Romans 7:5. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.
For the person who is not united to Christ and his life, but rather is controlled only by the flesh (the self seeking mechanism of our soul), the law does the dastardly work of stirring up the sinful passions and desires unto death.
For those of us who are IN Christ and no longer IN the flesh there is good news. There is hope. There is life. But before we go bounding joyously into Romans 7:6 and then the glory of Romans 8, let’s pause for a moment (as Paul will do in the rest of chapter 7) and remember that even as Christians we still have the flesh in us, and, although we are not IN the flesh, we can live “according to” the flesh.
And so Romans 7:5 has a warning for us, but also some of that hope that we need.
Law stirs up sinful passions. Anyone who’s been a teacher, or a parent, or a boss, or a human knows that just law with no hope of grace and love breeds nothing but resentment. In fact, we know that law can actually create rebellion.
Think about the rising cult of performancism. Remember before Pinterest when you could bake just because it was fun and tasty. But then came all those baking shows, and social media displays of our kitchen skills and now everyone has to out bake and out birthday party each other. But is anyone doing anything for the sheer joy of it anymore?
The Atlantic’s Amanda Mull calls it the commodification of inadequacy. Our culture wants us to feel inadequate so that we buy more and watch more and join more and spend more. She argues that retailers aim to make us feel “less than” just so that we will buy their products. Of course we already know this. But can we see how it connects to Paul’s statement about the law’s stirring up of our sinful passions?
Think with me about a show like “Nailed It.”
There’s a standard and then there’s what we actually produce. Law at it’s finest. Superiority and inferiority reign. And that’s just for us viewers.
But there’s also a hope that’s found when we let the law do its job in our hearts. If the law can only condemn then we are left desperate for a way to avoid this condemnation. And this is where our union with Christ comes in. Now through our death with Christ the law can no longer condemn us, and instead it can actually draw our hearts to our hope in Christ. Beyond this, the law minus its condemnation can now actually be something that reveals the nature of God to us and becomes something we can take comfort in. Even find delight in.
So baking doesn’t have to be a competition or a chance to prove our worth. And watching other people fail at baking doesn’t have to be what makes us feel better about ourselves. Christ can do all of this. Now baking is left to just be baking. A fun way to enjoy each other and God’s good gifts. Now baking is hopeful. Not stressful. Now your kid’s party can just be a party, and not a performance. Now that’s “to live is Christ.”
Fill in whatever it is that stresses you out where the word “baking” is above. How can freedom from the law’s condemnation allow you to just enjoy life as a gift from God this weekend?
And here’s your Josh White play list for the weekend: