Monday, February 27, 2012

Not a Slave to Sin

Romans 6:1-14
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! 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, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might 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. 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. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 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.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 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. ESV

I usually read all or part of this passage in Romans before I baptize a person. It is important to see the relationship between baptism and salvation. But Paul was not just teaching about baptism alone. He was teaching about the reigning of grace over sin in our life. There were those who believed, and some who now believe, if the increase of sin caused grace to abound — then let's sin a lot in order for grace to increase! Paul is very clear on the subject, “Absolutely NOT!” If Christ is our Lord we have died to sin! He is not saying we cannot sin and is not saying that our sin nature is dead. He is saying that while we have the ability to sin we have the power not to sin. We have responsibility in the process. We are not a slave to sin — but we can still sin.

I. Baptism pictures burial after death

A person enters the water of baptism in order to make a public statement not just to join a church. That statement is, “I have confessed that I'm a sinner. I have confessed my faith in Jesus as my Lord and Savior. In him I have died to my old way of living and now choose to walk a new life.” The person is buried in the water and raised up with Christ to walk a new life.
I have often stated that baptism is like the marriage ceremony. It is a present public statement of a past experience. In the marriage ceremony a couple is saying to the world that they love one another and choose to spend the rest of their life together. “In sickness as in health, in poverty as in wealth, in the bad that may darken their days, in the good that may light their ways, and to be true to to their mate as long as they both shall live.” Baptism also is a present public statement of a past experience. In order for baptism to be valid a person must first have confessed their faith in Christ and turned away from their old way of living to live a new kind of life. This new life is one of faith and fellowship.

A. Spiritual baptism brings us into life. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, the apostle Paul says, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” ESV True baptism in the Spirit is the salvation experience.

B. Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit there is no salvation. Jesus said that the Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Paul wrote to the Romans: “The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.” (Romans 8:16) In fact, when we hear the words of truth and believe them we “are sealed by the promised Holy Spirit”. ( Ephesians 1:13) The Holy Spirit not only bears witness to us that we are the children of God but he also bears witness to people around us. As they see the change in us they are often impressed that something good has happened in our life. They may not understand that it is the work of God but they definitely know that something is different! We are not made perfect in salvation but the Spirit begins his work in our life and there are notable changes. From salvation forward the Spirit continues to work to show us how to live the Christian life. He uses many different tools. Sometimes the words of another person, even said in anger, will convict us of something wrong in our life. Often, while reading the Bible, we will become aware of something we need to change. Certainly not always negative. Often the change will be positive as we see what the word of God is to say and learn to do it.

C. Baptism pictures the beginning of salvation. When Paul says, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27) Paul assumes that baptism is the outward sign of inward regeneration. When a person is born again that person has died to sin in order to live to God. Baptism represents burial and resurrection. It is a perfect picture of salvation. Just as Christ died for our sins we have died to our sins. This does not mean that we cannot sin but it does mean that we do have power over sin by the work of the Spirit of life. Salvation is not just a ticket to heaven it is the entry into a new life. Not just life but abundant life as promised by our Lord and Savior when he said, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

II. The death we died with Christ.
It is hard for us to imagine some of the truths of Scripture. This truth is really hard for us because we're still alive. We live in a material world. In fact, we live in a world that is hostile to God. True truth is spiritual as well as physical. When Christ died on the cross he did more than forgive our sins. He did forgive our sins but he did much more.
A. He bore our sins — as Peter said, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24) Hundreds of years before Christ came to earth the prophet Isaiah, directed by God, wrote: “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5) not only did he bear our sins but he took us to the cross.

B. Not our sins only but ourselves were taken to the cross Paul wrote to the Colossians in chapter 3 verses 1-4:
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” ESV
Paul begins by talking about our having been raised with Christ. When Jesus went to the cross and died for our sins, we were hidden with Christ in God, we died there too. Since we died with him it makes sense that we were raised with him! In Romans chapter 5 Paul explains very carefully that Adam, as the federal head of the human race, brought sin upon us all! “By one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19) Since Adam's sin brought sin on us all — Jesus' obedience brought us into a new relationship. Before salvation we lived under condemnation as sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. Now that we have come to faith in Christ, we are now children of God! In a very real sense when Jesus died we died with him. In Galatians 2:20 Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” ESV In our text for today Paul states without a doubt, “…our old self was crucified with him”. Thank God we do not have to bear our sins he did it for us. Thank God we do not have to live as sons and daughters of Adam and Eve since he took that the cross, buried it in the tomb and set us free!

III. Grace reigns where sin once ruled.
Sin no longer rules in our lives. V 10-11 says “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.” Apart from Christ mankind is in bondage to sin. It is the very nature of man inherited from our forefather Adam. In the past we lived subject to Satan in the kingdom of darkness. But having come to faith in Christ we have been transferred from that kingdom to the kingdom of light. We have a new family, a new allegiance, a new Lord and a new home. Yet we must cooperate with God. He has set us free and we need to live like it. Paul uses the words “consider yourselves” when he talks about our being dead to sin and alive to God. “Consider” is a bookkeeping term. In order to know your true value in a material sense you have to record all your assets. If you leave out part of your assets you really do not know your true value. Well, in the spiritual world one of our assets is “dead to sin” and another is “alive to God”! Many Christians live their entire lives without knowing this or without realizing it. We see our deficits but do not realize or assets. Sin no longer rules — we have been set free!

B. We can resist sin. Verse 12 tells us to, and I paraphrase, “Stop letting sin rule in your life! We do not have to obey sin's passions”. I repeat, we have been set free! We have the right to deny sin's dominion over us. I am not saying that we come to a place where we cannot sin, only that we do not have to submit to sin. Of course we can sin! We have all the habits of our old life and all the memories of our past to draw on. But we do not have to and that's the difference.

C. Now we come to the greatest promise in this passage. Verse 14 , “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” This does not say that sin should not have dominion over us, or, sin may not have dominion over us. It says sin WILL HAVE NO DOMINION over us. We can resist sin and we will resist sin as we grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord. This is not something God does for us without our participation. This is something that we do in cooperation with him. We are not to let sin rule in our life! We ARE to let the peace of God rule in our heart and let the word of Christ dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:15-16) In fact, there are so many “lets” in Paul's writings that we should make a careful study of them because they tell us what to do and what not to do. But still the promise remains, “sin will have no dominion over you.”
We need to rejoice in the promise of verse 14. Sin will have no dominion over us! This is because we have died with Christ, been buried with him, were raised with him and according to Ephesians 2:6 we are now seated with him heavenly places. No, we are not to continue in sin! We have died to sin and are to consider ourselves so. We are not to let sin rule in our mortal body. We are not to obey its passions. Grace rules over sin let's live like it!