Sunday School Lessons

Whether or Not to Serve Isn’t the Choice; Only Who We Serve

I’ve said it before but, in the words of Bob Dylan, you “gotta serve somebody”.  Being free from the constraints of the law (which I understand to be any rule-based concept of salvation, none of which actually work for fallen people like you and me) doesn’t mean that we’re liberated to do whatever we want.  We are still obliged to serve one of the major forces in this world: God (the source of good things – see James 1:16-18) or the forces of evil.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Romans 6:15‭-‬16 NIV

Being made new in Jesus Christ doesn’t mean that we’re welcome to do whatever we want, in some sort of neutral state where we’re “saved” but aren’t beholden to anyone.  No, instead we will still serve good or evil, God or self, grace or sin.  And, whoever or whatever we serve is our master.  We are a slave or servants to whatever we serve, and if it seems uncomfortable for some people to think about being a servant of God, consider the alternative: the consequences of serving sin!   Serving sin is an incomparably bad choice to serving God, not to mention that serving sin “leads to death”.

As we have talked about previously, perhaps this is why it is so important for Jesus to be our Lord, and not only our Savior.  When Jesus is Lord – that is, when God is our Master – we are obliged to obey and serve Him, not just out of some sense of responsibility or debt, but willingly, out of love for Him.  Note verse 16, where it talks about “offer yourselves”, suggesting that our choice of masters comes through our choice, voluntarily.

Now, when we study passages like this, it’s probably a good time to take an inventory of our decisions.  Are we serving sin, choosing to follow what our sinful nature selfishly wants, or are we serving righteousness, seeking God’s direction to do the best that we can in each and every circumstance?

If your mental scorecard of recent choices that you’ve made isn’t perfect, I’m not here to condemn you.  Instead, I want Paul’s words here to inspire you to turn everything over to God, putting your life in His hands.  Don’t just say that you believe that God’s plan is better than humankind’s imperfect ideas; instead, live it out.  May we let go of our desires to do what we want, and fully give over our allegiance (see Romans 6:17) to God.

Trust me…no, trust God: doing exactly what God calls you to do: that will be better than the instructions of any other master that you could be listening to, even yourself!

From Sunday School lesson prepared for March 6, 2022


  • The Lookout, March 6, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
  • Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
  • The College Press Commentary, Romans, Volume 1, by Jack Cottrell.  College Press Publishing Company, © 1996.

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