Tag Archive: Relative



“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” -Romans 6:18

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Who or what is your master? Like it or not, we all chase after or focus on something, and it is this same something which dictates or determines our actions, thoughts, goals or desires. Man tends to think he is the master over his own life, but this isn’t the case. Man can choose what has dominion over him, this much is true, but once it is decided, it is sealed, and that individual becomes a slave to that very thing.

Relative recent history gives the term, “slave,” a certain infamy and therefore power, in a very negative sense. Does Paul mean “slave” with the same sort of negative connotation that it has today? I argue not, but let us first understand that slavery in the Scripture, is very different from those, “recent,” examples that blot our history, particularly that of the western tradition. Indeed, much slavery included in the Bible concerns the repayment of debts. Yet, now, Christ has paid our debt in full, that by our faith in Him, it may be credited to us as righteousness. Furthermore, Christ doesn’t refer to us as slaves, but rather, sons, daughters, and even, friends.

Paul indicates repeatedly in his letters, that we are either slaves to sin, or slaves to righteousness. Yet, if we are slaves to righteousness, aren’t we then slaves to God? Furthermore, if this is the case, then can’t it be said that God has no more morality than any of those southern plantation owners, who “employed,” slaves in early American history?

In actuality, the answer is a resounding no! For although Paul uses the word, he does so to put it in, “human terms.” When we examine the slavery mentioned by Paul and juxtapose it with the slavery of history, we find a key difference, and, in fact, it is Christ Himself who is the key that unlocks the shackles that bind our hands and feet, setting us free!

When we look at the contemporary conception of the institution of slavery, we find it not only terrible, but completely self-serving. Though slavery is for the benefit of one, the land owner, Christ came for the benefit of many. In Christ we do serve God, but we too are rewarded in and by our efforts, We find that we benefit in being slaves to righteousness, which negates slavery altogether. In addition, we find others benefit in our being “slaves” to this righteousness, and we are given eternal life and glorify God with our very lives.

Sin is the true slavery, and more in tune with the current view of slavery then the antithesis. For though man’s carnal desires may be satisfied in short term, there is no true benefit, only pacification. What is true is what is eternal. Live for righteousness that you may be a slave no longer, live for Christ. Through sin came pain, death, and misery, but through Christ, we gain contentment, life, and joy. Glory be to God who through His Son broke us out of the bonds and freed us from sin and the wage that comes from it, death.

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“As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one.'” -Romans 3:10

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The world tells us that there are both good and bad people who dwell within it. Such distinctions are usually relative in nature, and are dependent on a person’s actions, rather than their heart. While it is true that action is a manifestation of a person’s axiology, man lacks the wisdom to see what goes on within the intermediate between heart and action, for within this lacks an evil unseen to all but God. We know from scripture and the words of Christ our Lord, that it isn’t just action that makes people evil, but the desires of their hearts and those ideas or carnal contemplations that are manifest in the mind, heart and spirit.

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While the Law is based on solid truth and ideals, man’s law is not. Rather, it is based, again, on ethical, and even cultural relativism. Thus, what is proper or ethical according to one man’s heart may not be the case with another. This suggests the unreliability of man’s conception of right or wrong, though I would agree that God has instilled a natural faculty of judging such things.

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God’s wisdom far surpasses that of man, and though man may conclude he is a good person according to the extent of what he has done, this is not how God judges trespass. A person may conclude he is good due to the fact he has never killed anybody, but Christ says different. He states in Matthew Chapter 5, Verse 21-22:

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

What is good isn’t based on action, for we can sin in the heart, both willingly and unwillingly. Therefore, despite man’s idea of goodness, the true ideal, the one of God, says that indeed none are good. Everyone has sinned, and will sin. Christ say’s in Mark Chapter 10, Verse 18:

“No one is good-except God alone.”

Jesus said is in response to a man who fell to his knees before him, and referred to him as, “good teacher,” and inquired what he must do to inherit eternal life. Christ responded with the aforementioned statement, in addition to, “Why do you call me good?”

Though Christ’s response provides some questions, these are resolvable, and we discover His reply hints to His true nature. Jesus never denied He wasn’t good, merely inquired why the man had stated this to Him. Christ was certainly good and He was good because He was The Lord. As Christ states in John 14, Verse 7:

“If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him.”

This not only suggests the Trinity, but shows us that there is no good one, except for the Lord. Therefore, we are all blotted by iniquity and sin, and thereby, all mankind is in need of a great savior to be cleansed of this sin and to overcome it. This is what Christ has done for us, provided the cleansing power of His blood, that it may wash away our sin when we come to Him even as we are, sinners.

