Thursday, April 29, 2010

Freedom From Sin's Grasp!

The book of Romans, chapter six, deals with sanctification – the change God makes in our lives as we grow in the faith. The Bible makes it clear that we are saved by grace (Romans 10: 8-10) and that once we have repented from our sins and accepted our Lord Jesus as being our Savior, we are “guaranteed” or “sealed” by the Holy Spirit to have a place in heaven (1 John 5:11-13; 2 Corinthians 5:1-11).
It is interesting to see that even the Apostle Paul was criticized by "religious leaders" for his theological belief (eternal security) that once a person turned their life over to the Lord Jesus and accepted Him as their Lord and Savior, they were saved and nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could take the love of God from them (Romans 8:38-39).

Let us look into what the Word of God has to say about the freedom of liberty that each of us have in Christ when we come to know Him as our Savior and Lord.

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? “ (Romans 6:1-2)
We, as believers are free from sin’s control. Since sin in a way makes grace more abundant (Romans 5:20, 21) why not continue in sin? This is certainly a possible conclusion, though a wrong one, from the teaching about grace in chapter 5. Apparently the Apostle Paul had been accused of teaching this false doctrine, called antinomianism, so to silence his accusers, the Apostle Paul shows in this chapter that a believer who continues in sin would be denying their own identity in Christ.

But you might say also, that if God loves to forgive, why not give him more to forgive? If forgiveness is guaranteed, do we have the freedom to sin as much as we want? The Apostle Paul’s forceful answer is “By no means!” The Greek expresses a response of shock, that has even been translated “God forbid!”

The thought of a believer living in sin in order to take advantage of grace was abhorrent to the Apostle Paul. The reason believers should not live in sin is that they have died to sin, as is explained in verses 3 and 4. Such an attitude – deciding ahead of time to take advantage of God – shows that a person does not understand the seriousness of sin.

God’s forgiveness does not make sin less serious; His son’s death for sin shows us the dreadful seriousness of sin. Jesus paid with His life so we could be forgiven. The availability of God’s mercy must not become an excuse for careless living and moral laxness.
“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4)
In the church of the Apostle Paul’s day, immersion was the usual form of baptism – that is, new Christians were completely “buried” in water. They understood this form of baptism to symbolize the death and burial of the old way of life. Coming up out of the water symbolized resurrection to new life with Christ.

If we think of our old sinful life as dead and buried, we have a powerful motive to resist sin. We can consciously choose to treat the desires and temptations of the old nature as if they were dead. Then we can continue to enjoy our wonderful new life with Jesus.

When a person trusts Christ, they are incorporated into and united to, Jesus Christ, which includes being united to His death. Jesus’ death becomes our death. Christian baptism makes these spiritual realities vivid.
“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,” (Romans 6:5)
As believers, we can enjoy our new life in Christ because we are united with Him in His death and resurrection. Our evil desires, our bondage to sin, and our love of sin died with Him. Now, united by faith with Him in His resurrection life, we have unbroken fellowship with God and freedom from sin’s hold on us. Having died and having been raised with Christ, the believer should live a new kind of life.

Word Focus: “united together”
(Gk. sumphutos) (6:5) G4854: The expression, which occurs only here in the New Testament, means “to grow in union” or “to plant in union.” The word describes two plants that have been planted together and are growing together, closely entwined or even united. The context speaks of union, our union with Christ in His death (6:4) and resurrection (6:5). Our union with Christ in death is like being planted with Him. Like a seed, our sinful natures must die with Christ so that we might grow in Christ and bear spiritual fruit (John 12:24). Our union with Christ is now a loving union, in which we are growing with Him “in the likeness of His resurrection.”
“knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7)
The power and penalty of sin died with Christ on the cross. Our “old self”, our sinful nature, died once and for all, so we are freed from its power. The “body of sin” is not the human body, but our rebellious sin-loving nature inherited from Adam. Though our body willingly cooperates with our sinful nature, we must not regard the body as evil. It is the sin in us that is evil. And it is this power of sin at work in our body that is defeated.

The Apostle Paul has already stated that through faith in Christ we stand acquitted, “not guilty” before God. Here the Apostle Paul emphasizes that we need no longer live under sin’s power. God does not take us out of the world or make us robots – we will still feel like sinning, and sometimes we will sin. The difference is that before we were saved we were slaves to our sinful nature, but now we can choose to live for Christ.

