The Spirit of God and Christ

Text: Romans 8.9-11                                      6/18/2017

Main Point: The Spirit dwells in every Christian

  1. What does the Holy Spirit do?[1]
    1. The Holy Spirit empowers
      1. He gives life
        1. Creation, Psalm 104:30, “When you send forth your Spirit, they are created.” (Job 34:14-15)
        2. Regeneration, John 6:63, “The Spirit gives life, the flesh profits nothing” (John 3:5-8; 2 Cor 3:6)
        3. Resurrection, Romans 8:11, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.”
      2. He gives power for service
        1. Old Testament examples- Joshua was given the ability to lead (Num 27:18; Deut 34:9) and the judges were empowered by the Spirit (Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25). David was given the Holy Spirit (1 Sam 16:13). Bezalel was given skill by the Holy Spirit (Ex 31:3; 35:31).
        2. Messiah, “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord” (Is 11:2; 42:1; 61:1; Mt 3:16; 4:14, 18).
        3. New Testament examples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” (Acts 1:8). Miracles (Acts 6:5, 8; Rom 15:19; 1 Cor 2:4), preaching (Acts 4:8, 31; 6:10; 1 Thess 1:5; 1 Peter 1:12), spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:11), prayer (Rom 8:26; Eph 2:18; 1 Cor 12:10-11), overcoming spiritual resistence (Mt 12:28; Acts 13:9-11; 1 Cor 12:10; Eph 6:17)
      3. The Holy Spirit purifies

Since this member of the Trinity is called the Holy Spirit, it is not surprising to find that one of his primary activities is to cleanse us from sin and to ‘sanctify us’ or make us more holy in actual conduct of life’ (Grudem, 639).

  1. The Spirit convicts us of sin (John 16:9)
  2. The cleansing power of the Holy Spirit in conversion (1 Cor 6:11; Titus 3:5; Mt 3:11; Luke 3:16)
  3. The power of the Holy Spirit to change us (2 Cor 3:18; Gal 5:22-23; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; Rom 8:4, 13).
  1. The Holy Spirit reveals
    1. The Holy Spirit inspires God’s word (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21)
    2. The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to understand what God has done for us (1 Cor 2:12-15; Eph 1:17-19; Ps 119:18)
    3. The Holy Spirit revealed God’s word to the prophets (Num 24:2; Ezek 11:5; Zech 7:12; 2 Peter 1:21)
    4. The Holy Spirit guided the apostles into all the truth (John 16:13; Eph 3:5)
    5. The Holy Spirit makes the presence of God known (Jesus’ baptism, John 1:32; wind and fire, Acts 2:2-3; tongues, Acts 2:4; 10:44-46,
    6. The Holy Spirit makes the presence of God known in the believer (Spirit speaks to our spirits, Rom 8:16; cries Abba Father, Gal 4:6; down payment of our future fellowship with God, 2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; 1 John 4:13)
    7. The Holy Spirit leads the believer (Rom 8:4, 14; Gal 5:16, 18, 25; Acts 8:29; 10:19-20; 11:12; 13:2)
  2. The Holy Spirit unifies
    1. Creates a new community (Joel 2; Acts 2:16-18, 44-47; 1 Cor 12:13; Col 3:14)
    2. Fellowship of the Spirit (2 Cor 13:14; Phil 2:1-2; Eph 2:18, 22; 4:3)
    3. Differing gifts bring us together (1 Cor 12:7, 11, 21)
  3. The Holy Spirit gives stronger or weaker evidence of the presence and blessing of God according to our response to him
    1. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit empowered people but left them when they continued in sin (Samson, Judges 13:25 and 16:20; Saul, 1 Sam 16:14; and Israel, Is 63:10)
    2. The Holy Spirit remained on Jesus and was given to him without measure (John 1:32; 3:34)
    3. We are warned not to continue in sin or unbelief and thereby grieve, quench, or outrage the Spirit (Eph 4:30; 1 Thess 5:19; Heb 10:26-21; Acts 5:3-9).
    4. Those who despise the presence of God made manifest in the Holy Spirit are guilty of blasphemy of the Spirit (Mark 3:29).
    5. The Spirit who dwells in the Christian (1 Cor 3:16; 6:19-20), gifts the Christian (1 Cor 12:11), helps the Christian guard the truth (2 Tim 1:14), and gives ministries to Christians (Acts 20:28). The goal is for the believer to be led by the Spirit such that rivers of living water flow from the believer into every situation (John 7:38-39).
    6. When we are led by the Spirit and depend on the Spirit, we will grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
    7. Grudem, “To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be filled with the immediate presence of God himself, and it therefore will result in feeling what God feels, desiring what God desires, doing what God wants, speaking by God’s power, praying and ministering in God’s strength, and knowing with the knowledge which God himself gives (649).
  4. Test yourself. Are you a Christian? (Romans 8:9-11)

