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Grace Under Fire; Part I - Sin

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Grace Under Fire; Part I - Sin

Romans 6:1-14             October 7, 2001


Scripture Reading: Responsive Reading # 682, pew Bible

NOTE: $757 million + 100,000 teddy bears given to 911 relief efforts.


In our last message we dwelt upon the supremacy of grace as the unmeasurable quality at the pinnacle of the gospel.

Who can give me a definition of grace? It is God's blessing upon those who have received Christ by faith. By that faith we are assured before God, but it is God's grace that keeps us.

Like God's promise to Abraham, "I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you."

When we bless God by having faith in Christ, it is his grace that blesses us by keeping us there in spite of our continuing sin condition.

We said that the gift of God's grace may be the most difficult thing to understand and yet the fullest understanding of the gospel can only come in the context of grace.

We attempted to come to an understanding of grace against the background of sin, death, and law as opposed to the foreground of God's gift to us of Christ and all that we have in him in light of God's eternal purpose.

God's gift of grace is the gift that keeps on giving. The gift of grace is God himself.

Grace is secure, but how secure is our response to it?

Chapters 6 & 7 deal with two continuing threats to our assurance: sin and then law.

Chapter 8 shows how the work of God's Spirit overcomes these threats.

We will deal with the first of these threats this morning – the threat of sin toward grace.

We all continue to be impacted by the events of Sept. 11th as the full horror of what happened is revealed to us or as we come to realize it.

We are beginning to understand just how vulnerable we are.

The Friday edition of the Chicago Tribune reported two separate articles in regard to how we must reassess our security if we are to be assured of safety against terrorists.

The first article had to do with our air security and the two dozen high-tech million dollar bomb-detection machines sitting idle in warehouses over the last 3 to 15 months.

The machines use CAT-scanlike technology to screen bags for explosives.

The FAA had planned to install the machines in more than 400 U.S. airports, but only 140 of the machines have been placed in 46 airports over the last 6 years so far.

O'Hare has 8 machines currently installed and Midway has none so far.

And those machines that are in use are only being used to scan less than 200 bags a day when they are capable of scanning at least 225 bags per hour. Some machines can scan up to 500 bags per hour.

The problem seems to be a lack of personnel and money to install and run the machines. The machines are provided by the federal government and the airlines are to install and run them.

So here is a major, yet needless, threat to our national security if we could just get our act together.

We are needlessly vulnerable when we already have the means for success.

The second article had to do with potential breaches of security at our 10 nuclear weapons research and production facilities.

These facilities are potentially vulnerable to terrorist attack because they have failed about half of recent security drills.

Even after being warned that the drills were to take place, U.S. Army and Navy commando teams penetrated the plants and obtained enough uranium or plutonium from each of several plants to build several nuclear bombs.

Nine of these weapons facilities are within 100 miles of cities over 75,000 people and two of them are within close range of millions of people.

It only takes a few pounds of plutonium to craft a nuclear bomb, and 8 of the 10 weapons plants contain a total of 33.5 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium.

This is another major security risk unless we can get our act together.

Shocking? Yes! But so is sin.

Just like we need to get our act together on a national basis, so also we must get our act together on personal basis.

Not that sin is a threat to our security with God (for we all sin – 1John 1:8), but that sin is a threat to what the gift of God's grace is to accomplish in our lives – and that is sanctification.

But without sanctification in place as a continuing process of grace, we may end up feeling insecure.

So Paul begins a two-part argument in Romans 6 (page 1754, pew Bible) about sin as a threat to the process of grace; not to grace itself, but to what grace is to accomplish, and that is sanctification.

What is sanctification? It is being made holy; being set apart unto God by grace.

You have heard of Charles Colson's "Freedom Under Fire." Here now is "grace under fire."

Indeed, how we handle God's gift of grace will affect our freedom.

Big Question:


                                                                     (But where sin increased,)

Grace                    Sin              Romans 5:20 (grace increased all the more.)

How does the power of grace overcome sin?

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative (vv. 1-4)

          B.      Implication

Grace overcomes sin by giving us a new perspective on death.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative (vv. 5-7)

          B.      Implication

Grace overcomes sin by giving us a new perspective on life.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative (vv. 8-10)

          B.      Implication

Grace overcomes sin by giving us a new perspective on God.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

IV.    Cycle Four


          A.      Narrative (vv. 11-14)

          B.      Implication

Grace overcomes sin by giving us a new perspective on ourselves.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application


Big Answer:


How does the power of grace overcome sin?

Grace overcomes sin by giving us a new perspective on death.

Grace overcomes sin by giving us a new perspective on life.

Grace overcomes sin by giving us a new perspective on God.

Grace overcomes sin by giving us a new perspective on ourselves.

Timeless Truth:

Sin is a terrorist attack on God's gift of grace.

The best risk management against the terrorism of sin is to stay under the management of the One who defeated it.

Grace is not freedom to sin, it is freedom in Christ not to sin.

Satan's bullpen vs. Christ's sheepfold – Martin Lloyd-Jones analogy of two typical English fields enclosed by high rock walls (like the English garden at the Botanical Center). God takes us out of one and puts us in the other. But we can still hear Satan calling from across the wall. Out of long habit we sometimes still obey his voice, but we don't have to. We overcome sin by moving further away from the wall dividing the fields. This is like geographical therapy in the good sense of what God does for us. Geographical therapy on our own never works.

Sin is a terrorist attack from the inside on God's gift of grace. It is when we attempt to breach the wall of his protection – the wall of God's grace. God's grace is our security. Shall we truly try to sneak past his safeguard? Where shall we find ourselves if we were to find ourselves successful in this? Oh God, may the wall of your grace be powerful enough to keep us in. May the agent of your security be vigilant enough to foil our every attempt. But even more, may we come to swear allegiance to the flag of your forgiveness, and never leave the pleasant shade of the tree of life in the center of your garden.

Not able not to sin; able not to sin; not able to sin.

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