December 21st, 2009, 09:15 PM
Thats good man.
But dont put youself under law.
Remember that you are dead to sin and have been made alive in God through Christ.
here is an article by Paul k.
I was leading a Bible study on Romans chapter 6, when it became clear to me that the secret of how to overcome temptation to sin is hidden in plain view. Almost every Christian fights with some sin or other. We fight, and much too often, we lose. Why is that?
The answer is surprisingly simple: We try overcoming it the wrong way. Happily, both the wrong way and the right way are revealed to us in Romans 6. Once it becomes clear how to fight sin the right way, many of our sin battles will find victory at the end instead of defeat.
Now, every Christian knows Jesus died for our sin on the cross, was buried for three days, and rose from the dead in a bodily resurrection. We also know that when we trust in Him by faith, God saves us by His grace. Grace is defined as an undeserved gift. It’s also been illustrated in an acrostic:
G – God’s
R – Riches
A – At
C – Christ’s
E – Expense
As we grow in our knowledge of God’s word, we learn that no amount of good works can save us. The human tendency to ‘work’ our way into Heaven is very common, indeed, universal. We instinctively try to do good works by obeying God’s Law, which includes the Ten Commandments, but Scripture tells us no one can be saved by the works of the law. (Galatians 2:16) We are saved by grace, not law.
All to often, though, what happens once we are already saved is that we try to overcome the temptation to sin by switching back to the works of the law. That is the wrong way mentioned earlier. Let’s turn to Romans chapter 6 to see the wrong way—and the right way—explained and taught.
Now let me say at the outset that I believe that once we are saved, we are always and forever saved. You know someone understands the implications of God’s grace that saves us—and keeps us saved—when they ask something like, ‘You mean, I can go out and do all sorts of sins, and still go to Heaven?’
While that question shows a grasp of the implications of grace, the conclusion reached is really not the correct conclusion we should draw, as we shall see in this study of Romans 6. Starting at verse 1, we find Paul anticipating someone’s jumping to that conclusion:
‘What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?’ (Romans 6:1)
This question comes from implications derived from Paul’s statement two verses previous:
‘...but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.’ (Romans 5:20b)
It is in this verse that we find why we are once-saved-always-saved (OSAS). No matter how much sin we have, God has an even greater amount of grace to cover it. Sadly, at times, we as believers fall into a state of such sin and wretchedness that we doubt God could ever love us. At such times, we don’t just have ‘some’ sin, nor do we have just a ‘pile’ of sins. Rather, we have a MOUNTAIN of sin! This is where God’s grace expressed in Romans 5:20b comes to our rescue. If we give God our mountain of sin, no matter how great that mountain, He gives us His even greater mountain of grace.
When that realization sinks in and we understand that we cannot out-sin God’s grace, that’s when the implications of grace sink in as well. Once saved, ALWAYS saved! God’s grace covers it ALL! So, when we finally grasp the truth ‘where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,’ in true human fashion we jump to the wrong conclusion, ‘Well, then I can just go out and sin all I want because grace will just increase to cover me.’ This is what Paul is expressing in Romans 6:1, ‘What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?’
The answer, divinely given to us through Paul, is sharp:
‘May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?’
Paul says we ‘died to sin.’ How is this possible? What does he mean? When I trusted Christ, I didn’t die, did I? I’m still breathing, my heart is still beating, so I’m still alive, right? It should be obvious that Paul is not talking about physical matters, but spiritual ones. He is using physical terms we can see to explain spiritual ones we can’t see. With a spiritual focus, then, let’s follow Paul’s line of reasoning. What he means by it, we shall see become clearer as Romans 6 goes on. He teaches us that we have ‘died to sin’ in a spiritual sense, and then raises the question, ‘(how shall we) still live in it?’
In human terms, death is the ultimate separator. There’s no going back. It is final to humans, but not to God ‘who gives life to the dead.’ (Romans 4:17b)
Paul illustrates this point in verse 3:
‘Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.’ (Romans 6:3-4)
Baptism is celebrated throughout the world by Christians. Inwardly, we have been baptized by the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:16; Acts 2:3-4; Ephesians 1:13-14). Outwardly, we practice water baptism. Water baptism does not save us, nor add anything to our salvation (1 Corinthians 1:14-17). What water baptism does is to illustrate outwardly a spiritual reality that happened inwardly in a believer’s life. When someone is water baptized, they are lowered fully under the water, then after a moment are lifted back up to the air and sunshine again. When the believer is lowered beneath the water, symbolically it paints a picture of a believer’s death and burial to our old sinful life. When lifted back up out of the water, it symbolizes resurrection to new life.
