Apparently in ancient Rome up to half the population were slaves. At the risk of sounding like I’m advocating slavery, we need to understand that slavery in ancient Rome was somewhat different than the slavery we in North America are familiar with. Though often slaves were taken from conquered nations slavery itself was not racially or ethnically based. In fact it was not unusual for it to be economically based. What I mean by that is if a person was on the verge of bankruptcy he could offer himself to his biggest creditor and become that person’s slave. In doing so he gave up all rights of self-determination and put himself totally and completely under the authority of his master.
I tell you this because that’s the image Paul is summoning in Romans 6 when he says whatever you give yourself to you become a slave of. But he only gives us two options: sin or God. Now some of you may object that there must be other alternatives somewhere in between the two extremes and you’re welcome to argue the point. But you’ll have to argue it with God not me because I’m just telling you what God has said in the Bible.
So, he continues, quit sinning. Don’t offer yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, instead offer yourself to God as an instrument of righteousness. There’s far more to be said on this than there is room for in this little article, but here’s what I want to get at. Let’s assume that you don’t want to be a slave of sin, how do you stop? If you’re like me you’ve determined, and promised, and tried harder but still you sin.
The first and maybe obvious thing is to offer yourself as a slave to God giving up all your rights to self-determination. But many of you have done that and still struggle. Want help? Stop trying to not sin. Uh, what? Here’s an illustration that may help.
Picture in your mind a moose. Visualize his great antlers, the hump on his shoulders, the long legs and big nose. Got it? Ok, now stop thinking about moose. Come on, stop it. Can’t do it can you?
Now imagine a kitten; a cute little ball of fluff, playing with a ball of yarn. Jumping and rolling. . . I bet you stopped thinking about the moose, at least ‘till I mentioned it again.
When you focus your attentions and affections on Jesus your “moose” begins to fade away.