The Physical Nature of Faith
Rom. 6:12 Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
The Apostle Paul was convinced that Christians could be radically transformed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Sin was often manifest in the actions of people and in this case, in terms of sexual behaviors. He believed that faith in Jesus Christ would result in a change in human behavior.
Theodoret of Cyr described the relationship to sin in the flesh as either one of tyranny or the reign of righteousness. The point is that a tyrant rules without the consent of the people, but a monarch reigns when the subjects agree to and supports their rule. Sin tries to rule us as a tyrant, while Christ can rule in our hearts and lives and set us free. This includes freedom from sin in the flesh which is a manifestation of our faith.
We have been set free and do not have to live as slaves to our flesh because of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. This reveals the physical nature of our faith and his victory becomes our victory, creating a pathway which we can follow that will lead us to him.
There have been spiritual movements throughout time that have preached this message of freedom from sin and the ways in which our faith is revealed in our physical lives. When this message is preached and kept in balance it results in transformation which leads to freedom from the bondage of sin in the flesh. There have been times when the emphasis in preaching has been ill placed and a works theology has developed. Suddenly people think that they have to try and be perfect before ever coming to Christ and when they fail they give up in frustration.
Because of this frustration there have been times when Christianity has swung in the opposite direction focusing primarily on grace. The result is that everything becomes permissible and no longer is there a focus on the victory which Jesus provides.
Statistics tell us that far too much is going on within the walls of the church than we would care to admit. Pornography is a problem. Divorce is a problem. Sexual immorality is a problem. Extramarital affairs are a problem. Sex outside of marriage is a problem. These were issues in Paul’s day and they continue to be problems today. If we believe the message of Paul, that there is a very physical nature to our faith, then the ways in which we live our lives on a daily basis will be a reflection of our life with Christ. These are words of encouragement from Paul. We don’t have to live as slaves to the tyrant ruler of sin. We can be set free — and this happens when we seek the face of God. This is when we present ourselves as living sacrifices wholly available to Jesus Christ who then, comes with his transforming power and helps us live victoriously. However, this only happens when we assent to the rule of Christ in our lives.
Faith is not just a mental activity, but will result in a change in our physical lives. There’s no more time for excuses. We need to seek Christ and his transforming power which can help to set us free now. Slavery to sin need not exist in our lives.
Lord, please help me to live in the power of your Spirit. Amen.
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