14 THE FACTS & ACTS OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE (part 14)
THE "FACTS & ACTS" OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
Grace: The Truth that Transforms - Part 14 of 36
Most Christians are frustrated, discouraged, and defeated because they do not know and apply the fantastic truths taught in Romans 6.
I. THE THREE GREAT PHASES OF YOUR SALVATION
* JUSTIFICATION - being set free from the _______________ of sin.
* SANCTIFICATION - being set free from the _______________ of sin.
* GLORIFICATION - being set free from the _______________ of sin.
"Positional" Truth: What _______________ about me and my Christian life.
"Experiential" Truth: When _______________ the way God sees me!
How can I experience in my life what God says is true?
1st, I must _______________
2nd, I must _______________
3rd, I must _______________
KEY WORDS IN ROMANS 6:1-14 ____________ ____________ ____________
II. THE "FACTS" OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE - Romans 6:1-10
1. (vs. 3-5)
2. (vs. 6-7)
3. (vs. 8-10)
III. THE "ACTS" OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE - Romans 6:11-14
(vs. 11) _______________
(vs. 12-13a) _______________
(vs. 13b-14) _______________
THE "FACTS & ACTS" OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
Grace: The Truth that Transforms - Part 14 of 36
We're going to look at the "facts and the acts" of the Christian life. We've been going systematically through every major doctrine in the Bible which is pretty much covered as we go verse by verse through the book of Romans. We've been through the first two sections on Sin and Salvation and now the third great section of Romans starting in chapter six on Sanctification.
What is Sanctification? Sanctification is the key to Christian living here and now. I want to start by talking to you about the three great phases of your salvation: Justification, Sanctification, Glorification. What are these words? They are actually three different phases of your salvation. Justification has to do with your past. Sanctification has to do with right now. Glorification is a big word that has to do with the future in heaven.
THREE GREAT PHASES OF YOUR SALVATION
Justification means being free from the penalty of sin. We looked at this from chapter 3 to 5:21. It means how to be accepted by God, how to have a right relationship to God. Justification is not by doing good works, going to church, having religion, keeping the law. Justification comes by faith in Jesus. As a result we are completely forgiven. That means we're not going to have to pay for our sins. We are freed from the penalty of sin. Justification takes care of the fact that you're going to make it to heaven and not go to hell.
Sanctification is being set free from the power of sin. That's the here and now. You want to do what's right but just can't make yourself do it. It's a struggle. Even though you knew what you were doing was wrong but you still did it anyway and you didn't feel like you could change to do what was right. Sanctification is the key to overcoming that problem. How do I break the power of sin in my life?
Glorification is being set free from the presence of sin. One day we're going to be in heaven. There will be no sin there. As a result there's no sorrow, no tears, no problems, no worries. We'll be set free from the presence of sin. It won't even be around. We won't be bothered by it any more. As we get into this passage, Section 3, on Sanctification all of us are going to be able to identify. He talks about the struggles of the Christians -- struggles with ourselves, with sin, with Satan. He actually shows us how to overcome the power of temptation in our lives. How do you handle the struggles in your life? When your old sin nature keeps popping up at inappropriate times in your Christian life? How do you deal with that?
It is a struggle. Last week we saw in chapter 5 that every one of us has this sin nature. Even babies have it. It's the desire to live for ourselves. The old sin nature comes from Adam, the father of the human race. It's been passed down. Because you're human you get part of the human nature, the nature to be your own god, your own boss. How do I break the power of my old nature? You can't.
You can't break the power of your old sin nature on your own. Otherwise you wouldn't need Jesus if you could. The fact is, Jesus Christ has already broken it and we're going to see how we can appropriate that into our lives.
The truths we're going to talk about tonight are very, very important. Yet, most Christians don't understand what we're going to talk about. The majority of Christians are defeated, frustrated, discouraged and have no power in their life. They don't understand what we're going to talk about. They're ignorant of it. Have you ever heard anybody say, "I can't be a consistent Christian." They don't understand Romans 6.
Paul says that in order for you to break the power of sin in your life, the temptation to do what's wrong, you have to know some things and you have to do some things. The secret of victory over sin in your life is knowing three facts and doing three acts. That's why I'm calling this "The Facts and the Acts of the Christian Life."
The difference is the difference between positional truth and experiential truth. Positional truth is different from what I often experience. Can something be true without your ever having experienced it? Sure. Can something be true even though you've never felt it? Sure. Can something be true even though you don't understand it? Yes. Can something be true even though you may not believe it? Sure.
