Hello there! I hope that this Update finds you healthy and happy, and that you were able to spend some quality time worshiping the Lord this week wherever you found yourself. We had a lot of fun this week, because Sunday marked a birthday for both Scott Christianson and my own wife, Wendy. Happy birthday, guys!
Sara Stewart also had kind of a busy weekend this week. The Youth Group went and played another round of paintball on Saturday (and, though it did rain off and on all day, the wet weather kept the temperature down so that it wasn’t so uncomfortably hot this time around). Ask someone who went to show you their welts (or “battle scars,” as Megan described them).
Sara also then spent a few minutes at the beginning of the service this week to walk us through a brief tutorial on using the church website (which, for those of you who don’t already know, is at www.firstcovenant.net). She highlighted not only the warmth and inviting layout of the site, but also how easily it can be used by our FCCers and visitors to keep up on things going on around here. There’s a link to the monthly newsletters, as well as a link to our Facebook page. You can also find copies of the weekly sermons online, as well as the notes from our ongoing Church History class (for you gluttons for punishment / history buffs). But one of the quietly most important things that Sara pointed out was the page that invites new people to join us, and tells them what to expect when they visit. Simply pointing that page out to people takes a lot of the pressure and stress out of the awkwardness of their first visit -- as well as giving you a talking point when sharing. Please check out our church site sometime for yourself.
In our message this week, we continued looking at Paul’s letter to the church in Rome -- specifically, answering the question that we ended last week’s message with: “If we have been forgiven and freed from sin by Christ, then why do we keep on sinning?” (we spent a chunk of time on that in the message, so please forgive what’s going to have to be an unfortunately abbreviated answer to such a big and important question here in this Update).
In chapter 7, Paul reiterates the argument that he began in the previous chapter that, when you become a Christian, you don’t just have a tweaked version of your old life -- you died, and then were reborn into a new life. Thus, just like physical death releases people from legal commitments under the physical law, so our spiritual death releases us from legal commitments under the spiritual Law. Oh, the commandments are still just as good, just as God-honoring, etc., as they were before, but we’re no longer judged by how well we follow them (or, in point of fact, don’t follow them). Sin tries to get us to believe the same, two-sided lie that we either still have to try to impress God by the hoops we jump through, or that we no longer should feel the need to ever jump through a hoop -- when the fact is, we’re now freed to choose for ourselves to do good, and to do so simply to honor God or escape wrath.
So why do we still sin? Because we’re used to it. Because it’s a habit, a rut that we too easily slide back into. Because our skewed thinking leads to skewed behaviors, and sin tries to convince us that we have no other choice.
We still fall into sin for all sorts of reasons -- none of them good. It’s like we’ve chained our dead lives back to ourselves and dragged them along with us into our lives. But if you’ve let Jesus Christ’s blood wash you clean, then He has forgiven every sin that you’ve ever done, and every sin that you’ll ever do -- so let that corpse of your sin go, and it’ll spring right back to the cross, where it belongs.
Stop and think about what to let go of today. And then do that again every day, because we’re tempted to pick up that corpse of sin and put flesh back on its bones every day that we’re alive.
But every day that we’re alive is another day to remember God’s grace, and to live it out afresh and anew.
This is the day that the Lord has made -- decide to rejoice, and be glad in it!