“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”Romans 5:20-21
I recently visited a historical village near where I was living. It had a nice arrangement of a house, church, courthouse, schoolhouse, boat-building barn, blacksmith building, and a general store, as well as a handful of additional accessory buildings, all located on a 6-8 acre plot of land. In each building, care had been taken to try to include period furnishings where possible. In the house, there were many objects connected to each representative member of a family of that day. It is amazing to think that this house and its contents were all that were needed to live in that time. They didn’t need an elaborate kitchen with granite countertops, track lighting, and stainless-steel appliances. No climate-control systems that can be monitored and regulated by a phone on another continent were needed. In fact, in the time of this village, phones were almost nonexistent. Yet everyone managed to get along somehow, through lean times or plenty.
But there was one aspect open for innovation and improvement—the washday. It was an all-day event and nobody really enjoyed it. It was, without a doubt, hard work. This house had the classic wash-bin, washboard, and wringer. An iron kettle of water had to be heated over an open fire. Each article had to be scrubbed clean on a washboard. Then everything had to be run through the wringer (watch your fingers!), rinsed, and back it went through the wringer. Next, they hung everything on the line to dry. And finally, they had to iron most of the items with an iron weighing almost as much as half of a bundle of clothes itself! As a result, the advent of the washing machine was generally a welcome sight.
How does Jesus fit in with all of this?
His sacrifice at the Cross atoned (made complete payment) for all of the sins of mankind (past, present and future). When we accept Him into our hearts, we are baptized with Him in His death. Our old sin-destined self dies with Him in the tomb, and our new self is born in connection with His resurrection. Therefore, old sinful self is now dead. To begin again right where we were before Christ set us free essentially makes us a dead person walking. You can’t be completely dead and completely alive at the same time! We can’t go back and live in sin again, and then take all of our sin-soiled garments to the ‘Heavenly Laundromat,’ and throw them into the ‘Jesus washing machine’ expecting Him to make us spotless all over again. You might ask, “Doesn’t God forgive us each time we sin and make us clean and whole inside?” Yes, He does, when we ask Him to. But He also expects us to repent of these sins (all of our sins, actually). That means we are to turn and go in the opposite direction, and not regularly continue to do them.
Many stand firmly on the ground that Jesus completely fulfilled the Law of God set forth in the early part of the Bible, and we are now free of the requirement to obey it. Therefore, we can now do what we want to, essentially meaning we can freely sin, because His grace will carry us through. In fact, today the whole concept of sin is even considered to have been eliminated through His sacrifice on the Cross. Sadly, this is where we give the Devil his ‘wiggle’ room. When Jesus fulfilled the Law, He did not abolish it.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”Matthew 5:17
His fulfillment of it made it possible for us to now fulfill the Law through Him. But it was (and is) impossible for us to fulfill the entire Law, which is what we would have to do in order to be right with God. Christ never eliminated the ability to sin or the penalty of our sin. This same group that stands firmly on fulfillment also believes that God’s grace enables us to freely sin, because His grace is always greater. Once again, the Devil uses this as leverage to keep us in bondage. God’s grace has to be greater than all of our sins, otherwise God would not be God, and the work Jesus did on the Cross would be nullified.
As the prince of this world, the Devil is definitely a tough taskmaster, but if he could be god of all, the horrible result would be totally unthinkable!
Our ultimate goal should be to stop thinking that Jesus Christ is our ticket to do whatever we want. We may think, “Hey, it’s okay. I might look dirty now, but I’ll just drop these dirty clothes in the ‘Jesus washing machine’ and everything will be all right!” Acting this way means that we don’t want to let go of our sins, that self is still in charge, not Jesus. We want all of the benefits of being in Christ’s care, and at the same time, all of the pleasures of being in the world, or in the Devil’s care.
When we do that, our interests in the pleasures of this world will automatically begin to fade. What was ‘fun’ before will be appalling, and the things of God that seemed ‘boring’ before we’ll find enjoyable. When a couple gets married, they cannot then go their own separate ways as if they had never married, and expect their relationship to prosper. The same is applicable when we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts. We must yield to Him in our relationship with Him if we want complete victory and happiness.