So when verse 3 says ‘we have been baptized into Christ Jesus,’ it is saying that we are identified with Jesus Christ and joined to Him (1 Corinthians 6:17). When He goes, we go. Where we go, He goes (1 Corinthians 6:15-16). By virtue of being baptized into Christ Jesus by our faith, we are counted as having died to sin and buried when Jesus died and was buried, and we are counted as having arisen to new spiritual life when He rose from the dead.
Christianity isn’t about rules and regulations. It isn’t even about just knowing things about Jesus. It’s rather about being joined to Him spiritually for the long haul, meaning forever. Where He goes, we go. We are inseparably joined to Him as members of His body (1 Corinthians 12:27).
Now that Jesus has risen from the dead in a newness of eternal life, so Scripture is teaching us that we, too, now are alive from the dead and walk in newness of life:
‘For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.’ (Romans 6:5-7)
We Christians live in a dual existence. In the spiritual realm, we are children of God (John 1:12; Romans 8:4; Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 Peter 1:23; 1 John 3:1-3). Yet, in the physical realm, we each yet live in a physical body of flesh and blood which carries in it sinful impulses to ‘do its own thing,’ which means, to rebel against God and His law, indeed, against ANY law, whether God’s or Man’s. (Hint: When you see a lawn of lush green grass with a sign that says STAY OFF THE GRASS, what’s your first impulse?)
This begins to get to the heart of why we sin still, even after believing in Jesus Christ and being saved forever. There are two dynamics working in us, one tugging at us to do good, and the other tugging at us to do evil (Galatians 5:17). Now we’ve seen WHY we sin. In Romans 6, Paul teaches us the foundation for WHAT we can do about it, meaning, how to overcome sin the right way. In verse 7, he writes, ‘for he who has died is freed from sin.’ The word ‘freed’ carries with it the idea of liberation and escape from slavery and tyranny. We must understand that before we believed in Christ, we were slaves of sin. We had no choice but to follow its directives, impulses and urges. Now, in Christ, we are set free. (More on this later.)
‘Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God.’ (Romans 6:8-10).
The above passage says, ‘if we have died with Christ.’ If we are believers, then this is spiritually true of us. Moreover, we have the knowledge that we, too, will live with Him. This isn’t only a statement that our bodies will one day be resurrected as Christ’s was on that Resurrection Sunday (aka Easter.) It is also a statement of the spiritual reality that we Christians, being born-again children of God, have a new spiritual life living in us today that we did not possess before believing in Jesus.
Just as Jesus died to our sin (and through our being joined to Him, we have, too), now He lives to God, and we do, too. With this foundation laid, Paul now instructs us how to rightly overcome temptations to sin:
‘Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.’ (Romans 6:11)
Let’s review why this is truly the way to rightly overcome sin. In verse 6, we find, ‘knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him...’ Crucifixion is fatal. It is vitally important that we know this, and on the basis of it, consider ourselves ‘dead to sin.’
Let me illustrate. Suppose we are at a wake mourning over a friend who died. This friend was, to be honest, very overweight. He loved hot fudge sundaes, and could not resist the impulse to eat that ice cream creation at every possible opportunity. Suppose we bring an extra large hot fudge sundae to the open coffin, wave it suggestively before his face, and say, ‘Mmmm, look at what I have here, my friend, a double-sized hot fudge sundae.’ Believers, let’s lock that image in our minds. Our friend is dead to hot fudge sundaes. They can no longer entice him. They have no more power over him.
So it is, as a spiritual reality, that we are to consider ourselves as being dead to sins. When a temptation to any sin comes along, we are to reckon in our hearts, ‘I am dead to this.’
But, this is only half the picture. The verse doesn’t stop at being ‘dead to sin,’ but tells us we are also to consider ourselves, ‘alive to God in Christ Jesus.’ So, when temptation to sin comes along, we need to reckon within ourselves, ‘I am dead to this, but I am alive to God in Christ Jesus.’
As a result of this understanding, Paul then writes:
‘Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 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.’ (Romans 6:12-13)
For anyone who has felt trapped and helpless in a sin habit or addiction, the above verses may seem shocking or incredulous. Verse 12 says, ‘do not let sin reign.’ The word ‘let’ speaks of permission, as in allowing it to happen. Yes, that’s right. If you are feeling trapped in a sin habit or addiction, you are that way because you ‘let’ it happen. The GOOD NEWS is that it doesn’t have to hold you any longer. Look at verse 13: ‘do not go on.’ It’s saying, don’t allow it any more. If you’re caught in a habit or addiction, stay with this just a bit longer. Trust Jesus! You can get free!
