Broadcasting now. Watch Live.

Sin Is Not Your Master - Part 1

Tom Pennington • Romans 6:1-14

  • 2017-04-30 AM
  • Romans
  • Sermons


Well, I invite you to turn with me to the book of Romans again this morning, Romans chapter 6. This morning we begin one of the most well-known sections of Paul's letter to the Romans. It is often referred to and often quoted as being Paul's definitive teaching on the doctrine of sanctification. I must say, in light of that, that it is also the most misquoted and misunderstood section of Paul's letter to the Romans.

Why do I say that? Well, I think the problem for most people begins even with how they understand the structure and the flow of Paul's thought in the entire letter. If you ask the average Christian to sort of outline for you the book of Romans, if they are familiar with it at all, it would go something like this--this would be to most popular way to outline Romans: They would say, "Chapters 1 through 5 are about justification. Chapters 6 through 8, about sanctification. Chapters 9 through 11, about election and the problem of the Jews. And then, chapters 12 through 16 are practical application."

That's the most popular outline of Romans. Now, as I have already begun to argue with you, and as you have already begun to see, a careful exposition of these chapters simply does not support that division. When we come to Romans, chapter 6, Paul is not beginning a new subject; he is instead beginning a new section in which he is developing the same theme that he has already begun to develop in chapter 5.

Now, this is very clear from how he begins chapter 6. Notice chapter 6, verse 1, "What shall we say then?" What shall we say about what? Well, clearly Paul is referring back to chapter 5. You remember of course that the chapter divisions in our Bible are not inspired; they are there simply to help us find our way; they're very helpful but were added for that purpose. And this particular chapter division, I think, is well-placed because it does mark a slight change in Paul's direction but not a thorough change in his subject.

Don't let the chapter division obscure your understanding of the flow of Paul's thought. Paul's question in chapter 6, verse 1 clearly refers back to what he's just been saying in the previous chapter; he's not finished yet developing that theme. And what he is about to say in chapter 6 is directly connected to what he was saying in chapter 5.

So, what has he been saying in chapter 5? Let me just remind you. You'll remember that the first four chapters lay out an explanation of the gospel; Paul explains his gospel, and at the heart of his gospel is the truth of justification by faith alone--that we undeserving, ungodly sinners can be made right with God solely through the work of Jesus Christ by the grace of God received by faith alone. That's what he's taught in the first four chapters.

Beginning in chapter 5, he unfolds for us our security, our confidence because of that gospel from chapter 5 through the end of chapter 8. Notice how he begins chapter 5, verse 1 "Therefore, having been justified." He says in light of the fact that you have come to understand the truth of the gospel, embrace it; there are immediate benefits that are yours.

That's really what he does in chapter 5, verses 1 through 11. There are immediate benefits that have become yours. Notice chapter 5, verse 1, "…having been justified, we have peace with God." The war between us and God is over. And verse 2, we stand in grace. Our new position is a standing in grace, and we hope in God's glory. That is, we hope, we live in eager anticipation of both seeing and sharing God's glory. In verse 4, we rejoice in our tribulations. In other words, even the troubles of this life now are useful; God uses them for our good since we have been justified. In verse 5 and following, he talks about the fact that we are certain of God's love for us; how could we doubt it when He offered His own Son on the cross? Chapter 5, verse 8, He demonstrated that love. He goes on to say in verses 9 and 10 that we are certain that we will not experience God's future wrath; we're certain of that because of what Christ has done in our place. And then he ends those 11 verses in verse 11 of chapter 5 by saying that we exult in God himself. Those are the immediate benefits of our justification.

Now, beginning in the middle of chapter 5, chapter 5, verse 12 and running down through the end of the chapter, verse 21, Paul moves on to the legal basis of our justification; how could a just God treat us as if we had lived the life of Jesus and as if we had died His death? And the way that happens is because of representation. You remember the emphasis of the second half of chapter 5 is that you and I, all of us without exception, were born in Adam. That is, God had appointed Adam as our representative; he represented us in the garden, and we get the consequences of his sinful choice. We were in Adam; but at the very moment of our conversion, the moment we were saved, God changed our representative. We are no longer in Adam; we are now in Christ. He is our God-appointed representative, and now we receive all the benefits that He accrued, all the blessings that He earned, all the work of redemption that He accomplished.

In other words, Paul is talking in the second half of Romans 5 about our union with Jesus Christ, that He represents us; and because we are in Christ, our salvation is secure. We saw it, didn't we? In the second half of Romans 5, that we, in Adam, were characterized by sin, but in Christ, righteousness. In Adam, we got legal guilt; we stood guilty before God; in Christ, we get justification. In Adam, we got spiritual and eternal death; in Christ we get eternal life.

