Choose or Lose

Choose or Lose

By Henry Nelson

 

 

 

Romans 6:15-23 15”Whatthen? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!16Don’t you know thatwhen you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves tothe one whom you obey whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, orto obedience, which leads to righteousness?17But thanks be to Godthat, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the formof teaching to which you were entrusted.18You have been setfree from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.19I put this in humanterms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offerthe parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasingwickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.20When you were slavesto sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.21What benefit did youreap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of ? Those things resultin death!22But now that you havebeen set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reapleads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.23For the wages of sinis death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.” {{more}} Everyday each one of us is confronted with choices that somehow affect ourlives in a larger way: The Speed Limit when we drive we choose whether or notto go the prescribed speed limit or choose to take our chances and go over thelimit and risk an accident or injury or the pronouncement of the law. We choose to listen or not to listen to the advice given to us by our parentsor preachers, family or friends. Often when given the advice of others we weighit and determine if it’s the course of action we want to take. The words ofEleanor Roosevelt ring true: One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words.It is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our livesand we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die and the choices wemake are ultimately our responsibility. In our text this week Paul calls us to decide. Paul calls for choices. AsChristians it is essential that our choices reflect our obedience to God. Why?Is it Essential? Because who we obey we end up serving. Paul opens up the textwith a question in verse 15. “Since God’s grace has set us free from the law,does this mean we can go on sinning? He answers his own rhetorical questionwith a resolute “Of course not!” Then Paul proceeds with an everyday analogythat a 1st Century Christian would understand Slavery. Why use the analogy of amaster/slave relationship in conjunction with the everyday choices we make? Inverse 19 Paul tells them why, “I speak this way using the illustration ofslaves and masters, because it is easy for you to understand.” But today thismay not be easy for us to understand because slavery no longer exists inAmerica. So we have to look at the scripture through the eyes of a 1st CenturyRoman Christian. When a slave was passed in ownership from one master to anotherthe old Masters authority came to an end. Once says Paul you were slaves tosin. Sin was your old master and you were forced to do all the evil desiresyour heart ordered you to do you had no power to say no. Think on your own life today. Whathas God liberated you from that you were powerless to change in your bestefforts: Anger? Rage? Fear? Control? Substances? Did you find yourself in alifestyle that repeated itself in destructive mistakes and bad influences on apath of self-destruction? That lifestyle and those patterns should becompletely broken no longer embraced or lived now because you have come toChrist. You have been freed from sins power. When slaves were transferred tothe new owner there is a new set of rules. So Paul goes on to say: But now you have passed from the service of sin into the service of God; yourbusiness now is to do what pleases God, not what sin dictates. Amen! So the true disciple of Jesus has adaily choice: We can choose to serve the old master of our lives Sin, and reapthe wages Sin will eventually give us. Or we can choose to serve Jesus as ourMaster and live a life of holiness and Christ-like character. What if we chooseour old master above our new? What if our own desires to do what we want to doare more important to us? What if the pull of the world is more important to usthen the pull of God on our hearts? What if we choose to keepthose habits and not submit them to the control of the Holy Spirit? Well, we donot have to look far for an illustration to give us the answer. Bondage to Sinonly leads deeper into slavery so it becomes harder and harder to do what isright. Soon one might even give up trying. Amen! TheProdigal Son is an example of this. When he was at home, he decided he wantedhis freedom, so he left home to find himself and enjoy himself. But hisrebellion only led him deeper into slavery. He became a slave of wrong desires,and then He became a slave to wrong deeds. Finallyhe became a literal slave when he took care of the pigs. What he thought wasfreedom turned out to be the worst kind of slavery. It was only when hereturned home and yielded to his father that he found true freedom. A Christiancan be like the Prodigal Son. When we want to serve ourselves more then when wewant to serve God; we are setting ourselves up for slavery. We have just becomeblinded to a simple fact that Jesus told us and we may have forgotten. “No one can serve two masters. For youwill hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.”Jesus was in fact telling us what Paul is calling us to choose who we obey; weend up serving. There is a warning to pastors about Christians in the lastdays. Paul wrote to a young pastor by the name of Timothy and he told him howChristians would choose to become self-serving rather than obedient to theLordship of Jesus Christ. You should also know this, Timothy that in the lastdays there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselvesand their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedientto their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They willbe unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control;they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good. They will betray theirfriends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather thanGod. They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the powerthat could make them godly. Paul would go on to tell Timothy that theseChristians faith is counterfeit because they are making daily choices thatreflect the old master of self rather than the Lordship of Jesus Christ intheir lives. Thechoices made of whom we will serve will determine our eternal destiny ourreward. We either choose to serve God or we lose! If we