For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
I read a book by an occultist years ago (when I was lost) describing how to overcome “undesirable” habits. I will not mention the book or the author by name, for they are hardly worthy of mention, praise, or glory. But I will mention the view they purported because it is actually quite popular even outside the circles of the occult.
In this book, the author demonstrated a way for an individual to overcome an “undesirable” habit (being full of sin, the author would not call anything sinful, but would settle for the position that something might be undesirable), in this case an addiction to drugs. The basic solution involved keeping a journal of desires, abuses, and incidences, as well as physically cutting oneself whenever one gave themselves over to indulgence. By this means, a person could “train” themselves out of their tendencies, habits, and/or addictions.
The condition in which I read this book was this: I was both blind and dead. I thought the book and its author made a strong case and was on to something. Fortunately, I never tried the technique on my own sin, perhaps because as with the author I did not see any of my undesirable habits as sin. They were habits or tendencies that I mostly enjoyed. Even if sometimes they worried me-that they might be a little beyond my control–mostly I believed I was in control of them and not vice-versa.
Now I will say that there are two elements to this “solution” to “undesirable” habits that might appear at first to be Christian. The first is the concept of “taking every thought captive”. The second “of mortifying the flesh”. However, outside of the grace we have in Christ, even those things that for us can be helpful apart from Christ are as a curse. Indeed, the very law of Moses is a perfect example. The two elements I mention here were twisted into something abominable under the hand of man.
I am not entirely certain why God brought this to my mind today, but He did and along with it He offered this wisdom:
The more you try to own your sin, the more your sin owns you.
Anyone who “owns” a house and carries a “mortgage” knows and understands this principle. As long as you are able to make your mortgage payment, you may continue to live in your house and even enjoy it. However, it is possible to become a slave to a house because of the mortgage. When one must give up other things they enjoy–be it time, hobbies, careers, or whatever–because of the demand of that regular house payment, that house that someone “owns” may seem more to “own” them. And should someone lose their means of provision (regardless of the reason) and be unable to make those payments, that house that may once have seemed to provide so much opportunity for enjoyment may seem in fact as a curse. And given enough time, the promise of shelter and pleasure therein will be taken from that person who once thought they “owned” it.
Sin is the house many people live in. In fact, you can read the paragraph above and substitute the word “sin” for “house” I think, and not miss much by way of example.
Here is the lesson: We do not have the power within us make the mortgage for our sin.
The wages of sin are death. How can we hope to buy life when the payment we receive from the ownership of our sin is nothing but death. There is no hope in us to overcome, and this is why any system of “obedience” or “training” that relies on the effort of man (as that which I described above) instead of the work of Christ is destined from the start to fail. We are absolutely and completely incapable of overcoming our own sin by owning it. As long as we hold onto it, it will drag as down to very depths of the pit.
Jesus Christ, the one and only begotten Son of God, came to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. In Him, we have the hope of recovery, of redemption, and even His righteousness. But we must admit–to both ourselves, and to our Prince of Peace–that we are completely incapable, completely culpable, and desperately in need of His mercy. He laid down His life as a perfect sacrifice for us. We do not deserve the gift of grace He extends to us. Nor we can accept it as long as we hold on to what often takes its place.
Shall we hold on to sin or to the Savior? If we choose to own the former, then we not only own its consequences in this life, but we will owe the mortgage when it is due. However, should we lay our sins before Him–a bitter and unworthy sacrifice, bringing Him our sins for His righteousness–then we shall not only find freedom through Him in this life, but everlasting life through His promise that we will not perish.
So the question is, who owns your sins? And who will pay their price? Or, perhaps better stated: Who owns you?
Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
Rom 6:2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
Rom 6:3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
Rom 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Rom 6:5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,
Rom 6:6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;
Rom 6:7 for he who has died is freed from sin.
Rom 6:8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
Rom 6:9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.
Rom 6:10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
Rom 6:11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Rom 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,
Rom 6:13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
Rom 6:14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Rom 6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!
Rom 6:16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
Rom 6:17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,
Rom 6:18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
Rom 6:19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
Rom 6:20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
Rom 6:21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.
Rom 6:22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Peace & Blessings,