We are instructed, ‘do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lust.’ This means we aren’t helpless—we have a choice, and knowing we have a choice should reignite a flame of hope instead of despair. Then we’re told, ‘do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness.’ The idea here is voluntarily surrendering our bodies to their sinful impulses. Picture two enemy soldiers. One has a rifle with a bayonet. That soldier voluntarily hands his weapon to the enemy, who promptly takes it and stabs the first with his own bayonet.
This picture is what is meant by ‘presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness.’ When we surrender our bodies to sinful impulses, we’re equipping sin with the tools to do us harm. So, Paul tells us to instead do is, ‘present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.’
We died to sin, and (in our illustration) to hot fudge sundaes. We are now rather alive to God. Since we are dead to sin, no sin habit or addiction can truly hold us in its power, unless we allow it by surrendering ourselves to it. We only have two choices: surrender to sin, or surrender to God. Ask yourself this, ‘Which choice is better?’
Paul sums up his argument:
‘For sin shall not be master over you...’ (Romans 6:14a)
Then he introduces another piece of overcoming sin the right way:
‘...for you are not under law but under grace.’ (Romans 6:14b)
If you have been following this message so far, the question ought to arise in your mind, ‘Why is Paul bringing up being ‘under law?’’ Indeed, since Paul has been teaching us that we are dead to sin, then why does he bring up the law?
Instead of inquiring into the law, should we not be asking the question, ‘How is it that a Christian, who has died to sin and is alive to God, can be seemingly trapped in a particular sin habit or addiction?’ Why has Paul’s line of reasoning gone to the law? The answer to both questions is the same.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
‘The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.’ (1 Corinthians 15:56)
The power of sin is the law. Think about that for a moment. The power ... of sin ... is the law. I said earlier that there are two dynamics working in us. One of them is called ‘the flesh,’ which wants to rebel against any law, whether God’s (like the Ten Commandments) or Man’s. A sober truth about our natures and the law, is that law not only stirs up rebellion in our hearts (Romans 7:5), but actually strengthens our temptations to entice us to give into sin. ‘The power of sin is the law.’
Returning to Romans 6, where Paul is teaching us how to overcome sin, we now know the reason Paul is telling us in Romans 6:14b, ‘...for you are not under law, but under grace.’ This message’s title is ‘Overcoming Sin the Wrong Way.’ The ‘wrong way’ is try to fight temptation with law-keeping.
Let me illustrate. Suppose I sin. I am grieved (under the Holy Spirit’s conviction) that I did it. So I repent, and promise I won’t do it again. Sounds normal and natural, right? But it’s the wrong way to overcome sin. The moment I make a promise ‘I won’t do it again,’ I’ve put myself under a law, namely, ‘I shalt not do it again.’
The power of sin is the law. Now, having put myself under a law not to do it again, the next time temptation comes along, it’s actually harder to resist than it was before, because putting myself under a law has given power to the sin. So, I give in the next time, and not only do I feel guilty for having done it, but also I feel bad that I broke my promise. So, I promise ever harder, ‘I really won’t do it again.’ However, this just puts me under law even further. The power of sin is the law. When that temptation comes along again, I fall for it even easier than the last time. So, I put myself under an even harsher law than before, ‘I absolutely won’t do it again.’
On and on the cycle goes, repenting and putting myself more and more under law by my ever-stronger promises. The outcome is that eventually I run out of willpower and hope. I despair and cry out, ‘I am a such loser! I keep doing the same sin! I’m hopeless! I keep breaking my word and disappointing God!’ Then I go on to despair of how God could ever love someone so deplorable and despicable as me.
Sounds like just a personal problem for me only? Not really. That cycle is described in Scripture in Romans 7:15-23, as is the despairing cry at the cycle’s conclusion:
‘Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?’ (Romans 7:24)
The answer, happily, is given immediately:
‘Thanks to be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!’ (Romans 7: 25a)
God sets us free by His grace through our faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul also described this idea of trying to please God by the efforts of our flesh and law-keeping in his writing to the Galatians:
‘You foolish Galatians , who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Holy Spirit by the works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?’ (Galatians 3:1-3)
We are NOT ‘being perfected by the flesh’ by ‘the works of the law.’ We are being perfected by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ!
So, coming back to Romans 6:14b, we again read, ‘for you are not under law but under grace.’ Paul is teaching in Romans 6 the right way to overcome sin. When faced with temptation, there is a wrong way to respond, and a right way to respond. The wrong way is to respond with law: ‘I won’t do that. I must not do that. It’s wrong.’ This is a ‘law’ response. Remember, ‘the power of sin is the law.’ Paul has already taught us, ‘you are not under law, but under grace.’
