Faithlife Sermons

Preaching Christ from Our Pain

Acts 2021  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  44:54
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When life gets hard, we have a tendency to withdraw. The early church fought that tendency and preached Christ through their pain.

There is a question that gets asked in our house from time to time when someone begins to whine or complain about something they went through.
As the story goes on, the hearer gets annoyed with the whining, looks at the other person, and replies, “Yeah, but did you die?”
In that instance, we ask that question to help the other person put their suffering in perspective - no matter how hard your day was at school or at work, at least you didn’t die.
Have you ever said the same thing to a friend, or had someone say it to you?
If you have a Bible, I would encourage you to open up to a different passage than what we would normally think of for an Easter message…open up to Romans 6.
I want to challenge you with that same question: but did you die?
I am not asking about whether or not you have had an experience where you had to be revived medically, nor is the point of this message to encourage you to do something to hasten the end of your life on earth. In fact, I would discourage you from doing that in the strongest possible terms.
However, as we reflect on Christ’s death and resurrection today, we will see that to follow Jesus, there is a specific kind of death we need to die.
The question for us this morning is this: “Have you died to sin?”
We are going to explain that idea as we go through our passage today, so stick with me if this is all new to you.
Here’s the thing: there are a lot of folks in our world who think that when they stand before God, they are going to be able to point to the fact that they were generally a nice person, they worked hard, and they tried to do right by other people, and they will expect that, if there is a heaven, that will be enough to get them in.
However, what we will see in this passage this morning is that you and I could list off all the good things we have done, but this question still remains--”But did you die?”
You might be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with Easter?”
Everything! Our death to sin and the life we now live is all wrapped up in the death of Jesus for us and his resurrection, which we have celebrated this morning.
Although we are jumping into the middle of a section, I just want to focus on Romans 6:8-11 this morning.
Read through these verses with me...
Let’s draw from these verses three truths that will help us to answer that question of whether or not we have died to sin.
The first is the core assumption that runs through the passage, and that is that...

1) Jesus died and rose again.

We see this truth acknowledged in verses 8-9.
Before we can talk about our dying to sin and living a new life, we have to establish that Jesus has done this already for us.
All of Christianity, everything about a relationship with God, revolves around this central truth:
1 Corinthians 15:3–5 CSB
For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.
This is the core foundation of what we believe and what we stake our lives on.
You and I are sinners, which means we have all done things that displease God and go against who he is.
We think and do things we shouldn’t, and we don’t do what we should do. The Bible says that isn’t just mistakes, those things are called sin.
As we commemorated on Friday, Jesus went to a cross and died to take the punishment that you and I deserve for our sins.
He died in my place, and three days later, he was raised from the dead to prove that he had defeated death itself.
Before we can deal with the issue of your dying to sin, you need to answer this question: Do you truly believe that Jesus died in your place and rose, physically, three days later?
If you don’t, then you cannot be right with God. Believing in Jesus is the only way to have eternal life, which is a relationship with God that starts in this life and continues forever, even after you die.
You need to settle in your heart that this is true: God died and rose to give you a new life.
So far, this sounds great, doesn’t it? The news that Jesus died and rose again and now reigns over all of creation is the best news in history.
There is more to this passage, though, isn’t there?
The second truth we see in this passage is that...

2) I must die with Jesus if I am going to follow Him.

Here’s where we start getting into the harder stuff, don’t we?
A lot of us would love to add Jesus on to what we normally do, hoping that we can get this God thing straightened out without having to change much about how we live.
That’s not the case, though, is it? What does Paul say we have had to do? “If we died with Christ...”
In fact, if you look back a couple of verses at verse 6, what does it say? “Our old self was crucified with him.”
See, this is the tricky thing. If I want to take part in the life of Christ, in that eternal life he has won and offers as a gift, I must be willing to die.
Remember all those things we said that the Bible calls sin? The good things we don’t do, the bad things we do and think?
Following Jesus means dying to those things.
Think about it using these categories:
1 John 2:16 ESV
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.
We can lump all sin into these three categories:
Desires of the flesh - stuff that makes me feel good
Desires of the eyes - things that I want
Pride of life - arrogance that comes from who I am, what I have, what I have—putting me in the center.
To come to Christ means that I must allow him to put those things to death.
To take my desire for comfort, my desire for pleasure, my desire to go down in history as the best, the prettiest, the strongest, the wealthiest.
To nail all those selfish desires to the cross with Jesus and surrender.
That’s why Paul would elsewhere write:
Galatians 2:20 CSB
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 faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
You and I won’t be perfect, as we will talk about in a minute, but has there been that time in your life when you have allowed God to take those desires that have driven you for so long and nail them to the cross with Jesus?
Or, to borrow from Frank Sinatra, are you trying to do it your way?
Are you hoping that you will one day make enough money or finally find that relationship or achieve success, whatever it looks like to you, and be happy?
Listen to me: As long as you are chasing after your desires, you will not be satisfied.
Why not surrender to Christ and let him take those desires that leave you empty and nail them to the cross?
As you give up those desires that will only leave you empty, you will find a life that you could never imagine.
You see, that’s the third truth we draw from this passage this morning:

