No longer slaves

There are certain situations where I particularly struggle to be godly. Usually I have the expectation that those times will be harder, but I don’t necessarily try harder to “live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27). I just assume that I will fail and then feel guilty about it, using my ungodliness as an excuse to escape the situation or not put myself in it again. Such a sinful attitude.

We’ve been reading Philippians at church and bible study. Last week we focused a bit more on 2:12-13.

“So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.”

These verses rebuked me, as they leave no excuse for laying down to my sin and letting it just rule me, but to be active in my progress in godliness. It covers the other end of the struggle in addressing the fact that we cannot do it alone; those times when I struggle with pride and feeling “extra godly” – it is actually God enabling us to work and even to desire to work out his good purpose.

I was also reminded of Romans chapter 6, and I think I’m starting to understand what it means and how it works out that we “have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God” (6:22a). I am no longer a slave to sin, so why do I still act like it by succumbing to my expectations that things will be hard and I will be sinful?

For some visuals, here is an actual ball and chain that I have at my house.

“But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness”(Romans 6:17-18).

And as I struggle today with things I need to prep for tomorrow, pray that I would obey: “Do everything without grumbling and complaining, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe, as you hold out the word of life…” (Philippians 2:14-16a).

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2 thoughts on “No longer slaves

  1. Sometimes the devil lurks about, accusing us of not reaching ‘expectations’ and bounds us back under the law. Then we feel defeated and pressured into performing. I find it is something like: ‘you didn’t read your Bible enough, you didn’t pray enough, etc.’ When you listen to that long enough you begin working and then comparing yourself with others.

    I find that self becomes inflamed when you’re measuring and looking to yourself. Remember how Paul talks about how he saw the commandment of covetousness and it only inflamed covetousness? It was that sense in which he knew it was sin and it only exposed it as sin but didn’t lead onto any kind of godly change…just condemnation. Then he says at the end that Christ is the way out!

    I think again and again we need to recognise just how much God has gone through to get us back to Him. There is that sense in which we work – that is, we read His Word and learn about who He is and what He’s done – and that He will, in turn, produce those desires and change of mind within us. I would suggest that it is impossible to walk without Fear and Trembling with that and the Spirit developing those things in us.

    I sometimes think we’re always reversing it and finding Christianity so difficult and hard, not because of the flesh and the devil, but because we’re legalistically TRYING to be Christians. The language I tend to think about is that of ‘receiving’. The more we receive and ponder God’s grace, the more we will walk away from sin. Not the harder we personally work to die to sin and become more godly. I think it is more of a passive thing. I find that the more conciously we think we’re avoiding sin we’re probably in sin…because we’re not relying on His power to help us. That is not to say that you shouldn’t be wise in avoiding places or things that cause sin, it just means that we need to rest in Him more often!

    I know this because I’m prone to the same thing! Hope it makes sense! Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Richard. Actually, that’s something else that has stood out lately, that we are to keep looking toward God; set our minds above, not on earthly things (Colossians), and that we love God because he first loved us (1 John). The more we look to God and realise the grace he’s poured out on us, it spurs us on to live for him, and realising how small we are before him is humbling and helps us to love others better. Thanks for pointing me even more to God.

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