“Most merciful God, we confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.” Many people wrestle with this confession from the Lutheran Book of Worship. On one hand, we know we are sinners. On the other hand, we understand we are freed from the consequences of sin through Christ Jesus. Truth be told, we have not loved God with all our heart and we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
The apostle Paul teaches the church that freedom comes only through Jesus’ death on the cross. As we renounce sinful behavior, we put to death the desires of the flesh. Renunciation of evil is a baptismal vow; it’s also an everyday discipline. Paul reminds us of the Christian’s war against sin (v. 17). Our sinful nature tempts us to live according to works of the flesh. These works are condemned by the Law. However, as people redeemed by Christ, we are free to reject sin and live according to the fruit of the Spirit (v. 22-23).
When our sinful nature subtly suggests dishonesty, we shout a defiant “No!” When juicy gossip begs repeating, we say “No way!” and speak only truth in love. Through Christ Jesus, such renouncing of evil puts to death our sinful habits. The death of our sinful nature leads to life according to the Spirit. Life in the Spirit leads us to eternal life in the kingdom of God.
Prayer: Christ our Lord, guide us by your Spirit that we might turn from sin and live for you alone. Amen.