May 25: holiness

…offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness, leading to holiness. (Romans 6:19)

Let me make an analogy. It’s not a perfect analogy, but hopefully it helps us understand Romans 6. Years ago, I joined a health club. I visited the club, tested out the equipment, completed the registration and received a membership card. It even required a financial commitment taken directly from my bank account every month. I joined the club because I am convinced of the life-giving value of physical fitness. I know that I am not physically fit. I know that on my own I will not be motivated to keep exercising. And, I find inspiration in going to the health club and seeing others who are becoming more physically fit. Am I physically fit just because I carry the membership card with me? Am I becoming more physically fit with occasional visits or even regular visits? No, because the health club is not the answer. I must live into a lifestyle that is healthier and encourages better eating, exercise and practices or the greatest health club in the world cannot help me.

Did you read what happened to Solomon? Just as God did with his father, David, God promised that an heir would remain on the throne forever. All Solomon had to do was what his father did. That was to trust God and whenever he messed up, confess and seek redemption. But Solomon, knowing what was expected and the consequence of not doing so, refused to admit any fault or failure (and to think he was the wisest man in the world). And as a result, we will read that the kingdom divided and eventually disappeared. It was not enough to be a card-carrying member of God’s family. It was not enough to be the wisest man. He failed to keep going and growing – and eventually he let others draw him into worshipping other gods.

Paul is saying that justification by faith is not the end-all. It does not prove anything other than we know what we didn’t know. God’s grace has rescued us, and embracing what God has done, believing that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, is the starting point. Will we grow from there? Paul reminds us that we will be the slave to something. I’ve lived long enough to know that. I’ve listened to enough people to know the great destruction when we become slaves to “impurity” and “wickedness”. Choose “righteousness” but keep going and keep growing. John Wesley called this sanctification – being made holy. Others call this becoming Christ-centered.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is etternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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