Walking in a New Life
Select all the text in this box and paste your sermon here... Walking in a New Life
The title of our lesson this morning is . . . . and we are kind of at a demarcation line in our study in Romans. When missionaries move to a new country, they attempt to enter that new culture. They take language classes, spend as much time as they can with the people, and slowly alter the patterns of their life to match those of the new culture. This is what Paul is talking about in this chapter. The new believer has entered a new realm of existence and therefore begins the process of changing old habits and patterns to fit the new way of life he or she has chosen. But here the analogy of the missionary is insufficient, for the believer has also changed citizenship and joined the commonwealth of heaven (Phil 3:20; Eph 2:19). A different plane of existence. The believer has experienced justification (been declared not guilty; innocent, and declared righteous by God) and now enters a new life, life of sanctification (the process of being set apart for God via living by the Spirit).
A line of sorts has been crossed. But we might need to clear up a little misconception: most people believe, or think, that sanctification begins sometime after initial salvation, or justification. Paul tells us in chapter 6 that it doesn’t. In actuality, justification is the first moment of sanctification; it launches the process. In the same way that accepting Jesus as savior begins the process of knowing him as Lord, the gift of justification begins the process of sanctification.
What then is sanctification? Again it is the process of being set apart for God by the Holy Spirit. It is God working in our lives making us over into the very image of Jesus. It is the continual working of His grace within us. Of course, one of the dangers of preaching grace is that some will misunderstand the truly glorious nature of God’s amazing grace as an excuse to sin with abandon, right? Much of this is willfully done, I believe. I believe that as we approach the Christian life all of us, to one degree or another, will use grace as an occasion to indulge our old man, our old sin natures. And I think we need to be honest about this, that as Christians, we are subject to doing this. Who among us can honestly say that when being tempted to sin we have not thought to ourselves, Hey, I’m saved. God will forgive me if I do this. We don’t need to be lying to others, ourselves, and to God by denying this truth, do we? But grace does cover our sin, doesn’t it?
The other side of this coin, however, is in denying that we have the strength and power to resist sin. Amen. Paul tells us that we, in fact, do have that new life, that new strength, that new power. Can we truly live a sinless life? Or does it just not matter whether we sin? So, what’s the deal? These are the two extreme ends of the question, right? How does Paul resolve this seeming contradiction? Let’s look at our passage.
I. Baptism and New Life (Rom. 6:1-4)
(1 Jesus called the other day to say he was passing through and [wondered if] he could spend a day or two with us. I said, “Sure. Love to see you. When will you hit town?” I mean, it's Jesus, you know, and it's not every day you get the chance to visit with him. It's not like it's your in-laws and you have to stop and decide whether the advantages outweigh your having to move to the sleeper sofa. That's when Jesus told me he was actually at a convenience store out by the interstate. I must have gotten that Bambi-in-headlights look, because my wife hissed, “What is it? What's wrong? Who is that?” So I covered the receiver and told her Jesus was going to arrive in eight minutes, and she ran out of the room and started giving guidance to the kids in that effective way that Marine drill instructors give guidance to recruits. My mind was already racing with what needed to be done in the next eight, no seven, minutes so Jesus wouldn't think we were reprobate loser slobs. I turned off the TV in the den, which was blaring some weird scary movie I'd been half watching. There was this beautiful vampire with blood dripping from her mouth. What was I thinking about watching that? But I could still hear screams from our bedroom, so I turned off the reality show it was tuned to. There was a chorus line of scantily clad, muscular men dancing away! What was my wife thinking of?! Then I went to turn off the kids' set out on the sun porch, because I sure didn't want to have to explain what they were watching to Jesus, either, six minutes from now. My wife had already thinned out the magazines that had been accumulating on the coffee table. She put Christianity Today on top for a good first impression. Five minutes to go. I looked out the front window, but the yard actually looked great thanks to my long, hard work, so I let it go. I had even missed church last Sunday in order to get it in good shape. What could I improve in four minutes anyway? I did notice the mail had come, so I ran out to grab it. Mostly it was Netflix envelopes and a bunch of catalogs tied into recent purchases, so I stuffed it back in the box. Jesus doesn't need to get the wrong idea three minutes from now about how much on-line shopping we do. I ran back in and picked up a bunch of shoes left by the door. Tried to stuff them in the front closet, but it was overflowing with heavy coats and work coats and snow coats and pretty coats and raincoats and extra coats. We live in the South for drying out loud; why'd we buy so many coats? I squeezed the shoes in with two minutes to go. I plumped up sofa pillows, my wife tossed dishes into the sink, I screamed some more at the kids, and she screamed at the dog. With one minute left I realized something important: Getting ready for a visit from Jesus is not an eight-minute job. Then the doorbell rang. Most of us are familiar with this passage we just read from Romans, aren’t we? I wonder, though, what believers imagine they are going to judged on when they do meet Jesus? Paul says we have been raised to newness of life, right? And that is what we are going to be judged on; to what extent have we been living yielded lives, to what extent we have actually been walking in newness of life. Look at your Bibles, verses 1-4.
