Recently I was talking with a friend about sin. He told me that he attended a Christian high school that had a very strict set of rules. The need for this strict code of conduct, the school reasoned, was so that through discipline and habit the students would form a Godly character. From a logical and human perspective this seems to make sense. The problem is it isn’t Biblical.
Now don’t get me wrong, I believe we need rules and discipline, just ask my boys! But the problem is that rules have never made anyone righteous. In fact the Bible is very clear that the law (the 10 commandments etc.) only succeeded in proving that we weren’t righteous and weren’t capable of righteousness through our own efforts. Check out Romans 3:20. In fact while you’re at it you should read the whole of chapter 3.
The school, and many of us, had it backwards. Godly character produces righteous acts not the other way around. This brings us to a crucial question: if by faith in Jesus I have a new nature – his nature, why do I still sin at times? I used to read Romans 6:11-14 and get very frustrated. It says that I should not let sin reign in my life and to not offer body as a tool to sin. So I would get determined that I would follow the rules and inevitably, usually sooner rather than later I failed.
The problem is that I neglected to read the rest of verse 13 and 14. It says to instead offer yourself to God as a tool of righteousness, and in doing so sin shall not master me. The point is that if I try to shape my nature by my actions I will fail at both. But if I focus on allowing God to form in me the nature of Christ, which by grace through faith already dwells within me, that nature will naturally and progressively be expressed through me in righteous acts.
It’s that simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. To do that requires that I submit my will to God. Not just in general, but my dreams, and goals, my passions and interests, my career, my finances, my leisure, my family. Everything! But don’t panic. God takes us a step at a time. Just start by asking God to make you aware of Jesus’ passions within you. I think you will find the first passion will be to know him better.