Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Body of Death

In Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 1798 poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, an old sailor is forced to wander the earth for eternity telling his story to strangers. That story includes him shooting an albatross that his crew members thought gave them good fortune on the seas; as punishment for killing the large bird, he is forced to wear the carcass around his neck (that is the origin of the phrase, "albatross around the neck" when referring to something that is a turnoff to others).

While that poem is purely fictional, there is a story like it that is believed to be true. In the ancient city of Tarsus, where the Apostle Paul was from, there was a legend of a murderer being forced to wear the dead body of his victim until the corpse decomposed (nice, right?). It is believed Paul had that picture in mind when he spoke about the internal struggle he had with sin; Paul lamented the fact that he finds himself doing what he hates, and not doing what he knows is right: "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death (v.24)?"

The body of death to which Paul referred should paint a graphic picture. Some today greatly downplay their sin, saying they are free in Christ. They say, “Hey, Paul sinned too, so what’s the big deal if I sin?” Instead of trying to crucify the flesh, they give themselves a license to sin in the name of “freedom.”

No one understood that freedom better than Paul, yet he was still disgusted by his actions. We should view our sin as nothing less than a body of death, a foul, offensive corpse that turns people away from our God. Who could deliver Paul from that body of death? Only Jesus. Turn to Him for help today.

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