Free To Pursue Holiness.
But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. – Romans 6:22 NLT
For many of us, a life of holiness seems impossible or, at best, elusive. While we may acknowledge and even agree that our “old man” died with Christ on the cross, we painfully realize that we have an active sin nature that results in us doing those things we know are opposed to a life of godliness. The fact is, we still sin – sometimes on a regular basis. But Paul gives us the good news that “when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin” (Romans 6:7 NLT). His death broke the power of sin over our lives. So Paul reminds us, even commands us, “Do not let sin control the way you live, do not give in to sinful desires” (Romans 6:12 NLT). Sounds impossible doesn’t it? Sin seems to come so naturally to us. We get angry. We grow impatient. We covet, lust, doubt, lie – even worship idols – at the drop of a hat. But the key word seems to be control. We are not to let sin control the way we live. The Greek word Paul used is basileuo and it means “to exercise the highest influence over, to control.” It was usually used to refer to a king exercising his power. At one time, prior to accepting Christ as our Savior, we were under the dominion and control of Satan and sin. We were slaves to sin. We were condemned by the law of God because it exposed our inability to keep its holy requirements. But Paul makes it clear that “sin is no longer your master” (Romans 6:14 NLT). We live under the freedom of God’s grace, which “has set us free from the law” (Romans 6:15 NLT). Prior to coming to Christ, we had no say in the matter. We were slaves, bound by the requirements of the law, but totally incapable of living up to its exacting standards. The law simply exposed our sinfulness and unrighteousness. It couldn’t save us, but could only condemn us. But Jesus did what none of us could do. He faithfully and completely kept God’s holy requirements found in the law. He lived up to God’s standard and, therefore, became a fitting sacrifice or payment for the sins of mankind. His perfect life made Him the perfect, blameless sacrifice. And His death paid the penalty for our sin and satisfied the just demands of a holy, righteous God. And “when he died, he died once to break the power of sin” (Romans 6:10 NLT). As a result, we should consider ourselves dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
We don’t have to sin anymore. We don’t have to live as slaves to sin, captive to its control and at powerless to resist its influence over our lives. We can do what is right for the glory of God. Yet many of us live as if we are still enslaved to sin. Why? Because we willingly choose to obey our sinful desires. We give in to our sin nature and its constant call to satisfy our own selfish, sinful desires. We become the slave of whatever we choose to obey. But we have a choice to obey God or to obey our sin nature. We can become slaves to righteous living, obeying the call of God to live holy lives, through the power of His indwelling Holy Spirit. But it is a daily choice. “Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy” (Romans 6:19 NLT). We must choose to obey the will of God for our lives. We must choose to say, “Yes” to the Spirit and “No” to the desires of our sin nature. It is a constant, daily battle. But it is one we can win, because we have the power of God at our disposal. “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses” (Galatians 5:16-18 NLT). In other words, as long as you try to do what is right in your own strength, you will find yourself losing the battle with your sin nature. But if you rely on the direction and power of the Spirit of God, you will discover you have the capacity to live the life God has called you to live. You can do “those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life” (Romans 6:22 NLT). You don’t have to keep on sinning. You don’t have to live like a slave to sin. You will find that you have the power “to obey God, which leads to righteous living” (Romans 6:16 NLT). You can be holy. But it all begins with a willing submission to the Holy Spirit’s direction in your life.
Father, the life of holiness is impossible – as long as I try to do it in my own strength. When I do that, it is just as if I am trying to keep the law of Moses. I find myself in the same spot as the Israelites, trying to live up to Your righteous standard in my own strength, and failing every time. I become a slave to the law again. But Your Son died to free from the law. I don’t have to do this in the flesh. My old man died with Christ on the cross. I have been given a new life and a new capacity to live differently. Help me to live in the power You have provided through Your Holy Spirit. Show me how to experience Your life-transforming power and enjoy what it means to live righteously in Your strength, not mine. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men