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“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

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In scripture, we are called to follow the example Christ set forth for us in His life, within our lives. His purpose and will is that we act in accordance with His nature, which for man can be very uncomfortable. This group of verses emphasizes that explicitly. When we consider human relations, much of mankind will only help his fellow man, if there is something in it for them. Christ gives an example of lending, but it goes much beyond materialism. A person might do it for prideful reasons, or a need to be fulfilled. Yet, Jesus tells us it’s out of love, goodness, generosity, kindness and mercy that we should do such things. These are the very attributes which exist in the Lord and by these characteristics being made evident in our lives we gain a fuller understanding of who God is and His interaction with mankind.

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It is unfortunate, but God is often so kind to us, yet we offer no repayment to God, nor even adoration. When one takes on the attributes of God, to the degree that is possible, then we are sure to be greatly disappointed in the character of man. Our gifts may go squandered and those we try to help, may refuse to help themselves. This is a taste of how God must feel given man’s behavior, even those who belong to His Son.

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"The Father's Curse: The Ungrateful Son," by Jean-Baptiste Greuze. oil on canvas, c. 1777

With our and mankind’s faults so obvious when these principles are put into action, let us turn from taking advantage of the Lord’s kindness, generosity, and love. Let us continually praise Him that by His nature He bestows great gifts unto the undeserving. Furthermore, let us realize another purpose of Christ’s words put into action. Through us Christ is revealed unto man and knowing this, an interesting relative relation takes place between showing Christ and suppressing the truth. Those who take for granted that which the Lord has blessed them with, will fail to show Christ to others in a full degree, for by their ungodly gratitude, they distort and dim the light of the gospel which is destined to shine among all man, “like stars in the sky.” (Philippians 2:15)

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“But, ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.'”-2 Corinthians 10:17

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When we try and examine it to determine what is proper or not, we find pride and its kin to be a curious batch. Some may believe that pride of any kind is bad, some maybe of only the self, and even some perhaps feel as long as it doesn’t encroach upon God, then a certain amount might be okay.

Well, according to Paul there is one thing we can take pride in and that’s our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, we are granted permission to boast of what our Lord has done in the presence of all man. We should boast in both what Christ has done for us, or through us. It is proper to feel honored that the Lord may choose you to accomplish His will, but the moment that realization goes to our ego, it becomes wrong. To keep from this pride realize that Christ is always working through you and in addition, to keep others from stumbling, realize that Christ works through others as well.

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Yet, the Lord has given us a sense of joy and accomplishment that we frequently feel in our lives. This is where I may get some disagreements, but to not acknowledge ones gifts seems of false humility and in itself sinful. Therefore, there needs to be some reconciliation between pride and acknowledgement of ones efforts.

When we come to Christ it is a relationship and you have a hand in all things Christ does. This is no secret for we are told we share in His glory. Should one be “proud” of ones accomplishments and their striving to lead a godly life? I don’t think realization of this is any issue, if kept in proper perspective. What all these sins have in common are comparisons. When one feels prideful, unhealthily, we juxtapose ourselves with others and consider ourselves “better” or “greater” then they are for any number of reasons. This feeds pride.

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Envy is the exact opposite, when one compares themselves with another and finds themselves lacking in relation to their own conception of the “greatness” of that other party. In addition, we find there are things that people take pride in like their children. God the Father said of His Son, in Matthew 3:17, that He is, “Well pleased.”

So what is true humility? I am under the impression that a true humble person who opens themselves to the Lord and let’s Him work through them, does not compare himself/herself to anyone, but merely focuses more, not on the stature and status of those around them, but rather how their relationship with God is developing. A developing relationship with God is bound to produce fruits and one can acknowledge those with no sin. However, if say, one were to compare the godliness of himself/herself with someone else, than this is sinful. Do not compare yourself to others in this way, for all members of the Body of Christ are important.

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Do not be so hesitant concerning the sin of pride that in seeking to be humble you deny those things the Lord has given you. Would Michael Jordan say he wasn’t very good at basketball? This would be absurd and thereby false humility. The thing about false humility is that it usually serves pride more than any simple acknowledgement of God’s particular gift would. If one gives proper thanks to the Lord, uses it for the purpose He has designated it for in your life, and you don’t compare it to other gifts or those who may have a same gift, then this is true humility. Remember most of pride is based on a foundation of that which is relative. Take the relativity out of it and you may gain discernment through this, and prayer, on how to live a humble life and respond properly as any given situation demands.

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