Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Coming of the King!

John 12:12-16 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" 14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,
"Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!"
16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.

He was born to be King of the Jews. Once, the crowds tried to force him to be an earthly king. Jesus did have a kingdom but it was not of this earth. The wise men from the East knew it was true when they said, "Where is he who was born King of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him." He had announced it himself when he said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." He had demonstrated the power of the kingdom when he cast out demons, healed the sick and preached the message. He told the Pharisees, "… If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God is come upon you." He was born to be King but he didn't act like one! Now, he appeared to be getting with the program! He came into Jerusalem triumphantly! But wait, he was riding on a donkey! He should've been on a white horse with armed followers around him.

The crowd recognized that he was the Son of David!
He was descended from David on both sides of his genealogy. Matthew 1 gives us the genealogy of Joseph his adopted father. Luke 3:23ff gives us the genealogy of Mary his mother. So according to earthly standards he was the descendent of David. But he was so much more! Once, in a discussion with the Pharisees, he raised the question, "How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?… David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?" Matthew 12:35-37 His human body was descended from David but the person inside that body was God himself!

He was recognized by those in need. There were two blind men begging by the side of the road and they cried out to him, "Have mercy on us, Son of David." (Matthew 9:27) There was a Canaanite woman with a sick child. She went further than the blind men did. Not only did she call him Son of David, she called him "LORD" (Matthew 15:22), that should only be used for God, and stood by her position even when he questioned her right to ask for healing for her daughter. Let's read what Matthew had to say, She came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." 26 And he answered, "It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs." 27 She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table." 28 Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly. Matthew 15:25-28.

Even Rome would recognize Jesus' royalty. When it was time to crucify Jesus, Pilate saw fit to put a sign above his head stating the charges against him. "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews" (John 19:19) The Pharisees were horrified at the charge. The very thing they had fought against was now being rubbed in their faces. They wanted Pilate to change the sign to read, "This man said, I am King of the Jews." Pilate had had enough of them. He had personally interviewed Jesus and his wife had warned him of a dream she had. As the official representative of Rome he proclaimed Jesus to be: King of the Jews!

The crowd didn't understand what they were doing.
The crowds that gathered to cheer for him and proclaim him King did so because they had seen the miracles he had done — especially that of bringing Lazarus back from the dead after four days. A little earlier Jesus had called on them to believe what he said as being proven by what he did. He had said to them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, … (The Pharisees said) ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." (John 10:26; 36-38)
When the King arrived the kingdom was at hand! See what Mark had to say, "Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:14-15) Each of the gospel accounts, one way or another, clearly states that Jesus came to usher in the kingdom of God, or, the kingdom of heaven. The King had arrived he just wasn't recognized because he came as a baby, born in a stable! He lived among men as a common boy. He must not have been too unusual in his early years. He became a carpenter and worked with his hands. Even when he became a teacher with disciples he did not impress the religious leaders, he just frightened them.

He had shown the disciples again and again. Some, or all of them, were present when he turned the water into wine, brought back to life the son of a poor widow, gave sight to the blind, cleansed the leper, lifted up the cripple, calmed the storm, fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fish (not counting the women and children!), healed the servant of a Roman centurion, healed the daughter of a Canaanite woman, brought Jairus' daughter back to life, restored a withered hand, forgave the sins of a woman in the house of a Pharisee, and another who was caught in adultery, cast out demons, they saw him transfigured on the mountain with Moses and Elijah, he healed a boy with an unclean spirit, and all the while, they listened to him teach, and at least three times, he told them he would be crucified and brought back from the dead. What more did they need?

Everyone thought of an earthly kingdom. Not just the crowd who had only seen his miracles but the disciples themselves expected an earthly kingdom. Look at what Matthew said, "Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom." 22 Jesus answered, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?" They said to him, "We are able." 23 He said to them, "You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father." (Matthew 20:20-23) This event occurred immediately after Jesus had told them, for the third time, that he would be turned over to evil men beaten and crucified.

