2020 - Romans
Last time, we explored the end of Romans chapter 5…
Romans 5:17-21If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous… so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Grace defeats sin… Every Time!
If this is true…
--If the grace of Christ is greater than the sin of Adam…
--If everything is going to be made right…
--If the abundance of grace offers the free gift of life…
Then, there is an obvious question… guesses?
Paul asks this obvious question in verse 1 of Romans chapter 6.
Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
If Grace defeats sin… don’t worry about sinning. It is the obvious question.
If this thought were expressed as a math formula, it might look like this… If S=X and G>X. Then to get more G, do more S. “That’s a great idea. The more S the more G is poured out to defeat my S. Let’s see how much G God will give us. Let’s P”. P is party. “You are not a mathematician, are you?”
If this thought were expressed as a metaphor… I can have my cake and eat it too. So, let’s eat the cake. I can eat whatever I want and still get God’s grace.
If this thought were expressed as a life-principle… “It’s easier to get forgiveness, than permission. So, let’s go need some forgiveness!”
It makes sense. The “continue in sin” is actually more accurately translated… “remain in the state of continuing to sin.” Or the word some of my relatives might use… wallow in sin.
The obvious question… “Shouldn’t we wallow in sin so that God can show how gracious He really is?” Paul answers, emphatically…
Romans 6:2 By no means! Certainly not, No Way, Absolutely not, God Forbid, Never, Let it not be, NOT!" Depending upon your translation!
But, Why not? Sinning if forgiven is great. Why not remain wallowing in sin?
Paul paints four pictures to help us realize we don’t want to keep on sinning. Four pictures to motivate us to not wallow.
PICTURE ONE - A FUNERAL
Romans 6:2-6 How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death… We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
The small group, dressed in black, stood huddled against the cold and against the finality of the situation. The preacher had finished the eulogy. A prayer ended the ceremony. Some people began to file away. Others stood for a last tear-filled look at the soon to be buried casket. It was over. The person was gone. The group watched as the body is lowered into the ground; into its final resting place.
Then, the scene becomes a bad dream. As the group watches the body being lowered into the grave, they see in bottom of the grave there is already another body. Their dead loved one is joining another dead body in the grave… what? Then, the dream changes again, the grave is flooded with water. The one body is lowered into the watery grave to join the other body that is already in the water. Two bodies in a water filled grave.
Wait, it’s baptism. The first half of a baptism is a double-funeral. We join the dead Jesus in the water… so that sin dies; we die to sin; the body of sin dies; the old self dies. It is a funeral for sin. The grave is for sin. The headstone above the grave says… RIP SIN. Sin has been brought to nothing. Sin is decaying in the grave.
Here is the motivation to not sin… We should quit sinning because we don’t want to live in a cheap horror movie. What? To continue to sin after the corpse of sin has been buried is like being in a horror movie. You know when the monster is killed and all the not-too-bright stars of the movie turn their back on the mostly dead monster. Then, the monster jump-scares everyone because it comes back to life.
We don’t want the corpse of sin to pop up out of the coffin and begin wallowing again. We don’t want our lives to be like a cheap horror movie when the monster actually never dies. It keeps coming back to life to continue killing. That is not the Christian life.
In baptism sin dies. Let the dead sin stay dead. Don’t bring it back to life to continue to destroy your life. It is not about forgiveness, so much as it is about a life lived in purity to God!
Therefore, therefore, therefore, don’t let the monster out of the grave. Let sin stay dead.
PICTURE TWO - BIRTH OF A BABY
In 1982 I had the rare privilege of holding my newborn baby daughter. I give her a bath when she was less than an hour old. The joy, the expectations of a lifetime, the beginnings of a relationship, the purity, the peace, the love, are all memories that I will always cherish. The excitement of a new life is the second picture Paul paints to motivate us to not wallow.
Romans 6:4-5 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we toomight walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Romans 6:9-11 We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So, you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
The second half of baptism is a new life!
The picture here is of the first Easter morning. Jesus steps out of the tomb to live again; a new life; a life of the coming “Then” age; a sinless life. We are “with” him in that resurrection. We are raised by the glory of the Father; we walk in newness; we are united with Christ.
When we rise from baptism, we are just like a newborn. We have been raised to live again. A new life, a new hope, a new start, a clean life, a life that can be committed to God. A life that can be lived like Jesus. That is the life we have been granted. We have been united with Christ. The word "united" means planted together. We are planted with Christ. We have life to live with Christ. Just as he was raised from the dead so we are raised to walk a life joined with Christ, a life that is new.
Motivation… We would never want to pollute a shiny new life!
Paul says, "You have a new life! The life of a precious newborn! Live sinless!
PICTURE THREE - A WEAPON
Here is the third picture… A Greek phalanx of hoplites.
Romans 6:13-14 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
The Greek word for instruments is hoplon. If you know your Greek military history you know their famous fighters were the hoplites. These soldiers would form phalanx with shields and hoplons; spears. It was their discipline, their courage, their unity that made them strong.
We are the hoplons of God. Sin messes that up. We are clean, sharp, disciplined, ready, used by God as his weapon!
One of the greatest needs in a person is to feel worthwhile. To feel useful. To know purpose. We are designed to be used as an instrument of God bringing Him Glory.
But if you choose to live a life wallowing in sin you will not be an effective instrument of righteousness but rather you will be an instrument of wickedness.
Your sinlessness is a weapon in the hand of God. The very purity of avoiding sin gives your weapon power. I want to be a weapon in the hand of God. I want to be used by him for whatever he needs me to be. I want to be his tool. Therefore, I must keep myself, clean and ready. I must avoid sin. I must work in my life to be sharp, to have the right attitudes. Motivation… "If you want to be used by God stay away from sin."
(I think this is the strongest reason, for me)
PICTURE FOUR - THE SLAVE MARKET
Romans 6:16-22 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? The end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.
You are a slave. You really don't have much choice. Jesus said, "You cannot serve two masters." This is much the same point that Paul is making. You are a slave. If you make no choice you will by default be a slave of sin. "Wait Tim, I am not a slave to anything or anybody. Nobody tells me what to do." That very attitude proclaims loudly that you are a slave to pride, arrogance, selfishness and hate. You have no choice you are a slave.
The only choice you have is… who’s your master. If you deliberately, intentionally, faithfully, purposefully, and diligently choose obedience as your master then you will be free of the ogre of sin as your master.
I want you to notice the process that is described. Actually, there are two opposite processes. Process One…
--you choose obedience, you obey that form of teaching, the Gospel,
--that leads to righteousness, you offer your body do making things right
--that leads to the fruit of sanctification… which brings glory to your Master!
The other process is simpler.
--You commit your body as a slave to sin
--that leads to ever increasing wickedness
--Which results in a life of death. Sin will destroy your life. Your life will be dead.
The wages of sin is a death type of life… a slave of sin-life.
Gift of grace is a life type of life… a slave of a glorious life.
Motivation… live a glorious life, not a dead-life!
Here is the point. Our motivation not to sin must be right. If this motivation is from fear of the wrath of God, or duty to law or because of what others may think, these will not keep us from sin for the long term.
But if our motivation to not sin is…
--We don’t want to keep being jump-scared by the monster of sin.
--We instead live a brand-new life with Christ!
--So, we can be a weapon used to make the world right
--Being a glory-bringing Slave of God!
These will keep us from wallowing in sin.
September 27, 2020
Los Alamos Church of Christ
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