For those that are familiar with the Christian calendar, this week is Holy Week. It is the week that we commemorate the Passion… the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Right now, I am studying for a mid-term exam for my class on Acts and the Pauline Epistles and even as I type this I am listening to a lecture on Paul’s letter to the Romans and this passage just jumped out at me in relationship to this week.
14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Romans 7:14-25 (NIV)
Now, I understand this is not a traditional Passion Scripture, but it strikes me as so profound how deep our need for Christ’s sacrifice. I really echo what Paul says here… as I am sure we all do. In my heart of hearts, I know what is right, I know the good path, but I just can’t do it. Even my best individual effort is tainted. The fact is I am corrupt in my nature. Paul quotes earlier in Romans 3 that we are all sinners, all short of God’s glory, all in desperate need, but the need has been filled in Christ. We have been justified, sanctified, changed, moved, transformed by something outside of ourselves… something divine, but it took a death so that our sinful nature might also be put to death. Then and only then are we able to do what is right. Unfortunately, most people never understand that need fully, or else they see the problem but not the solution: Christ.
This isn’t as light-hearted a post as you are used to here, but it is important for all of us to understand the depth of our need so that we can grab hold of the liberty, and freedom, and joy, and glory of Easter. It’s not just about the bunny rabbit and those great Cadbury Eggs, it’s about trading in the slavery of sin and death and fault for the joy of service to God.
The bottom line is that we don’t have a choice whether we have a god or not. Even atheists serve something, but it is a matter of what kind of god we’ll worship. Dylan said it best,
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.
Holy Week gives us the option… not whether we serve or not, because we will serve something… but whom or what we will serve. Without the Passion of Christ, without the history of this week, we would be lost. But the good news is that Christ did walk the road to the cross and allowed himself to die and then was raised so we might have the opportunity for eternal life.