15 What then? Should we continue to sin, because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! 16 Do you not know that when you offer yourselves to obey someone as slaves, you are slaves of the one you are obeying—whether slaves of sin, resulting in death, or slaves of obedience, resulting in righteousness?
17 Thanks be to God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to the pattern of the teaching into which you were placed. 18 After you were set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 (I am speaking in a human way because of the weakness of your flesh.) Indeed, just as you offered your members as slaves to impurity and lawlessness, resulting in more lawlessness, so now offer your members in the same way as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness. 21 So what kind of fruit did you have then? They were things of which you are now ashamed. Yes, the final result of those things is death. 22 But now, since you were set free from sin and have become slaves to God, you have your fruit resulting in sanctification—and the final result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the undeserved gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 6:15-23
It’s begun. I saw it at Lowes, Walmart and Hobby Lobby this past week. The Christmas decorations are out and ready for you to make your Christmas decorating purchased. This means you’ve also probably heard it—the complaints from people who say we haven’t even finished with Halloween and already the Christmas decorations are out. Along with the coming busy shopping season will also come seasonal, part-time jobs for people. UPS, Fed-Ex and Amazon will hire seasonal workers to be sure to deliver all the packages. These flexible workers are a great help, and they are usually a savvy move by companies. In order to cut costs you’ve heard about, or perhaps even experienced companies who hire “flexible” employees that work less than full time, and then work at a reduced rate and usually without receiving benefits. While on the one hand these workers are a benefit, they may also create a problem.
These casual workers are cheaper to hire and may threaten to end the careers of long-time, faithful employees. And if the full-time employees survive the cuts, it will most certainly affect their morale. It may also create tension for the casual part-time workers because they’re not sure how long they’ll have a job. Add to this the casual approach of casual workers who may not be so committed to their not-so-committed employer, resulting in casual work. My point here is not to say the casual workers and those who hire casual workers are somehow sinning or immoral. My point is that this situation may result in a scenario where everyone can lose. I’m going to call this “casual death,” in comparison to a “committed life.”
The focus of our worship today speaks about faith being the foundation of our Christian life. We are called to be anything but casual workers. We are called by God to:
Live As Slaves of God…With a Smile
From Casual Death
Recall that Pastor Paul is writing this letter to Christians that he had not yet met, but had heard about their Christian activities in Rome and wrote this letter in order to give them God’s plan of salvation and a Christian’s response to being saved. In this section Paul recognizes that there is an ongoing struggle to avoid sin in the life of a Christian. He begins this section at verse 12-14, “12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires. 13Do not offer the members of your body to sin as tools of unrighteousness. Instead, offer yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead, and offer the members of your body to God as tools of righteousness.l 14Indeed, sin will not continue to control you, because you are not under lawm but under grace.” The Word before us today then asks the all-important question to God’s people. “15 What then? Should we continue to sin, because we are not under law but under grace?” One way to answer that question is with a shrug of the shoulders, a smirk on the face and say, “Sure, why not. I’ll be forgiven anyway. And the last time I sinned it’s not like the earth opened up and the fires of hell shot out or anything. And besides, everyone else is doing it.” That’s casual.
Such an answer comes from hearts of people who are “slaves to sin….and free from righteousness.” Casual Christianity is not under the control of righteous living, godliness or eternal life, but willing to submit to the control of sin, Satan and death. Casual Christianity leads to the dangerous life of casual death. Casual Christianity forgets to confess sins to God and loves other things more than God. Casual Christianity puts up no fight to follow sinful lusts, lies from Satan and the dark world of death. Satan laughs at people who say, “Satan put those bad thoughts in my head,” because he knows it isn’t about putting bad thoughts into our head, but keeping God-fearing, repent thoughts out of our head! Satan wants us to become casual in thinking about our Savior, our Redeemer, and to fail to Live as Slaves to God.
Go ahead, take a casual approach to your sock drawer if you want, but do not take a casual approach to living as a redeemed child of God. Jesus warned us, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, …. 3 Watch yourselves.” (Luke 17:1,3). There is nothing casual about sinning against God. God tells us that a casual approach to sin with a ho-hum attitude might feel good at first, but after we’ve sinned will burn the hearts of God’s people with shame, regret and fear. And given the opportunity, if we set Jesus aside and fall to become casual slaves to sin, then we’re slaves to the curse of unbelief and will fall under the curse of casual death. Anyone who thinks that sin is just another casual part of another day must hear and heed the warning spoken today—“The wages of sin is death!” Let us never take a casual approach to our life as slaves of God! Rather let’s live as Slaves of God!
