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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Romans 6:12–23          

Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone 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, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, 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 presented your members as slaves to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness for sanctification. When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. So what advantage did you then get from the things of which you now are ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NRSV)

Reflection
This passage has a lot to say about sin and the ways we’re bound to it—as if we needed any reminder of how broken we are. And yet it’s true. However, if I were to rework Paul’s words to make it more understandable today, I would talk about how, as people, we’re influenced by the world around us whether we want to be or not. We are socialized to learn and repeat the systemic sins of the past. It’s not just that we’re bound to individual sins where we can make a choice to change; we’re bound by macro-level sin in community. So, it’s not our fault, but it is our problem. Paul’s point today, though, is not how broken the world is, but God’s profound grace.

When sin in the world is so overwhelming, remember God’s amazing gift! No matter what, God loves us. Before we can even make sense of sin, God’s love is there first. When we’re confused and lost about how to work for the common good in the world, God’s love and grace is there, fueling us forward, empowering us to keep trying again. How awesome! Therefore, let’s live into the tension of this messy world knowing that we mess up, we consistently learn how to mess up, and God’s grace holds us and moves us toward goodness in the world. Hallelujah!

Prayer
Loving One, help us feel your grace. Let it permeate our hearts so that we may respond with love in this world. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Written by Abbi Heimach-Snipes, Pastoral Resident


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