Romans 6:12-23
Sini-cide = Death By Sin
June 29, 2014
Maybe it’s because I use them so much, some might say I use them too much, but I love words and what they mean and where they are derived from. The other day I discovered a new word – stravacide. It’s a word created by and being used by serious bik racers. The “cide” suffix has the same meaning as it does in words like homicide, which is death caused by a human being, or suicide, when you cause your own death, or fratricide, which means death caused by a brother. The suffix cide means “the act of killing.” So in this new word being used by avid bike racers, stravacide means “death by strava”.
That really explains a lot, doesn’t it?
Just what is strava– and how is death caused by it?
The word strava is Swedish for “strive,” and is the name of a website intended to help bike racers who don’t have a group of racers to train with. Strava offers ideas to stay motivated while training so the racers can pursue their peak performance. Racers can post their training routs on Strava, along with their times and other stats, and then other racers can try to beat those times. In effect, racers training by themselves end up competing against others, going not only for personal bests, but also for best among all those who may be using the same or similar routs for training. The competition is supposed to be friendly and provide racers with motivation similar to what actually racing against other riders does. A typical route posted to Strava might include steep hills, and riders can seek to be the “king of the mountain” (KOM) on that climb by completing it the fastest. But, of course, racing up a hill also means that one must come down the hill, and some riders have been competing on that part of the route, too. The problem comes when, in an effort to the fastest downhill racer, some highly competitive riders have pushed the limits far beyond what’s reasonable.
That’s where the stravacide, or death by strava, comes in.
On June 6, 2010, for example, Kim Flint, a fit, trim rider in his early 40s, posted on Strava his stats from his zoom down South Park Drive, a precipitous descent in San Francisco, California. The hill is 1.4 miles long, with an average grade of 9.6 percent and some pitches as steep as 20 percent. It also contains a series of blind curves. Flint’s Strava posting indicates that his average speed down the hill was 39.9 mph and his top speed was 49.3 mph, much too fast for the conditions of the road. Flint’s numbers caused another Strava user to comment online, “Sounds pretty dangerous. RIP dude.” Sure enough, on June 19, Flint was trying to beat his record but, going around a curve on the way down, lost control, rammed into an SUV, flew 40 feet through the air and crushed his chest. He died in the hospital a few days later.
Stravacide – or death by Strava. Death by being so competitive in the bike racing world that you feel you have to beat everyone else’s time posted on Strava and be the King of the Mountain – until you finally kill yourself or someone else. One examples where others have been killed by racers trying to beat times posted on Strava include the March of 2012 attempt by a racer who, while attempting to become the King Of The Mountain on the steeply downhill portion of Castro Street in San Francisco, slammed into a 71-year-old pedestrian. The pedestrian died in the hospital and the racer who hit him was charged with felony vehicular manslaughter.
Stravacide – or death by strava. Death by being so competitive in the bike racing world that you feel you have to beat everyone else’s time posted on Strava and be the King of the Mountain – until you finally kill yourself or someone else
But, you now what? The Strava website, of course, is not the real perpetrator in any of the cases of stravacide, but for those who use it and have a super competitive spirit, it seems to have become an addiction they don’t seem to be able to control.
I’m going to introduce you to another new word today – one you are very familiar with even though you may not recognize it when I say it. That word is sinicide. And sinicide, as you might guess, means death by sin.
Sinicide. Death by sin.
I am sure you are familiar with it. You might want to deny it. You might not want to talk about it. You might want to avoid the issue completely. But believe me, sinicide – death by sin – is real, and it’s more of a problem than stavacide or homicide or suicide or any of the other “cides” you can think of. Sinicide – death by sin – is a real problem – in fact the main problem – we have in our lives and in the word.
Paul certainly understood sinicide. He understood the problem that sin poses for all people. One of the many places Paul addresses the problem of sin is in our scripture passage for today from Romans 6. When Paul addresses sin here in Romans 6 he’s not talking about individual wrong acts, but the sinful attitude that is within each of us that to not obey God. He’s talking about about the disposition within each of us that does not yield to God’s will. He’s referring to a power that takes hold of us and narrows our attention to only what we want at any particular moment, even if we know it is not what God wants for us at a particular moment.
Eugene Peterson in his translation The Message translates verse Romans 6:19 “You can readily recall, can’t you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing — not caring about others, not caring about God — the worse your life became and the less freedom you had.”
When you are focused on sin you give up any freedoms you have to the power of sin,
Sinicide. Death by sin.
When Paul refers to death caused by sin, he’s not referring to physical death. He’s referring to the death that comes when we focus on our own sinful point of view instead of God’s point of view. You see –God is not going to save us from physical death. It’s a given. Physical death will happen. But — God can and will save us from spiritual death. God can and will save us from being so focused on what we want and so rebellious of what He wants for us. That’s the attitude we call sin. That’s the attitude God can change us from – the attitude that leads to sinicide, or death by sin. Physical death is common to all humankind, since God has made us to be finite. God doesn’t save us from physical death, but God can and will save us from spiritual death. God can and will save us from being so self-centered, and so sin centered, that we commit sinicide and die spiritually because of our self centered-ness and sinfulness.
Friends – Paul goes beyond writing about sinicide and death by sin here in Romans 6. He also announces some good news – and the good news Paul announces is that Christ has broken the reign of sin. Christ has broken the grip that our sinful self-centeredness has on us, and the sinicide – or death by sin – it causes. In Christ, Paul writes, we are “dead to sin and alive to God” Paul says.
This does not mean you are perfect once you give your life to Christ. The power of sin is still strong. Your sinful nature pops up it’s ugly head time and time again and gives you back to doing what you want instead of what God wants. This reality of being both dead-to-sin but still having to deal with sinful desires has been called the continuing ambiguity of the Christian life. But you must remember that the same opportunity to be disobedient and sinful is also an opportunity to be obedient to God and to grow in your faith. The opportunity you have to sin is also an opportunity to choose not to sin. The same opportunity sin gives you to drift away from God also gives us an opportunity for a more mature relationship with God. Once you begin following Christ, the temptation to obey your sinful desires are also opportunities to let Christ have more control.
Friends, you are not going to grow spiritually by simply thinking about it or wishing for it. You will grow by making the right choices. You will grow by will deciding every day to be faithful to God instead of giving in to sin. Paul makes it clear that you will focus on something all the time, and that you are free to choose what you will focus on — either the desires of sin or the desires of God. Paul writes, “But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart … and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”
There is no neutral ground. Paul J. Achtemeier, a professor at Union Seminary in Richmond, writes in his commentary on Romans: “ the choice is not slavery or freedom in some absolute sense. The choice is, rather, slavery to which lord, to which ruling power?”
You don’t grow as a follower of Christ just by resisting the temptations to sin. You grow in your relationship with God grow by choosing, every day, to actively live in God’s ways and live out God’s will for your life. When you pray for God to help you do this and commit yourself to this, you live in the ways of God and not the ways of sin. That’s the only way to avoid spiritual sinicide – s[piritual death by sin. Amen.