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No rights, only privileges


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Romans Chapter 6; Verses 12 - 23.

If you want a 'title' to this address, here it is:- "No rights, only privileges!"

Notice that Paul refers to Christ Jesus as "Lord". Once we acknowledge that in our hearts, minds and lives we are putting ourselves, all that we have and are, in His hands. this is what Christianity is about. In fact it is what the whole Bible is about: the relationship of the people of God to their Creator, Redeemer and Lord.

In the relationship of the people of God to their Creator, Redeemer and Lord - all these are Old Testament words, often linked together to emphasise the sovereignty of God. e.g. Psalm 19: Isaiah 41, verses 4 and 14: c.f. Job 19 verses 24 - 27. - In the relationship of the people of God to their Creator, Redeemer and Lord, we find that God's people, His children, have privileges NOT rights.

Because we are 'redeemed' (as in 'bought back from the pawnbrokers') - we owe all that we are, and all that we have, to our Redeemer. We don't have to earn it, just accept it! as a reality of life:-
"While we were still sinners, Christ died for us". Romans chapter 5; verse 8. and from our Reading today - "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 6, verse 23

This attitude, this way of looking at life, is totally alien to post-modern thinking. Totally alien to a world of 'selfies' and the selfish outlook that goes with it.

But, this attitude is where we as Christians must begin.

What 'rights' can we demand? The 'right' to sit at the top table? - No 'right' at all! - But what a privilege to be called to the 'Marriage Supper of the Lamb', to sit and eat in the kingdom of God, of which this Holy Communion is but a foretaste.

The 'right' to claim a robe of righteousness - a 'Wedding Garment'? - No 'right' at all, but what a privilege!

The 'right' of eternal life in the paradise of God? - No 'right' at all, but what a privilege to be able to "claim the crown through Christ my own" (a line from Charles Wesley's hymn "And can it be, that I should gain . . ")

All these things are ours 'in Christ'. Once we were no people, but now we are God's people, once we had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy. (1 Peter chapter 2; verse 10.)

The reading follows from the fact that we now belong to Christ! " . . . .We have been united with Him in a death like His, we will be united with Him in a resurrection like His". (Romans chapter 6; verse 5). We are then "dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Romans chapter 6; verse 11)

Tellingly, the reading begins with the word "Therefore . . " . "Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions" (Romans chapter 6 :verse 12). We now have a new "Lord" and Master, we are "enslaved to God" (Romans 6, verse 22). Everything that we do should be in order to glorify Him, our Creator, Redeemer and Lord! Eternal life is a free gift, not something which we earn.

It does mean though, that from now on we are not our own, we were bought with a price (1 Corinthians chapter 6, verses 19 - 20). It does mean that a Christian should not be saying, or even thinking, "that's what I want". Rather we should constantly seek the will of God. Our Lord Jesus rightly said, "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew chapter 7, verse 21)


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