- Read all of Romans chapter 3.
- Write in your journal as much or as little as you are led to write concerning Paul’s words to the Romans from chapter 3.
We are all obedient to something
The word “obedience” creates all sorts of images in people’s minds. The most likely is that of a child obeying a parent. As adults we do not like the idea of someone considering us as anything other than mature. However, within the Christian faith there are levels of maturity as Paul related to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (though read all of chapter 3 if you want a full picture of Paul’s meaning).
This obedience is not supposed to impart a negative feeling, a feeling of being restrained. On the contrary, this is supposed to be a freeing feeling. This is the sort of freeing feeling and hope that one experiences beginning the learning process on a new skill-set like learning a martial art. From day one new practitioners of the art are not able to perform all the moves the instructor is able to perform. They are not as flexible as the instructor, and do not have the knowledge the instructor has. There is no secret to be revealed that suddenly makes someone a blackbelt over night. The only way a person becomes a black belt is through time and effort. That is how people become accomplished. Our faith-journey is no different.
16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,
18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
Romans 6:16-18 (NASB)
1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.
2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,
3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (NASB)
Paul’s statements to the Romans in today’s passage are not belittling. Paul’s statements are explanatory to put things in perspective as to why things in scripture do not always make sense. Accepting Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf as salvational is the beginning, the milk. Faith in Christ is the beginning and the seed planted by whatever means that became planted in someone’s heart. The growth that proceeds from there is just that, growth. There should not be an expectation of instant understanding of all things, and in truth it was never expected to be that way. Paul expressly states in 1 Timothy 3:6 not to allow new converts into authoritative rolls because they are susceptible to errors (read all of 1 Timothy 3 to see the things Paul says the Church should value in all leadership rolls).
No, the obedience Paul calls for in today’s passage is the obedience of someone starting out on a new skill-set. This obedience is the kind that turns from those things that are detrimental to learning the new skill. In this case Jesus called those things detrimental to this new skill-set sin. Given that sin’s ultimate end is an eternal death and obedience to Jesus’ result is an eternal life it is with the end in mind that we decide each day which master we follow. Willfully accepting sinful behavior declares allegiance to Satan, not Jesus because Christ had no sin and does not teach sin. While we are fallen human beings who make mistakes, as with any student learning a skill mistakes are inevitable but will be corrected by the instructor. We should then look at those corrections, take them to heart, and continue on the path to the desired end. Knowing that Christ frees us from the end-result of sin is the hope that keeps us on His path. Ignoring the instructor’s guidance does not end in becoming proficient in the skill but rather frustration and pain.
1 It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.
2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,
3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.
4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity
5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),
6 and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.
1 Timothy 3:1-6 (NASB)
- Consider what the Holy Spirit might be laying before your path asking for obedience.
- Write in your journal at least one step to move you closer to obedience in that new thing.