We were home alone that afternoon, my sisters and I. I walked into the kitchen, for I know not what, and found them dueling with the kitchen knives.
The little would-be gangsters froze as they turned and saw me. Knowing exactly what I was about to say, they stopped me before I could get the words out. “Please don’t tell Mom and Dad, please,” they begged. “You can’t tell them. You can’t!”
For some reason, I caved to their pleas and agreed not to disclose their foolishness, as long as they promised never to wield knives again. I don’t pretend to remember my motivation for this kindness. I certainly wasn’t cunning enough to think that if I didn’t tell, I would have leverage for blackmail. Oh, no. That realization dawned the first time they threatened to tattle on me for something I had done.
“You go right ahead,” I’d smirk. “But if you do, I’ll tell mom that you were playing with the sharp knives!” Inevitably as fear registered, shoulders would drop, mouths would close and my own transgressions (which were surely many) would be forgotten.
This blackmail continued for what must have been a months, a year even. I remember feeling surprised every time my words still evoked fear, every time my power over them was unchallenged.
Finally, one day my sister ended it. When I threatened to tell mom about the knives, she look at me with resolve and said, “Go ahead, I don’t care.” She had finally realized that she didn’t have to submit to my blackmail and just like that, my power over her was gone.
I wonder, how many times I am like my little sister, living under the thumb of that which has no power over me? How many times do I, as a Christ follower, surrender to the threats and manipulation of my old man, even though they should be nothing more than echoes in the far reaches of my memory? How can they be anything else when he who spoke them is long dead? Oh yes, he was crucified with Christ and thus rendered completely powerless over me. I am no longer his slave, forced to do all he demands.
“Our old sinful selves (old man) were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose it’s power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.” Romans 6:6 NLT
How perplexing it is that I still voluntarily choose serve him, this old man of mine. Every time I sin, I it is as if I am choosing to lift his putrid corpse up onto my back so I can marinade in his stench, so I can be poisoned again by his vile suggestions, so I can obey him. Obey the dead.
Doesn’t it seem ridiculous to keep bowing in obedience to a stinking, rotting corpse? To make a mockery of Christ’s sacrifice by putting our feet back into the stocks of sin rather than dancing in the freedom He purchased for us with His own blood?
Indeed, it does. It makes the voice unkindly raised at my son heartbreaking, instead of excusable. It makes the pride in my heart revolting, instead of justifiable. It causes me to evaluate every snide remark, disrespectful thought, gluttonous moment in a new light. These are the things My Savior at once paid for and freed me from. But it’s not paid for so I can go on in this vicious, defeated existence. It’s paid for so I can, being free from sin’s power, choose to live for the glory of God through Him and with His strength. Oh, that I would faithfully, repeatedly, daily give myself completely to God and not to that which has no power over me.
“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1-2, NLT