Many of us still struggle with our sinful nature. At least I know I still do. I know what I ought to do, but I can’t seem to be consistent. I lash out at my family and raise my voice when the kids misbehave. Fear and anxiety plague my mind even though God’s Word tells me trust Him in all things. Why can’t I seem to get it together?
In the book of Romans, Paul addresses this very issue. He identifies two “laws” – the law of the Holy Spirit and the law of sin and death. The truth is that Jesus died so that we could be set free from the law of sin and death. (That’s what it means to be free in Christ Jesus!) As a Pharisee, Paul had a love for the God’s law, but he struggled to obey it. But now we have Christ. We have the Holy Spirit to empower us and lead us towards righteous living.
And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. – Romans 8:2-4 (NLT)
Notice how it says that Jesus has set us free from sin. It doesn’t say that He will set us free in the future. It’s done. He did it. Many of us (myself included) try to hold on to our sinful natures and struggle against them even though the Bible is clear that we are no longer controlled by our flesh, but rather the Holy Spirit who now lives inside of us!
God has set us free from our sinful nature and declared us righteous through His Son.
We have been given His Holy Spirit to guide us towards holy living. As we work towards righteousness, we will undoubtedly slip up. The key here is that we are working towards it. We are striving. We are moving forward. And we are allowing the Holy Spirit to teach us how to put to death the deeds of our sinful nature.
We refuse to keep on sinning like nothing has changed.
Let me put it another way. Let’s say for a moment that before Christ, we were shackled to our sin. When we surrender our lives to Christ, God unlocks the shackles making us free to go and leave our sinful nature behind us. We are no longer bound by heavy chains! And not only does He unlock the chains, but He also gives us the tools we need to be empowered and grow as sons and daughters of God.
Even so, many of us never leave the shackles behind. We hang on to them. We walk around with unlocked shackles around our ankles believing we’re still chained to them.
Maybe it’s because the shackles are familiar and the idea of leaving them behind is intimidating. Or perhaps we don’t even realize that we have the freedom to leave them behind in the first place.
It’s time to leave the shackles behind. It’s time to dance in the freedom that Jesus claimed for us on the cross.
So how do we do it? How do we leave the chains behind and dance in our freedom? Paul outlined it pretty well in his letter to the Galatians:
- Nail the passions and desires of our sinful nature to the cross… and leave them there.
- Live by the Spirit and allow Him to take the lead in every aspect of our lives.
- Serve each other and love one another in our freedom.
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love…. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. – Galatians 5:13, 24-25 (NLT)