3) If I died with Christ, then I will live like He does.

The first two points were background assumptions that Paul had already explained and we needed to make sure we were clear on so we could get to this point.
This gets into the heart of the passage here.
What happened after Jesus died? He rose again.
So what happens to us after we die to sin?
We rise again like he did!
This isn’t just talking about going to heaven or about living forever with God after the end of time.
When did Christ rise from the dead? It was almost 2000 years ago!
He is already living a resurrected life, and he is already inviting us into that same kind of life!
Ephesians 2:4–5 CSB
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!
The moment God drew you to himself and your sinful desires were nailed to the cross, God made you alive!
You were spiritually dead, and God brought you to life.
If you have died with Christ, you have already been raised and have new life with God right now!
This doesn’t mean that you are always going to feel like everything is right and you are walking around on a higher plane of existence.
However, in the middle of the struggle of life that we all face, you will have these moments where you see and understand who God is. You will recognize that He is working and It fills you with a deeper, greater joy than you can ever imagine.
If you have died with Christ, then right now, you have His life in you, whether you feel it or not.
The truth we celebrate this morning is that Jesus walked out of the tomb he was place in, and so do we!
Life has meaning and purpose and joy that it never has when you are just living for your own pleasures.
Here’s what else is incredible: Jesus never died again after he was raised.
You see, every other person in the Bible who came back to live was basically resuscitated. They were dead, they came back to life, but they died again.
Look back at verse 9-10...
When Jesus was raised, his body was free from any trace of sin and death, so he never died again! He took his physical body with him when he ascended into heaven.
That isn’t just a physical reality, though. Paul points us to the fact that Jesus died to sin once for all time, never to die again!
When we come to Christ and surrender our old way of life, we die to that once and for all!
Instead, we have the privilege of walking in the life that Christ won for us when he came out of that tomb.
Now, we don’t have to sin, but we have the privilege of living for him.
That’s where this all comes together.
Our old pattern of chasing after what we wanted when we wanted has been put to death, and it is replaced now with the ability to chase after what God desires.
That’s what we were created to do! That’s how life works best, and where we find those moments of happiness and joy that nothing on earth can measure up to.
Did you catch God’s expectation in this? Look back at verse 11...
If Jesus died and has been raised, and I have died to sin and been raised to a new life, then I have to live like it.
Although we will all still sin, I have to fight against trying to live life for what I want.
Instead of just doing what feels good or buying what makes me happy or trying to make a name for myself, I have to consider myself dead to that.
If you have surrendered to Christ, then you and I don’t have to be a slave to those desires anymore!
Instead, we are now alive to God, which means we can do what He created and calls us to do! We can be involved in His activity in the world, in things that make a difference for eternity!
Again, this is because we are “in Christ Jesus,” not because we are good enough to do this on our own.
So here’s my question for you this morning: You may do a lot of good things, and you may be well loved or well-respected, but did you die?
Jesus died for your sins and mine, and he was raised to give us new life so we didn’t have to walk in that anymore.
Have you surrendered to him? Have you let him take those desires and nail them to the cross and kill them so you could live?
Are you living like you are alive to God? Do you live with a fear of death, or do you trust that you have eternal life in Christ? Do you live like you are still enslaved to sin, or are you, through the life that Christ Jesus offers, walking in holiness and obedience?
In the next section, verses 12-14, Paul challenges those of us who are alive in Christ to not offer our bodies to be used by sin. Instead, we offer ourselves to God.
Maybe today, in light of Easter, you need to recommit to following Christ and walking in the life he has given you.
Feel the freedom to obey as God leads.
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