2 Corinthians 13:5-6

  1. Does the Spirit of God dwell in you? (9a)
    1. Continually dwelling/living
    2. Promise of the New Covenant- indwelling Spirit, Ezekiel 36:26-27, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to talk in my statutes and be care to obey my rules.”
    3. Decreasing hostility toward God
    4. Increasing submission to God
    5. An increasing concern about the desires of your flesh
    6. An increasing desire to please God
    7. Africa- Aberchi- cement for the well
  2. You cannot be ruled by the flesh and have the Spirit of Christ (9b)
    1. Have- continually
    2. The evidence of salvation is God’s presence, through his Spirit, in your life. A Christian has the Spirit of Christ. In salvation Jesus gives us His Holy Spirit.
    3. Forgiveness by Christ and union with Christ can never be separated from the indwelling presence of the Spirit
    4. Notice “Spirit”, “Spirit of God,” and “Spirit of Christ.” Trinitarian- also, the Holy Spirit is the means by which we enjoy the presence of the Father and Son in our lives.
  3. Is Christ in you? (10)
    1. Through union with Christ the body of sin is brought to nothing- 6:6
      1. Sanctification- continually growing in holiness
    2. Who will deliver me from this body of death- 7:24
      1. Growing awareness of your need for Christ
    3. Valley of Dry Bones- Ezekiel 37:14, “I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.” To possess righteousness is to possess the Spirit and the Spirit is the assurance of life
    4. The Holy Spirit applies the fruit of Christ’s redemptive mission to the lives of the believers (Harrison, 89)
    5. The Holy Spirit is life because of righteousness
    6. The Holy Spirit within you is the means by which you live a righteous life
    7. The marks of a believer are a desire to please God and join in his mission of redemption through Jesus Christ. A child, or adult, who has no desire to live a holy life, win the lost, or make disciples, that person, is not a Christian. Because of the indwelling Spirit, Christians seek to please God. There will be a basic simple desire in the believer to do what God wants and when disobedience is discovered, there will be repentance.
  4. Does the Spirit of God dwell in you? (11)
    1. The Spirit within you is the means by which the Father will one day raise your body from the grave and make it new
    2. He who began a good work in you will complete it on the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6)
    3. The promise of the resurrection gives shape to the way you do life. The presence of the Holy Spirit in you gradually brings your fear of death to nothing.
  5. What sets the general direction of your life?

We all struggle with sin and we all stumble in many ways. I’m not setting up an unrealistic standard of perfection. Instead I want you to think about your decisions and your dreams. What rules you? What guides you? What corrects you? What concerns you? If you have the Spirit of Christ then you will have a desire to please the Father. You will feel drawn to do your work in such a way that God is pleased. If you have the Spirit of God you will have an awareness of the presence of God. You will experience pain or discouragement when you do something against God’s will. You will love your Christian brothers and sisters. But if your life is governed by getting as much as possible for yourself, friend, you are in trouble. Those who are in the flesh, ruled by the flesh, or governed by the flesh are in a state of hostility toward God and headed toward death. You cannot serve God and the flesh.

And being afraid of hell is no assurance of salvation either. The demons were worried that Jesus was going to throw them into hell (Mt 8:29; Lk 4:34). A fear of torment is no assurance of salvation. Assurance of salvation comes from the presence of the Father and Son in you by the means of the Holy Spirit. The Father works in you his desire to glorify and show the greatness of the Son. The Son works in you his desire to think, and speak, and do all things according to the Father. The Spirit leads you away from sin and the desires of the flesh. There is in you, sometimes big sometimes small, sometimes known to you and sometimes seen only by those around you, there is in you a gradual growth toward God and godliness.  Do you have it? Do you have the Holy Spirit?

[1] Adapted from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, 634-639

Set Free From Sin; Romans 6:20-23

Main Point: Jesus came to set us free

The Apostle Paul is acting like an alien in Romans 6. Think about it. What is the first thing every alien says when meeting a human? Aliens say, “Take me to your leader.” Take me to your boss. Take me to the one who is in control.

Now, in Romans 6, the Apostle Paul doesn’t want to meet your congressman. He doesn’t want to meet your boss at work and he’s not seeking an audience with the president. Instead, God wants you to come to grips with the desires that rule your heart. Who, or what, is leading you? Who is your master?

Read Romans 6:15-23

I. You need to identify your master

Jesus tells us it is impossible to serve two masters. You cannot serve two masters. But we think we can. We think we can have the world and have God. We think we can have sin and have righteousness, but we cannot. You will love the one and hate the other. You will be devoted to one and despise the other (Mt 6:24).

  • Some of us are slaves of sin

I want to give you a simple test to determine if you are a slave of sin. Look at verse 20, “when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.” Slaves of sin do not care about righteousness. Do you care about living a God-honoring life? A slave of sin may give some thought to heaven and hell. There may be some warm affections concerning reunions with dead relatives. Slaves of sin, like the demons, do not want to be destroyed in hell (Mk 1:24). But slaves of sin are not concerned about living a righteous life.

Slaves of sin are free in regard to righteousness. Now, this doesn’t mean God will give slaves of sin a pass on judgment day. Slaves of sin are not free from God’s wrath. Simply put, slaves of sin don’t care about righteousness. Slaves of sin are free to indulge their minds and bodies in shameful things.

Now, you may catch yourself, from time to time, responding to someone’s sin with the question, “How could he do that? or How could she do that?” The deed is so obviously wrong and the outcome is so obviously destructive, yet he continues in sin. Why? People continue in their sins because they are slaves of sin.

The Spirit is pressing us to grow in our understanding of sin. We need this because a biblical understanding of sin will help us fight our own sin and it will help us love others in their sin. Let’s take the easiest pill first. Sin is disobedience or lawlessness (Rom 4:7; Heb 10:17; 1 John 3:4). Sin is doing what God says not to do. Sin is not doing what God says to do. Ok, you’re here on a Sunday morning. You probably agree, at some level with the idea of sin as disobedience. But you can’t read Romans 6 and think God is only addressing sin as breaking the rules. Before regeneration, we are not identified as free people who occasionally or accidentally disobey. Verse 20, what were we? We were slaves of sin.

Now, this pill is harder to swallow. We need a spoon full of sugar for this one to go down. In fact, we need to be spiritual people in order to appreciate this spiritual truth (1 Cor 2:14). Sin is not just rule-breaking. Before Jesus sets us free, sin is a power that rules over us. Sin is not just an action. Sin is a slave master and we all submit ourselves to it.

