Wednesday, August 29, 2012

To Whom Am I A Slave ... The Proof Is In The Pudding

I don't know why, but when I hear the old saying:


I think of English Christmas Pudding (Plum Pudding).

Tradition states that a copper three-pence hidden in the pudding brings good luck to the person who finds it. 

However, the true meaning of "the proof is in the pudding" more closely approximates:

"All the proof of a pudding is in the eating."

Romans 6:15-18 uses a similar logic to the pressing spiritual question:

To What Lifestyle Am I Spiritually Addicted? 

or using the biblical language: 

To Whom Am I A Slave?

The simple answer is" the proof is in the pudding" or in this case:

The Proof Is In Whom You Obey


"15 Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16  Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17  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, 18  and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness." Romans 6:15-18 NASB

This simple truth becomes hard for many contemporary Christians to swallow. First of all, we aren't into self-evaluation if it means judging our self, especially is the answer may contradict what we or our theology have publicly claimed. Second, we are into self pronouncements not into examining the root of our problems. At the heart of the issue is whether it counts for our mouths to speak of repentance or whether true repentance is a life change.  

The quotes below flesh out this whole "who am I a slave to" issue. I am indebted to my Twitter friend William Dicks and his contacts for their content. William can be read at his blog Theo-Enthumology:

Walking by the Spirit refers to our daily conduct as Christians as opposed to the unsaved, walking by the flesh, for "the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." (Romans 8:7-8) So, by the time we read the phrase "led by the Spirit" in verse 14 (Romans 8), we once again realize that this phrase does not carry the meaning of being led into our next job, who to marry or where to move to, but how to conduct ourselves. We read in verse 13 that "if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." Then verse 14 starts with the conjunction for, to make a clear connection between being led by the Spirit and putting "to death the deeds of the body" in verse 13. Further, Paul connects being led by the Spirit to being saved ("sons of God"). Here he most probably is referring back to verse 9: "You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him." We are not in the flesh if the Spirit dwells in us, and those who do not have the Spirit, does not belong to Christ.

Referring to Galatians 5 William Dicks quotes Philip Ryken:

"This verse [v16] contains both a command and a promise. The command is to walk with the Holy Spirit; that is, to live within the atmosphere of his grace. The promise is that when we live a Spirit-controlled life, we will no longer follow through on our sinful desires. The promise is emphatic: You will not sin."2 [italics by the author]

Referring to Romans 8 William Dicks Quotes Doug Moo writes:

"In verse 5-8, then, Paul presents a series of contrasts between flesh and Spirit. His overall intention is clear: to show that sarx brings death while the Spirit brings life (v.6). Paul leads up to this key claim by tracing people's manner of life to their underlying way of thinking. In verse 4, he has used the antithesis of 'living' (lit., 'walking') by the flesh/Spirit. The beginning of verse 5 picks up this same idea with a slightly different Greek construction (simply 'according to the flesh/Spirit'). The lifestyle of the flesh flows from a mind oriented to the flesh, whereas the lifestyle of the Spirit comes from a mind oriented to the Spirit. And 'the mind of the flesh is death' whereas the 'mind of the Spirit [brings] life and peace.'"4 [italics by the author]

William Dicks concludes:

So, those that walk in the flesh are unsaved and are hostile to God, while those that belong to Christ are led by the Spirit towards righteousness, putting "to death the deeds of the body" by the Spirit (v13).

So, those that walk in the flesh are unsaved and are hostile to God, while those that belong to Christ are led by the Spirit towards righteousness, putting "to death the deeds of the body" by the Spirit (v13).

So, what have we learnt about the meaning of the phrases "walk by the Spirit" and "led by the Spirit?" We have learnt that these phrases are not related to life guidance in terms of hearing God's voice on where to work, who to marry, what to buy/sell or where to move to next!

The contexts in both Galatians  and Romans 8 are very clear; these phrases are about the Spirit in us, leading us in our conduct in daily life, as opposed to following the law to control our conduct. We no longer depend on a written code that tells us how to live, but the living God has sent His Spirit to take residence in us leading us in a righteous walk with God.

It is imperative that when we use phrases that exist in the Bible, that we make use of the meanings of those phrases as they exist in the Bible. We cannot assign new meanings to them. By using the new man-made meanings, we eventually see those meanings when we read these phrases in the Bible, altering our understanding of the passages where these phrases occur.

Photo Credits:
Christmas Pudding by 
Three Pence 1953 by

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