By Christopher L. Scott
It feels American to get what we deserve. This is our concept of “justice” and we want it enforced.
God wants it enforced too, except His idea of justice is different from ours. There is justice given to those who don’t know Him, but also a free gift is given to those who do know Him. The apostle Paul explains this justice in Romans 6:22-23, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Let’s take a look at three important parts of this passage from Paul.
First, Paul wrote, “you have been set free from sin.” This is a one-time act. Jesus freed us from sin when He died on the cross for us, which is good because those sins meant we would die. The truth of the gospel is what sets us free and saves us, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). And in another place, “Through Christ Jesus, the law of Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).
Second, Paul also wrote that his readers “have become slaves of God.” While being set free from sin is a past one-time act, this phrase tells us we have a present condition as slaves of God.
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, a slave is “one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence.” And the Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines a slave as “a person who is legal property of another and is forced to obey them.”
Being a slave of God means we get the gift of eternal life and live freely. “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves” (1 Peter 2:16).
Third, Paul shared the “result is eternal life.” We get eternal life because we have accepted Christ’s death for us and we have been freed from sin. Unbelievers will be separated from God forever in hell (Luke 16:24-25; Romans 5:12; 7:13). But Christians receive eternal life, “For you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:9). Salvation will be eternal life with God in heaven (John 3:16, 36). This gift cannot be earned (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).
We believe in the concept of justice that people get what they deserve. But God has a different view of justice. He has freed us from slavery to sin (in which we deserved death) and we are now slaves to God. And because of that, we will get to spend eternity in heaven with Him.
1 All translations are from the NIV, 2011 revision.
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