Slaves to Righteousness


The general perception of Christians is, if they aren't outright hypocrites, they don't understand the lure of sin or won't indulge sin (variously referred to as "letting loose," "having fun," "experimenting," and so on). Similar friction often divides Bible-believing Christians and nominal Christians, who see their "fundamentalist" counterparts as lacking humanity or sympathy for sinners. Clearly, both perceptions are inaccurate, and the critics know it. It's far easier to call a Christian unsympathetic or hypocritical than to reflect on the nature and consequences of of one's own actions. In the face of criticism, believers must continue to emphasize God's grace, because that is the wellspring of faith. The unredeemed sinner cannot understand true righteousness without salvation and he cannot receive salvation without grace.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans Chapter 8:

3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man,
4 In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Sin, as it is understood in the mainstream context (and as it is referred to in the first paragraph), almost always refers to symptomatic sin (i.e. sexual and drug addictions, wanton violence, rage, cursing) as opposed to less "glamorous" causal sin, like inattention to God's Word, excessive worry and worldly desires, resentment, general lack of faith. All sin is separation from God (cf. Isaiah 59:2). The further an individual strays from God, the greater in degree and consumption sin becomes. Obvious behavioral sins manifest themselves from the seeds of rebellion which exist less visibly in all people. As such, sins are not all alike. The Ancient Hebrew and Greek Scriptural texts use various words to describe what is now translated as "sin," an indication that sin is not merely a static state of being which one falls into. Moroever, symptomatic sin cannot be rightly dealt with until the individual releases their hold on causal sins and submits them to Christ. God could easily take away our besetting sins, but would we be any closer to Him without our first having done the "little" things? The details are essential. Believers must also remember that the intellect is just as sinful as the rest of the body, if not more so. The mind isn't the enemy, it just isn't the answer.

1 John Chapter 3:
9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.
1 John 3:9 does not mean the born-again Christian will not sin. Rather, the indwelling Holy Spirit ("God's seed") convicts a believer of their sin and leads them to repentance, to change their behavior ("he cannot go on sinning"). The believer loves Christ, not sin. He or she must recognize a sin as sin, especially when presented with Biblical truth. There can be no "uneasy partnership" with sin. The Bible exhorts us to flee from it (ex. 1 Cor 6:18).

As a consequence, faithfulness to Christ inherently means a denial of our sinful nature and actions. It is not supposed to be easy. If life were meant simply to be about making easy choices, would it really need to be lived? If we were free to indulge sin just because we're all sinners, would we really need to live "three score years and ten"? (Psalm 90:10) We humans are slow learners, and sin is a dogged sort, sometimes even a juggernaut. But to give up or to give in to sin is to diminish the power of the Cross and to diminish the sufficiency of God's Word.

Sin, of course, loves nothing better than to make an individual forget God's primacy in their lives and to shipwreck their faith or their potential for a personal relationship with Christ. Sin's goal is to wear down a person until they accept it, condone it, cherish it, take pride in it. Failing that, sin strives to burden a person with a guilt so extreme that they feel beyond hope. An individual not walking closely with Christ can fall into a self-serving guilt which can be summed up as "I feel bad because it's wrong." This is quite different from a godly guilt which involves submission before the Divine Judge.

Sin aims to be all-consuming and seeks justification. A powerful central sin can motivate a person's general thought and behavior -- a life in perilous bondage. Some sins sneak in as a matter of course in the absence of godly servitude and action. Some beat you over the head. Sin relishes when you doubt God's Word, His indispensable and inerrant gift to all men and women, and when you eventually try to change it, mold it, syncretize it to fit your designs. Sin loves when you are not discerning, judging, or reasonable. Sin wants you to think that it's a battleground of flesh (mind and body), rather than a battleground of the spirit, because then you don't know who you're fighting. Sin ultimately turns you away from God and covers your eyes and ears from His Truth: "And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind." (Romans 1:28, KJV)

Critics will eagerly decry a believer's lack of worldliness (whether or not that happens to be the case). Because they argue that the believer hasn't experienced "all the world has to offer" and "pathologically fears" differences, they will say that the believer is supremely unqualified to make judgments regarding right and wrong. But what is the world, except the devil's domain? Malcolm Muggeridge wrote of man's "proneness to lick the earth rather than reach up to the heavens." If anything, the so-called collective consciousness of the world is the manifestation of the principalities and powers, the rulers of darkness (cf. Ephesians 6:12). The Church serves Christ and Christ alone. The believer should be knowledgeable of the world, but they cannot love it. Paul wrote, "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." (Romans 6:18) He echoed the words of Jesus from Matthew Chapter 6:
24 No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.