“When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
— Romans 6:20-23 (NLT)
WHEN I was an unashamed sinner I had no idea of the life I was missing out on. Then I found this life in the Lord, yet I didn’t really find it, for I was freed for just another form of death: legalism.
Legalism, for me, was to say, “Do ‘this’ and you’ve obeyed God; do ‘that’ and you’ve done all you need to do.” ‘This’ usually meant read my Bible. That usually meant pray.
I was so far wrong. And I couldn’t even read my Bible regularly or pray nearly well enough. I struggled that way — ashamed in my sin — stuck between the world and the gospel — not having access to the power to overcome my sin — for about thirteen years. I constantly did the wrong thing and was constantly under my own condemnation. I never understood what grace really meant; that it freed me from the tyranny of my slave-to-sin self.
Then something horrible happened. My world was upended. That world that I seemed to be able to control suddenly became chaotic. I could control nothing. Even a person I had had some influence with rejected me. My world was cast into turmoil — for months, no, probably a year or more. But I did do something wise at the time — which seemed to me to be a no-brainer. I relied on God.
For the first time in my life, so broken was I, I relied on God.
Suddenly, and I mean literally overnight, I was given control over the things I could influence — my behaviour. Suddenly, in just relying on God through simple faith and obedience, I was able to overcome the sins I’d been longed ashamed of — and there was not just one. I was living a new life, utterly shame-free.
Utterly shame-free is the existence of the Christian who lives for Christ. It’s the one and only free life called eternal life.
We are slaves to sin or we are slaves to God. The only true freedom is slavery unto God. Such a freedom reframes freedom away from the consequences of guilt and shame and toward sustained joy and peace.
There are many forms of death in life, of which there are two main types: an unashamed life of sin and a shamed life of legalistic obedience. The one and only true eternal life transcends both: it is a life free of sin to be ashamed of and it is a life free of legalism.