Thursday, October 24, 2013

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

“You're looking at me as though I'm weird. My God! Are you so out of touch with most of America, most of which believes in the Devil? I mean, Jesus Christ believed in the Devil! It's in the Gospels! You travel in circles that are so, so removed from mainstream America that you are appalled that anybody would believe in the Devil! Most of mankind has believed in the Devil, for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil.” - Antonin Gregory Scalia (Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States)

Scripture Text: (ROM 6:19-23)
Brothers and sisters:
I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your nature.
For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity
and to lawlessness for lawlessness,
so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness.
But what profit did you get then
from the things of which you are now ashamed?
For the end of those things is death.
But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God,
the benefit that you have leads to sanctification,
and its end is eternal life.
For the wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Imagine that. In the middle of a discussion about the fight against sin and temptation, St Paul counseled his readers to look at themselves as slaves, ready to yield to a new master. What about fighting? What about aggressively taking up the battle against sin? Isn’t St. Paul missing the point?

Not at all. St. Paul is showing us the way to true victory. Rather than rushing headlong into conflicts and trying to overcome temptation on our own, we would be wiser to step back and submit ourselves to some of the truths that St. Paul considered central to the Christian life.

First, we should submit to God’s judgment against sin. In Jesus’ death, our Father has condemned our fallen nature and put it to death. If we step back from temptation, we can align ourselves with God’s judgment and claim in faith that sin’s mastery is ended, and we are set free.

Second, we should submit to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. He is in us. He never abandons us. He is always watching over us, ever ready to help us and do battle for us whenever we call upon him. Submitting to his power can fill us with great confidence and courage.

Finally, we should submit to the new creation God has made us to be. We were made new in Baptism. We are no longer slaves to sin. We are children of God, with all the rights and privileges of a firstborn son and daughter.

Submitting to these truths is like leaning back into your Father’s arms. It’s true that you can’t see him yet, and you may not always feel his arms around you. But that’s why faith is so important. It convinces you that your Father is good. It assures you that he loves you enough to have given his only Son for your salvation. The next time you find yourself battling with sin, take a deep breath, and lean back into your Father’s love and redemption.

That’s the way to freedom.

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