This Saturday the United States will celebrate its 244th birthday. The Fourth of July is observed as a national holiday for Americans to be reminded that we they are a free people, having won their independence from the English Crown, and are able to control their own destiny in the world. In much the same way, Christians are also a free people. We too have won our independence.
Christians are free from the shame that comes with our past life.
For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul reminds us that there was a time when we were slaves; forced-servants to the tyranny of sin. We were separated from all the blessings and joys that come with being a righteous people and were subservient to the devil and his ways. Now, Paul says, as children of God, we have been freed from sin. We are now willing-servants to God. And as a result of our service we bear the fruit of the Spirit unto holy living and look forward to everlasting life.
In between those two statements, Paul makes an interesting observation: “What fruit did you have in those things whereof you are now ashamed?” He asks that question to an audience of Roman Christians that had come to believe it was okay to sin (Romans 6:1). Paul argues against that idea on multiple levels throughout this chapter, but here he frames his distaste for that line of thinking by reminding the brethren that their past life of sin was one which should elicit “shame” not “nostalgia.”
The same is true for us today: Our past life was a shameful one and, had we remained slaves to it, would have ended with death (separation from God for ever). Instead we have our independence from such shame; we have the gift of God, Jesus Christ, and the salvation which He brings!
I say that’s worth a firework or two.