Cultivating Humility

This is from John Stott, on Romans 11:25, “Lest you become wise in your own sight…”

He has already warned them against boasting (18) and arrogance (20), and now against conceit. ‘Not ignorant so that not conceited’ is the essence of what he writes, for he knows that ignorance is the cause of conceit. It is when we have false or fantasy images of ourselves that we grow proud. Conversely, knowledge is conducive to humility, for humility is honesty, not hypocrisy. The complete antidote to pride is truth. If only the Jewish and Gentile members of the church in Rome can grasp their position vis-à-vis one another in the purpose of God, they will have nothing to boast about.

Stott, John. The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series) (p. 302). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.


Generous God

Text: Romans 10:17-21                                              11/26/2017

Main Point: Israel refuses God. Don’t be like Israel.

I think one of the more difficult stories in the bible is the story of Jesus and the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7 and Matt 15. You just read it, so I’ll recap the high points. A Gentile woman comes to Jesus because her daughter is demon possessed. She cries out to Jesus for help but he ignores her because she is not a Jew. Jesus’ mission is devoted to the Jewish people and to them he must go. Jesus gives her a hard word, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Her response is full of humility and faith, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Jesus then celebrates her faith and heals her daughter. She understands Jesus to be Lord and master. She clearly sees Jesus for who he is, and Jesus answers her faith with healing.

Is she a dog? Is she an outsider who cares nothing for the master? Is she consider only with fighting her fellow dogs for the crumbs? Or, is she an outsider who has become an insider? Is she a dog who has become a child? Insiders are those children at the table by faith. Outsiders are those dogs under the table by unbelief.

You see, in God’s economy his children become dogs through unbelief and dogs become his children through belief. Faith secures your place at the table while unbelief drives you far away. The moral of the story, read alongside Romans 10:17-21, is be on guard against unbelief. We are warned not to be unbelieving outsiders. God wants us to look at the example of Israel and understand the dangers of unbelief while celebrating the generosity of God. We, who were outsiders, have been invited to be children by faith. Once we were dogs. Now we are children.

Let’s read our text together, Romans 10:17-21

I. Salvation requires hearing and understanding

Last week, we saw how evangelism starts with the sending God. God sends the herald who proclaims the good news of Jesus’ righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection. This message must be heard and believed such that the person cries out to Jesus for salvation. I’ll say it another way. Believing the gospel message makes us feel our separation from God and long for reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. God sends the preacher, the preacher goes with beautiful feet to preach the gospel, the gospel is heard, this understanding leads to believing, and believing leads to trusting the Lord for salvation. That’s fairly straight forward. But something confusing has happened. The powerful gospel has gone out on beautiful feet but the Jews have rejected it. Remember, in Romans 9-11, we are constantly dealing with the question of why so many Jews refuse to believe in Jesus for righteousness. Since faith comes by hearing, and hearing, through the word of Christ, why do the Jews not have faith?

Maybe the problem is the Jews have not heard the gospel. Look at verse 18, “have they not heard?” Look at the response, “Indeed they have.”

  • Israel has heard the gospel (18)

Here in Romans 10:18 Paul is quoting Psalm 19. Psalm 19 and Romans 1 are very similar. God has filled all of creation with signs that point to him. Natural or general revelation points to God. The stars in the sky, the sun running its course, and the created order all reveal that there is a God and he is powerful.

Now, if you’re tracking with the argument of Romans 10 and Psalm 19 you will notice a question. General revelation through creation proclaims that there is a God. The message that there is a God is not the same as special revelation through the gospel. Special revelation proclaims that there is a righteous Son, atoning Lamb, and victorious resurrected King.

