SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 23 August 2020
Sermon Text: Romans 6:8-14
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I. The fact: “You’re dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus”
II. Misunderstanding: ‘We’re unable to resist sin’s temptation’
III. Dereliction: ‘All people sin anyway’
IV. Re-Discovery: “Sin no longer reigns over you, Christians!”
V. Dedication: “Present yourself to God as instruments for righteousness”
We’re continuing from the message we heard last Lord’s Day which was based on the first seven verses of Rom. 6. In that message, we heard that we could not continue in sin for three reasons. Firstly, because we who believe in the Lord Jesus are the living. It means that we’re living under the light of life and not under the darkness of sin. So, we cannot continue in sin. Secondly, because we’re baptised into Jesus the good and righteous Lord. As we’re one with Jesus, we cannot continue in sin. And thirdly, because we’re risen with Jesus, being enabled to walk in ‘newness of life,’ we cannot continue in sin.
Today’s message is like ‘part 2’ of last week’s message with more explanation and illustration as well as what we must consider in our life. The apostle’s urge for all Christians stands out in this passage, and the message he delivers is to ‘present ourselves to God’ and ‘present our members to the Lord as instruments for righteousness.’ So today, I’d like to explain it simply, beginning with the ‘fact’ the Apostle Paul emphasises in these verses, then, some believers’ misunderstanding of this fact and dereliction of their duty. I’d also like to suggest what every Christian needs to discover and, based on their discovery of the truth, dedicate their life and all to God.
I. THE FACT: “YOU’RE DEAD TO SIN AND ALIVE TO GOD IN CHRIST JSEUS”
So, let’s begin with the fact, that is, ‘You and I and all of us who believe in Jesus and are washed with His blood and saved in His grace are dead to sin and alive to God. This is the fact, truth and reality. No one can deny it because it is now effective and valid on us – in a way, more binding than any law of nature because the laws of nature will become obsolete when Jesus’ new heaven and new earth begins, but this fact that all true followers of Jesus are dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus will be true forever. Also, none can refuse this fact because this is the fact and truth the King of kings has declared. The Apostle Paul has spent chapters in Romans – up to ch. 6 – to explain this fact. Simply put, if you could squeeze the first six chapters of Romans, you’d be able to see one drop of pure essence coming out of the first six chapters and that is this ‘fact’ that Christians like you and I are dead to sin and alive to God in and through Jesus.
Every born-again Christian knows this – at least intellectually. We always repeat this fact and sing it as our hymns and praises in worship services. For example, we sang this truth earlier this morning with the hymn, ‘Jesus reigns where’er the sun.’ Let me read you its third verse and hear it again and find how much we know about this fact: ‘Blessings abound where Jesus reigns – the prisoner leaps to loose his chains, the weary find eternal rest, the hungry and the poor are blessed.’ Its fifth verse is a picture of all the living giving their deep praise to their King and Lord; it goes like this, ‘Let all creation rise and bring their highest honours to their King; angels descend with songs again and earth repeat the loud ‘Amen!’’
It is the truth and reality. We know it by the Word and the Spirit; we sing it daily. God has made it as the law in His universe. He declared it when Jesus rose from the dead, and makes it effective at the moment He calls each of His elect. So, you and I are dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus!
II. MISUNDERSTANDING: ‘I’M UNABLE TO RESIST SIN AND ITS TEMPTATION’
While this is the foundation of Christian belief, not all Christians grasp this as the law of their new life in Jesus. A Christian who misunderstands this fact would say something like this: ‘I’m unable to resist sin’s temptations because I’m still in sinful flesh and, as long as I’m in flesh, I cannot escape from the cravings of sin.’
That is, in a sense, correct because no one can be perfectly holy and sinless while in flesh and in this world. We’re growing in holiness as we grow in faith, and this process is called ‘sanctification.’ Then, we’ll at last be sinless and holy when we complete our earthly tasks and enter our eternal home which is called ‘glorification.’ So, we cannot be perfectly holy in this life but we’ll be holier every day, having less interest in sin. In this sense only, anyone’s claim that he is unable to resist sin and its temptation while he’s in flesh is right.
