Meet Tom. Tom has Type II diabetes and was given a reality-check from his doctor recently. His blood sugar was far from being stable or under control which is threatening parts of his body. He is most concerned about the potential of losing an extremity… aka toes. But Tom loves his sweets.
Tom exclaimed his exasperation and dilemma, “I want to keep my toes and I want to keep my Twinkies!”
We can all relate to Tom in that the desire for what is good for us and what is bad for us often fills the same space in our hearts and minds!
Toes are amazing, but so are Twinkies.
*If Twinkies aren’t doing it for you, how about cinnamon rolls?
In Romans 7, Paul speaks to a similar and common battle of wanting to obey God and wanting to obey the flesh.
“I have discovered this principle of life – that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.” v 22-23
Sigh… Twinkies and toes.
Paul exclaims his exasperation in verse 24, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?”
I appreciate Paul’s candor! He is pulling the curtain back and letting us see a common struggle for every believer. We have within us the Spirit and a desire to obey Him – and - we have within us the old man, the flesh, and a desire to obey it.
So the real issue isn’t the Twinkies or the toes, it’s the desire of which to keep.
Truth is… we want both.
The sooner we get to admitting we enjoy our Twinkies... ahem, sin... the sooner we can get on with keeping our souls from further damage.
The second truth is… we cannot have both. Not without consequence. Eventually, those Twinkies catch up with us.
Those TWO positions are juxtaposed to one another.
“For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you wish.”
So what are we to do with our dilemma? Rolling back one chapter to Romans 6, Paul offers the solution. “Present yourself,” or in the Greek, to be present. v 13
To be present is to be mindful, pay attention to. It implies putting ourselves near or before. It is not passive. There is a choice to be made and again TWO options here.
Option one: Presenting ourselves to sin and therefore to death (lost toes).
Option two: Presenting ourselves to God and therefore to righteousness (gained life).
So Twinkies and toes is really a choice between death or life. Sickness or wellness.
When Paul says, "present yourselves as instruments," he is using the word picture of a weapon. Ever thought of yourself as a weapon? Who's hand are you a weapon in?
We are weapons of either TWO things - unrighteousness (sin) or righteousness (God).
The New Living Translation communicates this well, “Do not let any part of your body become a tool of wickedness, to be used for sinning.”
God used David’s hands as weapons of righteousness to slay Goliath.
Sin used David’s eyes as weapons of unrighteousness when looking upon Bathsheba.
TWO options - when our lives are given over to righteousness, we are weapons for good or when our lives are given over to sin, we are weapons for evil.
So it is a sacrifice of sorts. It is either Twinkies or toes; not both. You will sacrifice one for the other. There is not getting around that.
TWO outcomes – death or life. Is the choice really that hard to make?
Now hard to do is a different story! Verse 14 gives us hope that we can live in freedom, "sin will not be master over you, for you... are under grace."
“God has so changed your nature by his grace that when you sin you shall be like a fish on dry land, you shall be out of your element, and long to get into a right state again. You cannot sin, for you love God. You may become so foolish as to try the pleasures of the world, but they shall be no pleasures to you.”