We can rule out the idea that the gospel can be preached by the stars and sun. That idea contradicts all of Romans 10. For the gospel to be heard there must be a preacher who uses words. So, instead of saying general revelation preaches the gospel, the argument is that the path of special revelation is now like that of general revelation. The gospel is preached throughout the world by preachers using words. The existence of God is preached through all of creation and the word of Christ is being preached to all the nations. And obviously, Paul is not talking about every individual hearing the gospel, the point of Romans is to develop missionary support so he can go to Spain, where the gospel hasn’t been preached! Better still is the understanding that the gospel has been preached to Jew and Gentile. The Jews cannot claim they do not have access to the gospel. The Jews cannot use “I haven’t heard about Jesus” as an excuse. They have heard. To say that the Jews don’t believe in Jesus because they haven’t heard of Jesus is simply not true. The gospel is out there.

Wait, wait, wait, you’ll say. I remember last week you said sound waves in the ear canal are not enough. A person must hear so that she understands. Maybe the Jews have heard the gospel but don’t understand the gospel therefore they don’t believe the gospel. Is the problem understanding?

Verse 19, “But I ask, did Israel not understand?” Paul will now martial the words of Moses and Isaiah to demonstrate that the Jews understand exactly what is going on, or should understand what is going on, and yet they still refuse to repent and believe. Israel has heard and

  • Israel should understand how God works (19, 20)

Paul quotes from the song of Moses here in Romans 10:19. It was Moses’s last song as Joshua takes over and Moses prepares to die. It is a song celebrating the Exodus but also warning the people about their unbelief. There, in Moses’s song, God promises that when his people turn away from him and reject him he will make them jealous with other nations.

There is a play on words there in Moses’s song. When the people make God jealous by serving a not-a-god then God will make them jealous by giving his people’s blessings to those who are not-a-people. God will take the dogs and turn them into children. The children who were at the table of blessing will be sent far away to fight and beg for crumbs.

It is significant that the song of Moses follows the Exodus from Egypt and Paul now quotes the same warning following the second Exodus from sin and death. Moses led the people out and warns them. Jesus leads his people out and warns them.

Romans 10:19 is a wakeup call to the Jews. You understand how God works. God has always worked like this. If you refuse God and reject God and turn away from God then you don’t get to remain in the presence of God. You get kicked out of the Garden of Eden. You lose the ark of the covenant. The temple is destroyed and you are sent out of the Promised Land.

God’s plan has always included restoring his wayward children by taking their blessing and giving it to outsiders. That which is not a nation becomes a holy nation. That which was foolish becomes wise. And the Jews can’t believe it.

Here are the Jews singing, “We’ll have fun, fun, fun til Daddy takes the t-bird away.” They think Daddy will calm down and give it back. We can sin, God will get angry, he’ll calm down, and things will go back to normal. Instead, look at the history of Israel. Understand the history of Israel. Because of unbelief, Daddy takes the t-bird and the credit card and the house keys and all that goes with being a child and gives them to another.

Listen now to Isaiah, Romans 10:20, “Isaiah is so bold as to say, ‘I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.” This is a reiteration of Romans 9:30, “Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, this is, a righteousness that is by faith.” The Gentiles are welcomed in and loved as sons and daughters while the Jews are cast out.

Moses is speaking after the Exodus and Isaiah is speaking during the Exile. God is working and has always worked among the nations. During the days of Elijah, during the famine, God sent Elijah to provide for an outsider, the widow of Zarephath. During the days of Elisha, when lepers where plentiful among God’s people, God used Elisha to heal Naaman the outsider (Luke 4:25-26). When God’s people were exiled, sent out into the nations, then those people, those dogs, those outsiders, will find God. They didn’t seek God; he sought them. Then didn’t ask for God; he proved himself to them.

Israel should understand that God has always been working to save the nations through the unbelief of his people. Friend, you are a member of this church, reconciled to God, because God found you and made himself known to you. Not many of us were Jews, most of us were outsiders living life without God. But in God’s mercy, in light of Jewish unbelief, God has made us his own. God is a generous God! You, an outsider have become a daughter of God. God is a generous God! You, a dog fighting under the table for the scraps, have been transformed into a beloved son. God is a generous God but

  • Israel refuses her merciful God (21)

Look with me at Romans 10:21, “But of Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’” God is calling them, those fighting for crumbs on the floor, to come, get cleaned up, and take their place at the table. But they will have none of it. They would rather work hard for the dog’s portion then receive the son’s portion through Christ. God offers them the righteousness of Christ and they refuse to submit.

