Having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
Bobb Biehl once described a time he went to see the elephants at the circus. He asked the elephant trainer how they were able to restrain these huge creatures with only a small stake and a flimsy chain. The trainer explained, “They have long, long memories. When the baby elephant is first staked down, he tries to get away. He pulls and tugs on that stake perhaps thousands of times, rocking back and forth and pulling it from all directions, always without success. Eventually he stops trying. The baby grows up, but he has a long memory, and his memory tells him, ‘I can’t get away from that stake.’ So even as a huge adult, that elephant remembers the stake, but it is really his memory that keeps him chained.”
That is a picture of how many Christians live today. Before we are Christians, we are staked down by sin and death. No matter how hard we try, we cannot break free from sin. But when we trust in Christ’s death on the cross, the chains are gone, and we are set free. We no longer have to be prisoners of sin. Yet many Christians remember their defeat before they were saved. They figure, “Why even try to break loose?” And they live as though they are still prisoners of sin.
How can we live as the free people God created us to be? Paul answered that question in Romans 6. He asked, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” (6:1). Then he answered, “May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (6:2).
In Paul’s day as well as today, many people were saying, “Teaching people that they are saved by grace and eternally secure in Christ no matter what they do encourages them to be disobedient.” Not at all, Paul said. He asked in verse 2, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” People who think that grace encourages disobedience fail to understand that something significant happens when you become a Christian. If you have been raised to a new way of living, then why would you ever go back to the old way of sin and death? When Jesus was raised from the dead, He left those graveclothes behind, and He never went back into that tomb again.
Think about when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Can you imagine after that miracle Lazarus saying to Jesus, “Thank You. Now I am going to climb back into this tomb and put on these graveclothes. I prefer the darkness and dampness to the sunlight and warmth.” No one who has been raised from the dead would ever choose to climb back into the grave again. That is what Paul was saying. If you have been raised to a whole new way of living, then why would you ever choose to go back to the old way of death? Yet many Christians make that choice every day. They have been saved from sin but continue to live in sin. They forget who they are in Christ.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Take Me to Your Master” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Bobb Biehl, “Ten Questions Every Pastor Should Know About” (Glenside, PA: The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation, 1979), 37.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.