Unashamedly, I am a Christian who will not hesitate to defend The Lord and His Word. I believe that the LORD is God, and that He is faithful to His Word. I believe that the Bible is the Word of God and that THE WORD of GOD [Jesus] is the fulfilled covenant promise and the one and only way to the Father, by grace through faith... not through works I've done or not done. I am thankful for everyday He gives me and for having been given a taste of heaven right here on earth right now. He has proven faithful and true in all things time and time again. I have nothing to prove. I have nothing to hide. I only have The LORD to serve and Jesus to Love. I am a Dad to 4 wonderful children, and a husband to the most amazing mid-westerly charming woman I could ever imagine--it is a pleasure to serve her. All this (and then some) makes up who I am.
“Great job choir, great job to the praise team, thank you guys so much.
I suspect on a normal day you would have seen more of us raising our hands in worship, but for obvious reasons some of us are self-conscious about raising our hands this morning here in this room [Transcriber Note:: With AC not working, it was a hot and stuffy].
Just want you to know that I’ve been here in the sanctuary since like 6:45 this morning, so you can endure. I told you I’d cut right to the point and make this as direct and concise as I’m capable of doing. So be in a prayer for me this morning and we’ll see how that goes.
I’ve got no notes which is designed to make things shorter, but sometimes has the opposite effect. Anyways, here’s right to the point…
At Kirkmont during our ministry of the Word, we’re going through the book of Romans. The last several weeks through the book of Romans we’ve been discovering that God is trying to communicate to us, that our hope in order to get right with Him, our hope to get into heaven someday, ought not to be in ourselves, and in our ability to obey the law and be a good enough person, but rather our hope ought to be in His character dependent upon the idea that he will treat us better than we deserve. And we’ve been using that word grace.
But that message, has caused this sort of question to shoot back in response. One for us; one at the time that the Book of Romans was being written as well. And the question is simply this, “Well, wait a second, if you’re telling me that my personal life style, my personal holiness isn’t actually a factor in whether I get into heaven or not, then are you telling me that I get I have a license to just live whatever kind of life that I want”?
In fact we saw this question being raised by the Bible last week in Romans Chapter six verse fifteen. The Scripture told us this (the Apostle Paul speaking),
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?
In other words, if it’s not about being a good enough person, by being under the law, and it really is about God just treating us better than we deserve, the question remains, do we get to just sin do we get to just do whatever we want to do?
His response is
By no means!
Last week he gave us an illustration, we said it wasn’t a perfect illustration, but it was an illustration from the world of slavery. And he essentially said this to us last week, he said,
“Look, you’ve got a couple options, and there’s no in between. Every single person in this world is either a slave to the law, which ultimately makes you a slave to sin because you’re never going to be a perfect law abider… or every single person is a slave to righteousness through being a slave to God and His Son Jesus Christ.”
And he said, “Look, a slave is someone who pledges their allegiance to someone, they obey them… and you are either fully after one or fully after the other.
Now this week, he introduces to us another… a follow up illustration. Moving from the world of slavery, yet trying to make a very similar point as last week, he gives us another illustration. And it’s an illustration from a world that I think you’ll find far more personal and intimate–maybe far more relatable this week than last week, and that is the world of marriage.
Inn fact our BIG IDEA for you this morning is this.
Christianity is about a life changing marriage relationship to Jesus.
Christianity is about a life changing marriage relationship to Jesus.
Now, if you’re here this morning, and you are kind of on the outside of the fringe of being a regular church person it may come as a surprise to you for the very first time to hear this idea that Christianity is actually not about being a slave to the law and trying to be a good enough person, but rather Christianity is actually about being in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Now others of you have heard the whole idea that you’re supposed to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ. but you’ve maybe perhaps held the wrong relationship in view; you’ve held a relationship that is perhaps something short of what the Bible actually invites you into–Jesus as your friend, as your neighbor, as a coworker, as a pilot, as a captain, or a copilot… and all the different expressions that are out there, all the bumper sticker options that exist out there.
But today’s passage takes us beyond even all of those relationships, it invites us to see the God of the universe saying not just I want a relationship with you but I want to have a relationship with you that’s so personal and so intimate I’m going to describe it as a marriage relationship. And further, we’re going to suggest you that it is a life changing relationship.
Others of you will need to be challenged this morning and ask yourself, “Wait a second, I thought I was in a relationship with Jesus Christ, but is it the real thing because it’s not actually that life changing.
Let me tell you something, if your relationship with Jesus Christ hasn’t been life changing at all, it’s a good indication that you may not have a relationship with Jesus Christ–at least not a marriage relationship with him. Because marriage, is a life changing experience. Isn’t it? Can we all just say that today.
Marriage to one another changes our lives. If you’re if you’re single, and you’re thinking about getting married, maybe just need to hear us on this little journey. You need to hear the “Amens” or see that head nod shaking as I tell you that marriage will shape and change every_part of your life. Marriage will change:
where you go on vacation; it will change
how much money you spend on vacation; it will change
the way you drive to that location; it will change
the car you drive; it will change
the music you listen to; it will change
the television programming you watch at home; it will change
what time you go to bed; it will change
what you do on a Saturday; it will change
how long you get to take a shower; it will change
how you go to the bathroom…
It changes everythingabout your life. Marriage by definition is a life changing experience. And so we are invited into a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.
We believe this passage invites you into a life changing relationship with Jesus. Here’s what the Scripture tells us… in Romans chapter seven, verse one–just two slides for you this morning; this slide in the next slide. Yes, I crammed a lot of words on each slide, but nonetheless encouraging.
The first slide is the illustration; the next slide is going to be the application of the illustration. Here’s the illustration.
Now let me just warn you, as we walk through it, there are some things that are going to potentially distract you… some of you will find yourself fighting against what it has to say here. And I hope we can walk back through and smooth over those waters and get focused on the heart of the passage.
Here’s what the Scripture says,
Romans 7:1aDo you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—
So he had a Jewish and Gentile audience in the early church in Rome, and he seems to be shifting his focus on the Jewish people who knew the Old Testament law.
7:1a that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives?
So he’s sort of stating the obvious… if you die you are no longer obligated to obey the law,
2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him.3 So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.
Alright, lets walk back through those things and eliminate a couple of the distractors.
One of the one of the potential distractions is the fact that it’s focusing on the woman as the person having the relationship with two different people… where are the guys wrapped up in this law?
Let me say a couple things about that. Yes, actually men had some of the similar moral laws that were applied to them, but also we must concede that in this society the laws were biased towards women.
OK so we’re going to put that out there.
But I think the primary reason why Paul uses a female as the person who can either be married or remarried, is because he’s going to draw an illustration between that and us marrying Jesus Christ. And we are considered to be the “bride of Christ”.
