This scripture suggests that we have the ability to walk away from our sinful nature. Romans is filled with many scriptures that tell us as believers we are free from sins grasp. I remember reading these scriptures for the first time and feeling discouraged. I thought if this is true then WHY am I still sinning? If this is true than why do I feel God at work in my life yet I do not feel freed from my sins?
Well, we know that we’re all sinners and we’re always going to sin, that’s why Jesus had to come and be our Savior. But, what is this message of freedom from sin that is interwoven all throughout Romans and how do we get our hands on it?
The answer: The Holy Spirit.
I knew I wasn’t experiencing the Spirit at work in my life like I had seen in other people’s lives. I wondered how to get it working in me in that way and I thought it was just that I didn’t have enough faith or I just didn’t trust God enough. I think those things are true I did need more trust in God and that would increase my faith, but beyond that I hadn’t even asked for it!
The bible reminds us to present our requests to God (Phil. 4:6) and that the Spirit helps us in our weakness (Rom. 8:26), but is our request to God that the Spirit do a work in us that will really change our sin behavior or do we try to do it all on our own?
I know that I have tried many times to change certain habits in my life and they are so a part of my natural flesh that I have felt helpless to be freed from them. These habits lead to sin in my life. My eating habits lead to gluttony. My habit of worrying about what others think of me leads to the focus being on me. My habit of procrastinating leads to laziness. It’s all sin and it’s kept me from really experiencing God in the way that He intended.
In Ephesians 1 Paul prays for the church… “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”
He longs for us to know him better. He longs for the eyes of our hearts to be enlightened. He longs for us to know the hope to which He has called us and He longs for us to experience the great power of the living Spirit to help us in our weaknesses. We can’t do it alone and we try looking inside ourselves to muster up the strength to do it alone, but we fail over and over and become so discouraged that we give up trying. We wear ourselves out using our own methods so much that sometimes I don't think we ever really ask for His help. We may say a fleeting prayer here and there, but do we earnestly seek His guidance? Do we take His answers and act in obedience even to the extent that we may suffer? Sometimes it’s a painful process; if it wasn’t painful we’d be able to do it on our own. Tozer explains the removing of sin like a tearing of the flesh. Isn't that just what Jesus experienced on the cross? Our suffering is nothing compared to His, yet it is a way that we can relate to His suffering.
If we really love God and we really want to be freed from our sin then we’d spend the time on our knees asking for the Spirit to help us and to guide us. We’d want so deeply to be rid of that which keeps us from this promised knowledge, enlightenment, hope and power. That very power is what we desperately need to tap into to finally be freed from sin. God promised us that we would no longer be slaves to sin, but to righteousness. That’s His promise to the heirs of Jesus and we are those very heirs. We need to get our hands on it. We need to pray for it and we need to STOP sinning in the flesh.
I hope you caught that! Reading it normally from top to bottom doesn’t make any sense (going with the grain), but if you read it going UP (against the grain) it says “Power of the Spirit.” We can experience the Spirit’s power to help us overcome sin if Christ is truly in us. Also, by looking UP we become focused on what God wants for us and not what we want for ourselves.
Are we going to quit sinning for good? No... we'll always have sin to deal with. We may overcome some sins, but there will always be something to reckon with. But, as Paul reminds us... we should no longer be a slave to sin (Rom. 6:6). We have been set free (Rom. 6:18), sin is not our master, Jesus Christ is the One we serve and He's given us the power to STOP sin.