Sin, Slavery, Freedom, and Grace
Do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:12-23
I remember once in a Bible study group I was part of years ago, where we joked that everything was going to be OK because we had that "forgiveness thing." As if it didn't really matter what we did, God would forgive us.
Now, we were saying that with our tongues firmly planted in our cheeks, but I'd be lying if sometimes I didn't lean heavily into that idea, knowing that it was a lifeline.
Do we continue to sin because we have that "forgiveness thing?" Is that '"forgiveness thing" carte blanche to do whatever we want?
Of course not, says Paul.
One of my seminary professors put it this way: when you fall in love, do you act with cruel intentions because that person might be inclined to forgive you, or do you act in love?
Sin does have a grip on us. Paul makes that case as well. But we belong to God. And while we do have that "forgiveness thing," that becomes a starting point for us. We enter into relationship with God feeling the pull of that forgiveness and delight in where it will take us.
Where will your grace take me today, Holy One?