Except For These Chains


Jim Hiser

"And Paul said, "I would to God that not only you, but all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains. (Acts 26: 29 NKJV).

There is an interesting contrast between this verse and that of Romans 6:16-18. "Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slave whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness."

Surely we understand that the type of bondage referred to in Romans is a different bondage than that in Acts 26. In Acts, Paul's chains were literally that of a prisoner, while the slavery, (bonds) in Romans was a self-imposed bondage. The word used in the original language was "Doulos." W. E. Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, defines "doulos" as, "... indicating subjection without the idea of bondage." In Romans 6, Paul accuses all people of being in servitude to something or someone, i.e. "... whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness."

We, today, who are raised in a free society, chafe at the very idea of enslavement to anything. Paul wished that Agrippa and the rest of his audience were just like he was, serving Christ Jesus our Lord. In Romans, we are encouraged to change lordly masters - Christ rather than Satan, obedience rather than disobedience, submission rather than resistance!

Satan is a hard taskmaster! He lures with soothing words and fair ideas. But, like Solomon's words, at the last they bite like a serpent, and sting like a viper. (Proverbs 23:32). "Good understanding gains favor, but the way of the unfaithful is hard." (Proverbs 13:15). God presents us with great opportunities and dire consequences.

Note the choices before us. Satan offers death (spiritual), as a reward; God's reward is eternal life. (Romans 6:23). Satan offers pain and anguish. (Luke 16:23); God offers rest from our labors. (Revelation 14:13). Satan offers no lasting good thing; God offers every good and perfect gift. (James 1:17).

Yes, we are servants either way we go, but Christ said, "... My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:30). It does not take a genius to figure out which way is the best way to live. Far too many choose the "pleasures of sin for a season." (Hebrews 11:25).

Our task is to make known to the lost in sin that there is a better way, a better life, and a better reward! First, we, ourselves, must be convinced that faithful Christian living is "better" in all ways. Our lives, our message - from the pulpit and from house to house - must show that true Christianity is that better way, that better life, and yields that better reward. -5636 Cherrywood Dr., Lorain, OH 44053.


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