But, if he means that in a sense that he can’t really help himself but follow what his sinful flesh drags him to do despite his dislike or abhorrence, that’s totally wrong, and he misunderstands his place in Jesus and the truth of Jesus’ salvation. The truth he misunderstands is that Christians are dead to sin and alive to God, thus, CAN resist sin, CAN eschew, shun, avoid and reject sin’s temptations and, ultimately, overcome sin’s cravings. I’ll come back to this point and explain more about it in a minute.
III. DERELICTION: ‘ALL PEOPLE SIN ANYWAY’
Before we do that, let me point out another wrong and false attitude of Christians toward their place in Jesus’ salvation. Some Christians seem to show dereliction or negligence in living the life of Jesus. I mean, some Christians are not really keen on resisting sin, nor fighting against sin. Some are not interested in even knowing the need of overcoming sin. They would say, ‘All people sin anyway and I’m and we’re not special, nor different.’
But truth is that each and every believer must be aware of their place and duty in Jesus. As we’ve received Jesus’ life, we no longer belong to sin, but to the Lord; we’re the righteous in the sight of God; we’re the light of Christ in the world. So, we’re to follow Jesus our Captain and overcome the world as He has done it. It’s an urgent and privileged business of every Christian. If it were not so important, if it were not so urgent or weighty, the Apostle Paul would have spent little effort and time to explain this point, that is, Christians are dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus. But that’s not the case as you can see from these first six chapters of Romans. In fact, that is the main theme of this sixteen-chapter-long Romans. More than a third of his letter is spent specifically to point out this truth that we’re dead to sin and alive to God, and to explain why we should resist sin and overcome it in the name and power of Jesus!
So, if anyone shows no interest in this matter, that person is, in fact, negligent in his privileged duty, indifferent to her blessing on earth.
IV. RE-DISCOVERY: “SIN NO LONGER REIGNS OVER YOU, CHRISTIANS!”
Because of its urgency, you and I must be keen on knowing more of this business of holiness. Not because our deeds of holiness would secure our salvation, but the other way around, that is, because our salvation is secured and permanent through faith in Jesus Christ, all believers must know what it is to resist and overcome sin and its cravings.
If anyone hasn’t known about it or has neglected it, no longer can he/she remain in such an ignorance or negligence. Instead, all must discover and rediscover this truth our apostle so loudly and firmly and urgently announces. That is, ‘you’re dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus,’ thus, ‘sin no longer reigns over you, Christians!’
Hear the apostle’s words in vs. 9 and 11 and sense the weight and urgency of his message in these words: “death no longer has dominion over Him [i.e., Jesus]. … So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” In v. 12, Paul sounds like he’s thumping the lectern as he delivers this message to his audiences, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.” He makes his point even clearer in v. 14, telling us this, “sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” He means that sin is dead to you as you’re dead to sin through Jesus. The days of sin’s reign in your life, the time of your bondage to that sin and its ugly desires and cravings are gone. So, sin has no business with you as it has no power over you. So, resist sin and overcome it in Jesus!
An interesting illustration that describes the absolute irrelevance of a Christian’s choosing to sin is the gruesome picture of ‘digging up a corpse for fellowship.’ As no one would ever seek that kind of fellowship, no longer should the eyes of a believer be attracted to sin, no longer should all Christians give any chance to sin.
The fact that Christians CAN keep our distance from sin is an amazing truth. Formerly, I mean, when we were still sinners without faith in Jesus, we had no power at all in relation to sin. We were absolutely bound by sin and under its bondage. We were slaves to sin. But, being washed with Jesus’ blood and saved by His grace, we’re free indeed from sin and its bondage; we can now see sin’s ugliness and damnation, and reject sin’s invitation.
Let me prove what I mean with this story. A man cynically asked a Christian, ‘You say that unsaved people carry a weight of sin. But I feel nothing. How heavy is sin? Is it 50 kilos or 100 kilos?’ In reply, the believer asked the man a question, ‘If you laid a 200-kilo weight on a corpse, would it feel the load?’ The man replied, ‘It’d feel nothing, because it’s dead.’ The Christian concluded, ‘Man’s spirit too is indeed dead and feels no load of sin. A dead soul is indifferent to sin’s burden and flippant about its presence.’
