“Thank you Christa, that was called, as you can see in your bulletin, “Love Medley”.
And I had this whole vibe of atmosphere going on up here in the front row, we’ve got our doors propped because we have AC problems, and I could hear the birds chirping, and there’s that pretty picture on the background there, and I was kinda like looking for my hammock, you know, like when I want to chill (laughter).
Is that a compliment or not? I don’t know. I mean when people tell me they listen to my sermons to fall sleep at night I usually don’t take it as a compliment. But I meant that as a compliment though. (LAUGHTER) Anyways, thank you.
So here we are church, were in the time of our service where we go through part of Scripture, and look at God’s word together, and we are in a series where week after week we’re walking through the book of Romans, which is in the New Testament portion of your Bible, and we’ve come to Romans Chapter six.
Now up to this point, we’ve been diving into a lot of maybe what people consider like heavy theology. Romans, by its nature, people say, is a very theological book. Not that theology isn’t practical, but what happens is there’s a lot of people who really like the book of Romans because they love studying and learning, but sometimes it leaves some people sitting there wanting the little bit saying, “Hey I want some real practical advice about how to live my life.” And I think we’re making that shift.
Last week and this week the book of Romans makes a shift into some of some of the more obvious practical implications about how we ought to live our life. It will shift back into some more detailed theological discourse in a couple of chapters, but for today it’s very much at the practical level about how we ought to live our life.
In particular, it’s inviting us to consider the idea that in a relationship with Jesus Christ, He has given us some new labels, or a new status. He’s helped us to get rid of some old labels on the old status, and give us some new labels on the new status, and he’s inviting us to consider whether or not we are living our lives in a way that is consistent with the new status that we have in Jesus Christ.
Let’s rephrase that.
The Scripture today is inviting us to consider whether or not we are living our lives in a way that is consistent with the new status that we have in Jesus Christ.
Our BIG IDEA for you this morning is this… coming out of Romans Chapter six… is that “Jesus“, we said this last week again, we’re not going to get this part wrong around here at Kirkmont, not your husband, not your wife, not your children, not your grandparents, not your coworkers… but “Jesus has set us free from sin“.
In fact our big idea last week was that the moment we enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, he frees us from the reign of sin in our lives. Not that we no longer struggle with sin, not that we no longer desire even to sin, but rather the reign of sin in our life is conquered by a relationship with Jesus Christ… meaning we are no longer powerless to choose that which is right and good because of our relationship with Jesus Christ.
So, the Big Idea, Jesus has set us free from sin, so that.. now here’s the catchy part of this morning, many of us have been brought up and thought about the Scripture of the Christian life as being something along the lines of,
“Jesus has set me free from sin… OK great, now I can go live the life that I want to live… I’m no longer strapped by all these chains and struggles and addictions that maybe I used to once have now I can go do the things that I have all I always wanted to do.”
Well, here’s sort of the catch about all this… Jesus sets us free from sin so that we can become slaves... rather this time, so that we can become slaves to righteousness.
So there’s a transfer of status or title from ‘slaves to sin’, as the Bible was talking about last week, to ‘slaves to righteousness’. And that’s really what it all comes down to this morning, and is inviting us to see whether or not we are living our lives as slaves to righteousness.
All right well let’s look at a passage for this morning. In Romans Chapter six starting in the fifteenth verse. We did the first fourteen last week. I don’t know if we didn’t justice or not but we read him and talked about him for a little bit. And now here we are in Romans Chapter six verse fifteen.
That was an opportunity by the way, for you guys to say, “Yes, yes, you did, you did… OK thanks good OK (laughter)… that’s encouraging (he says with a smile in his voice).
All right, Romans 6:15, the Scripture says,
15 What then?
Just like last week we realize we’re picking up in the midst of a conversation, and so let’s look, just to catch people up to the last verse of last week. The last thing we said last week was this,
14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
“You are not under the law, but you are under grace”… those are two terms you’re going to really want to put to memory this morning. “You’re not under law, but you are under grace”.
So then he begins in verse fifteen by saying,
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?
So he’s introduced to us two frameworks of how we might approach a relationship with God. The first one is what is being referred to here is the law. And this whole framework about how we might relate to God goes something along the lines of this,
“You know God is the type of God who led sort of good people into heaven and he keeps bad people out, and he’s given us the law, and the people who obey the laws and do what they should do the most, are the people he will let in heaven.
At some point in time he will draw the line and say, “Hey, you people broke the law too many times and you don’t get to go into heaven.”
That’s one way to relate to God.
And I would suggest to you that almost every other religion that exists out there, that is essentially the framework in which they relate to God.