They needed a King.
They (we) were ruled by sin! Sin came into the world by one man — Adam! In the Garden of Eden he was faced with a choice. He could believe God and live or, he could believe the lie of Satan. Rather than exercise faith Adam followed his feelings and fell into sin. When he sinned we all became sinners. See what Paul said in Romans 5:17-21, Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 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. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
They (we) lived in the kingdom of darkness. Why didn't we recognize the fact that we were in the dark? We had acclimated ourselves to it. We had accepted it as being normal. Yet the Scripture says is true! In one of his prophecies of the coming Messiah, Isaiah said, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined." (Isaiah 9:2) In the first chapter of his gospel, John tells us, "In him was life, and the life was the light of men" and, later, in chapter 12, Jesus said, "I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness." In the late 1800s, Philip P. Bliss wrote a hymn that goes like this: "The whole world was lost In the darkness of sin,The Light of the world is Jesus! Like sunshine at noonday, His glory shone in. The Light of the world is Jesus! — Come to the light, ’tis shining for thee; Sweetly the light has dawned upon me. Once I was blind, but now I can see: The Light of the world is Jesus! The whole world, apart from Jesus Christ, is lost in the darkness of sin! And there's only one way out! And that is a transfer of citizenship from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light!

Only the King could deliver us. The story is told in the book of acts chapter 4 that Peter and John were brought before the Council and charged them with healing a lame man and false teaching. Peter stood before them and explained what had happened. In the course of that he said, "…there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." No other being, in heaven or on earth, has the authority to deliver us! No one else can redeem us! Our sin condemns us because all have sinned! The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord! Only the sinless Son of God could take our sin away from us! He had no sin of his own. One of the men who died on the cross beside him recognized that. He said to the other criminal, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? … This man is done nothing wrong." And then he said, "Jesus, remember me ‍when you come into your kingdom." That man knew something about Jesus I can only be explained as a revelation from God. Because of our need he took our sins into his own body and nailed them to the cross!

Jesus entered a world in rebellion against its true King. As long as man had been on the Earth (except for the early days of Adam) man was in rebellion against God. Throughout history some had recognized the true King and had suffered for it. The writer of Hebrews tells us about some of them, "Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, there were sown in two, they were killed with the sword, etc.… of whom the world was not worthy…" Jesus came to correct that for all who will come to him in faith. Where do you stand today?

All Scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Free From the Law

Romans 7:1-6, Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”

This chapter is one of the most controversial in Scripture. Without a thorough background, which Paul has put forth in chapter six, Chapter seven would be confusing and even frustrating for the person who wants to understand the Bible. I do not believe Paul is talking about the Mosaic law. The law of Moses would be included but the passage is speaking about natural law, or moral law. A law written in man's heart that is the basis of all right and wrong. We are all bound by the law — not “laws” individually — but law in general. In Paul's example, the Christian has died to the law and is free to be united with Christ. Having been born again we can now live as free people under grace — not under law.

We are not free from responsibility.
All lawlessness is to be rejected. Antinomianism is one of the charges brought against Paul. And is often brought against anyone who teaches grace. Paul answered this twice in chapter six. “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” And, “Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?” The answer to both questions is pretty much the same, “ABSOLUTELY NOT!” In no way did Paul ever advocate a lawless lifestyle.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-20, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

According to Ephesians 2:8-10 we are saved by grace through faith unto good works. Those who advocate salvation by works have missed the point altogether. Good works have never been the basis of salvation. The blood sacrifices of the Old Covenant were pictures pointing to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. They spoke of God's grace not of man's works. When God's grace is released in our lives we joyfully serve him and should obediently do the works he has set out for us to do.

We have been united with Christ in order to bear fruit for God. The fruit we had been bearing under the old relationship was fruit unto death. But now we can bear good fruit. Galatians 5:22-23, "…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. This is certainly not lawlessness. In fact, these fruits call us to real responsibility. To love is not always easy instead it calls for the other gifts to be released. To joyfully love another is to be at peace with them; to be patient with them; to show them kindness; to be good to them; to be faithful with them; to be gentle with them; and, most of all, to practice self control with regard to them. Living under that kind of grace is hard work indeed! We need strength that is beyond our human ability. We we need the Spirit of God that comes at salvation to live out the fruit of the Spirit.

Instead, we are freed from bondage.
We were slaves to sin under the law. Remember Romans 6:16-18? “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.” “Set free from sin” is an awesome concept! This does not mean that we cannot sin but it does mean that sin has no power over us. That makes our guilt even greater because we cannot use the excuse, “The devil made me do it.” Or, “I couldn't help myself”.

You see, we were set free by the Son of God. In John 8:31-36 Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The Pharisees said they had never been enslaved to anyone. They said this while they were occupied by the Roman army and in many ways were enslaved to Rome. But that's not the freedom Jesus is talking about.
He went on, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. …” Since all have sinned then everyone is a slave to sin. This is a bondage we cannot break. We are married to the law at birth and that marriage is driven by the flesh. We cannot free ourselves. Like the old song says, “He paid a debt he did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed someone to wash my sins away, and now I sing a brand-new song, “Amazing Grace”, all day long. Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.” the wages of sin is death. Not just physical death but spiritual death. In the atonement Jesus took us to the cross with himself.

