Do the Math
Lord, continue to equip me for the daily battle that full surrender to You ensures for me.
Read Romans 6:8–14
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
New International Version (NIV)
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“Breathe on me breath of God… until with thee I will one will, to do and to endure” (Edwin Hatch, 1835–1889).
You are in a new location, says Paul, so “do the math” about sin in your life. “Count” (11) means “make the calculation.” Once again, he says Christ’s death and resurrection are decisive for our way of life, not just for our justification. Sin remains a possibility, but it is no longer an inevitability. It need not “reign” and no longer requires obedience (12). Its all-encompassing power over us has been weakened.
But weakened does not mean eliminated. Daily life is still a battleground. The battle takes place in our “mortal body” (12). This does not mean the physical aspects of us as opposed to the spiritual—the physical is never the opposite of the spiritual; God made people with bodies and declared them “very good” (Gen. 1:31)—it means our physical life on earth until the final day when our bodies are redeemed (Rom. 8:23). This is a battle that can be won! Paradoxically, victory comes through surrender. Humans were not made to be autonomous, but to be the friends, stewards and servants of their creator. In the overall direction of our lives and at each individual moment of choice we are supposed to yield ourselves to God. We make ourselves, with all our capacities, available to him. Each ability, each choice, becomes an instrument or even a weapon in God’s hands.
Note that Paul does not say to fight sin and you will win. Rather, he says surrender all that you are to God, and sin won’t win! Sin’s dominion over us gets replaced by the victory in our daily lives as we become more effective in the divine battle against evil. As a consequence we become fruitful and contribute to all that is right and just. If our location is in Christ and we are alive to God in him, then our surrender is not forced. We give ourselves gladly as we totally trust the One who gave his only Son for us.
Think about the effort it takes to win anything. Winning presupposes competition. Victory is ours only when we decide who will occupy the throne and we install the correct occupant there (12).
Mighty God, help me to stop trying to resist temptation in my own strength, rather than yielding myself to You. Make me an effective weapon in Your hand.