We’ve been hiking through the theological preserve that is Romans, stopping to camp every fortnight or so and we come to Romans chapter 6. We’ve looked at:
- Romans 1; the gospel with the power to save, the wrath of God revealed, faith the way to righteousness
- Romans 2; the Jew and the Gentile, both alike in need of salvation
- Romans 3; no-one will meet God’s standard by obeying the law, righteousness is by faith
- Romans 4; our inability to keep the law, Abraham approached God in faith, justified by faith
- Romans 5; Adam and the sin that condemned us; Christ and the righteousness that justified us
We gather around the campfire and look to Romans 6:
What happens at a campfire? We don’t always analyse what it is that we are seeing…
The transfer of energy;
The release of gases;
The emergence of plasma;
The heat of a chemical reaction;
The Constructal law that was identified regarding the perfect shape of the wood.
Yes, I said the Constructal law that identified the optimal shape of the wood to start a fire. Somebody actually looked into the physics behind it.
In sum, it is to make sure that the base of the wood corresponds with the height of the wood. This is probably of little interest to the average South African who can rely on firelighters and briquettes.
We don’t typically analyse what we’re seeing, but we know how to use it. Mounds of perfectly cooked wors over countless years by most South African gents attest to this.
And here begins my segue which I thought of in the context of a poor sleep the night before; it made sense at the time, but the clumsy metaphor part of my brain (which is in my sarcastic hypothalamus) looks at the campfire and sees a clunky picture of Kainos.
There are physics involved in combustion and equally consistent spiritual laws at work in the being of a changed man, a new man in Christ. The old man is dead, like the charred wood and embers left behind, replaced by a living flame licking towards the sky. The new man stands amidst the detritus of the old.
This is what I see when I read through Romans 6. The power of sin no longer has a claim over us. That’s nice and theoretical you may object. Not really; the more I read scripture, the more I pray through situations and people, I really do notice a change. In 2019 I’m leaving certain things behind, my perspective is changing – even in the midst of the occasional setback.
The idea that you simply have to discern/realise who you are as a born-again believer and live according to that is a part of the idea behind ‘Kainos‘ (we’ll get to that in a moment). It is not the whole story though – that’s too simplistic. It’s not simply in the mind, that we can think ourselves into Christian behaviour. It is a work of God where we are empowered by the Spirit, but there is an element of us choosing to walk in it.
We need to live according to who we are in Christ.
I’ve had a long-standing relationship with sin. And even taking into account the idea that sin can lead me to deceive myself, I know my own sinful nature. As Paul did his.
And yet Paul is writing that believers are brand new creations and can walk according to it.
This is where Paul uses the word Kainos. Something brand new. Something different is going on that wasn’t going on before.
Paul is theological and philosophical, however the things he’s writing about are not simply to give our grey-matter the fuzzies – Paul ramps up to all of the stuff he’s writing about being practical and applicable.
My understanding of theology is anything but systematic, and certainly not formal but I got nerd-excited when Paul uses the work ‘Kainos‘. World (and non-Greek speakers), may I introduce you to the word Kainos:
as respects form:
recently made, fresh, recent, unused, unworn
as respects substance:
of a new kind, unprecedented, novel, uncommon, unheard of
Paul is writing that we are dead to sin. It’s done, we can’t go back (verses 4,6,7), just like we can’t un-burn a campfire and retrieve freshly chopped wood:
Paul writes that we are not under law but under grace (verse 14). Amongst other things that grace may be to you, to me its experiential. You know it when it impacts you and you simply know that you know that you know…its a certainty that simply pops up seemingly out of nowhere and its there to stay.
Something different is going on that wasn’t going on before.