There are some things God says in the Bible about you that from a circumstantial viewpoint you say, "That does not make sense!" But they're true whether you believe them or not or whether you feel it or not. For instance: The Bible says that once you're saved your sins are completely forgiven. Yet many Christians still feel guilty. They positionally are forgiven but experientially they still feel guilty. God says that in Christ you are covered with His righteousness and you are seen perfect before God. But do you feel perfect?
Positional truth is what God says about my Christian life. Experiential truth is when I begin to live the way God sees me, when I begin to act upon what God says. God can say and I may not ever live it in my life. Most Christians will die and go to heaven without ever living what we're going to talk about.
An example of Chuck Swindoll's about how in the 1860's President Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves. The minute he wrote it, as President, every slave in the United States was legally set free. Did the slaves experience it? Not at all. It wasn't until the end of the war that they were actually given their freedom. Positionally they were free from their master, but experientially they still were slaves. Even many years later they did not experience that.
If God says some neat things about me, how can I experience in my life what God says is true? If God says I'm free from, dead to, sin how do I experience that? How do I convert something God says about me into my practical life so I can enjoy it?
You do it by three ways:
1. I must know it. I must know what God has said. How can you act on something if you don't even know what He said about it. I've got to know it.
2. I have to believe it.
3. I must act on it.
This is exactly what Paul says in Romans 6:1-14. There are some key words here that parallel what I just shared with you: "know" v. 3 "Don't you know"; v. 6 "for we know"; v. 9 "for we know". In order to become the Christian God wants you to be there are some things you have to understand. Some things you've got to know.
The second key word is in v. 11 -- "count" or "consider" or "reckon" or "believe".
The third key word is "offer" or "present" in verse 13 and it's used three times there. Don't offer yourself to sin but offer yourself to God. Present or render or give yourself to God.
You've got to know it, you've got to believe it, and then you've got to act on it.
THE "FACTS" OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
God wants us to know three fantastic truths that help us find freedom from sin.
First Paul begins this section with a question. v. 1 "What shall we say then? [He's referring back to the previous chapter in v. 20.] Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?" He's talking about Christians -- all Christians, Paul included. Should we go on sinning? He's talking about continuous deliberate sin. Why does he bring this question up? In the previous chapter in v. 20 "Where sin increases, grace increases." Wherever things get real bad God pours out more grace. Some smart alecs took this and thought "Every time I sin that shows God's grace. I'm going to do God a favor. I'm going to let Him really show super grace." If grace is shown every time I sin then let's just go for it! Be super sinful and then God can show how much grace He has.
That is misusing what God has said. Paul says, Should we continue sinning to show God's grace? His answer is very short, "By no means!" A different translation: "God forbid!" "Absolutely, certainly not!" "No way!" That is a misinterpretation. You don't sin so God can show His grace. The New English Bible says, "No, no, no!"
Why? Because we died to sin. This is the first positional truth. Is Paul saying if you become a Christian you never sin? No, everybody sins. But he is saying, if you are a genuine Christian that you will not deliberately keep on sinning. You will not make a practice of it. If you're really a Christian it's going to show up in your lifestyle. A person cannot say, "I'm a Christian" and there's no change in his life. He's not really a Christian. You do not continue sinning. The most miserable person in the world is a Christian who is trying to sin and get away with it.
I John 3:9 "No one who is born of God will continue to sin because God's seed remains in him and he cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God." He's not saying that you don't sin if you're a Christian. He's saying you don't keep on and on doing the sin with no guilt, no feeling, no conscious. It's impossible for a Christian to keep on sinning and get away with it.
How do I break the power of sin in my life? Three facts:
1. When I became a believer I was placed in Christ. This phrase "in Christ" is used 120 times in the New Testament. It is the number one way we are called Christians. We are in Christ. 2 Cor. 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ..." There is a tremendous implication here. Because I am in Christ then I was crucified, buried, and resurrected with Christ. God is so concerned that you get this truth that He gives us an illustration that will show this point. Baptism. v. 3 "Don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death. We are therefore buried with Him through baptism in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead to the glory of the Father we too might live a new life. If we have been united with Him in His death we will certainly be united with Him in His resurrection." Baptism illustrates this truth. We were buried with Christ, crucified with Christ, buried with Him and resurrected with Him. Baptism represents a burial and resurrection. Whenever you see a baptism, think of it as a funeral. It's saying, "I died with Christ." When we take the person and put them under the water it shows they're dying to an old way of life, dying with Christ. When we bring them up they're being resurrected with Christ. This is why we practice emersion in this church because it symbolizes it.
