Romans 6 and its themes of “dead to sin, alive to Christ” constitute a compelling look at the tension we feel between our old nature and our redeemed nature. We live with the knowledge that we are “crucified with Christ” but that we also would tend to return to our old sin natures without claiming the righteousness imputed to us through the cross. This distinction is important to remember as we get tripped up easily, and when we are asking God to change us (with jubilee principles or in any other way), we are wise to think about what part of change is dependent on grace and what part requires our effort or our disciplines to line us up to see, apprehend and then act on that grace.
The apostle Paul does a particularly good job of reminding us that there always exists a mysterious dichotomy between the part of sanctification that is our part vs. the part that is God’s part. Romans 6, in verses 11 to 13, reads “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.”
Those lines that read “…do not let sin reign…” and “…do not offer the parts of your body to sin…” came to my mind this week when I was thinking about something dumb I did one time. I was at a party with older people. I was about 30; the rest of the folks were in their 50s. We had cocktails at one house, and then we were going to move on to a dinner elsewhere. All the women drew sheet music out of a big bin, and then the men drew sheet music out of another bin. When we found the man with the same music, we “got to” drive to the next phase of the party with him. And “my guy” was drunk. He wasn’t drooling or falling down, but he had visibly crossed over a line. And I took a deep breath and got in the car with him. Because it would have been awkward to make a scene, or not please the hostess, or for some other dumb-ass reason.
So I was thinking how much that’s metaphorically like “letting sin reign” or “offering the parts of your body to sin.” It’s handing the wheel to the wrong driver. We do it all the time in our lives, in big and small ways. I did it literally with a drunk driver. It’s the opposite, I’d say, of that Carrie Underwood song, “Jesus Take the Wheel.”
The only advantages I can think of to my brief drive with the older intoxicated man are that it gave me a spiritual metaphor and it gave me ground to talk to my children about how even grown-ups feel peer pressure (and should take the keys!).