Rm6v1-2 Paul's 'By no means' a call to shed our misunderstanding of sin. Why would you ask if you're allowed to put the old self back on? Why would you ask if it's okay to go back to the false reactive damaged self if you recognised that this is what has been put to death? Why would you ask if it's okay to stay inside illusions & defense mechanisms & an anxious enslaved way if being in the world, if you understood that this is what you had been freed from? Taste & see.
Rm6v3-4 Shall we carry on sinning? No, obvs. But it's not obvs. Because your definition of sin has to change. I am trying to move my own understanding from:
- Sin-is-naughtiness and Grace-is-an-alibi
- Sin-is-a-code and Grace-is-a-hack
- Sin-was-a-system and Grace-is-a-revolution.
- Sin-was-a-microcosm and Grace-is-a-tidalwave
Fundamentally: *Grace is bigger than Sin*
It makes sense to carry on sinning, if it is a get-out-of-jail card within a code of sin, a glitch that would allow us to game the system, to get one over on our fellow sinners. As if a small God had introduced a patch into a system bigger than him. In our experience sin is a total system, a zero-sum whole, a hegemonic paradigm. Sin is all we know. So, shall we carry on sinning? No. Not because you oughtn't but because you needn't.
And the language here on new birth is vital:
~Grace is not free cocaine offered to one with a prenatal coke addiction. Grace is a cure, it is a new appetite, for a higher high.
~Grace is not good money after bad to one with unmanageable inherited debt. Grace is the collapse of a debt based banking system.
~Grace is not flattery to those insecure, raised on lies and unreasonable expectations. Grace is a bulletproof new identity.
You're a new soul, in a new and strange world. And so, you're in all kinds of trouble now, the kind where you wake up on a train and everything, everything’s strange.
Rm6v5-6 Meditating on hiding this week I realise that the theology of the cross I have assimilated or myself mangled in the past is one of trying to hide from God using Jesus. This mechanism of hiding from God has to be broken, it is grounded on the same denial & fear as every other kind of hiding from God. It is an unstable theology leading to anxiety. So listen to Paul, dear heart, he repeats the mystery of the cross: Jesus does not 'stand between' you & an angry God, Jesus does not trick God into thinking you're better than you are, when all the while you continue to know your own dirty truth. Jesus does not 'hide' your sin in this sense. Rather, Jesus offers union with himself, just as you are. Through union with Christ, the old self of sin is exposed to be (actually) put to death with Christ, & a new self, which can (actually) stand before God is resurrected with. For v8 we live WITH Christ. This theology will save my life. I believe, Lord, help thou my unbelief, purge the ghosts of a bad theology of a cross & bring me into your glorious new creation.
Rm6v7-8 'Has been set free!' Matrix analogies breakdown, but I'm really fixated right now on this idea of sin as a system, a closed, bounded subset of reality, a construct of lies, and its greatest coup is convincing us that it is all, that sin is all and that there is nothing outside of it. Sin, a state of incurvatus in se, has even convinced itself of its own totality, death is its trump card, holding us to hostage. Death is the mirrored black wall of our cell, the precipice that holds us compliant in sin's system. With Christ we plunge through death, we drop off sin's radar, outside of sin's domain. With Christ we are nursed back to health. With Christ we live on the basis of another system, the wide open real world. And from that we plug back in ~ in but not of the Matrix, to dismantle the sin city from the inside..
I am also interested as our own paradigm as a system of restriction in the same way in which society creates/sun create our paradigm, and we find it hard to break free. We take the normal academic route because it's safe, because we worry of hitting into sin. When we need to learn to set ourselves free, creativity, on our own path finically (self employed), love life (our own decisions from the heart rather than from friends or family), making decisions is about breaking with paradigms
It reminds me of what I read on Desiring God's Solid Joys devotional today: Resist him, firm in your faith. (1 Peter 5:9) The two great enemies of our souls are sin and Satan. And sin is the worst enemy, because the only way that Satan can destroy us is by getting us to sin. God may give him leash enough to rough us up, the way he did Job, or even to kill us, the way he did the saints in Smyrna (Revelation 2:10); but Satan cannot condemn us or rob us of eternal life. The only way he can do us ultimate harm is by influencing us to sin. Which is exactly what he aims to do. So Satan’s main business is to advocate, promote, assist, titillate and confirm our bent to sinning. We see this in Ephesians 2:1–2: “You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked . . . according to the prince of the power of the air” (NASB). Sinning “accords” with Satan’s power in the world. When he brings about moral evil, it is through sin. When we sin, we move in his sphere, and come into accord with him. When we sin, we “give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27). The only thing that will condemn us at the judgment day is unforgiven sin — not sickness or afflictions or persecutions or intimidations or apparitions or nightmares. Satan knows this. Therefore his great focus is not primarily on how to scare Christians with weird phenomena (though there’s plenty of that), but on how to corrupt Christians with worthless fads and evil thoughts. Satan wants to catch us at a time when our faith is not firm, when it is vulnerable. It makes sense that the very thing Satan wants to destroy would also be the means of our resisting his efforts. That’s why Peter says, “Resist him, firm in your faith.” It is also why Paul says that the “shield of faith” can “extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). The way to thwart the devil is to strengthen the very thing he is trying most to destroy — your faith.
Rm6v9 Almost more astonishing than the fact that Christ created a wormhole and broke out the sin-death system is that He entered into it in the first place. In incarnation Christ subjected himself to the mastery of death, that is, his body & being really was subject to entropy, resurrection wasn't an illusion of death, but a rewriting of the principles of life within cells & spirit.