In contrast to the biblical truth, we like to think that all people are relatively good and must be forced or coerced to obey sin. The common idea is that we are good and would do good but the devil made me do evil. The biblical truth is this: the fallen condition of your heart makes it impossible not to sin. Apart from the new birth, you are a slave of sin.

You are not Mater from the movie Cars. The problem is not that your big friendly heart gets you in trouble. You are not Luke from Star Wars fighting to resist the power of the Dark Side. You are Pinnochio; a puppet on a string. And who is pulling the strings? Use Romans 6 to answer the question, who is pulling the strings? Sin is pulling the strings. Our unbelieving children and friends are puppets on strings; slaves of sin. Everyone who is not united to Christ through baptism is a slave of sin.

  • Some of us are slaves of God

Look over at Romans 6:22 for the opposite of slaves of sin. “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”

Friend, please remember verse 19, the Apostle Paul is speaking in human terms because of our natural limitations. This idea of slaves of God is a dangerous idea. It’s dangerous because we can think being a slave of God is identical to being a slave of sin but these masters could not be any more different. Sin’s desire is to master you (Gen 4:7). Sin’s desire is to exploit you and ultimately destroy you. Sin is misery and misery loves company. The true and triune God is not like that. God is not a terrible master. Sin is a terrible master.

God does not want to exploit you for his own selfish ends. Instead, God wants to bring you back into the blessing of life with Him. Sin is a master that wants to take your life. God is a master who wants to give you his life.

Turn in your bible to John 15:9. Lets look at John 15:9-11, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

Do you see the danger in the idea of slaves of God? There is clearly here the idea of obedience; we keep Jesus’ commandments. But we keep these commandments because of love. The Son loves us and we love the Son therefore we keep his commandments. We know his voice and his love, therefore we seek to do life with Jesus.

Let’s keep going in John 15:12, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you.”

To speak of being a slave of God is dangerous. Slavery to God is wildly different from slavery to sin. Slavery to God is slavery marked by infinite love, complete joy, and intimate friendship. So, yes, a slave of God obeys God. But a slave of God obeys God because of God’s great love. A slave of God does not obey because he has to or because God makes him. A slave of God seeks to obey because of the infinite love of the Father poured out on the Son. And this Son is the Son to whom we are united by faith through baptism. We are dearly loved slaves.

Are you a slave of sin or a slave of God? Once you nail that down

II. You need to identify your end

We constantly pray with our brother David, “Father, it is easy to envy the wealthy wicked who live in ease; it’s easy until I discern their end. God help me to see where I am going with these desires.” It can be helpful to sit down and write out a sentence like this: if I keep going after this I am going to gain this. In the notes you have an example. The end of blank is blank.

  • The end of slavery to sin is death

Look at Romans 6:21, “But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.” Now, go to Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death.”

Let’s start with the obvious. Before you were given a new heart with new affections you were not ashamed of the things you were doing. Before you were given the ability to understand spiritual things you delighted in things that you now see bring disgrace. So, you should never look at people and wonder how they could enjoy such shameful things. You know; you have just forgotten. They are slaves of sin. But praise God, He gave you the ability to see the end of your lusts.

If you are not a Christian I’d like to take a moment and try to explain what is going on here. The biblical worldview is this, there are two ways of doing life. You can do life with God, going after the things He promises, or you can do life without God, going after the things of this world. If there is a God then there is more to life than work, money, sex, power, fame, and beauty. If there is no God then there is only what money, sex, power, fame, and beauty can deliver. Christians understand that with God there is life, joy, and peace. So with thankfulness, we use money, sex, power, fame, and beauty according to God’s purposes. We understand those things do not give life; because there is no life in them. You shouldn’t expect a lifeless thing to give you life because the end of lifeless things is death. It is the worst form of slavery to be constantly and desperately looking for life in death. The only wage sin can pay is death. Sin is a two-faced tyrant promising life but delivering death. God is the giver of life so we seek him and his wisdom of this life.

Consider with me for a moment, if there is a God and you keep going away from him what will you receive? If God is life and you continue on the path you are on, you will receive death. The end of slavery to sin is death but

  • The end of slavery to God is eternal life

Look at Romans 6:22&23 with me, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life…the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The fruit of sin is death. We would expect the fruit of righteous to be life but that’s not what God says. Track the verse again. First, set free from sin. Second, made a slave of God. Third, receive fruit that leads to sanctification. Fourth, the end of sanctification is eternal life. Fruit leads to sanctification and sanctification leads to eternal life. We often skip this verse and go straight to verse 23, the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. If you skip verse 22 you will think, because I prayed a prayer I have eternal life and I’m good to go. My children or grandchildren prayed a prayer or used to go to church or asked Jesus into their hearts back in the day so they received eternal life no matter what. Now, that’s not what God says. It’s what we want God to say but it’s not true. Slaves of sin receive death. Is your child who prayed a prayer or went to church a slave of sin or a slave of righteousness? What will he receive?

I lead you to this because you have life. You have the gospel. You have the gospel that leads to sanctification which leads to life. Now let’s be very careful. Because we can look at verses 22 and 23 and forget verses 1-11. It is union with Christ which produces the spiritual know-how and ability to live a righteous life. Union with Christ provides everything you need to follow God. Living daily in union with Christ or because of Christ leads to sanctification. Daily dependence on Christ makes you strong. Looking to Jesus causes you to become more like Jesus (2 Cor 3:18). Depending on Jesus gives us the strength to run the race of holiness (Heb 12:1-2).

To say it another way, union with Christ makes you a slave of God. Presenting yourself to God leads to greater and greater faithfulness in your daily life. What is its end? What is the end of union with Christ? It is eternal life. The free gift, God does it in you, is eternal life. Where do you get it from? It comes out of Jesus Christ as a free gift. This is our Christmas gift- we are set free from sin. We are made children of God.