Think of it this way, I love this, think about this for a moment; nothing can happen to us who are in Christ that can't happen to Christ; nothing can happen to you that can't happen to Christ. We are as secure in our eternal future as He Himself is. Everything that is His, will ultimately become fully and completely ours; we are in Christ. That's the message of Romans 5.

So then, what is the relationship between chapter 5 and chapter 6? Well, that becomes clear if you look at the context; look again at the question Paul poses in chapter 6, verse 1, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?" Now, let me ask you, in light of our study of Romans, where does that language come from? Where did those words, those concepts originate? And the answer is the two verses before. Go back to chapter 5, verse 20 and 21; he says:

The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Now, those two verses are absolutely crucial to where Paul is going to go next, because those two verses raise two really important questions that Paul is going to answer in chapters 6 and 7. What are those two questions? First question that those two versus pose: Does grace encourage Christians to sin? Does the grace that comes to us in justification promote ongoing sin in the life of the believer?

Now think about it for a moment. At a cursory level that seems like a reasonable question to ask. If my sin is fully forgiven, if I have been declared right with God forever, and nothing that I will ever do will change that, and if my sin causes grace to abound, then why shouldn't I sin so that I can experience more of God's grace? Won't that cause grace to reign even more in my life? This is the question that Paul addresses in chapter 6. He answers the question: What is the Christian's relationship to sin? Paul is going to spend the entire chapter answering that question.

Now, the second question that arises in chapter 5, verses 20 and 21, is this: Does God's law have a purpose? Does God's law have a purpose? Is it completely without value? Paul has just said listen, we're not saved by keeping the law. Well, what's the point? Why did God give us the law? What was the purpose of His law to begin with? What purpose does His law serve for unbelievers, and does His law still serve any purpose in the lives of believers? In other words, how does God's law fit into God's eternal plan of redemption? Paul is going to spend chapter 7 answering that question. Both of the questions that are raised by chapter 5, verses 20 and 21, he spends the next two chapters answering.

Now, in one sense, I think Martyn Lloyd-Jones is right, that chapters 6 and 7 are a kind of parenthesis in Paul's thought, raised by those issues that we just saw. But in another sense, I think Lloyd-Jones goes a little far and I can't fully agree with him, because I am convinced that chapters 6 and 7 fit into the larger section of which they're a part. Remember, chapters 5 through 8 are about our security in Christ. Clearly, chapter 5 intends to drive that point home. And you come to chapter 8 and it is one of the richest chapters on our security in the spirit; it's my favorite chapter in Romans.

Between those two chapters, those two bookends on our security, because of our justification, are these two chapters 6 and 7. And they, both of them, I believe, contribute to our understanding of the theme of the larger section. In other words, both of these chapters will enrich our understanding in a huge way of our security in Christ. So as we begin, I want you to get out of your mind the idea that these two chapters are primarily here to teach us about the means of sanctification; that's how most Christians think of them, that these chapters are about sanctification. Now clearly, we will learn some things about sanctification in these chapters. There are truths here that are very helpful to that end, but that's not why these two chapters are here. They are here, in this section, in order to increase our security and certainty that we are in Christ because of justification and all that that means.

I am especially jealous of this truth; because as a new Christian, I was exposed to some wretched books. I was saved as a senior in high school; and in college, I was given some books that come out of the Deeper Life Movement, and those books taught me, and I embraced for a time, and it really sidetracked my Christian life and experience for a time, and it took some time to overcome. Those books taught me this, that in chapter 6, Paul begins to address the issue of sanctification, and then they said in chapter 7, Paul shows us what it's like to live as a weak, defeated Christian. But you don't have to stay in chapter 7; they said no, no, that's only where the weak, defeated live; you can come to chapter 8 and live the victorious Christian life. That's how it was described. That's not what these chapters are teaching. And if you're tempted to think that that's the construct on which these chapters are based, I am confident by the time we have finished expositing our way through these chapters, you will see that there is no evidence for that construct whatsoever.

Now, before we begin to work our way through the text itself, let me first show you the flow of Paul's thought in chapter 6. Remember, the main issue in chapter 6 is the Christian's new relationship to sin. The chapter divides easily into two large sections. Paul makes it clear that there are two sections by essentially repeating the same basic expression twice. Look at verse 1, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may increase? May it never be!"

