SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 12 June 2022
Sermon Text: Romans 4-8 (Reading: 6:1-14)
Sermon Series: “Romans Chapters 9-16”
I. Dead to sin
II. Alive to God
What is the best way of persuading anyone, or to cause a person to adopt a certain position or idea? The best way to do it is to talk to the person, especially in a friendly way. A coercive speech or intimidating conversation would be least effective, thus, should be avoided. About how to persuade people effectively, a business magazine gave a list of advice. The first on the list is to ‘be confident.’ Then, ‘introduce a logical argument,’ ‘make your point seem beneficial to your listener,’ ‘choose your words carefully,’ ‘use flattery,’ and finally, ‘be patient, but persistent.’ That advice seems very appropriate.
We find some of these techniques from this letter of the Apostle Paul to the Church in Rome. In Paul’s explanations of some important doctrines such as what it is to believe in Jesus and to live for Him, the apostle sounds truly ‘confident’ and ‘logical’ in his admonition. He is also ‘patient and persistent’ in his exposition.
But, he does not seem to care for some other persuasive speech techniques, that is, to ‘choose words carefully’ and ‘use flattery.’ In fact, he directly violates these techniques by speaking somewhat coercively or offensively.
For example, Paul says that all in humanity are sinful and under the curse of sin. Although he is so confident in what he speaks about and so logical in his delivery, he does not flatter to his readers, but directly reveals their true selves, that is, sinner. I think you know how offensive this message is to many people in our generation as much as it was to the ears of the previous generations. But Paul doesn’t seem to care but speaks plainly and candidly. In that, he disregards some important rules of persuasion.
In the eyes of this world, he might be considered as foolish, but not so in the eyes of the God of wisdom. Hear what Prov. 12:17 talks about: “Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit.” Prov. 29:5 adds more wisdom by saying, “A man who flatters his neighbour spreads a net for his feet.”
Paul provides honest evidence of the truth of God and of Jesus and of our salvation. Especially in chs. 4-8, the apostle unfolds the truth of Christian’s status, telling us again and again that we’re dead to sin and alive to God. This is the message for us to focus today as a summary of Rom. 4-8.
I. DEAD TO SIN
The first point Paul expounds to us is that we’re dead to sin. He begins explaining this truth by this statement, that is, ‘we cannot continue in sin.’ Consider this carefully. His reasoning is something like this, ‘you and I can no longer continue in sin; the time for us to sin is over.’ He means, the bridge we’ve crossed is now broken, and no way you who are saved through faith in Jesus could go back to the other side and continue in sin. He means that, from now on, any attempt to go back to the other side or any wish to continue in sin is foolish because it is impossible. So, the only way that is available for Christians now is to live in the Lord Jesus, following and walking with Him.
It might sound strange to the ears of some people because no one on earth is free from sinning, no one can live unaffected by sins so long as he/she is in flesh. But the apostle’s point is not on our ability of doing anything but on the work of God completed in us Christians. That is, He has moved us from the dominion of sin to the kingdom of Jesus Christ, imputing His righteousness to us, adorning us with the eternal blessing of Jesus’ life.
So, we cannot continue in sin; no longer is sinning an option for us Christians because we have died to sin, as Rom. 6:2 emphasises with a rhetorical question, “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” The bridge has been broken and no longer are we able to return to the other side where we used to be as rejectors of God and Jesus. We’ve moved to the side of the living who are no longer under the dominion of sin but live in Jesus.
Let me explain this with what I experienced about 15 years ago. A bridge was broken in my life. I mean, I received a letter from the S. Korean Consulate to inform me that my Korean citizenship had been ceased. I had requested it as a follow up of getting Australian citizenship. With that letter, I realised that I was no longer Korean. It was a strange feeling. I was born in Korea, raised and continued my life there over 30 years, I could speak Korean and could ack like Korean, but no longer did I belong to that nation from the legal side. A bridge was broken.
When Paul tells us about our death to sin, he means this in a legal sense – we have no part in holding sin or continuing in sin. The issue here is that once you are saved by faith in Jesus, you’re legally dead to sin. The point the apostle makes here is that you and I must know and never forget what is already done and completed in us by God. We’re on Jesus’ side and no longer under the power of sin. Putting it in other words, we’re now citizens of Jesus’ kingdom, holding that kingdom’s passport. So, the law that affects from now and on is the law of heaven, not of sin.
