Consider the alcoholic, or the shopoholic, or the chocoholic . . . the addict of your choice. He/she will say, "I'm not addicted. Oh, no. I just enjoy this behavior. I can stop whenever I want. But I'm not hurting anyone by indulging, so why stop?" Only when challenged -- or required -- at some point to stop does it become clear to them that they are in bondage.
Such is the case for us all, according to Paul in Romans. We are sinners. We indulge in sinful behavior, thinking it enjoyable and harmless. Not until the Law was given -- "Do not covet" -- and we had a reason to not sin did we realize we were in bondage, a slave to sin.
This slavery to sin, and our stated freedom from it, has been haunting my reading and study for a few weeks now. In my reading last night, Charles Spurgeon used a term I've heard in the past but haven't considered much: the "carnal Christian". The one who is regenerated, saved, going to heaven, delivered from the guilt of sin . . . but not yet delivered from the power of sin.
In Romans 7, Paul gives an elaborate description of this state, one which many believers quote readily and seem to take refuge in. "I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do -- this I keep doing." Amen, brother Paul, we say with a sigh, happy to hear that the great apostle understands.
But we neglect the end of this chapter, or at least don't consider its real implications. "Who will deliver me from the body of death?" he asks. "Thanks be to God -- through our Lord Jesus Christ!" And he then proceeds to explain how he is delivered. Delivered, people. This is not where he stays, this bondage where we are content to sit and sigh. The Bible, as I am reading it -- and not just Paul, for you Paul-haters out there -- the Bible seems to clearly state that Christ's death didn't just free us from having to go to hell someday because of our sin, our sinful state . . . it freed us from the power of sin in our lives now, from the bondage of sin in our lives today.
And this haunts me. Because I know a multitude of Christians, but very few, if any, of the non-carnal variety. If this teaching is true, why are we not experiencing it?
The unbeliever would say, because it's all B.S. But I'm a believer. So, I continue to read and study and pray and search . . .