Day 45: Dead to Sin
SIN THAT EASILY ENTANGLES
...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. -Romans 6:11-14
Before accepting the freedom Jesus offers us, we were defined (in God's sight) by our ability to uphold his laws. In Matthew 5, Jesus revisits the laws recorded by Moses where it states that we are commanded not to commit adultery. Jesus explains that this law is about the heart and not about behavior when he states, "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." This means that the law is able to be a perfect judge of our intentions, and as we have already discussed, we are unable (on our own) to make up for the penalties due to us for our sin. Luckily, Jesus has paid the debt in full, and according to Romans 6, we are to respond as if we ourselves have been brought back to life by Jesus' death.
If you ever speak with someone who is alive because someone knowingly died to save them, I doubt you'll find them living the same way they did beforehand. The final scene from Saving Private Ryan demonstrates this point with very real practicality (SPOILER ALERT):
After Private James Ryan's brothers perish in combat, Captain Miller goes on a rescue mission to get him home safely. To reach Ryan, Miller battles across the war-torn French countryside, suffering casualties to his party. When he finally reaches Private Ryan, they must once again battle their way out to get him home. During the fray, Ryan watches as Miller dies on a bridge so that he can get out alive. Decades later, Ryan visits Captain Miller's grave with his family in tow:
Old James Ryan: [addressing Capt. Miller's grave] My family is with me today. They wanted to come with me. To be honest with you, I wasn't sure how I'd feel coming back here. Every day I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I've earned what all of you have done for me.
Ryan's Wife: James?... [looking at headstone]
Ryan's Wife: Captain John H Miller.
Old James Ryan: Tell me I have led a good life.
Ryan's Wife: What?
Old James Ryan: Tell me I'm a good man.
Ryan's Wife: You are. [walks away]
Old James Ryan: [stands back and salutes]
Just like Ryan, if we are aware of all that Jesus had accomplished for us, it is impossible for us to return to the way things used to be. We naturally orient ourselves to live in honor and gratitude. Our old self dies with Christ on the cross, and we are left to live the best we can with the new life he grants us.
as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. -Psalm 103:12
David wrote Psalm 103 regarding the limitless love of God. He boasts of Gods righteousness, compassion, grace, strength and love prior to speaking on how far he has removed our sins.
EAST TO WEST
How far is the east from the west? It’s infinitely far, beyond our comprehension. Don’t misunderstand, we are humans in a sinful body with sinful desires and will have slip-ups. We will continue to fall short as long as we remain in these bodies. That’s not what is being communicated here however. What is being said is that our sins no longer define us. We are no longer embedded with sin and deserving of eternal punishment; Christ redeemed us. In the words of Casting Crowns, "[Jesus] know[s] just how far the East is from the West - from one scarred hand to the other."
This part of Paul's letter (chapter 3) to the Galatian church is a harsh rebuke. In some translations Paul addresses them as “bewitched fools.” He is rebuking them for believing that they can be saved by works and not faith. The message Paul is communicating in Galatians 3 is a powerful one. It is vital to our understanding of what walking with Jesus looks like. Take this time to read Galatians 3:1-14.
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
Look at those first few sentences again... Paul is challenging his readers to remember that Jesus died "before [their] very eyes." In spite of this, they are still going back to their old ways of obtaining righteousness through works. This highlights the difference between Jesus' sacrifice, and Captain Miller's. In light of Captain Miller's sacrifice, Private Ryan was left to try to make his sacrifice worth it by living "a good life." In other words, Ryan had to do good to justify the sacrifice others had paid for him. Jesus, on the other hand, not only dies to save us, but also becomes our very life and gives us his righteousness. We don't have to try to live a good life to make up for what he has done, he has credited us with his goodness. To try to obtain goodness on our own is to make his sacrifice for us vain.
OUR NEW IDENTITY
By now we understand that this does not give us a reason to continue in sin. Remember that if we know the truth and yet deliberately deny it and continue to sin instead we are rebuking the sacrifice of Christ (Hebrews 10:26). God understands our shortcomings and has a desire for us to be free:
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. -1 Timothy 2:3-4
The knowledge of the truth is that God has sent His son as a mediator for us. By His sacrifice, we are dead to sin and alive in Christ.
Day 45 Application
What is “knowledge of the truth” that is being referred to in verse 5 of 1 Timothy 2?
How would a letter from Paul read if he were addressing you (in light of what we just read)? Would it be a letter of strong rebuke because you trying to earn salvation through works? Or would it be a letter of praise because you are walking according to the word of God which teaches that by faith alone you are saved?
Did Jesus exalt himself when he was with his disciples? Did he require anything of them before he could be amongst them? How does this effect your relationship with Christ?
Since the last lesson, how has it been going in regards to your accountability and maintaining your sexual purity?