Living Free in Christ

Romans 6:1-14
Preached @ Harambee Church by Pastor Mike Gunn on April 8th 2007

“For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
Romans 8:13

“…by making life easier for ourselves in minimizing the nature and seriousness of our sin, we become greater victims of it. We are in fact not healing ourselves. Those who say that they already feel bad enough without being told about the corruptions of indwelling sin misread the path to peace. When our people have not been taught well about the real nature of sin and how it works and how to put it to death, most of the miseries people report are not owing to the disease, but it’s symptoms.
John Piper

The Dangers of Living Missionally
The biblical teaching of grace can be an interesting adventure. It is easy to misuse the idea written in Romans 5:20 which indicates that, “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” Christianity, and Christians for that matter, are seen as aloof in regards to their sin. Does Christ actually change lives? How does that happen? Do we muster up the fortitude to change? Does sin in us mean we aren’t saved? How does a belief transform our lives for real? Paul has just written five chapters that cover the heart of the Christian belief in regards to the theology of the “Good News” of Jesus Christ. It is the clearest teaching in the bible that salvation is from God’s grace and not our actions. Now Paul rhetorically asks the question that some are actually accusing him of, “Should we sin that grace may abound?” (See Romans 3:8). Paul launches into three chapters to help us understand the answer to this question, reminding us that if we ask this question, we truly do not understand the grace and love of God. We cannot truly heal our hurts. We can only deal with the symptoms by whatever means necessary to get by.

What We Don’t Mean
1. That you can live in perfect victory over sin on this earth
2. That cleaning up your life is the clear path to God
3. That sin is always manifested outwardly
4. That you can overcome sin without God
5. That holiness or righteousness is something you work harder for

What We Hope to Say
1. Sin is far worse than its symptoms
2. Our Motivation and power to transform comes from God alone
3. That we have been freed from the oppression and power of sin in our lives, but the presence of sin remains in reality in our “Flesh”
4. That there is no condemnation for sin in Christ Jesus, and we are freed to love God and others without being motivated by guilt or need.
5. That the resurrection is the single greatest event in human history, and the backbone for the Christian faith

Today on the Lord’s Resurrection day, let’s focus on the death, burial and resurrection as the framework for our freedom, and the great hope we have in Christ! And let’s look at three aspects of these first few verses.

From the Head…
1. The Severity of Our Slavery (Romans 6:12 and 16)
It is important that we see ourselves as we are. Our sin is more than a set of actions. Verse sixteen helps us understand the seriousness of the situation. “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (See too 1 Corinthians 6:12)

Basically, you will be enslaved to something, either God or something else. Verse twelve helps us understand the nature of our enslavement. “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” The word “Evil desires” (Epithumia) often is perceived as being sexual desires, but in its context it actually has the general idea of a strong desire for something more than God. It is the desires and affections of our heart in reality. It is that thing or someone that makes you feel secure, loved, accepted, and which gives your life meaning. It is that thing or someone when you are blocked from receiving it that sends you in to a bitter rage, a horrific fear, and or an eternal sadness. Whereas eastern thought asks us to rid ourselves of our desires, biblical thought asks us to place our desires in the most desirable thing we can. As puritan writer Henry Scougal wrote in the 18th century, “The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love.” We are enslaved to the very passions that are the means of our sadness.

2. The Power of Our Unity (Romans 6:3-5)
We are baptized into Jesus’ death (Past) and united in His resurrection (Future). This latter aspect found in verse five is a “Certain” one, because we know that the “Old self was crucified with Him.” Our identity is changed. His riches become our riches, even though we did nothing to earn them (2 Corinthians 8:9). Christ’s resurrection power is the power that enables us to be transformed and experience a salvation beyond our base needs and fears. It is a transforming, regenerated kingdom (see Matthew 19:28; Titus 3:5). Our goals for salvation are simply too small! Our union with Christ and His resurrection empowers us to experience the love and identity change in Christ, so that we can experience life in a different way. There is a future aspect to this reality, but we are given real glimpses of this hope as we continue to believe the gospel.

3. The Outworking of Our Identity (Romans 6:6-11)
Our old self is done away with (See 2 Corinthians 5:17). We have a new identity in Christ. Why?
a. We have been justified (V. 7)
b. We have been given new life (V. 8)
c. The power of sin/death is not a master over us anymore (V. 9)
d. Our sin has been placed on the cross w/Christ (V. 10; 2 Corinthians 5:21)

…to the Heart
It is when we understand the reality of what the gospel teaches (see V. 17) that we will truly begin to be transformed by its message. It is when our heart desires God more than it does life itself that we begin to understand the joy that Christ has set before us. The gospel is not a set of principles or rules, it is a story of redemption, of who God, who loved us immeasurably became one of us in order that He could be substituted on our behalf, so that our joy would be complete in Him. It is truly what the resurrection is about. It gives us great hope

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: