Would you be free from the burden of sin?
“Be careful that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak.”
– I Cor 8:9
The verse from the letter by the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth was concerned with how Christians appeared to the community at large. That Christians were free from the law was well appreciated. However, freedom came with responsibility. If by the action of a Christian someone were to find encouragement to sin, the Christian shared accountability to the sin.
This is an ongoing struggle among Christians. Rather than embracing personal freedom with responsibility, congregations often created rules to identify acceptable and unacceptable activities of Christians. Unacceptable activities were identified as sin, and, shame was the means of behavior modification. Smoking, drinking, playing cards, dancing, going to a movie, entering a pawn shop, cussing and any activity other than sitting still on Sundays were understood by some as leading one down a path away from God.
In Corinth there were Christians who, eating at the table of idol worshippers, were aware that the food had been offered to a god. It gave an appearance of sin.
The opening line of the old hymn “There is Power in the Blood” asks a question: “Would you be free from the burden of sin?” Such a question is similar to that a parent might ask of a misbehaving child; “Do you need a spanking?” The teacher might ask of a student who is being disruptive, “Do you need to be excused?” The phrasing of the questions suggests this is a moment for behavior modification. There is an expectation of change in an offer to overlook an offense.
My understanding of sin is that sin happens in the mind. It reveals itself in the actions and attitudes of individuals. Sin is what closes the mind and heart to the way and will of the one God of all creation. It is holding to an attitude that believes there is no accountability to God for our behavior. When we fail to live according to the command of love for one another as we are loved by God, we have chosen sin over God.
Consider how many burdens life brings just by circumstance of health, finances, relationships and employment. Think also of the burdens laid upon many individuals in the name of being a good and faithful Christian. We suffer the burdens we lay upon ourselves when we harbor resentment and anger within our heart. “Would you be free from the burden of sin?”
Some endure the burden of evil around them because it seems the norm. Affluenza that believes money grants privilege to break laws. Substance abuse that relieves pain but does not cure the symptom. Hunger, homelessness, poverty are burdens of sin. Would we not want to be free of such burden?
The answer to being free of the burden is the cross of Jesus. It was the blood shed at Calvary that has forever lifted the burden of sin from overtaking our lives. Because we are loved by God unconditionally our burdens can be lifted. Let us not therefore choose to bear our burdens alone. Let us not use our freedom to burden others. Answer the question God asks us daily: “Would you be free from the burden of sin.”
Your servant in Christ,