So he uses this example of a woman being married and here’s essentially what he says…
And of course the other distracting part is the law itself in what he’s saying. For many people in this room and across our churches in America, have been married, divorced, and remarried, not always under these circumstances. And so you may be wondering, “Well, what are you trying to say about me?”
Let me just be clear. I’m not trying to say anything about that. Nor is this passage trying to say anything about that.
Some day at Kirkmont, it would be appropriate for us to have a series on marriage, divorce, and remarriage… and when we do we’ll look at the Scripture comprehensively on that subject. And I think you’ll find that I have some things to say that are gracious and freeing on that subject; and I think you’ll also find I have some things to say that are challenging and convicting on that subject as well.
But that is not the point of this passage. The point of this passage is to use a common law that these people understood to make a parallel spiritual point that he’s about to make.
And here’s the common law just in case you missed the basic understanding of it… he’s saying that a woman, when married to a man, they are obligated to remain faithful and married to that person until that person dies. It’s only death that releases them from that contract, or that covenant, that commitment to that person, which them frees them to go marry another.
It’s key to remember that death is required to release one from the other. Because Paul is going to give us a spiritual application which is inviting us to see that we were once married to one thing, and now we’re being freed to marry something else, but death has to be required to release us from that bond.
So that’s why when he goes to apply it, the very first thing he says in verse four is this,
4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law
OK… death was required to release someone from something and now he says, “you also died to the law.”
Now here you start to see it’s not actually a perfect parallel, because in the illustration the woman stays alive, the husband dies and allows her to remarry. In the application of it, we are actually the ones who get to remarry but the way we get to remarry is because we die to the first thing that we were married to, and that is the law.
So he’s saying we were once married to the law we were born married to the law. Some of you grew up in environments where you were married to the law. Some of you showed up here this morning married to the law.
He says, “that’s how we used to be, but we died from that.”
And the way it happened, wasn’t because we became a good enough person, it wasn’t because we finally defeated the law by obeying it at every single point. The way that it happened was through the body of Christ.
When we enter into relationship with Jesus Christ, as the Scripture told us a couple weeks ago, we died with him through Baptism… we died with him. And in that sense we died to the law, it no longer has any contract over us in that sense.
But notice, we are not just released into spiritual singleness. We didn’t die from the law so that we can just start living the way we want to live. Just like we said last week, we weren’t released from being slaves to righteousness so that we could just start living however we wanted, we were released from being a slave to sin so that we could become a slave to righteousness.
And notice what it says,
you died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another,
So we have two options here… we can either be married to the law, or enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and be married to him, and belong to Him.
There is no such thing as spiritual singleness…
Each and every person is either married to the law and bound to it, or through a relationship with Jesus Christ they become released from that and become married to him.
Now listen, the question was, “Well wait a second… if I get married to Christ, and Christ is all about forgiveness and grace and he died on the Cross for my sins, and that’s the Gospel, the good news you’re sharing about Jesus, then remember our original question, “Doesn’t that then free me? Doesn’t that give me the license to live the life that I want to live? Aren’t I now married to Christ? Doesn’t that allow me to just sin and do whatever it is I want?
No, look at what the Scripture says, it says
through the body of Christ, that we might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear_fruit_for_God.
The whole reason we become married to Jesus Christ is not so that we can go on sinning, but rather that we might begin being fruit bearers for God.
And let me tell you something, just as I said last week, that, “grace will always produce more righteousness in us than the law”. I’ll say this week that, “a marriage relationship with Jesus Christ will always produce more spiritual fruit than a marriage relationship to the law.:
I think we should say that one more time.
A marriage relationship with Jesus Christ will always produce more spiritual fruit than a marriage relationship with the law.
But here’s the incredibly mysterious thing… the Gospel, ever since it was introduced, and all the way until this day, has always been under attack for this very reason… people have always tried to water down the Gospel of Jesus Christ because they were afraid that the true Gospel would give people a license to be lawbreakers. So they watered it down, they cheapened God’s grace, they’ve cheapened his forgiveness, and they have unintentionally sent the message to people that they are still married to the law.
Some of your parents raised you in a (quote unquote) “Christian environment” but they unintentionally gave you the message that you were married to the law… unwilling to really proclaim the Gospel, trusting that the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a marriage to Jesus, would produce more spiritual fruit in you than the law would.
Do we trust God enough to give the Gospel to our kids, the whole thing in all of its beauty, trusting that their marriage relationship with Jesus will produce more spiritual fruit than keeping them married to the law.
Some of you grew up in churches that made that mistake. Oh they might have had your best intentions in mind… they they wanted you to to honor God with your life, but the way they thought they would do that was to keep you married to the law somehow, and they misunderstood that by releasing you into a marriage relationship with Jesus Christ you would actually bear more spiritual fruit than if you were born married to the law.
He says in verse five and six
5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death.6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
This incredible transformation… “We used to bear fruit for death and now we’re bearing fruit for Kingdom purposes,” in a way that honors God. It’s a life changing experience to go from being married to the law, to being married to Jesus.
Earlier I said that the marriage relationship was a life changing relationship, the earthly marriage relationship was a life changing relationship. I want you just to think in all seriousness about the ways that a marriage relationship with Jesus Christ is life changing as well.
Earlier we joked about music, and money, and free time, and shower, and all that kind of stuff… but in all seriousness,
What’s required to have a good, strong, healthy, lasting, marriage relationship with another person?
Enjoying time with one another.
The whole list could go on and on. What does that say about the character of God, and how he feels about you… that he is trying to express through those same terms…I want to have that relationship with you.
I mean are you in that type of relationship with Jesus Christ… one that brings out the full intimacy of the marriage parallel?
Some of you, as I said earlier, have been divorced and remarried. I want to speak through the lens particularly of those of you who have been divorced and remarried with your spouse still living.
In all likelihood that means you intentionally left that relationship, you didn’t want to be in that relationship anymore. And hopefully, by God’s grace, you’re in a marriage relationship that is bringing you a far greater sense of contentment and joy.
And in the same way you see what God is inviting us to this morning—to leave this marriage relationship with the law, and enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and be married to him. And the exchange is powerful, far more dramatic than any one person to another person could possibly provide.
Some of you in your previous marriage relationships were treated really terrible, and it left you incredibly broken. Some of you were abused in your previous marriage relationship, but guess what, being being married to the law does the same thing to us… it beats us down.
Some of you were left feeling in despair or hopelessness feeling bitter about life. Being married to the law does just that as well, and God is inviting you to leave that broken unhealthy, undesirable marriage relationship with the law, and to enter into a beautiful life changing marriage relationship with Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father we thank you for this passage of Scripture as always we take the time just to pray in response to your Word. For those of us who are here this morning who perhaps have not really thought about the idea of being in a relationship with you like this passage has talked to us about this morning… perhaps someone in this room wants to just kind of sort of acknowledge that like, “Hey… if you’re proposing to me God then the answer is YES, that’s what I want.” Just something honest and simple as saying that to you., we pray that by your grace that would suffice and get that wonderful relationship started.