Now go down to verse 15, "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!" Those two verses mark the beginning of the two large sections in the sixth chapter. Verses 1 through 14, he raises the question of verse 1, answers it in verses 2 through 14, can the believer continue to live in sin? Paul's answer is no! Because we died to sin. His answer is primarily doctrinal; some of the richest doctrine in the entire epistle is here. He applies the reality of our union with Christ.

Then you'll notice the second time this question appears in verse 15; it's similar, but distinct. And in verses 15 to 23, Paul deals with the question, "Can the believer take sin lightly because we are not under law but under grace?" verses 15 to 23. And Paul's answer to that is "No! Because we are slaves to God and slaves to righteousness." So then what is our new relationship to sin? Well, let me give you an outline of the chapter, this is Roman 6: What's our new relationship to sin?

  1. Verses 1 to 14: we are no longer slaves of sin.

  2. And verses 15 to 23: we are now slaves of God and righteousness.

So let's look then at the first major section, verses 1 to 14. Now where I want to start is I want to give you a sort of stated theme. Let me capture what verses 1 to 14 teach. Here's what they teach, and then we will go through it, and you'll see this unfold. This is what they teach. The gospel of grace does not promote a continuing life of sin because we have experienced a radical change in our relationship to sin. Let me say that again. The gospel of grace does not promote a continuing life of sin because we have experienced a radical change in our relationship to sin. Here's the flow of Paul's thought in these first 14 verses. Again, the point is that we are no longer slaves of sin, but he unpacks that in three basic thoughts as he unfolds it to us.

First of all, in verses 1 and 2, I'll call that a flawed conclusion about the believer's sin. In verse 1, he raises the question he wants to address; in verse 2, he provides a kind of general sweeping answer to the question. And then in verses 3 through 11, Paul comes back and provides a detailed explanation of the believer's death to sin. He works out the general point he made in verse 2, he works it out in great detail in verses 3 through 11. And then finally in verses 12 to 14, he applies it. We find the practical application of the believer's death to sin.

Now, in case you doubt that I've arrived at the correct theme of the passage, let me show you, it's very clear here; it's repeated again and again. Notice verse 1, "Are we to continue in sin?" Verse 2, "Shall we still live in" sin? Verse 6, Paul says I'm writing "so that we would no longer be slaves to sin." Verse 12, "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts." Verse 13, "Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin." And verse 14, he captures everything together and he says, "Sin shall not be master over you." So, clearly here, he is saying that we are no longer slaves to sin.

Now, be clear, Paul is not denying that Christians sin. When we get to chapter 7, one of the most famous portions in Romans, Paul is going to talk about his present struggle with sin, as a believer, as an apostle, as a mature believer; sin is still a reality. He's not denying that. Nor is he denying that sin is a serious and sustained temptation and struggle for believers. Otherwise, the exhortations in verses 12 and 13, for example, would be completely unnecessary.

Look at verse 12, "Do not let sin reign." Verse 13, "Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin." If sin weren't a struggle, those wouldn't be necessary. He wouldn't need to say that. So, he's not denying that we sin; he's not denying that sin is a real struggle for us all, even those of us in Christ. Rather, Paul is denying that true Christians are still enslaved to sin and continue to live in it as an unbroken pattern of life. Because we are in Christ, because of what He has accomplished in our place, there has been a radical change in our relationship to sin. That's what Paul wants us to understand.

So, let's look at this passage together. He begins in verses 1and 2 by reciting for us a flawed conclusion about the believer's sin, a flawed conclusion about the believer's sin. Notice verse 1, "What shall we say then?" That is to the truths of chapter 5, verses 20 and 21; in light of the fact that where sin abounds, grace abounds even more; in light of the fact that for those of us in Christ, grace reigns, verse 1, "Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?"

Now the key word in that statement is the word 'continue.' The Greek word translated 'continue' according to the leading Greek Lexicon can be defined this way, quote, "to continue in an activity, to persist, to persevere." Paul says is it okay for us who have experienced God's grace and salvation, in justification, to persist in, to continue in, to persevere in a continuing pattern and the habit of sin? I mean after all, won't our sin put God's grace even more clearly on display? Leon Morris says that Paul is thinking here of sinners staying where they are, declining to budge from their habitual sin. That's the issue, not talking about believer's sin; believers do that; he's talking about continuing to live in sin as a pattern of life.

Now, on the face of it, it seems like an odd question for Paul to raise at all, certainly here. Why would he ask that question? Where does this question come from? I think it's crucial, for us to understand the passage, to understand why Paul even raises this question at all. And I think there are four important reasons that Paul raises this question and to really grasp where he's going, you've got to get these. This is what he's about. Paul raises this question, first of all, to answer the opponents of the gospel. Paul knew from his own experience that many of those who opposed his gospel seized on this very point. They used this argument to build a straw man against justification by faith alone. They argued that the gospel of justification actually encourages the people who believe it to sin more.

