May 3, 2010

No Obligation

She had lived nearly her whole life in the underworld of sex trafficking. A mere slave of the system is all she was – sold nightly to the highest bidder. But one night something strange happened. A man appeared out of the darkness and offered to pay her overlord for the rest of her nights, as long as she lived. He was a kind man; a gentle man. And he took her home and made her, not his concubine, but his beloved wife. He spoke tenderly to her. They had children together. She began to live a normal and happy life. No longer a slave, but a bride. No longer obligated to walk the streets for money, but provided for in every way. No reason to return to her old master and her old ways.

But we learn in Hosea chapter 3 that she did return. She hunted up her old whoring clothes and went back out to the street corners again – this time, not because she had to, but because she wanted to. A free woman living like a slave. A woman loved by her husband, and yet looking for satisfaction in all the wrong places.

This, of course, is the story of Gomer, the wife of the prophet Hosea. But as a type, it is also the story of every believer in Jesus. We were slaves to the flesh; owned by a master called sin. But a tender, gentle Man appeared out of nowhere and bought our freedom. He has made us His bride. He provides for us. We are free and loved. We are no longer obligated to return to the street corners where we have prostituted our lives – to unhealthy relationships, to laziness, to internet pornography, to selfish ambition, to food, to the desire for money and comfort, to a sharp tongue, to bitterness and pride. Think, for a moment, about the particular sin(s) with which you struggle most, and let it (them) be the application point as you read on. What are the barnacles of the old life that seem to cling the tightest to your soul? Whatever they are, says Paul in Romans 8, you do not have to return to your old ways! Why? Because we have been set free (v.2) “in Christ Jesus.” And because we are now indwelt by the Spirit (vv.9-10). And therefore “we are” (v.12) “under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.”

Now Satan may try to deceive us. He may tell us that we’ll never be anything more than his prostitute; that we’ll never be anything more than a slave to this lust or that. But what Paul is reminding us in Romans 8.12 is that we ought not listen to our old master. For Jesus has bought us out of that slavery. We are now His bride. He loves us. He has ransomed us. And we do not have to go back. “We are under obligation, not to the flesh.” The only reason any of us falls into sin now is because we want to. We can go back to sin, but we do not have to go back to sin.

And yet we find, as we read on through the chapters of our lives, that we have often done just that. We have, all too often, retraced our steps and ended up back on the same old streets. But in Romans 8.12, Paul offers us great motivation to stay at home. He reminds us that we have no reason to hunt up the old perfume and lipstick. The motivation? It’s simply this: no obligation. We are no longer sin’s prostitutes. We are no longer beholden to that greatest of all panderers, the devil. We are the well-loved, well-cared-for, bride of Christ. And we have no reason to return to sin. “We are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.” Do you believe that? Then stop listening to the old master … and stay home with and bask in the love of Jesus!


Anonymous said...

This is wonderful thank you for posting. A friend posted your link to Facebook, and I'm edified by this reminder. Blessings to you and your family.
A sister from New England,

Kurt Strassner said...

Thanks Elizabeth. Jesus is a wonderful bridegroom, is He not? Keep looking unto Him in the beautiful northeast!