Whose Slave Are You?

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification (Romans 6:17–19, ESV).

If you do whatever your boss says, without hesitation or question, then for all intents and purposes you are your boss’s slave. If you do whatever your spouse wants without evaluating or considering if that is really best, you’re a slave to your spouse. And if you do whatever your sinful nature says, without resisting or discerning the wisdom in that choice, you are a slave to your sinful nature.

We can be enslaved to countless sins. To illustrate, let’s visit the sin Rolodex, flip to the letter “S,” and survey just a few of the sins we find there:

  • Stuff. Some are slaves to stuff: more money, newer car, nicer clothes, bigger house, more, more, more. Consumed with acquisition, they are slaves to things.
  • Sexuality. Some focus almost exclusively on sex. Sexuality is a gift from God but has been perverted in their thinking. They’re slaves to the sin of immoral sexual thoughts and actions.
  • Substances. Some seem to be powerless against substances: alcohol, tobacco, legal and illegal drugs, caffeine, sugar. Addicted and unable to say no, they’re slaves to a substance.
  • Someone. Sometimes people wield undue influence, even outright control, over others. The slave is controlled by and addicted to securing the approval of another. A slave is willing to do whatever is wanted, and this is another form of bondage.

Ironically, Christianity is often viewed as too restrictive. Because they do not know God, they view His rules as bondage. On the contrary, his boundaries are designed to protect us, and can’t compare to the bondage of being a slave to sin. Which brings us to the reality of our options: to be “slaves of sin” (6:17) or “slaves of righteousness” (6:18), with the consuming desire to do what God the Master wants.

Whose slave are you? Here’s how you can tell whether you’re a slave to righteousness:

  • You are acutely aware of unrighteousness in you. When you sin, you feel conviction. Your heart grieves and you feel badly for breaking God’s standard. When you set your eyes on something inappropriate, say cruel or filthy words, or make a wrong choice, you feel specific conviction.
  • You can’t ignore personal sin and have to make it right. When the Holy Spirit convicts you of a specific sin, you feel the need to ask God to forgive you and those you have offended or injured: “I’ve sinned against you, and I’m truly sorry. Please forgive me.”
  • You want to please Jesus. Can you honestly say you think of Christ a lot—not every moment, but every day? Real slaves of righteousness have the Holy Spirit inside them prompting, Would this choice be pleasing to Jesus? Is this what He wants me to do?

So whose slave are you? Do you resonate more with the description of bondage to sin—enslaved to stuff or sexuality or substance or someone or [fill in the blank]? Or are you a slave to righteousness?

Paul calls us to: “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5). If you aren’t bearing the fruit of righteousness—not perfectly, but increasingly—then you must question whether you have ever been “set free from sin [to] become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18). You can’t have it both ways: you can’t be a slave to sin and a slave to God.

What to Keep


Article by James MacDonald, Walk in the Word

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word” (John 17:6, esv).

Could life really be as simple as keeping His Word?

Sometimes when our spiritual life doesn’t seem to be moving fast enough for us, when it’s not going in the direction we want it to go, we can end up trying too hard to make it work. We can start exploring other options besides the simple faith of just keeping His Word.

You’ll recognize when this is happening. Times when you’re feeling tired and spent more than peaceful and contented. Times when you’re losing joy over one thing God hasn’t done for you yet, rather than rejoicing in all the awesome things He’s already accomplished. Times when your praying is characterized more by telling God how He should fix this situation than by believing He’s fully aware of what your need is.

But when Jesus transitioned from praying for Himself in verses 1–5 of what’s commonly called His “high priestly prayer” (John 17), into praying for His disciples in verse 6, He characterized them to the Father by saying, “They have kept your word.”

What a great summary of what Christians do! We keep His Word. It’s what we as His followers are called to do.

Simple, right?

But is it really what we do? If Jesus was giving a general accounting to the Father today of your life and mine, would His report include what He said about His first disciples? Does this same basic requirement and privilege—steadfastly keeping His Word—accurately describe how you choose to respond to your daily challenges, questions, temptations, and responsibilities?

You’ll know God’s Word is the authority in your life when it can stop you in your tracks. You’ll know you’re someone who keeps His Word when, instead of heading down whatever mindless path your emotions or traditions are taking you, the Spirit of God can suddenly remind you of Scripture. And as soon as you hear it, the truth of that Word causes you to reverse direction and do something other than what you were heading toward doing.