But why make a big deal over baptism? Why does it matter how you baptize? It matters because it pictures this truth. Emersion is important because it shows we were buried with Christ and raised with Christ. How do you show that with a sprinkle? The Bible also says when you're baptized it's a symbol of washing away all your sins? I didn't want to wash away just a few sins; I want complete washing away -- total emersion. All of my sins symbolically are forgiven and that's what baptism shows.
Colossians 2:12 "Having been buried with Him in baptism and raised with Him through your faith in the power of God who raised Him from the dead." Baptism is a burial. Every time you see a baptism think of this first truth. I was placed in Christ and I was buried with Christ. Baptism states: I died with Christ. What did Christ die for? Our sins. And we died in Him for sin. Paul is saying that all of us, if you're a Christian, you're in Christ, Christ died on the cross and you were in Christ when He died on the cross. That's a positional truth. We'll come back and explain how this applies to your life.
2. When Christ died my old sin nature was crucified with Him. v. 6-7 "For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless [circle "rendered powerless"] that we no longer would be the slaves of sin because anyone who has died has been freed from sin." Can you tempt a dead man? If you are dead in Christ then the temptation cannot have its affect in your life.
Passages that explain this -- when Christ died, my old nature was crucified with Christ.
Ephesians 4:22. In Romans 6 we just read that first we're identified with Christ, and second our old nature (man) was crucified. Who is our "old man"? It's your old self, your old nature. That tendency to do wrong. "You were taught with regard to your former way of life to put off your old self [circle this -- it's the same phrase] which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires to be made new in the attitude of your mind and to put on the new self created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Your old man is your old lifestyle, the way you used to live, your old desires and habits and patterns.
Colossians 3:8-9 "But now you must rid yourselves of such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other since you have taken off your old self with its practices and put on the new self which is being renewed in the knowledge and image of the creator." All of those things are the old self.
Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by the faith in the son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me."
This is the truth taught all through Scripture:
1) I am identified with Christ, I'm in Christ.
2) If I'm in Christ, I died with Him and I was resurrected with Him.
Romans 6. He says that when we were crucified the body of sin might be rendered powerless. Circle "powerless". You do not have to sin any more. You can choose not to sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. I'm not saying you can be perfect. I am saying that you can choose not to sin. There are times in your life that you said, "I can't help myself. I just can't stop." There were times in your life when you were a victim to sin. Before you became a Christian you had no power to stop, no power to change. You'd try to start new habits, and you'd fall off of them. Because you didn't have any power. Sin had a power over you. But now that power has been rendered powerless and you have been freed from the power. Why are so many Christians defeated by sinful habits? Because they're looking at the wrong thing. Instead of looking at the circumstance they ought to look at the cross where we are set free.
3. Christ's resurrection has guaranteed our ultimate victory. This is encouraging. v. 8 "Now if we died with Christ we believe that we will also live with Him for we know that since Christ was raised [circle this] from the dead [He didn't stay dead] He cannot die again. Death no longer has mastery over Him. The death He died, He died to sin once for all, but in the life He now lives, He lives to God." Even death has been defeated. That's the worst enemy. Hebrews 2 says that people are in fear of death and Christ has defeated that enemy too.
Those are the truths, the facts. What good does all of this knowledge do for me? It doesn't do you any good unless you act on them. You've got to know it, you've got to believe it, and then you've got to act on it.
THE "ACTS" OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
There are three things you must do with your knowledge, knowing that I died with Christ. When I died, my old sin nature died but that doesn't mean it was destroyed. We still have a sin nature. But it is rendered powerless. That means you now have a choice, it doesn't control you. You can now choose to do what's right. A Christian can never say, "The devil made me do it!" He can't blame the devil, Adam, anybody. If you sin it's because you choose to sin.
