Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Freedom from Slavery to Sin

In a fallen world under sin and a curse, we develop a distorted view of reality. We see freedom as the ability to indulge ourselves in everything we want to do. We see God has being a mean cosmic killjoy for not allowing us this freedom. And even if we decide to go along with what God says, we feel ourselves grand and noble for giving up such obviously desirable stuff for God’s sake. The Scripture wants to reorient our thinking here. We are told that those who commit sin are slaves to sin (John 8:34; Romans 6:16; 2 Peter 2:19). We can see this with the gross sins: alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, and similar addictions. They start out as pleasurable and attractive and something desirable. But over time, craving sets in, and it becomes difficult to even try to give it up. It becomes clear that you do not have it; it has you. But we need to realize that other sins can have the same effect. We can start out grumbling and complaining about every minor inconvenience until we develop a habit of complaining that is hard to stop. We can go around telling tales about other people until we acquire a need to have things to tell about others. Every sin we start out thinking is a good thing is, in the end, a form of slavery that takes us captive.  

This therefore requires us to rethink our ideas of freedom and slavery. From God’s perspective, sin is not a good thing we heroically give up, but a slavery He has come to deliver us from (John 8:36; Romans 6:18; Galatians 5:13). For the fact of the matter is that sin, far from being a good thing, is the thing that would have destroyed us (Romans 6:21-23). As C. S. Lewis points out in The Screwtape Letters, Satan cannot produce a real pleasure, for every good thing comes from God (James 1:17). But sin is taking those pleasures in the wrong way or at the wrong time or in the wrong amounts. Underneath that is a set attitude of self-centeredness. We think we can live for ourselves, but ultimately we will end up either serving God or serving sin, with the consequences involved in that choice. Now do not get me wrong; I am far from claiming I have accomplished this change of perspective. I still fight with seeing sin as desirable and something to be pursued. But I believe the goal must be to change our way of thinking until we see sin the way God sees it. This, I believe, must be the ultimate answer to the accusation that if we are saved by grace, why not just go out and sin? God has paid an enormous price to rescue us out of that slavery (1 Corinthians 6:20; Romans 5:8; 1 Peter 2:24,25). Why would we want to go back into that bondage?

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