Big Idea: Our lives are transformed by the gospel.
When you love someone and they love you, do you want to please them? Of course. It is not that doing what will impress them will give you a relationship with them, you want to do something they will appreciate because you already have a relationship with them. Trying to do something for someone to earn a relationship is frustrating and unfulfilling; instead of acceptance there is anxiety and instead of security there is strain. But when behaviors are a part of an existing relationship, they can deepen and strengthen it.
So far, Paul has argued in Romans that our relationship with God is not dependent on our behavior, but just on faith in what He has done in Christ. But does that mean that what we do does not matter? Some of Paul’s opponents claimed the gospel of grace was permission to sin as if the only reason to serve anyone is a fear of punishment. But if someone has saved our life, we will want to serve them out of gratitude, not fear that they will throw us into danger. We have moved from the old realm of Adam to the new realm of Christ through His death; how could those who have joined in Christ’s death go back to their old way of life? If someone died to help her son escape slavery, would that child then return to their old master? Our freedom is not because of our works, but our works are the only reasonable response to freedom.
The good news of Jesus tells us that our world has truly changed, and so our lives should change too. We have been freed from the chains of sin and been made Jesus’ servants instead. All of our old servitude only earned us death, but God has given us something new and beautiful as a gift. That gift is free, but once we have received it, we should bear the fruit of gratitude. When God has changed our hearts by His grace, our whole lives will change too.
Discussion Idea: Would you serve God differently if you were afraid of punishment? How does the service of love and gratitude go further?
Prayer Focus: Pray that God would help you live in accordance with the gospel.