choose to live for andserve our own selves we choose to live independently of God in our choices andthat is called Sin. Paul said in verse 16 that we do have that choice to chooseliving for ourselves; to choose sin. But sin leads to death. Mosesupon his death assembled all of Israel together and in essence told them to chooseor lose! This is what he said: Today I have given you the choice between lifeand death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witnessthe choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and yourdescendants might live! Choose to love the Lord your God and to obey him andcommit yourself to him, for he is your life. Then you will live long in theland the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Joshuaat the age of 95 after leading the next generation after Moses again gaveIsrael the same choice. But if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, then choosetoday whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors servedbeyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land younow live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” As Christians it is essential that our choices reflect our obedience to God. Ifwe obey ourselves we serve ourselves Not God! Our doing nothing for God issomething God holds us accountable for. BobDylan once sang a song You have Got To Serve Somebody It may be the devil or itmay be Who we obey we end up serving. But what is the second reason why it isessential that our choices reflect our obedience to God? Because who we obey weend up reflecting in our character. Now we must choose tobe slaves of righteousness. A slave was one who was a servant to another boundin duty and service. I find it interesting that the Bible tells us that toserve God is completely our choice. We must choose to serve God everyday. SomeChristians are great “choosers” today: They choose their service to God likeone chooses food at a buffet. Sunday Morning? I choose it! Christian Education before Sunday Morning? I do notchoose that! I choose that! Discipleship in a small group during the week? I do not choosethat! Sunday Evenings? Well you have got to be kidding. I was just there in themorning that should be enough! But Paul tells us we have the choice to serveGod by learning righteousness. Why? He tells us “Now youmust choose to be servants of righteousness so that you will become holy. It issimple. To be a true disciple of Jesus takes effort! ·I fear that some put moreeffort into jobs, hobbies, entertainment and even family then they do in theirfellowship with the church or their commitment to maturity. The result today isa pattern in the church that directly reflects the passage in Timothy that Ijust read. To have Christ-Like Character is a matter of choice for each one ofus. To live a life of righteousness requires us to make a daily choice. Paulthen paints a Contrast between the choices we make as Christians. Our Old Lifewithout Christ resulted in a life in which we are now filled with: Shame andregret. Just think about some of the consequences of serving sin someconsequences stay with you even now that you are a Christian! Our New Freedomin Christ results in a life free from the power of sin. Now our lives shouldreflect doing things that please God and lead to holiness. “Amazing Grace howsweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I am found.Was blind but now I see.” If we choose to reflect and obey our former master ofSin we will reflect a lifestyle of sin and selfishness. Our choices will notreflect who we are in Christ. But the way we make our choices, as disciples willalways reflect someone. Our lives are a portrait. Often others only look uponthe portrait at the time of our funerals. People will gaze and examine theportrait to see how much beauty has been painted. In attending and conductingfunerals some of the most portraits of people were never painted by their ownhands they gave the paintbrush to God. He painted the portrait of their lifeand they allowed Him to by their obedience to live a holy life. Others at theirdeaths insisted on holding the brush and painting their lives the way theywanted to live. The result? The portrait never showed the brush strokes of theMaster Artist but that of an ambitious amateur whose life wanted for excellence.On a wall near the main entrance to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, is aportrait with the following inscription: “James Butler Bonham no pictureof him exists. This portrait is of his nephew, Major James Bonham, deceased,who greatly resembled his uncle. It is placed here by the family that peoplemay know the appearance of the man who died for freedom.” No literalportrait of Jesus exists either. But the likeness of the Son who makes us freecan be seen in the lives of His true followers. Who we obey we end upReflecting In Paul’s conclusion of chapter six, he gives one final contrast of the slavemaster relationship. Verse 23 “For the wages of Sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternallife through Jesus Christ our Lord.” We often quote this scripture when sharing the gospel to the one who does notknow Christ. However we forget that the context is geared toward the Christian.In echoing his thought from verse 16 he closes the chapter and calls us tochoose. You can choose sin, which leads to death. For the wages of Sin is death. Again youcan choose to Obey God and receive His approval. The Gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. As Christians itis essential that our choices reflect our obedience to God. Choose wrong andyou lose! Whenever the Word of God is preached it always calls for action on our part. OtherwiseI have just given you a monologue when God wants to create a dialogue with yourheart. The Lord challenges you with a choice this week “Choose this day who youwill serve!” Will it continue to be yourself? Will it continue to be Sin yourold Master? Or will it be Jesus the author and finisher of your faith. If youhave been choosing wrong lately then in this New Year I am going to ask you to geton your knees and re-dedicate your life to live in obedience to God. Recommit yourdedication to follow Jesus. Recommit to Serve the Lord the way you once have.In Prayer; In His Word Daily; In the fellowship of His Church. Come now all whowould make that choice to serve the Lord! But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruitin us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. Those who belong toChrist Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to hiscross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let usfollow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.Now you know why you must choose or loose. Amen!