“For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 6:9-11, NIV2)
Once we experience the fullness of God, especially His love, we can’t stand simmering in sin any longer. He has become way more important to us for us to entertain such unhealthy practices. We have become truly alive through God and for God.
This same principle is also practiced in our daily living. When we experience something horribly awful and evil, we would do anything to avoid another similar negative encounter. Let me illustrate this with an example from World War II.
In 1943, when the Allies had landed in Sicily and Mussolini had been arrested, the Italian army was in disarray. The Nazis saw an opportunity to take possession of all Italian territories that were not yet under the control of the Allies.
In the little village of Boves, in the province of Cuneo, a unit of Italian soldiers took refuge in the mountains and started their own resistance against the Nazis. One day, they came across a car carrying two German soldiers. They had the opportunity of capturing these without too much hostility. A few days later, the SS Division those two soldiers were part of attacked the partisan positions. In the clash, one German soldier died and was left behind.
Immediately the SS occupied Boves, the nearby village, and summoned the priest and the commissioner of the district. The SS demanded the return of the hostages, or the village would have to face the consequences. The priest requested that he write down on paper that if they were successful in their endeavor, the village would be spared. The commander refused to sign the paper, as the word of a German was worth way more than a thousand signatures of an Italian.
After tedious negotiations with the partisans, the two hostages, as well as the body of the dead Nazi left behind, were returned to the Nazis. “True” to their “word”, the Nazis then initiated a massacre. Many of the villagers fled in the mountain, but the old and disabled didn’t have that luxury. The village was set on fire, and around 350 homes were destroyed, including 45 people, among whom were the priest and the Commisioner.
It was there, in Boves, Italy, on September 19, 1943, that the Nazis included actions against the civilians in response to the resistance for the first time.
The SS returned in January 1944. This time, though, the Nazis were unsuccessful in breaking the unconquered and undaunted spirit of the population of that village. Although they set 500 houses ablaze and 157 partisans were killed in action to keep their homeland free, victory was in the court of the partisans. Italian martyrdom reached its height, however, when the Nazis, who were already beaten and running away, brutally massacred nine children.
At all costs, those courageous Italians resisted the evil that had come to their doorstep. After the war, the village of Boves was awarded the title of “Martyred Town of Resistance” and was also decorated with two gold medals.
The villagers still love their freedom and would do anything to remain so. In 1984, the first school of Peace was founded in Italy, spreading the message of fraternization between peoples. In 1987, Boves declared itself Capital of Peace.
If those Italians resisted evil with all that they had, why would we, who experience Jesus fully, want to simmer in sin? After all, He paid the cost of our iniquities so that we could be free indeed.
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
Are you a partisan of freedom?
(To access the entire “Radical Grace From the Book of Romans” devotional series, please click here.)