All day long the Father is looking for the prodigal’s return. He has the robe, the ring, and the shoes ready. Come home! No thank you they say. They are disobedient. They will not obey the gospel. Instead they have better things to do. I have to tend to my wife. I have to tend to my land. I have to tend to my animals and my business. I have better things to do then come to your feast.

This is why Jesus says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matt 23:37). Israel has heard. Israel understands. Israel is unwilling.

II. Don’t be like Israel. Pay attention and believe.

  • Pay attention to the word of God (2 Pet 1:19; Heb 2:1-4)

The condemnation on Israel in Paul’s day is they had neglected their Bibles. They have the Old Testament, but they rejected it. They refused to pay attention to God and his word. They should have known. They should have seen it coming. Peter tells us, the church, the Israel of God, “You will do well to pay attention to the prophetic word as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

The word of Christ has gone out to the nations. Pay attention! Who is God? How does he work? What is wrong with this world and what is the solution? Pay attention to the word! Read, study, memorize, meditate, and obey.

Christians, we must pay attention to what we have heard so that we don’t drift from it. Since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?

You see, we don’t give you a Bible reading plan because we think you’re watching too much TV. We give you a Bible reading plan because this is the fruitful living word of God. Pay attention to the word and

  • Pay attention to Israel’s example (1 Cor 10:6)

Church, 1 Corinthians 10:6, makes it clear that these things that happened to Israel are recorded for us. Don’t desire evil like they did. What God did in the Garden, he will do in Granbury. Do not presume upon grace. Hear the gospel and understand how God works. Look over a page to Romans 11:22, “Note then the kindness and severity of God: severity towards those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.” The Father who does not want to kick you out is the Father who is willing to kick you out. Learn from Israel and

  • Pay attention to Jesus (Heb 12:1-2)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God.”

You are supposed to be focused on Jesus and run hard after him. We are supposed to pay attention to Jesus so that we work like him and love like him and pray like him and rest like him. We depend on Jesus to make us like Jesus. But we’re doing all this other stuff. All this fine upstanding stuff is like weight tied around our feet so we can’t run after Jesus. We’re too busy to be disciples or make disciples. And then there is the sin which clings so closely; the sin that we love that no one knows about. That sin is like a boa constrictor slowly squeezing us so that we cannot breathe and run. Some of us are so trapped by our sin we can’t remember what it feels like to take a deep breath. That weight and that sin is holding us back. Repent, put it off, be discipled, learn to obey. Learn to look to Jesus and run after him.

This path you and Jesus are on is a hard path that leads to joy. There will be days of shame and days that require endurance but the end of it all is a place at the table with Jesus.

By faith in Jesus you are no longer an outsider. You are in. By faith in Jesus you are no longer a dog. You are a beloved son, a beloved daughter of God. Let’s give him thanks.

Pray- Jesus thank you…

Romans 10:14-17, Evangelism


Main Point: A person must obey the gospel in order to be saved.

As a church family, we have had an eventful 2017 in the area of heart health. We have learned about heart attacks, stints, and bypass surgery. Some, with borderline blasphemy, have joked about vegetarian pot luck suppers. Seriously, every one of us should be concerned about our own and our neighbor’s heart health. We care for one another. Caring for one another’s physical health is a normal part of being family. We love one another by helping solve problems. Once we know there is a problem we figure out how to fix the problem and then we act. Figure out the fix and act. It is not enough just to know there is a problem; we must know how to fix it. And it’s not enough to know there is a problem and a fix; we must put the fix into operation. A person has hardening of the arteries because he eats French fries for every meal. The fix is to stop eating French fries and start eating green vegetables. But will he do it? If he wants any benefit from the knowledge he must act on it. Put the French fries down and pick up the sugar snap peas. See the problem, find a solution, put the solution into practice.

