You are engaged in a tug-of-war!
Do you feel it? We can liken the tension we have between our sinful nature (flesh) and the Spirit to a “tug-of-war”. The Message has an interesting way of translating the impact the gospel is intended to have on our sanctification, the process of our being transformed to more and more resemble Jesus in character and example, the progressive “tug-of-war” we are engaged in. “So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace – a new life in a new land!” (Rom. 1:1-3)
For a lot of us, we struggle with totally buying into the truth that we are not only dead to sin but dead to sin’s guilt, and because of that we cannot trust Christ for the strength to subdue its power in our lives. This is an important truth to both pray over and ponder: It is a fact (not a feeling) that we died to the power of sin and its guilt through our union with Christ. We must continue to work this truth over and over until the Holy Spirit convinces us in our heads and our hearts.
The book of Romans goes on in v.10 to encourage us towards a living truth that the death Jesus died, he died to sin once and for all. We are told that in the same way, we are to count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God by identifying with Jesus and thereby also being participants in this death to sin’s mastery over us. Obviously, this is power on loan from God, but the power is now ours nonetheless. So how do we employ this resource?
The command we have been given is to start living like we have a new life, a life under control of the Spirit and not opting to subject ourselves to the influences and temptations that sin sweetly serves up. (Mind picture: The Whack-a-Mole arcade game) One or the other will enjoy the position of reigning in our bodies and minds, whether we submit to sin and obey its rule or to the Spirit and enjoy its fruit. We are told we have been brought from death to life. Do you believe that? We have been told that “sin is not our master” (v.14). The question then, in our daily thinking and the actions that follow, who will we choose to offer ourselves to? Do you get it? Through the power of Christ we have the choice. We truly have been set free from our old master.
And yet we still experience this tug-of-war and to some degree we will be challenged every day of our earthly lives. We have the power to be dead to sin and the lures of our “personal” variety of flesh. Here’s a gross analogy but hey, it is scripture. Knowing we are free to live above sin by the power of the Spirit yet wallowing back in it again and again for its temporary satisfaction and pleasure is living like a fool, the fool identified in Proverbs 26:11 which declares “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” Our movement forward overcoming guilt and choosing “life” over sin may be progressive. It may sometimes be two steps forward and one back. But our eventual success is guaranteed when we elect to draw from the depth of Christ’s power, not ours. Think About It.