At one point I found myself reading through Paul’s book of Romans. I confess that I haven’t been there for quite a while and upon revisiting especially chapters 6-12 I have been halted for further contemplation.
The first week found me intrigued by Chapter six and pondering the marvelous grace of God yet the warning (in Paul’s fashion) to not take advantage of it! With an aire of sarcasm he says, “what shall we say then? and, what then?” several times to get our attention. Followed by the phrase, “may it never be!” Below are some of his well known quips to help us understand that by God’s grace our sins are covered but not so that we can continue in sin but so that we can be free from the bondage of sin. (From NASB)
:1,2 “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”
:12-14 “There fore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts…but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.”
:15 “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!”
I like the wrap here. Paul says that we are to be obedient from the heart. God knows the heart doesn’t He. We can’t hide a thing from Him. We can ‘do’ all the right stuff we want but unless our heart’s motive is pure it doesn’t mean nothing.
One of my weaknesses is dealing with the issue of food and how it affects my body. I honestly enjoy food and the tastes it has to offer. But, I have struggled with weight issues even as a kid and since my early 30’s. It is a struggle but over the years I am working on taking off the poundage I have acquired along the way.
In later years as part of my weekly ritual of being involved in a prayer and worship night on Tuesdays, I would fast. I believe in fasting and it really is an incredible thing when done with a pure motive, but I have done it with and without pure motives. When the Lord spoke to me one morning as I was preparing to begin my fast (sometimes no food, sometimes fruit, or sometimes no evening meal) He simply said to my spirit that I was really fasting to maintain my weight instead of to seek and draw closer to Him liked I tried to maintain. This was a real slap because I had reasoned it out that I was doing a very godly thing by denying my food for the day. To have my Father tell me that it has many times been for the wrong reasons was like, well, getting busted. I was rather amazed at how this ‘good’ thing became sin because I was not doing it for its original intent. So how could Kimberly, who died to sin still live in it? How contrived we can become!
Well, the lesson here is that I need to check my reasons for doing what I do. I was doing a good thing that became a tool to help keep my weight in check and to ‘look good’ or impress those who observed my denial. Wrong motive! I was so embarrassed by the obvious game I was playing with myself and God that I have been very hesitant to fast since then and I don’t very often as a matter of fact. I know that God has forgiven me and really, I am grateful He did! I was becoming enslaved to sin. And here is the beauty of God’s amazing grace, by my own admission of that sin, God has gently corrected me and helped me to move beyond it so that when I do fast it truly is for the right reasons. God is glorified when I am operate out of obedience and a desire to present myself as a living sacrifice. I still have a long way to go in regard to my eating issues as I learn to eat to live and not live to eat but that is just part of the process that I am going through to be more Christ-like.
Here is the basis of my gleaning in Romans six:
obedience = righteousness (right standing with God)
righteousness = sanctification (set apart for God)
sanctification = eternal life (to be forever with my King)
Chapter six concludes beautifully stating that we have been freed from sin, and enslaved to God (whom we willing serve with a pure heart) with the outcome of our obedience being eternal life.
Lord, I thank you for your amazing grace that sets us free from the life we live in sin. This process that we must endure hurts especially when the truth is pointed out and we have been living enslaved to something that doesn’t glorify You. I love the final verse of chapter six where Paul tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I don’t understand it all completely but I am getting a glimpse the picture and I just ask that You would continue to show me when I am not serving You with a pure heart. I love You Father and I want Your smile when You look at me and I love what Paul Young put in his book “The Shack” when he wrote of You saying that You are particularly fond of that one.” May ‘that one’ be me!
Love, Your girl!