Romans – Week 18 Sermon Notes

  1. Intro:

When I was at a low place in my life, around 18 years old…feeling like I was failing at everything.

My dad sat told me “Whatever you do, or become…I will love you and be proud of you.”

Is that a dangerous thing to tell an 18 year old?

What if I had said…”Great, I think what I want to do is everything that would make you ashamed, all that is opposite of what you value and believe?”

No, it wasn’t dangerous it was powerful…it had the effect of pouring courage into me to continue on…to persevere.

So…Let’s say you hear someone teaching that when people sin more and more then God’s grace increases more and more.

What would be some possible questions or objectives you might have?

  1. Grace is good, right? Then I should sin more so I would get more grace…that doesn’t make sense.
  2. Sin is bad right? If people believe what you are teaching then why wouldn’t they just sin all they want?

This teaching would have negative effects on people…they would see this as their license to do whatever they want and then God would just pay off their fines.

Paul had no doubt heard this a million times by now…because the gospel is not like man made religions.

Religions are about earning…the Gospel is about grace.

Religions are about tacking rules and rituals onto your life…the gospel is about God changing you from the inside out.

So when Paul speaks of grace…many people would question “Then where is my incentive to do what is right?”

“Why obey if I don’t have to?”

This betrays a belief that faith is largely seen as a “carrot and stick” lifestyle…rather than relationship based on love and desire.

If I do good…I get the carrot (God gives me what I want)

If I do bad…I get hit with the stick (bad things happen to me)

So…relationship with God devolves into…pursue the carrot, avoid the stick.

That sums up the OT and the failure of the law to affect change in people…they need new hearts…new desires…new power…new lives.

That’s what Jeremiah predicted was going to come in the form of the gospel…law would be written on hearts not on external tablets…meaning we would learn to love and want what God loves and wants.

The moral commandments in the Bible are without question good and they are the best way to maximize spiritual, mental, relational health.

But on our own steam…they become enduring reminders of our failure…we cannot measure up to them.

So posting the Ten Commandments in public places is great as far as it goes…but what it represents by itself…is failure.

Again, the Ten Commandments are good in every way…but apart from the gospel they are symbols of our failure.

The cross is were the power to obey the moral law comes into human lives

So here’s an overview of today.

  1. The Question is raised from what Paul said in 5:20 “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more…”

The question that is raised is given by Paul preemptively in…Rom. 6:1  “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?”

  1. The Question is answered: 6:2 “No way, we died to sin”
  2. The answer is unpacked: 6:3-14

-Implications: 3-10

-Applications: 11-14

  1. QUESTION IS ASKED: 1should we keep on sinning to increase grace?
  2. QUESTION IS ANSWERED:

2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

Paul is not telling us here to “stop sinning”, he is proclaiming the good news that we have died to sin (a statement of fact rather than an exhortation to action).

He is going to exhort (urge) us to avoid sin later…but his call to resist sin is based on what has already become a reality for us as Christ followers.

That’s the simple answer…”Should I keep sinning to increase grace?”

“No, of course not…we died to sin…how can we continue to live in that which we died to?”

Now, what follows is Paul explaining the implications and applications for his answer.

  1. ANSWER UNPACKED 3-10

IMPLICATIONS: Take this in two bites: 3-5 first

3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5   If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.

Baptized into Christ Jesus is shorthand for all that is involved in a person becoming a Christian.

Unbaptized believers would have been virtually nonexistent so what he is saying is that “all Christians” have participated in the death and burial of Christ.

Paul’s main concern here is not water baptism…it is never mentioned again after verse 4.

His main concern is the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection for believers.

Faith, repentance, receiving the Holy Spirit, and baptism were all one complex of events that comprise the conversion experience.

What is important to understand is that Paul is not indicating that Baptism saves…

But it is an important symbol of salvation…it is an important act of obedience following salvation.

At that time and in some cultures today…Baptism was the public act that signified that a conversion experience was real…and put you in grave danger.

I baptized a person here in our church from another culture who wept because they were aware that this act could mean they could lose their family or their life.

