More thoughts for Lent. This one hurts. Yet, there is beauty.
I don’t know about anyone else, but the further we get into this time of preparation, the more God has brought my sin to light. I see some ugliness in my heart, and I hate it. Since we can be real with each other, I’ll let you see it too. Here goes. I don’t trust that God is always doing good in my life, and by proxy I don’t always trust that He is good. Therefore, I worry. I fear. Sometimes I call these things anxiety to make myself feel better about them, but at the root they’re sin. I also struggle to be content. Sometime I think God’s given others a better life. In this case, my sin is being consumed with the things I don’t have but think I need. The struggle itself is not the problem. It’s when I’m so consumed by my plans and desires that I disregard what God wants and knows is best.
Today our reading looked me straight in the eye, and then kicked my butt. “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body to make you obey its passions.” Ouch. That hurts. I mean, can’t we just talk about promises and gifts? However, I have a sneaky suspicion I’m not the only one that occasionally needs some tough love.
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”
The gospel of grace presented in Romans isn’t merely for theoretical, intellectual, and even spiritual understanding, it is also for practical, in the trenches living. Through Christ I am dead to sin. It no longer holds tyranny over me. I’m also alive in Him, raised in newness of life. These things He has accomplished. Therefore, because I’ve already been brought from death to life, I can obey. Furthermore, I have a responsibility to obey. I can defy sin. And all these sin patterns I mentioned do not have to rule over me. In fact, I’m commanded that they don’t.
Rather, the natural overflow of being buried with Christ and raised with Him is to present myself to God. I think this is submission or surrender. My “members,” eyes, ears, hands, feet, voice, mind, and heart etc. are representatives of the whole. Romans 12:1 says it this way. “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Paul says putting yourself on the altar is reasonable. Instead of being ruled by sin, I surrender to be ruled by God. So by grace, I repent of these sins, and humbly surrender to God for His purposes, His plan.
Here’s the clincher. Verse 14 is a promise. Though I will still struggle with sin till I die or Christ returns, sin will not ultimately triumph. I’m under grace to know both God’s goodness and His fullness. I get to be in the new covenant, in which the gospel of Jesus empowers me to obey, to trust, to be at peace, to know God is good, and to know that He alone fully satisfies.