Monday, August 5, 2013

Grace and Sin’s Control by Martin Wiles

Romans 6:11-23
A. Have you ever felt as if you were losing the battle over sin in general or to a particular sin?

B. Or do you feel encouraged when you read God’s Word and see that many of the great saints of old waged the same war?

I. The Christian’s Opinion Of Sin (vv. 11-13)
A. We are dead to sin and alive to God. (v. 11)
1. Notice that Paul does not say we are actually dead to sin but that we should consider ourselves dead to sin.
2. This is similar to the command to count it all joy when unwanted circumstances enter our life.
3. We don’t have to be happy about bad circumstances, but we can be joyful as we face them in Christ’s strength knowing he will work all things together for our good and his glory. (Romans 8:28)
4. Paul is not advocating a doctrine of sinless perfection nor suggesting a believer will ever reach that state this side of heaven.
5. Our perception of something determines our actions. If we consider ourselves dead to sin, this mindset will determine how we perform.
6. If we consider ourselves dead to sin, we will seek at all costs to avoid falling to temptations as well as avoiding all situations which might make it easier for us to be tempted.
7. This mindset also changes our attitude about ourselves. It enables us to align ourselves with the Bible’s pronouncement of who we are in Christ. We are no longer classified as “sinners” nor are we under condemnation for our sins. Christ has forgiven us and we are now viewed by God through the lenses of Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary applied to our life.
8. We must consider ourselves “saints.” We may not always perform like saints but this is who we are in Christ. This is a radical change in position from who we were before Christ.
9. Plans, goals and desires we previously had often have to be rethought now that we are in Christ. Our goals are often self centered but should now be Christ centered. Sinful desires that once ruled our actions must now be brought under the control of God’s Spirit residing in us, remembering that our bodies are temples he resides in permanently and continually.
10.  As a dead body can no longer respond to the stimulants of the environment, so the believer should no longer respond to our enemy’s temptations.
11.  No longer are we controlled by sin’s power for we are alive to Christ.
12.  We are raised to new life in Christ just as surely as Christ was resurrected from the grave.
13.  The power to consider ourselves dead to sinful practices comes from Christ and is given by his abiding Spirit. It is not personal power. Just as we had no power to save ourselves, so we have no innate power to live the Christian life.

B. In Christ, God has given us new life, a new nature and new freedom.
1.  The new life means sin’s power is broken. Our love for sin is destroyed, and we no longer live under its control.
2. Our new nature replaces the old nature which made us a slave of sin.
3. The freedom comes in realizing we are alive because Christ is alive in us. We chose him as our master instead of sin.

C. Considering ourselves dead to sin releases us from sin’s control. (v. 12) The command is in the present tense which means it should be a continual attitude and action.
1. We don’t have to sin. We did not have a choice before Christ, but now we do.
2. If we sin, we cannot say “The devil made me do it” but rather “I made me do it.”
3. It is a daily struggle and a daily choice we must make.
4. Just as there have been times when slaves have revolted against cruel masters and sought freedom, so we must daily revolt against the idea of giving into sinful practices.

D. Ways the believer can revolt against sin:
1. Ask God to reveal areas of personal weaknesses that would make it easy for you to be tempted.
2. Recognize the areas in which you are easily tempted.
3. Commit to stay away from sources, people or situations that would be tempting for you.
4. Invest your time in godly practices that establish good habits, such as serving others.
5. Remember it is God’s grace and strength that enables you to avoid sin reigning in your body.
6. Experience the peace of God rather than the turmoil of sinful temptations.

E. Sin brings with it lustful desires which speaks of strong desires, cravings and passions.
1. We tend to always apply this to sexual areas but they are not relegated solely to that.
2. If you have ever tried to give up a bad and controlling habit, you can understand what Paul is speaking of.
3. The habit may not have been sinful just one that needed to go, yet it was controlling nevertheless.
4. The pull of sin is very intense. Otherwise we would not have to worry about giving in to the temptations.
5. The desires can be associated with any number of areas: sexual impurity, material possessions, power, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, pleasure, finding security in places or people other than God, or fleshly stimulations.
6. Paul will deal with this same idea later in the epistle (12:1)

