Romans 6:12-23 (NRSV)
Verse 12Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Verse 13No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. Verse 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Verse 15What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Verse 16Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? Verse 17But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, Verse 18and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. Verse 19I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification. Verse 20When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Verse 21So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. Verse 22But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. Verse 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“You got to serve something, ain’t that right?” the Avett Brothers sing in their rollicking hit “Ain’t No Man.” That line played in my head as I read these words from Romans. You can serve sin or you can serve God, Paul says. Serving sin leads to death; serving God leads to life.
Of course, as Martin Luther reminds us, we are all servants of sin, whether we like it or not. It is only through Christ’s death on the cross that we have been given the free gift of eternal life. It is as if Paul says in verse 15, “You have already received God’s gift of eternal life, so stop living like you haven’t!”
The Avett Brothers sing on: “There ain’t no man can enslave me / Ain’t no man or men that can change the shape my soul is in / … ‘Cause I got only love to share.” Nothing can separate you from the free gift of life that is in Christ Jesus. So, go and live your life in love.
God of grace, thank you for giving us the free gift of eternal life! Send your Spirit to empower us to live holy lives grounded in that salvation. Amen.