“We’re not called sinners because we sin,” my dad says. “We sin because we’re sinners.”
Behavior grows out of identity, you see. (Another reason to drop “cheat” from your HEP vocabulary.)
This definition is important because those of us who’ve “put on Christ” and the new life he offers us– we have a new identity.
We’re not sinners any more.
Charles Swindoll in his book The Grace Awakening, Urges Believers to look hard at Romans 6, and makes a challenging observation:
Most Christians have been better trained to expect and handle their sin than to expect and enjoy their freedom. The shame and self-imposed guilt this brings is enormous, to say nothing of the “I’m defeated” message it reinforces.
Are you ready for a maverick thought? Once we truely grasp the freedom grace brings, we can spend lengthy periods of our lives wihtou sinning or feeling ashamed. Yes, we can! And why not? Why should sin gain the mastery over us? Who says we cannot help but yield to it? How unbiblical!
You see, most of us are so programmed to sin that we wait for it to happen. …
You have not been programmed to yield yourself unto God as those who have power over sin.
That new power– rooted in our new identity– is a LOT of what Romans 6 talks about:
- How can we who died to sin still live in it?
- Our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin
- You too consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
- Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires (The new identity means we have the choice to obey where previously we had no choice)
- For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace. (Glorious promise!)
- Having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.
These words give me a hope I don’t remember ever basking in this much: We speak of being slaves to sin, the compulsion and the helplessness we were locked into in our lost state.
Now we (who are redeemed) find ourselves slaves to righteousness.
A new identity and a new servitude.
Sin is no longer the Default Mode.
This is a Big Deal because I don’t think I’ve lived this way on-purpose. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at Sin as completely optional.
Then Sunday (I’d been swimming in these ideas since Saturday, the day before) the man bringing the massage wrapped up with 1 Corinthians 10:13:
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.
When I am watching a mystery or one of my body-a-week shows, I pay attention to the way things are said more than I do in real life.
For one thing, every speaker’s words were chosen by a writer, and I can guess that any hints I pick up on are probably real and not just in my own head.
One thing about every good mystery is that the answer is always on the table.
It might be concealed or misrepresented, but it’s there. When the answer is revealed the audience can see how clever everything was (or wasn’t) and know the truth from all angles.
In a similar way, when I go into my life and its demands (and temptations to sin) it makes a tremendous difference to me whether I’ll have to swim on my own, or if I’ve got a rope to hold onto.
God has promised a way of escape.
The answer is on the table.
How encouraging is that?!
So much of my anxiety comes from a sense of feeling trapped. Of being out of options.
And when I’m stressed I am more likely to sin with my mouth.
What a relief to hear I am not bound to this!
He will provide a way of escape.