We’ve all heard the recommendation: when attacked by a bear, play dead.
Well, that’s partially true…if you’re attacked by a mother bear that’s defending her cubs. If, however, you’re attacked by a cubless bear (male or female) and you have no bear spray or very high-powered weapon, I suggest that you fight the bear as if your life depended on it–because it does.
Which brings me to one of the most controversial passages in all of Scripture: Romans Chapter Six (go ahead and read it…I’ll wait).
The Apostle Paul’s essential premise is thus: if you’re a Christian, YOU DON’T HAVE TO SIN ANYMORE.
In fact, God doesn’t expect Christians to sin anymore (and there’s my controversial statement).
Of course I’m quite familiar with all of the arguments (and the Scriptures that back them up) promoting the idea that sinners (even believing sinners) cannot help themselves; the sin nature is just too powerful.
This is one of the paradoxes of Scripture (and there are many…I started work on a book covering the topic): the inexcusableness of Sin AND the total depravity of Humanity. The Bible teaches both, therefore both MUST be true; but how do we reconcile them?
The same way all Scriptural paradoxes are reconciled: in the Person of Jesus Christ, Who is Himself the Ultimate Paradox…God and Man perfectly united in a single Being!
Christ (Who gets to have the Last Word on every issue) says this:
“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into Hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into Hell.” – Jesus Christ, Matthew 5:29, 30; ESV
Hyperbole aside, Christ makes this statement no less than three times in the Gospels: twice in Matthew and once in Mark. In one of these passages He says that it’s better to enter into [Eternal] Life blind or crippled than to be cast in perfect health into Hell (the word here being gehenna, referring to the Lake of Fire).
In doing so Christ makes an unapologetic and direct connection between sinning and eternal damnation. Unfortunately for sinners, there is no other passage in all the Bible that in any way breaks this connection.
How then can anyone be saved???
Jesus was also asked this question; His answer (and I paraphrase): Outside of an Act of God, NO ONE CAN SAVE THEMSELVES (another saying of Christ repeated thrice in the Gospels).
Romans Chapter Six agrees with Christ’s statement: God Himself–in Christ–did all of the heavy lifting (the REAL WORK); the Christian believer is only expected to IDENTIFY with what happened to Christ (at the whipping post, on the cross, in the tomb and at His Glorious Resurrection) AS THOUGH THESE THINGS HAPPENED TO HIM / HER, then RECKON themselves to be in the same state Christ is in His Resurrected Body, and ACT accordingly under the impetus of the Holy Spirit of God Who dwells within him / her.
As far as I know, this CORE CHRISTIAN TRUTH is rarely taught in any American church; the consequences being a bunch of religious church folk getting REALLY frustrated with what they consider to be their ONLY way to escape Hell…
At this point I must clarify something that is critical:
As anyone familiar with the principles of critical thinking will tell you, BELIEVING SOMETHING TO BE TRUE THAT ISN’T is called Delusion; delusion helps no one, but does more harm than good.
The Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus Christ is an historical fact as verifiable as Caesar’s conquest of Gaul; and when ANY person accepts This Greatest of All Historical Events in their hearts as Fact (Romans 10:9, 10), GOD DECLARES THAT PERSON, REGARDLESS OF WHAT THEY’VE DONE, AS JUSTIFIED, RIGHTEOUS, SAVED AND ADOPTED INTO HIS FAMILY AS A SINLESS SON / DAUGHTER.
So when the Apostle Paul tells Christians (and now you know how to become one if you’re not) in Romans 6:11 to “reckon” themselves as dead to sin and alive to God, he is simply asking them to verify in their hearts what has already taken place historically to Christ, Who became our Sin so that IN CHRIST we became God’s Righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
(NOTE: Feel free to read this blog post AS MANY TIMES AS IT TAKES for you to understand that neither Sin nor Satan have any right to your soul anymore!!!)