Okay, let’s say our fighter verse for this week, Romans 6:23. For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Work the pattern of problem, solution, act. Thinking about Romans 6:23, what is the problem? The problem is we are dead. We are slaves of sin who will get a slave’s wage. What is the solution? The solution is to get eternal life that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is crucial to put this solution into practice. Romans 10:14-17, our sermon text for today, explains how to put the solution of Jesus Christ into practice.

The question God wants to answer for us is this, what does it look like to call out to Jesus and be saved? How does it happen that a person confesses, believes, and is saved? To be specific, what must our evangelism look like so that our coworkers, neighbors, and family hear the gospel so that they can respond to the gospel? We’re talking today about evangelism. A person must obey the gospel in order to be saved.

Read Romans 10:9-17

I. A person must hear the gospel to be saved

We often think of salvation in over simplistic terms of heaven and hell but

  • Salvation is reconciliation with God

Escaping hell and gaining heaven are only byproducts of the glorious end of salvation. The goal of the gospel is to get you back to God. What was lost in the Garden of Eden is restored through the word of Christ. We lost access to the loving, powerful, wise, and infinite God. We lost God when we sinned. Think back to Romans 5. What does Romans 5:10 say the death of God’s Son secures? We are reconciled to God by the death of his Son. What do Christians do? Romans 5:11, we rejoice in God. Reconciled to God; we celebrate God. Reconciled to God; we delight in and enjoy God through our Lord Jesus Christ. And our rejoicing depends on Jesus because through Jesus we receive reconciliation with God. God is the goal of the gospel. Jesus is the means.

Have you been reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ? Are you depending on Jesus so that you are reconciled to Jesus Christ?

  • Salvation is found only in Jesus

Romans 10:9 promises that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved. Your good works and your good intentions and your religion cannot save you. You must reject all other attempts at salvation and submit to the righteousness of Christ. The entire argument of Romans 10:13-17 is if you don’t hear about and believe in Jesus then you can’t be saved. Acts 4:12, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Jesus is the only way to the Father (John 14:6). Our sin separates us from God, and being in sin, we cannot please God. We need our sin removed and we need to be made righteous. Jesus is the only way to forgiveness and righteousness for reconciliation.

Go back and think over Romans 3-8. The apostle has been laboring page after page and word after word to prove your need for Christ and the sufficiency of Christ. Salvation is found in Jesus. Salvation is found only in Jesus.

Let’s get into the details.

  • Salvation starts with God (15)

In order for a person to be saved, two important things have to happen. God must elect and God must send a preacher. Election is explained in chapter 9; God chose to be merciful. Now the emphasis falls on the requirement that God sends a preacher or herald. Look at verse 15. Preaching, biblical gospel preaching, is grounded in the authority of another. You must never believe the gospel because I say it. Children, you must never believe the gospel because your parents say it. The authority behind the gospel is not the authority of a preacher or parent. The authority behind the gospel is God himself.

Remember and rest in the Great Commission. Jesus, the resurrected Lord, has all authority in heaven and on earth. He sends us out to preach the gospel, makes disciples, baptize them, and teach them. It is the continuing presence of Jesus that gives authority to the gospel. With any preaching you must ask, is he preaching Jesus’ gospel? When people knock on your door you need to ask, are they preaching Jesus’ gospel? If it ain’t the apostolic gospel it ain’t gospel. Jesus didn’t send them. God starts salvation by sending his ambassadors out with the gospel of reconciliation. There is a Sender (God) and a preacher (you).

