What’s so bad about sin?
I’ve been pondering that question for a while (see Eternal Life Now). As Christians we are “under grace,” recipients of mercy and forever favored by God. (For more on this, click here.) Through faith in Jesus, we have become God’s kids. A great exchange has taken place – Jesus took our sin and gave us His righteousness. And that is how God sees us now – righteous, loved, welcomed, joint-heirs with His Son. It’s who we are. Nothing we do can change this reality.
So what’s the big deal about sin, if it has no effect on our standing before God?
Apparently, the Romans were wondering this, too. In his letter to them, Paul says, “…should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? For sin will not rule over you because you are not under law but under grace” (Rom 6:1-2, 14).
The logical result of being under grace is that we are now free from sin, not free to sin.
Sin used to be our master. But no longer! When we are saved by grace through faith, sin’s dominion is forever broken. It has no more claim upon us. (“A person who has died is free from sin’s claims“ Rom 6:7.) In regard to sin, we are dead.
But we are not merely dead to sin. By faith, we are alive to God (Rom 6:11). We have been raised from spiritual death in order to experience new life (Rom 6:4). A friend of mine once said, “Sin doesn’t make sense for a Christian.”
Why would we submit to our cruel old master, when we have tasted and seen that our new Master is good (Ps 34:8)? Why would we live according to our old nature, when we’ve been given a new one (Eph 2:10, 4:24)? We have been saved for more than that!
You, child of God, are free. Free to walk with God. Free to rest in His love. Free to say “no” to the things that once mastered you.
But…what about those times when you don’t feel free? When the allure of sin seems irresistible? When you feel powerless to withstand temptation? If you’re like me, there are some well-worn paths to sin in your heart. Habits, besetting sins, idols, addictions…How do you get “out of the rut” and create new paths, new habits?
A number of years ago, I found myself in great bondage to food. It was my god. I lived to eat, and regularly overate. It became so bad that I felt powerless to resist. That area had become completely unmanageable, so I cried out (quite literally) to God for deliverance. And God came through.
He taught me that, though I am powerless in my own strength, Christ in me is greater than any sin struggle I face. When I surrendered this area to Him, He began retraining my mind. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is…” He showed me what His Word says about gluttony and about self-control, and about listening to the Holy Spirit’s voice in my heart.
He trained me to walk in the victory that was mine all along.
On this earth, sin will continue to be a menace. But it need not be our master. I still struggle with overeating at times (and plenty of other sins). But it is not my master. Jesus is my Master, and He is oh, so good. When I fail, He is ever-ready to pick me up, put me back on my feet and continue teaching me to walk in freedom.
This is what salvation is all about. The gospel that saved you, child of God, is the same gospel that sanctifies you. We come to Him for salvation empty-handed, with nothing to recommend ourselves to Him. And that’s how we must keep coming back to Him. With no power or goodness of our own, embracing all that He is and all that He’s done on our behalf.
He Himself has set you free.
Will you let Him work out the gospel in the deepest recesses of your heart? He wants you to walk with Him in freedom, unencumbered by the shackles of sin. He wants you to know the abundant life He lived and died to give you.
Let’s keep this conversation going – what are your thoughts on sin in a Christian’s life? How have you experienced freedom from sin? Stay tuned for more on this topic!