The Lordship of Christ
“You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (vv. 19b–20).- 1 Corinthians 6:15–20
Since the earliest days of the Christian church, believers have confessed the lordship of Christ. In fact, the first confession of the church was the simple affirmation, “Jesus is Lord.” Our forefathers in the faith who lived under Roman rule were killed for this confession, for refusing to say that “Caesar is Lord.”
Thus, it is not surprising that the Apostles’ Creed, the earliest of the ecumenical creeds, confesses Jesus as our Lord. But what is our reason for calling Him “Lord”? The Heidelberg Catechism takes up that issue in question and answer 34, using today’s passage as a proof text. Our reasons for serving Christ as Lord are similar to the reasons for our comfort stated in answer 1 of the catechism, namely, that we belong to Jesus. He has purchased us; thus, we owe Him our highest allegiance.
In 1 Corinthians 6:15–20, Paul uses a metaphor related to ancient slavery to make his point. In first-century slave markets, slaves were bought and sold, and a purchased slave came under the full authority of the master who bought the slave. Similarly, Jesus purchased us from the old master of sin, becoming our new Master, with full authority over us. Of course, Jesus is not a cruel Master, for His “yoke is easy” and His “burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30). He is not a Master who is impossible to please if we have repented and believed in Him alone. Nevertheless, Christ owns us, having purchased us with His precious blood, giving His life for the true freedom that comes only with being His servants. He has ransomed us from our past futility and has freed us to love Him, to have purpose in life, and to live with Him forever (1 Peter 1:17–19).
Because Jesus has bought us, He has lordship over us by right. Yet because He has done so much for us, how could we not want to serve Him freely and enthusiastically? How could we not want to surrender all that we are to Him? How could we not want to forsake our own pleasures if that is what is needed to please Him? We can therefore see that it is a heresy to believe Jesus could ever be our Savior without being our Lord. As Christians, we are bound not only to confess Him as Lord with our mouths but to prove that He is our Lord by doing His will. We are far worse than fools ever to think otherwise (Matt. 7:21–23).
John Calvin comments on today’s passage, stating that “we are not at our own disposal, that we should live according to our own pleasure.” Unregenerate people are determined to live by their own rules, to seek self-fulfillment at the expense of God’s law. Christians, however, are determined to live by what God has revealed, and they repent when they fail to do so. If Jesus is our Lord, we must actually live under His lordship.
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 12:2–3
2 Thessalonians 1:5–12