  • Salvation requires preaching

Salvation does not require an elder or pastor. Salvation requires a herald, a speaker, or a preacher. Look at the end of verse 14. No one is going to hear the gospel without someone preaching. The message of Christ’s righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection must be communicated. Share the gospel and if necessary use words, sounds nice but it’s not biblical. You cannot share the gospel without words. The gospel is a message; the word of Christ. You must speak up.

  • Salvation requires hearing

It’s time for deep thoughts with Pastor Paul. If a person never hears about Jesus then that person cannot believe in Jesus. If a person never believes in Jesus then that person cannot cry out to Jesus and be saved. Salvation requires both preaching and hearing the gospel. The gospel must be preached and the gospel must be understood. Hearing is more than sounds waves entering your ear canal.

As a dad I regularly say to my sweet children, are you listening to me? Just because I’m saying something doesn’t mean they are listening. I also realize that I may have their attention but they don’t get it. Hearing requires understanding. When sharing the gospel we need to stop and make sure we are being heard. Ask your hearer to put the gospel in their own words. Ask your listener to say it back to you. Check for understanding because

  • Salvation requires believing

There is something obvious here, but it’s easily missed. Hearing the gospel does not save anyone. Believing the message does not save. Hearing and believing so that you call on the name of the Lord saves. I hear that heart health requires putting down the fries and eating greens. I believe that to be true but I have to act on it for the message to do me good. So, what’s the difference between believing the message and calling on Jesus? Here it appears that the Holy Spirit is drawing a fine line between believing Jesus is able to save you and calling on Jesus to save you.

Think this way. I can tell you that I have a sure thing stock investment that will pay 100% returns. Let’s imagine you believe me. You believe I have a sure thing that will pay you 100% return. Now, does hearing and believing mean you’ll get the return? No. You have to make the investment. You have to act.

For a person to be saved he must believe Jesus is able to save. I think this is where many of us stop or get stuck. We hear the good news of Christ’s righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection. We even believe the word of Christ is true but we don’t make the investment.

  • Salvation requires calling on Him

To put it simply, you must believe the death and resurrection of Jesus reconciles you to God AND you must ask Jesus to save you. John Stott explains it, “To call on him is, more precisely, to call on the name of the Lord, that is, to appeal to him to save us in accordance with who he is and what he has done. Everyone who thus calls on him, we are assured, will be saved” (John Stott).

Calling on the Lord is submitting to his righteousness. Calling on the Lord is asking him to forgive your sins. Calling on the resurrected Lord is asking him to give you his righteousness. Calling on Jesus is depending on Jesus to reconcile you to God.

If your house is on fire you call the fire department because you believe they will come and put out the fire. I call upon the Lord because I believe Jesus will atone for my sin through his death, make me righteous through his law keeping, and reconcile me to God. The gospel must be heard and believed. Another way to say it is the gospel must be heard and obeyed.

II. A person must obey the gospel to be saved

In the very beginning of this letter, Romans 1:5, the apostle explained his mission as bringing about the obedience of faith. Paul preached the gospel for the obedience of faith. Listen to Acts 6:7, “the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.” To say the word of God increased is to say people became disciples. To say the word of God increased is to say people became obedient to the faith. Obedient to the faith is another way of saying saved. The Christian is a person who is growing in their obedience to the faith.

It is absolutely beautiful when the true gospel is preached, heard, believed, and leads to a person calling out to Jesus to be saved. Look now at Romans 10:16, “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?’”

Paul quotes Isaiah 53:1 to show how people hear the good news but do not believe the good news. People will hear the gospel and refuse to obey the gospel. For now, understand that when Romans 10:16 says they did not obey the gospel it is the same as saying they did not believe the gospel. Believe and obey are on parallel tracks.

  • We must obey the gospel (16)

This word obey is an amazing word. It is used to announce that the wind, waves, and demons obey Jesus. When Jesus tells the demons to get out then they obey him. When Jesus tells the wind and waves to stop then they obey him. When Jesus commands you to call upon his name in order to be saved, what are you going to do?

