Discerning the Wrong Master
Don’t we all relate to this image of running on the hamster exercise wheel!? Life gets full of many tasks and responsibilities. It seems that we are “on the run” getting the essentials done. But, is it all a distraction to our true life outside the rut we find ourselves in, running but getting nowhere fast?
I was recently studying Romans 6:1-23. In 6:2 Paul asks, “How can we, who died to sin still live in it?” Like the rat race of whatever our hamster wheel is, do we recognize these distractions as sins? If, as in 6:3-4, we’ve been baptized into his death and buried with him so that we may walk in newness of life, why do we find ourselves getting nowhere on the hamster wheel? Is it hard to get off? Has it become our master?
If Paul is exhorting in Rom. 6:6-7 that my old self was crucified with him and I’m no longer a slave to sin (such as being distracted by what is thought as important and must get done at the expense of life outside the hamster wheel), it means that I’m really set free from this distracting hamster wheel, no matter how passionate I am about it! If, as in Rom. 6:10-11 my life is lived to God, then I am dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ.
But for some reason, passion reigns on the hamster wheel of distraction of tasks and the to-do list. Even if it’s something thought of as good and glorifying to God, it may be of our own design and what really is meant for God is outside the hamster wheel.
You see, it’s our own two feet that choose to make the hamster wheel go. Its motion becomes our master. But, Paul is exhorting here in Rom. 6:12-14 not to let this sin reign, to make you obey its passions. You are alive to God as an instrument of righteousness, so this sin has no dominion over you! Romans 6:15 tells me that I am not under law, like the hamster wheel, but under grace, as an obedient slave. But the hamster wheel has mastered us and makes us a slave to its sin, whatever it is. If you’re on it, it has overtaken, mastered you, and made you a slave to sin which results in death. There is no life in this hamster wheel!
Obedience, in Romans 6:17 comes from the heart. We know it when we are inside the wheel of sin and distractions that we are being called out of the hamster wheel from the sin of distractions that lead to death to be slaves of righteousness, be sanctified, and set free as slaves to God (Rom. 6:17-20)!
But it’s hard to stop the momentum of our legs moving that wheel that “we’ve mastered”. Realize that it really has mastered you and it is a cunning trap set by Satan! Consider the balance sheet, v.11: dead to sin vs. alive in Christ. All this running in the hamster wheel…if it’s difficult to get off it, then it has truly enslaved us. As living sacrifices, dying to self determined desires (whatever they are on the hamster wheel), a conscious decision from the heart will help in discerning and becoming aware of the wrong master’s tactics. Let’s embrace our true identity as freed from sin. This free gift from God leads to eternal life in Jesus who broke the wrong master’s hold over us. Stepping out of the hamster wheel, Jesus can now reign in us through the Holy Spirit, our True Master.