What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:1-4 ESV
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed John 8:31-36 ESV
Harriet Tubman was a slave in the United States who escaped and found freedom, and she became a leader in the underground railroad, helping other slaves escape. Even though it was very risky for her, she returned to the American South 19 times in ten years and helped over 300 slaves escape to freedom, one time to help her own parents escape, even though they were 70 years old at the time. Sometimes people who were escaping slavery would become afraid, or tired of the dangerous journey. They sometimes even wanted to go back, which would have been terrible for them and would have put other escaping slaves in serious danger. Harriet Tubman carried a gun, which she sometimes used to threaten people who were escaping to keep on with their journey. “You’ll be free or die!” she would say.
Paul didn’t try to threaten people with a gun not to turn back to a life of slavery to sin, but he did write to the Romans that it was foolish and wrong for people who had died to sin to want to go on living in sin. Some people thought that since Jesus had died to pay for all the sins of the world, and since God through his loving grace is always ready to forgive sin, then it really doesn’t matter how Christians live. They thought it was okay to keep on sinning just to let God do his work of forgiving! But Paul said that when we are baptized, we die with Jesus, and are buried with him, and are raised to a new life. This is very real, and it means that we die to the power of sin in our lives and live following God’s ways instead of our old ways of rebellion and wrong.
Dying to sin doesn’t mean that we never sin again, or never need God’s forgiveness. We need it every day, and God always gives us his grace because of what Jesus has done for us. But we also have the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us turn away from sin, and this is another gift we need every day. It is foolish and wrong to turn away from this gift and continue to live a life of sin without wanting to change and follow Jesus. The Lord is always with us to help us and forgive us and give us the strength to follow him and live the new life he has given us.
Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us for the times we turn away from the new life you’ve given us in Jesus. Help us to follow and love you always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.