You say, did that really happen? Yeah! Go back to chapter 3. Chapter 3, as Paul is answering some of the criticisms of his Jewish opponents, in verse 8, Romans 3:8, he says, "…why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say)." In other words, Paul says, listen! I get this all the time. I get this from people. They say, " 'Let us do evil that good may come.' Their condemnation is just." This is in a section where he's dealing with the opponents of the gospel, and he says what I hear from the opponents of the gospel is, Paul, you might as well say to people, 'Oh, go ahead and sin so God can show more grace. That's where your doctrine of justification goes.'

John Stott explains how these opponents of Paul's reason. He said they thought like this, quote, "If our acceptance before God depends entirely on His free grace, irrespective of any works of ours, then surely we may live as we please. If God justifies the ungodly and indeed delights to do so, then there's no point in being godly. In fact, the reverse is true." Well, Paul understood that, and he brings this question up because he wanted his opponents to know that justification, rightly understood, does not cause sin to increase in the life of the believer.

Paul raised this question, secondly, to draw out, for true believers, the implications of grace and justification. He's writing to the believers in Rome, so primarily this letter is for believers. So, what's he doing here? Why would he raise this question for us? He wants to teach the believers in Rome, and ultimately us, about the implications of our union with Christ and the results of our justification, to show us that the gospel of grace doesn't lead to sin, but to righteousness.

Paul also raised this question, thirdly, to confront professing Christians who excused the continued dominion of sin in their lives. In other words, they used grace as a cover for sin. This is always a problem. There may have been some in Rome who had fallen into this error. Theologians call this antinomianism; it comes from two Greek words 'anti'--against, and 'nomos,' which is the Greek word for law--against the law. Antinomianism is lawlessness. In other words, the idea of how you live as a believer doesn't really matter.

Alan Cairns, in his excellent book Dictionary of Theological Terms, defines antinomianism in part as the belief, quote, "That a believer may sin with impunity because the grace of God super abounds over his sin." Just go ahead and sin because God's grace will cover it.

You say, is that a problem? It's a problem; it was a huge problem in the early church. Most of the epistles of the New Testament address this in one way or another. We could go to several different places, but the one that jumps out at me is Jude; you remember the half-brother of our Lord. He writes in Jude 4 that in the church there were "ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness." In other words, under the cover of grace, they just sin and sin and keep on sinning; and in so doing, he says, they "deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."

But that wasn't just a problem then; this is always a problem. It's always a problem in the church and it's always a problem in the common misperception of people outside the church about what we believe. For example, Voltaire, who was certainly no Christian, he was a French agnostic. Voltaire said, "God will forgive; that's His business. He has to, so don't worry about it." Or W. H. Auden said, "I like committing crimes; God likes forgiving them. Really, the world is admirably arranged." end quote. This is how antinomians think and it's still alive and well, connected to the church of Jesus Christ today.

One contemporary expression of antinomianism in our day, I've addressed with you before, is the model of cross-centered sanctification. The approach to sanctification that says, "You don't have to try to obey the commands of Christ; you don't have to try to live out your Christian life and follow the imperatives of Scripture. Instead, you just relish in the indicatives of the gospel, in the cross and what's been done for you. Just remind yourself of the truth of the gospel." Well, of course, you should do that, but that's not all you should do. The truth is that's just antinomianism; it's an excuse for sin wrapped in the gospel.

Another expression of antinomianism, in our day, is very popular out there on the internet. It's the celebration of one's sin and brokenness. Now, don't misunderstand; I think this idea starts with a good motive. I think it grows out of a genuine desire to be transparent and to be open about our struggles. In other words, it's a desire not to hide our difficulties behind some sort of Christian, Sunday-morning church façade as though we don't have any problems. Well, that's something we should pursue; that should be true of us as believers. We ought to be rightly transparent with one another; we ought not to hide behind some façade; we ought to be open and genuine. We should never forget, brothers and sisters, that the church is a hospital and we are all at some degree of spiritual illness. That's why we're here. But sadly, people today often take this idea of brokenness too far and it becomes almost a celebration of their sin. They're not focused on changing; they are just celebrating their brokenness. So Paul raises this question to address this issue.

I think another, a fourth important purpose and implication related to Paul's question, number four, is he raises this question to show that the true gospel, rightly understood and preached, will always invite this potential misunderstanding. No one can say it better than Lloyd-Jones did; listen to what he wrote, "There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel of salvation than this, that some people might misunderstand it and misrepresent it to mean that, because you are saved by grace alone, you can go on sinning as much as you like."