Transition: For some, hearing that we are slaves of God might sound scary. True, our understanding of being a slave would mean working without any compensation, or as nothing but the property of the owner. However, living as a Slave of God actually sets us free! Therefore, let’s live as a Slave of God…with a smile
To a Committed Christian Life!
St Paul was inspired to tell us about this wonderful life as a Slave of God. “22 But now, since you were set free from sin and have become slaves to God, you have your fruit resulting in sanctification—and the final result is eternal life.” As God’s slaves we have a fruit called sanctification—we can call that a “committed godly life.” Because Jesus offered his perfect life on the cross as our substitute for our sinful life, the Father declared us not guilty of our sins and made us his own adopted sons and daughters of his eternal family. However, we’re not in heaven yet. We do have the opportunity now to live as God has made us. We are not living to earn wages from God, but the wages we deserve are only punishment and death. The only hope of unworthy slaves of God is to get what we do not deserve, “but the undeserved gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Dear friends, this is our motivation to live as God’s slaves. Jesus Christ died and has washed away all our sins. Jesus took the punishment we deserved from the Father while hanging on the cross. Jesus offered his perfect life to God and was dead and buried. Then Jesus rose from the dead to show us his power over Satan, that Jesus has broken sin’s control over us. Jesus Christ has set us free from the manipulation and scare tactics of sin and Satan to serve a new master, one who sets us free to live for him!
So often people think that being a Christian takes all the fun out of life. I’d like to compare that to Ellie, J & J’s new dog. When I come over Ellie goes into the cage to protect me from being nipped at! Then I’m safe to enjoy the visit. God puts Satan, sin and the power of death into the cage for you. It’s not as if God were putting us into a cage and not allowing us to enjoy life. If those who say “being a Christian means giving up all the fun in life,” then ask them what they mean by “fun!” If enjoying life to them means getting drunk, living in over-indulgence, making up new rules for sex and marriage, and letting the sinful nature loose, that is hardly a joyful life. But, when a person realizes that Jesus came to put Satan and the harm caused by sin into the cage and locked him in, and has given us the joy of living outside the cage in the freedom of this wonderful world God has given to us, living under his direction, then our lives are filled with joy, happiness and contentment. And what makes all this even better, is none of it counts toward saving us, but is the result of already being saved. They are fruits of our faith in God, reflected in our life and stand on Judgment Day as a testimony to our faith in Jesus. Paul said it, “have become slaves to God, you have your fruit resulting in sanctification—and the final result is eternal life.” That is the blessing of a committed Christian life as a slave of God with a smile.
Many of you have already seen the reality TV show called, “Undercover Boss.” This show features the CEO of a company leaving the board room and going undercover to evaluate and improve their company by being with the employees. They work with the non-management employees at several positions in order to learn the workings of their situation. When the CEO reveals himself at the end of the show they offer the workers increased wages and promotions, but there is more. When the CEOs realized how much these people mean to the company they offer them special bonuses, or trips to see their dying grandmother, or paying for a child’s college tuition. There is nothing casual about the CEO’s commitment to improving their companies through people, and giving them gifts. There is nothing casual about God’s commitment to you and your life. He gave you his gift of life to give you everything! “23 For the wages of sin is death, but the undeserved gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This fills our hearts with thanksgiving and commitment to God who first loved us so much. Paul gives us 4 reasons: “17 Thanks be to God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, 1) you became obedient from the heart to the pattern of the teaching into which 2) you were placed. 18 After 3) you were set free from sin, 4) you became slaves of righteousness.” The Holy Spirit goes to work to show you Jesus, to bring you into God’s family through baptism, to free you to eat and drink to the glory of God, and to love what is good. There is nothing casual about Jesus’ life and death to forgives us all. Let there be nothing casual about your hearts of thanks. For you recognize all Jesus has done for you. Now, obey with a proper heart, with proper joy in following God’s Word to enjoy the blessed life of peace, hope and forgiveness.
Yes, the department stores around us are serious about the up and coming shopping season before Christmas. They are also serious about providing good service to you and may hire casual workers to fulfill the needs of their business. But, there is nothing casual about God’s amazing love for you. He has richly blessed us in Jesus Christ. Trust in Jesus and joyfully live as a slave of God with a smile on your face as a Committed Christian. Fight against the casual death and deception of Satan. Yes, enjoy the gift of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. Amen!