For others of us in this room we perhaps are feeling convicted, maybe even rebuked by this passage of Scripture because we claim to be in relationship with you; we would even like and celebrate the idea that we’re in an intimate marriage-like relationship with you… and yet you brought us into that relationship for the purpose of bearing spiritual fruit, and we acknowledge that hasn’t been the case for us.
Lord, we invite you to draw us deeper in our walk with you. That as a result the Holy Spirit would indeed kill off the sinful nature, and produce greater spiritual fruit in our lives.
So as we kind of move away from this whole question that Paul’s been asking us, we embrace grace and we reject the idea of cheapening grace by intentionally sinning, knowing that grace will cover that sin. And we invite you to help us to move and carry forward in that path, that we might be fruit bearers for the Kingdom of God.
“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 goodbecause 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’scharacter 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 thisthen you’ve got to be a slave to it, you’ve got to obey it. And if you’re to be a slave to thisyou 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 thatall 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,
19bJust 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,
20-21When 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,
22But 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 ofsalvationis 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 invitingthis morning, to this table,thoseof 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.
Audio Transcript: “There are really two types of people at church… there are clappers and non-clappers (LAUGHTER)… and leave it to the ‘crooked section to start such a rebellious act of expression of motion :~)
My daughter came to me during the greeting time and said that she thought I should explain to you why I’m wearing this big boot on my leg. Otherwise you might wonder, so I guess I’ll go ahead and talk about that for a little bit.
Friday I was here all day long and on my feet. We were setting up for an event we had here Friday night, and by the end of the evening I was hurting and my foot starting to kill, and it just started getting worse and worse, and finally came to my wife and said “I’ve got to go home, I cannot walk on this foot anymore”.
Some of you remember that I had this same boot on about three years ago.
I didn’t get any sleep all night it was it was throbbing constantly, and the next day I woke up Saturday morning and my wife Amanda, like many of you ladies, went off to the women’s retreat… and thank you by the way Cecilia who made that happen… are you here somewhere (APPLAUSE). Yes, and for all the ladies who went, I hope you had a good time.
And so my wife Amanda left_me_crippled (LAUGHTER)… with five kids and three soccer games to attend.
But before she left to hand it she went to the basement and got me my boot (LAUGHTER).
So nonetheless I went throughout the day, and I was really hurting… and just a sidebar, not for you… this is what God did for me, not the point of this sermon, but I was sitting in the car having a pity party at the soccer game. It was cold and the kids are crying in the back and kids are out playing, and I’m sitting there with this hurting foot, and on the field next to me, this coach who’s clearly in a wheelchair permanently, rolls out onto the field with a special-friendly wheelchair.
Then he rolls into the goal, and allows his team to start taking shots at him while he plays goalie. He’d roll over here, block a shot; roll over here, and block a shot; and it was just like, you know, “Thanks God…”like (LAUGHTER).
I was no longer feeling sorry for myself, but it was a miserable day yesterday, all day long this big toe on my right foot was throbbing so bad it just ruined my day.
Finally, Amanda walked in the door at eight o’clock last night and I went off to the E.R. A few hours later they gave me medicine and they said that I had gout in my foot. The nurse confirmed that I was old enough to have gout (LAUGHTER).
And they gave me a couple pills and said go home right away because you’re not supposed to drive yourself home with these pills but you don’t have a driver so we’ll give it to you; it’s going to knock you out, it did, and I feel a little bit better this morning thanks to the medicine.
While Sophie did want me to talk about my foot, in some ways it does help me illustrate where we want to go this morning.
We’re continuing the series through the book of Romans, which is in the New Testament portion of your Bible. We did that for a while, took a pause around Easter, and we’re going to pick it up and finish it off.
And here we are in Romans Chapter six and the Bible is talking to us about this idea of sin. And in some ways what happened with this gout in my foot is similar to what the Bible is trying to say about sin in our lives–like there’s a period of time where sin absolutely reigns and dominates… and it has complete control–like the pain, it’s all consuming.
But then it introduces to us a sort of the medicine for sin. And it starts to bring healing and where I’m at today is like, “OK I’m better, but it’s not as if there’s no gout there anymore… I’m still wearing this boot.” And the Bible’s trying to say that to us about sin, like its effect on us is not like it used to be once we get the right medicine, but it’s still there.
In fact, our BIG IDEA for you this morning is this:
The moment we enter into a relationship with Jesus, sin’s reign in our life comes to an end.
The moment we enter into a relationship with Jesus, sin’s reign in our life comes to an end.
Let me just point out a couple things about that before we dive in our passage this morning. The first thing is notice the moment we enter into a relationship… not with your husband, not with your wife… some of you are thinking, “Oh I’m struggling with sin, as soon as I get married, I’ll have it all under control.”No.
No one else can do that for you. There’s no other relationship that you can enter into with someone who’s going to do this. This is a profoundly deeply spiritual problem that only the Son of God can cure and take care of, the moment we enter into a relationship with him.
And notice the moment… it’s not something that’s like, “Hey maybe someday sins reign in my life will come to an end. No, what we’re going to see from the text today is that not only is this relationship a relationship with Jesus but it happens immediately… that it’s reign does. It comes to an end.
But that implies that until we have a relationship with Jesus sin is what? … reigning in your life.
Some of you have discovered this in a spiritual way, and you don’t even know it. By not being a follower of Jesus Christ, and struggling with your sin, and hating some of the things you do, and trying to battle against it… you’ve actually proven our big idea right, year after year, decade after decade, because you tried to quit drinking, you tried to quit treating your spouse or your children the way that you did… all these types of things but you’re failing at doing so because sin has its mastery over you and you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
So the moment we enter into relationship with Jesus, sin’s reign and our life comes to an end. What an encouraging thing to think about.
As I said, we’re going to go to Romans Chapter six together this morning. And while you’re turning there, I’ll just confessed to you that the real reason that I started with that story was to lower your expectations as to what’s going to happen in the next twenty minutes…. I was at the hospital people… I’m on drugs (LAUGHTER).
The moment we enter into relation of a Jesus sins reign and are alive comes to an end. Romans Chapter six, the very first verse. If you have a Bible open its says something like “Dead to sin, Alive in Christ”, as the heading… and here’s the first verse, it says,
Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ
Romans 6: 1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
I think you can probably pick up on whether you’re familiar with the Bible or not if you just hear that verse, that he’s actually continuing a conversation from something that he started earlier. And since we haven’t been in Romans five for a while let’s look at what he’s continuing. So he says, “What shall we say then”, and then here’s Romans five… this is the end of what would have been last week,
Romans 5:20The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,
But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,
This is a great summary… if you haven’t been with us for Romans one through five, this is a great summary in one sentence here of what we’ve been looking at.
