Saturday, January 10, 2015

Grace and dying to self

“What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:1-4 (NRSV)
Paul uses death to sin as a metaphor for striving to live a new life.  This is a good metaphor because bodily death is a fact of life over which we have little control, and the same goes for sin.  Sin is a fact of our human condition that we cannot eradicate.  We all are sinners. Romans 3:20, says that all sin stems from this: Not putting God first.
There are more similarities between death and sin.  For example, there are things that we can do to help prevent premature death.  We can eat in a healthy way, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and visit the doctor regularly.  In a similar way, there are things we can do to help prevent sin in our lives, such as praying and striving to learn more about God.  However, no matter how hard we try, we can never prevent death, and similarly, we can never remove our own sin.
In the scripture passage above, Paul is reminding the Romans that dying to sin is like a mortal death.  Once we have died, we do not go on living in our mortal body.  We will live anew in an immortal body.  We will not even want to go back to the mortal body.    This compares to our life in sin.  Once we have died to sin by striving to put God first, we do not continue to strive to put ourselves first.  We cannot do both.
And this is where the work of grace comes in.  As we strive to put God first, the old condition, sin, is always present.  God’s grace, through Christ, pours over us as we strive toward God, covering our sin so that God sees it no more.  Praise God for His mercy!  Praise God for His grace!