God’s double dose of first aid for the new year

Now that we’ve been saved from past sins by Christ’s death, is it up to us now to obey God? It seems like it is in Romans 6:12, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” That sounds like it’s up to us now to stop sinning.

Which is odd, because if we couldn’t stop sinning before, what suddenly makes us capable of stopping sin now? What changed? Well, in my experience, nothing changed. I’m still who I am. Sin still exerts a strong influence on me, just as it did before. It creeps up on me unawares, I obey its evil desires and, unfortunately, my body is often an “instrument of wickedness” still.

But something did change. Christ was raised from the dead. And the reason he came back from the dead was to lift us up with him, verse 8, so that we could “live to God” just like he does, verse 10. Jesus didn’t leave us on the sidewalk clutching his death as our only means of dealing with sin, he also gave us his life. As we travel through this life, then, we discover we have two first aid kits with us when sin does us damage, not just one, and both of them are with us wherever we go.

In one kit we carry the saving power of Christ’s death, and while we carry it, sin will never have mastery over us ever again. It doesn’t matter how many times we mess up, sin can never kill us. But sin isn’t dead, it’s still alive. It can’t kill us but it’s all around us every step we take. It’s like a wood full of blood-sucking insects constantly buzzing round your head. You can swat a hundred of them but a hundred more take their place. That’s sin. There’s no getting away from it, and it could drive us mad with frustration and despair – but that’s when we feel the reassuring handle of the other first aid kit, given to us when Jesus came back from the dead, because in that kit we carry the saving power of Christ’s life.

And while we carry that kit, we will always live to God. Even in our worst moments of weakness, when it looks like sin has total mastery of us and we’re the worst Christians on the planet, we’re still thinking of God, aren’t we? We can’t forget him. It might be only the tiniest spark, but we’re still “alive” to him, verse 11, and we hate what we’re doing. Well, that’s Christ’s life in us, our second first aid kit for the new year.          

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