Scott Gage

PO Box 3425
Fayetteville, AR 72702



July/August Issue 2007 - Volume 26   Number 4

Whose Slave Are You?

“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”   Romans 6:16

Some wit has said, “Marriage is not a word. It is a sentence--a life sentence.”  Another wit, probably a cousin to the first one cited, intones, “ Marriage is an institution in which a man loses his Bachelor's Degree and the woman gets her Masters.”  Jokes abound on the subject of marriage being like slavery, but most of us understand that marriage is a give and take relationship---he gives and she takes!

While we are not discussing the subject of marriage in this article, the marriage relationship is a helpful metaphor in understanding our relationship with God in Christ Jesus our Lord. In fact, it is one that the Apostle Paul uses to help us see how the church should be in submission to Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33). The idea of being in submission to anyone or anything is never a very popular doctrine, and yet Paul indicates in the letter to the Romans that we only have two choices to make and both of them put us in the role of slave (Romans 6:16).

I thought of this passage in Romans 6:16 recently as I listened to a sermon delivered by a capable young preacher. He was emphasizing the fact that we should be more positive in the practice of our religion, and lamented the fact that the church seems to always be saying “no” to things. This preacher was concerned that we would be characterized more by what we are against than what we are for. He encouraged us to to emphasize things to which we can say “yes” instead of concentrating on things to which we must say “no.” I like the power of positive thinking and it is important to let people know what we are for and not just what we are against. However, it struck me that when we say “yes” to certain things then we automatically are saying “no” to certain things at the same time.  And when we say “yes” to one way of life we are forced to say “no” to the opposite way of life. We only have two choices before us, and both of them cast us in the role of slave---either a slave to righteousness or a slave to sin.

Let me illustrate this principle. God gave this command through Moses at Mount Sinai:

“You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image---any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them” (Exodus 20:3-5).

I don’t know how this particular idea could have been stated in any way other than in the negative. While God could say, “I am the only God and you are to worship only Me,” this still does not convey the idea that God did not want them making any graven images, not even of Him.

We may be misguided when we think that saying “no” to something is always a bad thing. For instance, what if some of the Philistines taunted their Jewish neighbors saying, “You Jews are so narrow-minded. You are the ones who are always against bowing down to an idol and you always bad mouth other gods.”  Should the Jew be ashamed of that accusation?  It is the truth, isn’t it? And what is more, it is based on the truth of God’s command. I suppose that the Philistines could have characterized the Jews as just being negative and always saying “no” to everything. The truth is that when the Jews say “yes” to Jehovah God, then they automatically say “no” to every other god created in the minds and by the hands of men.

Sometimes those who oppose women speaking in the assemblies of the church are similarly characterized as being narrow-minded and negative.  Should those who oppose women speaking in church assemblies be ashamed?  I don’t believe they should be any more ashamed than the Jew who was maligned by a Philistine for saying “no” to all the gods.  When we say “yes” to the authority of the New Testament, we automatically say “no” to a lot of things that it forbids.  When we say “yes” to Jesus then we are saying “no” to satan and everything that he stands for. We can either be enslaved to Jesus or enslaved to satan.

Certainly we want our speech to be “with grace seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6).  We want to know how to give a wise answer to each man. There are some ways that are better than others to approach a person with the truth.  However, in the end it is the truth that must be delivered.  There are some definite “no’s” in scripture and we cannot turn them into “yes’s” just so people will think well of us. Saying “yes” to Jesus means that we also say “no” to things to which Jesus is opposed.

I can’t help but think of Adam & Eve when we begin discussing positives and negatives. Just for the sake of an illustration, let’s say that there were 100 trees in the Garden of Eden. Of course, we don’t know how many there were of each kind of tree, but we are just illustrating a point. God said “no” to one tree and “yes” to ninety-nine other trees in the garden.  That means the meal plan for Adam & Eve was ninty-nine percent “yes” and one percent “no.”  Of course, we know that the one “no” was a very important part of God’s plan.

Satan beguiles and belittles Eve.  He beguiles her with the beauty of the fruit on that one tree and with the promise of great wisdom for the one who eats it.  He belittles Eve with a bold lie. He tells her that eating from this tree will not produce death. We can imagine the belittling tone in his voice as he says, “You will not surely die.”  It’s as if he implies, “How foolish can you be, Eve? Come on, don’t be so narrow-minded. Don’t be so negative!”

Adam and Eve are in the lovely garden amidst ninety-nine trees with “yes” on them and just one tree with “no” inscribed on it.  But to say “yes” to God means to say “yes” to everything that He approves, and it also means to say “no” to the one thing that He disapproves.  They can be slaves of God or slaves of satan. It depends on the choice that they make and there are only two choices. Once they choose a master then they say “yes” when their master says “yes,” and they say “no” when their master says “no.”