Rm6v10 To God. v8 with Christ and v10 to God the Father, sounds like a joint attention structure to me. Though I realise I'm too quick to try to tidily codify the trinity and I can't at all...if anything the members of the trinity are always shifting their attention and always attending to everything, and to each other, and to me directly all at once and it's a big weird divine tangle if love and revelation. Nevertheless useful to think about such structures in turn. How does 'facing' the Father 'with' Christ in our periphery change what we see?
Rm6v11-12 Self-pity's cool tonic. Lust's warm embrace. Pride's heady rush. Sin reigned in me as it rewarded, I contracted my mortal body to sin as a calculated transaction, I gave my pound of flesh, my blood for oil, I obeyed its passions for the buzz, the flex, the power. Previously sin reigned, it had a right to rule, I had signed away a tenancy agreement on my soul. I am given to think of the mechanics of compulsion, how was I obliged to sin? I allowed sin to hold my security, my identity, my pleasure to ransom. Subtly complicit in a system, I was a hostage with Stockholm syndrome, willing the enterprise on, entrenching my own captivity. But now, there is no profit in propping up that racket, perpetuating boasting, covering lies with lies, exploiting the weak, seeking sordid and illicit versions of the the pleasure God intends, Now, sin can threaten me with nothing worse, and sin can bribe me nothing better, sin cannot compel my participation. Sin reigned in me, but now. I am as a dead light bulb in sin's circuit, and inert element in its furnace. I drift through McDonalds after a wedding feast, I smell the simmering burgers, the richly melting cheese, the scintillating salty nuggets, but I have no appetite, I am already sated. ..ok, maybe just a few chips, I know they're made of cardboard, but Rm7v19.
Rm6v13-14 Give yourself. My imagination immediately pictures myself reaching inside my chest and handing over my neatly packaged chunk Cartesian soul to Jesus, but this imaginative exercise has consequences, it fails to embody what it is to give oneself. To give oneself is a disruptive restructuring of subjectivity itself. To give *up* oneself evokes something closer to this. 'Surrender your whole being'.//
Whose love holds us captive, whose freedom binds us fast,
Master us, we pray,
That we may no longer live in fear of every death, but in humble surrender to every resurrection,
Through Christ our Lord
Rm6v17-18 two types of freedom, the kind where we're free to choose the less-than-best and the kind where we're so gripped by the good that we are necessitated by it, just as epistemic freedom is the capacity to be necessitated by the truth.
Rm6v19-20 You gotta serve somebody. A one body. You cannot serve two masters, it is not possible to serve two masters. Be all in. Be all in because you cannot but be all in. There is no halfway house, there is no no-man's-land, there are no part time roles. You are freed from sin, but not free-floating. Sin is a ship, righteousness is a ship, no one has a foot in both, no one is adrift. I am thinking again about the sin system, the singularity. When I was a slave of sin, I was a member of its crew, an oarsman in the engineroom of a battleship, I derived my wage, my security, my identity, my pleasure from this exclusive membership. Aboard this ship I was unconnected from the final economy of participating in righteousness, I had no way to access the eschatological project of the good. My random acts of kindness were vain as gifts exchanged between Kamikaze pilots. But now. I can derive no wage from sin, no pleasure, no forward movement. Cannot. So, rally my members to the gift of good work, I'm aboard a wholly other vessel, cooperating in a project of lasting worth, why would I not be all in? My tricksy members, zombie disembodied hands clawing their way across the floor to old habits. I think of Liar Liar's "this-pen-is-blue", but the slavery to righteousness is not so robotic, automatic, or coercive. You are on a new ship, free to make all things beautiful.
Rm6v21-22 Fruit that leads to life & the fruit that leads to death. Thinking about different ways that the fruit of fruit trees can 'lead to' life or death, the mix of causation & constitution in a favourite tree metaphor. Fruit can lead to it's own death if it is sterile, if it contains no seeds within it that lead to resurrection after death when blown on the wind of the spirit. Fruit can lead to death when eaten by something that isn't supposed to eat it, in a clash of purposes, a failure of wisdom to co-ordinate flourishing - fruit leading to the death of others. Fruit can lead to it's own death & the death of others when it looks good but contains poison, mould, inorganic chemicals, which can damage a whole system. Fruit that leads to life springs from the deep roots of prayer and depends on a healthy integrated system in which all parts are considered, it is capable of reproduction and compatible with the biology of it's recipient, which is to say aligned with the purposes of the Spirit.
Rm6v23 In the great hereafter there is eternal cake or eternal death, but in the mean time, we conduct life and death transactions piecemeal, we self-understand, we anticipate, we practise, we are owned by one system or another, we are active in a market economy of death in a closed system of scarcity, or we are engaged in a gift economy of Life in an open system of superabundance. Paymaster General Sin pays contractual wages: portioned death, death by installments, ever diminishing remuneration at ever greater cost, mercenary iterations of exploitation and depletion, scraps divided parasites feeding out of a finite system subject to corruption and decay. *Shame (v21) is death by installments.* Paymaster General God gives covenental unmerited gifts: pieces of sanctification v22, ever-increasing 2Co3v18, life in its fullness, foreshadowings of glory, gifting the basis and the substance of your holiness. *Sanctification (v22) is life by installments.* And this Life is (v23) *in Christ Jesus*. That infinite quality of Life expanded in depth now is deep *in Christ Jesus*. That infinite quantity of Life expanded in length then is long *in Christ Jesus*. Are you in?