Finishing up Romans 6 this morning. Chewing on Paul’s pressing exhortation to stop presenting our “members as slaves to impurity” but instead, presenting them “as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification” (Rom. 6:19). To which I whisper to myself, “Yes and amen! Let’s do it!”
But I also know what’s coming up in Romans 7. You know, that “wretched man that I am” (7:24) passage? The one that talks about doing what you know you shouldn’t do and not doing what you know you want to do (7:15-20)? The one about “delighting in the law” in my inner being while my outer being wages war against what I delight in, making me captive to “the law of sin that dwells in my members” (7:23).
So, what’s a guy to do? Though my spirit is willing to try and present my body to righteousness, I know, and the Scripture attests to, that my flesh is weak (Mt. 26:41). So why bother?
We bother because, by faith, according to God’s word, we believe what the Word says — that we have the muscle to obey.
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
(Romans 6:17-18 ESV)
Obedient from the heart. That’s what we’ve become as believers in Christ through His finished work.
We have the muscle to obey. We just need to, by His grace and through His power in us, keep working it.
When it comes to the old nature, we might cede individual battles, but we need to be reminded that He has won the overall war, so that, in Him, we really are no longer slaves to sin. Instead, we are now under a new Master, having become slaves of righteousness. Under new management with new power and new muscle for living in a new way, the way of holiness. New creations (2Cor 5:17), with a new heart (Ezek. 36:26), a heart capable of obedience. New muscle for obedience. We just have to be determined to keep working it.
And what if, I mean, when we fail from time to time? That’s what the cross is about.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(1John 1:8-9 ESV)
We fail, He forgives. We confess, He cleanses. We falter again, He is faithful still. The shed blood of Christ sufficient to cover all our sins. The risen life of Christ power enough to become who He has redeemed us to be. The wondrous work of Christ manifest in the new muscle to live for Christ — obedient from the heart.
Not to be discouraged at this on-going battle against the flesh, at finding ourselves, from time to time, doing what we don’t want to do and not doing what we want to do. But to remember the we have the tools for righteousness. Not our own tools, but His. Having become obedient from the heart through the regenerating work of the Christ who lives in us.
We just need to keep working the muscle.
By His grace. For His glory.