Of course, it isn’t always such an easy thing, this saying “yes” and “no.” In fact, in essence it is killing a part of ourself. My will must be made subject to His will. The end result will not always be popular with my friends and neighbors either. It may make them feel uneasy with me. They may accuse me of acting “holier than thou.”  They may say that I am just so negative about certain things all the time.  They may call me a party pooper. They may laugh and tell me the story about the little girl who walked out to the corral and saw old Jack the mule.  He had a long face and to her he seemed so sad.  She exclaimed, “Poor old Jack.  You got granddaddy’s religion, too!” I guess granddaddy and his religion had spoiled some of her fun.

Here is what the Apostle Paul once said about these two choices:

“I am have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20

No, I don’t think that following Jesus means that we have to walk around with a long, sad face and just say “no.” Jesus has promised to give us an abundant life.  In many ways it is much like Adam and Eve’s situation. The Lord gives us ninety-nine percent “yes” and one percent “no.” We tend to fixate on the “no,” and Satan always offers plenty of plausible explanations to disregard it. We must remember that saying “yes” to the Lord means we also are saying “no” to Satan.

In another place Paul wrote this:

“But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”  1 Timothy 4:7-8

The Christian enjoys the best of both worlds. He is given life principles in God’s word that make life on this earth more abundant and fulfilling.  He is also given the promise of eternal life in the world to come.

Oswald Chambers wrote this devotional thought on the Galatians 2:20 passage:


These words mean the breaking of my independence with my own hand and surrendering to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus. No one can do this for me; I must do it myself. God may bring me up to the point three hundred and sixty-five times a year, but He cannot put me through it. It means breaking the husk of my individual independence of God, and the emancipating of my personality into oneness with Himself, not for my own ideas, but for absolute loyalty to Jesus. There is no possibility of dispute when once I am there. Very few of us know anything about loyalty to Christ - "For My sake." It is that which makes the iron saint.

Has that break come? All the rest is pious fraud. The one point to decide is - Will I give up, will I surrender to Jesus Christ, and make no conditions whatever as to how the break comes? I must be broken from my self-realization, and immediately that point is reached, the reality of the supernatural identification takes place at once, and the witness of the Spirit of God is unmistakable - "I have been crucified with Christ."
The passion of Christianity is that I deliberately sign away my own rights and become a bond-slave of Jesus Christ. Until I do that, I do not begin to be a saint.
 (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

Sometimes we think that following Jesus assures us that we can acquire all the things we want in life. We strike a deal with Jesus and promise to give Him a little of our time and maybe a little of our money, and in return Jesus will make us rich and Jesus will be content with even less of our time because now we have the means to travel and do much more than we could before the Jesus deal. We are confused and believe that “thy will be done” really means “my will be done.” In our enthusiasm we think that Jesus wants us to have everything just the way we want it. Jesus is our coach and our cheerleader, standing on the sidelines shouting our praises and telling us to go for it all. We see following Jesus as the road to self-actualization and not self-sacrifice. Everything with Jesus is “yes” and there are not any “no’s.”


Coffman in his commentary on Romans 6:16 writes:

Sin is obedience of the evil one, as contrasted with righteousness, which is obedience of Christ. It is true of all people, even saved, regenerated, Christian people, that if, through exercise of free will, they shall elect to serve the devil, they inevitably become in such transgressions de facto servants of Satan, in exactly the same manner Adam did in the beginning, only with this marked difference: whereas Adam knew of no remedy and enjoyed no hope of forgiveness, the opposite is true of the Christian. This cannot mean, however, that the indulgence of sin has lost any of its dangerous consequences for humanity; because with every sin, with every temptation yielded to, and in every transgression, the spiritual life of the child of God is weakened and eroded, with the ever-existing possibility that through dalliance with sin, the Christian may become “entangled therein and overcome” (2 Peter 2:20).  Coffman Commentary

Paul writes in Romans 6:17-18, “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”

The doctrine Paul is speaking about is the gospel of Jesus Christ, His death, burial and resurrection.  The form of the doctrine is our baptism into Christ (Romans 6:3-6). In baptism we commit ourselves to Jesus as Lord.  We pledge to say “yes” to the things that Jesus approves and “no” to the things that Jesus disapproves.

