Sometimes I go to read something, am watching something on TV or listening to something on the radio and I find myself going “what did they just say?” I stop to think for just a moment, to process through what I thought was just said. Depending on the situation, I can figure it out…other times I’ll just miss it and tell myself to look positively and hope it was saying the proper thing.
I grabbed my Bible the other morning and curled up in a chair to read. Looking out the window, I saw a sight that I haven’t seen in…over 10 years. The ocean. There is such majesty and beauty in the ebb and flow of the water, the unending sound of the crashing waves, the cry of the seagulls and the smell of the salty air. It grips a piece of your heart that is very different than any other area on earth. I’m a mountain girl, give me mountains over city, flatlands or oceans any day. But when you are used to one topography, the change can be enlightening. I will say, seeing the ocean and watching the sun rise and set over the waters – it gives you a whole new appreciation for the wonderful world God created. I tore my eyes away from the beauty God created, the gift to His beloved (me…and you, if you’re a believer of God), to read the love letter He has recorded for generation to generation! How amazing to see the LOVE He has for us, that He has forever kept His words, His love to us recorded in written form.
I’ve been working through Romans, and this particular morning I was starting in Romans 6. What I’m going to do is write out the chapter and put my thoughts towards what I was reading in black, and the scripture in a blue ink. Crossing my fingers and hoping it comes out like it makes sense in my head! 🙂
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. I lose track of how many people are like “I’m saved, so now I just live however I want too.” Then they continue to use our Lord’s name in vain, they behave outrageously and then just say they can ask forgiveness and it’s all forgiven. How wrong is this mentality! I’m just as guilty in this area, but it’s unreal how we as children of God will abuse His unconditional love and His forgiveness by continually disobeying or living our own desires. It’s like in a parent-child situation…the child may be running after they were told to stop, and the running child charges the table and off topples the glass figurine. CRASH! The child is immediately sorry, and the loving parent forgives with an admonishment as to this is why we don’t run. The next day, the child is running again. Warning the child, the parent encourages them to slow down. But the child knows they were forgiven for breaking the glass, it’ll be okay to run…I mean, come on, running is SO much fun! But before you know it…CRASH…they run into their older sibling who was unloading the dishwasher and the plates they were putting the cabinet all drop to the floor in a shattering of glass. The child is immediately sorry, and the parent again forgives and uses the teachable moment to remind the child of why they don’t run. The next day comes around, and you guessed it…the child is running again…this continues day after day. Bruises occur, material possessions are broken, toes may be stubbed and discipline may take place. But no matter what happens to the child, they always gain the forgiveness for the mistakes. Maybe a week, maybe a month, maybe a year afterwards, the child may be running and this time it’s outside. They’re not paying attention, and they run into the road……the parent may forgive the driver, but there is no taking away their child’s bad decision. This child may die upon impact or may just be bodily injured with broken bones or paralysis. The point is, the child’s actions eventually caught up to them. They heard the warning of their parent, they knew they weren’t supposed to be running carelessly, but it was fun, it felt good, it was enjoyable…so they did whatever they wanted too, knowing their parent would forgive them for disobeying their instructions. As a human, it is our privilege to “do what we want”, but we need to be wise about that as well! God gives us warnings about our actions, we can listen and follow His guidance to safety and success or we can throw caution to the wind, do whatever we want and while it may seem “ok” for the time, it will catch up to us…and sometimes be a warning, sometimes it will be life threatening and sometimes it may cost us everything. God will ALWAYS forgive you – doesn’t matter what you’ve done – but the point isn’t to try and see how many times you can get away with something before you’ve gone too far. God is looking out for our best interest. Trust Him and listen!! There are so many examples I could give of how this works out in life…both personal experience and from stories of others. Trust me, it’s not worth pushing the envelope. As you do, it may be enjoyable while you’re doing it…but when it goes south, the pain and regret that you’ll have to deal with aren’t worth the enjoyment you got out of the action. So…back to Romans! 🙂
