Sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
–Romans 6:14

A few years ago, the movie “Lincoln” chronicled President Abraham Lincoln’s attempt to pass and ratify the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which would abolish slavery. Interestingly, Lincoln made the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier, on New Year’s Day 1863, but it took more than two years and the death of Lincoln for the states to finally ratify the 13th Amendment. When it happened, the news spread throughout the country that slavery had been legally abolished. But in one of the great ironies of history, many of those who had been declared free from slavery chose to continue to live as slaves in the Deep South. One slave was asked what he thought of the great emancipator Abraham Lincoln. He responded, “I don’t know nothing bout Abraham Lincoln cep they say he sot us free. And I don’t know nothing bout that neither.” Chuck Swindoll wrote, “I call that tragic. A war had been fought. A president had been assassinated. An amendment to the Constitution had been signed into law. Once-enslaved men, women, and children were legally emancipated. Yet amazingly, many continued living in fear and squalor. In a context of hard-earned freedom, slaves chose to remain as slaves.”

As tragic as that is, I can tell you something even more tragic, and that is Christians, who have been set free from the power of sin and death through the death of Jesus Christ, choosing to continue to live as slaves of sin. That is the greatest tragedy of all. People who have been purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ, people whom God has declared free from the consequences of sin and death, still allow spiritual slavery to rule their lives. In Romans 6, we see God’s proclamation to every believer in Christ, and it is this: “Christian, thou art loosed.”

In Romans 5, Paul talked about our union with Jesus Christ. When we are born into this world physically, we are born in Adam. Because of that, we are sentenced to death. But when we trust in Christ as our Savior, we are put in Jesus Christ. And that means everything that happens to Jesus will happen to us. Our union with Christ guarantees our justification–our right standing with God. Just as Christ is in perfect standing with God the Father, so are we. Just as Christ never needs to fear the anger and the wrath of God, we never need to fear the wrath of God.

Our union with Christ also guarantees our sanctification. Sanctification is the process by which we become more and more like Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus was freed from the power of sin, we are free from the power of sin. Justification is a transaction. It happens in an instant. The moment we trust in Christ as our Savior, God declares us not guilty. But sanctification is a transformation. It begins the moment we are saved and continues until God calls us home to be with Him. As someone said, “Justification is the work of a moment. Sanctification is the work of a lifetime.” In Romans 6, Paul applied that truth to our lives as Christians.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Christian, Thou Art Loosed” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.

Charles Swindoll, “The Owner’s Manual for Christians” (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011), 214.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.