The scene was one of the most heart-wrenching moments in all of Star Trek: The Original Series. Spock had used his “Vulcan death grip” on Captain Kirk. The determination in the face of the Vulcan as he gripped his captain’s head, the raw, unbridled emotions was terrifying. It was surpassed only by the over-wrought fear on the face of Captain Kirk as he lost consciousness and fell to the ground. “You’ve killed him, Spock,” said Dr. McCoy. Cut to commercial. The six year old me never forgot that scene. The Vulcan death grip was a wonderfully terrible thing.
I had done so much wrong in my life that I was convinced God could never forgive me. I had been such a wicked sinner I had feared that I had crossed a bridge too far. After all, I had been saved, I knew right from wrong, I knew what God expected. I just found that I didn’t want to do what was right. Doing right involved sacrifice, and I didn’t want to sacrifice. It involved giving up control, and I liked being in control. Because I couldn’t see anyway to fix my life, I could not understand how God could fix it. I had no faith. I had no self-discipline. I had no comprehension of the power of God. And I had no grasp of the depth of God’s love.
Here is what I thought I understand. I knew that Hebrews 6 talked about those who sin too much and lose their salvation, or that’s what I believed. I knew that Romans 1 spoke of those who sin so much that God gives them over to a “reprobate mind.” I had read, in Acts 7, the sermon by my namesake, Stephen, that God had once given up on the nation of Israel and turned them over to worship false gods. And, I knew that the psalmist had spoken of that same event in Psalm 81:12.
It was in the Bible. Those people had gone too far, and God had given up on them, turned His back on them, and let them reap the rewards of their sins. I feared I was in the same place as the People of Israel. I didn’t worship a golden calf, but I did worship the idol known as self. God was, I was convinced, angry at me.
Here are the two points that we will be looking at as we continue our study on bondage to sin and freedom from sin through the power of the Holy Spirit.
First, sin is a frightful thing. Its grip on the life of an unbeliever or a weak believer is nothing less than a Vulcan death grip. Sin latches on to your heart and your soul and squeezes you, harder, and harder, and harder, and is not happy until you collapse, dead. If you manage to resist and break the grip, it stalks you, and doesn’t give up until it possesses you once again. It never gives up. Paul describes the wages of sin in Romans 1 as a depraved mind. God – knowing that the people of Israel would not repent – turned them over to the wages of sin, to live with their own bad decisions and willful disobedience, and as a result their minds and souls grew dark, and filled with muck, and the only word to describe them is depraved.
It didn’t have to be that way, though. They had plenty of chances to repent.I had once been convinced that Hebrews 6 tells us that we can lose our salvation by sinning too much. A closer reading reveals that that is not at all the case. Instead it says that we may lose our salvation if we stop believing in Christ the Messiah. I had done many, many things wrong, but I had never stopped believing in Christ, and I had never once thought that there is any other route to heaven but through Him. He is the Way and the Truth and the life. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV).
Sin can take you down. But it is only if you stop believing that your salvation may be in jeopardy. Your good works didn’t earn you salvation (salvation is by faith), so your bad deeds will not lose it for you. Sorry, you are not more powerful than the grace of God.
That Vulcan death grip was a farce. It didn’t work. Dr. McCoy saved the day. Jim wasn’t really dead. Spock showed emotion at the recovery of his captain. And, guess what. There is a cure for the death grip that sin has on your life, too. Confess your sins. Repent of them. And trust in God. It is NOT TOO LATE.
Holiness is, perhaps, the most misunderstood concept in Christianity. Anyone who has striven to follow the life of Christ can likely tell you that it is impossible to do. No one can match His love, His grace, or His compassion. For no one but Jesus is perfect. Once the believer is filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit, though, he or she is filled to the brim with the love of Christ, and desires nothing more than to please God and follow in Christ’s steps. The love of sin is gone. In its place is a love and passion for others. That is Christian Holiness. This is Christian Holiness Daily.