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We don’t have to be enslaved to sin

The end of August and beginning of September signal a change in routine for many people. Summer vacations are quickly coming to an end, and we’re returning to the routines that define the rest of the year.

Children are returning to classrooms, college students will be filling the dorms and classrooms, and employees return to work refreshed from a rest and change of scenery.

That makes this a great time to consider your spiritual routines as well. Listen to the apostle Paul address this opportunity in Romans 6:17-18. “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”

Someone is a slave to sin when their thoughts and actions are dictated by their sinful desires. Satan is the puppet master pulling the strings, and we are dancing on the end of the strings. Sinful desires that we hold on to lead to sinful actions. Most of us can recall an incident or a period of time we regret because we did something we never thought we would do. We were a slave to sin dancing to every desire of the evil puppet master.

Paul rejoices that God has set His children free from their slavery to sin. In Romans 6:6 he proclaims, “We know that our old self was crucified with [Jesus] in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” Celebrate this spectacular news. Jesus took all of your sins to the cross where he died for them. They have been paid for, forgiven, erased and brought to nothing. Paul points to the glorious opportunity that we have — that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

Through the forgiveness of sins, the puppet master’s strings have been cut. Our relationship with him has ended, and we have been brought into a fabulous new relationship with Christ. As we trust in Jesus for forgiveness, we learn to trust in him to guide every aspect of our lives. Jesus does that as we read and study our Bibles, as we worship and as we celebrate his presence and his work in our lives through Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

In this new relationship these become our habits and so Jesus guides every aspect of our lives. We become a slave of righteousness because our thoughts and actions are now dictated by Jesus. That doesn’t mean that we’re perfect. Slaves serve a master but they still struggle with their own thoughts and desires. As slaves of righteousness we make a habit of giving Jesus our sins and struggles so that we can celebrate his forgiveness, be strengthened by his presence and live before him in righteousness and purity forever.

REV. MATTHEW SORENSON is the pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church. He can be reached at pastor@stjohnsfarmville.org.