Being pregnant the fifth time around is a very different experience than being pregnant with your first child. Trust me, I know. Besides the fact that there are four other kids to care for even when all I want to do is sleep, there’s the stark realities of the changes in my body. I’m 5 1/2 months pregnant right now, and I’m as big as I was at 8 months with my first child. My body has already done this pregnancy thing multiple times before, so it knows the drill. With my first pregnancy, I hadn’t been stretched out in such a way before, so it took longer for the baby bump to appear, and when it did, it was small and cute. No longer. Once a body has gone through these changes before, it’s easier for it to adjust the next time around. Same for my labor experiences. Each consecutive labor has gotten shorter, which is definitely a good thing. So my body bears witness to the fact that this isn’t anything new anymore. It’s been there and done that.
Okay, so you aren’t here to read about my pregnancy and labor stories. I get that. So what does this have to do with anything? I see the same principle at work in our spiritual lives as well. Let’s talk about that dirty little word called sin. I see a lot of similarities between my body adjusting more quickly to pregnancy and us getting used to a particular sin in our lives. The first time you do anything is a big deal, right? Your first kiss, the first time you drove a car alone, your first paycheck, etc. These are all a big deal at first, but the novelty wears off. Eventually, those things are nothing exciting. Same goes for the trap of sin. The first time we do something wrong, we may think it’s a big deal. Perhaps you used drugs or got drunk or had a one-night stand. And it probably (hopefully) really nagged at your conscience. Maybe you vowed you’d never do it again. But the second time temptation comes calling, it’s much easier to answer because you’ve been there and done that. Each consecutive time, it becomes a little less of a big deal, and pretty soon you find yourself trapped in a particular sin. And it doesn’t even have to be a “big” one like the ones I mentioned above. Gossip, lust, mean thoughts about someone, a little compromise of your convictions here and there—all these are things we often gloss over. Everyone does it, so what’s the harm? we may ask. The danger is that we start to see sin as something minor, and end up getting trapped in it. The writer to the Hebrews exhorts us in Hebrews 12:1 to throw off “the sin that so easily entangles.” Our Gospel reading from yesterday tells us that “everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). Sin is a big deal, folks. It’s easy to get entangled in it and end up as a slave to sin.
But there’s good news. Paul tells us in Romans 6:6-7 that we are no longer slaves to sin, “because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” You see, fellow believer, the very thing that brought you new life also brought you death. “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life,” Paul says in Romans 6:4. In your baptism, you died to sin. Your baptism unites you to Jesus’ death on that cross, but it also unites you to His resurrection. You have all the benefits of His saving work on your behalf. So now you are freed from slavery to sin.
The entire chapter of Romans 6 is well worth the read, but let me highlight a few verses. Verse 14 encourages us that “sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace,” and verse 18 says, “you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” We also read in verse 22, “now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” God has set you free, dear one. You don’t have to be a slave to sin. If you have an addiction, seek professional help and a Christian support group to encourage you and lift you up in prayer. If you struggle with a sin, consider private confession and absolution or perhaps an accountability partner. Be careful not to become complacent in sinning.
I can’t help what my body does in pregnancy the fifth time around. I’m not thrilled with a larger shape, but I’ll take the shorter labor. My body knows the drill. It’s been there and done that before. And Jesus has the same assurance for you. He has already paid the consequences of your sin by His death and resurrection. He’s been there and done that. And thanks to your baptism, so have you.