How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Isn’t this a BEAUTIFUL picture!!! We have the choice, the freedom to serve God, to choose life, to choose joy…we don’t have to be a slave to our bad decisions, our sinful nature, the ways of the world…we can CHOOSE to have a better, more satisfying and glorifying life. One thing my Dad has taught us is that our life is going to be an example. It’s out decision as to what type of example – it’s either a warning to others of what not to do or an example of what to follow. We can make the decision as to which our life will be. Jesus took our sins, our mistakes, all the way to the cross with Him. We must realize that God nailed our mistakes to the cross and we don’t need to take them off again. When God turned away from Jesus on the cross, that was because of our sins. My sins. Your sins. Every lie we’ve told. Every bad action we’ve done. Every hurtful word spoken. These are the things that were killed on the cross. When we sought God’s forgiveness, and gained it…we’ve been buried and resurrected as a NEW and CLEAN being. We got a clean slate, this is the slate we need to write our story upon with God holding the pen! Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourself to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Just because we have grace, we have forgiveness doesn’t mean we have a free check to go and do whatever! Our actions still have consequences, we still have things we need to do and we still have good and bad decisions to make and avoid! Jesus came with grace over the law, but He never said “abandon the law because I’ll cover you with My grace”…nope, the law is there to show us the magnitude of God’s grace. The law is there to show us our sinful nature. The law is there to show us we can NEVER do it alone. We need God’s grace to be cleansed. No matter how good we strive to be, our goodness is never good enough to get us into eternity with God. ONLY being under His grace, will we find life with Him forever. Our good enough will get us straight to Hell, we need something more than ourselves to find the freedom we all crave. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. We’re all servants to something, we’re all in bondage to something. The question is are we going to be servants to ourselves, to Satan, to sin – which leads to bondage of fears, alcohol, pornography, theft, food, etc. etc. etc. If we choose to grasp onto the freedom Jesus gives us, the “bondage” we live in under Christ is so freeing. We find we don’t have to carry the weight of the world, we don’t have to worry about what everyone else thinks of us, we don’t have to worry about ever being alone. He is always there and He will always help us through every experience we go through.
Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. I just loved the picture image of this grouping of opposites is wonderful! We get to choose, again that distinction is made. Our actions, our beliefs…we get to decide. Someone can’t make us be _____, or we aren’t born _____…we make the decision of “this is who I am, what I believe, what I will do”. While having that “power”, or responsibility as it is known in my family, comes great pressure to make sure we’re doing the right things. Being free from sin, we have the power to be holy and gain everlasting life. Now, here’s the thing…we will have eternal life, everyone will. Some will choose to spend it in Heaven, worshipping Christ, celebrating and being with other believers. Others who deny Christ and don’t accept His sacrifice for our souls, will spend it in Hell. The choice is ours – life or death, holiness or sin, Jesus Christ our Lord or ourselves? If you want additional passages, check out Romans 7:24-25! 🙂
I was reading a book (Completely His by Shannon Ethridge), the same morning as I was reading this chapter and this quote grabbed my attention. “The notion of God’s love coming to us free of charge, no string attached, seems to go against every instinct in humanity. The Buddhist eight-fold path, the Hindu doctrine of karma, the Jewish covenant, the Muslim code of law – each of these offers a way to earn approval. Only Christianity dares to make God’s love unconditional.” – Philip Yancey in What’s So Amazing About Grace WOW! I just…wow. God makes it so easy to come to Him, to love Him, to know Him. We don’t have a check-list that gets us wishy-washy results. God tells us to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved! It’s truly that simple. We don’t have to wonder if it’ll stick…once we are a child of God, we are FOREVER a child of God and NOTHING you do or say will change that. He loves you.
Oh my friend, when you hear the majesty of what God did for you, when we grasp just a fraction of how AWESOME He is…all you can be left saying is “Say what!?” and that’s where the richness of knowing Jesus begins! Dig deeper, the deeper and more intimately you know Christ the more and more you’ll want to seek clarification and more understanding on the richness and promises of being a Child of God!