One, “where sin has increased“, we’ve been saying that the Bible’s emphatically trying to say to us that each and every person is a sinner–all people have sinned. And so
“where sin is increased grace though has increased all the more”.
That’s a really encouraging Word.
You mess up God’s got that covered… you mess up even bigger God’s got that covered with something even bigger. Where sin increases Grace is increased all the more.
Now it’s such a radical teaching, that some people are going to have a hard time hearing that.
21 so that, just as sin reigned in death,
Notice again, sin has reigned, that’s why we chose that for our big idea. We didn’t say that sin is like “kind of impacting people a little bit, or kind of influencing them”, or they “kind of struggle with sin”… no apart from a relationship with Jesus Christ, sin reigns in your life–it is your master.
Also then he says “grace might rain”…
21so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
So we transfer through relationship to Jesus from sin dominating and reigning in our life, to Gracereigning in our life,
“through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Now let’s go back to the first verse… so that’s where we ended last time, and now he comes along and says, so
Romans 6: 1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
So he’s raised the idea that if we sin Grace will cover it. As our sin increases Grace will increase all the more. But as Paul often does he sort of anticipates people’s objections to what he’s just said, and so he’s anticipating someone saying, “Oh, well if that’s the case… then why don’t I just go ahead and sin more, and therefore God’s grace will increase. If my sin increases, then God’s grace will increase, so I’ll just…”
Is this just a license? Is the Gospel a license to just do whatever I want to do?
Well the first thing we ought to take away from him raising this question is that he’s not denying this theological truth, that where sin increases Grace increases all the more… it’s a point he’s made.
And while he understands that people have a problem with that–they’re going to think that it’s a license–he’s not going back on that statement. In fact he’s emphatically behind the idea that where our sin increases, God’s grace increases in our life–it covers us.
So that while we used to be viewed and marked as a sinner, our new covering is the grace of God, if you will.
I want you just to imagine that a professional fashion designer came to you when you were a wee little child and said, “I would like to clothe you for the rest of your life”. They’re going to clothe you and take care of you.
OK, so that happens and as you start to grow as a little kid they’ve first chosen some clothes for you and then as you start to grow they’re going to have to give you new clothes; and they find some new clothes to cover you.
As you keep getting taller and taller, and you hit puberty and you shoot up, and every six months they’re having to get you new clothing and they’re covering you with this new clothing. And then eventually we grow up and we mature and we stop getting taller, but some of us keep growing–we grow wider and wider… no problem the designers and seamstress have that covered as well, they’re going to give you knew clothing for that issue as well… you just keep growing and growing and they’re going to keep covering you.
In the same way, the Scripture saying that as our sin increases, God’s grace increases all the more–it keeps covering us.
But the question that Paul’s raising is, “Are we going to grow that way on purpose… just so we can keep getting covered?”
And his answer is
In the Greek he’s essentially saying, “That’s a really stupid thought.” (laughter)… that’s a really dumb idea, who would conclude that–that’s not the Gospel that’s not the truth that’s not the point I’m trying to make it all.
By no means!
Now whats his rationale? Whywould we not keep sinning on purpose? And he says this,
By no means!We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
Listen, this is highlighted for a reason because it unlocks this whole passage that we’re looking at together this morning. “We’ve died to sin,” he says.
We have to try to take a look at understanding what this expression means, “to die to sin” He says,
So we’ve died to it, we can’t live in it any longer…
But what does he mean when he says, when the Bible tells us “We’ve died to sin?”
Well, we’ve already said it certainly doesn’t mean that we no longer sin at all. All of us would prove that that’s not the case. It certainly also doesn’t mean that we no longer desire to sin at all–that’s not what it’s teaching either.
There’s a whole bunch of things that it might possibly mean, or that might even be true, but that isn’t what’s being addressed here in this passage. When Paul comes along and he says, we died to sin, he’s talking about the idea that sins reign in our life is going to come to an end.
That’s why we use the big idea that we did that…
The moment we enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ it’s not that we stop sinning, it’s not that we stop desiring to sin, it’s thatsins reign in our life has come to an end… it’s no longer your master, it’s no longer the one who’s in control over you.
I love pastor and author Tim Keller who gives us this analogy to think about for our time together this morning. He says:
“I want you to imagine this I want you to imagine a land where an evil government and military is in control over that land. And they are the ones who have complete control and mastery over all the laws, all the rules, everything is completely dominated by this evil government and by this evil military.
Now I want you to imagine a good and righteous military and government comes in and defeats them. And they take up shop, they’re now in charge. They now make the laws of the lands, they’re now the ones making the decisions they’re now ruling…
BUT… in the process of defeating the evil and wicked military, they did not necessarily kill each and every one of those people, so many of those people ran off to the bush, they ran off to the woods, they ran off to live in remote places.
And while they’re no longer in charge, they still live in the land. And because they still live in the land they have the ability to wreak havoc from time to time. They have the ability to tempt others to come and join them and their efforts.”
And he’s saying in the same way, we have died to sin.
Meaning that sin was in charge of our lives, and Christ came in, and yes, Christ is now in charge. He is dethroned sin in your life. But it doesn’t mean that sin has no presence in your life anymore… that you no longer desire it at all, or you no longer sin in any way, or behave and act as it would want you to. But it still has a presence there in your life.
And that helps explain why the Bible can say that we have died to sin, and yet we are still struggling with sin in our lives.
So he goes on and says,
“We’ve died to sin,” and then he goes on and tells us, “how can we live in it and a longer?” and he’s about to explain to us how it is that we have died to sin. Paul says in,
Romans 6:3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?4 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.(then vs 6 says)6 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—7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”
The most important thing of all that he just said is to point out the name of Jesus.
He’s made the point to us that we have died to sin, it is no longer in charge of us; and the big question is, “How does that happens in my life?
We know gathered here in this room together, some of you want to know, how that happens in my life? And the most important thing to point out of all these verses is the name of Jesusthat is mentioned here. Because it is through a relationship with Jesus Christ, and Him alone, that sin’s reign comes to an end in our life.
Notice, he says “we are baptized into Christ Jesus” but listen to how he compares Christ’s physical journey to our Spiritual journey. Here’s what he says about Jesus. He says in 6:3
“all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death, therefore we are 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.”
So as Christ was physically dead and buried and then raised to a new life, the Scripture tells us that in a same way spiritually, we go through that journey–we die, and that we die to sin as the Scripture has told has told us.
