“For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:10-11, ESV)
How should we deal with sin in our lives? Or perhaps even more to the point, do we deal with sin in our lives? Sin doesn’t seem to be a very popular topic these days. It’s much more common—and convenient—for us to spend our time meditating upon happier topics, such as love and grace. But a thread of sin runs through each of those topics; and dealing with sin is an essential part of our walk with Jesus.
It is easy to reduce love to an emotion; but I think that we often miss the fact that love is infinitely more than that. Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32, ESV). Even animals are capable of emotional love! But, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19, ESV). “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2, ESV). And why did He give Himself up? Because, “…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, ESV). The precursor—our sin–and the response—His love—beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3).
Grace is perhaps the most beautiful and least understood concepts. But if it weren’t for our sin we wouldn’t need His grace! If there were something that we could do to offset our sin, we wouldn’t need His grace! Grace is, by nature, un-earnable. We couldn’t earn it to be saved, and we can’t earn it after we after we have been saved (Romans 11:6). Grace is a gift (Romans 3:24). “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. “And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.” (Rom 5:15-16, ESV italics mine).
I think that we often scratch only the surface of a Church doctrine, skimming until we find a buzz word that eases our consciences. Grace was provided for us, but it didn’t come easily.
Then, feeling self-confident that all is right with our relationship with Jesus, we talk about love and grace. We totally miss our own scheduled crucifixion! “For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:10-11, ESV). We need to experience crucifixion, brutal crucifixion, to our sin nature once we have come to faith. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20, ESV).
I am grateful for the love of God, who reached down to me in my sinful state and gave me grace I could never earn. But to be honest, I feel as though I have really missed out on my crucifixion. Neither you nor I are being dragged to a hill or city center and given the true penalty for our sins. We, however, must come to the cross with our sin and die to it.
Sin is easy; crucifixion is hard. But our crucifixion to sin provides us with the opportunity to live by faith. It puts us in position to know and understand our savior in ways we would otherwise miss.
God has big plans for each of us. And after salvation comes crucifixion; and crucifixion leads to a life of faith.
As always, these are the musings of a mindful disciple. Blessings on your week!