July 31 I Wednesday
“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” —Romans 6:18
The opening verse from Paul gives us a wonderfully optimistic outlook on our relationship with sin. He says that we have died to sin, which makes us no longer slaves to sin, and that sin no longer reigns over or masters us. We may wonder, how is this possible when we battle with sin all the time and are daily surrounded by temptation?
We find the answer from the context in which Paul tells us this truth. He alludes to two misguided responses to sin every Christian is susceptible to. The first is trying to deal with the problem of sin by legalism. Legalism concludes, since we have been reconciled to God and our sins are forgiven, our job now is to live life by the rules God has given. This is appealing because rules are easy to identify and it gives us something to measure our efforts. We may feel secure in keeping the rules, but in due course, we will find ourselves living under the pressure of what we should and should not do. Our lifestyle then becomes driven by an expectancy of keeping the rules with very little individuality or independent
thinking. We kid ourselves into believing this is
being holy, but we are merely adhering to a behavioural pattern we think is pleasing to God.
The second response is licence. Because we stand justified before God, and have a kind, forgiving, merciful and loving God, our sin is not of that much consequence anymore. Our justification before Him is not only a gift to be received, but is irrevocable as Paul tells us, “We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:2). We are eternally safe and God’s grace is plentiful. Because Christ has dealt with our sin, we are under the notion that we can live in any way we please, even extending to the fact that we no longer need to confess our sins. This is not usually people’s theology, but it can very easily become their attitude.
Yet, our answer to our battle with sin is not legalism or licence, but the life of Christ living in us. In Him, we are given new appetites, desires, energy and motivation to live a godly life. Just as we are not set free from sin by our own efforts, we cannot live the Christian life by our own efforts. It is in the strength of Christ that we are meant to live, and each time we yield to Him instead of sin, His presence in us is expressed in our ever-increasing holiness.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I know how susceptible to sin and temptation I am. Help me to live in Your strength and transform me into Your likeness. Thank You, Lord.
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