“A Puzzle” ( Galatians 6:7-8, WYC ) by Carley Evans

English: Jesus Christ, polychromed and gilded ...
English: Jesus Christ, polychromed and gilded woodcarved relief by Martin Vinazer (* 1674 in St. Ulrich in Gröden; † 1744) signed MVF (MV Fecit) Deutsch: Gefasstes Holzrelief des Martin Vinatzer gezeichnet MVF (MV Fecit) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Puzzling, yes? The Word of God teaches us two things which appear to be opposed. We are taught that God can not be scorned; that if we continue in sin, we pay the ultimate price – we die eternally, in corruption.

Roman Catholics get around this puzzle by teaching that some sin is minor – deemed venial or ‘easily forgiven’ – and does not lead to corruption while other sin is major – deemed mortal or ‘deadly’ – and will lead to eternal death, i.e. to damnation of the soul.

The bulk of the New Testament seems to teach, on the other hand, that sin is sin – that all sin leads to corruption. The problem then for mankind is what to do about sin. In Romans 7, Paul speaks of his woe – that the good he wants to do he can not do. He asks who will rescue him from his body of sin and death and then praises God that it is Christ who secures that rescue.

Yet, here in his letter to the church at Galatia, Paul warns that sin somehow hasn’t been nailed to the cross with Jesus.

“Do not ye err, God is not scorned; for those things that a man soweth, those things he shall reap [for why what things a man soweth, also these things he shall reap]. For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh he shall reap corruption; but he that soweth in the Spirit, of the Spirit he shall reap everlasting life.”

Then there are those who claim that Christians – if they are true Christians – never sin. I presume this belief is to reconcile themselves to the many scriptural passages that imply that if a Christian commits a sin, then God can not be in his or her body. After all, a Christian is the temple of God the Holy Spirit. How can a holy God dwell inside an unholy thing?

Yet, Paul speaks of the deeds done in the body that are unworthy of God burning off as the Christian passes from life into death and from there into eternal life – the mortal being swallowed up by the immortal, so to speak. In these passages, Paul implies that Christians do indeed sin. We makes mistakes, yet we are saved though as through fire.

Sometimes, I imagine Paul himself struggling to fully understand the good news. The good news that we are saved while we are still sinners, that God loves us so much that He considers us His friends while we are still His mortal enemies.

Why would God die for us while we are dead in sin, and then turn away from us because we fail? I can’t imagine. I don’t think Paul was able to imagine that, either. Instead, he reminds us that God’s love for us is higher and deeper and wider than anything we have ever known; that Jesus Christ does for us more than we will ever understand while we remain on this earth.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. mtsweat says:

    The old sinner/ saint paradox from Luther, Carley. Trying to get a grip on this is sometimes like juggling jello. When the garden dwellers ate from that forbidden tree, they were assured, “You are now dead.” The problem is that they kept living. Their physical bodies began to deteriorate, but the death promised wasn’t recognized physically, at least not immediately. The death that occurred that day was much worse than physical death. Their spirits died.

    Unlike everything else God created, He breathed life into His image-bearers. He breathed a spirit into Adam (His Spirit). The eating of the proverbial apple meant death for that spirit. …and so death was passed on to all from Adam. The evidence of our death… we sin too. With a dead spirit, there is no fellowship with life (God). Therefore, the body soon follows suit with its spirit and dies.

    This is what is so exiting about all of those passages of the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ. He promises not only the giving of life, but abundant life. That Jesus is primarily focused on the spirit and rarely on this physical body is evidenced by His own words. “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing (and a gazillion other quotes).”

    We become over-infatuated with our physical bodies, just as Israel did their nation, and fail to recognize we can’t fix anything about this sin/ death-cursed fleshly body. But believers can feed the new life that Christ has given. When Jesus breathes (Holy Spirit) the abundant life (spirit) into a dying body, there is now a new creation who loves and desires God.

    The more we feed the spirit, the less influence the flesh has, and visa-versa of course. But as you have acknowledged, to think this body of death will ever be over (in this lifetime) the consequences of the curse and fall is setting ones self up for another fall. “Those of you who stand, take heed…”

    The key then to a profitable life for Christ is to live in His Word, to be ever in prayer, to spend and be spent for the Kingdom. It almost sounds too practical. Kind of like locating my heart by acknowledging my treasure.

    Sorry for the lengthy response. I’ve not had time to respond until now so simply saved this piece until I could. It’s important we figure this one out, for true life is in the balance. Much more of course could, and should, be said. Blessings good friend!

    1. carley evans says:

      Don’t apologize for the lengthy response, Michael! I appreciate every word you’ve written here. Thank you for taking time to do so. Many many blessings; and AMEN. Carley

  2. http://augustine1blog.wordpress.com You will enjoy my friend’s blog. Tell him I sent you. In Christ, Carl D’Agostino.

    1. lambskinny says:

      Thanks Carl. Read my novels – Metal Man Walking and Annie Dreaming. You’ll like them. Be sure to whisper to them that I sent you. Carley 😉

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