(Romans 6:12) Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
In January 1818, writer Mary Shelly published her most well know work; it was about a monster. “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus”, has become one of the most well-known novels of the last 200 years. Whether in book form or projected on the silver screen, this story of a man’s ambition to create life, which leads to him creating a monster, has captivated audiences for a century and a half.
The story centers around the creation of a murderous abomination, which is referred to as “a fiend”, “a demon”, “a vile insect”, “a wretched devil” and “the abhorred devil”. Dr Frankenstein’s creation is basically sown together from the body parts of the dead and brought to life through an infusion of electricity. Shelly’s novel artfully brings to light the moral dilemma arising from man’s ambition to use science beyond the limits of God’s moral law. Come to think of it, science needs to revisit the message of this novel in our day.
Perhaps one of the most well-known scenes of the story of the Frankenstein monster, is from the 1931 movie version (clip above from film “Young Frankenstein”), where upon the monster’s awakening, Victor Frankenstein declares “It’s alive, It’s alive”. This is the moment, we see the abomination come to life. Like the monster in Frankenstein; brought to life through an individual’s ambition, arrogance, pride and misuse of God-given gifts, so is sin lives and had its beginning in a similar fashion (more on that later).
Unlike the creature from the pop culture phenomenon, sin is not allegorical, but a clear, present and dangerous reality. We must understand sin as it truly is, in order that we may defeat it practically in our lives. Whether you agree that sin is alive or not, the word of God most certainly attributes living characteristics to its existence. Consider our lead scripture again Romans 6:12.
(Romans 6:12) Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
The above passage regards sin as having lusts, that we can obey to our own detriment, if not carefully denying them. In these lusts we understand sin’s ultimate desire is to rule over us. As we can clearly see, sin has been assigned characteristics of living things. We can not simply dismiss sin as alive because we do not see it that way.
Consider yeast for example, particularly the yeast called Candida. This type of yeast is literally alive and exists in every persons gut, along side of bacteria essential to our digestive and immune systems. The essential bacteria actually communicate with your brain, telling it what it needs to eat. This communication is not only for your health, but so the bacteria (which is also alive) gets the food it needs to live. When in proper balance, the bacteria will out number Candida 2/3 to 1/3 or more.
A problem arises when the candida begin to grow close to even with the bacteria, in number. In these times, the candida will high jack the communication highway to the brain and begin to demand the type of food it desires: sugars, carbohydrates and starches. These are things we need in only limited quantities, but candida need them to grow; for this reason the candida lusts for bad foods. As the yeast begins to dominate the gut, we then see its life principle in our bodies, as we experience, bloating, weight gain, illness, lethargy, grey film on the tongue and much more. This living single-celled organism, is alive and rules and influences two out over ever three Americans (considered overweight). Like candida, we do not see sin, nor feel its presence until we become spiritually lethargic or worse yet fall into a behavior which offends God.
As candida is alive, desiring to grow and dominate, so is sin. Consider how sin, which is dominant in the “flesh” or as otherwise known as “the old man”, wars against the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:16-17). Consider how feeding sin’s desire only leads to a greater desire for more of the same (Galatians 6:7-8). This appetite for more is paramount in understanding sin as a living principle, for it desires more for the purpose surviving and perpetuating its life. This must lead to domination. Let us look to Genesis 4:6-7 for more clarity.
Genesis 4:6-7 So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
This passage of scripture follows the rejection of Cain’s sacrifice and directly before he kills his brother Abel. God’s warning to Cain is very revealing, as it displays two truths. The first truth, for those of us who intend to follow Christ, is that God will warn us before we are about to sin. This is for the purpose of assuring we yield to Christ’s life in us, rather than the living principle of sin (Romans 6:12-14). The second truth is that sin is not that sin is alive, but its ultimate desire to dominating our whole life.
This can be seen in the phrase “sin lies at the door” and what it means in the original Hebrew. The word “lies” means “to be crouching as a beast waiting to pounce on prey in order to devour it”. Once more we see sin not only attributed with living characteristics, but characteristics given to those organisms that are bloody carnivorous hunters. It’s time we see sin for what it truly is.
Far two often we followers of Jesus have a 2 dimensional view of sin. We see its length and breadth on the written page, but rarely is sin’s depth or physical/spiritual nature considered. In our two dimension view, we see sin as behaviors that are contrary to God’s moral law. Therefore we see sin, as breaking the written code of scriptural law, and therefore we do our best not to violate the right, by choosing the wrong. This is a good and elementary understanding of sin, but tragically insufficient.
