“We are hard wired to be subject to something bigger than ourselves.” This is what I heard my husband say in one of his sermons. I’m reminded of his statement as I read through Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians.
“Because of the weakness of your human nature…” (Romans 6:19). It’s so true, isn’t it? We were created with this human nature that demands we be subject to something greater than ourselves. At the same time, the essence of this sinful nature comes with a desire to be the one in charge – to be sovereign and sitting on the throne of my life.
But I am weak. No matter how hard I try to be in control, I am destined to be subject to something. I may fool myself into thinking I can handle things on my own, that I am free and can make my own choices, but the truth remains – I am either subject to sin or subject to righteousness. I am either a slave to sin or a servant of God’s. When I test my idea of freedom and do my own thing, I become subject to the consequences of my actions and end up ashamed of where I landed.
When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:20-23
When I am a slave to sin, my life produces a harvest of sinful deeds. When I am a slave to God, my life produces a harvest of good deeds for Him (Romans 7:4-5). Paul goes on to describe the inner struggle we have all experienced – the struggle to do the right thing when our sinful nature is pulling us to do the wrong thing.
The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
I have discovered this principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. – Romans 7:14b-25
The devil made you do it, right? You sin because you have a sinful nature, so it is not your fault. But wait! The good news is that chapter seven is not the last chapter (another Scott Sherwood quote – thanks, honey!) Paul’s letter goes on to describe the victory we can experience over this pull of our sinful nature. We don’t have to live like Paul described in chapter seven. We can claim victory in chapter eight!
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has FREED YOU from the power of sin that leads to death…He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be FULLY satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit…
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. – Romans 8:1-4,12-13
Now that’s freedom! By submitting my life to God, resisting my urge to be in charge which in reality leads to my becoming subject to sin, I find freedom! When I am a slave to God, he fills me with His Spirit and I am free! Praise God! I don’t have to do what is wrong because Christ has MADE ME RIGHT with God.
And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been MADE RIGHT WITH GOD. – Romans 8:1