Monday, December 19, 2011

Grace to Disobey

Romans 6:12-14 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

'The scam truck' photo (c) 2007, Jean-Etienne Minh-Duy Poirrier - license:
The book of Romans teaches us that being a Christian does not mark the end of the battle against indwelling sin. Rather, it marks the beginning. 

In fact, one of the ways we can be confident we are Christ’s is the strong inner sense that we are engaged in a very real and difficult struggle against indwelling sin—a struggle that didn’t exist before we were saved.

As a new creature in Christ, I still have my sin nature while I’m in this body. This sin nature is like an ousted king that has not been completely banished. It is running haplessly about the courtyard, doing everything it can to convince my members to obey it rather than Christ, who is the new King.

Even though it’s no longer on the throne, sin can still succeed at grassroots efforts to persuade me to obey its passions. Knowing it can no longer work from the top down, it finds ways to work from the bottom up. Still learning and growing in wisdom, I frequently fall for its sordid ponzi schemes.

Romans 6 teaches me about sin’s new mode of operation in my body. It is making every effort to take back its former reign, with the classic lure of short-term satisfaction. It tries to twist good and healthy desires into turncoat desires that betray their rightful and intended use. It makes empty promises about quick and dirty delights that never satisfy, when King Jesus promises fullness of joy in His presence, and pleasures forevermore at His right hand (Psalm 16:11).

Like a caring father, Paul is telling me to hang up on sin. Slam the door in its face. Force Quit the application. Walk another way. Look away. Stiff-arm it. It’s a scam, a very persuasive scam that wants to take me down.

In a word, Scott, disobey. And if it persists past the first attempt (which it most likely will), grab it by the scruff of the neck and drag it out into the light. Sin’s best-kept secret is that it thrives on darkness and secrecy. Ephesians 5:11 says, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” The power of a secret sin is severely hamstrung when others are aware of it, and can help fuel my resolve to disobey it.

Sin’s power is real, and it is unrelenting. It may win a battle here and there, but it will not win the war. With Christ on the throne of my new heart, I have far deeper delights to behold. I have divine grace to help me withstand sin's whispers. And I have other believers to encourage me in the battle.

Thank you, Lord, for the manifold grace you give. Grace to disobey.

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