So baptized into Christ means people who are actually born again…not merely people who are dabbling in the faith.

These real believers (who have experienced the gospel power) “will walk in a new life” (4)

Okay, we have been united with him in his death and burial…but how do we walk in a new life?

V.5: We “have” (past tense experienced) the power of his death and we “will” (future tense) experience the power of his resurrection.

But how does the power of his resurrection impact us now…if it is a future experience for us?

This is the “Already not yet tension” that we live in.

We have been saved, we are being saved, we will be saved.

-We were declared righteous in fact

-We are becoming righteous in practice

-We will become righteous in fullness

“Already not Yet” reality Is a very important interpretative key for understanding the Scriptures…because without this understanding…our view of salvation can become distorted.

Sin is a “power” that compels us to actions and attitudes…it is both power and choice (act)

Our salvation (God’s grace) is also a power that compels and enables us to righteousness as actions and attitudes.

So in understanding what Paul is saying here in regards to the “Power” of Grace over the “Power” of sin…there are three main views:

  1. Real power over sin is all future…for now we are legally “righteous” but not practically or actually so.

*So the expectation of ongoing victory over sin and increasing Christlikeness in our character is very low.

*We look at the gap between what God has called us to and where we are and shrug and say “Eh, it is what it is.” “This is as good as it gets.”

*So people who have embraced the first and last parts of the gospel (justification now, glorification then)…but have failed to grasp the middle part of the gospel…ongoing transformation now.

*Believe the right things, do some of the right things…and someday you will get to escape hell.

*But in terms of experiencing dramatically new life now…hearing from God, being transformed by God…living a whole different life…there are little or no expectations of this.

*This often leads to a two-story life: Go to church to keep your eternal fire insurance policy up to date…then go live life as if God isn’t real and the power of the gospel isn’t practical in day to day life.

  1. Real power is fully present now…we are actually, fully, experientially “righteous” now…we can reach a state of sinless perfection now.

*In the first case the vision for transformation was non-existence, here it is unrealistic.

*For many who embrace this view, the main problem of Christians is a lack of awareness of who they are in Christ…they need to “Reckon” themselves dead to sin and when they reach a more enlightened understanding they will experience complete or near complete sinlessness.

I don’t believe this is the case…in fact the more we grow now…the more we see how much we need to grow.

*Imagine a young piano student who as a 10 year old believes she is pretty good, has got this down…as she grows and continues to practice she sees more and more that she has so much more to know and experience.

*One day she becomes a concert pianist with skill and experience that is so far beyond what she knew as a child…but now if you ask her if she has “arrived” …if she has reached piano perfection…she would laugh.

*Her increase in skill and experience only opens her eyes to how much there is to grow in as a pianist.

*So she has in one sense “arrived” she is a concert pianist…in another sense…she will always be arriving…never reach perfection in her craft.

*Which brings us to the third option.

  1. Real power over sin is partially present (already) and will be fully present in the future (not yet) for the believer.

*The power of the resurrection in our lives is a full reality in the future that has reach back capability in our lives now.

*The power, the change is real but the full change is future.

*What we have in Christ is “already true, not yet fully realized”

*Very important that this principle take hold…it will help you make sense out of a lot in the Scriptures and in your life.

*Can help us avoid imbalance both in how we look at the Bible and the reality of our lives.

  1. ANSWER UNPACKED: let’s take a second bite out of verses 3-10

IMPLICATIONS: 6-10

These verses restate and elaborate on what Paul has said in 3-5…hammering home the idea that believers have died to sin. 

6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8   Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

My “old self”: anthropos (humanity)…former me was crucified with Christ so that the “Body of sin” might be annulled…done away with.

What is the “Body of sin”…the whole me…the me/BC…before Christ.

Terry BC and Terry AD

The body is mentioned here because that is where sin is concretely accomplished…not that the body is intrinsically evil, or sin exists because of our bodies.

But it is in our bodies…our brains, our tongues, our eyes, our hands…where sin is carried out in our lives.