Romans 6:16-17 really helps us understand what it means to obey the gospel (see also 2 Thess 1:8; Heb 5:9). Read 6:16-17

To become obedient from the heart is on parallel tracks with believing with the heart. Jesus asks in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ but do not do what I tell you?” Why do you confess with your mouth “Lord, Lord,” but do not believe in your heart that he is the resurrected Lord? You do what you want to do. You say what you want to say. You go where you want to go. What Jesus says doesn’t matter to you. You are your lord, not Jesus. Then you say, “Jesus is Lord,” like a magical incantation to get you out of hell. This isn’t salvation. Why do we say, “Lord, Lord,” but don’t believe he is Lord?

I think it’s because we want the benefits of Jesus without having to submit to Jesus. We don’t want to go to hell or we want to go to heaven so we say the words. We hear the gospel and answer the questions correctly but there is no conviction of sins which leads us to desperately cry out for the sufficient Savior. We hear the gospel and know the words to say to appease parents or pastors but we don’t want to obey the gospel. To obey the gospel means we do what the gospel says to do. Obeying the gospel starts with repentance and faith then continues into every sphere of life.

  • We must concentrate on the gospel of Jesus Christ (17)

Church, why is it that some people hear the gospel but don’t believe the gospel? There are two answers as to why the gospel falls on deaf ears. One answer comes from God’s perspective and it is the answer of election. We see this in chapter 9. The Potter has rights over the clay to do what He deems best. The other answer comes from our perspective. Some people don’t believe the gospel because of their own hard and unrepentant heart. People don’t believe the gospel because they do not want to submit to the righteousness of another. So many people, maybe you, would rather have a lonely horrible hell on their own terms than have a glorious eternity with God through the gospel.

Verse 17 clarifies that thing which makes the difference. How are the elect called from darkness into light? How is the heart of stone transplanted with a heart of flesh? The gospel of Jesus Christ is preached, heard, and believed. Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. People will be saved because people like you share the gospel.

Look at verse 17 and think carefully. Where does faith come from? Faith comes from hearing. Jay Collier did a great job in October preaching about faith. He showed us from Ephesians 2 that faith is a gift from God. Look again at verse 17. How does God give the gift of faith to men and women? God gives people the ability to repent and believe through hearing the gospel. We must concentrate on the gospel of Jesus Christ. No one will be saved if we are not preaching and explaining the gospel

Think about your neighbors and coworkers. The word of Christ, the gospel of Christ, must be preached and heard so that faith is created. This one who has faith believes the gospel. I am a sinner cut off from God and headed toward judgment, but Christ has come in my place. I believe he died to pay my penalty in my place. I believe he fulfilled the requirements of the law in my place. Jesus is my righteousness and atoning sacrifice so that I can enjoy God. This one who has heard, been given faith, and believes, then cries out to Jesus to save her. Jesus, the resurrected Lord, save me. There is no other way of salvation. This is biblical evangelism.

Here are some helpful questions to ask of yourself or to ask when trying to help a person determine if she has been born again. You should ask your children these questions around the table to help with evangelism and you should ask your family members these questions over pumpkin pie. These questions are meant to help you determine what to talk about next in evangelism and these questions are meant to help you determine if your child should be baptized. This is basic Christianity.

  1. Who is Jesus?
  2. What does it mean to be saved? What are we saved from and what are we saved to?
  3. What is the gospel?
  4. What does it look like to believe the gospel?

As your pastors, we want to concentrate on the gospel because faith comes by hearing and hearing through the word of Christ. As parents, you need to be preaching, sharing, and explaining the gospel and the obedience of faith so your child can hear, believe, and call out to Jesus. Your neighbors and coworkers need to hear the gospel in clear and winsome ways. If we aren’t preaching then they aren’t hearing. If they aren’t hearing then they aren’t believing. If they aren’t believing then they are not being saved.

