If you are a reader of my blog then you already know that I am a recovery nurse in an ambulatory surgical facility. I tend to the patients when they come out of surgery. Of course, I have thirsty and hungry patients who have followed pre-surgery orders not to eat or drink. My patients are almost all happy to be offered a drink of juice or water. Many of my patients are also dying for a cigarette (no pun intended). But I understand. The addiction to nicotine is a fierce one.
I tried smoking cigarettes once and they never grabbed me. I have my own addictions: Chocolate. Potato chips. And most any kind of candy. If there is a bowl of candy around or an open bag of chips … like the Lay’s Potato Chip ad stated, I cannot “eat just one”. (I also have a passion for peanut butter – by the spoonful.) My daughter recognizes this fact and sent me this lovely cartoon with the statement, “This reminds me of you”. Thanks daughter. But she’s right.
So why am I bringing this up? In my attempt to read some of the book of Romans, well, I am not theologically trained, and in my trying to understand it, this is what I’ve come up with…
Man is sinful. It’s just our nature. It is our craving. Ever since the fall in the Garden of Eden, man learned to be greedy, selfish, envious, and sinful in many ways. We try to break the habit. It’s not easy. It’s just so easy to be bad. By God’s grace, he becomes rather like our counselor and coach to help us become more righteous and holy. Romans talks about us becoming slaves to either evil or to Christ. And that’s really what it becomes – we both devote ourselves to following the sinful life and allow evil to be our master. Or we break our sinful addiction and allow Christ to be our master. The thing is – like any recovering addict, we have to practice every day to keep strong and resist sinning. If we don’t, we can quickly fall off the wagon. Thankfully, God is quick to forgive and always gives us another chance. It’s hard work to put our sinful nature behind us and to live life anew with Christ. It takes daily discipline. You have to squelch the old habits and cravings. Hopefully the new walk with Christ will become the new habit.
I know we are all trying to be good students of God’s word. Sometimes what we read is simple to understand and sometimes (for us common people) it is challenging to understand. Here’s some of Romans chapter 6 from which I unraveled in my own words above:
Romans 6:11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. 19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Addictions are bad. Some harm more than others. We all know when we smoke too much, or eat too much, work too much, or have more than we should of a lot of things. But don’t let your ‘too much’ of something be your master.
Hope you don’t mind me being ‘preachy’ today! I just wanted to share with you how I came to some understanding of my bible reading. But do you know how many rolls of those little “Smarties” candies I had to eat while I tried to wrap my head around Romans 6?
The whole bowlful.