Are you a slave to sin? Did you know that it is the law that gives sin the strength to enslave men? Does that sound strange to you? It shouldn’t, because that’s what Paul taught in 1Cor.15:56. He wrote, “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.”
As a general rule this statement can be a reference to the imputation of sin. Because it is law that causes the imputation of sin that brings penalty. And for many sins the law the penalty for it’s violation was death. So this is what can also be meant by Paul when he wrote the strength of sin is the law. Because the law enforces the penalty for sin because under the law sin is imputed.
There is another sense in which we can be a slave to sin. This happens when we develop habits that are destructive to us and a relationship with God. Those habits gain power by their repetitiveness. So that those habits become who we are. We must not allow them to rule over us. And for some it takes the power of God to set us free from them.
But, is there another way that the law gives sin it’s strength so that it causes a man to be a slave of sin? How can the law that was given so that they would know what not to do, so that as God’s people they would not sin, be the strength of sin to enslave them? This is the way one is enslaved to sin that I want to share with you today.
For the answer to this question we need to think in terms of where the law places a man’s focus when they see what the law tells them not to do. Does it make them focus on God? Or on their own behavior? And even on another’s behavior? Is all their time spent focusing on obedience to the law to the exclusion of everything else? Or is it on God and their relationship with Him? There is no question that it can make one focus on sin and their need to avoid doing it.
It is by doing this that their attention is deflected from God and onto the law. It is in doing this each moment, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, that the Israelite had ingrained in them so that it became what they identified with by looking to the law and sin instead of God and righteousness. Which leads to the law and the sin it describes being the #1 focus in their life.
This makes the law an idol. Because it placed the law between them and God. Making the law that was given to them by God their God. So that by definition they are separated from God by an idol.
This is the sin that the law gives strength to. Which is the issue Paul spoke of in Rom.7 saying that the thing they want to do, which was to focus on Jesus, they can’t do because all their focus is on keeping the mandates the law requires. And Paul said that this is “the sin that dwells in me”. The sin of making the law an idol.
This served to show him that as long as his focus was on the law he was actually sinning. Because he made the law the ultimate good. Instead of his relationship with God. So that instead of simply trusting in God as Abraham had for righteousness. He was trusting in the law.
This led Paul to ask the question “who can deliver me from the body of this death.” From mortality. And he now understood that this deliverance would not come from the keeping of the law after all. But, is by “the Spirit of life that is in Christ Jesus” as he wrote in Rom.8:2. This is why the righteousness that leads to salvation is by faith and not by works.
But, now the question is, how do we avoid sin without thinking in terms of the law that was given to keep men from sinning? Paul did it and shared how we can do it too in 1Cor.13. The answer Paul gives here might surprise you in it’s simplicity. He shared this with us in 1Cor.13 saying that “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”
So what we do in the New Testament is not so different from what they were supposed to be doing in the Old Testament. Shown to them previously by Abraham. To avoid sinning they were to believe in God. So that their focus was on loving God and loving others as God loves us. Just as ours is to be on Jesus and His limitless love for us. Because it is simply by loving unconditionally and sacrificially as God loves that we keep from sinning.
This is why the faith that saves “works by love” as Paul said in Gal.5:6. And to really know how God loves us we must know Him. Because it is only from the Holy Spirit that indwells the believer that we know the love of God. Because it is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. And it is by that love that is shed abroad in our hearts, that when we are loving God and others, keeps us from sinning.
Because we do not focus on the “do’s and don’ts” to keep from sinning. We focus solely on Jesus and His amazing love that He pours out to us by the Holy Spirit. This creates the lifestyle in which our relationship with Jesus grows and matures. And when we are loving God and others as God has loved us we are not sinning. And we don’t have to be focused on the law so that we will not sin to do this. We focus on Jesus and His love.
His love is a love that sacrifices by saying to God “Nevertheless, not my will but thy will be done.” It is an unconditional love that continues loving even those who try to hurt us. It is by this love that we walk in an attitude of forgiveness.
His love that was and is expressed by His coming to die on the cross, and in every time we share that gospel with someone. Because in the sharing of the gospel we share with a world that is in need of the presence of God and His love in their lives that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. That whosoever will believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Making sure that they know that God did not come into the world to point out all their faults to condemn them. He came so that the world might be saved.
When we believe in Jesus and His resurrection we will make Him Lord of our life, and He becomes our savior.Saving us from our mortality by giving us His gift of immortality. By joining with us in our mortality on the cross. And defeating it by the power of His resurrection.
So don’t let sin enslave you by convincing you that if you do everything right this makes you acceptable to God. So that this becomes the entire focus of your life. That if you can just keep the commandments blameless you will have eternal life. Because when all of your focus is on blameless law keeping you will lack Jesus just as Jesus told the rich young ruler. And all that turns into is an enslavement to a treadmill of works that leads only to death. Because the wages of sin is death. But, the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.
Have you ever believed in Jesus? Do you believe He has raised from the dead? Do you want to have the gift of eternal life that only Jesus can give? If you do then please pray with me.
Dear Jesus, thank you for loving me so much that you came to die so that I could have eternal life. I believe in you. I believe in your resurrection. Make me new by making me born again. By giving me the spirit so that I can talk with you. And you can talk with me. Help me to love as you have loved me. So that I will never again be a slave to sin. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you prayed that prayer with me then praise Jesus! You have begun your life as a child of God. And you are now eligible to inherit His kingdom. Read the Bible and believe what it plainly says so that you can learn more about who God is, who Jesus is, and what the atonement did to give you all that God has for you.
See you there or in the air!
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