Likewise, when your soul was dead in sin, you could never feel its load. But now, having lived as a child of God, you sense sin all the time; you feel its load. The deeper you grow in grace, the uglier sin has become to your eyes and mind! This means that you’re alive to God and your soul senses sin’s presence and its curse as the indwelling Spirit of God helps you and guides you always.
The point we’re told by the apostle again and again is that you and I are nothing to do with sin and sin has no power or dominion over us! We now belong to Jesus our Lord and, like Jesus was ‘raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,’ we too were raised with Jesus by the glory of the Father to walk and live and continue in ‘newness of life,’ as we’ve read and heard last Sunday from Rom. 6:4. You and I and all Christians must discover and rediscover this truth, this absolutely amazing fact, that we’re dead to sin (that means, sin is dead to us) and we’re alive to God in Jesus. Not once, but daily – every morning, when you wake up, remember that sin has no power over you but Christ’s full grace upholds you; every night, when you turn in, give thanks to the Lord for another day’s blessed freedom in Him and His protection from sin’s cravings.
V. DEDICATION: “PRESENT YOURSELF TO GOD AS INSTRUMENTS FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS”
That’s not the end of the message for us. We’re commanded to go a step forward and present ourselves to God as instruments for righteousness. That’s what v. 13 points out. Instead of presenting our members to sin, we must present ourselves to God.
But, this is not a burdensome command – let me make this point clear. Rather, our presenting ourselves to God is a joyful act of obedience. The analogy of marriage relationship illustrates this well. As husband and wife love each other, their mutual commitment deepens their joy. Anything that happens between them is no burden at all but pure joy. Of course, sometimes things might go in the opposite direction, but that’s only to deepen their love and joy later. Likewise, Christians’ commitment to God is our pure joy. Our loving Father delights to receive us and our Lord Jesus who is the Head and Groom of His bride, the Church, loves to uphold us while the Holy Spirit enables us to do all things, our act of presenting ourselves to God is a joyful obedience.
Moreover, our commitment to God is to bring God’s righteousness into the world. What I mean is that we give our voice to God, for example, to be a voice of God through which God declares His love for the world; we present our arms and legs to God to make God’s works done in this world. Isn’t this a shockingly amazing notion? The members of my body turn to be the instruments of God and the means through which His saving grace is manifested in the midst of people and society. What a blessing!
Yet, this urge is portrayed in v. 13 as a result of our fight against sin and resistance to its temptations. “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness,” says the first half of v. 13, as if it was a prerequisite for our commitment of our members to God. This is, in fact, why the Bible teaches us constantly to resist sin and ‘walk by the Spirit’ (Gal. 5:16), ‘be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might, putting the whole armour of God’ (Eph. 6:10, 11). 1 Tim. 6:11-12 sums up this urge in these words, “O [people] of God, flee these things [that is, ‘sin and its evil cravings’]. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith.” In sum, know that sin has no dominion over you, so, defeat sin in your life and commit your all to God!
William (or ‘Billy’) Sunday was one of the renowned American evangelists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and his time of ministry was before the invention of microphone. He was well-known for his thunderous preaching of the gospel and urge for fight against sin. His word shows how vigorous and serious he was about fighting the good fight of the faith and standing against sin. Let me read you what he said almost a century ago: ‘I’m against sin; I’ll kick it as long as I’ve got a foot, and I’ll fight it as long as I’ve got a fist. I’ll butt it as long as I’ve got a head. I’ll bite it as long as I’ve got a tooth. When I’m old and fistless and footless and toothless, I’ll gum it till I go home to glory and it goes home to perdition.’
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus, will you have the same zeal for the Lord and hatred against sin? Will you enjoy your life wholly in Jesus as you present yourself to God? Will you have the joy of giving the members of your body, your all in all, to God in order that His righteousness may be revealed to every corner of this society, and every eye and ear and heart are blessed by the name of Jesus, the Saviour of the world?
Then, it all begins from your understanding of your place in Jesus that you’re free indeed from sin, and you’re empowered by the Spirit and the word that you’re capable of resist and fight against every form of sin in your life. Then, as you experience Christ’s victory in your daily life, you present yourself to God! ***