If God’s Word does not have this effect on you, you need to ask yourself what role it really plays in your life.

If you love studying it but don’t do what it says, the Bible is only affection for you.

If you love having it around the house and on the coffee table for all to see but you don’t do what it says, the Bible is only a decoration for you.

If you believe you’re advancing God’s purposes by hearing the Word taught and proclaimed at church but you have no real intention of getting up from your seat to go do what it says, the Bible is actually a deception for you. “Be doers of the word,” James said, “and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).

Hear Jesus’ prayer to the Father again: “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.”

May He always be able to say the same of us.

Authority Issues

How do you recognize authority? Who or what is your authority? The following are some great articles from authors I admire deeply. I believe they are right on the mark…


God is Faithful

by Larry Burkett


Have you ever considered the relationship between citizenship and Christianity?

Which takes priority?

As Americans, we have all the rights and privileges granted to us by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. And, I believe we are bound according to God’s Word to obey the legal authority over us, including the IRS.

Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. . . . Because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God” (Romans 13:1, 6).

Although I don’t like paying taxes, and I think the amount we have to pay is unfair, I am bound by that authority and by God’s Word.

But, is there any point at which I am no longer bound by government authority? In my opinion, there is when that authority violates the superior authority of the Word of God.

For example, although abortion is legal according to the law of our land, it is totally immoral and is abhorrent to the Word of God. Therefore, I must take a stand against abortion.

We haven’t started euthanizing elderly people, but it’s not impossible that we might find that legal in the future.

As God’s people, we are also citizens and therefore we have the right to appeal any laws of this land to protect our constitutional rights.

When the laws of this land try to supersede the law of God, that’s when we must take a stand, even to the point of imprisonment, if necessary.



by James MacDonald


All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16, esv).

The Word of God isn’t just any book.

It is God’s owner’s manual.

It is God’s manifesto for human life.

It is the manufacturer’s specification for all things happiness.

It is the authoritative Word from the Creator of the universe about how life really works.

Every word of it comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).

The Author is God, and the writers were “holy men of God [who] spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21, nkjv).

It is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16).

It will outlast heaven and earth (Matthew 24:35).

It instructs us about “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3, esv).

You will never have the power to live a full, fruitful, godly life until you choose God’s Word as your final authority. Do you want power over temptation? Do you want power over that draining and difficult circumstance that you can’t conquer on your own? God’s Word has the power.

God has eternally determined that what is written there will happen. That’s why, in the face of temptation, Jesus replied, “It is written . . . It is written . . . It is written . . . ” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). It will be as God said.

Which begs the question: Do you treat God’s Word as the authority in your life? Some people minimize the Bible. They treat it like . . .

  • an hors d’oeuvres tray—where you can pick and choose what looks appetizing.
  • rental car insurance—which you’re glad to have, but only in an emergency.
  • a seatbelt—an unavoidable nuisance that cramps your style.
  • high school algebra—technically accurate but practically irrelevant.
  • a hobby—like a fun phase in life.

Does this characterize your thinking in any way? If so, it’s time to accept the priority and authority of God’s Word. Here’s how you know when the Bible is your authority: when it can stop you dead in your tracks. If you were going in one direction that seemed right to you but then realized the truth, slammed on the brakes, and changed direction, then that’s proof you’re living under the authority of God’s Word.

We all have a propensity to go the wrong way. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12). We can’t follow the direction that feels right. We have to choose the route we know is right according to God’s Word.

You also know the Bible is your authority when it helps you recognize and break a negative pattern of thinking in your life—a lustful thought, a selfish habit, or a destructive way of looking at someone or something. Your thinking was skewed and taking you down the wrong way, but God’s Word stopped your spiral and corrected your direction. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). God’s Word keeps you from falling in the sin-ditch. It keeps you from stepping in a sinkhole. God’s map keeps you from speeding up the freeway ramp into oncoming traffic. It keeps you from devastating your life and the lives of the people you love.

Is it the authority in your life?

Eating the Word

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts (Jeremiah 15:16, esv).


It’s not enough to own a Bible. Or hold it. Or carry it. Or even respect it.

You have to ingest it. Jeremiah 15:16 says, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.” The Bible is soul food.

So what does that mean? How does God’s Word function as the bread of life and spiritual meat? A good meal of Bible feasting includes at least five basic “courses” to ensure healthy, satisfying, spiritual nourishment:

  1. Read it.
    Read it silently or out loud, or listen to an audio version. Try a mix of all three. Be attentive, alert, and thoughtful. Savor the unexpected “flavors” from the Book.

