Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Greater Freedom Still

And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:16-20 & 24-25

In this passage Paul groans in eager expectation of the redemption of his body (a foreshadowing of Romans 8:23.) You see, Paul knows that there is greater freedom still to be had! Even though he has been set free from slavery to sin, he is tired of the constant struggle with his sinful nature, and he looks forward to the day when his body will be fully “redeemed” or fully rescued from bondage to sin…the day when that sinful nature will be removed altogether. That is, the day when Jesus returns and puts this world to rights…when he returns and removes the marring effects of sin on this world and on His servants. So too, you and I look forward to that day as we struggle within our own selves. But what help does the Bible offer us while we are still here living in this world locked in an epic struggle against our own sinful nature? There are three things I want to tell you.

First, you should know that sin does not hold power over you anymore. You have been set free. You are not perfect yet, because you are still capable of sin, but you are also more than capable of saying no to sin (I Corinthians 10:13). Now that doesn’t mean that you will make it through the rest of your life without sinning, but it does mean that at any given moment when you are tempted to give in to sin, you are able to resist in the name of Jesus because He has given you power over that sin. As Christians, we have no excuse for living in sin.

Second, you should know that you are not yet perfect, and that your current freedom pales in comparison to the freedom that awaits you at Christ’s return. You need to know that you will struggle with temptation and sin and that the fact that you struggle doesn’t mean you are not a Christian. But one day this struggle will end. One day you will be made perfect; you will be set free from you sinful nature once and for all.

Lastly, (and looking ahead a little) one of the most precious aspects of our freedom is found in Romans 8:5. It says that “those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” This means that God not only sets us free from slavery to sin, but he also begins working on our desires. He helps us to begin desiring the things that bring life and peace instead of the things that bring pain and death. You see God’s freedom isn’t simply about being able to do whatever you want. If that were the case then you could want all the wrong things and your freedom would go to waste…it would actually hurt you. Rather, God not only gives you freedom, but he also helps you to want the right things with that freedom… the things that bring life and peace and joy. 

Now go and exercise your freedom from sin in the name of Jesus this week.

For further reading this week...
   - Romans 8: One of the most beautiful chapters in all the Bible.
   - I Corinthians 8 & I Corinthians 10:23-33: Use your freedom wisely.
   - I Peter 2:16: Live as servants of God.

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