Romans 6 is one of the most important passages in the entire Bible. The fact that many people to not understand it very well is an indicator of the spiritual weakness of many who call themselves Christian. And when we begin to really understand it, it revolutionizes our lives! I get to teach from this chapter in our Bible Fellowship class this Sunday. I’m excited about it!
Here are some illustrations that may help all of us get a better grasp on Romans 6. I first heard these illustrations many years ago. I’m not sure where I heard most of them. If I could remember, I would certainly credit my sources. But these brief stories are too good and too insightful not to pass on to you.
These brief stories illustrate powerful Biblical truth. I pray that you will internalize it quickly, if you have not already done so! You will certainly find it valuable to go back and slowly and thoughtfully re-read Romans 6.
Imagine that you are a typical boy in an American high school. As a typical red-blooded boy, you have two primary (well, perhaps exclusive) interests: girls and food. That’s it. Nothing else in life really matters.
One day, as you are leaning against the locker between classes watching the girls and thinking about the strawberry pie you are hoping to get after supper, the track coach walks up to you.
He says, “Son, have you ever thought about trying out for track?”
You look over your shoulder to see who he’s talking too. Then you realize it’s you!
You reply, “Coach, are you kidding? I’m no athlete!”
He says, “Yes, you are. You’re a runner. I can tell. I’ve been watching you. And I can spot a runner any day. Let me prove it to you. Come out to the field after school and meet me at the track.”
You are intrigued, so you go meet the track coach after school. You follow his instructions. And… lo and behold… over time you discover that you are a runner! You love it! And you’re good at it!
And, over time, you get better and better at it. There comes a day when you have become so good at running that you are competing for the regional championship. Suddenly, just as you are walking out onto the track for the competition, the cutest girl in the school walks up to you carrying the most delicious strawberry pie you have ever seen. She says, “Wouldn’t you like to have this pie? Wouldn’t you like to just come with me so we could spend some time together?”
And briefly you think, “They both look awfully good.” But you have much bigger things on your mind. And you answer, “No. I’m a runner. I have an important race to run. And I’m going to run it.”
And you turn from her and the pie. And you run the race. And you win.
A man in the mountains once caught an injured eagle. He fed it and kept it for a pet. Eventually the eagle healed and was able to fly again. But the man wanted to keep the eagle, so he chained it to a stake. All day long, day after day, all the eagle could do was to walk around and around in circles, chained to the stake.
Eventually the man died. Another man found the eagle and had pity on it. He felt it was cruel to keep a majestic flier like the eagle chained to a stake, so he cut the chain and set the eagle free.
But for a long while the eagle continued to circle round and round the stake… as though he were still chained! Finally, after several attempts, the man was able to make the eagle realize he had been set free. And the eagle flew high into the sky… as, of course, he was designed to do.
When Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in the early 1860’s, millions of slaves were immediately legally set free.
Unfortunately, many of the former slaves still felt threatened by their former slave owners. Many did not fully comprehend the fact that they had been set free.
It took time for many of them to really understand that all they had to do was walk away from their former owners.
A certain man was addicted to nicotine. He had tried to quit smoking many times through the years but could never succeed. After he had been off cigarettes for a few days, a friend would come by and blow smoke in his face, and he would fall off the wagon and beg for a drag on the cigarette, plunging right back into his addiction and slavery to nicotine.
Suddenly the man died. And he was no longer enslaved to cigarettes! His friends could walk by his corpse and blow smoke in his face all day long. But he was through with cigarettes! He was dead!
(I heard Peter Lord share a story similar to this one in a message many years ago.)
One day a mother eagle was trying to teach her eaglets to fly. She pushed one of the eaglets out of the nest and he frantically flapped his wings. Unfortunately, he wasn’t very good at it.
Finally, though, he landed safely on the ground. When he landed, he found that he had lost sight of his mother. It happened that a flock of turkeys were walking by, so he decided to just go along with them. He followed the turkeys around and did his best to act like them. The turkeys didn’t mind. They seemed to like the little fellow. They taught him to scratch for acorns.
He wasn’t entirely happy acting the part of a turkey, but it was all he knew, so he plodded on for a long time, acting like all the other turkeys.
One day a wise old owl looked down on him from high in a tree and said, “Whooo are Youuuu?”
The young eagle looked up at the owl and said, “Who me? I’m just a turkey down here with these other turkeys scratching for acorns.”
The wise owl said, “No. You are not a turkey! You are an eagle! What are you doing down there acting like a turkey! You were created to fly and soar high into the sky on your eagle wings!”
It took the young eagle some time to grasp what the owl was trying to tell him, but finally he began to test his wings. And, sure enough, in a short time he was soaring up into the clouds, high above the turkeys scratching for acorns on the ground below.
Are you a Christian? Are you really? Have you examined yourself to see whether you are truly in the faith? Do you believe Jesus Christ is God the Son who died in your place? Are you trusting Him? If you are truly one of His, then the Bible says that the old man you once were is dead! You are not who you once were! You have been raised to walk in newness of life! Sin is no longer your master! You have been set free! You are a new creation!
If that’s true of you, it’s way past time to quit acting like a turkey! And in the grace and power of God, it’s time to begin to soar… like an eagle!
“But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” (Ro 6:17-18)
“Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Ro 6:11)
Stay in the battle!