I can only speak for myself, but I believe it is true of all humans; we are masters at deceiving ourselves. Sometime the deception is harmless, thinking that we look better than we do, or are smarter. Yet, there are times that these deceptions can be quite harmful, like when we believe that we can get away with something, or that our choices do not make a difference.
Our study this past week from Romans 6 challenged those that are professing followers of Christ to live up to who they are as a result of the gospel changing their lives. We are reminded that as a “new creation,” we are called to demonstrate godliness through our choices. So the question we need to ask ourselves, “Am I living for Jesus or for myself?”
Paul reminds us that the genuine follower will not rationalize sinful behavior. Let me rephrase that, “a genuine follower will not tell themselves rational-lies to justify sinful behavior.” That is exactly what we do when we make excuses or offer justification for behavior that we know is wrong. Paul deals with this type of thinking when he writes, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” (Romans 6:1) Paul is responding to those that would argue that God’s grace can be used as an excuse to indulge in wrong behavior. It hit me that we, as followers of Christ, also take advantage of God’s grace by making excuses for our behavior.
Here are a couple examples: You tell yourself that you might as well keep enjoying sin because you have already blown it? Or how about when we choose to do something knowing that it violates God’s standard for our lives? When you do this, you are taking advantage of God’s grace. I’ve had professing followers of Jesus tell me that they know that they are living outside of God’s truth saying, “I believe God will understand.” These examples are all forms of “rational-lies.”
Paul responded, “By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2) His point being, if you are truly a follower of Christ you are a changed person. He goes on to say that you now have the power to choose right. He is not saying that you will be perfect. He is not saying that you will never sin again. He is not even saying that you will no longer be tempted. But he is saying that because you are a changed person you now have the power to choose to obey God rather than making rational-lies.
A friend of mine shared this combination of statements that makes a powerful point. “There are only two choices on the shelf, choosing God or choosing self. Be careful which choice you choose, because in the end the choices you make, make you!” Isn’t it time to stop making excuses and start obeying Jesus?
-Pastor Joe Parkinson