But what about obedience? Since we are not under the law does obedience matter? Obedience to God is absolutely necessary. Obedience to God is necessary because of union with Jesus Christ. Do I believe in once saved always saved? Yes, I believe once united to Christ you become a slave of God and the fruit of this union produces sanctification and the end of sanctification is eternal life. It’s all out of and because of Jesus. It’s not from me. I was a foolish ignorant slave of sin. But Jesus set me free.

III. You need the Son to set you free (Jn 8:36; Rom 6:23)

Turn with me to John 8:34-36, “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Listen dear friends. Right now you are enjoying the protection of the Father’s house but you are actually a slave of sin. Your time is running out. You will not remain as a slave in the house forever. Your end is death and hell. But if the Son sets you free. If the Son gives you His status, then you will remain in the house forever.

How does that work? How does the Son set us free? Maybe another image will help. Jesus said he is the good shepherd. His sheep hear his voice and follow him (John 10:4). What does the good Shepherd say? What does his voice sound like?

The liberating voice of the Son is the convicting voice of the Spirit. It is the Spirit’s work to take what belongs to Jesus and make it know to you (John 16:14). The Spirit will take the Son’s status and make it known to you. The Spirit will take the Son’s freedom and give it you. The Spirit will show you the path you are on leads to death. Are you worried for your soul? Are you tired of slaving after the emptiness of the things of this world? Do you sense that Jesus is calling you to honesty, repenting of your sins, even experiencing shame over the things you have done?

  • The Son sets you free by first exposing your slavery

Is this you? Has this happened to you? Do you realize you are on a death march? Your slavery to the basic elementary facts of this physical earth will destroy you. Your slavery to the opinions of others, relationships with others, and the exploitation of others is going to end in death? There is no life in lifeless things. If the Son is showing you your slavery, then he is doing it in order to set you free. Repent of your sins. The Son sets you free by first exposing your death and

  • The Son sets you free by showing you life

Do you hear the Shepherd calling you to die to sin in order that you might experience life? Do you sense the Spirit working such that you want to be united to Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection? Do you look at the Son, do you look at his life with the Father, and say “I want that”? Then believe in Him. Believe in Jesus for life. Believe in Jesus for freedom from sin. Believe in Jesus such that he works in you and you grow in holiness and by Him reach the end, eternal life.

The invitation is simple but it will cost you everything. The invitation is simple but by it you can gain eternal life; life with the Father, Son and Spirit. Turn away from your sin which leads to death. Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his resurrected face, and the things of this world will grow strangely dim in light of his glory and grace. With the good Shepherd you can walk away from slavery to sin. May God grant us this freedom; the freedom of sons.


Obedient Slaves; Romans 6:15-19

Text: Romans 6:15-19                                                            12/4/2016

Main Point: We present ourselves to God for righteousness.

I want us to think for a moment about the magnificent obedience of Jesus Christ. Took the form of a man, only said what he heard his Father say, only did what he saw his Father do. Jesus offered his body, his soul, mind, and strength to the Father that he loved. He was obedient even to death, death on a cross. This Jesus is our salvation, our wisdom, our righteousness, and our sanctification. Because of the Son, we are empowered to obey the Father.

I. Christian obedience must be taught (Matt 28:18-20)

When I say, “Christian obedience must be taught,” I do not mean that obedience is simply a matter of information. It is a hellish lie to think you can obey if only you are told what to do. It is hazardous to look at your children and think they can obey if only you tell them what to do. No, “Christian obedience must be taught” means we must be taught what to obey and how to obey it. We must constantly grow deeper in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must teach the truth of Jesus Christ: his righteous life, his atoning death, and his victorious resurrection for obedience. Obedience comes out of the gospel and discipleship.

I want to teach you two things before we unpack Romans 6. First, the new birth makes obedience possible and second, discipleship makes obedience possible.

  • The new birth makes obedience possible

The new birth includes regeneration, justification, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. In regeneration, a dead sinner is given a new heart with the capacity for righteous affections. Because of the new birth, the Christian is made willing and able to love God and listen to God. In justification, a dead sinner is given a new righteous status which makes communion with God possible. Now, because of Christ’s righteousness, the Christian is able to do life with God. The evidence and seal of the new birth is the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God indwells the Christian. The Holy Spirit gives understanding and empowers righteousness according to God’s Word. Because of the new birth, obedience is possible. Apart from being born again, joyful God-ward obedience is impossible. You must teach people how to obey because of regeneration, justification, and the indwelling Spirit. The new birth makes obedience possible and

  • Discipleship makes obedience possible

The common approach to Christianity involves telling people to do the right thing. We tell people, “honor your parents, love your wife, submit to your husband, join a church, work hard. share the gospel, don’t gossip, or complain, or be greedy.” This isn’t wrong. It’s just insufficient. Jesus’ final instruction in Matthew 28 is to make disciples. You disciples need to make disciples. A disciple is someone who has been baptized and is learning how to obey all that Jesus commanded. A disciple is someone who is being taught how to live the Christian life. And the key to discipleship is helping someone make the connection between the command and the God-given strength to obey the command. We need to learn what to do and we need to learn how to do it. We need to be taught what to do and we need to be taught how to do it. We need to be discipled and we need to disciple others. So what do we need to learn from Romans 6:15-19? It’s teaching time. Let’s make disciples.

