You’re Gonna Have to Serve Somebody (Romans 6:12-23)
Rev. Edwin Morrow

Today, we continue our months-long sermon series on our weekly readings from Romans and Matthew.

And what is our theme for the series? “The righteous shall live by faith.”

In the very briefest of revues, we have talked about Paul’s words: righteous, justified, love, and reconciliation.

Today the words before us are slave and master.

We begin with a Bob Dylan song. The lyrics go like this: 

You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, or you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You might be a socialite with a long string of pearls
But no matter who you are,
You're gonna have to serve somebody, yes you are 
You're gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the Devil or it may be the Lord
But I’m telling you for certain, you're gonna have to serve somebody, Oh yes you are.

Certainly those words are not divinely inspired, but they do echo the divinely inspired words of Paul and Matthew before us today.

Listen to words of Jesus in Matthew 10:32-33, everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Jesus says: everyone who follows me as Lord and Savior will make it to heaven; and those who don’t, won’t.

They will join their master, the Devil, in the eternal lake of fire.

Paul writes to Christians in Rome who are following Jesus as Lord and Savior. 

In Romans 6:16 he echoes the words of Jesus. Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,[c] you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

If we obey sin, then we are slaves to the Devil and that leads to eternal death.

If we are slaves of obedience to Jesus, that will lead to righteousness and eternal life.

Slaves are not free to do what they want. They serve the master and what he wants.

Paul says in Romans 6:14: sin will not be your Master since you are not under law but under grace.

What do we know about God’s Law?

As a mirror, it shows us our sin.

As a guide, it shows us what is pleasing to God and what is displeasing to God.

As we follow Jesus, Paul goes on to say in Romans 6:17-18 that we should be obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, we have become slaves of righteousness.

God’s standards of teaching can be found nowhere but in His holy Word.

In the Bible, page by page, God makes it very clear what righteousness looks like and what unrighteousness. 

He makes it clear what obedience looks like and what disobedience looks like.

He defines what is moral and immoral. 

The Bible is God’s standard of teaching which we must be committed to.

Fewer and fewer people care about what the Bible says these days.

As a direct result, unrighteous, immoral, decadent, and indecent behavior is all around us.

I am reminded of that every day, but while on vacation with Donna for two weeks, I tuned it all out.

I buried my head in the sand, so to speak. I paid no attention to what was going in the world, in our nation, or in Lafayette.

No bad news coming in, just the great joy of enjoying God’s wonderful creation as we camped all the way to Maine and back.

When we got back, the routines set in again: reading the world, national, and local headlines; listening to the talking heads bashing each other along political lines; mass shootings across the nation, shots fired in Lafayette; nations at war, civil war in others; political strife all over the world; drag queens and transgender activists dressed up as nuns mocking the Christian faith and receiving a community service award in a major league baseball stadium.

Conservative Christians being hated on because they are standing up for Jesus.  

The reason is very plain: In ever increasing measure, this world is full of people who have the Devil as their master.

And none of what we hear, see, or read, or experience should surprise us at all.

We read in Paul’s letter to young Pastor Timothy:

The time is coming when people will not put up with sound teaching.

People will have itching ears.

They will gather around them all kinds of false teachers.

These false teachers will teach exactly what sinners want to hear.

They will say whatever feels good or makes you happy, by all means, do it.

These are the lies of the Devil, who has been lying forever.

Right now in 2023, almost every Christian denomination has been beset by lies.

There are a multitude of people with itchy ears who are turning away from the truths contained in God’s Holy Word to embrace the lies of Satan in false teaching.

Those with itchy ears are demanding that the sinful ways of the world be embraced and declaring the righteous ways of the Lord to be evil.

Right now, in our time, this is increasingly true.

Bible believing Christians who stand up for the word of God are being identified as hateful people. They are being called out, labeled, reprimanded, fired, cancelled, and shunned; all because we Christians follow Jesus as our Savior and Master.

Again, this should not surprise us. Listen again to the words of Jesus: A disciple is not above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his Master.  If they have called the Master of Belzebub. of the Devil, how much more will they malign those who follow this Master (24-25).

Jesus says if they call me, your Master, evil, you will be called evil too.

So, there is good and there is evil.

Jesus has His army and the Devil has His army.

There will be spiritual warfare until the day Jesus returns.

And until Jesus returns or you draw your last breath, let me suggest that you embrace this circle of life each day of your life.

On one side of the circle are forgiveness and salvation – Jesus is our Savior.

On the other side of the circle are the commandments of God, providing Spirit filled instruction for following in the footsteps of Jesus. 

An when we fail to please God by sinning against His Holy will, we just go around the circle again and again, each day, until we enter heaven.

Jesus is my Savior, therefore I will gladly follow Him, my Lord.

I started the sermon with lyrics from a song. Let’s close the same way:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus
Ye soldiers of the cross
Lift high His royal banner;
It must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory
His army He shall lead
Till every foe is vanquished,
And Christ is Lord indeed. 

And these lyrics from Psalm 11:

If the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?

They can remember that the Lord sits on His throne in heaven. He sees what is going on. He will deal with all that are wicked and unrighteous; hellfire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the cup they drink. But the Lord, who is righteous, loves the righteous and they shall behold his face.

The righteous shall live forever by faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Amen.