“If we really are righteous, then why do we still sin? ” This was the question one man asked me after I had spoken about the believer’s righteousness in Jesus Christ. His question was a good one. Why do we still find ourselves committing sins at times if we have indeed been made righteous by the gift of God’s grace? (See Romans 4:5; 5:17,19; 10:4; 1 Corinthians 1:30, 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 4:24; Philippians 1:11; 3:9)
It certainly isn’t because we still have an unrighteous nature. In Jesus Christ, we have received a new nature – His very nature! (See 2 Peter 1:3-4) The man we were “in Adam” was crucified with Jesus. (See Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:20) However we haven’t yet been delivered from the presence of indwelling sin. Our spirits have been redeemed and our soul is being renewed. One day we will be delivered from the very presence of sin, but until we receive glorified bodies, we each possess the power of indwelling sin in our bodies. (See Romans 7:21-23) As we trust Christ at each moment, His life empowers us to walk in victory. However, when we fail to depend on Him, we yield ourselves to the power of sin.
It is possible to say no to sin! How was the power of sin in our lives broken? It is by the cross of Jesus Christ. Author J. Alistair Brown once shared a good example on the subject. He said:
Walking through a park one day, I passed a massive oak tree. A vine had grown up along its trunk. The vine started small – nothing to bother about. But over the years the vine had gotten taller and taller. By the time I passed, the entire lower half of the tree was covered by the vine’s creepers. The mass of tiny feelers was so thick that the tree looked as though it had innumerable birds’ nests in it.
Now the tree was in danger. This huge, solid oak was quite literally being taken over; the life was being squeezed from it. But the gardeners in that park had seen the danger. They had taken a saw and severed the trunk of the vine – one neat cut across the middle. The tangled mass of the vine’s branches still clung to the oak, but the vine was now dead. That would gradually become plain as weeks passed and the creepers began to die and fall away from the tree. How easy it is for sin, which begins so small and seemingly insignificant, to grow until it has a strangling grip on our lives. And yet, Christ’s death has cut the power of sin. Yes, the “creepers” of sin still cling and have some effect. But sin’s power is severed by Christ, and gradually, sin’s grip dries up and falls away.
In the southern United States, we have a vine that does the same thing to trees. It’s called Kudzu. Kudzu grows rampant and will eventually destroy healthy trees. That’s exactly what the flesh will do to the fruitful lives of victorious Christians. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
At the cross of Jesus Christ, the trunk (source) of sin in our lives was severed. The flesh patterns of our past may still cling to us, but there is no source of life to sustain them anymore. The cross of Jesus Christ destroyed the power of sin in your life by dealing a death blow to your old nature!
Do you want to walk in freedom over the flesh patterns of your past? Appropriate by faith that the cross was sufficient. Allow the life-giving power of Christ’s life to surge through you like nutrients from the ground passing through the roots into the tree to produce fruit.
You may recognize old fleshly vines clinging to you that grew over a period of years, but as you trust Christ to express Himself as your very life, you will see those vines wither and lose their grip on you. Don’t be a Kudzu Christian, allowing the flesh to grow in your life. Keep your eyes on Jesus. By His grace, He will prune away the life-draining patterns that rob you of His life flowing without restriction in and through you. He will free you daily from sin’s power and will produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life.