Do not give in to sinful desires ...
We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. ... So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. -Romans 6:6-7, 11-12 NLT
In these few sentences Paul paints the contrast that we see in the scriptures regarding sin. On one hand he speaks to the way that sin has lost its power in our lives because of the cross of Christ. On the other hand he tells his readers that they must not let sin control their lives. Is this an exercise in double speak or is the apostle painting an accurate image of this troubling tension? Is the power of sin over the believer different than for unbelievers?
In this chapter and the following one Paul paints a compelling picture of a man who is torn. He speaks of doing things he knows is wrong and not acting in ways that he knows is right. The easy answer for Paul, and for us, is to point to some sort of spirituality that separates us from unbelievers in this area. In my thinking it is simply not that simple. The struggle against sin is ongoing and prayer filled. The difference is our attitude towards sin and our desire to subdue it.
Like the tax collector in the gospels we cry out Lord - be merciful to we who sin every day.