Paul tells us in Romans 6 that we are going to be a slave one way or the other. We only have a choice in the matter of choosing who our master will be. There are two choices before us. I saw this illustrated in a cartoon strip. There are two buildings with signs on the front, and a young lady is standing contemplating the two buildings.  She is saying, “Hmmm. Now which one should I choose?”  One building is the Temple of Enlightenment and its advertisement says, “Happiness Is Within You.”  The other building is the Den of Iniquity and its advertisement says, “Happy Hour 5-7 p.m.”  There are two choices, two different roads promising happiness. Which road should we choose?

scott gage

Fayetteville, Arkansas


(The following article is taken from Jim Mcguiggan’s web site:  http://www.jimmcguiggan.com. It is used with permission granted there.)

C.S Lewis and The Great Divorce

C.S Lewis can be esteemed too highly. One acquaintance and ardent admirer of his (Christopher Derrick) when he spoke to an audience of potential Lewis worshipers wanted to make that clear and spoke of Lewis as a fat man he used to meet casually. To his credit, on a couple of occasions Lewis confessed he had to dismiss decisively an approaching awareness of his status. He can also be over-rated as a thinker but more often he can be misunderstood and underestimated by his critics. Furthermore, those who knew and know him well assure us that his brilliance was greater than can be discovered by reading his well-known publications. [Is that a surprise?]

He's always a challenging read even when you're reading his easily read books and most of them are easily read. Part of the trouble is that he makes it all appear so simple (isn't that a sign of brilliance?) but like other intellectually rich men he is saying more than he consciously means to say. At some point a writer makes up his mind about some specific things he wants to say and if he's good he sticks to his purpose but he can't help bringing with him on that specific journey all the richness of his mind and experience and it's out of those that his current particular goal has grown. In effect, then, each good book is sparking with insights and links to other interesting and unstated convictions that are also rich.

The Great Divorce is a great little book that makes demands of the reader, especially if he/she's used to reading only the bland moralising that we get so much of in the popular Christian "read-one-you've-read-them-all" books. TGD takes as its point of departure an engraved book of thirty pages by William Blake but Lewis reminds us that what Blake seemed to be saying is something that in one form or another pops its head up in every generation.

In and around 1790 William Blake wrote The Marriage of Heaven and Hell in which he appears to want the best of both realms as they were presented by his generation. [One wit some time later said he wanted hell for the company and heaven for the climate.] The heaven preached by established religion and the barren rationalism of John Locke and Isaac Newton was lifeless and hell, for Blake, stood for vitality, colour and passion for life. To have real life there had to be a marriage between heaven and hell.

Though admitting that he didn't know precisely what Blake was getting at, Lewis deliberately chose the title The Great Divorce to make it clear that heaven and hell can never be married. It isn't hard to see that Lewis took numerous points from WB and set about exposing their claim to produce real life. [Though Lewis didn't know Richard Dawkins or his atheistic companions who worship DNA and "the selfish gene" his work with Blake shakes their foundations as well as Blakes.]

Blake seemed to think that fullness of life could only be gained by fulfilling one's desires and by refusing to allow either religion or reason to tame the individual; it was critically important to taste and embrace all that humans can experience, good and evil. Lewis in Divorce insists that fullness of life can only be experienced by making a definitive and permanent choice of goodness. Heaven (though in the book it's a place) is to experience actual life to the full and hell is the diminishing of oneself to the point of being ghostly and finally a total loss of humanity. These two states result, finally, from one's submission to the will of God or making one's own will the controlling factor of life. ("There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done'.")

In Divorce, Lewis warns the reader against taking his description of heaven and hell literally though it would appear that Lewis did hold both "places" not to be places but the experience of or the absence of true life. It's certainly true that Lewis thought it was more than naive to look for God in the sky as J.A. T Robinson had claimed most people did.

In Divorce Lewis take a ride in a bus with a number of ghosts from the land of shadows (an idea Lewis repeatedly thanked Plato for) to a place which is something like the foothills of heaven (which is to be found in the mountains beyond). It is only when he gets to that place that he realises his companions are "ghosts" because it was then in the great light that he sees them as grey smudges against the white background. Greeting the ghosts on arrival are Solid people who are substantial and are at home in that place (or increasingly so) whereas the ghosts feel awkward and uncomfortable. In this at home/homeless notion we find a central truth Lewis wants to convey. Those who want "hell" could not endure "heaven".

Lewis introduces us to a number of ghost characters. Among them is a tough guy who only wants his rights, an urbane modernist clergyman who won't tolerate bold religious claims and wants everyone's views to be regarded as good as another's and a self-piteous and self-centred husband who wants the world to be miserable because he is.

Let me say it again, though it's not at all a difficult read it won't be to everyone's taste. But it is so rich in so many ways that it's worth the effort it will take to read it several times because the reader will come away greatly enriched and marvellously challenged.

Jim Mcguiggan  2004