The Bible is like a textbook, in the sense that you have to start in the right places. Unlike a textbook, though, it’s not arranged with the easiest material at the beginning and the hardest at the end. There’s a lot in the Bible that’s straightforward: 2 + 2 = 4. But there’s a lot that’s more like algebra with some complex equations. You have to brush up on basic math facts before you begin algebra. Bible reading is a skill every one of us can continually improve.

You can find some simple yet profound “equations” in the Bible, such as the Gospel of John and 1 John. These are easily understood portions of Scripture, accessible to anyone. Because they’re readable, that doesn’t mean they’re one-time reads. While you’ll readily comprehend John’s Gospel, you’ll also find yourself returning to its depths throughout your life. Familiar passages have an uncanny way of appearing new to us when the Holy Spirit applies them to our lives in unexpected ways.

In the early days of intentional Bible reading, you don’t want to begin with Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, or the major prophets. That’s the deep end of the pool. The book of Hebrews will become much more lucid to you once you know the story and flow of the Old Testament. You can get there. Growth in biblical literacy is attainable for everyone.

Aim for a chapter a day—not three verses or three hundred. No guilt about reading the whole Bible in three months or even a year. We just want more people on board the Bible train.

Open with a brief prayer, and ask God to teach you. I sit in a chair and lean forward. If I read anything lying down, I’m out cold. I have an open journal and ready pen to record thoughts.

  1. Question it.
    When you question the Bible, that doesn’t mean you object to it. It means you read with an inquisitive attitude. Direct some questions toward the text: Who’s involved in this story? What’s the big picture? Where else does Scripture address this issue?

Ask personal questions too: Is there an example here for me to follow? Is Jesus doing something I should be doing? Is Herod doing something I shouldn’t be doing? Questioning the Bible should lead to application insights for you.

Be open to the Bible’s convicting work: Is there a sin for me to confess? Is there something here I need to acknowledge or repent of? Lord, I’m like that. I’m wrong. Please forgive me.

Be teachable. Sometimes God just wants to expand our thinking. I didn’t realize God is so tender. I see Him pursuing the lost so insistently.

Receive the Bible’s comfort. Is there a comfort for me to experience? Is God’s Word assuring me about something? When I feel anxious, fearful, or uncertain, is there an encouraging word I need? All these questions should be scrolling through our minds as we read.

  1. Plan it.
    As you read and question, create a plan of action. Record discoveries and decisions in your journal. Date them. If you read “wrath stirs up strife” (Proverbs 29:22), then what changes does that truth require of you? When God’s Word convicts you, you have to make a plan to do something in response—not just agree with it. What action does God want in response to the truths He shows you?
  2. Pray it.
    Weave prayer time into your Bible reading. When God speaks to you, your first response needs to be to Him. “Thank You, Father, for teaching me from Your Word today. Thank You for challenging me about this. I agree with Your Word when it says . . . ” And then pray about your plan of action.
  3. Share it.
    When we articulate to others what we’re learning, we internalize and apply what God’s teaching us. “I got this out of the Word today. I’ve been studying this passage, and this is what I’m learning. I found this amazing idea in the Bible. What do you think about this?” Because God’s Word is alive, we can always learn fresh lessons from it, and processing those with other close believers can deepen our learning.

God’s Word is a feast spread before you today. May you eat His words, and may they become a joy and delight to you.


wiwAll Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16–17, esv).

The greatest verse about biblical inspiration is also a great verse about biblical application. Second Timothy 3:16–17 not only tells us who gave us the Bible but also why it was given. God breathed out His Word for our benefit. Every part of it is profitable. Waiting in its pages is a wealth of blessings ready to teach, reprove, correct, and train us in righteousness.

We call the Bible “God’s Word” because it contains what He wants to say. He speaks into our lives through it. Each verse and every word accomplishes at least one of the purposes listed above. No matter what our need, God has provided a response in His Word.


The Bible teaches us. The word used here has often been translated doctrine—meaning core teaching. Whatever we find in Scripture is truth that’s worth being taught. Every time we read it we should be asking, What is God teaching me in this passage?

God’s Word reproves us. It is the precision instrument of the Holy Spirit, often stopping us in our tracks through the conviction of sin. When the Lord says “don’t” in Scripture, it’s like He is saying, “Don’t hurt yourself.” He graciously reprimands us.