Three things you must do:
1) Reckon. Believe that what God says is true. v. 11 "In the same way count [reckon] yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Reckon is a business term. Reckon or count mean compute, calculate, consider, count on it, don't doubt it, believe it. We're not talking about a matter of pretending. We're not pretending that sin doesn't have any effect on us. Paul is saying that sin does not have to have any affect on you. You start acting the way God says. But you don't feel it so... What are you going to trust? Your feelings or God's word? God says that the way you take something that's true and put it into your life is you first reckon it, you count on it. It's not a matter of pretending that when you died with Christ 2000 years ago that sin can't make you sin. It's not pretending but believing what God has said in this verse. We can make our own decisions. We can choose not to sin. We do have a new strength. Reckon it. Count on it. Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Have you ever heard anyone say, "You've got to crucify yourself" or "You've got to die to self." The only problem is you cannot crucify yourself. You can't crawl up on the cross and nail your hands to the cross. You cannot crucify yourself. Nowhere in the Bible are you told that you have to crucify your old nature. The Bible says it has already been done. It's something that happened a long time ago. Past tense. Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ" not "I am crucifying myself with Christ."
You just agree with God, "I don't know how it all works out. I don't understand it all. But I believe that because I am in You, that somehow I've died to that tendency to sin."
Paul takes three chapters to spell this out. It gets a little easier the more you understand it. This is the foundation tonight for all the practical stuff we're going to get into. Reckon -- believe what God says is true.
2) Resist. v. 12 "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Don't offer the parts of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness." Don't let sin go unchallenged in your life.
Review: v. 12 the first word is "therefore". What is it there for? Paul is saying we are coming to a conclusion. The bottom line: If I really believe (a) I am in Christ; (b) My old sin nature was crucified on the cross; (c) I no longer have to give in to sin. I can choose. I have a new power in my life to quit giving in to temptation. Then I realize I do have the power to resist temptation. Paul is saying, Resist it. No longer let it go unchallenged in your life.
A Christian has no business saying, "I can't help it." Because you can help it, according to God. The Bible says that Jesus Christ has broken that power and whereas before you became a believer you didn't have the power to change. But now that you are a believer you have a new power. And you believe it and you resist what God says to resist. Resist that sin! Reject the idea that you can't control your own desires. You can control your own desires.
Galatians 5:16 "So now I say, live by the spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Some people think that the more they become a Christian, the less they will be tempted. The stronger Christian you become, the more the devil is going to tempt you! I think Billy Graham and those kind of guys get temptations that none of us have to deal with! Sometimes I doubt that the devil even knows my name; I don't think I'm that big of a threat. I think the devil works on the big guns of Christianity. He just puts some little private demon on you or me. The devil probably doesn't even know who I am. But he knew who Paul was and he tempted him. And he knew who Jesus was.
People get psyched out by temptation. You've been a Christian for twenty years and one day in your prayer time the devil puts a thought in your mind that is the most ugly thought you've ever thought in the whole world. "Where did that come from?" It freaks you out! Maybe I'm not even a Christian, you think! Have you ever been intimidated by temptation?
Our mind plays all kinds of tricks on us. I imagine some of you mothers some days when your kids are all tense and you might think, "What if I kill one of my kids..." and you immediately think "No, I shouldn't have a thought like this!" God doesn't condemn you for a thought that comes into your mind. The devil can put thoughts into your mind. What makes you guilty is when you act on the thought! When you entertain it! Some of you men have been down at the beach... some cutie comes walking by in a next-to-nothing bikini. You can have several different thoughts. One thought might be, "That is a woman!" That's not even a temptation. Some people think that if they have a sexual desire that's a temptation. In the first place, you ought to thank God you recognize that's a woman. In today's society you ought to thank God you attracted to a woman! That means you're normal. The devil will give another kind of temptation: undress her or something else. Does that mean you have just sinned because that thought went through your mind? Not at all. What is a sin is when you begin to meditate on it, think about it, roll it over and over in your mind! Then you act on it.
This passage teaches, as a Christian, you do not have to be intimidated by your old nature, or the devil, or self, or anything any more. I died with Christ. That means when Jesus took the penalty for the sin, He took the penalty for all the sin: not only the sins I did yesterday, but the ones I do in the weeks to come. All of my sins have been paid for. Now do you see why it makes sense (in one sense) for someone to say, "If all my sins are paid for, I'll just go ahead and do whatever I want to." Do you understand why the first question was even brought up?
Have you heard anyone say, "I know it's wrong but I know God will forgive me"? That's what he's talking about in this passage. We don't fulfill the lust of the flesh. We have those desires. We just don't fulfill them.
