The crucial challenge for Christians is to live righteously. As a chosen race and a holy nation( 1 Peter 2:9) we should live, act and think differently from the world. It is not always easy but it is possible. In Romans 6:12-13 we see the call to godly living.
“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.”
This thought is based upon the discussion that began back in Romans 5:20 and tries to answer an questioner who might think, in a convoluted way, that sin was good since it brought grace. The obvious answer was no, it does not, but Paul gives a full answer for anyone who thinks otherwise. Here is the conclusion: Do not sin!
Notice the word “reign.” This word has the idea of a king or sovereign being in full or absolute control. Paul does not want his readers to be under the control of sin.
No one wants to be controlled. We want to be our own person and in full control of our own destiny. But stop and think about a person controlled by sin. He may live in fear of being discovered. He may surrender his health, wealth and even his family for one more drink or one more hit of some drug. He may literally gamble his life away at casinos and gambling sites. He must carefully remember his lies so that he won’t be caught and shown to be dishonest. The man or woman who cheats on their spouse knows the risk is high and the cost of discovery even greater yet they continue in sin and hope they are not caught.
Once in place, sin is a slavish master and does not easily release those caught in its grip. As Paul says, sin will “make you obey its passions.” For all of the harm and in spite of all of the pain we just keep going back again and again.
It would be nice if we could just blame the devil and walk away without any responsibility for our sin. That is not possible. The apostle says we have a choice. We may offer ourselves to sin or to God (Romans 6:13) – we choose.
Making the Right Choice
We must decide how we will live our lives. Sinful living may come through neglect or ambivalence but righteousness is no accident. To follow God we must choose.
Joshua told the people that they must “choose…whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15). Likewise we face the same dilemma. It seems like an easy choice but the reality is that Satan works hard to keep us in his grasp. Sin is fun (Hebrews 11:25). It appeals to our senses and desires. Sometimes it is offered by those who seem to be righteous (2 Corinthians 11:14) but are really servants of Satan. Making the right choice may be difficult. Maybe these things will help:
- Devote yourself to much prayer. Prayer brings you closer to God (James 4:8; Hebrews 7:19). Through prayer we gain wisdom (James 1:5) and strength. Pray, as David did, for a clean heart (Psalm 51:10).
- Flee evil. This is one much easier said than done! It is obvious that as we move away from unrighteousness toward righteous living we must put away sin. The good news is that as you resist Satan, he will flee from you (James 4:7).
- Expose yourself to goodness. As you try to remove sin from your life it is important to replace it with something good. If there are associations that you must leave, replace them with Christian associations. Bad habits can be replaced by good ones. Only eliminating the bad will leave you in a precarious position which Satan will take full advantage of (Matthew 12:43-45).
- Patience, patience, patience. A godly life does not happen instantly. Years of service to sin will not quickly yield to goodness. I think many times we just expect perfect results too quickly. There will be setbacks and we will stumble and fall. Expect difficulty. But remember, as we move closer to the Lord – and he moves closer to us – we are being cleansed of sin even when we fall (1 John 1:5-10).
- Don’t quit. How sad to be so close to a goal and then just give up. When we struggle – and we will – we will be tempted to surrender. Ask yourself, where is that temptation coming from? Is it God that wants us to quit? No! It is an effort of Satan to stop our growth and spiritual progress. Peter sinned horribly when he denied knowing Jesus (Luke 22:54-62). Peter displayed a racist attitude among the Gentiles (Galatians 2:11-13). Paul persecuted the church and blasphemed the name of the Lord (1 Timothy 1:13) and considered himself the “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). but one thing neither Peter nor Paul did was quit.
Making the right choice is not easy but it is possible and certainly can be done with God’s help.
We will continue our discussion of Romans 6. Have you subscribed to the Preacher’s Study yet? Please do. And please leave a comment below on the blog. We are interested in your thoughts. And for those tech-types who are interested, we are a “dofollow” blog.