“Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.”
Romans 6:12-14 NLT
Paul gets down to the nitty-gritties of living a life of faith. He starts to get personal. But how can he, a sinful man as well, tell others how they should and shouldn’t live? What right does he have, perhaps you ask? But what he writes is correct. As Christians, we cannot, must not even, allow sin to be the dominant force in our lives.
Paul starts with our minds. “Sinful desires” start in that space between our ears. We look at something and we lust after it. That cream cake. A new car. Men in particular can have a problem with beautiful women. And before we know it we are in the danger zone, sorely tempted to give into a “sinful desire”. And in case we find ourselves in a safe place, our enemy, the devil, will creep up on us and plant a sinful seed into our minds. A rationalising process can take place, much as it did with Eve in the Garden. Just one more chocolate biscuit won’t hurt. Another glance at that web page won’t really matter. “Did God really say …”. But we must stand firm, always alert for an attack on our minds, on our thoughts. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, “We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.” Someone once said that we can’t stop birds flying over our heads, but we can stop them nesting in our hair.
Paul then moves onto our bodies. Our physical beings. Those bits of us controlled by our minds. Perhaps he is saying that it is bad enough to think sinful thoughts but to then use our bodies to apply the sin compounds the felony. By so doing they become an “instrument of evil”. Jesus emphatically made this point – we can read His words in Matthew 5:29-30, “So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Of course, theologians try and rationalise what Jesus said. Perhaps I do as well. But Jesus was deadly serious. If our bodies become an “instrument of evil” then there is only one place where they will end up, probably with the rest of us following close behind.
But now to the positives. Paul wrote, “for you were dead, but now you have new life”. Of course we do. We are a new creation, in transition to becoming the persons God designed us to be. Work in progress, journeying through life. Through Jesus we have an opportunity, breathtaking in its simplicity, profound in its concept, and eternal in its outcome. An opportunity that just cannot be overlooked and missed. Living a life of holiness, because that is what separation from sin is all about, may, in worldly eyes, be dull and boring, but the resulting life to come will be filled with so much incredible joy and excitement that we will never regret it.
Dear Father God. We thank You for these Spirit-inspired words of wisdom from Your servant Paul. Please help us to take note of them and apply them to our lives, day by day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.