3) Render. This means to give, to offer, to give yourselves. Romans 6. At first he says don't offer your body to sin, don't put yourself in situations where you're even tempted "...but rather offer yourself 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." Render means to put at one's disposal, to offer voluntarily. Romans 12:1-2 "Therefore I urge you brothers in view of God's mercy, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God which is your spiritual worship." Make a present of yourself to God.
These three things I've just shared with you are the key to overcoming temptation. We'll come back and cover this in more detail as we go on. We've got to learn to do these three things.
The only problem with a living sacrifice is that it can crawl off the altar. On Sunday we agree with God that we've blow it this week, ask forgiveness. Then we want to realize that we don't have to give into sin because He's broken the power on the cross. We believe He's broken the power of sin in our old nature and we don't have to give in to it any more. We resist the devil and his temptation because we know we do have a right to choose and we don't have to be manipulated by sin any more. We don't have to be intimidated. Then we render, we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice on Sunday.... And then on Monday we crawl off the altar. On Sunday we sing "Onward Christian Soldiers" and on Monday we go AWOL. It is a continual thing but it is first a once for all present. Present yourself to God. Make a present. "God, here is my mind, here is my tongue, here are my hands, here is my body. I give it all to you." That's the key to victory in the Christian life. It's the starting point. That's why it's here at the beginning of this section.
This doesn't mean you're not going to stumble, fall. You will. Look at v. 14 "For sin shall not be your master because you are not under the Law but under grace." We have looked at the Law and we've seen how the Law brings death. But grace brings life. The reason we can have victory is because God says we are under grace.
Titus 2:11-12 "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say `No!' to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self controlled, upright, godly lives in this present age." The grace of God teaches us to say "no". You now have within your power, the power to say "No!" to sin. You don't have to keep on in sin. Sin does not have to dominate your life anymore. Sin is like gravity and it's constantly pulling you down trying to make you fall. But grace is like God giving you wings. You can sore in the air in spite of gravity. In spite of the fact that you have an old sin nature. You do, but on the cross it was rendered powerless. It cannot manipulate you any more. The next time a voice within you comes and says, "Go ahead and sin! It's no big deal! God will forgive you!" Think of Romans 6:1 "Shall we continue to deliberately sin so that grace will abound more. God forbid!" God says you are dead to sin. That's positional truth. Experiential truth -- start acting like it. How do you act like it? Those three words: Reckon -- God, I believe what you say is true. My old sin nature died on the cross. Resist -- I'm not going to just give up and let the devil intimidate me and let it go unchallenged. I don't have to do that any more. I may have done it for thirty years but I don't have to do it any more. Render -- Give yourself as a present to God.
Nothing is more crucial than the sections we're going to look at than in this third major division of Romans. Maybe even today you are intimidated by the devil and by your old sin nature. Maybe some of these thoughts have gone through your mind, "I'll never be able to change! I can't be a consistent Christian. I'll never get control of that area of my life." You feel that you just can't break the power of sin in your life -- the temptation is too strong. You can't break it. If you could we could all read self help books and forget about Jesus. The fact is you can't on your own. Romans 6 teaches us three very important truths that you need to know, to need to believe, to need to act on.
One, Thank God right now that when you became a believer you were placed in Christ. Maybe you don't understand it all. "Lord, I agree that I was put in Christ."
Two, when Christ died my old nature was crucified. Thank God for that. We know that our old self was crucified with Him, so that sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. If I have died with Christ then I can be freed from sin.
Then thank God not only for Christ's death but for His resurrection that guaranteed our ultimate victory. If we were raised with Christ, we will live with Him and death no longer has mastery over Him. Satan would love to put in us the fear of death but for the Christian, death is just a homecoming. The life we live we now live to God.
Would you right now in your heart make a present of your life to God. "Jesus Christ, I want to give You my mind. I want to give You a present of my heart, my life, my ears, my hands, my mouth. I present myself to You. I thank You that sin will not be my master and that, because I'm under grace, You will give me wings to break the gravity of my old nature. Lord, help me to believe that I'm dead to sin and help me to start acting like it. Help me to realize that when I do sin I can't blame anybody else but it's because I've chosen to. Nobody is forcing me to do it."
Lord, I want to thank You for Romans 6 for the Facts and the Acts of the Christian life. As we study these Scriptures in the days ahead may we become victorious Christians. There are so many people in the world who are believers but who don't understand these truths. As a result they go through life frustrated. Yet, Lord, You meant for us to live in freedom. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus' name. Amen.