Paul could say, as in Hebrews 2:14-15, that God has freed his people from the power of the devil. Similarly, he could say, as in Romans 6:22, that Christians now serve God. However, instead, here he chooses to speak about sin and righteousness. It is these two opposite principles that direct people’s lives. Sin and righteousness are as strongly opposite as God and the devil are.
By the word ‘sin’ here, Paul now means much more than our evil deeds. It is very terrible that people should ever choose to do wrong and evil things. By ‘sin’, Paul here means the part of our human nature that directs us to do those wrong things. Because of its control over our lives, we were God’s enemies (5:10). It was impossible that we could ever free ourselves from its power.
However, Christ died to free us from the power of sin. When we invite Christ into our lives, instead of sin, righteousness directs our lives. Righteousness means complete goodness. Now, at last, we can start to live in the manner that pleases God.
We have described sin as ‘part of our nature’. We do not think that we can describe righteousness in the same way. Even loyal Christians sometimes do wrong things (1 John 1:8-9). Rather, ‘righteousness’ describes the perfect character of God: only he is perfectly good.
However, God is present in the lives of his people (1 Corinthians 6:19). Because of Christ’s death, his righteousness is in their lives (2 Corinthians 5:21). As God guides them by his Spirit, their actions and attitudes are right and good (Galatians 5:16-25).
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© 2017, Keith Simons.