The path of Progress
The Path of Progress”
“The Normal Christian Life” -Watchman Nee
The normal Christian life is quite different than the life of the average Christian.
The life God has designed for us to live revolves around, builds on three concepts.
I. Know (3,6,9)
“Christian living depends on Christian learning. Duty is always founded on doctrine.”
If our adversary can keep us ignorant, he can keep us impotent (at being able to live the Christian life.)
This instruction focuses on the mind. The next one focuses on the heart
II. Reckon (11)
41 times in the NT (19 times in Romans)
“to put to one’s account”
“Reckoning is a matter of faith that issues in action. Reckoning is not claiming a promise, but acting upon a fact. God does not command us to become dead to sin. He tells us that we are dead to sin and alive unto God, and then commands us to act upon it.” – Warren Wiersbe, (p.67)
Mind, heart (accepting and acting on a fact) and now, will…
III. Yield (12-23)
Five times in this passage (13,16,19) -
-“to place at one’s disposal” “to present” “to offer as a sacrifice”
ill. Rom. 12:1 “I beg you therefore, my brothers in light of the mercies of God, that you present…”
This is an act of the will based on the knowledge we have of what Christ has done for us.
Not only is this the path here in Romans 6, but throughout the Christian life.
Know Reckon and Yield
For example, take prayer:
Know- God who hears and has revealed that He moves in answer to prayer
Reckon – (act on a fact) – pray and keep praying
Yield - desire®discipline®delight
Know – God has commanded us to be…
Reckon – move into action to fulfill that command: expecting God to use you, to work through you, you seek to live in such a way
Yield – time, life, emotions, mind (heart,soul, mind and strength) to this high calling in life
In verses 1-14 Paul asked and answered the thinking- "Can I continue in a life-style of sin, just as though nothing had really happened to me, except that I will go to heaven when I die?"
ans.- "Absolutely not!" If you go on in a lifestyle of sin, you prove that you never really participated in the death and resurrection of Jesus.
v. 15 raises the question again in a slightly different way:
Paul raises the thought...'Why can't I as a Christian sin occasionally and enjoy the momentary pleasure?'
-God won't reject me because of it
-the Law does not condemn me any longer
-I'll not go to hell because of it
-I can be forgiven because of God's grace
-and, it's fun ("delicious temptation")
ans.- "May it never be!" “God forbid” “Perish the thought” - me genoito
If I, as a Christian, go on sinning deliberately, even if it is only occasionally, I must face the full results of what sin will do to me.
I. sin makes you a slave (16-19)
II. sin will shame you (20,21)
III. sin will spread death throughout your whole existence (22,23)
read vss. 15-23)
I. Sin makes you a slave (v. 16-19)
ill.) Bob Dylan's "Ya Gotta Serve Somebody: it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’ve got to serve somebody. -when he made a profession of faith – It appears that it was nothing other than a profession.
®Most of us don’t appreciate this profound psychological fact, but, "We are made to be mastered"
-This is part of what it means to be a 'creature'
-We are created to serve and to be subordinate to forces beyond us.
-We like to think we are sovereign creatures with an absolutely free reign; but we are not.
Paul says that before we were Christians we were slaves to sin. Sin held our wills captive
So that even our best moments are tainted with selfishness
-when we become Christians, we are free to sin or not sin
-we try to believe this sin issue is not serious (little thing)
Paul says, (Understand this basic principle of life) When you yield yourself to sin, you become the slave of sin.
John 8:34 Jesus said "Truly, Truly, I say unto you 'He that commits sin is the slave of sin.'"
#1 ill.) white lie
- we can't tell just one lie. We are not in control of the events. We have to cover our lie.
Proverbs 28:13- "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion."
The only way to break the slavery to sin is to yield to righteousness.
Some never break the slavery- (truth is not the concern) chronic, pathological liars
manipulation of words- cover our tracks
#2 ill.) Anger
- cut a person just a little
- put a little sharpness in my voice.
what happens? they respond in kind
So I cut a little deeper... before I know it there is a blistering argument
Why can't we sin occasionally? – tolerate small sins - Sin is not static; it moves and progresses- it is cancerous. It permeates your thinking (Jude – “eyes full of adultery that cannot cease from sin…”)
Sow a thought, reap a pattern
Sow a pattern, reap a habit
Sow a habit, reap a character
Sow a character, reap a destiny.
Sin pushes you further than you want to go, you are its servant.