But this is not just about getting rid of sin, it is about the ushering in of new spiritual life–a new righteousness that comes to us, it’s a righteousness not by one that is earned, but a righteousness that is received. And so we follow a spiritual path similar to Christ’s physical path–we die spiritually with regards to our sin, but then we are raised spiritually with regards to righteousness. And so we follow that same pattern.
And then of course the other illustration he’s using in the midst of all this, to help us see how we have died to sin is the word
The word baptism creates a lot of tension and issue in the church today, but the word baptism as it’s being used here is not just a word as many people think of that refers to the idea of immersion,it’s not just merely like to immerse a person in water; it was used in a much stronger sense than that, it was the word like,
if you wanted to intentionally sink a ship… boom there goes; it was the idea to completely cover something up.
In that way it was often associated with the idea of deathand burial–buried by something, not just the act of putting someone in water. And therefore that’s how Paul is using this term.
Notice he’s not using the word water at all; when he’s speaking of baptism here he’s speaking of baptism in that sense… he’s connecting it to the idea of death.
But yes it is cool when we immerse an adult right in water, we’re not just talking about cleaning, but we’re talking about that idea of burying them, in this sense, to their sin, and raising them into new life. And that’s what’s being spoken of here–this idea that as in baptism in the visual act of baptism that happens.
And it’s of course connected to the name of Jesus, because the Bible tells us that when we hear the Gospel, when Peter, for example, preached a great message, and the crowd said, “What do we do with this?” he said. “Repent and be baptized.”
This is kind of a side bar, but we just want to let you know here this morning that if you’re someone here who’s repented in the name of Jesus and you believe in him, but have never been baptized to please let us know.
It’s not an act that somehow earns your salvation… to believe this is to completely misunderstand what this passage is teaching. But I do think it would be an act of disobedience to not be baptized if you believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
To repent and be baptized, to see him, to have experienced this. We would love to come alongside of you and walk you through that baptism journey and help you come to this place where when you read this passage, you can see that have happened in your life is well. Die to sin.
He says in verse eight,
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin…
There’s that expression, “dead to sin” again. But he prefaces that this time with the expression “count yourselves” This is like saying, “Hey, believe this. I’ve told you a theological truth that might just be sort of floating out there in your mind right now. Now I really want you to hear it in your heart of hearts that you are dead to sin. “Count yourselves”, like recognize this truth in your life.
And what we discover from this is that it’s possible to walk around as a brother and sister in Christ, and kind of know, kind of realize that maybe it is true, that that I’m no longer a slave to sin, that sin’s mastery is no longer in my life… but to continue to make decisions and live as if we really are actually slaves to sin–where we haven’t fully embraced it and begun to see a change, and transform our life. And he says,
count yourselves as someone who is dead to sin
… like recognize that you’ve been freed.
I love what one pastor and an author compared this situation to–our spiritual journey again to someone else’s physical journey. He mentions this about this passage. He says,
“Take the case of those poor slaves in the United States of America about one hundred years ago (of course from the time he was writing). There they were in a condition of slavery, and then the American Civil War came and as a result of that war slavery was abolished in the United States.
But what had actually happened?
All slaves, young and old, were given their freedom but many of the older ones who had endured long years of servitude found it very difficult to understand their new status. They heard the announcement that slavery was abolished, and that they were free, but hundreds, not say thousands of times in their after lives, and experiences many of them did not realize it, and when they saw their old master coming near them, they began to quake, and to tremble, and to wonder whether or not they were going to be sold.”
You see you can still be a slave experientially even when you are no longer a slave legally. Whatever you may feel, whatever your experience may be, God tells us here through His Word, that if we are in Christ we are no longer in Adam, we are no longer under the reign and rule of sin.
“And if I fall into sin, as I do it is simply because I do not realize who I am. Realize it, reckon it.”
And that’s essentially what Paul saying… realize this and begin to act as who you really are. For when we live according to our sinful flesh we are living as a people who have been declared free but we still act as if we are slaves to sin.
He says in verse twelve,
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires
So it’s actually not reigning, because of what Christ Jesus has done, but we can act as if it still is reigning.
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.
Notice the contrast… he’s saying, “When we lived with sin as our slaves, it ruled over us, it dominated us, and like good obedient people we offered our entire lives over as slaves.”
Some of you who have lived along in your life without a relationship with Jesus Christ can testify to this… you know what it’s like to act according to exactly how your sinful flesh wanted you to act. Whatever was your strongest desire for years, many of you behaved that way:
If you felt like eating it, you ate it;
If you felt like drinking it, you drank it;
If you felt like smoking it, you smoked it;
If you felt like sleeping with it, you slept with it;
If you felt like hitting it, you hit it.
You know what it means, right? You just lived your life according to whatever was the strongest sinful desire pushing you that way, as offering yourselves as slaves to sin, and he’s saying, “That’s how we used to live!”
But in Christ Jesus there’s a reverse, and the same allegiance which we pledge to our sinful nature we now pledge to God in His plans and purposes for our lives.
offer every part of yourself to him
That’s what he’ll say later on Romans Chapter 12:1,
“Offer your lives as living sacrifices to God,
So we make this change in this transformation of switching all of our allegiance as slaves to sin, to that which God would want us to do.
Oh how our lives would look different. Just imagine what God might do in and through your life and how your life might look different… if… you began to follow him as wholeheartedly as you once followed your sinful nature.
So, I think many of us, we leave our sinful nature, and we begin to kind of follow God, but he never gets the same type of allegiance that our sinful nature did.
Whatever sinful nature wanted from us we gave it… and about half maybe of what God wants from us we give it.
How might your life look different as we begin to follow him with the same level of the allegiance as we followed our sinful nature.
The Scripture then concludes,
14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
Once again, you’re completely covered by this grace.
Where our sin increases, God’s grace increases all the more.
This would be a time, church, for us to close in prayer… a passage that hopefully moves us to a desire to go and speak to God directly and privately. This is why church’s traditionally and historically have silent times of prayer, so that they can confess to God the very details and specifics of their lives, and I pray that this passage, by God’s grace, I pray that He’s moved you in that way.
Some of the things that you’re doing that are contrary to who you are in Christ, that he’s speaking to you about through our time together this morning and we want to give you the opportunity to bring that to God in prayer.
“Hey, God here are the ways in which I have acted like a slave to sin, and allowed it to continue to reign in my life. And I don’t want to act that way anymore.”
Father God, I begin by just giving those people in the room who perhaps are in a relationship with Jesus Christ the opportunity to just talk to you and speak to you. Perhaps one of the ways that you’ve drawn them to you this morning is by helping them to realize that they have struggled with sin in vain. And they’re realizing that they can’t be the God of their lives, that perhaps in Christ Jesus they indeed can find the strength to have this sin completely conquered.
We THANK YOU Christ that’s what you do in our lives. We pray that those people in this room might come before you at this time and just acknowledge what Christ is able to do in their life and ask that and seek that of you.
