Romans 6:11-14 “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.”
Paul writes to the Roman church, and indeed to us as Christians 2,000 years later, that we should not offer the parts of our body over to sin (debauchery, laziness, lust, hash words, etc.) but rather we should be using our bodies as instruments of righteousness (serving, encouraging, evangelism, etc.). Paul explains that we are able to consistently do this because we are in a relationship with God based upon his grace that is a direct result of Jesus’ sacrifice. He makes the point that we would not be able to consistently offer ourselves as instruments of righteousness if we were living in a relationship with him based on the law (i.e., the Old Testament Laws.) This represents one of the central themes of Romans and is not the easiest concept to grasp. It is important for us to understand it, though, as a deeper understanding of the depth of God’s grace and forgiveness will promote our motivation to live righteously and evangelistically.
As an example, consider the way we live under the American justice system, which is made up of a myriad of laws. These laws are really set in place for about 5% of the population, which are lawbreakers. The rest of us are law-abiding citizens. For the most part, we don’t obey the laws simply because they are written laws, but rather because most of them are common sense and align with our consciences. As an example, we don’t need a written law to keep us from adultery, grand larceny, fraud, or murder. In a sense, we are living under grace. Put another way, we are living within the law because we want to, not because we have to.
If we were strictly living under the law, and punished for every act of “disobedience,” we would live quite a frustrating life. Can you imagine if you had to pay the legal penalty every time you broke a law, no matter how “minute”? Imagine how frustrating it would be if you had to pay the legal consequence of speeding even 1 mph over the speed limit? How about using a cell phone while driving or rolling through a stop sign? Similarly, living under the “law” in a spiritual sense, would be an extremely frustrating existence. It would require constant evaluation of yourself to make sure you are upholding every letter of the law. Even if you make the smallest infraction, you would be required to seek forgiveness.
Jesus on the cross changed our connection to God to one in which we are under grace and forgiveness. God is not looking for perfection; he is looking at our hearts. This is an infinitely better covenant and frees us up to be spiritually useful because we do not have to walk on spiritual eggshells. This knowledge should motivate us to offer our bodies to him as living sacrifices.
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