Feb 12 2023 - Shall we Continue to Sin that Grace may Increase?
12th February 2023
Lord, thank You for this time to gather as a church family – spending time with our God and Savior in the Lord Jesus. Help our focus to be on You and clear our minds and trust in You to hear from You. Give us peace in our hearts to be receptive to hear what you would say to us.
Through the Book of Romans there are numerous themes. Last week we looked at the theme – there is an apocalyptic side – this conflict of good and evil. The spiritual realm of God versus the powers of darkness. They are competing realms. Paul is saying – the realm of Adam – sin and death – and now the realm of Jesus – life, resurrection, and grace.
Think of x-files – or Stranger Things – do you know why that is so popular? Not because it is real, but because there is something real that it is mimicking – there is a real conflict, behind the scenes, behind the current – going on in this world for peoples’ lives.
Paul is telling us that the power of sin and death has been defeated by the power of GRACE. Overwhelmingly defeated.
As sin abounds – grace abounds all the more! So grace is overwhelmingly more powerful than sin. So, Paul – begins chapter 6 with a concern – sin abounding – grace abounding more?
Romans 6: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
That last line! May it never be – but then the next – how shall we who died still live in it? We are dead to sin. Sin no longer has power over us! This is positionally true for all of us – but in our experience, it surely doesn’t feel true. Our experience is lacking. At times it seems like – oh wow! I’ve got it! But then it comes back.
The word SIN is used about 50 times in the book of Romans. That is a lot. It is a bunch here in chapter 6. One really important thing – 45 of those 50 times, it is spoken of in the singular. Only 3 times does he use the word SINS plural. Have you ever heard preachers – usually talking about other preachers – we don’t ever talk about sin anymore in church! What they are saying – we don’t talk about people’s specific sins in church! (Thank God!) Sometimes there can be an obsession on specific sins. And yes, there are times to speak about specific sins. But when Paul talks about SIN – he is talking about the human condition – this evil power that enslaves humanity called SIN.
The reason we don’t – our lived experience is not being freed from sin – why we don’t experience freedom from sin is we focus on specific sins we struggle with! That sounds nebulous – what do you mean? But Paul wants us to understand that the struggle is with sin – and that has been utterly defeated. And as we zero in on that – we will learn how to make that a reality in our lives, especially in areas we struggle in consistently.
We will look at all these concepts in Romans 6 – Sin no longer has reign in our lives.
The first thing, on a practical level, to live dead to sin – is baptism! You probably weren’t thinking that, were you?! What does baptism have to do with it?
Romans 6:3-4 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
How do you walk in newness of life? Through baptism! Here is the question – is Paul talking about the ritual/sacrament of baptism? Or is he talking about spiritual baptism? By now you all know the answer to that – YES! Both!
Now the reason we ask the question – there are so many different traditions relating to baptism – infant/believer – dunking/pouring – frontwards or backwards – one dunk or three – age limit? And there are those that say you have to be baptized to be saved and believe that that baptism is saving you. We won’t address that except to say when you put your trust in Christ you are saved.
It never tells us how it happens – just into water – John the Baptist? Forward/backward or poured? It doesn’t tell us. What does baptism do for us?
The word simply means to be immersed. We are baptized INTO Christ Jesus – that is what matters most -to be immersed in Christ Jesus. It is not about the dunking – it is about WHO you are being baptized into.
It would be helpful to know what they understood – the folks in Rome – they weren’t thinking – Spiritual vs. ritual baptism? Baptism in water was a common practice in the Roman world.
The Jews had two forms of baptism – immersion – and a purification rite – they had pools set up around the Temple – and they would walk down into the pool to purify themselves before going into the temple.
Pagan religions in Rome – baptism was an initiation ritual – becoming a memory of that cult.
Trade unions – or trade guilds – used baptism as becoming a member of that guild.
IF a slave was purchased or traded, the new owner would baptize the slave to indicate that person belonged to that master.
The significance and implication of baptism – are real – not just symbolic – and that the spiritual and ritual work together.
Baptism is a transfer of allegiance – baptized into Jesus – and only Jesus.
For us – slave/master doesn’t work as well. Here is something we can all relate to. It is like a pledge of allegiance. That is what baptism is – and we need to ask – when we come to faith in Christ – what are we pledging allegiance to when we come to faith in Christ? Jesus only!
