There are far too many days when my salvation is simply a fact. It’s a good fact, to be sure, but it’s just a fact. We all get used to the reality of our conversion and lose something of the wonder over it. When salvation becomes commonplace we cease to be grateful for it. Remembering what we have been rescued from, what we deserve, and what we now have will reinvigorate our gratitude for salvation.
Paul invites us to rejoice in our salvation in Romans 6. The chapter focuses on the tension between sin and salvation. He notes that we were once slaves of sin and dead to God (v. 16). In conversion we are moving from “death to life” (v. 13), because apart from God we are dead (Eph. 2:1). Being spiritually dead means we can do nothing to save ourselves, nothing to please God (Rom. 8:8), and nothing to change our state (Jer. 13:23). Consider just how hopeless our condition is and would have remained apart from Christ.
Consider too that because of our sin we deserve punishment. We deserve hell, wrath, and eternal condemnation. Our sin has separated us from God (Isa. 59:2), and when God came to resolve that issue and rescue us we killed him. We have all rejected and hated God in some form or fashion (Rom. 3:10-12). Paul tells us, in Ephesians 2, that we are all, by our very nature, children of God’s wrath (Eph. 2:1). That’s what we deserve. God in His infinite justice not only has the right, but, because of His perfect justice, the requirement to condemn sinners. Paul tells us in Romans 6 that in our bondage to sin the fruit we would have reaped was only death (v. 20-21, 23a). Consider just how serious your sin was and what it earned you.
Lastly, consider all that you have received in salvation. In Christ you are not merely spared some consequence of your sin. You are not brought back to a neutral starting place. You are saved from sin, death, hell, and wrath; but you are also saved to obedience, life, and relationship. Paul says it this way in Romans 6:
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. (Rom. 6:16-18)
Because of Christ slavery has been broken. “Sin no longer has dominion” over us (Rom. 6:14). We are now free to walk in “newness of life” (Rom. 6:4) and that means we are able to live obedient lives to God, having become “slaves of righteousness.”
The complete and total transformation of the sinner is a miraculous thing. We are not, of course, perfect yet, but we have hope and we’ve seen a difference because of our salvation. Even if you don’t have some dramatic conversion story – we weren’t all saved from a life as a gangbanger or drug dealer, etc. – you still have much for which to thank God. All conversion stories are dramatic displays of grace and power because we are all sinners who don’t deserve the salvation we’ve been offered.
“Thanks be to God,” Paul says, because without His grace we would be on our way to hell or there already. Consider your salvation with fresh eyes today. What astounds you about your salvation? What makes you marvel? What do you remember about your life without Christ? Or what might your life have looked like without Him? What aspect of your life with Him ought you to celebrate and rejoice in today? Thank God that you are saved! Thank Him today.