What a Ghastly Thought!

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:14 ESV)

In 1824, Peru won its freedom from Spain. Soon after, Simon Bolivar, the general who had led the liberating forces, called a convention for the purpose of drafting a constitution for the new country. After the convention, a delegation approached Bolivar and asked him to become their first president. Bolivar declined, saying that he felt someone else deserved the honor more than he did. But the people still wanted to do something special for Bolivar to show their appreciation for all he had done for them, so they offered him a gift of a million pesos, a very large fortune in those days.

Bolivar accepted the gift and then asked, “How many slaves are there in Peru?” He was told there were about three thousand. “And how much does a slave sell for?” he wanted to know. “About 350 pesos for an able-bodied man,” was the answer. “Then,” said Bolivar, “I will add whatever is necessary to this million pesos you have given me and I will buy all the slaves in Peru and set them free. It makes no sense to free a nation, unless all its citizens enjoy freedom as well.”

It didn’t make sense in 1824 and doesn’t make sense in 2015. Why free us from the penalty of sin (through the cross) and not free us from the power of sin? Paul had similar concerns.

Paul again affirms the truth—we are not under law but under grace. What does this mean? Let me illustrate. The law says, “The speed limit is 65 mph.” And since the law says this is the speed limit, if you go 66 mph you have broken the law. The state trooper pulls you over, points out that you were driving 66 mph. He can give you a ticket. Instead, he instructs you to slow down, gives you a warning, and you go. That’s grace. Now let me paraphrase what Paul is saying: “Speeding shall not be master over you, because you are not under the rule of the speed limit, when you are pulled over, you will receive grace.”

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! (Romans 6:15 ESV) Some translations render that, “What a ghastly thought!”

What then? Should I drive 75 mph because, when I get pulled over for breaking the law I will not be given a ticket? May it never be! Or, as we discovered last week, of course not! What a ghastly thought! God forbid!

Sin: An Enemy Worthy of A Savior

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.  Matthew 1:18-25 (ESV)

When God first promised Ahaz that he would give him a sign that his enemies would no longer threaten him, the sign came through a baby whose name would be Immanuel. God’s answer for Ahaz’s enemies wasn’t a military attack or even a military leader. His plan was the promise of His presence.

When God told Joseph to marry Mary, God informed Joseph of his tactical assault on sin: “She will bear a son, and they shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” The first immanuel was born to remind Ahaz that God could handle his most dreaded enemies; the second Immanuel was born to show Joseph (and us) that God can handle our most threatening enemy–sin.

How does God do it? Immanuel. God could have blown sin off the map from His vantage point in Heaven. Rather, he came down and became one of us, walked among us, and now lives in us to daily eradicate sin in our lives. He is Immanuel.

What is your most significant sin struggle today? If you’ve trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, He’s Immanuel. He is with you and He is for you. Turn to Him today. When sin comes knocking at the door of your heart, send Jesus to answer the door!