We, as believers, are “freed from sin”. The word “freed” used here translates the Greek word for “justification”, which is a legal term. The idea is that the believer no longer has any obligation to sin.
“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” (Romans 6:8-10)
Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, his followers need never fear death. That assurance frees us to enjoy fellowship with him and to do his will. This will affect all our activities – work and worship, play, Bible study, quiet times, and times of caring for others. When you know that you don’t have to fear death, you will experience a new vigor in life.

Jesus died for our sins and He did it “once and for all.” Jesus is now alive at the right hand of God. Since we, as believers, have been joined to Christ and to His death and resurrection, we can now believe that we too are alive to God.
“Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Romans 6:11-13)
When we see the phrase, “reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin”, this means that we should regard our old sinful nature as dead and unresponsive to sin. Because of our union and identification with Christ, we are no longer obligated to carry out those old motives, desires, and goals. So let us consider ourselves to be what God has in fact made us. We have a new start, and the Holy Spirit will help us become, in our daily experience, what Christ has declared us to be.

Though believers in Christ have died to sin, sin is still a problem. The sin nature is still present and can express itself through the mortal body, the body that is subject to death. The difference is that sin has no right to reign. Thus, the Apostle Paul admonishes the believer not to obey it.

Verse 12 has the whole body in view; Whereas verse 13 focuses on the individual parts of the body such as the hands or mouth. Believers are not to present the parts of their bodies as a means of sinning. Simply put: Do not use your hands to steal or your tongue to lie. Rather believers should present themselves to God and the parts of their bodies as instruments of righteousness.
“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? “Certainly not!” (Romans 6:14-15)
If we, as Believers in Christ are no longer under the law but under grace, are we now free to sin and disregard the Ten Commandments? The Apostle Paul says, “Certainly not!” When we were under the law, sin was our master – the law does not justify us or help us overcome sin. But now that we are bond to Christ, He is our Master, and He gives us power to do good rather than evil.

The Mosaic system consisted of external laws which revealed the sin prevalent in human hearts. In contrast, God’s grace places the believer in Christ, and the Holy Spirit in the believer. Therefore a Christian does not have to sin, they can resist temptation and do what is right (2 Cor. 3:15–18).

References: NKJV Bible; Nelson Study Bible, and the Life Application Bible (NIV).


MTJ said...

Hi Lloyd,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Romans, grace, salvation and sin.

I agree, it helps to appreciate and understand that the Christian has been united together with Christ. This is integral to facing the dichotomy of the spiritual and fleshly life.

Blessings on a good post.


One Heart said...

Great post. The way I look at it is that the more we walk with Him and learn about His grace and the more it is revealed to our spirit vs. our mind, the more we live in obedience out of love. When I think about His grace, I fall to my knees and my heart skips a beat and that passion produces the desire in me to resist sin, which although it is no longer our master, the flesh continues to be alive until our last breath. What I'm trying to say is that in my earlier years as a born again believer, I obeyed because I had to and because of reverential fear which is good but not the greatest. Now I obey because I love Him so much never forgetting for one minute that it isn't even my capacity to obey that enables me, but rather His grace. It's all Him.

Cassandra Frear said...

Jesus did indeed come to set us free.

Patty@Heaven said...

Love your post.
My last Bible study was about the exact same thing that you are teaching in your post.
Hmmm...I think that God is trying to tell me something :-)

Thanks for your teaching.


Joyfulsister said...

Amen, What a wonderful post to dwell and ponder on. Aloha Lloyd, Thank you for stopping by my blog, it is always a blessing to meet Christian friends on this blogging journey. Keep writing and allowing the Lord to speak to your heart as you share Jesus with those who will stop by your blog and be blessed like I was.


Lloyd said...

I want to thank all of you for visiting my blog and for all of your wonderful and sincere comments.

As we all grow in our relationship with Christ, we become more Christ-centered instead of Self-centered. We then begin to put away old habits and replace them with new ones that are in line with the will of God.

Just the idea of intentionally going out and sinning against our Lord should bring us to our knees in repentence. God's blessings to each of you. Lloyd

Linda said...

Hi Lloyd,
A wonderful post and thought provoking-a lot to think about! The Lord has been teaching me more and more about His Grace and to lean on Him. I am so thankful!

MEB said...

Thanks for visiting my blog site. Not many wander through so I am always happy when some one does and leave me a nice comment as you did- Thank you-MEB

Betty said...

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog.
I am now following you back!
Have a great day!:)

THOMBU1 said...

Good stuff my friend. May Christ's choicest blessings be yours.