“Did the law, which is good, cause my death? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes.” - Romans 7:13:
We are living in an increasing selfish and individualistic society. There are news reports of “profoundly ungrateful” billionaires running away from their tax obligations to their own home country. We are living in what Karl Menninger has described as a rampant triumphant epoch of technology. It is an era of inventions, innovations and gadgets. It is a time when “rugged individualism, acquisition, thrift, boldness and shrewdness” are acclaimed as national virtues.
However, the troubles of our current times should wake us up to the truth that something is very wrong. Karl Menniger rightly described our current situation as a time when “the new gods seem to have failed us, while the old God is said (by some) to be dead. Things are all wrong.”
We need to understand the truth and reality of sin in our lives. Sin is the evil part of our human nature that seek to draw us away from the agape love of God. Until we face and acknowledge the sinful nature in us, we are, in a sense, spiritually dead and separated from God.
But it is not easy to face the truth about ourselves. Ruth Haley Barton, in her book, Invitation to Solitude and Silence” makes the following perceptive observation:
“It does no good to try and fix what we see. It is useless to make excuses for what we see. It is cowardly to blame others for what we see. And denying what we see just puts us right back in the mess. The only thing we can do is to keep our whole selves turned toward God even as we endure the grief and unsettledness that the seeing brings.”
We can undergo the painful process of seeing ourselves as we are when we believe the good news that God “loves us as we are and yet loved us too much to let us stay as we are.” God loves us not because we are good but because He is good. When we learn to accept and receive God’s love through faith in Jesus Christ we will be set free from our sinful self. Paul reminds us of the misery of a person struggling to obey letter of the law instead of living by the Spirit:
“I know that nothing good lives in me; that is, nothing good lives in my corrupt nature. Although I have the desire to do what is right, I don’t do it. I don’t do the good I want to do. Instead I do the evil that I don’t want to do. Now, when I do what I don’t want to do, I am no longer the one who is doing it. Sin that lives in me is doing it.” (Romans 7:18-20)
Paul discovered the truth that evil is present with him even when he wanted to do what God’s standards say is good. He took pleasure in God’s standards in his inner being. However, he saw a different standard at work throughout his body. (Romans 7:21-23)
Like Paul, we try so hard to obey the written word through our human spirit instead of seeking to obey the Living Word who is the Risen Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. On Sunday at Queenstown Lutheran Church, Mrs Persis Lim reminded us that we remain in Christ’s love by obeying God’s commandments. However, our obedience is not a the fearful obedience of a slave but the obedience of desire of a friend.
As we seek to love God, His commandments become the desire of our hearts and not burdensome laws to curb our lifestyles. We will see and understand that God’s commandments are to set us free from our slavery to sin so that we will truly be able to enjoy the spiritual wealth of God’s Kingdom. We will be saved from being spiritually dead and become more fully alive in God through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.