We have been crucified with Christ. Paul said it best in Galatians 2:19-21, “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 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. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

I once heard the story of a man who was faced with being drafted into the Confederate Army during the Civil War. We'll call him George. George had a wife and children and of course did not want to go. His neighbor, we'll call Tom, was the same age, was unmarried and had not yet been called up for the draft. Tom came to George and said, “I will go in your place”. He then went to the county seat with the draft papers in hand and was enlisted in the Army as George. A few months later Tom, now called George, died on the field of battle. His death certificate was sent back to the County seat where he lived. In the course of time the Army was desperate for soldiers. They sent out patrols looking for men who should have been drafted. They found George plowing a field one day and arrested him as a draft dodger. He was taken to the county seat and put in jail. George asked the judge to look at the death certificates. When he did he found that Georgia was legally dead. He sent him home to his family because as far as the law was concerned he had already died.

Christ did that for us. He took our sin and our self to the cross and put it to death so that we could live to him under a new relationship, a new covenant!
Believers now live under a new covenant.

This was prophesied by Jeremiah Hebrews 10:14-18 tells us about it, “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,” then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. These quotations are from Jeremiah chapter 31. A new way of living! A new covenant! The law is now written on the hearts of those who believe.

This is a covenant that gives life. Not a covenant of law, or the letter, the law of the spirit. We find in 2 Corinthians 3:4-6, “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

This covenant is without any condemnation. Listen to Romans 8:1-4, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” There Is No Condemnation! The liar, the devil, tries to make us feel condemned and worthless. We recognize that our past condemns us. But that past is based on a marriage that's been done away with! Once we were married to the law empowered by the flesh. But, since we have come to faith in Christ we are now married to Christ Jesus. The law has been satisfied by the death of Jesus on the cross. Now a new law takes over “the law of the Spirit of life”. Praise God! If God says you not condemned then you are not condemned!

The Apostle uses the example of marriage to teach an essential truth. Being married to the law, and the flesh, from our conception made us bring forth fruit for death. Having died to the law through the body of Christ we can now bring forth fruit for God. In order for us to grow spiritually we must recognize that we are not married to the law and the flesh. With salvation several things have happened. We're united to the Lord Jesus Christ, we have died with him and are made dead to the law as a result of that death. And now we are married to the Lord Jesus Christ! We are risen with Christ and are enabled to seek things that are above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Our union with Christ is essential to our sanctification.
If you have not settled the issue of salvation listen to the voice of God that is calling you. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, and you will be saved.
All quotes are from: The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001, Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Slaves of Righteousness

Slaves of Righteousness 120304
Romans 6:15-23
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 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.

For 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? For 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. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Last week we heard a great promise “Sin will have no dominion over us”, since we are under grace not under the law. A person who is born again does not have to be a slave to sin. We can sin, and will sin, but we can help ourselves because of the spirit that works in us. Today we see the Apostle asking the same question, “Are we to sin because we not under law but under grace?” The answer remains the same, “BY NO MEANS!” Ultimately, spiritual slavery is a matter of choice. (This choice is not a choice between being free or being enslaved. The choice is, “Whose slave will I be?”) The problem most people have with that statement is this, their slavery to sin is an entrenched habit that is not yet broken. Therefore, they think they have no choice. Believers have a choice because the grace of God is released in their lives. The Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.

I. There are two kingdoms. Anyone who doubts that is not very observant. No matter how one looks at it there is obvious evil and obvious good in the human race. Whether it is set in the world of fiction such as The Chronicles of Narnia or in the reality of the daily news nothing could be so obvious as the struggle between good and evil. These two kingdoms dominate our worldview. Often Christians try to “sit on the fence”. Jesus himself said that wasn't possible.

A. We cannot serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24) “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Here, “money” is used to represent the fallen world. The anger and dissension we see all around us as a result of attempting to live in two worlds at one time. Having become a Christian we have a new allegiance. We must serve Christ if we are to have peace.

B. We cannot be intimate with the world and with God. (James 4:1-7) “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” In recent years it has become more and more obvious that the church and the world are much alike. But it's not anything new it is just more obvious in the world of television and the Internet. Wordsworth said it two hundred years ago: “The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:” Of course, we cannot be totally separated from the world! To do so would cut us off from all opportunity to witness to our faith in Christ. The problem is not the world around us but the subtle inroads of the world within us.

