The cross of Christ is God’s last and endless word. There the prince of this world is judged, there sin is killed, and pride is done to death, there lust is frozen, and self-interest slaughtered, not one can get through.
~Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)
Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to Him Who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. … Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
~ Paul, The least (and most enigmatic) of The Apostles, in Romans 7
Oh beloved, it is true.
We, each of us – with no exceptions – have been created in the very image of our very Creator. We were Designed by The Triune, to share in Their Divine Life. We are, as it is written and spoken by Jesus (King of The Universe) designed to be part of the ruling class of creation. Do not the Scriptures themselves say that we are gods (LOWER CASE ‘g’, i.e., sons of the Most High G_d)?
We, each of us – with no exceptions – have fallen far short of the glory of our Maker, and the design He weaved into us while we were in our mothers’ womb. We have done everything within our own power to extinguish and scrub away the signs of the divine in our lives. We have each gone our own way.
Because of all of the above (our design, and our failure), and MUCH more, we were damned. And not just damned to miss heaven and to return to dust. We were damned to reject heaven and be consigned to a hell where we would be stuck in time, and burn with the fires of His righteously indignant Love – forever.
St. Augustine of Hippo (a Church father of whom you may have heard, but of whom you may not know is foundational to our understanding of who we are, and how Jesus has saved us) said that humans have inherited BOTH the “Imago Dei” (the image of G_d), and the “Peccatum Originale” (the original sin of Adam).
And this helps us see into the meaning of St. Paul’s incredibly deep and – as St. Peter the Apostle said, “Some things in his writings are hard to understand” – writings.
Can we see it?
Paul is laboring through one of the greatest mysteries in all of the incredible history of salvation. And this is the piece of that mystery: We are a wreck! And, G_d is utterly crazy about us!
Now, some of what Paul is laboring to communicate is very different from what we learned in Sunday School, and by what is taught to us by the Ten Commandments, our conscience, and by nearly every law on the books of a civilized nation: (i.e., Do not DO bad things).
Now, please read this dear ones. Moses, our conscience, and our legal codes are right! Sin is a HUGE deal. It separates us from our design, and from our Designer. Sin brings death. And death is the total privation and perversion of Life. However, the problem of our sin is deeper than just trying to stay off of some sort of naughty list. And, while our sin offends the heart of our Loving Father, it goes beyond behavior.
It is also theft.
Throughout the rest of Scripture we see that sacrifice is payment for sin. Something dies, and takes with it the just punishment that we were bringing on ourselves. And, in Jesus, we see the utter Perfection of this sacrifice – which purchased us out of the slave market of sin, and brought us back into right relationship with G_d. We remember this often. We celebrate the last supper of our Lord Jesus Christ – wherein He declared that it was His Body, and His Blood that is being offered in payment for our sins. And this same offering is what we willingly remember and accept in the celebration of communion.
This brings us into a deeper understanding, if we will allow it. The sins we commit are not just falling short (though they are that indeed!) of the glory of G_d and His designs for us.
They are no longer our sins to even possess.
The purchase that our L_RD CHRIST made, took away our ownership rights to that which would destroy us, and our relationship with Him. In 2 Corinthians 12, St. Paul makes it even more clear: “He became sin, Who knew no sin, that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Don’t miss the power of this.
When the devil comes knocking at your eyes, or brain, or any other part of your flesh – he is not just tempting you to go and do something bad on your own. He is tempting you to go and steal that which has been bought and thrown as far away as The East is from The West. We are, in choosing to sin, walking into the temple courts of eternity and stealing back from Jesus that which is no longer ours. It is an affront to the dignity of our salvation, and Our Savior.
However, once we see sin (and the sinners we were) for what it is (was), it is actually easier to reject. When we begin to see ourselves as a redeemed son of G_d, and one made in His very Image – we see sin for what it is, AND that we no longer have any right to it. Sinning – when we understand it – is like going into our father’s wallet and stealing a few bucks in cash, but ALSO telling him at the same time that we don’t really care for the estate we will soon inherit.
So, are you struggling with sin? This fool of a writer sometimes does. But, knowing that the sin is no longer even mine to option into play without stealing it back from G_d, is a helpful reason (among millions of others!) to walk in complete dedication to Him.
Tonight is your night. Put it down. It is not yours to play with any more.
Christians, always rejoice, for evil, death, sin, the devil and hell have been conquered by Christ. But when all of this is conquered, is there anyone in the world who can bring our joy to naught? You are the lord of this eternal rejoicing as long as you do not give in to sin. Joy burns in our hearts from His truth, love, resurrection, and from the Church and His saints. Joy burns in our hearts all because of sufferings for Him, mockings for Him, and death for Him, insofar as these sufferings write our names in heaven. There is no true joy on earth without the victory over death, but the victory over death does not exist without the Resurrection, and the Resurrection does not exist without Christ. The risen God-Man Christ, the founder of the Church, constantly pours out this joy into the hearts of His followers through the Holy Mysteries and good deeds. Our faith is fulfilled in this eternal joy, and the joy of faith in Christ is the only true joy for human nature.
~St. Justin Popovich
Written by Makala Doulos: Makala Doulos is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.
Think About This: “the Bible is not a collection of stories, but one big story with lots of chapters. It is the story of how God meets weak and failing people with his powerful grace.” ―