Today’s Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 1-3:17; Romans 6:1-23; Psalm 16:1-11; Proverbs 19:20-21
We begin 2 Chronicles today which picks up after the death of David. Solomon is now king. God appeared to Solomon and offered to give him whatever he asked for. Solomon, to his credit, doesn’t not ask for money, or fame, or unlimited wishes. He asks for wisdom, which God grants to him (2 Chronicles 1:7-11). Not only that but because Solomon did not ask for wealth and fame, God decides to give those things to Solomon as a bonus (2 Chronicles 1:12).
As we read in 1 Kings, however, Solomon did not use his wisdom wisely. We see some of what he did here in this chapter, notably he built up a huge calvary which included horses he imported from Egypt (2 Chronicles 1:16). Although we read that these horses (or at least some of them) were then exported (2 Chronicles 1:17), it may have been this association with Egypt that lead Solomon to meet his first wife, who was Egyptian. Marrying outside of Israel was forbidden by God.
And once Solomon had one foreign wife he accumulated more. Then he built worship centers to their gods. And finally, he forgot the God who gave him so much and worshipped these foreign gods himself. What started out as an innocent transaction of purchasing some horses seems to have lead to Solomon’s downfall.
In 2 Chronicles we read about the building of the Temple. Notice that much of the materials and labor used to construct the Temple were Gentile (2 Chronicles 2:3-9). Although used by Jews in Israel, the Temple was not meant to be solely for the Jews. It was God’s house. And God was, and is, the God of all people.
Some people criticize the “saved by faith” message of the Bible because they claim it gives people a license to sin. God knew people would think that. That is why He has Paul address this very issue in Romans 6.
The reason we should not keep sinning is simple: we died to sin when we were born again. We are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17) – we’re not the same people we were before we were saved. What God is saying here is that human beings cannot be reformed. There is no self-help book… there is no man-made religion… there is no prescription medication that can change us. The only escape from sin is to die and be reborn as a new creature – spiritually speaking.
So how did this happen? It happened because at the moment a person is born-again he or she is identified with Christ and His death. That person then gets a new spirit, just like Jesus got new life when He was resurrected (Romans 6:6-7).
So, even though we are still tempted to sin because we still live in fleshly, carnal bodies we should not let sin control us like it did before we were saved (Romans 6:12). Notice that God commands us “do not let sin control the way you live”. God would not command us to do something that we were incapable of doing or which He would not help us do. It is possible to not let ourselves be controlled by sin.
Instead we need to learn to control the parts of our body – eyes, ears, hands, mind, etc – so they do not commit sinful acts. Instead we need to use them to do things that glorify God: read the Bible, listen to Christian music, meditate on His word, etc (Romans 6:13). Again, this is a command from God that He would not give to us if it was not possible for us to do it.
Many Christians, including me, have a very difficult time with this. We are free, but we don’t know it. We still live as if we are guilty. Its like being a prisoner in jail who stays in his cell after his sentence expires and the door to the jail is opened. Who would do that? No one. But that is how we live when we give in to sin after being born-again. We need to learn to live in the freedom of God’s grace (Romans 6:14).
The verb tense in the original Greek in these verses is talking about ongoing, habitual sin that has control over us and which we refuse to let go of. We will still mess up and sin. But we should not be controlled by anger, lust, envy, greed, etc.
Using an analogy of slavery which Romans would have understood well, for there were many slaves in Rome, Paul tells us to be completely controlled by righteousness (Romans 6:18). At the moment of salvation a believer has a new master – God – who is kind and loving and who wants nothing but the best for us. A freed slave certainly would not run back to his master once he has been set free. And neither should we.
God is many good things as David describes in Psalm 16. He is our shelter (Psalm 16:1); He gives us good things (Psalm 16:2); He is our source of stability and prosperity (Psalm 16:5); He is our guide and teacher (Psalm 16:7); He is our safety (Psalm 16:9).
According to Proverbs 19:20 we cannot gather enough advice and correction. This will lead to wisdom and a well lived life.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post