(2 That story of the family meeting Jesus is silly, right? But I tell you what is even sillier: that we can somehow hide our lifestyles from the One who has given us new life. It’s dumb, right? And yet we do it every day, don’t we? All of us do.
(3 Paul wanted to make sure that all believers understood that grace in no way means we are free to live any old way we want. Look back at 5:20. We have to get a grip on grace. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus gives us a clear dynamic of grace, doesn’t He? The story of the one son asking, and receiving, his inheritance and then squandering it on wine, women, and song is one that resonates with many of us, right? But some of us, especially those who have long been in the church, are blind to the gracelessness of the older brother. He bore the responsibility of son-ship out of a grudging obligation, not out of love for his father. He resented the prodigal; he resented grace. He had lived a right life, hadn’t he? Obeying the rules, doing the things he was supposed to be doing. This bum of a brother got a fatted calf and celebration; he got nothing; he felt gypped, swindled Just like the Pharisees that Jesus was preaching to this older brother probably had a long list of rules he obeyed that he vainly imagined made him right with his father. Where was the love, though? Where was the filial devotion? What we have are two different ways of living. Both of them equally wrong. Both of them potentially disastrous. One of them, almost certainly disastrous.
(4 The prodigals can sometimes at least see grace, can’t they? Unfortunately, the self-righteous Pharisees almost never do, do they? And although Paul is really not addressing the older brothers of the world in this section of Romans, he is talking here about the tension that exists between grace and license, on the one hand, and law and legalism on the other.
(5 Paul says we are under grace not law. What does that mean? Does it mean we sin with abandon? God forbid. You know, it is possible, with a great deal of self-effort, to obey rules. You guys don’t seem to be able to do it, but it is possible. You see, if you are living your Christian life in your own power, if you are looking at all the right things in life and aiming your sights at them, instead of Christ, two things are going to happen to you: you’re going to be miserable, and you are going to fail.
(6 But there are two words that will go a long way toward helping us to, not only live godly lives, but to do so in the power of the Holy Spirit: know and yield. Without knowing Jesus and yielding to Him failure is all we will ever have. The first time we see the word know in this passage it is in the negative. Paul says, Don’t you know that you have been baptized into Christ’s death? Later on in the passage, he will use the word in the positive sense of knowing. And this knowing he writes of is a powerful understanding, an intimate connectedness. He is saying two things: he says, listen, you know this, you understand it; and he is saying that this understanding knowledge you have is intimate, personal, and real.
(7 So listen to me: When we get to the point in our Christian life where we have a list of rules we must obey, and then we view rigid obedience to those rules as how we gauge our spirituality, we are actually further away from grace than the prodigal son was as he was lying in the hog pen. And I believe we must keep that firmly in mind as we think about Paul’s meaning here in this passage. Because we have to live right lives, people. Because sin abounds and grace much more abounds, do we then continue in sin so that we can see God’s grace all the more? Again, God forbid.