We can clearly see the insufficient nature of this view of sin, in Jesus Sermon on the Mount (specifically chapter 5 of Matthew). In verses 21-30, Jesus handles two of the commandments “Thou shalt not commit murder” and “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. In both instances, Jesus explains that the black and white, 2 dimensional view of these commandments was limited. He fully articulates the depth of those commandments to include behaviors, all humans have fallen too, in particular, killing a person with our words and committing adultery by longing and lustful thought. Once more the moral law of God extends to more than what is written on the page.
Therefore, we must see sin not only as a list of behaviors we are to avoid, but as the living principle implanted in the humanity of every human being. This living thing desires to please its desire to grow and dominate. It is a physical, intellectual and spiritual living reality. But where did sin have its birth, its beginning?
In Ezekiel 28, we are given a vision of the fall of Lucifer, in a prophecy concerning God’s judgment of a very prideful king. Some have speculated this passage is not to about the fall of Lucifer, whom we known as Satan. Yet large portions of the passage could not be aimed at anyone other than the supernatural entity, who is the cause the fall of man. One of those portions is Ezekiel 28:13-16.
(Ezekiel 28:13-17) You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you. “By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones. ‘Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground,
Here I believe we see the genesis of sin in the universe. Remember in the Mary Shelly novel “Frankenstein” that Victor Frankenstein, because of ambition and arrogance concerning his God-given gifts of intellect, created an abomination. Like the novel’s conceited doctor, Satan, when he saw his God-given beauty, gifts, splendor and power, focused on himself rather than the Creator who made him. In this gaze, this turn away from God toward self-rule, sin was born with its living principle of death. It is a living spiritual cancer, one that wholly overcame Satan first, then man, as he submitted to Satan’s temptation, which brought all humanity into slavery to sin.
Since Adam, sin has been the living inborn ruler of the humanity. The more we obey its lusts, the more it grows and influences our actions. Only Christ’s finished work of atonement on our behalf provides the antidote to the living death of sin. Romans declares the reality of the death of sin’s dominion in our life in Romans 6.
(Romans 6:5-7) For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.
Although sin’s dominance, as the ruling power of our life has been crucified, we understand, its presence within our humanity remains a reality. It is for this reason that the scriptures command us in Colossians to “put to death in our members: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desires, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). We do this by putting “off all these: anger (undo), wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth” and not lying to one another (Colossians 3:8-9). As we “put to death” and “put off“, we also “put on the new man” (Colossians 3:10).
Yet we must be careful not to make our earlier mistake with the above truth, by seeing them only in two dimensions. Let us remember that the living principle of sin, is overcome by the same Resurrection Power that raised Jesus from the dead… The Spirit of God Himself. Sadly, for Christianity in America, far too often we see this truth in the two dimensions, of confess and do the list of rights while staying away from the list of wrongs. This does will never diminish the power of the barking desires of sin. It takes the reality of the Spirit of God.
Let us therefore remember that in our new birth, we have been given the Spirit of God, as an earnest or deposit, on our completion in Christ, when we are gathered together with Him forever (Ephesians 1:13-14).
With this truth, let us understand that from the beginning of our new birth, where by faith sin has been nailed to the cross, we become partakers of the divine nature; by the Holy Spirit in us, we submit to His leading (II Peter 1:4; Galatians 6:8). Remember, what takes place within us is not a battle of two equal but opposing forces. Sin has not chance at regaining dominance in the person absolutely surrendering to Christ. For in that surrender, the Spirit of God, who is the Present Almighty Power of God in Person, empowers the willing soul. This is the victory that puts to death the power of sin in real-time.
(Galatians 2:20 KJV) I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
As affirmed above, let us remember that for the believer, Christ is living within the frame of their whole being (spirit, soul and body). Therefore, when we obey the word of God, it is actually Christ in us obeying the word of God. This becomes very apparent in Romans 6:13.
(Romans 6:12-13) Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
Therefore, let us hold to the truth that it is not our obeying a written code, that overcomes the living death that sin is within us. We overcome, sin by his cross firstly, then as we yield to Jesus our Messiah, as He moves through us. disciplining ourselves in yielding, is what diminishes the call of the old man of sin.
In these truths, let us strive for complete surrender to Christ, as He moves within us. When this becomes our program the fullness of the Spirit is a breath away. Should we reach this New Testament reality, many more will come to experience sin losing its dominion in there lives, as the lost world encounters Christ in us, the hope of glory.