Daily Readings: Exodus 39-40, Proverbs 6, Romans 6
We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
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.
Romans 6:2-4, 12-14
The picture Paul paints in Romans 6 of us being buried with Christ and rising again with him to live a new life is so powerful. It is easy to forget this part of the gospel in today’s world and simply focus on salvation. When we hear the good news of the gospel preached, it is frequently focused on the fact that Jesus came down to earth and willing gave his life for us so that, upon our death, we could have an eternal life with God that we were incapable of earning on our own. This by itself is the best news ever shared! What we frequently overlook is what Paul shares with us today.
Jesus also dies so that we could be reborn and die to our previous sinful ways right now as well!
The mistake I find myself falling into when I think about this portion of God’s promise is continued self-condemnation. Why do I continue to sin? Why do I keep falling short? Have I not fully turned my life over? What more do I need to do to conquer this sin issue or that sin issue in my life? I want to be better!
The problem, when I am stuck in this mindset, is that I am entirely focused on me. When thinking like this I have a tendency to read, “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…” and immediately fall back into frustration towards my lack of ability to be perfect. I fall back into striving. I fall back into wanting to do it under my own power.
My focus immediately is so self-focused that I don’t allow myself to fully internalize the second part of that sentence, “…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.”
I have often heard that it is almost impossible to kick a bad habit without replacing it with a good one. If all you are doing is striving so hard to not sin, focusing on developing your will power more and more every day so that you can avoid that stumbling block, you inevitably trip over it again…and again…and again.
Paul tells us instead we should focus on offering every part of ourselves to God as an instrument of righteousness. He didn’t say a picture of righteousness merely to be looked at. He said instrument. Instruments are meant to be used.
This rang incredibly true for me this morning. The only times in my life where I barely struggle with sin are the times where I am entirely focused on serving others. When I am focused on making a difference in other people’s lives, providing for their earthly needs, being a listening ear, and sharing the love of Jesus. In these stretches of time sin has very little power at all over me. I am not really even thinking about it.
When I am focused on me? Oh man…Satan has a very easy foothold in my life at that point.
If we stop at the point in Romans where Paul talks about dying to our sins and just run after that, we end up striving. We end up fixating on sin and putting it on a pedestal. However, when we decide we want to rise again with Christ in a new life focused on serving others, grace comes flooding in.
Jesus came not only to give us eternal life and pay the price for our sins; he came to give us a new life here on earth as well. He came so that we could break free from bondage and walk out of that jail cell of our own creation. He came so that we could be righteous instruments for God to use here on earth.
So stop focusing on conquering your sin today. That work has been done for you already on the cross! Focus instead of being an instrument God can use all day long however he sees fit and watch what happens!
Thought to ponder
How can I be used as a righteous instrument by God today in my everyday walk?