So…here’s the big question that comes from Romans 6…if our old self has been killed at the cross…and the body of sin destroyed…how it is possible for believers to sin at all?

Again…remember the “already not yet” principle.

Believers walk in the newness of life now because of Christ’s resurrection…but the resurrection for us is still future (6:5, 6:8).

We will experience the full power of the resurrection personally at the end of all things…and are experiencing it in part already.

But we also experience the “not yet” of life in this present age…it is an age still filled with danger, trials, temptations, and death.

*So we will still experience death…the consequence of sin introduced by Adam.

*But we are guaranteed final victory over death because Christ.

*In the same way…we still experience the pull and opportunity to sin now…and the full deliverance from sin in the future.

The presence of sin has not been shattered now, but the mastery of sin has been.

Sin and death no longer “rule”…we are in a new kingdom.

Sin’s dominion has been broken…but Paul never speak of perfect sinlessness in this life.

Sin is not impossible for believers now…but sin is also not inevitable for us.

You can choose to obey sin as your master…but you do not have to.

Imagine a slave living today in some terrible situation who does not know he does not have to live that way…perhaps someone has convinced him otherwise so he doesn’t even attempt to live as a free person. He lacks the perception of freedom.

Perhaps he just cannot in his current situation get himself free. He lacks the power of freedom.

But then he is made aware that in that country slavery is illegal and he is protected from it…this challenges and changes his long held self-perception…”Am I slave? Must I be a slave? Can I live free?”

But if his perception changes and he remains without power to live free he remains enslaved…but if someone comes with the authority and ability to set him free…now he has the power to live free.

Imagine this former slave, living in New York City today…struggling to continue to believe he can live free…his old perceptions and old lack of power…still threaten to drag him back to his old life.

It takes ongoing work on perception and ongoing access to the power available to him to remain free.

This is the Biblical picture of our situation…

The implication of what Jesus has done for us is that we are alive to Christ and dead to sin.

The implications must continue to impact our perceptions…we are free…we do not have to live as slaves to sin…we must continually look to the facts of the gospel to believe what is factually, actually true about us now.

But then there is the application of power to our situation.

This is where Paul goes next.

APPLICATIONS: 11-14

Here the emphasis shifts from what is true in fact about us to what must be true in practice.

It has been said we must “become what we are.”

This is almost true to Paul’s point…but with the “Already not yet” principle in mind it is better said that…
“We must become what we are becoming”

The real evidence in Scripture of having become a follower of Christ… is not whether we can pinpoint on a calendar when we prayed a prayer one day in past.

The evidence is whether we can see fruit being produced today…specifically in the twin areas of faith and love.

Are we expressing the fruit of trusting God in our lives and the fruit of loving others around us?

Paul is going from the “indicative” to the “imperative”…from what is true in fact, to what should and must be true in act act.

Indicative means: a statement of fact. A description of what “is” true.

Imperative means: a statement of obligation. A declaration of what should or must “be” true.

Indicative: statement of fact

Imperative: commitment to act 

11   In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

 *Count: judge, reckon, regard, consider yourself dead to sin but alive to God.

*Belief, mental action…perceptual work…because the actions start with the beliefs.

*Look at where you are…look at what God has said about you…do you believe that it is possible to close that gap?

Will you listen to the cultural experts who tell you that you are locked in nature and nurture and you cannot change…you are this kind of person and nothing can alter that?

Nonsense…”consider yourselves dead to sin…because you are alive to God in Christ.”

Now…”therefore…”

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.

Indicative: you are dead to sin

Imperative: live that way

Do not let sin reign in your mortal (physical body) so that you obey it

The body is the operational center of sin and righteousness…it is where both interact with the world around us.

Judge…believe that you are dead to sin…don’t listen to it…it is not your king, not your boss…you don’t have to do what it says.

Your former slave master has no authority to tell you what to do…don’t obey him.

13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

*This is imperative based on indicative…the acts that follow the facts.

*You are dead to sin…go live as if you are dead to sin.

*Offer yourself to God not to sin…because sin has no mastery over you anymore.