And I would also suggest to you that if you’re here this morning and you consider yourself not to be a very religious person, that’s probably also how you relate to God. Whatever impression you have about him is probably something along the lines of, “Hey, he lets good people in and keeps bad people out”.
But the power and the beauty of Christianity in the Bible is that it introduces to us a new framework for how we can relate to God, and summarizes it with the term…
‘Grace’, meaning this whole idea that we’re counting on God to treat us better than we deserve. So instead of in the first framework of the law where we’re saying, “Hey our trust is in ourself, I hope I can be a good enough person and outdo the rest of the people around me… the shift that changes, and goes towards not our character but God’s character if we move to the framework of grace, whereby we count on and rely on the idea of God treating us better than we deserve.
So those two frameworks exist and are being addressed here and you should know, if you’re just joining us, that all throughout the Bible and particularly in the first few chapters of The Book of Romans, the Scripture is emphatically trying to shout out at us and say,
“It’s about Grace not about the law!” — that’s the framework you should choose.
But now the question is being raised within the framework of Grace…
“How does the Christian then live?”
Let’s just presume then if you don’t mind, that you in this room have placed your faith in God’s grace in order to get right with him. The question still exists, “How should you live out your life?” How important is your personal righteousness, versus, “Let’s just sin a little, all right?”
And so he says,
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By_no_means!
So just like last week he answers is own question which is. “That is a ridiculous idea, by no means is Grace meant to be a license for you and I to go ahead and sin and be slaves to sin”, and here’s his rationale. He says to us in verse sixteen,
16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—
It’s kind of stating the obvious isn’t it? … if you’re going to be a slave to this then you’ve got to be a slave to it, you’ve got to obey it. And if you’re to be a slave to this you got to be a slave to it and obey it, whatever it means, at whatever point, whatever corner, whatever turn in life… your total allegiance is sent to something if you are a slave to it.
So now he gives us two options, and some of you might not like the fact that the Bible only gives you two options. You may also not like the fact that there’s such polarizing choices. But I would suggest to you that these are the choices that the Scripture gives us. He says,
you are either slaves to sin (that’s one of the options), which leads to death, or you can be a slave to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
So there’s a couple of options: you can either be slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. And I would suggest that the Scripture’s trying to clarify that all of us are one of those two and none of us are neither of them.
OK, we’re either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness which presents a good opportunity for us this morning just to say, “Well, which one am I? Like,
- In status… which one am I… like, how does God view me–slave the sin or slave to righteousness?
- And also in practice… am I a slave to sin or slave to righteousness?
And we’re going to discover, they could be different from one another. God may view you, as I suggest to many of us this morning, in a much higher way than your actual living your life.
But it invites us to look at that, and see that many people in the church across America are trying to live this life somewhere in between being a slave to sin and being a slave to righteousness.
And we like the idea. We justify it by being like normal people.
“I’m just kind of a normal person and I fit in, and I get along with the church crowd I know how to do that thing. But I can also go out and hang out with my non-church friends, and I can sort of get along with them, and I can do a little bit of what they do, and a little bit of what these guys do…“ and we kind of like the idea that we can sort of blend in between the two of them.
And I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t have friends in different realms of the world, but what I am suggesting is that we’re not actually not a slave to either of these. We might think that slaves to obedience are just these radical born again Christians who we really don’t identify with because they’re just doing things to crazy. Or we might think that slaves to sin is just what the really bad people do, not you.
But the Scripture tells us we’re not actually in the middle. You might be trying to be in the middle, it might be the most comfortable place to be, but you’re if either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness. And the question of course becomes how do I be one of these… one or the other?
The Scripture is clear that we all start off as slaves to sin, we don’t have to choose necessarily to be this way from the beginning, Scripture says we’re born this way… it’s how we start off life–as slaves to sin.
So the real question becomes, for those of you who are in this room, who are like, “You know what, I’m tired of being this… I not sure exactly how God views me, but I know that I’m tired of living this way, and all the feelings that are associated with living this way. I want to be a slave to obedience and to God’s righteousness. How do how do I get there?”
And we might be surprised to realize that it’s not just a mere human decision, and it’s not even just a mere human effort. In verse seventeen the Scripture tells us this… OK, here’s these couple of options, but in verse seventeen it begins by telling us,
17 But thanks be to God
So here’s a couple options laid out for you, “but thanks be to God”. Immediately we begin to realize that God’s a key player in whether or not we’re slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. He says,
that, though you used to be slaves to sin,
Again going back to what I said, he can say that confidently to a church that he’s never even met in person, because every single person has been a slave to sin before. So he’s able to say,
although you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.
I love that expression there in this translation… “you’ve come to obey in your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance”.