For others of us in the room, we know the name, the wonderful name of Jesus that we sung about earlier. We even maybe theologically believe that he frees us from sin, but we’re coming before you this morning and just bringing to you our ongoing struggle with sin. And I mean, that the way that we treat our spouses, our kids, our coworkers, the things we do in our private lives, the thoughts that we are capable of entertaining… all remind us that at times that, yes, we’re not just continuing to struggle with sin, but at times we just wholeheartedly follow sin, and act like it’s still our master.
And so, we pray that by your grace this expression of the Bible that says like, “Count it to be true, realize it and live according to it,”would be the case for us this morning.
Oh that today and that this week moving forward, we might have one of our most encouraging times in relations and walks with you, recognizing our status with you.
“We’re talking about this series called Faith Over Fear… and two weeks ago when we started off this series by saying that, although the Bible talks a lot about not being afraid, the Bible does talk about this idea of being afraid when it comes to the idea of the proper fear of the Lord.
And it’s only when we get into right relationship with God and have the proper fear of the Lord that He begins to drive out the rest of our fear in other circumstances in life.
And then last week we looked at this passage of Scripture from the Book of Daniel where we saw these three famous guys, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; we looked at them and saw that sometimes God calls his people to act counterculturally even though they might be afraid of the consequences of doing so. And so hopefully we’re inspired by their Faith over fear.
Today we’re going to be looking at this idea of living a life of Faith over fear and seeing the opportunities that God calls us to… to act, and that act is going to require Faith over fear.
Ironically then, I want to start off by a recent realization of a failure in this area in my life, a time where I feel like I really chose fear over Faith.
What happened, as some of you know here in the congregation, back in October we returned home with our fifth child, adopted Judah from China, and we were just sort of recovering from that whole experience when some time in November, what had happened here in the community was that there was a pastor who was at church one morning, and they were there by themselves, when preparing for services one Sunday morning, and a woman walked in with her five children and said to him, “I don’t want these children anymore,” and turned around and walked out.
So the pastor had these five kids just sitting there with him.
Someone from our church knew about that circumstance and knew that it was not this pastor’s first desire to care for these five children, and so they began praying about who should care for these kids. And a couple days later my wife got a phone call.
You know where this is going, right? (LAUGHTER)
Okay, did you hear the part where I said we already have five kids…? (laughter) OK. OK… I just want to be clear.
So my wife comes to me says, “I got this phone call and someone thinks that we should care for these five kids.” And she was looking at me like… you know what I mean, ‘the look’… right guys? She was looking at me like this was a real possibility. And so I sort of condensed and boiled down this conversation to some sort of agreed upon, “We’ll pray about it.”
And we did pray about it. We prayed about it several times, and eating together. before we went to bed, and eventually, over some time, enthusiasm faded and we found out the kids were kind of being cared for in a different circumstance, and you know, we just sort of went on our way.
It wasn’t really until I was preparing the sermons for this series that I felt like God had really kind of spoken to me and really challenged me with this idea that I had acted in fear over Faith.
Now let me let me clarify that… and by that I mean, when I was praying about it, I wasn’t actually open to what God’s answer was. Did you ever have one of those prayers before?
I prayed about it makes, makes me feel better, but I’m not really open to the answer that God might have for me.
Now I’m not saying that I know that God wanted us to care for those kids… it may be that had I been open-minded and acting in Faith over fear, he still would’ve not had us care for those kids.
What I am saying to start off our time together this morning, is that it was a clear reminder for me that I acted in fear over Faith.
And that just led me to start thinking, “I wonder how many more times in my life that has happened? I wonder how many more times in my life God has presented an opportunity, and because I was someone who had fear over Faith maybe I didn’t even see the opportunity, or the opportunity came and went quickly.
That’s like when you are in a Bible study, or a small group, or something like that, and someone else in your group says something about leaving their career… their lucrative career to go do what they feel like God is calling them to do for the Kingdom of God, and maybe God’s trying to speak to you through that voice, and you don’t even consider that because immediately fear comes in like, “I could never I could never do that”.
Or maybe someone in one of your contexts is talking about inviting someone to church, or sharing their Faith with someone, and you hear that, and God is actually going to speak to that and present you with an opportunity as well, but you never go there in your mind because immediately fear comes in and sort of quenches the moment.
We want to be Faith over fear, not fear over Faith people.
And what happens when we do that, when we operate out of fear over Faith, is we miss some of the really amazing things that God is doing in the world around us. In fact our BIG IDEA for you is this…. that
The good, the perfect, and the pleasing will of God is most often (not all the time) but is most often carried out through those who choose Faith over fear.
That the good the perfect and the pleasing will of God is most often carried out through those who choose Faith over fear.
And we’re going to see that played out in our passage of Scripture together this morning. I want to invite you there with me.
In the Book of Numbers, yes that’s a book in your Bible, in the Old Testament portion of your Bible, Numbers, Chapter thirteen, we’re going to be looking at that. If you have a Bible, we would love to have you turn there with us.
If not, we’ll have the Scripture on the screen as well. In Numbers, Chapter thirteen, starting in the very first verse… I warn you ahead of time, this is the most Scripture I’ve ever tried to deal with in a single sermon, but it’s one of those narratives that has a beginning, and a middle, and an end, and you don’t really get the point until you’ve seen the whole thing.
And so we’re going to be doing that, sort of in a quick overview together this morning.
There are so many Scriptures, so in case you’ve got one of those ADHD things going on or something, and we lose you, we’ll give you the thirty-second Cliff Notes— here it is:
This is a significant, significant moment in Israel’s history. God has a chosen group of people known as the Israelites and he has freed them from slavery at the hands of the Egyptians… they are now wandering in the desert and he is trying to move them into a land, their own space. All the other land around them is inhabited by people. And God is trying to move them into their own space where they can grow and become a light unto the nations.
But because all the other land is inhabited by other people, there’s going to be a military conquest that has to come through this; and that’s why a lot of the violence in your Bible exists. And so these people are going to be forced to choose eitherFaith over fear,or fear over Faith as God leads them on this military conquest.
Here’s what the Scripture says, Numbers 13:1-2
The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.
Let’s just look at that.. so to be clear, Moses is the leader of the Israelites, and God is the one initiating this. God is the one who’s making this happen, and not only is he saying it, but he’s saying, “I’m going to give this over to you.”
Now, Moses heard this, but we don’t know for sure whether the men had the ability to hear this or not. Whether or not Moses ended up passing this message on to them, or do they go blindly?
In all likelihood Moses passed on this message to them and let them know why he was sending them out.
But if you think about it, it’s still sort of secondhand isn’t it?
