“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:11
I live in the country and spend a lot of time outdoors. One of my activities is clearing brush and keeping it down. The Box Elder is a particularly difficult tree to eradicate. You can cut the entire tree down and it quickly sends up shoots out of the stump. Left alone, it will soon become an even bigger problem than it was to start with. But, with continued effort, it will eventually die. Most trees are not that tough. I was reminded about this from my Puritan devotional this morning. Perhaps you’ll find it interesting. It was from a man named Thomas Brooks (1608-1680).
We do not stand before God in our own righteousness, but in the perfect, spotless, and matchless righteousness of the Lord Jesus. Weak hearts are apt to be troubled and discouraged when they look upon the sin that is in them, and the imperfections that attend their best service.
I’m going to stop there. Now, there seems to be a conflict here between what I might refer to as Romans 7 and Romans 8. The sin that is in us is troubling and discouraging; however, it is the weak heart that gets stuck there. Indeed, there are times that is me. Certainly, we all need to study Romans 7, but we must not stop there. Romans 8 is right next to it.
Yet in Christ we have all. Your sins shall never provoke Christ to give you a bill of divorce. They may provoke him to frown upon you, chide you, correct you, but they will never provoke Christ to give you a bill of divorce. That is a great support that sin shall never separate us from God. It is slain judicially, and is under the sentence of condemnation. It has been sentenced though not fully put to death. The power of it is much abated, and its dominion and tyranny are overpowered. The Lord has stripped sin of all its ruling, reigning, domineering, and tyrannizing power.
So far, so good.
O Christian, look upon sin as dead! It is not to be obeyed, and not to be acknowledged. The Lord Jesus has given sin a mortal wound by his death and Spirit, and by the communication of grace to the soul. Thus sin shall never recover its strength and shall die a lingering death in the souls of the saints. It is like a tree cut at the root with a serious gash, and must die soon. Though for a time it may flourish, it may have leaves and fruit, yet it secretly dies, and will very shortly perish.
This is like the brush at my farm. Some “sin” dies quickly. Other takes more work, maybe even a lot of work. Check out what Brooks says next.
Christ did not die all at once upon the cross, so also the slaying of sin is gradual in the souls of the saints. Christ has given sin such a mortal blow, it will never recover. We may truly say that it is slain. Therefore, cheer up O weak souls, for certainly sin that is thus slain can never provoke Jesus Christ to give you a bill of divorce. Ah! That all weak Christians would be like a bee: to abide upon those sweet flowers and gather honey out of them.
Therefore, it’s a matter of perspective, isn’t sit? So, even though I am flabbergasted by the stubbornness of my sin, I have reason to rejoice. Why? Because I am witnessing the writhing of sin that was delivered a mortal wound from Jesus himself. That sin that seems so alive is actually dying. I can definitely rejoice in that, can’t I?
James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Steadfast. That means “resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.” It’s a matter of perspective. It’s a choice.
Thank you, Father.
“Voices from the Past: Volume I. Puritan Devotional Readings” Edited by Richard Rushing 2009 by The Banner of Truth Trust
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers