Paul continues on with his presentation of his case for faith in Jesus. By no means is the Law enough for our salvation. Only faith in Jesus and His grace poured out for us. His point in our reading today is how sin wasn’t really called such until the Law was given.
I’m going to share a story with you that happened to me and my child once to illustrate Paul’s point. When my oldest son was about six months old we were sharing our apartment with another couple who had a child who was a little over a year old. Not a big age difference but a big developmental difference. One fine afternoon, the other child pinned my son to the floor and bit him HARD on his back. As you can imagine, my son screamed and both moms rushed to their children.
This was the first time the other child had seriously bitten anyone. As I was examining my child and consoling him the other mother was scolding her son. The child didn’t know this was a bad thing initially but he soon learned that fact from his mother. What he did was wrong whether he knew it or not and now he had been given the “name of the sin” relating to his actions.
As with most of us, telling him no didn’t stop the behavior permanently. Not long afterwards he did it again. The irony in this story though is that when he did it again his mother excused his behavior because “he’s teething.” I informed her that my son was NOT a teething ring. Fortunately her husband found suitable housing for them shortly after and my son was safe again.
The point here is that just because we don’t have a name for some specific sin doesn’t make it any less wrong. The Law did not invent sin but simply pointed out what was already going on and gave it a name. It also gave it a consequence.
Paul also speaks about the problem of, once the sin is identified, the individual seems “hell bent” on engaging in it. Not all sin of course, but many of the smaller offences.
That brings to mind another analogy. When working with children, as educators, we are instructed to give them “positive directions” instead of “negative” ones. An example would be, if a child is standing in his chair say, “We stand on the floor” instead of “Don’t stand in your chair.” With negative directions the child completely ignores the “Don’t” and engages in the behavior you are trying to prevent. Believe it or not, it happens more times than you can count.
One more thought that is running through my head on this subject is ice cream. “What?” Yes; ice cream. I love ice cream. I eat it more than I should but a lot of times I eat it because I know I shouldn’t. Something gets me thinking about ice cream. I could be driving past DQ on the way to the doctor’s office or seeing a commercial on TV. Whatever the reason, I start dwelling on the idea of ice cream. The more I tell myself I don’t need it, the more I want it. Sometimes I distract myself with another acceptable snack option, which may or may not work. But eventually, if the “craving” gets too bad, I’m into the ice cream.
So what is the cure for this body that insists on doing what it’s not supposed to? His name is Jesus. He is the only cure for sin. Paul reminds us that through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we too receive this same living spirit which is free from sin. Not by something we did but by accepting what He did for us. By accepting through faith the forgiveness that He extends to us by His grace.
As Paul also points out, our bodies are still going to rebel and we will find ourselves doing what we don’t want to do. But that is when we need to take hold of ourselves through the Spirit and turn back again to Jesus for forgiveness. He will freely give it when we honestly repent. I don’t know how He handles the “I’m only sorry I got caught” kind of repentance. That would be between Him and whomever. But I know He hears us when our heart cries out to Him.
Father God, thank You for naming my sin. Without You pointing it out I might have gone on in it forever. It felt “bad” at the time but sometimes it also felt “fun.” Thank You Jesus for Your forgiveness. I know I don’t deserve it but I’m very grateful for it. NOTHING is more precious to me that our relationship and sin halts that relationship in its tracks. It is NOT worth it! Help me Lord to do the things I know I should and avoid the things I know I shouldn’t.
Thank You that ice cream is not a sin. Help me not indulge to the point of sin.
I was just thinking about how the Ten Commandments are mostly a list of “don’ts.” I was considering rewriting them into “do’s” instead, but then I realized that Jesus already did that for me. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was He gave us two of them:
- Love the Lord Your God with all your heart, soul and mind.
- Love your neighbor as yourself.
These are certainly “positive directions.” Thank You Jesus for reminding me of this. I need to put this before me any time I’m tempted to sin.
I’m going to go have some ice cream now 🙂