Look down at your feet; them some ugly feet. Look in your hands. You hold the powerful word of Christ, the gospel of Jesus Christ. When those ugly feet take that powerful gospel across the hall or across the street then those ugly feet become beautiful feet. Romans 10:15 is painted over the door so that every time you leave this room you remember the mission. Church, we have the gospel that saves. We have the gospel through which God gifts people with faith. Let’s go and share that gospel. Let’s believe the gospel. Let’s be a people who trust Jesus.

Romans 8:14-16 Led by the Spirit, Notes

Led by the Spirit

Text: Romans 8:14-16                                                7/2/2017

Main Point: The Holy Spirit leads Christians.

There is unfortunately a great deal of confusion in the church regarding the Holy Spirit. There is also a great deal of false teaching regarding the Holy Spirit and these errors often cause great personal turmoil. What is speaking in tongues? Should I speak in tongues? Am I less than Christian because I don’t speak in tongues? That one is easy, 1 Corinthians 12:30 tells us that not everyone speaks in tongues. The difficult passage is our passage today, Romans 8:16, and the promise that the Spirit will testify with our spirit that we are children of God. This is a universal witness and if you don’t have it then you are not a Christian. Let’s stop worrying about tongues and start worrying about the witness of the Spirit.

Romans 8:12-17

I. To be led by the Spirit means you are a Christian

  1. Who are the sons of God?
    1. The sons of God are the redeemed people of God
    2. Sons of God is another way of referring to Israel God’s people
    3. Deuteronomy 14:1-2, sons of the Lord your God, people holy to the Lord, chosen people, treasured possession
    4. Isaiah 1:2-4, my people, my children
    5. Hoshea 1:10, new covenant, children of the living God
    6. John 1:12, he gave the right to become children of God
    7. Sons of God is another way of referring to Christians, God’s people. Christians are sons of God. Christians are children of God
  2. The sons of God are those who have been given the Spirit of God
    1. Galatians 3:14, “in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham has come to the Gentiles, we receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.”
    2. The mark of the people of God is no longer circumcision, the Promised Land, or the temple. The mark is not preeminently baptism. The mark of the people of God is having received and being led by the Spirit of God. The seal of the Spirit is confessed in baptism (Acts 2:16-18, 33, 41).
  3. The sons of God are those who are led by the Spirit of God
    1. Romans 8:14
    2. Led by is a present passive verb- all those who are being led by the Spirit of God are sons of God
  4. The sons of God are disciples who make disciples
    1. Biblically speaking, discipleship is fundamental and universal in the Christian life. In our day we have made discipleship unnecessary and inconsequential. Jesus said, “Go make disciples and teach them how to obey everything Jesus commands.” This most certainly includes the command to be led by the Holy Spirit.
    2. We are meant to learn how to follow the Spirit according to the Word and with the help of other believers
    3. Since it is the case that Christians are those people who are led by the Spirit it is crucial to understand what it looks like to be led by the Spirit.

