We can easily get hung up on Paul’s slave analogy. The word slave carries a lot of baggage with it because we see it only within the history of human masters. Slavery on earth has always been an oppression of one human by another human for the benefit of the human master of the slave. It is wickedness. It is immoral and neither do we want to be a slave nor do we accept that anyone else should be enslaved by anyone else anywhere on the earth at any time in the present or future.
I get all that, but here is the deal. If our focus is on the slave, then we have completely missed the message Paul is trying to convey. The message is not about the slave, the message is about the master. And, the hard, cold, truth is YOU ARE NOT THE MASTER.
Let’s face it, most of us are barely in charge of ourselves. We do not have control of our spouse, our children, our parents, our neighbors, our co-workers, customers, partners, friends, enemies. And those are just people in our immediate vicinity, much less across the world or the people who have not yet even been born.
Despite the lie Satan told in the garden that sinning would “make us like God”, you and I are not gods.
So, if we are not leading (which we aren’t) then we are following someone. Again, Paul presents only two camps to follow, sin or righteousness. We are obeying either sin or we are obeying God each moment of each day as we walk along one path or the other.
Do not loose heart in this. In the battle that is our lives, we can and will make wrong choices. We will hear a command and become confused and follow it. We become weak and allow our bodies to follow an easy path. We become distanced from our commander by not prayerfully walking by His side and reading His word and meditating on the food of His Spirit and start to listen to the lies of His enemy. But here is the biggest difference. With God there is forgiveness. Sin does not forgive the act of following God… it is distasteful and it desires to dirty it and warp it and remove all joy from it. But our commander, God, not only welcomes back His soldiers, but He stops and comes and finds us and takes us by the hand to bring us back to Him.
They both discuss the connectivity between sin and grace. v1 asks should we sin more so grace can increase, v15 asks should we sin because we are no longer under the law by grace. in 1, the bar is high but God forgives by grace failing to jump high enough to clear the bar, in15 the bar is removed by grace, but does that mean we should no longer exert effort to jump?
First, it means we are not in charge, despite what we like to think. Second, it means we are in charge of making a choice which master we choose to serve
I am a slave to righteousness. I don’t choose to obey sin, but I do fall prey to its traps and snares