Romans 6: 17-18 August 9-16, 2015
Romans 6: 17-18 (NRSV)
But thanks be to God that you,
having once been slaves of sin,
have become obedient from the heart
to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted,
and that you, having been set free from sin,
have become slaves of righteousness.
Being the Church in Christ: Wisdom from Pastor Paul
(The Brentwood Sermon Series for 2015)
Throughout 2015, the Christian community at Brentwood Presbyterian Church will be considering how to be the church in Jesus Christ, guided by the wisdom of Pastor Paul. We invite you to listen for what the Spirit is saying in the text, then question how those insights might change the ways you see things and act in the world. Share your thoughts during the week on the meaning the Spirit creates for you in this text by posting a comment on our website – www.brentwoodpc.ca.
A Provocative Pondering
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us provoke one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together … (Hebrews 10:23-25a)
The Greek work is hagiotes. Most Bible translations render it sanctification. In it root meaning, it is related to being holy. When we are with God and in God (made possible by what God did in Jesus Christ), we share in the divine holiness. When we are separated from God, we participate in and contribute to the unholiness of sin.
Again, tons of ink have been spread, churches have split, and actual blood has been shed over what that idea really means for the followers of Jesus Christ.
This word, as we have seen with justification, is central to Paul’s understanding of the mission and ministries of the church, so it can’t be ignored.
If justification, as an act of God’s grace, frees us from the sin of the past, then sanctification, every bit as much an act of God’s grace, frees us to be the blessings God created us to be in the future. We are made holy through justification and become holy through sanctification. The first act of God is pure grace and the second act of God is divinely-assisted gratitude on the part of humans. That assistance comes from the inner work of the Holy Spirit, reviving the ‘image of God’ within that God gifted us with at our birth.
The result is a human beings in the community of the church who discover the holiness God intends for them and begin to live as a blessings in thankful response for that gift.
In the flesh, with its powerful cravings for security, acceptance, and power, that holiness will never be perfect. But God’s forgiving and merciful love remains steadfast as we learn to surrender in obedience to God’s will for justice, peace, and beauty in his creation.