So we’ve created an opening for fear over Faith because they didn’t hear from God Himself. And I point that out because most of us like to think, I’m sure, that if we knew that God was speaking to us and telling us to do something, we would do it.
But most of us, if we’re honest, the best that God ever communicates to us feels kind of like second-hand information.
And so fear sort of starts to creep in… like, “Did God really say this to me? Is this really the message for me?”… it starts to make me think again about all the opportunities that maybe God was leading us into that we ended up not even the recognizing, or allowing fear to quickly quench.
Here, God is clearly the one behind this. He says,
From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”
3 So at the Lord’s command Moses sent them out from the Desert of Paran. All of them were leaders [they were leaders people, these weren’t the bottom of the barrel–they were leaders] of the Israelites. 4 These are their names:
from the tribe of Reuben,
Let me just say this, this is not going to be pretty here in the next minute, okay? (LAUGHTER). I was thinking about skipping over this, but it’s God’s Word, so we’re just gonna fight through it here.
Shammua son of Zakkur;
5 from the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat son of Hori;
6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb
Caleb [now Caleb’s highlighted for a reason… not just because my son’s here, but because… well, you’re gonna see why.
Caleb son of Jephunneh;
7 from the tribe of Issachar, Igal son of Joseph;
8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea
Now Hoshea is highlighted as well, because Moses is going to give this guy a new name and his new name is going to be Joshua. Hoshea means “saves”, Joshua means, “The Lord saves”. So he’s going to get a new name, and Joshua is going to be the new leader of Israel. There’s a whole book in the Bible named Joshua.
Alright, so Caleb and Joshua are highlighted. Now let me just ask you… do you know anyone in your life named Caleb or Joshua? …Yes.
Do you know anyone named Palti or Gaddiel? … No, you don’t.
Why is that?
It’s because Caleb and Joshua are easier names? Well they’re only easier names because they’re more common names. Why are they more common names? Because no one wanted to name their kid after what these other people do. But they do want to name their kid after Joshua and Caleb.
So that’s a little foreshadowing of how they’re going to act… who’s going to be Faith over fear and who’s going to be fear over Faith.
Let’s go to verse ten,
10 from the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel son of Sodi;
11 from the tribe of Manasseh (a tribe of Joseph), Gaddi son of Susi;
This is why people don’t go to small Bible Studies… they’re afraid that the leader will call on them to read this passage of Scripture (LAUGHTER).
12 from the tribe of Dan, Ammiel son of Gemalli;
13 from the tribe of Asher, Sethur son of Michael;
14 from the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi son of Vophsi;
15 from the tribe of Gad, Geuel son of Maki.
16 These are the names of the men Moses sent to explore the land. (Moses gave Hoshea, I told you this was coming, son of Nun the name Joshua.)
17 When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country.18 See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak,
Now as I was reading and studying this I was imagining myself as one of these sort of spies. What if God had sent me on this mission and I was thinking like, how do you go and say, “Oh, the people there are strong, or the people are weak”?
I’m picturing myself in the gym, like, “Oh, he’s pretty buff you know…”
But anyway, he wants to say how many are there? And then in verse nineteen,
19 What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? [I think I could’ve reported that]20 How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)
21 So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath.22 They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. (Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.24 That place was called the Valley of Eshkol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there.25 At the end of forty days [this was not a short mission; at the end of 40 days they come back with all the information] they returned from exploring the land.
Now here we are, at this point in time in our series, we’re wondering, “Are they going to bring back a Faith over fear report? Or are they going to bring back a fear over Faith report?”
And here is what the Scripture then goes on to tell us. Also, here’s our big idea again, we were wondering right?
Are they going to get to see God work through them in an amazing way or they’re going to be people who missed out on it because they have a fear over Faith report?
So here’s their report, the Scripture says in verse twenty-six,
26They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land.27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey!
Listen to that… they’re not saying, “Hey guys, what God has prepared for us isn’t that good, He’s not actually sending us into something that we want…” That’s not the problem here, that’s not what kills this whole event.
The land is flowing with milk and honey,
it is desirable,
it is something that they would want,
it is a place where they would want to live…
But… the people who live there are powerful.
Now you can start to see the reported fear over Faith,
and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anakthere [a group of people known for their warrior abilities].29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”
And so we have a clear fear over Faith report. This is our first indication that these people are going to miss out on the amazing thing that God is going to do in the midst of the Israelites.
The land’s good, that’s not the problem–the problem is they’re unwilling to go to the good thing that God is leading them into because their fear is holding them back.
But… Caleb… remember that name.
The Scripture tells us,
30 Then Caleb [he stands up, right?] he silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
Man, I just love this whole scene… you can imagine everyone around him is reporting differently, they’re gaining attraction and attention, momentum with the crowds… everything’s sort of leaning this way, and Caleb’s willing to stand up and say in the midst of all of them, “No, I disagree”… with this fear over Faith report. And he comes in with a very clear Faith over fear report. And I think one of things we ought to take from this is the realization, the reality that Faith over fear is not the norm.
Faith over fear is not the norm for people. It is not the norm even for the people of God to choose Faith over fear. Which means that if you decide today or are already living as a Faith over fear person, you should be prepared to be in the minority. You should be prepared to have people surrounding you who are telling you a fear over Faith report.
There are a few churches even, that get to the place where the majority of the people in the church are operating with Faith over fear. Most churches have the majority of people operating withfear over Faith.
But when a church tips those scales and begins to operate as a majority with Faith over fear it becomes a beautiful thing to see what they can do for the Kingdom of God.
The Scripture goes on and tells us,
31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.”
Just look at that expression, “they are stronger than we are.” Listen, this is clear… that whenever we focus on our own strengths and abilities we’re likely to be people who are fear over Faith. Fear over Faith people are people who focus on their own abilities and strengths.
YES… they are stronger than you are, but you’re focused on that and you’re missing a big part of the equation…
32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.33 We saw the Nephilim
Some of you remember them from Genesis Chapter six… The story that leads right up to the global flood in Genesis six where these great, giant men and warriors ravage the land and did what they want with whoever they wanted to do it with.
Here they are, they see some connection there; this is the type of fear they have.
(the descendants of Anakcome from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
And again, if we focus on our own ability and strength we’re going to be just like these Israelites who regularly choose fear over Faith.
The Scripture goes on to tell us this,
Chapter 14 That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! [WOW, really?] Or in this wilderness!3 Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?
There’s such an absence of Faith, they’ve already determined that they’re going to lose and die.
Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”
You know I had heard and maybe even read at times, this whole idea that the Egyptians say something about going back, but I’d always kind of taken it as if it was just sort of a flippant statement–they didn’t really mean it they were just mad and angry and grumbling and sort of overstated their grumbling kind of like you know your kids might do at times.