Read Romans 6:15-19

II. The reign of grace does not make sin a non-issue (Rom 6:15)

A right understanding of free and sovereign grace leads to a couple of questions. We have already seen how some might claim if God forgiving me makes God look good, then I should sin a great deal in order to make God look really good. But sinning for the glory of God is impossible because receiving grace runs on a parallel track with dying to sin. Receiving grace and rejecting sin go hand in hand. How can the one who received grace and died to sin continue in sin? You can’t! It is absurd to think a Christian can make God look good by sinning. Now, in Romans 6:15, the question is a bit more subtle and sinister. Seeing how I am not under the law (so obedience doesn’t matter) and I am under grace (so all my sins are gone) then sin is a non-issue. Christ took all my sins and gave me his righteousness therefore it’s okay to do whatever I want. Is this what should be taught? Is this right? Is the idea that sin doesn’t matter in friendly agreement with the new birth?

Verse 16 makes it clear that answering this questions involves a right understanding of the two ways to live.

III. The two ways to live (Rom 6:16-19)

The two choices in front of everyone are to either be a slave of sin or a slave of righteousness. Some people will buck against these two categories but those are the people who are slaves to the idea of not being a slave. They are slaves of the idea of autonomy. This also is slavery to sin.

Let’s unpack this section of Romans 6 verse by verse. Look at verse 16, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin which leads to death, or of obedience which leads to righteousness?”

Notice there is something to know which effects the way you view life. Do you not know this? Here it is

  • We are all obedient slaves

In verse 19, Paul reminds us that speaking of Christians as slaves of God is actually speaking in a human way. He does not mean for us to think Christianity is identical to slavery. There is only one parallel for us to consider here; absolute obedience.

To be obedient means to pay attention to someone. The King James uses the word “yield” it means to give way to someone else. Every human “gives way to”, pays attention to, or is obedient to someone or something. Some pay attention to and yield to sinful pleasures. Others pay attention to and yield to God. The point is, we all report for duty to something. Some report for duty to bitterness, others take their commands from depression.

It is crucial for you to identify who, or what, you are paying attention to. What calls the shots in your life? Are you an obedient slave to the development and advancement of your children? Are you an obedient slave to the approval of your parents or your peers? Speaking in human terms, are you a slave of God?

We are all slaves of someone or something. What you must do is work to identify the particular sinful desires that lure you into slavery. One of the best ways to do this is to grant a mature Christian, who knows you, the right to identity possible areas of slavery. Sit down and ask him/her where you are tempted to obey sin. You are an obedient slave and you are constantly tempted to obey sin. Have you identified exactly where your war fronts are? Are you sending your resources to the fight?

Romans 6:16-19 is a helpful explanation of slavery to sin and slavery to righteousness. Let’s take each form of slavery in turn.

  • Slavery to sin leads to death

In humility, we remember that all Christians were once slaves of sin. Look at verse 17, “thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart.” Verse 18, “we have been set free.” This obviously means everyone, before the new birth, is a slave of sin. Everyone presents the members of their bodies as obedient slaves to the desires of the flesh. Verse 19 reminds us that we all once presented our members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness.” And why did we present our members as slaves to sin? We did it because it felt good, at least it felt good for a little while.

Look over at Ephesians 4:17-19. These verses help us identify impurity, “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”

Giving oneself up to sensuality is the same as presenting oneself as an obedient slave of sensuality. We simply want to feel good and so we try any and every slave master which offers a way to joy. Do this and you’ll be happy. Quit that and you’ll be happy. Buy this, win this, ditch this, and earn this and you’ll be happy. Desperately we present our members as obedient slaves of impurity and lawlessness which produces only more lawlessness as we try to be happy.

The old adage is true: Sin always takes you further than you wanted to go and costs you more than you wanted to pay. Right now, in a sane moment when you are not at work trying to prove your worth or drown your sorrows, discern the end of your way of life. The end of these things is death (6:21). The wage you are earning is death (6:23). Polished in our Sunday best, we are still addicts willing to sacrifice everything but gaining only death. Be sober minded. Slavery to sin leads to death but

  • Slavery to righteousness leads to sanctification

Compare Romans 6:16 to Romans 6:19. Romans 6:16 reminds us that presenting ourselves as slaves to obedience leads to righteousness. Romans 6:19 tells us that presenting ourselves as slaves to righteousness leads to sanctification. We need to bear in mind that there is a righteous status which is given to us in justification and there are righteous deeds which we do in life. Romans 3-5 deals mainly with our God-given status of righteousness, the very righteousness of God, which is ours by faith in Jesus Christ. Now, in Romans 6, we are dealing with the product of that righteous status, living righteous lives. To say it another way, because you are united to Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection you are empowered to live life Him. United to Jesus we live like Jesus. But righteous living doesn’t just happen. We need to be discipled. We need to be taught what is true and we need to be taught how to live out of that truth.

Presenting yourself to God as an obedient slave will lead to righteous living. If you present yourself as an obedient slave of sin this will lead to more impurity, lawlessness, and death. Look at verse 17 with me, “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed.” In the new birth, in regeneration, when you were born again, you were given a new heart. With the new heart came new desires, namely the new desire to do life with God. Here, I want to be dangerously clear, if you never desire to do life with God you are not a Christian. The evidence of one being brought from death to life is a heartfelt commitment to obey the Lord. You want to obey and you are convicted when you disobey. You worry when you don’t want to obey. While struggling with your old sinful desires you have a desire to live a righteous life. Is that you? Have you been set free from sin? Have you become a slave of righteousness? A more basic question is this: Do you want Jesus to set you free from sin? A good place to start is prayerfully asking God to show you your slavery to sin. Read God’s Word, join in our daily bible reading plan, and before you read each day, ask God to show you the ways you are tempted to be a slave of sin.

