I have a new nickname. The men (at least the playful ones in the bunch) were wondering what name could top “Pastor Jacques,” last year’s moniker (I taught the Epistle of James). Paul hammers pretty hard (grossly understated, I know) on the basic wickedness of all mankind in Romans, so I have been regularly inserting my standard “filthy stinking rat sinner” metaphors. So now I’m “Pastor RRRat” (spoken with a grin and a growl). No hurt feelings in this rodent.
So today I have taught Romans 6 and 7 and plan to quickly unpack chapters 8 in my two remaining sessions. My last class will be at 8 p.m. (same as CDT, only dark much earlier).
It burdens me that those who claim to follow Christ still struggle with sin. It seems so inconsistent with the biblical teaching about victory over the grave. But I know that I am one of the strugglers. You are too. Does that trouble you? It should.
Certainly people whose lives are characterized by a disregard for holiness (without which no one will see the Lord) should not be given the benefit of the doubt that they have been freed from sin, but what about those who are fighting a discouraging fight?
Romans six offers hope to those who are united with Christ (water baptism pictures this). We are free from the power of sin because of His death and resurrection. Trouble is, sin is still a reality in our lives. Paul says that not only are believers dead, they need to consider themselves dead. They need to turn over their weapon (instrument) to the God who will wield it for holy purposes. I illustrated this text this way:
A monarch caterpillar might look with wonder at the speed and freedom of a monarch butterfly. He dreams of being able to choose large stands of milkweed and to move quickly from plant to plant. But such questions show ignorance of the metamorphosis that takes place inside the chrysalis. The caterpillar dies and the transformed monarch butterfly says, “I could have all the milkweed I want, but why would I want milkweed when I can have nectar?” People whose unchanged hearts long to sin are attracted to grace as a reason to sin. People who are changed see grace as that which rescued them from slavery and set them free. You lose the taste for milkweed when you sample nectar.
Adventure report: I am drinking about six or seven 20 ounce bottles of water per day. I am glad that Jim worked out that detail for the students and the two instructors. The Haitian men are drinking little bags of water but Jim and I were counseled to stay away from them because of their questionable origin. I am learning that you have to get used new little microscopic critters everywhere you go in the world.