin the sanctification process. This is a time of spiritual growth for the believer as we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, transforming us more and more into the image of Christ-likeness.
One of the problems we face is the realization that we have been set free from sin. We know it in our heads and in our hearts, but we still have these bodies to deal with. We may have developed unhealthy habits that work against us in our walk with Christ. Why is that? Because we live in the “already/but not yet.” We’ve talked about this already, but just as a reminder: the “already, not yet” describes the tension between the benefits of redemption already experienced in this life and those benefits which await us at the consummation.
However, there is no reason for us to throw our hands up and say, “Oh well!” I think Paul would say, “You’ve got so much to enjoy in the “already-ness” of the gospel. As citizens of the kingdom, you’ve been set free, so live in that freedom. The chains of sin have been loosened; we don’t have to obey sin’s demands. We can walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, in the freedom found in Christ. Choose to obey God and grow in righteous living.”
Here are several questions for you to consider: Are you spending too much time thinking about the “not yet-ness” and forgetting about the “already-ness” of the kingdom? Are you taking a pessimistic view of your life? Are you giving sin a foothold? Are you letting sin control you? If so, why?
You do know that you can stop today. You can let go and embrace the reality of the gospel in your life. Your chains have been broken and you are now free to live in the “already-ness” of the Kingdom of God and let the “not yet-ness” fill you with confidence, knowing that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.
Stop and turn to Christ. Let the Holy Spirit work to sanctify you, to grow you more and more into the likeness of Christ. Trust Jesus to carry you through to the day when you will stand beside Him complete and holy.
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible. The Cambridge Bible Commentary, Romans, Best, Ernest.