And what he’s talking about here is what some of us refer to as the Gospel, or the Good News about Jesus Christ–that by God’s grace he ensured that this group of people heard about Jesus, they heard that Jesus’ body was broken for them, that His blood has been shed for them…
…no I’m not about to wrap up (LAUGHTER because he was using the Communion Table as an illustration).
They heard those types of things happening, and they realize that this is who Jesus was, and further by God’s grace, he gave them the faith to believe.
Scripture tells us if we believe in Jesus, it’s only because God has given us the faith to believe.
thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.
If you’re still wondering how active or passive we are in this whole process look what happens next in verse eighteen,
It’s happened to you! God has set you free from sin and you have become… what’s our big idea… not so that you can live your life however you want, you have become slaves to righteousness.
Let’s go back to the slide again if you don’t mind, sorry, so that you become set free from sin so that you have become slaves to righteousness and again as we saw our big idea is this…This is declared as a reality. So what the Scripture is telling us is, “Hey this is your status, you used to be in God’s eyes viewed as a slave to sin and you were over here.” And some of us embrace that character nature way more than others… and our different testimonies and faith stories would share that.
Some of us, we could actually say to the rest of the room the worst thing that we’ve ever done (smiling), but the rest of us would never do that, because at times in our past we have embraced the fact that we are slaves to sin.
And the Scripture tells us this wonderful promise, that our status has been changed–
18 You have been set free and you are now slaves to righteousness.
But notice how I contrasted that with our Big Idea… the Scripture we’re looking at says that it’s a reality, but our Big Idea says so that we can become slaves to righteousness.
And the reason why I brought both of those out is so that you can see the contrast between our reality and our status in God’s eyes, which is we are slaves to righteousness.
As soon as we enter into a relationship with Jesus we become slaves to righteousness in His eyes, but there’s still a life to be had, and we don’t always act according to our status.
And so we’re talking about the idea, and Paul is talking to the church in Rome about the idea of starting to act like_we_are_called_by_God. Because some of you, you can hear all day long, “Hey, you’re a slave to righteousness, God sees you that way.” But you don’t feel that way at all.
And so we’re inviting ourselves to see some of the difference.
So let me just ask you this morning… this is sort of the test to know whether or not you’re just a slave to righteousness in status, or whether or not or not you’re actually a slave to righteousness in practice.
Let me just ask you, if I was to pause, and give us a time of silent prayer of confession… and I just said, “OK God, so and so would like to confess and apologize for…. what comes to mind? Is it in an easy answer?
And if I asked you the week before would it have been the same one? And if I ask you next week would it be the same one, or two, or three things?
For many people in the room it would be… and it is because you may be declared as a slave to righteousness, but you still feel like a slave to obedience. You hear the Scripture saying, “Let’s live in this new status”.
What sin in our life is still there that is proving that we’re acting as slaves to sin and not slaves to obedience?
It would be good for us to hear the Scripture tell us, “You’ve been set free.”
- “Hey, slaves to righteousness, you’ve been set free… so why are you still a slave to what you drink?
- “Hey slaves to righteousness, you’ve been set free… so why are you still a slave to what you eat?
- Slaves to righteousness, you’ve been set free… so why are you still a slave to what other people think of you?
- Slaves to righteousness, you’ve been set free… so why are you still a slave to the anger or the judgment that your parents passed on to you?
- Slaves of righteousness, you’ve been set free… so why are you still a slave to what your boyfriend or girlfriend wants you to do?
And we could go on and on and see how the Scripture declares us to be slaves of righteousness but how we’re still living out our life as slaves to sin.
The Scripture tells us in verse nineteen, this… it says,
19 “I put this in human terms…” or,
I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations.
Essentially what Paul is doing is he’s admitting that the whole slavery imagery of slaves to sin, and slaves to righteousness is not a perfect one, it breaks down at some point in time. But he goes on and says,
19b Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.
Do you see how we’ve transitioned from the part that God has done, thanks be to God, He has set us free to not Paul saying, “OK, that’s a reality, that’s a status, but here are some responsibilities about how you live out your life… you used to be someone who was following the pattern of ever increasing wickedness…” and now he’s inviting us to turn and move in the the opposite direction.
The thing that stood out to me the most about these two directions Paul gives us is that they’re momentum building… this idea that we can become slaves to impurity, and to “ever-increasing wickedness” 19b.
If I was to ask you what comes to mind when you think of something that you are ashamed of… and you think of that… I could go out on a limb and say my guess is that although you feel ashamed of it right now you’re not as ashamed as when you first did it.
Because what happens is when we start making bad decisions we start walking down patterns and creating patterns and habits and forming character traits in our lives that makes sin easier to walk down… ever increasing wickedness.