Now we see there are two ways to live: either live as a slave of sin leading to death or live as a slave of God leading to righteousness. Let’s get practical with

IV. How to cultivate an obedient heart

Romans 6:13 is the key to cultivating an obedient heart. Look back at 6:13 with me, “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourself to God as those who have been brought from death to life.

  • Cultivate an obedient heart by growing in your appreciation of the new birth

6:13 tells us to present ourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life. One of the biggest hindrances to growing in godliness, the monkey wrench in sanctification, is entitlement. I deserve heaven so it doesn’t matter what I do on earth. I deserve health so when God doesn’t heal I am right to be angry. I deserve to make the team, be first chair, have an easy marriage and a well-adjusted family. The standard of teaching, the Word of God, tells us otherwise. What you and I deserve because of our selfish hearts is death, separation, and hell. The wages of sin is death. But be amazed. God, in His sovereign grace, caused you to be born again. God raised you with Christ! God gave you understanding, faith, and repentance such that you repented and believed. Against what you deserve, and according to His great mercy, God changed your path by changing your heart. Now, you possess the righteousness of God. Now you have been reconciled to God. Now you are loved. Now you are empowered for a life of peace, joy, and fruitfulness. You and I would do well to think often about who we were and where we were headed before God intervened with sovereign grace. God saved you because of his great mercy. An appreciation of salvation stirs up heart-felt obedience. Pray to the One who brought you from death to life.

  • Cultivate an obedient heart by seeking to understand why God’s commands are good

Why should you honor your father and your mother? Why should you give offerings gladly and generously? Why should you store up treasures in heaven? Why should you not covet? Why should you respect your husband? Why is work good and why is laziness evil? Why do we rejoice in persecution and why do we endure hardship?

One reason we are witnessing a great falling away from the church and an increase in lawlessness among professing Christians is, for several generations, we have simply told people what to do. We told people to pray a prayer and we told people to not commit sexual immorality. We told people to go to church, give, and serve but we did not teach the why. We must teach the why.

If you only obey because God says so, please stop it. Instead, go further. Seek to understand the good of God’s command and obey because what God commands is good. If you tell your children to obey because you say so, please stop it. Teach them the good behind the command and teach them to depend on the Holy Spirit to obtain the good. To put it plainly, it is right and good for Christians to study ethics and the sufficiency of Christ as fuel for obedience. This leads us to the Holy Spirit.

  • Cultivate an obedient heart by learning how to live life in the Spirit

Romans 8 is devoted to helping us understand how to live life according to the Holy Spirit. I look forward to our time together in that chapter. For today, I can only whet your appetite. It is absolute misery to try every day to obey good commands in your own strength. Will power alone is dangerous because simple will power can produce a respectable form of godliness. But godliness by will power without the Holy Spirit’s power is pointless. You know you are depending on yourself for godliness when you lack love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You know you are depending on yourself when your life is characterized by good works surrounded by strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, and envy (Gal 5:16-24).

Church, this portion of God’s Word invites us to repent. Repent of our attitude of entitlement. Repent of our refusal to be personally discipled. Repent of our refusal to disciple others. Repent of our slavery to sin. Repent of lawlessness and evil desires and lust. Repent and believe the gospel. On the cross, Christ has made the full and perfect payment required by God for our sin. While on this earth, Christ achieved a perfect heart felt obedience to the Father for us. By joining in his resurrection, we are empowered, we are given the Holy Spirit, to live new lives of godliness. Repent, believe the gospel, and be discipled. God’s desire is not for us to simply attend a church service. God’s good and joyful plan is for you and I to become disciples who make disciples. Talk to pastor Aaron or me about being equipped to make disciples. Come talk to us about being discipled. We want to help you present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.


Two Cars and Two Men

Romans 5 is a thick passage and so are the concepts of being in Adam and in Christ. Maybe if we think of being in a Ford Pinto or in KITT from Knight Rider we can get a better grasp of federal headship.

All of humanity starts “in Adam”. That is the equivalent of being in a Ford Pinto stalled out in the middle of I20. You aren’t capable of doing anything good and it’s a matter of time before things go badly. Sometimes our lives, our minds, and our relationships look like this precisely because we are “in Adam”.


But being “in Christ” is different from being “in Adam”. It is similar to moving out of your Ford Pinto life of destruction into a Pontiac Trans Am life of security and ability. Obviously there is a personal or spiritual change that happens alongside this transfer of vehicles, but let’s not overlook the change of authority that happens in salvation. Colossians 1:13 describes salvation as the Father’s work of delivering us from the domain of darkness and transferring us into the kingdom of His beloved Son.

Think for a moment about your condition apart from Christ. You are unable and incapable of anything but a self-serving existence often marked by explosions. But in Christ, in the strength of His resurrected existence you are made able to stand against evil and the schemes of the Devil (both inside and outside of you).

There is much more to say and to work out in our daily lives concerning being “in Christ.” But maybe thinking about being in these two cars will help.

July 24th Application Questions

Take some time to process the sermon. Over a meal today, talk with your friends and family to help them grow in God’s Word.

The sermon text was Romans 5:9-11. Read it here.

If you missed the sermon you can listen to it here.

Now for the questions:

  1. What about justification makes you rejoice?
  2. Why do you need Christ for reconciliation with the Father?
  3. What does it look like for you to rejoice in God?
  4. What gets in the way of you gladly rejoicing in God?
  5. How can I help you rejoice in reconciliation?

What is Evil?

Evil is the feeling and thinking and acting that treats God as less than infinitely valuable and satisfying. So when we get to Romans 3:23 and Paul gives his own definition of sin, this is what he says: “There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The essence of sin is falling short of the glory of God, that is, not treating the glory of God for what it really is – the most valuable reality and the most satisfying treasure in the universe.