God’s Word also corrects us. It not only points out the wrong, it also provides the right response. The Bible straightens out our lives like nothing else. On our own we steer in wrong directions, but God consistently directs us in the way we should go.

Scripture trains us in righteousness. It is an unerring guide for the lifelong process of discipleship God wants to bring about. We will never outgrow our need for His guidance.

Truth, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness are all ways God brings light to our lives by His Word. When we need to see where we are, where we’ve been, and where we’re going, it is our trustworthy source of guidance. This is the picture described in Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

But there is a catch in this great promise about the benefits found in Scripture. Note this phrase: “. . . that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” What God has for you in His Word only comes to you if you dig into it. If your Bible remains closed, though the benefits are all there, you have not accessed them.

Amazing things can happen when you open your Bible. Get familiar with it. Figure out how to find your way around. Ask for help. The spiritual maturity you long for will never be a reality until you practice regular, careful study of Scripture.

Becoming a mature disciple of Jesus—one who is equipped to carry out the tasks He places before you—will always involve His Word. When you are reading His inspired thoughts, the Lord is breathing into you His truth, loving reproofs, gracious correction, and the guidance you need.

Transformed by the Word of God

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple (Psalm 19:7,ESV)

-article by James MacDonald, 3/10/2014


God’s Word transforms us. It changes and renovates us. And according to Psalm 19:7, it converts death into life and spiritual ignorance into wisdom.


The word law in “the law of the Lord” translates the Hebrew Torah as the law for life, the rule for living. God’s Word is the absolute norm. His statements are never guesses or suggestions. The Bible is the standard by which every other truth is measured or assessed.


Notice the claim of ownership. Scripture is “the law of the Lord” (emphasis added). God claims clear authorship of His book. Throughout history, people have written and established laws and rules; governments have imposed structure on society. Nations come and nations go, but the Word of God remains—timeless and enduring because it is His.


The verse also describes God’s law as “perfect.” That word perfect literally means all-sided, many-faceted, all-encompassing, and comprehensive. The utter perfection of God’s law is linked to “reviving” (ESV) or “converting the soul” (NKJV). The soul is the inner, immaterial part of you. You are not just primarily a physical person. Part of you is spiritual and will live forever, and that’s the part of you in need of being converted—your soul. God’s Word demonstrates its perfection by making you a new creation.


This transformation is a fascinating, supernatural process, exemplified by “Joe Screwdriver.” This guy invariably appears in churches across North America and is somewhere in the process of life-change. A regular guy who works in his garage, just trying to get by and figure out life, Joe shows up at church—often against his will, at least at first. He begrudgingly attends because he lost a bet with his wife or decided to find out what was going on in her life. But he’s not sure—about any of it.


His body language communicates his resistance. The first week, he sits cross-armed and leans back, observing. Though he is there, he refuses to participate. He projects, I’m not singing. I am flat-out not singing. I may be here, but you can’t make me sing. I’m going to show you I don’t like what’s happening right now.


Yet as much as outer evidence points to the contrary, we begin to see little signs of God at work.


As weeks become months, God’s Word transforms Joe Screwdriver. First, he unfolds his arms. He relaxes. He begins to lean forward. While we watch and pray and wait, we have a front-row view of the conversion process as God softens and changes Joe’s heart.


Just as Psalm 19:7 describes, God’s perfect, powerful law converts an unsaved, unregenerated, uninterested, hardhearted Joe Screwdriver into a new person. His Word spins this man completely around. Joe unfolds his arms and lifts them in praise . . . he unseals his lips and worships the Lord.


God’s Word has the power to transform anyone. He can soften even the hardest heart. The regenerative work in Joe Screwdriver’s life is a process, and it doesn’t end with conversion. God continues to change and sanctify us through His Word.


In what ways can you say, “I’m a different person because of the impact God’s Word has made in my life”? Just as we can trace the effects of Scripture in the lives of others, so we should be able to see the persistent, guiding, transforming work of “the law of the Lord” in our own.


Read your Bible Continually

God’s Word is God’s gift to us! We can know God so much more intimately by reading His word and putting the contents into practice.


BIBLE: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth!

2 Timothy 3:16 – All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.

The Bible is essential to every single Christian. It is God’s message to us on how to live, how to think, how to do anything, and most of all how to die. To die without knowing Your Creator is to be eternally separated from Him. Find a Bible and read it today. …and then keep on reading!