A Slave to Sin or a Slave to Christ?

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 teachingthat has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Romans 6:15-18

I am justified through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.

I am being sanctified daily through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Yet I struggle to break free from slavery to sin.

And I long to lay my life down in full obedience to Christ.

I read this in a book today, and it scares me, “Sin is a serious matter. Though set free from it, we can in effect become its slaves again if we give ourselves to it.” (Douglas J. Moo, NIV Application Commentary, 210) I know the reality of this all too well, and I hope and pray that I can wholeheartedly pursue obedience and righteousness.

LORD, help me. Help me be more like you and less like my old nature. I must decrease and you must increase. Amen.

Living With Our Weaknesses

I have a weakness that feels just like Paul’s thorn in his side. If you’re not familiar the Biblical story, check out the passage in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10.

Like Paul, the best comfort I find while living with my own thorn is that when I’m weak, Christ steps in and does what I can’t do. My strength is His strength living in me.

I didn’t notice You were standing here
I didn’t know that
That was You holding me
I didn’t notice You were cry’n too
I didn’t know that
That was You washing my feet

All I Can Say
David Crowder Band

Paul, an Apostle of Jesus

Later this week I’m speaking at the Christian Alliance International School (CAIS) of Hong Kong for their Spiritual Emphasis Week. I’m pretty excited since it’ll be the first time I get to speak and preach about Jesus at another international school outside of ICS.

(Seemingly random transition…)

Since I became a Christian, I’ve learned quite a bit about Paul and his life. One of my favorite letters from him was, and still is, Romans. Jesus is my favorite all-time person and character from the Bible (hands down!), but Paul really knows how to speak to the heart of person that is attempting to be Christ-like. I really enjoy the way he doesn’t hold back and just gets in your face about following Jesus.

Anyway, the topic I’m speaking about this Thursday is the life of Paul.

(Aha! Not a random transition anymore!)

In preparation for my talk, I had the joy of studying his life in more detail for about two hours today. It was great, and I definitely know a lot more about the finer details of his life. The best part though was that I know how I want to present his life to the students at CAIS. Paul seems like such a hero of the faith that he can be unapproachable. On the contrary, I found that he is quite relatable. I’m going to present these facts to the kids.
Here’s a snippet if your curious…
He’s seemingly unapproachable:
  • Arguably the greatest missionary in the history of Christianity
  • One of the top-most students and scholars of Judaism; an elite Pharisee
  • Literally saw God
  • Experienced and performed numerous miracles
  • Suffered for the faith more than most (see 2 Corinthians 11:24-28)
  • Wrote between 7 and 14 books of the New Testament (depending on whom you speak with)

Paul is relatable:

  • He was a sinner. He even claimed to be the chief of all sinners! (see 1 Timothy 1:12-17)
  • He was both a white-collar & blue-collar worker (Pharisee and tentmaker)
  • Not very handsome (perhaps because of all the beatings!)
  • He had arguments and disagreements with those he loved – Barnabas and John Mark
  • Though he toiled in his work, he needed time to rest and recuperate and had longs stays in some places during his missionary journeys (such as Corinth and Ephesus)
  • He was a third culture kid (born in Tarsus, citizen of Rome, raised in Jerusalem, traveled the Mediterranean and Asia Minor)

I’m excited to elaborate on all this for the kids. I’m sure Paul never wanted fame or acknowledgement. He achieved success because he was sold out for Jesus – It’s only when we put ourselves aside that Christ can use us and raise us up. My goal is for the students to want to strive to be like Christ just as Paul did. But above all, I want them to know that God loves us, no matter what successes or failures we accrue on our paths.