Monday, November 13, 2006

Crossing the Line Drawn in the Sand (Romans № 16)

In the last sermon on Romans, we saw that a Christian is already dead to sin (Rom 6.2). The question, of course, is obvious: If we are dead to sin, why do so many Christians keep falling into the ditch of sin, perpetually caught in the vicious cycle of sin-repent-sin-repent?

I believe it stems from two problems:

1. A failure to understand that a Christian is dead to sin. (If you think you can't stop sinning, you won't.)
2. A failure to appropriate by faith what is already fact. (If you don't stand on this New Testament promise, it won't be effectual for you in practice.)

As Paul himself says, "So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Rom 6.11 ESV)

In other words, the apostle says, "You're dead to sin. So be dead!"

This sermon blog entry deals with two Scriptures. Consider Paul's words:

"Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their 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." (Rom 6:12-13 ESV)

From this I made three points in my sermon. I will be quoting from the New Testament translation by Charles B. Williams for accuracy on rendering Greek verbs into English.

1. Consider yourself dead to sin (because you are).

"So you too must consider yourselves as having ended your relation to sin but living in unbroken relation to God." (Rom 6.11)

There comes a point in every Christian's life when he realizes the extent of Christ's salvation. Each believer must get to the point where he says, "I'm dead to sin. The old me is dead. I'm not a sinner anymore. I'm a saint."

2. The reign of sin must be broken (available through the atonement).

"Accordingly, sin must not continue to reign over your mortal bodies, so as to make you continue to obey their evil desires, and you must stop offering to sin the parts of your bodies as instruments for wrongdoing," (Rom 6.12-13a)

The realization that one is dead to sin must be followed by action. The Christian must say, "Since I'm dead to sin then I'll be dead to sin! I'll repeatedly choose to say, 'No' to the things I used to say, 'Yes' to when I didn't realize I'm dead to sin."

This step involves the Christian making conscious choices to refuse to give in to the old temptations that used to trip him up over and over. He must refuse to do the things that lead to sin; this is a life self-analysis. What trips him up? He has to say, "Not anymore!"

3. Once-and-for-all consecrate yourself to God.

"... but you must once for all offer yourselves to God as persons raised from the dead to live on perpetually, and once for all offer the parts of your bodies to God as instruments for right-doing."
(Rom 6.13b)

Have you ever resolved to lose weight and went ahead and really lost it? That's a human example of what can happen on a Holy Spirit level. When a person determines, really determines—once and for all time—to have God as his Lord, having forsaken sin, the world and the devil, and be utterly surrendered, submitted and obedient to him, he steps across the line drawn in the sand.

If a professing Christian tries to ignore this process he will keep falling into the ditch of sin. Count on it. If he offers God the offering of himself, he can say with Paul elsewhere:

"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."
(Gal 2.20 ESV)