The most climactic and ecstatic chapter of all the bible is Romans 8. In Romans 8, Paul ends by declaring that the children of God will reign over all creation, and all of creation itself will be renewed as the reign of the children of God is revealed. Revolutionary stuff.
The context of this passage is that it is written to a small band of believers who live at the height of the hyper-optimism of Caesar worship and the Pax Romana. A modern example would be to think if Hitler won the war and was about 50 years into the 1000 year reign of the Third Reich. The uber-people, the Romans, had won all the wars and their megalomanic leaders were proclaiming themselves gods that could bring an eternal peace and prosperity to the Roman people. To this power drunk and victorious people, Paul and the Christians simply announced that these fascist Romans are crazy, pagan nutballs.
The early Christians refused to exercise any physical force but simply stood up heroically and proclaimed that Jesus was the true Lord and that freedom and liberty FROM SIN only came from Jesus. For this boldness, the Christians were killed.
I want you to think about this for just a second. As Paul proclaims Jesus as the Lord and true king with a mandate from God to deliver all mankind, he gives us the very personal story of Romans 7 and his personal struggle with sin.
So often when we think of our corporate mission, we think of the mission to proclaim the gospel. We think about our war against the culture and its powers. We think about evangelism, but Paul isn't talking about our mission to bring Christ to others but our mission to defeat sin. Liberation is always liberation from the sinfulness of this fallen age. The entire strength of our proclamation is that Jesus liberates from sin and that we are the liberated people who have been given a new life that the world cannot give us.
This being true, how empty is the Gospel if we do not actually possess victory over the enemy. It would be like going to an AA meeting and the guy who is sharing his experience, strength, and hope is drunk. That is what the church is like today when we do not have victory.
So, how strange it is that the church is not working to develop a new model, a new discipleship program, that leads the church into her victorious inheritance. How strange it is that our corporate identity is not that of the people who are learning the way of victory together and who walk in this glorious liberation from sin?
How do we come together then and the church function as the place where we are "putting to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit"? The great eschatological reality is that by the Spirit's power we possess salvation from sin. This liberation does not come from the law but from the Spirit. Yet, do you know the details of how we by the Spirit find this liberation? Does your church teach you the steps of this liberation from sin? Are you corporately finding this liberation and proclaiming it to the world?
These steps and the how to is for next time..