John Piper

Baptized into Christ, Romans 6:1-11

Main Point: Baptism shows your union with Christ.

 Listen to the audio here

Today we get to join in the celebration of two believers being baptized. This is a happy day in the life of the church as we see two people profess faith in Jesus Christ and join with him in his death and resurrection. It’s a big deal. Baptism is an act of faith in which a believer shows his/her union with Christ. The one being baptized is united with Christ in a death like his and the one being baptized is brought to new life through a resurrection like his. This is a big day for Kolten and Kaitlin and it’s a big day for us as a church. So it’s important that we all understand and think biblically about baptism.

The Bible teaches us to think this way. Every Christian has been born again, every Christian has been united to Christ, every Christian has been baptized, and every Christian is empowered to live a holy life. Being born again, being united to Christ, being baptized, and beginning a new holy life are inseparable but not identical events in every Christian’s life. Being born again is not the same as being spiritually united with Christ but you cannot separate them. Every person united to Christ has been born again. Being baptized is not the same thing as living a holy life but you cannot separate them. Every Christian will live a holy life because of union with Christ and this union is displayed vividly in baptism.

These events are so inseparable that a person can say, biblically speaking, that she was united to Christ in baptism. Scripture talks about being baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). 1 Peter 3:21 even goes so far as to say, “baptism now saves you.”

When it comes to baptism there are many potential errors and when it comes to baptism there are many blessings. Some will claim the waters of baptism cause a person to be born again. Others will claim that baptism is only an empty sign; nothing more than a hoop to jump through. We must guard ourselves from seeing too little or too much in baptism.

Let’s seek the blessing found as we accurately divide the word of truth. Let’s look into these things and trust God to give us the understanding we need.

Read Romans 5:18-6:11

I. We need to understand grace

Apparently some misunderstood grace. This was their question

  • Should we sin that grace may spread and increase?

Look back at verse 1, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” Think about it. If when we sin grace abounds all the more to the glory and praise of God why not sin more and more? The more we sin the more we see the glory of God displayed through forgiveness. Glorify God by sinning it up. Should we sin that grace may increase? Here is the answer, verse 2, “By no means!” Absolutely not, perish the thought, we should never intentionally sin that grace may abound. Here’s why

  • Dead men don’t sin

Think about tadpoles and frogs. A tadpole has gills and lives completely underwater. If you take a tadpole out of the water it will die. But that tadpole will one day become a frog and frogs have lungs. A frog can’t live underwater. Can a frog that no longer has gills still live under water? No! A frog cannot return to his old ways. Can a person who died to sin still live in it? No!

Look down at Romans 6:6, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”

Before a person is crucified with Christ, born again, united with Christ, or baptized that person is enslaved to sin. Sin is the terrible master of every person until that person is crucified with Christ. Your old sinful self must be crucified with Christ so that your slavery to sin can be broken.

A Christian will not live continually in sin. We live lives of repentance and faith. We are not saved over and over but we are always learning to say no to sin and live holy lives; always seeing that grace is sufficient to cover all our sins. Because the Christian has died with Christ and risen with Christ, sin no longer bosses us around. Through gospel-fueled repentance and faith the Christian makes progress being transformed day by day and year by year more into the image of Christ. Though we once could do nothing but sin, now because of our union with Christ we are able to say “no” to sin and “yes” to righteousness.

Will the Christian always say “no” to sin and “yes” to righteousness? Not on this side of glory. Will the Christian always say “yes” to sin and “no” to unrighteousness? No, you have died to sin. How can you keep living in it?

Remember Christ has empowered you to fight against sin until he returns; on that day that you will be made perfect. Until then remember you are called to live holy lives no longer enslaved to sin. On one hand, you don’t have to give in to temptation. On the other hand, Christ’s death covers all your sin. When you find yourself in sin run quickly to Christ. Because of your union with Christ it is unthinkable that you would remain in sin.

The question that arises from this truth is this: If being united to Christ sets me free from slavery to sin how can I be united to Christ?

II. We need to be demolished

  • The old you must die

God’s word is painfully clear concerning the depravity of every person. Every person needs to be changed at the deep level of who you are as a person. Change happens only through death. God does not prescribe change by altering your thought patterns. God does not call us to think happy thoughts or pray nice sounding prayers. God calls us to die. The call to become a Christian is the call to give up all that you are to Christ. By faith join Christ on the cross and give up all ownership of your self. Your life becomes Christ’s. His life becomes yours. Your debt becomes Christ’s. His riches become yours. All that you are becomes his. The way to this is through death.

So, the solution to your struggles with your self, your spouse, your children, your coworkers, your neighbors, the nations and God himself cannot be solved through education, clean water, medical care, or a higher wage. You have to give over all that you are and all that you want and all that you have planned. You must give up ownership of yourself. You must give yourself over to death. You need to be demolished. There is no option for a remodel or a simple emancipation. You need to be made new through dying. So,

  • Baptism is a funeral

We need to understand faith is more than believing Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross for our sins and rose again on the third day. Faith is not believing the cross and resurrection happened. Faith is the means by which I join Christ. I actually join Christ on his cross. I died with Christ. I was crucified with Christ. Why? Because the only way to pay for sins is through death. Christ’s death. And the only way to break the power of sin is for me to die with Christ. The death of Christ is more than a payment for sins. When I am joined to Christ in death the power of sin is broken. Only in Christ can you be set free from sin.

Some say faith is an intellectual fiction; nothing really happens but you try to convince yourself that something did happen. But notice that when you join Christ in a death like his something actually happens. Again verse 6, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” Then verse 11, “So you must also consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Faith acts on the truth. I understand that Christ has set me free from slavery to sin. I no longer have to live in sin. He set me free through death.

