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“The benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” (Romans 6:22b ESV) What’s your end goal? Paul gives us a glimpse of what awaits us as we live in the freedom of the gospel. Throughout this summer here at International Lutheran Church we are reading through Paul’s letter to the church in Roman. As we travel together “On the Roman Road,” we know where we are going and that result transforms the very journey we are on.

As I sit at the kitchen table here at Mission Central in the middle of western Iowa, I am blessed with the view of ripening corn and soybean fields. It is a familiar and comforting sight to me. My childhood summers were always filled with long drives through the countryside. Each row is filled with the outcome, the “bottom-line,” and the end goal clearly in view. You can see with a glance whether it is going to be corn or soybeans. Like the rest of Scripture, Paul uses this agrarian image to describe the Christian life of faith.

The phrase “you reap what you sow” is a common theme in the Bible from Job (4:8) and Hosea (8:7) to James (3:18). Paul uses this image as a way of warning us not to think we can live to please the flesh when he says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7) But in his letter to the church in Rome, he also helps us to see how the end result transforms the very journey we are on.

You see, Paul understood the gospel. He knew that he did not in fact reap what he sowed. He experienced grace and how God “planted” or “sowed” His Son into death that He would reap for us eternal life! This is the free gift that transforms the very journey we are on. His forgiveness and grace brings into our lives a change - a “holiness” - that was not there before. By the Spirit in Baptism we are made to be His saints – made holy by the blood of Jesus. This is not the result of our efforts or determination. This is the gift that the Holy Spirit plants into our hearts and grows in us by the power of His Word.

This good news about the “result” that is ours in Jesus is what now transforms the way we live. It changes our “bottom-line.” No longer to we seek to gratify our own desires but rather we seek to know His One desire that we might live in it. This does not mean that the struggle is over. We will see that in the next chapter (Romans 7). We need His Spirit and the freedom of the gospel again and again to remind us of who we are and whose we are.

Pastor Carl