Walking Free from the Rule of Sin
By Jim Allen
The Bible has some interesting things to say about Christians. It says our faith is more than a philosophy for doing all the right things. Our faith is about what has already been done for us, and that this finished work leads to freedom from the old life (John 8:36).
But the Bible is more than just about freedom and what has been done for us. It centers on a very special person who set the example for everyone to follow, for everyone to walk. The Bible centers on a special person with a holy purpose.
Aside from his miracles and wonders and teachings, Jesus' victory at Calvary would have been impossible had it not been for his sinless walk lasting thirty-three years, the entirety of his ministry on earth.
Imagine wearing a white business suite for 33 years without soiling it? Jesus did. Jesus was about His Father's business as the unblemished Lamb of God (Luke 2:48). Day after day and year after year the Messiah walked without one sin, accomplishing what would be impossible for anyone else (Hebrews 4:15).
Had he failed just once, there would have been no finished work, no burial, and no resurrection for us to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). The King of Jews would have been a short-lived phenomenon in a book cataloged under Ancient Religions of the Middle East.
About this walk the Apostle John wrote. "...whoever abides in Jesus must walk just as Jesus walked" (1 John 2:6). Imagine the reaction from some readers who might be thinking: Whoa...wait a minute now...what is John talking about? Did we sign up for this? I never heard this from the pulpit before now. This can't be in the Bible.
I can appreciate the imaginary reaction. Really, can a believer do the impossible and walk perfectly, never doing any wrong? Is John telling us to walk in sinlessness? Is such a thing even possible?"
How can we walk as Jesus when we can barely get through the day without a disrupting thought, word, or deed? How can anyone live perfectly for one day? Jesus did it for 33 years, and many would be hard pressed to do it for 33 minutes. Is this what John is telling us to do?
Yes, but not in the way it seems and never in our power. This is the mystery of mysteries Paul spoke about it in Romans 6. While it is true believers come into the world with a fallen nature, it is also true the old (sin) nature is crucified when a person is born again; that is, we become new creations in Christ and the old passes away (2 Corinthians 5:17).
About the "passing away of the old" the Apostle Paul wrote to "reckon" your old nature crucified and dead, having lost its power to hold you captive. The word "reckon" means to believe something to be true. In Greek the word is logizomai and means the same as reckon. By faith we reckon the old nature crucified and by faith walk away from its grasp. But, are we really free from it?
A story, I've used before on Blogos, might help explain this freedom.
I was invited by a friend to attend a party. Some high school and college friends were attending, too. Young in my faith and somewhat naïve about life, I reasoned it would be good to see them again. Entering the smoke-filled room I noticed the drunkenness, vulgarity and debauchery on a scale I'd never known before.
Then came the desire to stay and rekindle old friendships. I began to struggle. My old nature was calling from the cross for permission to slither down and back into my life. My new nature was saying no and reminding me to judge the old nature unworthy of life.
Recognizing the truth echoing in my heart and realizing going to the party was a bad idea, I turned around and walked out into the cool of the night. I went home. I never looked back. We really can overcome the old nature by deciding to keep it where Christ put it 2,000 years ago (Romans 6:11-14).
So then, what did the Apostle John mean by saying we "must" walk just as Jesus walked? John is telling us to walk in the Spirit, which Jesus did perfectly. Jesus strove for perfection and attained it.
But Paul, by his own admission, said he had not yet attained knowledge and understanding of holy perfection (as did Christ), but that he would press on (as a living sacrifice) towards that holy end (Philippians 3:13-14).
The story about the party is one example of keeping the old nature crucified. It's a story about choosing to obey, though not always perfectly done. Such stories are many among believers and the surest evidence of the new nature sanctioning them to desire a holy walk (Romans 12:1-2).
What's more, neither John nor Paul is suggesting we can walk flawlessly in the Lord's likeness, but that our heart should desire that end (1 Peter 1:15...16).
In closing and on our best day of living for God, we will come short of the mark in one way or another to one degree or another (1 John 1:8). About the desire to strive for lasting separation from the old nature Got Questions writes,
"That's why the Bible also refers to sanctification as a practical experience of our separation unto God. Progressive or experiential sanctification, as it is sometimes called, is the effect of obedience to the Word of God in one's life...(2 Peter 3:18)." (Source)Every believer has a story or two to share about sanctification. We've all walked away from the old nature on many occasions only to admit at times we didn't. This is why the path leading to one notable verse in the Bible is well known (1 John 1:9). But, I digress.
Like children with many toils and tumbles, over time our walk becomes steady and sure. We grow up. It's hard to do but it's what we do because of who we are in Christ (Colossians 2:6-7).
Image Credit: Republica; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | Personal-Life | Sin-Evil
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