I have had various interactions as of late which have reminded me of what it means to be a slave to sin. It also reminds me of how important Christ is in being freed from sinful patterns.
I spoke with one man about his infatuation with a certain girl. She treats him like dirt (I might even make the argument that the dirt gets better treatment). Despite her nagging, her authoritarian brazen-ness, her tongue whippings, et. al. he says he loves her and cannot live without her.
Another man stopped me in the parking lot of Wal-Mart. We talked for an hour about what I would call his "moral schizophrenia." He recognized that he was living a particular lifestyle that was not lawful. At one moment he would be distraught at it because he knew it was not right. In the very next breath he would smile and show his great affinity for it. He wanted to be rid of it and keep it all at the same time.
While I might sight more instances, both evidence the problem of the sin nature and our enslavement to sin. In his commentary on Judges Dale Ralph Davies reminds us that sin is not just an act. It is a power. It holds a grip upon us and we cannot wiggle free from it.
Such is a slave. A slave is one who cannot extract himself from his situation. Though he may have a desire to be free, he cannot attain it of his own power.
The apostle Paul also put it in terms of a "war" that waged within him (Rom. 7:15-24). King Solomon gave it more color when he depicted it as a dog that would return to his vomit. Each image describes the same predicament.
But what is the remedy?
Psychology would tell us that there are certain ways to break "habits" or end addictions. But they do not recognize the real substance of what is going on. There is no humanly way to do this. The problem is not of human will alone. It is a spiritual issue at base. It is a problem of the heart.
My brother once made a good observation of drunks and drug addicts that participated in A.A. meetings. He said that they never really got over their addictions. Typically they just replace one sin with another. The drinking stopped, but the smoking began. The drugs were put on the shelf, but they would begin to indulge in another area.
Scripture tells us that the answer does not lie within us. It is only through the power of Christ working by the Spirit. Paul, after explaining the battle that raged within him--wanting to do differently, but being unable to do so--finally exclaimed, "What shall save me from the body of death? Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ."
In the end, it is only the power of Christ that can sever the person from their sin. Faith is essential here. We pray for release and beg him to act. We seek to resist and do all that is in our power to remain distant from the temptation (godly fellowship, accountability, exposure to the means of grace, staying away from certain places/circumstances that expose us to temptation, etc.). But in the end, we trust Christ.
Temptation may overwhelm us at times. Nevertheless, we show faith. We come to Christ and acknowledge him as our only help. As we confess our sin, we confess the Savior again and again. We plead again for his strength and wait for him to bring the victory.
The power of sin is tremendous. This is why we must have Christ. His power is the only one that can exceed it and give freedom.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.