Friday, November 22, 2013

Victory in Christ -- Part 7

So that brings us to a familiar verse, Romans 6:23:
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The interesting thing about where this verse fits in the context is that it's just not a statement about sin and the comparison of being lost and saved, although it is that. It is in the context that we just discussed where there are two different paths a person can take in presenting ones self either to righteousness or to sin and the consequences of those choices. This is a verse written to Roman Christians in the middle of this discussion of which choice we might make as we faced with opportunities to yield to one or another. So this is a warning that to yield to sin leads to death.

Here's where it gets tricky and I want to be careful not to contradict other teachings in the Scripture. It is clear to me that when a person comes to know Christ in a saving way, his behavior cannot undo the justification he has received. In other words, sinful behavior does not cancel the justification we have in Christ. Instead, his behavior will change because if we are in Christ we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). And because we are under the new covenant, we have the new covenant promise of the removal of our old stoney heart, the giving of a new heart and new spirit, the presence of the Holy Spirit of God in our lives and the motivation to be obedient (Ezekiel 36:26, 27).

But, given these truths, it is also clear that this verse is a warning not to yield to the sin nature. Yielding our members to sin is a path that ultimately leads to death, so why would a Christian want to venture down that path? Warnings are given to help us avoid the dangers along the way and we should heed them.

We should not look at promises and warnings as contradictions. In the story of the shipwreck on one of Paul's journeys, Paul was told by God that no one would be lost in the wreck. Later on however, some of the frightened sailors started to lower some lifeboats to escape the doomed ship. Paul warned them that if they took a lifeboat, they would not survive. Was that a true warning given the fact that Paul had already promised no one would be lost? Of course it was. The result was that the sailors did not take the lifeboats, their lives were saved and God's promise to Paul was fulfilled. Promises and warnings can both be true and valid. I believe the same thing is true in the passage we are studying.

Principle 9: Remember yielding to sin leads to ever increasing lawlessness and ultimately to death.

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