ROMANS 6:10-11: “For the death he died, he died to sin once for all time; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” CSB
OBSERVATION: Am I winning the battle against sin? Is my life a growing story of victory, or am I caught on the Ferris wheel of temptation, failure, and guilt? If I am now under God’s grace, why do I still struggle with sin and temptation?
The struggle against sin and temptation is an ongoing struggle for the believer. When one accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, this struggle is not automatically over. We are forgiven, fully pardoned, released from the penalty of sin, and given the blessed assurance of eternal life. Yet, the struggle continues. And there is no one, including preachers and evangelists, that escape this struggle.
So is there hope, or do we just throw our hands down in defeat and give up? Do we become comfortable with our sin knowing that we are under God’s grace. Let’s listen to what Paul has to say about this.
- “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it. (Romans 6:1-2, CSB)
Let me put that another way. I know God loves me. I know that I am a Christian. However, I just can’t overcome ….. (fill in the blank). Since I am saved by grace, and I know God loves me, I will just lean on this grace and not worry about my behavior or actions. Unfortunately, this is what some are teaching today. This is what Paul was being accused of teaching. Yet, if we take this position and attitude it does nothing to overcome the continued guilt and shame we experience when we give into sin.
I don’t like Ferris wheels. My wife is nostalgic about them because her father used to take her on one when she was a child. When we lived in Texas, they boasted the claim of having the largest Ferris wheel – the Texas Star. Of course, we had to go on it. And every rotation, every stop, I just wanted to get off. Yet, it seemed like they let everyone off except me. This is the way it can feel when we have areas in our life that we cannot seem to overcome. Will someone please stop the wheel from turning and let me off?!
This is what Paul is addressing in the entire chapter of Romans 6. In verses 10-11 he says,
- “For the death he died, he died to sin once for all time; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
The word “consider” is translated “reckon” in the old King James Bible. In the Greek it has the connotation of an accounting term. It is a calculation based on a fact. Jesus Christ died to sin once, then He rose from the dead, never more to die. We have been united with Christ, in His death to sin, through faith, as expressed in water baptism. When we arise out of the baptismal waters we are being united in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We now have the freedom to live, fully forgiven, fully pardoned, by the wonderful and powerful grace of God. So, each day, we have to make an accounting of this truth in our hearts and lives. Even though we struggle with sin, the reality is we have been released from the power of sin. Each day our checkbook reads – “Paid in Full.”
Yet, this accounting needs to be followed by action. This is where we get stuck on the Ferris wheel. We pray, receive forgiveness, walk in victory for a while, and then fall in the same sin all over again. We hesitate to share this with other people because we don’t want to be judged, and we have heard too many times it is because we simply do not have enough faith. And, all the while we are stuck on the Ferris wheel of sin, rotation after rotation, wanting desperately to get off. What is the answer? What can I do?
- “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under the law but under grace.” Romans 6:12-14 CSB
First, we need to address the lie of sin. Sin says we are defeated. It tries to convince us that we just have to live with our brokenness. We cling desperately to God’s grace and mercy. Yet, we need to realize the truth. Sin no longer has power over our lives. Our union with Jesus Christ has broken the power of sin. “For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under the law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14). This is the truth, even though it may not be my current reality.
What am I missing?
I have a choice each day, each moment, with what I am going to do with my life. Paul exhorts us – “Don’t offer any parts of it (our physical and emotional members) to sin as weapons of unrighteousness.” Temptation and sin usually begin with a thought. I can entertain that thought, and then offer my eyes, my mind, my mouth, my body, to fulfill that thought – or I can take that though captive in obedience to Christ. When I offer any part of my body or mind to temptation I weaponize the power of sin. I give it the power to once again enslave me. I put myself on the Ferris wheel once again.
Here is a practical example. There was an individual in my life who deeply wounded me and betrayed a feigned friendship. The wound was so deep it was festering in my heart and turning to bitterness. This bitterness was breeding hatred, and it was controlling my thoughts and emotions. I was on the Ferris wheel – unable to get off. I cried out to the Lord for help, and I did not like His answer. The Lord asked me to begin to pray for this person’s salvation and blessing. To be honest, I would have liked one of those strong words from Psalms, not the Sermon on the Mount! Yet, I had a choice of what I was going to do with my thoughts and my mouth.
The choice would either enslave me or set me free.
I began to pray out of obedience and faith. I did not feel it at all. I wondered if following this course would even make a difference. Yet, what I did not realize, I was refusing to give myself to the attitudes and desires of my flesh, and in obedience I was yielding these members to the Lord. I was weaponizing righteousness!
I kept on in obedience. And then something happened. I cannot really recall the moment or the day, but suddenly I was free from my bitterness and hatred. Even though I was never reconciled with this person, their actions no longer had a hold on me. And I found out that I truly did want them to be saved and blessed by the goodness of God!
When I yielded my thoughts and actions in obedience to God, through the power of His grace, the reality of the power of sin being broken became my reality. I found that I truly was dead indeed unto sin and alive unto Jesus Christ my Lord. I began to follow this same understanding and obedience in other areas of my life. And, one by one, the Lord began to help me find His victory and freedom over the power of sin in my life.
This did not remove the struggle. It simply showed me the pathway of victory in the struggle.
Each day the enemy, and the weakness of my flesh, try to pull me back toward the power of sin and failure. Yet, each day I have the choice to consider, reckon, calculate, the truth of Romans 6 in my life. I have been crucified with Christ, yet I live! The power of sin has been broken in my life. I have been given the freedom and ability to present my body as a living sacrifice and use all of my members as an instrument of righteousness through the power of God’s grace.
I am no longer stuck on the Ferris wheel!
Lord, please help me to stand in this truth today. Also, please help anyone who is stuck on the Ferris wheel of sin and failure to run to Your grace and mercy, receive a revelation of this truth, and begin to experience the freedom and power of Your grace overcoming the power of sin in their life.
In Jesus Name!