As a church musician, the big holidays of Easter and Christmas seem to have this enormous buildup because there is always a lot of special programs to practice for during the months leading up to the holiday. Right now, we are busy with final preparations for our Easter program which we will present on Friday, April 7 at 7pm and Sunday, April 9, at 6pm at Pleasant Garden Baptist Church. This year’s program features our middle and high school youth, who play prominent roles and came up with the concept and helped write most of the script. I am leading our worship band which will provide the music for the show.
As we approach Easter, I am struck by all of the blessings that are mine because of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The best, of course, is the knowledge that I will spend eternity with Him in heaven because He has made that possible. But while that hope will be realized at some point in the future, there is also the freedom that I now have to live my life in a way that brings ultimate satisfaction. This is often referred to in church circles as being free from slavery to sin. I think this is an incomplete picture, though, and it is one of the many reasons why so many people who are saved fall back into old sinful habits and don’t really experience the life of freedom from sin.
It is not simply that we are no longer slaves to sin and we can simply live our lives skipping merrily through the fields. No – we are set free from bondage to sin and we then CHOOSE to place ourselves in slavery to righteousness. Look at what Paul says in Romans 6:
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. (Romans 6:15-19)
In the late 70’s, Bob Dylan wrote a song called “Gotta Serve Somebody,” which points out the same truth. “Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody,” Dylan sings. But because of Jesus’ death on a cross and paying the price I should have paid, we can serve Him rather than sin. Paul points out beautifully what a blessing that is as he continues:
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:20-23)
Paul says we are now able to trade a life of serving sin, which led to shame and death, for being slaves of God, which leads to sanctification (being made more like Christ) and eternal life. Which master will you serve? What are you tied to or attached to or in bondage to right now that is keeping you from experiencing all the best that God is offering? If you submit yourself as a slave to Christ, you can overcome it.
As you mediate on that wonderful truth, enjoy this song by “All Sons and Daughters” called “I Am Set Free” which celebrates this fact.