Following on his discussion of dying to sin and being reborn into a new family of Jesus Christ from earlier in the chapter, Paul picks up this two-dimensional choice again in our lesson this week.
Paul paints the picture that there are two and only two forces in the world and they are in stark contrast and at war with each other. Light and darkness, Good and evil, Righteousness and wickedness, God and sin.
Each of us, having been exposed to the truth of Christ and having accepted the gift of salvation then still get to choose. Do we choose to offer ourselves, our bodies, out talents, our strengths to the kingdom of sin or do we choose to offer ourselves to God? There is no third choice.
At first, we may see Paul’s argument as overly simplistic, but when we meditate on it we see the truth in what he says. Adam and Eve were not presented with a multitude of paths and choices, they had 2, obey God or choose to eat from the forbidden tree. As we look at the history of mankind and even our own lives, we see this same struggle, to do what we know is right or to choose to disobey God and sin.
This is at the heart of Paul’s message. Even though we have accepted Christ. Even though we have been saved by grace. Even though the Holy Spirit dwells in us. We still, each moment of each day are given freedom of choice. In this moment, do I choose to offer myself to God or to sin? In this moment do I choose to take my body and talents and offer them as an instrument to be used to increase wickedness in the world or to increase righteousness?
Only those who know God face this struggle. Others struggle to not be caught or to not have their deeds exposed because it would not be beneficial to them and the image they wish to portray. The don’t struggle with the sin, they struggle with avoiding the repercussions of the sin. Others struggle to do enough deeds or acts, to do enough good works or say enough prayers or be devout enough, to be deemed good enough on their own that they can work their way to be on par with their gods. All the while they know it is a lie and a façade because they are not ever as good as the lie they portray to others. It is only those who have seen God’s love and majesty and recognize the sacrifice that God made for us that care enough to struggle. In that is a message of hope. If you are struggling, you are a child of God.
Once we accept the gift of Jesus Christ, sin has no hold over our lives, but that does not mean it cannot play havoc with our bodies. It tempts our flesh, our senses, even our thoughts. It works to draw just a part of us away from serving God. Maybe just our lips or speech for a moment to say something that spreads wickedness. Maybe just a flick of a finger or two to steal from another. Maybe a lie we tell, maybe one we hear and believe. There is constant temptation to our eyes. This is where it started in the garden. Eve looked at the fruit and saw that it was good. She listened to the serpent. She believed the lies and repeated them. She picked, she tasted. She sinned.
The choice presented to Adam and Eve does not leave us when we choose to follow Christ. Being in God’s family does not mean He then removes our freewill to choose each moment to follow and obey and love Him or to turn against Him. If He did not provide that freewill then we would be nothing but objects, things, not His most beloved children created in His image. We would not have the ability to choose to love Him if we did not always have the ability to choose not to love Him.
But God is all knowing. He knows we will choose incorrectly at times. And, when we do, through grace He picks us up and helps us along the right path. He never will desert us. We are not judged by our mis-steps and sins, we are judged righteous because of the saving act of Jesus Christ. He never will abandon us and He will always love us.
The concept of being dead to sin, to having died in that life along with Christ on the cross but having been reborn, like Christ, into a new person in a new family. Paul presented the concept that we received a do-over, released from old family/born to new family… now he is going to explain more about what that means (applications)
Negative – do not: let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desire; offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness
Positive – but rather: offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to live, offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness
God is not an add-on to our life, in Him we begin a new life
My hands that do idle work and don’t do the work that helps the poor and hungry, My eyes that look at things I shouldn’t and don’t see people as God sees them, my mouth that eats things that do not make me health and thus shorten my time to serve Him on earth but instead speak words that don’t build up others, My backside that sits passively instead of getting in gear, my legs that do not stand for righteousness but avoid getting involved.
In the law there is perfection and failure. When sin was my master even it told me I was a failure – even whispering it when things were going well so I did not receive the full joy – but grace is encouragement along a path, grace is a loving coach and guide, who picks me up when I fall and points me back in the right direction.