Has Grace set me free from sinning?
Oh, how I wished that it were so! However, I am in a body of flesh and blood that does not stop craving for things that are harmful. I can and do taste what is harmful, but if I swallow it, I end up with indigestion. Then, if I continue with this deception, it becomes my master, and I it’s slave. I was six years old when I nearly choked on a cigarette and I never smoked again. I was sixteen or seventeen, when a neighbor gave me a harmless mickey and it knocked me out for hours. After that, I would spit out the poison, and my companions wondered why I did not become intoxicated. When I was old enough to date, I was often tempted, but someone kept me from making a fool of myself. I was not any better or smarter than the other lads my age, but I had parents who prayed for me and warned me of the consequences promiscuity causes. Someone was answering my mother’s prayers and kept me from engaging in worldly pleasures. The same temptations continued when I became a Christian by definition, a pastor by training and ordination, and a retiree with time on my hands to get into mischief. The belief that Christ had paid for all sins, has led many to fall for “Adam’s Apple” that caused Adam his expulsion from Eden. It is no different from trampling on the “Kingdom of God” here on earth.
So, Who sets Me Free from Sinning?
Early in my life, I learned that I was getting into things all by myself! And that I also managed to get out of my troubles, which I had caused. There were times, when I had to turn to my parents for help, and my mother was more gracious than my father. Mistakes became valuable lessons for my future actions. I seldom escaped punishment for my harmful misbehavior. Mistakes are sins and they are costly, and even embarrassing. I had to take control of myself! And I had to stop my mind from wandering after the forbidden fruit, of which the world has so much of (Matthew 5:27-30).
Being a Christian, and even a minister, I kept on making mistakes. And I also hoped and prayed that the Lord would come to my aid. He sent Paul to give me this answer, “You are reaping what you sowed” (Galatians 6:7). God, the Heavenly Father, sent His Son to show me that God cannot leave “His Holiness” and follow his child, who deliberately muddied itself in the world. The “Prodigal Son” had to come back on his own father! And he also had to accept his father’s way of receiving him back into the family (Luke 15:11-24). This parable has been especially meaningful to my ministry. For I, too, was dependent on people like the older brother, who kept the Churches intact for the delinquents to come back to. I, too, once belonged to the people of the good son, and I could help others in need. Then the World War II stripped us of our source of bread, and we too became like the prodigal. Only, we could not go back home! We had to restart our lives among strangers. It was while I lived among these strangers, that I needed a moral harness to protect my life. There is no doubt, in my mind, that I did have help from heaven (James 4:1-10; Ephesians 6:10-20).
While I am in the Body, I am Responsible for what I Do
Sin is no mystery, nor is evil! I was not born with sin! Nor was sin handed down to me by Adam and Eve or by my parents. Sin began in me when my heart and my mind began to concoct ways and means how to satisfy my desire. I decide whether to do good or do evil and no one else! That was what the Lord (Yahweh) said to Cain — to me, and to you. It was what Jesus said to his disciples, so did his brother James, his disciple John, and his Apostle Paul.
If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it (Genesis 4:7).
But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:28).
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man (person) (Matthew 15:28-29; Mark 7:20-23).
Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted with evil and He himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he/she is lured and enticed by his/her own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death (James 1:12-15)
This is the message we have heard from him (Jesus) and proclaim to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us (I John 1:5-10).
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, among whom you also once walked, when you lived in these things. But now put away all these: anger, wrath, ma.lice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator (Christ) (Colossians 3:5-10).
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions (desires). Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but yield yourselves to God as men who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under the law but under grace (Romans 6:12-14).
Who Has Dominion over My Sins?
Sin is a product of man! And it is man who must control his desire to sin. Grace is like a double edged sword. The time that has been granted to me to live, on this planet, is a gift of grace from the Creator. But to live and to build relationships on earth, which will count in heaven, I must equip myself with “grace!” And it is “grace” that is the most powerful agent to control sin. Grace offers a lifestyle, which cuts sin in the bud when sin begins to show his ugly head. Grace does not condemn a person who stumbles; rather, it is “grace” that seeks to restore the sinner from his falling. I do not live under “grace” but I live in “grace” with one eye on my behavior toward sin, and with the other eye on my neighbor’s condition. It is the Law (The Ten Commandments), which keeps me from transgressing and “grace” helps when I do. That was why Paul quickly added an explanation regarding, “living under grace”. Under the Law I/we obey, but under “grace” I/we do what needs to be done and become a law unto ourselves.
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once yielded your members to iniquity and to greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification (Romans 6:15-19).
Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart; they have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness. You did not so learn Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus. Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore, putting away falsehood let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:17-32).