You see someone on the news and you think, “How could they ever do this?” Well they didn’t start there… they got there by ever increasing wickedness… these patterns of being a slave to sin, is a momentum building thing.
And some of you have that compound interest working against you… and you feel the weight of years of bad decisions and patterns and habits; and also maybe you’re new to the idea of church; maybe you’re new to the idea of a relationship with Jesus Christ, and you want to turn; you want to have a different pattern of habit but you have all of this weight on you, and it’s very difficult to do.
Let me just encourage you by saying this, that as we aim towards righteousness, and being slaves to righteousness, the same momentum that took us down the pattern of being slaves to sin is working in our favor in being slaves to righteousness.
It’s just not easy at first. But over time, as we make the right decisions that honor God and form new patterns and habits, it does become momentum building.
It’s like so many of us who did absolutely nothing physically in November, December, January, February, and March… and April. Anyone else just kind of get off the exercise wagon start eating whatever you want?
I have gout as a result of this!! (LAUGHTER)
That was last week by the way if you were here. I haven’t had Mountain Dew in a whole week… which is almost worse than having gout, quite frankly (laughter)… so I’m making decisions here.
So you don’t do anything for a few months and then you get out and try to go for a walk or go for a little jog, or maybe do some pushups, or lift some weights or something, and it’s very discouraging at first isn’t it. But it’s a momentum building thing, you get going. you get going… and I think the Scripture is telling us the same thing about patterns of ever increasing wickedness being slaves to sin, and also ever increasing righteousness… a righteousness that leads to holiness.
And so I want to encourage you church, that if you set your mind on being a slave to righteousness, it may not come easy at first. I’m not saying it’s ever going to be completely easy. Exercise and physically it’s never completely easy, but there is momentum building that happens in it.
The Scripture then tells us this… it invites us to look at our previous lifestyle; it says in verse twenty,
20-21 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? [The answer is “none at all”.] Those things result in death!
And so he pauses and invites us to consider our former life. Those of us who have a clear contrast in our former life, he invites us, in his wisdom, to think about that, as means in motivation to continue to aim towards being a slave to righteousness–in other words, “Hey you’ve done that, you tried that, you embraced all that, and it left you poor, broke, and lonely, and bitter… and you name it. It didn’t get you anywhere. So why would you go back to that… it provided absolutely nothing for you.
But in contrast to that, in verse twenty two he says,
22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
I love this contrast… it says, “OK, you tried it your way and that left you broke, it didn’t do anything for you, now lets become slaves to righteousness and try it God’s way and look at the wonderful promise that comes with it .”
You see, we say this a few times a year here at Kirkmont, but the Christian life requires that we trust,
1. That God knows what’s best for us, and,
2. That God actually wants what’s best for us.
And so when we become a slave to righteousness and live our lives according to His law we discover that he not only knows what’s best for us, but we begin to discover that he wants what’s best for us as well.
I think so many of us often get the mindset that God’s just sort of up there, and he senses, “Oh Dan would really enjoy doing that… I’m going to make sure that’s not allowed.” (laughter).
And we discover that knowing the true Christian life, God not only knows what’s best for us, but he wants what’s best for us. And so when we make the shift of being slaves to sin, and doing whatever our sinful nature wants to do, to being slaves to righteousness and following God’s law… then we discover that it is actually to our benefit.
Trust me… the grace of God will always be able to restrain you and bring you to a place of greater righteousness and holiness than the law ever could before.
The grace of God… it doesn’t release us to be unrighteous, but rather it moves us to a place of greater righteousness than the law would never have been able to do on its own.
And then finally the Scripture tells us this… it’s the famous verse of Romans Chapter three, twenty three that says,
Romans 3:23 all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,
And then in Romans Chapter six, twenty three the Scripture then tells us, “OK, everyone has sinned, but let’s help you, make sure you see, that the wages of that sin–that which is earned as a result of our sin is death.
Romans 6: 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And we come to the table…. a table where we remember the one who died for us.
– Why did Christ have to die?
– How has He set us free?
– Why is this thing all about Jesus?
It’s because he is the one who has paid the penalty for our sin.
And notice that while it’s “the wages of sin is death”, it’s that which is earned… and in contrast to that there’s a gift that is available as well.
That gift of salvation is received, given to us by God, it’s a gift of eternal life–the opposite of death, that comes through Jesus Christ.
And we are all inviting this morning, to this table, those of you who are here this morning with us who believe in Roman six, twenty three. You don’t have to be able to perfectly explain it, you don’t have to understand all of its steps, but if, in a nutshell, you can say, “Hey this is me… I’m someone who recognizes that I’m a sinner and that my sin deserves death, but that I believe in Jesus Christ, and through him I can have eternal life…” then this table is for you, and we welcome you to it here this morning.
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