Now, contrast this with the right way to respond to temptation: ‘I am dead to this sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ.’
This is a ‘grace’ response. We don’t have to submit to and obey laws to please God! Rather, we submit to God’s grace, and THAT pleases God!
Now, still anticipating the implications of grace and how someone could still jump to the wrong conclusion, Paul writes:
‘What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!’ (Romans 6:15)
It seems we humans are tenaciously and almost incurably ‘religious,’ in that we want to please God with our works in order to be acceptable to Him. When our religious nature gets confronted and shattered by grace, we jump from one extreme to the other, FROM stern repression of sinful impulses through religion TO rampant indulgence in those sinful impulses when we realize the penalty has already been paid for us by God’s grace. How foolish we are!
Having revealed our freedom through grace by faith in Jesus, Paul again shows why turning to rampant sin is a bad idea:
‘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?’ (Romans 6:16)
We humans were created to serve. Sin is a terrible taskmaster, driving us to do despicable and hateful things, and herds us along toward death.
In contrast, Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.’ (Matthew 11:28-30)
Singer Bob Dylan, after his conversion to Jesus Christ, did a song in which he sang, ‘You got to serve somebody. It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you go to serve somebody.’
We were created to serve, so which will we choose: sin, that we may die; or Jesus, that we may live?
‘But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. For when you were slaves, you were free in regard to righteousness.’ (Romans 6:17-20)
The wrong way to live is in verse 19a. As we have presented ourselves to impurity and lawlessness by giving ourselves over to those things, it resulted ‘in further lawlessness.’ This means that giving in to sin just makes it easier to give in the next time, and the next, and the next, and so on. This is where sin habits and addictions find their beginning.
The right way to live is in verse 19b, ‘So now present your members as slaves to righteousness.’ Our slavery to sin and its power has been broken by Jesus Christ! Now, as believers, we are able to give in to righteous deeds, ‘resulting in sanctification.’
Now, I’m going to back up a bit to recap the wrong way and the right way to overcome sin.
Verse 11: ‘Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.’
Verse 12: ‘Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts.’
Verse 14: ‘For sin shall not be master over you, for you are mot under law, but under grace.’
If we respond to temptation in a ‘grace’ way, then sin will NOT reign, nor be master over us. However, if we respond in a ‘law’ way, then the reverse will be true: Sin WILL reign in our mortal bodies, and it WILL be master over us.
In light of this, fellow believers, if you or I have a sin habit or addiction the power of which we can’t break, what does that say about which way we have been responding to temptation: the ‘grace’ way or the ‘law’ way? Scripture testifies, ‘The power of sin is the law.’ (1 Corinthians 15:56b)
If sin has power in our lives, then it becomes clear that we have been responding in a ‘law’ way, does it not? If we want to be free, we need to go back to grace. For the believer, there’s no time like now to be set free, for there is no amount or excess of sin that God hasn’t already covered in overflowing grace through our faith in Jesus shedding His blood and dying for us on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins!
‘...but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.’ (Romans 5:20b)
Paul concludes Romans 6:
‘Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our lord.’ (Romans 6:21-23)
If we have a sin habit or addiction, are we not ashamed of it? Realistically, there’s no benefit to such, only death. Yet, we can now take heart! We have been ‘freed from sin’ and ‘enslaved to God.’ For many people, slavery invokes a picture of shame and unpleasantness, but serving God is shockingly different, for it is life-giving and joyful. In Christ Jesus, we ... are ...FREE! That sin habit or addiction is NO match for the awesome power and grace of God. To be free, take to heart verse 13, ‘and do not go on presenting the members of your body as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.’
For someone with an addiction, whether to pornography, drugs or alcohol, there is a physical component involved as well as a spiritual one. Yet, even these are no match for God’s grace and our freedom in Christ Jesus. For someone addicted, there is going to have to be some gut-honest humbling of self, confessing it and acknowledging that we gave ourselves over to it; yet, this is exactly what God wants us to do. As the above Scripture says, do not go on presenting the members of your body (to sin)... but present yourselves to God (by grace, not law) as those dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ.
We have each of us been freed from sin. Now it’s time to live free in that truth. Learn to respond to each day’s temptations in a ‘grace’ way, and present the members of your body to God for righteousness, and you will exult in an astonishing freedom you’d otherwise given up all hope of ever experiencing. Consider yourself dead to sin but alive to God through Christ Jesus! Be free!
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