Today’s first scripture makes me smile. Though there is no reason it should, it conjures up a picture in my mind of a plate sitting on the counter filled with just out of the oven fresh-baked cookies and a little person looking up longing to sneak one of those delicious smelling cookies and gulp it down before anyone is the wiser. We are looking first at Romans 6:1: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” Paul’s response, “May it never be! He goes on to that when explain we are baptized into Christ, we are also baptized into His death and when we are raised, we are raised to new life. We are given the Holy Spirit to abide in us, to bring us new life and to transform us. Sin will always try to sneak in, the enemy will always use it to tempt us, but once we begin this new life in Christ; He empowers us to make the right choices and to ‘put to death’ the nature of our old self and to begin to walk in greater victory. Chances are that we will stumble and fall at times. If we truly understand all that He had done to purchase our freedom and all that is available to us in this new life in Christ, we will have a great desire to grow toward a better life rather than use it as an excuse to continue in our same old path.
Paul goes on to say, “ For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.” Romans 6:14-19
Our Father knows when we have had our hands in a cookie jar when we were not supposed to be in it. He knows we are a product of fallen humanity and we stumble and fall often. He knows that sometimes when we know we shouldn’t, we do things anyway. That is why He sent Jesus. It is why Jesus went through betrayal, torture and suffering and died. It is also why He spent three days in a borrowed tomb and rose on the third day…victorious. That in itself would have been enough. He paid the price for every sin we would ever commit. That would have been enough. Jesus did not stop there! He made further provision through the gift of the Holy Spirit to come and abide within us; leading us, guiding and teaching us all truth, and making it possible for us to lead victorious lives. This alone should powerful motivation for us to seek Him, to grow deeper in wisdom and understanding of His Word, become victors over our circumstances and share our experiences with those around us.
Still, we are human. Since the decision of Adam and Eve to eat from the forbidden tree, humanity has struggled with control. The serpent made them question what God really said; he made that which was forbidden look irresistible, almost as if God was holding back something from them. We too wrestle with submission. Adam and Eve failed to remember that everything edible in the garden was theirs for the taking. It was there for their nourishment. God’s only stipulation was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Rather than stay focused on all the permissible things at their fingertips, the enemy managed to get their entire focus on the can not. They lost abundance and full life all for a piece of fruit from the one forbidden tree. It cost them paradise. It made their lives forever difficult compared to life in the garden. That same enemy today would love nothing more than to pervert our thinking and draw us into the mindset that Paul was speaking against. One look at the example of Jesus set for us and we can see how differently He intends us to live. In John 10: 14-18 Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” (NAS) Jesus surrendered His will to the Father’s will so that you and I could receive forgiveness, grace, and full and abundant life through Jesus Christ. Abundant blessing came because of Jesus’ surrender.