(8 So, how do we look at this? How is that you and I can really live right without falling into the trap of a legalistic mindset? How can we avoid living like the prodigal son, yet not live like a self-righteous, mean-spirited Pharisee? Something supernatural has to happen to us, right? Those of us who have been baptized into Jesus Christ have been been buried with Him, baptized into His death. We have then been raised with Jesus to what? That we should walk in newness of life. We have been positionally made righteous in the eyes of God. How? Because God views us as being in Christ, and Christ is righteous, isn't He? When the Father looks at us He sees His Son, and we possess the very righteousness of His Son. And that positional righteousness that, in fact, we do possess will lead to an actual righteousness, to sanctification. And we know this. How do we know it? Our water baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality: the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And through that baptism, the Holy Spirit witnesses to our spirits that we, not only belong to the Lord, but He gives us the power to live holy lives. Romans 8:16 (KJV)
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And in Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Before we move on to our next section, I
want to back up and focus on one more word: the word live in verse 2. This is key to our understanding what Paul is talking about. Are we to live sin-free lives? Is it even possible to live a sin-free life? Of course not, right? But I believe that the word live can mean a pattern of life, a pattern of living. There ought to be that demarcation line out there we talked about earlier. There ought to be a before and after in the lives of all Christians. If someone were to write a biography of our life, it should be written in two volumes. Volume one would be the story of the old man, the old self, back in the day before Jesus. Volume two would be the story of the new man, the new self, or the one who was supernaturally made a new creation in Christ. Volume one of that biography ended with the positional, or judicial, death of that old self, that old man, our old sin nature. Volume two begins with resurrected new life. There is nowhere for us to go but forward. We will never go back to that old way of living That volume is closed. We will never live our new life in perfection, but we will live a new life
II. Identification (Rom. 6:5-10)
(1 So, there is a profound change that has been brought about in our lives, right? And this change is real, and is only brought about by a supernatural work of the Lord in our lives. This has occurred because of our profound union, our complete identification, with the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what this entire section of Scripture is all about. We have been justified, declared righteous by a holy God; and we have been simultaneously set apart, sanctified, by a holy God, therefore we are no longer the slaves of sin, right? We are free Look at your Bibles, verses 5-10.
(2 You know there are surveys taken for all kinds of things, aren’t there? A lot of Americans seem to be obsessed with statistics. And like I said, there are surveys taken for just about anything and everything, right? There are surveys that ask your opinion on the latest fashion trends, the most recent idiotic thing that Hollywood is all aglow over, politics, religion, music, you name it The one type of survey that most fascinates me, though, are those asking whether you are a Christian. And they fascinate me because Americans overwhelming, when asked, will identify themselves as being Christian. There are some surveys that place that number as high as 80%. In Seattle, an Episcopal priest identified herself as both a Muslim and a Christian. I’m not too sure how that works in her fevered, little mind, though. But there is actually a better one than that, although not an American example. Apparently a so-called pastor from The Netherlands identifies himself as an atheist Christian. He thinks God is OK as concept, I guess, but He just ain’t real. That’s pretty weird stuff, right?
(3 Now, most of us have better sense than those two people, most of us understand the nuttiness of these two examples; but there is no way that 80% of Americans are genuinely born again going to heaven followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because here is the deal: while we are not slaves to rules and laws, we are freed from bondage to sin. As we said, we have embarked on a new chapter in our biography; we are different
(4 And the problem with 80% of Americans being Christian is that most of that 80% live like the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ was meaningless to their lives. There is absolutely no difference in their lives; there is no righteousness, holiness, nothing
(5 You see, being a Christian does not mean that we go to church every now and then on Christmas and Easter and other special days; being a Christian doesn’t mean that we strive to be a good person doing kind things to our neighbors and helping poor people; being a Christian doesn’t even mean that we walk an aisle, mumble a sinner’s prayer, and maybe get a little bit wet. Being a Christian means that we are in Christ, dead to sin, and alive to the living God Amen Being a Christian is a call to a radical transformation It is a call for those who name the Name of Christ to place everything, every part of their lives, under His authority. So if we take what Paul writes here at face value, then obviously the number of Christians in America today falls far short of 80%, doesn’t it?
(6 Let’s concentrate for a moment on the first part of verse 6: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him . . . . In Gal. 2:20 Paul wrote an amazing thing about our position in Christ, about our identification with Him. When we were studying chapter 5, we talked at length about the First Adam and the Second Adam, didn’t we? About original sin. About our identification with Adam and his sin; and, if we are believers, with Christ and His righteousness. Listen to Gal. 2:20; Galatians 2:20 (KJV)
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
(7 We look at these truths here from both Galatians and Romans in far too mystical a manner, I believe. We look at the verses relative to our life in Christ as being in an ethereal, mythical realm unrelated to the grit and grime of living in the everyday world. But Paul writes in Rom. 6:6, and throughout this section of Scripture, that we know these things. And this knowledge we have is a concrete, rational, reality. What do we know? We know that our sin natures were nailed to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, and died there along with Him. And listen, dead men are free from all that bound them in this life, right? Dead men are slaves to nothing.