Look back at verse 3, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death.” Two inseparable things are happening here on the physical and spiritual levels. On the spiritual level you are joined to Christ so that his death becomes your death. Spiritually you are set free from slavery to sin and become a slave of righteousness. On the physical level you are immersed under water. You are buried under water: spiritual death and physical baptism.

Remember when you are put under that water you are claiming something spiritual about yourself. You are saying you died with Christ. He has made payment for your sins. You are saying Christ’s death has severed the power of sin over your life. Because you have been united to Christ you can now live a holy life of obedience.

In a few moments we will attend a funeral. The old Kolten and the old Kaitlin will be laid to rest. This is a radical transformation. They need to be demolished. Kolten and Kaitlin, you need to die. Join Christ in his death so that you can join Christ in his life.

One way to answer the question, “How can I become united to Christ?” is by joining him in a death like his and thereby joining him in baptism. But there is more than death happening here. You don’t need only to be demolished. You also need to be remade.

Look at verse 4, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

III. We need to be remade

The desire in every Christian is to live a new life with Christ no longer enslaved to sin but alive to God and full of righteousness. The way to this is through death. But death is not the end game; it’s not our final destination. Our desire is that we live new lives.

  • The new you must be born

I hope you are a born again Christian. There actually is no other Christian. The phrase born again Christian is actually redundant. To be born again is to be a Christian and to be a Christian to be born again. It’s like saying baptism by immersion. Immersion is baptism and baptism is immersion; but I digress.

Jesus said plainly, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). A new you must come in to existence. Christianity is not like the sick movie Weekend at Bernie’s, where a dead man is made to look alive through strings and wires and trickery. The new birth is not a game of pretend. You really are given a new life because you really are joined to the Christ who rose from the dead. You need life to be given to you. Christ gives you life. You don’t earn eternal life or deserve eternal life; it is freely given to you in Christ.

I want you to notice our resurrection and new life now are similar to Christ’s but are not identical to Christ’s. On that great Day of the Lord when Jesus returns our resurrection and new life will be identical to Christ’s but that day is not today. Today we long for Jesus’ return and our final transformation into his image.

Verse 4, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” Christ’s resurrection was physical and spiritual. He was given a new glorified immortal physical fish-and-bread eating body. He who was made sin for us has defeated all our sin. He was raised physically perfect and spiritually without stain. He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification (Rom 4:25). By his resurrection he defeated sin and the grave.

Your resurrection now is like his but not exactly. One day your resurrection will be identical to his when you put on immortality; sin and death will no longer have any influence on you. That day has not fully come but there is an already that is here. You experience a spiritual resurrection now in the new birth. You will experience a physical resurrection at the return of Christ.

Look at verse 5, “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” If you join him in death you shall certainly join him in a similar resurrection. Your slavery to sin will be broken and because of his life in you, you will be empowered to live a new holy life. Consider yourself alive to God in Christ Jesus. The life you now live you must live by faith in the Son of God. Look to him. Listen to him. Depend on him. He is the vine from which you must draw all of your wisdom and strength and righteousness. By faith join Christ in crucifixion, death, and resurrection.

  • Baptism is a birthday party

When you rise up out of those waters you are claiming an eternity shaking truth. You are claiming to possess the very life of Christ. The old you died with him and was buried with him in a baptism of death. But the new you has risen because of Christ. When you go into those waters we will agree with you. You are worthy of the waters of God’s wrath. Because of your sin you must join in Christ’s death.

When you come out of those waters we will celebrate with you. You have been given new life in Christ. It’s a birthday party. The old has passed away the new has come. We will look at your wet selves and say in faith “right there is a new creation.” There is one clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

Do the waters make you new? Does your faith make you new? No, being joined to Christ makes you new and that unity is put on display in baptism. This is a joyous occasion.

And the reality of the new birth means you will live a new life.

  • The one baptized is raised to live a new life

As your church we are committing to walk with you in order to encourage you, disciple you, warn you, and watch over you. As you grow in Christ we expect you to encourage, disciple, warn, and watch over us.

We see and love the Christ who lives in you. He makes us family. We fully expect that when you sin you will repent. You will be tempted and will stumble into sin but you will not live in sin. When shown your sin you will repent. When reminded of the gospel you will celebrate forgiveness in Christ. When shown the way of obedience you will follow the Spirit and walk his way. If you should choose to live in sin, we will love you and pursue you and if necessary discipline you. We expect the same from you. We are family and part of our calling is to see one another safely through to the other side.

Our desire is that when we come to die you will bury us in faith. Our desire is that should Jesus tarry you will raise up a generation after you that will bury you in faith looking for the day of Jesus’ return.

The priority is being united with Christ in a death like his so that you might live a new life.

IV. You must die to live

  • Today, some will hear his voice and rise from the dead

Jesus said the day is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and live. The Son is calling out to you. Come and die. Give up your self. Give up your sin. Join Christ in a death like his so that you can join him in a resurrection like his.

This isn’t about needing to follow through with baptism. This is answering the call to give yourself up completely to Christ. Repent of your sins, put your faith in Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. You will rise from the dead in order to live a new holy life.

  • Remember, all those who have been united with Christ are baptized

You are about to join Christ in baptism. They are confessing their deaths with Christ and they are confessing their new lives in Christ. Have you done that? Have you joined Christ in a baptism like his? A baptism unto death? Stick around and talk with me about baptism.

  • And search yourself. By grace, all those who have been baptized live holy lives

Where have you stopped trusting grace and returned to sin? Christ didn’t die and rise again just to get you out of hell. He died and rose again so you could live a new holy life. Where and in what ways do you need to draw near to Christ today?