But here’s what they say next … this is not just some sort of thing that they don’t really mean…
4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
It’s like a real plan of there’s. That’s how much they’re being driven by fear over Faith—that they’re willing to step back into a land of slavery, in a position that was difficult and terrible for them, because they fear what God might be leading them into.
In trying to contemporize this… I was thinking about a single woman out there who’s been mistreated by just constantly finding the wrong guy. She’s in an abusive relationship… and has this moment of Faith over fear, where with God’s strength, they leave that relationship, despite some of the dangers and consequences of doing so.
But then they in this kind of wilderness situation in life… they’d not been alone like that, they’ve not been in a situation where they weren’t being mistreated, and their uneasiness of the unknown drives them back into this abusive relationship.
I think about Egypt doing this… I think about the dying church, and how many dying churches there are out there, that caught a glimpse of saying, “Hey we’re dying; there’s got to be something better.” They might even hire a pastor or a leader to try to lead them into something new.
And they start making some sort of changes, and they start to sort of move in that direction, but also, and it’s like, “Whoa, we’re in the wilderness.” And they start grumbling and complaining amongst each other and say, “Hey, even though we were dying before, at least it was comfortable… at least it was familiar, at least we knew what was going to happen to us… it’s a better death than maybe what we’re being led on to.” And they go back and make the change and resort back to where they were.
Here’s Israel so driven by fear over Faith… “Let’s go back to Egypt.”
Scripture goes on to tell us then,
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell face down in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there.6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land,
Notice when we said earlier: Fear over Faith people focus on their own strength and ability, Faith over fear people focus on the strength and ability of the Lord.
If the Lord wills this, if he’s behind this, He can make this thing happen.
There’s a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid_of_them.”
So Joshua and Caleb come along and they give a clear, although it’s the minority report, a clear Faith over fear report, and answer, “Do not be afraid.” is repeated by them.
Then the Scripture goes on and tells us this happened. It’s not easy being a Faith over fear leader…
10 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them.
That’s why I think one of the most important qualities in a church when choosing its elders, is a group of men and women who will seek the mind of Christ, and regardless of where Christ leads them, no matter how much Faith it’s going to take, no matter how much fear it’s going to instill in them and their congregation, they are going to be Faith over fear leaders.
And being a Faith over fear leader is not always going to make you very popular person.
10b Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites.11The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt?
Listen to God’s reasoning here…
How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?
What he’s referencing is what happened in Egypt; he’s referencing all the miracles that he performed amongst them to free them in Egypt. He’s saying, “I’ve been that faithful to you; I’ve done that many miraculous things in your presence, how could you possibly still be a fear over Faith people?
For us today, we find might some great confidence perhaps from what we read in Exodus, but our greatest source of strength and relying upon God to be of Faith over fear people isn’t necessarily found from Exodus, but it’s more found from what we hear about Jesus Christ, and what he’s done in our life.
Jesus Christ is the one who we look back to and see, “Here is how God has been faithful to us on a regular basis. Faithful to rescue us on the cross through His Son Jesus Christ… faithful to draw all us into a relationship with Him, and faithful to do a great work in our lives ever since we entered into a relationship with Him.”
We see that repeated pattern in our life… how could we still be a fear over Faith people?
And so let me just ask you this question.
How has God been faithful in your past?
And what might he be building up to?
Faithful to Israel in the past, and then building up to go ahead and take the land. How has God been faithful in your past? And what might he be building up to?
Trust me, he hasn’t been faithful to you in the past so you could be comfortable today. How has he been faithful to you in the past, and what might He be building up to?
Let’s ask that of the church.
How has God been faithful to Kirkmont Presbyterian Church in the past and what might he be building up to?
12 I will strike them down
The Scripture told us earlier in Numbers that “Moses was the most humble man on the earth”… and listen to what he does, he intervenes on behalf of his people, and out of zeal for the character of God.
13 Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them.14 And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, Lord, are with these people and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.15 If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say,16[Listen to this]…‘TheLord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’
So Moses is saying, “Your name… if you end the Israelites here, your name will suffer as a result. And then he intervenes further and says,
17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ 19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people,just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”
So he answers and he says,
~19 God forgive these people for what they’ve just done.
And in verse twenty,
20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked.
What a comforting passage of Scripture that is… for those of us who are able to quickly say look I have repeatedly in my life operated with fear over Faith. We’re reminded that there’s forgiveness for even those who operate in fear over Faith.
This isn’t a salvation thing…
Our big ideal is not, “Hey those people who operate in Faith over fear will get into heaven.” We’re not trying to be good enough people to earn our way into heaven. No, in heaven God will by the grace of forgiveness in Jesus Christ, there will be many people who lived out their entire Christian life operating with fear over Faith.
What we’re saying here is, God most often works through those who operate in Faith over fear. So we miss out in this life to be a part of God’s amazing work for the Kingdom of God when we operate out of fear over Faith.
So there’s forgiveness he says here,
21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth,22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times—23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised…
They’re never going to go there. They’re forgiven but they never get to see it. And that’s why we’ve been saying our big idea is:
Most often God works through those who choose Faith over fear,
and these people have chosen fear over Faith and they’ve missed out on this.
23 No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.
In the end God’s will is accomplished, right? But it’s just not through those who chose fear over Faith. And it’s a sad thing to think about. And it’s sad to think about for our lives how many times we might have missed out on what amazing things God was doing.
Then the Scripture tells us this, finally to conclude… in verse twenty-four.
Numbers 14:24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.
I just want to ask you this morning.
Are you going to have a different spirit when…
When even your own husband or wife who’s a brother or sister in Christ is operating in a fear over Faith lifestyle… are you going to have a different spirit?
When the rest of your Bible study, or small group, or those at work around you are operating in fear over Faith, are you going to be someone like Caleb who stands up and has a different spirit?
And just a final diagnostic question…
What could God ask you to do that might tempt you to choose fear over Faith?
Our BIG IDEA one last time for you is that,
The good, perfect, and pleasing will God is most often carried out through those who choose Faith over fear.
God is on the move, he’s doing amazing things, and the real question is are we going to be a part of it?
Heavenly Father we thank you for this passage of Scripture. Indeed some of us would like to confess that we identify with those who went out and reported, and knowing that you were behind this that you were trying to make this happen we still reported a fear over Faith type of mentality.
We do that often in our lives. We confess that to you, We pray that you would remind us by your grace of your incredible Faithfulness to us through your Son Jesus Christ, that our Faith in Youmight increase.
We long to be a part of what you’re doing in this kingdom, and we trust and know that you’re doing amazing things. We want to be a group of individuals, and a church family that is a part of that. So we ask that by your grace and mercy that you would give us FAITH, which is a gift from God above. We pray you would grant us an increased measure of Faith in you and what you’re doing, and we ask these things in Christ’s name.