This is an urge for Christians to change our perspective on our new status, thus, our altered relationship to sin. You’d better look at yourself differently from a different perspective – I mean, from the viewpoint of where you’re standing since your salvation, since your justification by faith. You’re holding Jesus’ hand now, listening to His words, and no longer can sin whisper its curse to your ears. You’re smiling and laughing in your heart and soul as Jesus’ grace fills you. You confess that you’re content with many things of your life because of your faith in Jesus. Sometimes things go not easy in your life, but you learn to be content in Jesus and His goodness toward you. No longer is death a threat to you because you know that you’re in Jesus now and forever!
So, look at sin from the right perspective; consider your relationship to sin from this new perspective. You’re dead to sin. And sin is dead to you. Sin should be lifeless to your eyes. You look at sin in which you’ve once indulged, and find no joy anymore. So, the apostle questions, ‘Would you continue holding sin that is dead and lifeless? Would you enjoy and relish it?’ No wonder why the apostle’s answer is much more emphatic than simple ‘no’; he says, ‘By no means!’ You must realise and remember always that you’re dead to sin and sin is dead to you Christians!
II. ALIVE TO GOD
This means, in other words, that you’re alive to God. To explain this, Paul tells us words like ‘grace,’ ‘slave’ and ‘righteousness.’ Our death to sin, thus, life in God is by God’s grace. He means, when we were dead in sin, when we were sinners, indulged and saturated in sin, we were totally unable to know our deadness in sin. God’s grace alone woke us up, shook us from inside out, and led us to Jesus in repentance and faith. Grace alone led us out of sin’s dominion and brought us into the marvellous light of life of Jesus Christ.
Talking about our new status in Jesus, the apostle pictures Christians as ‘slaves to righteousness.’ By calling us ‘slaves,’ he focuses on and emphasises the effect of Jesus’ redemption on us, that is, we’re wholly and thoroughly bound to Jesus’ righteousness.
I want you to have a look at this term, ‘slave to righteousness,’ that appears in 6:19. It’s a strange term. The concepts of ‘slave’ and ‘righteousness’ contradict each other. God sent His Son Jesus to us to free us, to save us from our former slavery to sin. Through faith in the Son of God, we’re now free; Jesus’ righteousness has released us from our former slavery to sin. Then, how could Paul portray us as slaves whose freedom is taken away?
You need to understand the historical context of this term ‘slave.’ Some members of the church in Rome to whom Paul wrote this letter were former slaves, and some others were masters of their own slaves. That era has long gone, and our time has nothing to do with slavery. Slaves in that world had no freedom. Although some historical evidence tells us that some slaves were treated well by their masters, and could run their own businesses. But, still their freedom was so insignificant compared to the concept of freedom we uphold in the 21st century. Zero possibility for them to depart from the boundary set by their masters.
Paul is referring to that ‘zero impossibility’ of slavery when he illustrates Christian’s status in Jesus and relationship with God. This is what he means in Rom. 6:19, saying, “I am speaking in human terms.” Of course, Jesus’ righteousness that justifies a sinner, thus, grants him salvation frees the sinner. But Paul leads us to focus on that ‘zero possibility’ Jesus’ righteousness has created in Christians like you and me. We can never lose our Lord’s righteousness imputed to us – so, we’re alive to God. His righteousness can never be degraded or even tarnished in us because we’re alive to God. Once it is given to a believer through faith, once a penitent sinner is saved by Jesus’ righteousness through faith, that’s the beginning of that Christian’s life in Jesus and God for eternity.
Based on this fact, the apostle firmly and joyfully declares in ch. 8 that nothing – absolutely, nothing – can and will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!
You and I are alive to God through Jesus our Lord!
Let me conclude and say that, because all who trust in Jesus are dead to sin, and sin has no power over us at all, because we are alive to God through grace, we should be bold and firm toward sin and its temptation and reject them altogether. Once we were slaves to sin, we gave our all to sin, didn’t we? But, now, having become God’s blessed children, as the living before God, we ought to give our all to Him, our eternal Father.
I know that living as Christians in flesh in a fallen world is not that simple. We often find ourselves trying to go back to our former way; sin still seems to be sweet to our ears and eyes. Sometimes, we fall into its temptations. But although we stumble, we must always remember that, firstly, sin has no power over us because we’re dead to sin and sin to us and, secondly, we belong to Jesus and, in Him, we’re alive to God our eternal Heavenly Father even now in this flesh in this fallen world!
If you fell for the whispers of sin yesterday, today you look to God again through Jesus and walk before Him. Repenting from your sins and trusting Jesus again, ask God strength and guidance for today and tomorrow. Such is your life and mine, and, in it, there’s no condemnation because we’re in Christ Jesus, thus, alive to God! ***