This morning I read through the Book of Romans and began to meditate on chapter 6, especially verses 12 to 14. This brought to remembrance a message I had heard by Tony Evans years ago. Tony compared the situation of American slaves to our own former bondage to sin.
A vast number of Civil-War-era slaves, though declared free, continued to live on, bound to the only life they knew. Many stayed on the plantations and worked for their masters. To them, slavery was all they knew and understood; freedom was a stranger, a foreign concept. But some brave souls decided to leave, and a few embraced their new-found freedom. Talk about a scary and risky undertaking, leaving behind the life you’ve always known. And the environment of those times did not easily accept the freed slave.
In Romans 6:12-14 (and really the whole chapter), Paul tells a similar story about us as believers. Only, we haven’t just been declared free, we’ve been transformed into a new creature with freedom to live for God. The Holy Spirit slips into the believer’s life to instigate and manage these changes. It may not seem evident at first because we appear to remain shackled to our old habits, our old manner of life. According to Romans 6, the shackles have been loosed. We can begin living as free men. I don’t take Paul’s language and reasoning as symbolic. Do you? This isn’t a paradigm shift or some positive thinking mantra. What do you think? It’s not just a theological or legal transaction–correct?
Buy why do I still sin? I hope I’m not the only believer asking that question. The question’s a good one, because it truly indicates something has happened within our soul and spirit. However, this also shows that things take time to change–it’s a process.
But how much time? Why is it that some believers receive almost instant release from a habit or addiction and some seem to struggle for longer periods? Can our transition to holy living be sped up? If so, how do we affect our rate of growth? I know we can’t boast about our efforts, but what part do we play to become more like Christ?
I would really love to hear your ideas and answers to the questions above. Please share your insights about spiritual growth and what God has shown you.