Every time my super cute and furry cat, Sasha, gains access to the garage, she spends many minutes sharpening her claws on the mat that sits right below the stairs. She seems to think this innate activity is very important and so she exerts great effort to complete the task. Here’s the weird thing, though; Sasha doesn’t have any claws. She just does the whole claw-sharpening thing because it comes naturally to her—being a cat and all.
As I watched her habitually scratch the mat this morning, it brought to mind the book of Romans which we have been studying in church, and it made me think that we, as Christ-followers, are sometimes like that. Though formerly sinners, we have now been given freedom from the dominion of sin in our lives because of Jesus death and resurrection. Romans 6: 5-7 says that,
“If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”
Basically, because Christ died for us, and for our sin, sin has no right to our lives anymore—we are freed from it’s control. Like the scripture states, we are “no longer..slaves to sin”. And because Christ rose again, through His life (resurrection) we receive power. It is this power that enables us to say no to sin.
But sometimes we still live like sin is our master.
We do this because in our old life, we were controlled by sin. Sin is our default and it comes naturally to us. Sin is built into us, just like claw sharpening is built into Sasha.
And, like Sasha, sometimes we still act like sin’s claws control us-- even though the claws have been removed. We do this because we don’t fully understand that we have been freed—so we act like slaves—slaves to wickedness.
And sometimes we continue to be controlled by sinful behaviors because old habits die hard. And because they die hard, we don’t really believe that God is strong enough to help us “do all things through Christ who strengthens us” (Philippians 4:13). We don’t fully understand that we can now be slaves to righteousness.
When we, as Christ-followers choose to live in sin, we are telling God that His plan—the sending of His Son, the suffering of His Son, the crucifixion of Son, the separation of His Son from Himself—was not the ultimate sacrifice…that it doesn’t impute His power to us…that it’s really not enough to overcome our impure habits…and that we’d really rather just remain as we are. When we call ourselves Christians, yet choose to be overcome by sinful behaviors and thoughts, we are telling God that He is not enough.
But He is enough.
And his grace is enough. Because we have been freed from our old selves and have been made new in Christ. Sin no longer has mastery over us.
The claws have been removed. Sin no longer wins.
Let’s live like it.
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.