Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bang, Bang, You’re Dead

Somehow, boys just learn about weapons. There is a picture of one-year old James and his cardboard swords
here. He just picked them up one day and decided that they were likely weapons. He also has a little pistol – he can’t really control it enough to aim it, yet, but soon he’ll be taught that you don’t point even a toy pistol at anybody. As kids, most of us at one time played guns; cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, or something of the sort (I don’t know what the PC police have done with the name of that second game). Then we’d have arguments after somebody shouted, “bang, you’re dead,” and the other person didn’t fall down.
Paul, in Romans 6, is teaching about spiritual death – of a couple of different kinds. In the first two verses he writes: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
We all used to be dead in our sins. To ask, “should we go on sinning,” indicates that this was our lifestyle. And our sinfulness made us dead to God. Here’s how Paul puts it in other places:
Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? (Romans 6:16)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23).

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins…. (Colossians 2:13).
Our sinful behaviors place a gulf between us and God. God is Holy and He wants us to be Holy, as well. But when we are unrepentant sinners, when we continue to sin without asking God’s forgiveness, we can never cross that gap and live in peace with God.

Now, Paul says, you are dead to sin. We don’t live in it anymore. We don’t wallow in it. Does that mean that we’re perfect; that once we’re saved, we’ll never sin again? Some people believe that. But that is not what this verse means – and those of us who are Christians know full well that we are not perfect. What is means is that we won’t pay the price for our sins eternally, and that we can get better; we can, with the help of God; grow more and more like Christ.

Most of us have seen the TV commercials which proclaim “It’s not delivery; it’s DiGiorno.” (It’s about pizza, for those of you who have not seen it). Where I live, it’s hard to get delivery. When we first moved here, even the UPS man complained about coming “way out here.” The delivery Paul is writing about is of greater value – and it’s “free delivery;” no hidden costs. Here’s what he has to say about delivery in these verses:
For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. (Romans 6:6-9)
Delivery is free. Read v. 23 again. It’s a gift. Being delivered from the consequences of our own sins is a gift from God. It’s like the difference between a wage and a bonus…. Yet,
Delivery comes with a price. That sounds like a contradiction, perhaps, but the point here is that it’s free to us but the prices does have to be paid. Let’s face it, if you get free delivery of your pizza, the price of the delivery is built into the price of the food. The wages of sin is death. The wages must be paid. There are several references to Christ’s death in this short passage. His death – and His subsequent resurrection – are the price paid to God for our sins. They cost God great pain, but delivery into eternal life costs us nothing.

It’s not DiGiorno. It’s delivery; and it’s free.