(8 Our identification with Christ is such that when He walked out of that tomb alive, we came out with Him as new creatures, new creations. The Lord Jesus Christ lives through us And because of that truth we know that sin and death–the consequence of sin–have no dominion over us; because they have no power over Him
III. Yielding and Grace (Rom. 6:11-14)
(1 So we know this; we have this certain knowledge; but this knowledge we have will do us no good if we don’t have yielded spirits. We can have an intimate knowledge of Christ in a real, organic way, and still slip slide away, right? And Paul is telling is in our next passage that we are going to yield to something in our lives: we are going to yield to sin, or we are going to yield to Christ. There is no middle ground here, is there? Look at your Bibles, 11-14.
(2 The word reckon in verse 11 doesn’t mean, Well, I reckon I’ll do it, or, I reckon it’s
right. It’s an accounting term that means if I reckon my bank account to have 25 dollars in it then it has 25 dollars in it. The word refers to facts not, well, I think so.
(3 So, what is Paul telling us? First, he is telling us we are dead to sin, right? It's in the bank. But he is also telling us that we are alive to God, right? He is telling us that through our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ our sin nature has, not only been crucified with Christ, and buried with Him, but then has been raised with Christ to newness of life. And that is in the bank as well.
(4 Now, I want us to notice something important here. Paul almost seems to have repeated himself unnecessarily here, hasn't he? He keeps telling us that we have had our sin natures crucified with Christ, and resurrected with Him. He tells us we know this to be true But it is not unnecessary repetition; Paul is intent on reenforcing the reality of all God has given him. And Paul knows, because he knows himself so well, that we are prone to wandering away from the truth. And here is what I want us to see: nowhere in all this passage, beginning in verse 1, and going all the way through verse 11, really stretching all the way back to the very beginning of our discussion of justification, does Paul tell us that this is something that we are to do for ourselves. It is not our duty to die to sin, but merely to reckon, count, know that we have It also doesn't mean that the force of sin within us has died, and it certainly doesn't mean that sin has been eradicated in us, but that its effective power to dominate our lives has perished. Remember, we said that we will not go back and live in that sinful lifestyle that Christ rescued us from. We know that this is something that God Himself has sovereignly done to us. Up until this point. We are dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(5 In verses 12 and 13, however, the language shifts, doesn't it? Look at them again. We have now passed from what God has sovereignly done for us, to what we must do ourselves. But we have to understand that we do this only because of what God has already done to us. We do this only because God has given us the power to do so. Because the work of Christ has destroyed that body of sin, and we are no longer under sin’s domination, what? Don’t allow yourself to be controlled by it! Don’t obey the lusts of the flesh! Don’t yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness, but yield members as instruments of righteosness. The word member refers to both the physical and the spiritual, to every part of what makes us human. The word instrument is translated elsewhere as weapon. So what Paul is saying is that we are not to place our lives as weapons of war in the hands of an evil ruler, but we are to place our lives as weapons of righteousness in the hands of God. One commentator paraphrased it this way: “Let sin be dethroned in your mortal body! May God vanquish it! And you, for your part, remove your bodily members from the battle line where they serve Sin as weapons of its unrighteousness, and present them for duty to God as weapons of his righteousness! For sin will no longer be your master.”
(6 And sin is no longer our master because we are under grace and not law! Why is the power of sin to dominate our lives finished? Because of the cross, because of grace! Why did Paul sat law and not sin? Perhaps because of the purpose of the law: which was to reveal God’s holiness and our unholiness. And one of the by-products of God’s good law is to excite our sinful natures, right? We hear the command to not commit adultery, and what is it that comes to mind. Sometimes it isn’t a hatred of sexual sin, but we begin to wander in that direction, right? Why? Look briefly at Rom. 8:1-4. You and I cannot obey the law; Christ could and did. And by faith, He has given us the victory over sin and death.
(7 We have a little ways to go in our study of Romans before we come to chapter 8, which may just be the high water mark of Christian truth. Paul hits all cylinders when he gets here; the Holy Spirit speaks through the great Apostle with great precision and power. And all of it, every word of it, is designed to point us to Calvary! Every bit of the Christian life is wrapped up in Christ, isn’t it? Every word in Scripture is designed to lead us to Christ. Any Bible study that doesn’t have as its ultimate goal a great meeting at the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ is an exercise in futility.
(8 And a life that honors God is impossible without first coming to Jesus! Amen! And because we are not under the law, but under grace, partial obedience to the law, which is all any of us are capable of doing, is not good enough. Christ paid it all, and it is Christ who will give us the victory as we yield our lives to Him! John 14:6 (KJV)
6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Sermon text with italics and bold and John 3:16 and v. 20.
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