‘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?’ (v16)
Self-determination poses the question of just how independent we are. We can’t make a decision to break the law without facing consequences, the price of policing in a social contract we support with its promise of peace, prosperity, and privacy. However, there are internal and external factors at play seeking to influence our ‘independent’ decisions. In Eden it was the external voice of Satan, with us it can be internal appetites and external influencers. All decisions are the result of a response to stimuli, and once taken they’re subject to review and reframe. Once implemented our decisions impact us and others. They form a shape which influences the world in which we live.
Paul states that we’re never autonomous because all our decisions are subject to influencers. Today our social media pandemic overstimulates us with information, its validity impossible to establish. Media moves at an astonishing speed in pursuit of our need to know now. Like chicks, our beaks are open, constantly craving to be fed! We often seek relevance not reality. In Christ, we discover the bedrock for all truth, or reality Himself.
Only by learning to respond to the stimulus of the Holy Spirit will we find a trustworthy source to operate our freedom to self-determination effectively. There are overarching frameworks that promise a heaven on earth, from communism to capitalism, however, neither has afforded the complete personal freedom that comes through serving the Lord of righteousness, and it is His pattern for life we are to follow.
SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: 2 Chr. 20:15–21; Isa. 41:8–10; Luke 21:5–33; Rom 12:9–21.
AN ACTION TO TAKE: The hard work begins with our attempt to isolate and identify the influencers, internal and external, that drive our life decisions. Are you up for the challenge?
A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, I want to hold to Your teaching as a disciple so that I may know the truth, and the truth will set me free. Amen.’ (John 8:31–32)
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