Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

Today is going to be a very similar message to yesterday.  I think that Romans 6 holds some valuable lessons that we all need to hear from time to time so today I will address the first part of that chapter.  The story begins in Romans 5.
For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Romans 5:19-21 NKJV
This is a very encouraging passage.  Basically, we are being told that you can not sin too much to come to Jesus.  You can never outsin the grace of Jesus.  No what you have done, no matter how many sins you have committed, no matter how horrible sins you have committed, grace always abounds all the more.  You can never overcome grace with sin.  Grace will always win.  That is unless, of course, you never accept that free gift of grace offered through Jesus Christ.  Furthermore, even after you come to Jesus, you can not fall from grace.  God would not have saved you if He was just going to let you go if you failed Him enough times.  There is always enough grace to cover your sin. 

That said, many like to stop here.  This is where licentiousness comes in.  This is where the belief that once in Christ we can still live how we always lived the only difference being that we are now forgiven.  This is where the idea comes in that we need not be concerned at all with our sin once we are in the Lord.  Sadly, for them, they fail to realize that Romans was not written in chapters and verses to be able to stop at this one point and think you reached the end of the discussion.  You can not read Romans 5 without considering Romans 6 because Romans 6 continues the thought. 
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Romans 6:1 NKJV
In other words, should we continue in sin knowing grace will always cover it?  Should we continue just as we did before knowing we are forgiven?  Should we be unconcerned with the sin in our lives because God has already forgiven us? 
Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  Romans 6:2-4 NKJV
Certain not!  God forbid!  Paul is emphatically telling is that we should not continue our sinful ways after coming to Jesus.  It is not that we are now striving to be better, but that we no longer have to.  Just as I taught yesterday, grace is so much more than forgiveness.  Grace is freedom to live for God.  Grace is freedom from sin's hold on our lives.  When we come to Jesus, we are dead to sin.  That is the symbol of baptism, that we put away our old life and are arisen again into a new life.  We are no longer the same person we used to be and we are no longer just like anyone else in the world.  We died to our sin and now we live new lives for Jesus. 
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be [in the likeness] of [His] resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with [Him], that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.  Romans 6:5-7 NKJV
The person we were was crucified with Christ.  That is what happens when we come to Jesus.  It is important to note that the tense used for "Crucified" was a tense that means a past historical event (aorist tense).  In other words, it means that it was an event that happened and not repeated and never to be repeated.  We do not need to continually crucify our old man.  We do not need to repeat the death of the old man.  When we come to Jesus, that old man dies.  We are not who we used to be and the only reason we ever act in the same manner as our old selves is because we fail to recognize that who we are trying to be is dead.  Any idea that we are the same sinful unregenerate person we once were is a lie.  It is a lie created by the father of lies and perpetuated in our own minds. 
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For [the death] that He died, He died to sin once for all; but [the life] that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:8-11 NKJV
Now Paul begins to talk about our new life in Christ.  That old man is dead, we must recognize that.  He is dead, gone, crucified, and never to come back.  We are dead to sin.  It no longer has any hold over us.  Now that we understand that, we must begin to understand our new lives in Christ.  Once we understand that the old man is dead, we must begin to learn what it means to live this new life for God. 
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members [as] instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members [as] instruments of righteousness to God.  Romans 6:12-13 NKJV
This passage really sums up the message.  Do not let sin run your life anymore.  Do not present yourself to sin, that is do not put yourself in situations where you are going to sin.  Sitting down at a bar knowing you are prone to get drunk is presenting yourself to sin.  Watching a movie that is going to stir up adulterous thoughts is presenting yourself to sin.  Being around people that area going to drag you into gossip is presenting yourself to sin.  Sin no longer owns us and our obedience to its call is now by choice and not by nature.  In other words, when you sin now it is because you consciously choose to because you consciously want to.  On the other hand, what we are called to do is to present ourselves to God as alive from the dead and as instruments of righteousness.  Again, this is not talking about some doctrinal position of righteousness but actual righteousness expressed through our lives.  We are to be God's instruments on earth.  We are called to be used of God for His glory.  We are called be bond servants of Jesus Christ.  We are called to serve God.  That is the new man.  The new man has the desire to serve God.  It is not service out of compulsion but out of desire as the newly alive persons we are in Jesus Christ. 
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.  Romans 6:14 NKJV
When you were outside of Christ, you were under the law and a slave to sin.  Now that you are under grace, sin no longer has a hold over your life.  Paul makes it abundantly clear here that an effect of grace is righteous living.  Being under grace does not mean freedom to sin, but freedom from sin! 

It is about time we stopped learning not just that we are saved, but what being saved means for our lives.  It is about time we stopped learning what we already know that is we are forgiven for our sins, but it is time to learn that we are free from sin's hold on our lives.  It is time that we stopped learning merely how to become a Christian or that we already are Christian but what it means to be Christian.  Those who are saved already know that Jesus died for them and that He was resurrected from the dead, maybe now it is time that they learn that they died as well and were raised again into a new life.  Yes, Jesus does save, but then He transforms, and that message needs to be taught to raise up men and women of God from the babes that they remain. 
For everyone who partakes [only] of milk [is] unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, [that is], those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.  Hebrews 5:13-14 NKJV

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