October 6, 2014

Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

These two verses express the theme of the whole chapter. The whole concept of God’s grace is so radical to human thinking that this clear exposition is very necessary. Even today there are churches that seem never to have read this chapter! Actually, the whole letter to the Romans is poison to hedonists, who focus on physical pleasure above all else. Hedonism is a popular, even much-admired lifestyle today. Many envy the “lifestyles of the rich and famous,” not realizing the existential emptiness underlying it all. It’s not even like a calf in a feed lot, being fattened for the kill, because the calf doesn’t have its eternal destiny hanging in the balance. Jesus did not save us to leave us wallowing in the muck, He saved us to wash us off, clean us up, and get us living as God our Father intended us to. Anything less is a perversion of His grace. As John wrote in his letters, that doesn’t mean we don’t stumble at times, or even fall face down in the mud, but it does mean that we aren’t at all happy to stay down, and we turn to God for cleaning any time, and as soon as, it happens. The more immediate and heart-felt that response is, the less likely we are to fall again.

As I am reminded from time to time, it was liberating for me to realize that when I repented and asked for forgiveness, I really was forgiven, and the sin was off of my record, so to speak. (2 Peter 1:9) As a pastor I deal with people all the time who hang up on that point, unable to forgive themselves and so refusing the forgiveness God offers through the cross of Christ. “But I don’t deserve to be forgiven.” None of us do. When we refuse to forgive ourselves, if we have repented, then we are placing ourselves above God. (Hebrews 8:12, quoting Jeremiah 31:34) We have such trouble believing that! The Japanese have trouble with the whole concept of forgiveness in the first place, for various linguistic and cultural reasons, and that is a major barrier to their salvation. They don’t want to abandon their traditions because they don’t believe that real forgiveness is possible. I am not to give up, but I pray for Japanese evangelists, who have come out of that mindset and so understand it, to be raised up in quantity as harvest workers. Meanwhile, my task is to equip those who have been saved so that they may be more effective as Christ’s representatives, destroying the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) and drawing people into God’s family.

Father, thank You for Your grace. Help me walk in it more fully myself, and help me be more effective in leading others to do so as well. May we be Your agents indeed, so that Your name may be hallowed and Your kingdom come, as Your will is done for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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