Sundays:  Pastor's Class 9:00 AM (Ephesians)
               Divine Liturgy 10:30 AM

Wednesdays: Pastor's Class 10:00 AM (Psalm 119 deep dive)
                    Divine Liturgy 7:00 PM

Ash Wednesday:

Imposition of Ashes 11:00 AM
Divine Service with Imposition of Ashes 7:00 PM



Not A Slave ... A Subject

July 26, 2020 Pastor: Rev. Lloyd Gross

Verse: Romans 6:19


We crave independence so much that we don't realize how by indulging ourselves we become slaves. We want to think that we are masters of every situation, but we throw ourselves into the lap of sin with the self-committing trust of a puppy. And sin is like quicksand. The more you fight it, the deeper you sink. We fall not only into guilt, but slavery.

Almost as bad as the slave is the mercenary, the soldier who obeys for a reward. The army of sin is a mercenary army. The reason the rat race exists is because an army that pays rewards must keep conquering new places to exploit. Always, however, the lion's share of the spoils go to the commander.

Christ's army of righteousness is very different. He makes no deals, no offers. The mercy of God is never negotiable. Christ's army is a citizen army, the militia of the heavenly Jerusalem. Our Commander is the King, who calls us to take up arms against sin and evil. We are not His slaves, nor do we serve Him for gain. We are the Messiah's subjects. For that reason we serve Him.

When St. Paul tells us to yield our members to righteousness, He is mustering the army of the Lord. There is a job for everybody in the Kingdom. We can all contribute to the victory. Please don't limit this to institutional business that we usually call "church work." That's just the parade. The more important work is done in fatigues, the dirty work, the fatiguing labor. Worship and Bible study are the morning calisthenics. After that the real work begins. Your family needs your loyalty, your business partners need your honesty, your neighbors need your kindness, and those for whom you are a role model need every virtue. Cooking, vacuuming, dishwashing, and playing with children are just as much "kingdom work" as singing in the choir or ushering. Jesus has given you your part of the battlefield, where you can be faithful to your Commander.

Satan is a mighty spirit with great power, but God has called you by the Word. In Satan's army there is nothing certain. Even if you summoned up genuine discipline, there is still a huge chance of failure, because Satan does not care about you. He just wants to use you. The Good Commander is very different. He purchased us with His blood from sin and death. How can we not owe Him our complete allegiance? There is no such thing as being in the middle. To think that you can fight for Jesus on Monday and Satan on Tuesday is an illusion.

So what is all this about? It is about what we call sanctification. Paul says our reward is sanctification, which means being made holy. The campaign is within you. The enemy and the allies are both within you. Do you think you can let Christ be the master of your mind and Satan of your body? Did only Jesus' mind die on the cross? Was there any part of Him that did not die, and that did not rise again? He assumed our total life and gave it up into death, then received it all back in the resurrection. The conflict between the flesh and the spirit runs through every part of you. Your mind, body, attitudes, emotions, and affections are all divided. Jesus wants all of you. Forgiveness is His free gift, although it was very costly to Him. There are no limits to God's mercy. The forgiveness flows inexhaustibly. Your Commander knows what your strengths and weaknesses are. He sends reinforcements to help you hold your ground, and sometimes send you as reinforcements for somebody else. With your home, your employer, your circle of friends, wherever your part of the battlefield might be, He is always beside you.

One promise our Commander does make is that we shall all have crosses to bear as He did. He may lead us into the desert, but He feeds us with miraculous loaves. We may get wounded in battle, but He is the Great Physician, ever present with healing and understanding. Can the devil match that? Should you die in Satan's service he takes away everything he gave you. When you die in the service of the Messiah, your life has only begun.

Verse 23 sums it up so well -- many of you have memorized it, The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. That sums up St. Paul's teaching very well. Sin automatically sets in motion the machinery of evil, which runs its dreadful course through our lives. Sin enslaves us, but Jesus breaks the chains. The power of the Word sets us free. The life-giving Gospel creates faith, the Holy Spirit within us is stronger than the power of sin. Jesus frees you from slavery, not to make you a mercenary, but a subject of the Messiah. You can be sure that He is leading to eternal life. The will of God is your