Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Drew, where is your victory?

Here in Saginaw, there is a huge church in the middle of the hood called Victorious Believers. But about a year ago I began to rethink this whole "victorious Christian life". As you may know, Romans 8 is probably my favorite chapter in the Bible. Verse 13 has been both a source of comfort to me and also a total scare at times: "If you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live." This is a comfort in that sin is not to be totally dead in us, but rather we are to be putting to death our misdeeds, just as we are being renovated after the image of our Creator (Col 3:10). Neither is to be a finished work yet. But we should, can, and must press on toward this end.

Yet how much more often do I feel like Paul in chapter 7 instead? Yesterday was a prime example. Victory? What do I know about that? I'm a Detroit Tigers fan, after all. It's just scary how polarized our sanctification can be portrayed in the church. Some places it's like, "Hey, dude, Jesus loves ya, so just do your thing. In time you'll come around. No sweat. Wanna play some disc golf?" In others, scalpel-armed surgeons are standing by to literally gouge out the eyes that cause us to sin. The former bastardizes and dilutes grace; the latter denies it.

So I think we are so naturally confused and alarmed when sin still lives in us. Listen, my friends! Only those indwelled by the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8.9) can put sin to death. And something can only be killed if it is currently alive! Therefore sin must be alive in us for us to be Christians. Sounds funny, huh? Well, that's what it says, at any rate (see 7.17,20). So do not be entirely alarmed when you find yourself prideful, lustful, envious of others, gossipping, lazy, indulging in too much chocolate, or even ungrateful. But do not be complacent, either.

Now where do we find the victory? "The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 15.56f). Here's what I realized last summer: it is not we who are victorious over death and sin. We will never experience our own victory over our sinful nature; but we have Christ's! You see, it was given to us by God. Therefore it cannot be our own. We have been given his life, his power, his righteousness. We have the Spirit of him who lived sinlessly and beautifully, who loved and forgave rather than getting even, who rose from the grave, living inside us. Only when we stop thinking about ourselves (which is the reason for all wrongdoing anyway) and think about Jesus can we put sin to death with for real, because only then can we worship God aright.

Solo Christo!

1 comment:

sara said...