November 30, 2014

Changing the default setting

At one time I thought that because all sin is forgiven, then I am free to do whatever I please. It didn’t take long to figure out that if what I wanted to do did not fit with the will of God, then it was sin, and sin puts me in bondage – every time.

Applying this to the Christian mind, I cannot be free if I believe lies, but am held in bondage to fantasy and falsehood. My mind is only free if I believe the truth, which strongly implies that freedom means obedience to the truth. That is, if I really believe it, then there are no other options but to follow it.

Paul must have heard the same rationale about freedom, for he wrote this: “Are we to 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 who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”

I don’t have to be too wide-awake to realize that once I give in to believing lies, I begin to sin. And once I give in to sin, it leads to more of it. Without Christ, I’d be a slave to all sorts of selfish and sinful behavior. With Christ, there is a way out.

Paul describes that way: “For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.”

Everyone is a slave to something. I’ve quoted David Foster Wallace before. He didn’t know Christ, but he did understand a vital truth: “Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship… is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough… Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you… Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is… they’re unconscious. They are default settings.”

He is right. I need to pay attention all the time about what I choose as my master. If it is pleasing myself with whatever I might fancy, I will never get enough, will never be satisfied. However, if it is Christ, I also cannot get enough, not because He does not satisfy, but because there is no end to the riches that are in Him. Not only that, He offers freedom. He said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31–32)

Paul ended his words (above) with this: “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:15–23)

Wallace never found out that there is a way to change the default setting. We cannot do it, but faith in the Lord Jesus Christ changes everything. Instead of being stuck with sin, He sets me free to worship and serve Him. What a warm and wonderful thought for a cold and snowy day! 

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