C. We have been transferred. We were born sons and daughters of Adam and Eve and as such were subject to the kingdom of this world. Paul explained our new relationship to the Colossian Christians with these words: “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:11-14) Now, we did not apply for a transfer and it was not our idea! It is God the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints. He delivered us! We did not deliver ourselves because we could not. We were dead in sin!

II. Believers were dead and are now alive.

A. Dead In trespasses and sin. Paul said, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—“ (Ephesians 2:1) We must all admit that dead people are incapable of making decisions. We could not decide for ourselves. He had to decide for us because we were not only dead but our very actions proved we were dead in sin. Of course we were physically alive but spiritually dead. We could not make spiritual decisions that would deliver us.

B. We lived like dead people. In the first letter to the Corinthians Paul reminded them what life was like before they met Christ, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) When a person comes to faith in Christ things began to change. What was formerly natural to them is now unnatural! Things that they used to do without any sense of conscience now disturb them. After a person comes to faith in Christ they begin to wonder why people around them seem to not care when they do wrong. They are simply following their nature. We really shouldn't expect better of them. The change in the Christian's nature comes about by the work of God in them. What they once did, without much thought, now weighs on their conscience. You see? We been transferred to the kingdom of his beloved son and we have passed from death to life.

C. We are now alive! Paul reminded the Ephesians that they were once alienated from the life of God having no hope. Then he says, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, …“ (Ephesians 2:13-15) This is magnificent news! We were spiritually dead and lived like spiritually dead people. But now, in Christ Jesus, we have been brought near to God and to other believers. God has destroyed the barriers that kept us from him and from others who believe in him. We once were slaves to sin but now, Praise God, we have been given life in his name and have been adopted into his family. We have submitted ourselves to a new master!

III. Now we are slaves of righteousness.

A. We have been set free. A new spiritual law has taken effect in our life. In Romans 8:1-2 Paul points out that we are not under condemnation because we have been set free! Listen to his words, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

Have you ever wondered what makes an airplane fly? Most of us have made paper airplanes. Some of them actually fly! The reason they do is they are shaped right and balanced properly. No matter how large the plane the rules are the same. A Boeing 747 has a takeoff weight of nearly one million pounds. It's long enough that the first flight of the Wright brothers could have been made inside its economy section. It takes off with between 400 and 500 people inside. And it flies! The 747 flies because the engineers designed it according to certain scientific laws that override the law of gravity. Gravity would keep it down on the Earth. But the laws of aerodynamics work together and it not only can lift into the air! It can fly from San Francisco, California, to Melbourne, Australia, nonstop!

In the same way, the law of the spirit of life sets us free from the law of sin and death. We were in bondage to a slave master. We were bound by the chains of sin and inheritance. We could not set ourselves free. New Year's resolutions, determination and struggle produced frustration and failure. And then Christ came into our life and set us free. One problem we have, out of many, is this — we're accustomed to the voice of our old slave master. We haven't fully believed that we are free. Romans 6:11 lists two of our assets: “dead to sin” and “alive to God”! When we enter those assets and weigh them against the deficit of “dead in sin” we see that our eternal assets greatly outweigh our deficits. If Christ has set you free you are free indeed! ( John 8:36)

B. We are free to serve God. Verse 22 of our text says, “…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.” in the Garden of Eden Satan promised freedom and delivered death! The fruit they received led to bondage. We're either subject to Satan or God. When we come to faith in Christ we are set free from sin and have become the slave of God. A blessed slavery that bears fruit leading to holy living and eternal life. Jesus told the Pharisees, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Satan lies when he promises happiness and freedom. Remember, Satan was a liar from the beginning. Only in service to God are we going to find peace. We were created for that purpose. The old confession of faith says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Service to God is a joy beyond compare!

C. God's grace gives us eternal life. Verse 23 of our text says, “…the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The usual use of this passage is to point out the obvious, “the wages of sin is death”. If we stop there we are left in trouble. Grace is a gift given without any expectation of return having its sole purpose in the need of the recipient and the freeheartedness of the giver, God's grace gift is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. We should rejoice in serving him. Because he has rescued us from death — eternal death. We should glorify God by enjoying him forever. We should begin now and the joy of our relationship with God will flow over into the lives of others.

Mankind is born in trouble. All mankind is born in sin and we all choose to sin. The wages of sin is death. If that was the entire message we would have no hope in this world or in the next. The truth is we do have hope. Although the wages of sin is death the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord! We once were slaves to sin leading to death, and now, for those who've trusted Christ, we are slaves to God leading to sanctification and eternal life! Praise His Holy Name!

( All Scripture references are from The English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)