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“How Then Shall We Live? As Those Who Have Died”

August 28, 2016

“How Then Shall We Live? As Those Who Have Died”

Romans 6:1-14

 

Intro:  If we were to play a round of Family Feud using the question, “Why did Jesus have to die?”  I wonder what the top three answers would be.  What are your guesses?

  1. So that we could have eternal life/go to heaven when we die. 2) So that our sins could be forgiven. 3) So that God’s wrath would be appeased. 

Do you like any of those?  They are all true.  But there is more.  Paul writes about it in Romans 6.  Today we will look at verses 1-14.  I will ask when we are done reading the text not “why” Jesus died, but how is death is supposed to impact us, those he died for.

 

Read Romans 6:1-14

 

So what did you catch as the impact Christ’s death is to have on us, those he died for?

Dying with Christ, rising with Christ. In verse 6, the dying to self is related to being crucified with Christ so that sin is put to death.  This is the part that too often gets lost in translation.

 

We baptize our infants because we want them to follow Christ and grow up to be his disciples.  An older person chooses to be baptized (and that’s what is referenced here) because they want to declare that they are following Christ.  It is an outward symbol (a picture) of what is going on in the spiritual realm of someone’s life. But too often, baptism is seen as the end result, not as a beginning and strengthening for someone to follow Jesus.

 

This passage of Scripture points out that following Christ goes beyond a matter of belief to a pattern of following Christ in all things.  Mainly in dying to our sin so that we can live in a right relationship with Him.

 

However, if we are honest with ourselves, we see that this isn’t how it really works in the church today.  We have become tolerant of our own sin and therefore either tolerant of everyone else’s sin or very judgmental of it. Which leads us back into sin. 

 

Folks, we need to get this right.  How then shall we live?  As those who have died.  Let’s walk through Paul’s teaching here.

 

Paul loves Jesus and the Church – His body.

Everything that Paul writes in this passage is for the purpose of helping the church stay on track.  We should receive these words in the same manner.  If we want to be the people that Jesus died for us to be, we should listen. 

 

What have we died to? (vss. 2b-7)

            We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

            Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus

            were baptized into his death?

            We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order            

that, just as Christ was raised from the dead

                        through the glory of the Father,                                    

                                    we too may live a new life.

                                    5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his,

                                    we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.                                                             For we know that our old self was crucified with him

                                                so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,

                                                            that we should no longer be slaves to sin—                                                                                     because anyone who has died

                                                            has been set free from sin.

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” That serves as a summary of these few verses.  He’s working two pictures here, baptism and crucifixion because for the Christian, they are closely linked.

 

Here’s what I see in my own life and yours.  Although we claim to believe in Christ and accept his sacrifice as forgiveness for our sins, we are slow to die to our own sins.  We often, too much, live as those still very much alive to the sins Jesus died for.

 

The life we are offered in Christ is one of transformation – that means changing from one thing to another.  It means giving up old ways and habits and following Christ wherever he leads.  It means dying to what we want, and how we want things to be.  It means laying down our personal image of God the way we want him to be to serve us and picking up the cross, making the sacrifices God calls us to make, and physically and spiritually following Jesus where he leads us out of our sin habits and thoughts and actions into life lined up with his.

 

What are we living into? (v 8, 11-14)

            8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

            11 . . .  count yourselves dead to sin

                        but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

                                    12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body

                                    so that you obey its evil desires.

                                    13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin

                                                as an instrument of wickedness,

                                    but rather offer yourselves to God

                                                as those who have been brought from death to life;

                                    and offer every part of yourself to him

                                                as an instrument of righteousness.

            14 For sin shall no longer be your master,

            because you are not under the law, but under grace.

 

Exchanging death for life.  It is an age old quest.  Movies have been made, books have been written, deals have been made.  But it has already been accomplished for us.  We just have to live into it.  We have to reject sin and its power over us.  We have to choose Christ in every situation and not offer ourselves to sin.  This requires that we die to ourselves over and over again, every day. 

 

God introduced me to a song a few weeks ago with words that have been haunting me.  “Let this be where I die.”  I have been confronted with those words when I’m in situations that are inviting me to allow my sin free reign.  They have stopped me in my tracks and made me think and sometimes act differently than I would have if I remained set on getting my way.

Concl.  The only way to NOT let sin reign over us is to confess it and repent of it, be done with it.  And that is hard work!  First, it’s sometimes hard to identify where that sin actually is, especially if we become quite accustomed to it and like the way we live because of it.  Second, it’s hard to repent of it because it is what we know and how we have believed and to repent of it means we are going to have to change and change can be hard. Third, we don’t take the time to slow down and listen to what God is trying to tell us.

 

But if we continue to allow any sin to be the master of any part of us, we will not experience the grace and love of God, as he intends us to, through Jesus Christ and his Spirit.  Anything, big or small that is counter to God’s will and desire is sin.  We can stumble over anything.  Wouldn’t it be wise to remove all obstacles that we are aware of so that we can run straight into the arms of our Father who loves us?

 

Our time of confession comes next.  We’re going to spend some extra time here today.  It is printed in your bulletin, but the most important thing that will happen during this time is the conversation you have privately with God.  I’m going to lead us in and out of this time with music.  I just pray that you would be attentive to what the Spirit is speaking to your heart and soul this morning.  You can remain where you are, you can kneel, you can stand you can come up to the front.  Wherever you need to be to hear from God.

 

But my invitation and plea to you is, don’t stay the same.  Be crucified with Christ and transformed and then live into that transformed identity.  Let God shape you and use you for his best purpose in your life and His kingdom.  Move into position if you like.  And I just have to add, that if you find yourself saying, “I’m fine with God just where I am” take it as a warning.  Those are not words of Jesus.

 

Let us pray.

 

Call to Confession                                                                        (based Romans 6:12-13)

Sisters and brothers, let’s not let sin control the way we live.

Let’s not give in to sinful desires. Rather, let’s offer ourselves to God,

who through his mercy has brought us from death to life.

 

Sing:  “Here’s My Heart, Lord”

Here's my heart Lord

Here's my heart Lord

Here's my heart Lord

Speak what is true

 

'Cause I am found I am Yours

I am loved I'm made pure

I have life I can breathe

I am healed I am free

 

Chris Tomlin | Jason Ingram | Louie Giglio

CCLI License # 2015925

 

 

Opportunity for Confession                                                        (based on Romans 7:14-27)

— Time of silent reflection —

Sing:  “Once And For All”

 

God, we confess that we have sinned in your sight.

Despite our best efforts and intentions,

we have failed to consistently live in ways

that bring honour to your name.

Forgive us.

Through the grace of Jesus Christ

and the power of the Holy Spirit,

set us free from the grip of sin—

from attitudes and actions that do not lead to life.

 

Words of Assurance                                                        (based on Romans 6:16-17; 22-23)

Once we were slaves to sin, living lives that led only to death. 

But thanks be to God! 

In his mercy, he has set us free from the power of sin and death,

and has offered us forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

Now you are free to choose life,

and to use your life to bring honour and glory to God!

Thanks be to God!