“Do not offer your brain (thoughts, will, imagination) or your lips, or your vocal cords, or your eyes, our hands, feet, stomachs…do not offer any of the physical you that interacts with the world around you to sin as its tool or weapon.”

*Instrument could be a weapon or a tool…something used to accomplish a purpose.

Don’t offer yourself (your operational self…body, will, actions) to sin to accomplish its empty purposes.

Offer your whole self to God as a tool, an instrument for his great purposes…for righteousness.

APPLICATION:

How?

Sounds good…but how?

Sexual sin, fear and worry, envy, bitterness, idolatry (putting things and people first in your heart over God), unforgiveness, addiction, anger, faithlessness

I cannot see how I can be free from these things…this just doesn’t seem real or practical to me.

I don’t want to live a two-story life…but the fact is…I often do.

I believe the gospel…I am dead to sin…I live otherwise…fully alive to it.

I have the facts without the acts

What do I do?

  1. 13 “Offer, or present” yourself to God.
  2. Consecration: The act of making or declaring something sacred…something set apart for God.

Set apart for God…we must look at out bodies, our whole selves this way.

1 Cor. 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

*People with Moral Injury are often helped by a ceremony, a marker, an event…going back to the sight of the critical incident…making amends, setting a stone.

*See this in the OT where people marked great events and movements of God…great rescues.

*NT…Markers: Baptism, Lord’s supper

*Its not necessary to have some physical act to mark consecration…its often helpful…

*Even it is getting on your knees and recommitting your life to God from time to time.

*Or writing sins on paper and with friends…burn it, pray.

*Get a stone marker, or a piece of wood…have friends over to celebrate…consecration.

*Walk to front of the church…the lasting marker is a memory of walking, and feeling embarrassed but obedient.

*I remember a Sunday as a boy where I walked to the front of the church…I wanted to consecrate myself for the Lord…I remember that morning…over 50 years later.

*However you do it…conscecrate yourself…do it daily

*If you have been off track for some time…gather a couple of friends…and recommit…mark it…with a group prayer, a time of confession…

*Consecrate and then enter back into training.

  1. Train: Grace is not opposed to effort but earning.

*We have bodies…brains, reflexes, memory.

*We don’t do the spiritual disciplines…the practice of our faith…in order to earn but in order to train.

*Earning is trying.

*Grace is training…we train for godliness by his grace for his glory.

*If you are continuing to struggle with the same sins…responses to co-workers, family, friends

*Moral purity, persistent fear and worry…whatever it is…look at what you are doing with your body…mind, ears, eyes…habits…see if you need to train smarter not harder.

*What do you watch, listen to, do?

*What are you not doing that could help you?

*There is a trend in the Christian community to say…”I am free in Christ to do whatever I want.”

*This is often a reaction to legalism.

*People were told to “stop, don’t…must, do”….and these imperatives were tied to earning not training.

*They were not gospel centric.

*So a negative response was…”I can what I want (I’m free in Christ) so I will.”

*Rather than “I can do what Christ wants now…so I will”

*Maybe I can do this or that…but it doesn’t help me…why do I want to?

*Maybe I should do that…it will help me…so I will.

Its not about earning…it is about relationship.

My dad didn’t risk losing me when he assured me I was unconditionally love…he drew me in with his love.

*God is not taking a risk when he tells his kids, tells you…grace increases when sin increases…he knows that his kids are driven by love and relationship

*Two things to close the gap between the: Indicative and imperative (the fact and the act)

  1. Consecration: do it as often as you like or need
  2. Training: offer your bodies to God as living sacrifices.

Give yourself fully to God…then act on the facts

You are dead to sin in Christ…do the things that will best help you live that way.

*Both consecration and training…require community…it is never going to be about you in isolation from the larger community of God’s people.

Consecration time: Pray, walk to the front, Stand, confess to a friend…or determine something you need to do later today. 

*Terry…“Done that before…lots of times…it doesn’t work.”

Sure it does…you are still here, back again…I would say it is working…but we keep leaking…so we continue to offer ourselves to him over and over.”

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