Read: Romans 6:1-14
Consider: In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul deals with some very practical issues in the Christian life. In Romans 5-8 he deals with the topic of sanctification – the process of developing holiness in the Christian and being set apart for God’s use.
In Romans 5:20 Paul tells us that ‘… where sin increased, grace increased all the more’. This leads him to ask: What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase? (6:1). His answer is an unequivocal ‘By no means!’ (6:2). Further than this he tells the Romans: We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (6:2). Let me ask you this question: Do you feel like someone who has died to sin?
Like all Christians I am sure that you struggle with sin. Our desire is to be holy and to lead a life that truly reflects the power of Christ in us. We can identify with Paul’s words when he says: For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing (Romans 7:19). Are we condemned to a life that is a constant struggle with sin, but never gaining victory over it? In many ways we are. We can never be sin free, but we can seek to live our lives in such a way that we rely on God and the power of Christ in us.
In Romans 6 Paul goes on to say: For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin (Romans 6:6-7). The starting point is recognising that we are no longer slaves to sin, having to give in to every temptation that arises. While we were slaves to sin we had no choice (or inclination) but to follow the desires of our hearts. As freed men and women we have the choice to resist temptation in all its forms.
This what Paul says in Romans 6: 11-14 – In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
There are a number of key phrases in this passage:
- count yourself dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. If you see yourself as already defeated, then you will probably continue to fall into repeating the same sins over and over. Seeing yourself as free from the power of sin enables you to have a different mindset when temptation arises;
- do not let sin reign in your mortal body. We have a choice to make every time we are tempted. We can give in and let sin continue to reign over us, or we can be watchful and recognise temptation when it comes and resist it in the strength only God can give us (Mark 14:38; 1 Corinthians10:13);
- do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness. This isn’t just your body, but your mind as well. Temptation will often start as a thought, that later turn into action;
- offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. This is the converse of the previous statement and indicates a deep desire in us to be holy, because God is holy;
- sin shall no longer be your master. When we commit our lives to Christ we no longer serve Satan as our master, but seek to serve God (Romans 6:19-22).
Let the truth of these words from Romans 6 seep into your heart and your mind. Allow them to change your view of sin and ask God to create in you the desire to use all of you as an instrument of righteousness.
Pray: Father, thank you that in Christ sin no longer has power over us, as we have been set free from its dominion over our lives. Develop in us a deep desire to be holy and to allow you to use everything we are and have as instruments of righteousness in your service. Amen