(be it lust, greed, gluttony )
I. Sin makes you a slave (review)
II. Sin will shame you. (19-21)
this progressive quality of sin takes a person deep into sin
ill.)broken Christians whose lives leave a stench in their own nostrils
ill.) The most miserable people on earth are Christians who have a sinful mess to look back on; and it seems that they can’t find the place of repentance
pastors (broken lives and ministries) who didn't take sin seriously- yielded to sin;
husbands (vile businesses) business practices went from gray to shady to vile illegal felonious;
wives (children reflecting sinful patterns) selfishness to loveless to godlessness
"I said a very nasty thing, only the other day
It was a truly vile thought, I had not meant to say.
But then, it was not really lost, when from my lips it flew;
My little children picked it up, and now they say it too."
sin will enslave you, shame you.
III. Sin will spread death throughout your whole existence (vss. 22 &23)
(if we don’t present our bodies to God)
Verse 23 refers to a death that is experienced while you're alive- the final outcome of which is eternal separation from God.
We usually apply this verse to the lost, but it also has a warning for the saved. After all, it was written to Christians. “There is a sin unto death” (I John 5:17)
II Cor. 4—we are ministers of life or death - our lives are to spread understanding & freedom; but, if we habitually give into sin, we will experience the by-products of death.
In Contrast… when we yield our members as instruments of righteousness we can expect:
·We are not under law, but under grace.” God’s unmerited favor.
It draws us to Him. It delights us in Him.
Paul emphasizes throughout being "set free"
-no longer slaves
-As long as one clings to things that he knows to be wrong, there is loss of opportunity, loss of freedom
ill.) reason so many Christians sit back with folded arms experiencing nothing of the excitement of our faith
-choosing to sin brings a lessening of our experience of freedom and delight in the things of God and an increase of boredom
Called to be free...
Eugene Peterson writes in "Traveling Light"
"The word Christian means different things to different people. To one person it means a stiff, uptight, inflexible way of life, colorless and unbending. To another it means a risky, surprise-filled venture, lived tiptoe at the edge of expectation.
Either of these pictures can be supported with evidence. There are numberless illustrations for either position in congregations all over the world. But if we restrict ourselves to biblical evidence, only the second image can be supported: the image of the person living zestfully, exploring every experience-pain and joy, enigma and insight, fulfillment and frustration- as a dimension of human freedom, searching through each for sense and grace. If we get our information from the biblical material, there is no doubt that the Christian life is a dancing, leaping, daring life.
How then does this other picture get painted in so many imaginations? How does anyone get the life of faith associated with dullness, with caution, with inhibition, with stodginess? We might fairly suppose that a congregation of Christians, well stocked with freedom stories- stories of Abraham, Moses, David, Samson, Deborah, Daniel- would not for a moment countenance any teaching that would suppress freedom. We might reasonably expect that a group of people who from infancy have been told stories of Jesus setting people free and who keep this Jesus at the center of their attention in weekly worship, would be sensitive to any encroachment on their freedom. We might think that a people that has at the very heart of its common experience release from sin's guilt into the Spirit's freedom, a people who no longer lives under the tyranny of emotions or public opinion or bad memories, but freely in hope and in faith and in love- that these people would be critically alert to anyone or anything that would suppress their newly acquired spontaneity.
But in fact the community of faith, the very place where we are most likely to experience the free life, is also the very place where we are in most danger of losing it.
"There are people who do not want us to be free. They don't want us to be free before God, accepted just as we are by his grace. They don't want us to be free to express our faith originally and creatively in the world. They want to control us: they want to use us for their own purposes. They themselves refuse to live arduously and openly in faith, but huddle together with a few others and try to get a sense of approval by insisting that all look alike, talk alike and act alike, thus validating one another's worth. They try to enlarge their numbers only on the condition that new members act and talk and behave the way they do. These people infiltrate communities of faith "to spy out our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus" and not infrequently find ways to control, restrict and reduce the lives of free Christians. Without being aware of it, we become anxious about what others will say about us, obsessively concerned about what others think we should do. We no longer live the good news but anxiously try to memorize and recite the script that someone else has assigned to us. In such an event we may be secure, but we will not be free. We may survive as a religious community, but we will not experience what it means to be human, alive in love and faith, expansive in hope. Conforming and self-congratulatory behavior is not free. But Paul "did not yield in submission even for a moment, that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you." Every free person who benefits from Paul's courage will continue vigilant in the resistance movement he formed."
If you serve a master, you can expect to receive wages. Sin pays wages- death! God also pays wages – holiness and everlasting life. In the old life we produced fruit that shamed and enslaved us. In Christ, we produce fruit that glorifies God and brings joy to our lives.
Know - Reckon - Yield
Eugene Peterson, Traveling Light , as quoted in The Grace Awakening by Chuck Swindoll, p.82,83.