For the Romans – it meant forsaking every other allegiance – and denying ALL that Rome was.
Second – it is a transfer of identity and status. In their world – when baptized into a trade union or guild – your status went up – your identity rose as a result – you were elevated.
But for the Christians and being baptized into Christ – your status went down – you became an outsider – marginalized in the Roman world, but your identity is found in Christ and in heaven – so you were lifted up.
It was an initiation into a new community. For them – their community was set for them by their families. We have all kinds of communities – work/school/community – it didn’t work that way in their world – those were your people – it was all you had.
When we become a Christian, we don’t leave all those other communities.
Being baptized into Christ means this becomes THE community.
That does not mean your family was no longer a priority.
Jesus said for some, their family members would become enemies, but generally the family would come to Christ together.
We need to see our church as a family gathering. We know what it is like to have an annual or semi-annual family gathering – you want everything to go just right.
It is hard to give ourselves in a church situation in that way.
Let’s move on.
Romans 6:5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin.
Look what he says – we are baptized into His death and resurrection – and that means our old self was crucified. We don’t like what it looks like – our body of sin is done away with! We are no longer slaves of sin! We are free from sin!
Now, that sounds great! But again, it is hard to make it our experience.
When I think of slave to sin – I think of addiction – and I thought – are they the same thing? It depends on the addiction.
I bet that at least one or two of you – are addicted… to caffeine!
Does that mean I am a slave to sin? I don’t think so!
Our medical world – from a lack of understanding – decades ago, started giving people pain pills – and it created huge issues with addiction.
You would look at a person like that and say – slave to sin? Some would say yes, others, no.
There are all kinds of addictions –
There are great resources – AA, etc. – to help people with addictions – but a person who does not follow Christ can overcome addictions through programs and still be a slave to sin.
AND – a Christian who is freed from sin – can still have addictions. And I think that is why we must focus on our freedom from SIN singular, and not put so much attention on our specific sins.
8 Now if we have died with Christ (PAST TENSE), we believe that we shall also live with Him (FUTURE), 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again (Past) ; death no longer is master over Him (present). 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
You are dead to sin and alive to God. That is true of all of us! But here is the kicker:
11 Even so consider (reckon it to be true!) yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
When we talk about how do we experience freedom from sin – it all starts here! This is where we must go with it!
You have been baptized into His death and raised with Him.
Romans 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.
Okay – the most practical thing we must do – consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God.
But we want steps. Here are your steps.
Don’t present yourself to sin, because you are dead to it.
This goes back to put off/put on –
I’ll use the example of anger. – It is an acceptable problem, in one sense, people are willing to admit it.
How do you put off anger? First, understand the source. We have an example early in the Bible – Cain – Cain and Abel gave offerings, and God accepted Abel’s, but not Cain’s.
God – why are you so angry? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted? But if not, sin is waiting to pounce on you.
Sin – this human condition – this evil power in the world.
Second – and these two go together – anger is an inappropriate emotional response to past wounds – being neglected, disrespected, disappointed – many different things. TO put off anger – you need to go back and recognize the source as sin – and go back to those things that took place in our lives we are angry about that cause us to respond in anger.
Sometime you need someone to help you through that. So you can put anger off – not just – working really hard to put it off – but address the causes – but it is not enough to do that. Then what we need to do – PUT ON CHRIST. It needs to move from “I’m dead to sin!” – but moving to “Alive to God!”
To put on Christ – to live out our baptism is to put on the attitudes, behavior, practices, and character of Jesus. The Bible is clear when it comes to God and anger – He is SLOW to anger. That is what we need to put on.
James gives us a way to do that: Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger!
So, he gives us two practices to teach us to be slow to anger.
It is so important – when the pressure is on – people don’t rise to the occasion – they sink to the level of their training. We need to train ourselves by using practices that help us in these areas. Be quick to hear! When you are in that crunch situation – learn, before you get into that – how can I be quick to hear? I can be quick to speak – what little practices can I begin doing to be quick to hear and slow to speak?
I’ve shared this before – I had to work on patience – the car is a place where I tend to be impatient. Every time I got in the car, I would tell myself – You are not in a hurry!
It was a simple little thing – but it allows us to present ourselves to righteousness. If you are waiting for the temptation to come up, you will not succeed.
We are not under Law, but under grace.
Where sin increases, grace abounds more!
16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,