1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 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. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:1-14 ESV)The message is simple enough: live as one who has been brought from death to life. Do we really hear this for what it says, though?
It's easy enough to read passages like this and think to onesself, "Sure, I am supposed to stay clear of wickedness - and as long as I'm free from sins of adultery, murder, etc., I'm good before God in this respect." However, the Lord has much more for us than that simplistic and prideful result. What does God mean when He says, through Paul, to live as those who have been brought from death to life?
As I read these words this morning, I spent a little time pondering this question, and realizing that as much as I might know that merely eschewing the truly gross sins of our age is not all God intends for us here, I slip into that mindset quite easily. What I believe we're to find in Christ is true freedom from sin, great and small... freedom truly to rest in our identity as those raised with Christ to the heavenlies, raised with Him in His resurrection, and DEAD to sin. If all we do is satisfy ourselves with avoiding the deadly seven, we're not really experiencing the freedom that we would otherwise experience. Sin in any degree must become something we are prepared at all costs to root out and cast into the fire. It has to become distasteful - rather than becoming something we like to dabble in while simultaneously excusing ourselves for it with a blithe "God understands I'm not perfect yet." Am I calling for us to be spending every second of every day morbidly inspecting ourselves for vestiges of sin? No - but if we truly begin to comprehend the magnitude of the offensiveness of sin in God's eyes, we will - I believe Scripture affirms this - naturally come to a sufficient hatred of sin that even the little things will become distasteful enough to us to cast aside.
We are to live as those whose death penalty has been commuted - whose place at the gallows has been taken by another who did not deserve the punishment we richly deserved. Knowing the righteousness with which God views us in Christ cannot - MAY IT NEVER BE, Paul says - lead to licentiousness. Rather - it must lead us to adopt a new perspective towards God's commandments and towards sin. God's commandments must become ever more lovely to our eyes, and sin ever more distasteful and ugly. We must be driven to our knees in repentance - daily repentance, as Luther cried at the dawn of the Reformation - and driven to seek a righteous path; not to earn salvation, but to joyfully revel in the salvation we have and to please our Heavenly Father who granted us Christ's righteousness and the faith to embrace it for ourselves, relinquishing all worldliness and seeking godliness in everything. From death to life. That is what journey we have been through, and what journey we are on till Christ comes again or takes us home. Let us go forth, therefore, in joy and the peace of the Lord.