F. No part of the believer’s body should be used as a tool of wickedness or for sinning. (v. 13)
1. The Greek word for tool is hoplon (hop’ lawn) and means a tool used in preparing something.
2. Especially in woodwork, we are familiar with how tools are used to prepare a piece of wood for what the woodworker has in mind. If he desires the piece to be round, he uses a lathe.
3. Since we have died to sin, we should not use our bodies as tools to promote or be involved in sinful practices.
4. Rather we are to use them for personal righteous living and promoting righteousness in our society. Our bodies can be used for good or bad purposes.
5. Allowing our bodies to be tools of sin always distorts our relationship with God.
6. Our choice not to sin is not a onetime decision we make but a moment by moment choice.

II. The Christian’s Control Over Sin (vv. 14-23)
A. Sin is no longer the believer’s master (v. 14)
1. Under the system of slavery, the master controlled the life of the slave.
2. The slave was bound to do his master’s will with little or no options.
3. The law bound him to his master, so he could not escape hoping to make it on his own. If discovered, he would simply be returned and punished. He could be sold and his family separated. The next master might be harsher than the previous. It was a miserable existence.
4. Studying the system of slavery gives us a clearer picture of our life before Christ.
5. We can only imagine how a slave felt whose master freed him but who  lived in a place where laws forbade the practice.
6. Comparing and experiencing the latter with the former would reveal quite a contrast.
7. The same should be true when comparing our life before Christ with our current existence.
8. One purpose of the law was to demonstrate to people God’s high standards and their inability to reach them.
9. The law compounded sin. As God forbade certain activities, the person would find themselves wanting to do those very things (like the sign that reads, “Wet paint. Don’t touch.”).

B. God’s grace, on the other hand, frees us to obey him, and the wonderful advantage is that he provides the strength for us to do this. (v. 15)
1.  Life under the law was characterized by tension, pressure, disappointment and discouragement. Imagine how the constant requirement to bring sacrifices reminded the people of their sin.
2. Read the laws of the Old Testament and then imagine what life was like for the one trying to follow God.
3. Under the law, there was never any confidence one was accepted by God. There were too many failures.
4. The law showed what was wrong but gave no power to change it.
5. Grace does not free us to do anything we want (Paul examines the foolishness of this by asking if this means we can go on sinning so we can experience more of God’s grace).
6. Paul does not want his readers to imagine that since sin is no longer their master they can continue in sin.
7. Nor should we imagine we can sin because God is going to forgive us anyway or has already done so.
8. God does not hover over us waiting for us to sin so he can squash us with his thumb.
9. He is a gracious and loving Father who wants us to grow spiritually and realize his plan for us.
10.  Like a father, he disciplines when we go astray.

C. People have the ability to choose their master (v. 16-18)
1. God gave this ability to the very first humans as a part of their humanity and as a method to establish their ability to be free and not robots.
2. While free to choose the master, we are not free to choose or alter the consequences of choosing that master. The consequences follow the choice.
3. Believers have chosen Christ as their Master and as such should obey him rather than the dictates of sin.
4. Jesus said we could not serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24)
5. The degree to which we understand justification will equal the determination we have to live righteously.

D. Believers must choose to be slaves of righteousness (vv. 19-22)
1. Paul’s audience understood the illustration of slaves and masters.
2. About half of the Roman Empire was composed of slaves.
3. We are free to obey Christ.
4. We are free to live by the new nature given at salvation.
5. We are free to be Christ’s bondservant.
6. We should feel remorse over our past sins but should not dwell on them since they have all been forgiven in Christ. (v. 21)

E. There is a contrast between the wages of sin and the gift of God. (v. 23)
1. The wages of sin is death: spiritual, eternal and some even maintain physical.
2. We are born spiritually dead-separated from God. If we don’t repent of those sins and receive God’s forgiveness, we die eternally.
3. Just as it is unjust not to pay someone who has worked for you, so it would be unjust for sin to be overlooked since it is an affront to God’s holiness.
4. Eternal life, on the other hand, is not worked for but given freely.

A. While the consequences of sin are eternal, God gives us the wonderful privilege to escape them through faith in Christ.

B. In Christ, we have the power to live victoriously over sin.
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