The scene is a musty old prison, and in one cell sit two inmates. They have committed different crimes but are still sentenced to the same punishment – the death penalty. There is no hope for someone to bail them out; instead, the captives sit in their warranted guilt. As they await the day that death will come, the torment of confinement eats away at them. Bereft of salvation, all that is left to linger is inevitable fear and psychological torment. The four peeled walls around the convicts are all they know. Incarceration is the new normal, hammered into their corrupt minds.
One day, as the two inmates pace their enclosed space with increased anxiety, a man whom no one had seen before walks up to the cell and unlocks the door. With the click of the latch, the detainees are free. Though they are at fault for multiple felonies, they are liberated from the prison cell. No charge or fee. No loopholes. Free at last from the confines of the jail they were held captive in. One inmate bursts forth, rushing out of the stale room with overwhelming eagerness to begin a life of emancipation. The other inmate, though, shows hesitation in escaping the room he had grown fond of. Freedom was enticing, but not as comfortable as the prison that he has inhabited for years.
The image I have tried to paint is somewhat related to my recent studies of Romans. I have only read up to Chapter 7 at the moment, but there is still so much to unpack from these few pages! If you haven’t figured it out, this story was meant to show a small representation of Jesus’s offering of freedom. Yes, we are the captives and Jesus is our rescuer, saving us all from certain and deserved death. And what a thing to celebrate! Can we just sit in awe of that for a second?
In Romans 6:18, it says that we have been set free from sin and made slaves to righteousness. The lock has been broken, the door is wide open, and we should dash out from the hold of death and into a life of grace! This seems so simple to me – freedom should result in joyous liberation, far from the cell that held us in for so much time. And maybe some of us have done just that. Still, others remain inside, more comfortable with the life that leads to death rather than an opportunity at a fresh start. Of course, it’s sad to think that the gift of salvation is in front of some, and they still choose not to be released, but let me paint you another picture.
Remember the first prisoner, who ran out the door at the first chance he got? Well, he chose freedom, as many of us have (AMEN), but the thing that many people don’t take into account is that though he is unbound from the shackles of death, the freed man still has the mindset of a prisoner. Just because fatality is no longer a threat does not mean that the first inmate’s mind has transformed. The habits of freedom aren’t ingrained in his new life of liberation. Yet.
As you read further on in this book, though, this is what Paul talks about in Romans 6:11-14 – how to live a transformed life of freedom! This is how God transforms our prisoner minds to that of a freed man.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
Let’s unpack this, shall we?
“Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Just as God counts you alive in Christ Jesus, count yourself as such! See your identity as God sees it. One way I’ve noticed that Satan can get a foothold is to convince others not to count themselves as alive or free. Although we are delivered by the grace of Christ, Satan can fog over the truth with warped lies, attacking our view of ourselves with falsehood. Our identity is victory in Jesus, and the Enemy wants nothing more than to distract us from the fact that he already lost. We already won because Jesus won. Before these few verses, Paul talks about how we are able to participate in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ through baptism. If we have died with Christ, then we live with Christ. And if Jesus defeated death, so have we. Paul, in this sentence, is saying “Hey, look at that. Who you are is free, now BE free.”
“Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness…”
Your mouth, your eyes, your ears, and EVERY part of our body should refrain from fighting in favor of evil. They are weapons, and we must choose to utilize them to disable sin, not encourage it. Offering ourselves to the Enemy is offering ourselves to our own destruction and the demolition of others. The wages of sin is death, and letting Satan use a part of us for his evil purposes only results in ultimate devastation. We are to abstain from being instruments for the losing side.
“offer yourselves to God…”
It is not enough to take away the weapons from sin and wickedness, but now we must offer them to God. Our bodies are now enlisted to services of righteousness. A good example of this can be found in Exodus 29:20, in which the sacrificial blood of a ram is applied to the ear, thumb, and big toe of the person offering up the sacrifice. This blood on the various parts of the body were meant to show that these members belonged to God and were to be used for his glory alone. In the same way (though definitely not literally!), we are called to offer our body as a living sacrifice to God.
“as those who have been brought from death to life…”
When I think about offering myself to God as someone who has been resurrected, immediately I think to myself what all this entails.
- This means we are made new and declared/seen as such.
- Naturally this would bring about an overwhelming sense of gratefulness for new life, leading to genuine worship and giving thanks for liberation.
- Along with gratefulness, humility would be present. Nothing we have done has freed us from the bondage of sin and death. Only by the grace of God are we able live anew.
- And I’ll say it again so the truth will be rooted in your hearts – WE HAVE A PROMISE OF VICTORY. We are able to share in a victory that Jesus won over death!
If we really believe in this victory, we will act in accordance to it. We will not be the prisoner who stayed back behind bars at-will and neither the man that was stuck in the ways of a prisoner’s mentality, even after physical escape. Instead, we will reflect Romans 12:1-2 as warriors of truth and righteousness, living in God’s glorious light.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.