II. Evidence of the Spirit’s leadership

  1. The Spirit leads us to believe, confess, and depend on Christ for life (John 6:63; 1 Cor 12:3)
  2. The Spirit leads us to put to death the deeds of the body (Rom 8:13)
  3. The Spirit leads us away from a fear of punishment (Rom 8:15; 2 Tim 1:7)
    1. What is the spirit of slavery?
    2. Fear God and fear the future
    3. Fear God- I don’t measure up, I’m not good enough, God doesn’t love me, God couldn’t love me, I am doomed to hell
    4. Fear of the future- what is going to happen?
    5. Rom 5:5, hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us
  4. The Spirit leads us to cry out to God as Father (Rom 8:15)
    1. Spirit of adoption- sealed with the Spirit
    2. Eph 1:3-6
    3. Know the care and trustworthiness of God such that you pray to Him
    4. One evidence that God is your Father is when you are actively concerned about and practically doing helpful things for your brothers and sisters.
  5. The Spirit leads us to love the church (1 John 3:10; 1 Cor 12:7)
    1. 1 John 3:10, “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil, whoever does not practices righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”
    2. We serve in the new way of the Spirit (Rom 7:6). We don’t serve in order to gain something from God. We serve because we have been made sons and daughters of God. We do not sit like parasites on the church. Led by the Spirit, gifted by the Spirit, we encourage, build up, correct, and exhort our brothers and sisters. If you have an active and practical concern for these people in this room, that is good evidence of the Spirit dwelling in you. If you have no active or practical concern for your fellow members that should cause serious concerns in your mind about your salvation. You may indeed not have the Holy Spirit. The Spirit leads us to love the church.
  6. The Spirit assures us of our reconciliation to God (Rom 8:16)
    1. See in the text that this is not a verbal witness to our ears. We are promised a witness alongside of our own spirits. You should not sit in silence waiting for this inner testimony of the Spirit. Instead, of waiting in silence we are to act upon our rights as children of God.
    2. We confess, “we are children of God.” The Spirit comes alongside and gives a corroborating witness, “these are children of God.”
    3. A corroborating witness is a witness who supports or confirms testimony already given[1]
    4. Deuteronomy 19:15, “only on the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses shall a charge be established.”
    5. John 15:26 the disciples bear witness to Jesus and the Holy Spirit bears witness about Jesus. This also is corroborating evidence.
    6. What is happening here? To whom are the children of God and the Spirit of God testifying? Are the children of God and the Spirit of God trying to convince God of their rights? No, Ephesians 1:5 tells us it is the Father who predestined these children for adoption.
    7. Zechariah’s vision of Joshua the high priest in Zechariah 3
    8. Is the witness to Satan then? Are we testifying to Satan and the Spirit is testifying with us to Satan that we are children of God. Maybe, but I think that falls short of the context of Romans 8:14-16.
    9. More specifically, it seems to me, in the context of the struggle of Romans 7 with remaining sin and the blessing of sonship in Romans 8 that the witness is given by the Holy Spirit to us to continue crying out to the Father in light of our weakness, struggle, and sin.
    10. We confess Christ as our Savior, our justification, and our righteousness. We are sons and daughters. We so desperately want to come boldly to the throne of grace to find mercy and grace in our time of need. But we are often divided between pursuing the things of God and the things of the world. Our affections are very weak. We don’t feel like sons and daughters. Why should we think God would hear our cry to him as Father? As we pray depending on the Son and asking for the Father’s help, it is the Spirit who testifies alongside of us. We sheepishly and shyly go to the Father overwhelmed by His holiness and our sinfulness. Satan accuses us, “You have sin, your affections are weak, you don’t belong here. Don’t cry out to God, He’s not your Father.” But our spirits testify, our regenerated spirits testify that we have been adopted and justified children of God. It is the Spirit who comes alongside of us and testifies in response to our weakness and Satan’s accusations, “This one is a child of God.” It is as if the Spirit puts his arm around us to hold us up. To the children of God the Spirit says, “Keep praying, Keep crying out.” Against Satan’s accusations the Spirit says, “This one is a child of God!” The Spirit leads us, because of our weakness and sin, to keep crying out to God.

III. What do we do with all of this?

Stop sitting in silence playing some spiritualized form of duck, duck, goose. Maybe today the Spirit will tap me on the head, say goose, and then I’ll get to run around like a Christian. Romans 8:16 does not promise an internal warm fuzzy. Instead, because of adoption and justification, expect the Spirit to convict you of remaining sin while also encouraging you to cry out to your heavenly Father who loves you.

Expect the Spirit to lead you to put sin to death because you are a child of God.

Expect the Spirit to lead you to see and savor the great work of Jesus Christ securing righteousness and forgiveness so you can be a child of God.

Do not look for some second blessing. Instead, read and pray, expecting an ever deepening and satisfying appreciation for Christ’s righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection. The testimony of the Spirit can only be heard beneath the cross.


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.