I wrote something in my blog a few days ago which I believe wholeheartedly and am trying each day to remember and change how I think, but also finding really really difficult. It was this.
We are in Jesus. Jesus died and is resurrected therefore we are in Jesus and have died and resurrected too. Sin has been defeated and we are called to act, not as if this will be true someday, but because it is, right now.
I truly believe that to stop those behaviours (and I’m talking more in line with addictions rather than lying or cheating, although it’s true for those as well) in our lives that are hurting us and others then we need to get our minds around this. We need to remember who we are or else we could end up like the Prodigal brothers.
But it’s not easy. Especially if you have found yourself giving in over and over to a behavior which is always there, sometimes quiet but ultimately ready to rear it’s ugly head.
In line with what I wrote yesterday there is a part in Romans 6 which sums up nicely how we are to live.
Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
I say nicely because it all makes sense in fact I would be so far as saying it motivates me to put my trust in God everyday rather than the things which hold me back from truly being alive.
But it gets sticky when at 3am you awake and for some reason you want to look at porn. (There is a pun in there, if you got it shame on you). Or when you decide to give up drinking because you are hurting your family through the way you react to them when you drink but can’t manage to go more than a couple of days dry.
Its verses like the ones above which can be our best friends or can be our most frustrating friends. I get it, I believe it, I just can’t live by it.
And this comes back to my previous post. We spend some of our time thinking through these things without taking serious consideration of their implications. Because when we are told we used to be slaves of sin that is truth. It’s not just some nice theory but it is the reality. We can choose to live because it is true or as if it is true.
Maybe an illustration could help. Continuing with Paul’s theme of slavery imagine a woman who has been trafficked. She has spent her life since she was 6 being told she is free but really is being held against her will. She is told she can stop having sex with strangers anytime she likes but the walls of the small dingy room she is kept in tell another story. She is used to living like this. This is all she knows. As much as she hates it, it is strangely comforting.
Then suddenly she is rescued. She is set free and is even brought out of her prison cell into a safe house. There she is told she doesn’t have to continue degrading herself in front of men and women. She has her own room whose door opens both ways. She has a part to play in her new community which will mean her working but also laughing and enjoying the people around her, helping her live out her new life, protecting her instead of frightening her. She has community and she may even want to at some point help other people just like her. She is shown her new home, meets new people and is ready to settle into her new life. It’s too good to be true but she is free to live.
Then someone knocks on the door of the safe house. To her horror it is one of her former traffickers. She tells the girl she has to return to work. “This is not where she belongs; she is not good enough to be here”, she is told.
She has actually been freed, her new home is here, she has been able to go about as she likes and she has started to see her value.
So she has a choice.
She can stay and continue to live her new life with love and purpose, or she can go back to the brothel and give up her new identity and life.
I say there is a choice but really there isn’t. None of us in our right mind would go back to being trafficked. There is no logical reason for it especially having caught a glimpse of what life is really all about.
But everyday millions of us will choose to go back. We will choose to go back to our old life and sacrifice everything that we have been given. And the reason I think is what Paul is getting at here. We act as if the verses above aren’t real. Maybe we can’t quite believe that something so wonderful could be true or maybe we are just so used to our old life that we have begun to listen to the lies. Either way we act more as if we were the girl being shown around the safe house as she is told “wouldn’t it be great if you could actually live somewhere like this…well now it’s time to go back to being raped.”
Rather Paul is telling us this is your new home. This is your new life. You are free to live here. Sometimes you might feel like there is only one choice. It might seem too much to take and you can’t fight anymore, but this is your new identity.
And just like the two prodigal brothers it’s a case of believing and trusting that God is good and faithful and isn’t lying. It’s a case of believing that we are genuinely welcome back into our own home.
With addictions that have taken control there will be a lot of work. It won’t happen overnight but so often we have started in the wrong place. The good news is better than we imagine it to be despite what we’ve experienced. We’re not just in the show house, we have the keys.
This is our new home.