“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! …do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness.” Rm 6:1-2;12-13
After explaining that salvation has been made possible through Christ, Paul anticipates a thought that would have entered the mind of the Christian, both in his day and today: If salvation is by God’s grace through faith, why worry too much about sinning in satisfying our fleshly desires? Our sins would be forgiven and this would even make God’s grace appear more abundant? The apostle’s answer is most emphatic: “By no means!”. The reasoning that follows is in the context of master-slave relationship which was prevalent in Paul’s days. If I could take the liberty to paraphrase Paul, it is as if he is saying “Who do you think you are?”, (as I asked on Vision Sunday), “don’t you know that if you yield to sin, it will reign in your life and capture you as it’s slave? You have been redeemed by Christ, so, know who you are and offer yourselves to serve God and His righteousness.”
COVID is a virus. A virus can invade a host’s cell by injecting its viral DNA into the latter, and alter the cell chemistry completely to reproduce the virus instead of the host’s protein. The infected cell, full of virus cells, will subsequently burst and release them to invade other cells of the host. The host is subdued to serve the virus, in effect, becoming a slave of the virus until the host eventually dies. That is a good illustration for how sin works in our lives. If not confessed and dealt with by repentance, sin progressively takes control of our lives and multiply inside us, like a virus. This is seen in King David’s situation. He did not deal with his adultery with Bathsheba, pretending it did not exist. This sin caused him to commit the greater sins of treachery and murder. Until he confessed and repented, he was a total slave to sin.
Australia and New Zealand have been doing exceptionally well compared to many other countries in controlling COVID. Much of this achievement can be attributed to the quick and decisive action taken to manage even minor outbreaks, such as what has been happening in Melbourne this past week – total lockdown of the city on account of 13 cases of infection. The virus is just not given the opportunity to spread. Otherwise, what has been happening in the US can occur here, the infection growing quickly to an extent that it dominates us totally.
Rightly so, we place great emphasis on the doctrine of Justification by Faith – a central doctrine of the Gospel. However, the evil one could use this to make us think that, under grace, sin is no big deal, and we can become blasé about repeated sinning and routine confession. The broken spirit and contrite heart (Ps 51:17) that mark true repentance are growing progressively insensitive.
The vaccine for the COVID of sin is not a once-for-all jab, but constant abidance in Christ, as if we are now God’s slave, always ready to do His will for the love of Him because of what Christ has done for us by grace.
I pray that we all have the fear and precautionary attitude towards sin as we do COVID, and desire the vaccine that only the Lord can give.
『這樣，怎麼說呢？我們可以仍在罪中、叫恩典顯多嗎？ 斷乎不可！……不要容罪在你們必死的身上作王，使你們順從身子的私慾。也不要將你們的肢體獻給罪作不義的器具；倒要像從死裡復活的人，將自己獻給神，並將肢體作義的器具獻給神。』羅馬書 6:1-2；12-13
理所當然，我們常常都很著重因信稱義的教義 — 福音的核心教義。不過，魔鬼卻可以利用這個教義，讓我們誤以為在恩典之下，罪沒有甚麼大不了，以致我們容易不斷犯罪，又例行公事地認罪，漸漸地,真悔改所須有那憂傷的靈和痛悔的心(詩51:17)也變得毫無感覺了。