Again, listen to what he says, "If our preaching does not expose us to that charge and to that misunderstanding, it is because we are not really preaching the gospel." That's a profound statement; he's absolutely right. He's absolutely right because no one has ever come up to someone preaching works-righteousness and said, "Well, in light of what you're saying, I might as well just go ahead and sin all I want." No one's ever done that; no one's ever accused the person preaching works-righteousness of that. But, when you preach the gospel of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone as Paul did, you open yourself up to that accusation. It was true in the Reformation; it's still true today.

So, for all of those reasons then, all four of them, Paul begins with this question; look at verse 1, "Are we to continue [to persist in sinning] so that grace may increase?" His answer comes in verse 2, "May it never be!" The very strong response mē genoito. This is Paul's, one of his favorite expressions. It's 10 times here in Romans, 3 times already in chapter 3. It means, "May it never be; may it never happen; that's absolutely unthinkable." This expression carries with it a sort of moral revulsion, a sense of outrage. Paul says listen, even to raise that question in verse 1 is to totally misunderstand the gospel of grace.

Now, why would he say that? Well, look at chapter 5, verse 21. Here's why it's completely wrong. Verse 21, "…as sin reigned in death, even so grace reigns (for the Christian) through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Paul says, so did grace come to encourage us to continue to sin? He says, "Absolutely not! Grace came to free us from the reign of sin." That's why grace came, to free us from the rule, the tyranny, the domination of sin, and to bring us instead under the reign or rule of grace itself. The whole purpose of grace is to destroy the dominion of sin in our lives and to establish its own reign instead. And what does the reign of grace produce? Look again at verse 21: grace reigns through what? Righteousness. Righteousness! You see, a man who is justified, a man who is under the reign of grace is no longer under the reign of sin. He can't think like verse 1; he can't act like verse 1. Paul says, therefore, in verse 2, "May it never be!"

Now what Paul says next is one of the most important statements in the entire book of Romans. In fact, it's one of the most foundational and fundamental statements in the entire Scripture. I'll even go a step further, understanding the next statement of Paul's is foundational to understanding salvation, the salvation he preached and to the daily struggle with sin in your life. What we learn next is crucial to personal holiness.

Now, notice carefully what Paul says in verse 2, "How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" Now, remember the context; this is Paul's explanation of why all of those who have been justified do not continue to live in sin as a lifestyle and pattern. Why is that true? Why is every Christian not living in a lifestyle and pattern of sin? Paul's answer to that is: we died to sin. We died to sin.

Now, when you read the Scripture, it's important to read it very carefully, particularly in a doctrinal section like this one. I want you to notice what Paul does not say in verse 2. Number one, Paul does not say that we "have died" to sin. Now, to say that we have died could mean that there was an event that happened in the past, like we have been justified. Right? That was an event that happened in a moment of time. But you can also say "have died" to describe or to imply that there was a process in the past; at some point in the past, a process started, and that process carried on for some time, and then finally at some point in the past, that process ended; we have died. That's not what Paul says. He doesn't want to imply that this is a process in the past, the process of dying that finally came to completion. He says, no, we died. Not we have died.

Secondly, Paul does not say that we "are dying" to sin. That would be to make this a process that is ongoing in the present.

Thirdly, Paul does not say that we "are dead" to sin. If he had said that, it would imply that we as believers are completely insensitive to, un-influenced by sin; we find sin unattractive. That simply just wouldn't be true, right? So he doesn't say we "are dead" to sin.

And, fourthly, and I think this is where a lot of Christians get confused; he does not say we "should die" to sin. That's not what he says. If he said we "should die" that would imply that there's something you and I need to do now to make this happen. Paul doesn't say any of those things. Instead, he intentionally chooses in the original Greek language a verb tense, the aorist tense, to describe an event that has already happened in the past: we died to sin.

If you are a Christian, what Paul is talking about in these verses, and in verse 2, happened to you already, in the past. And that past event has forever changed your relationship to sin. Understanding and applying that event is absolutely crucial to your daily struggle with sin and to your security and confidence in Christ. But whether you understand it and apply it or not, it is a real event that happened. If you're in Christ, it happened to you; it's already happened.

On the other hand, if you profess to know Jesus Christ, if you're here this morning and you say, "Yeah! I'm a Christian; I'm a follower of Jesus Christ," but you are living in a pattern of ongoing, unrepentant sin, Paul wants you to know that you are denying the very profession you make by how you're living. Paul says continuing to live in sin is incongruent with a life that is under the reign of grace. So Paul calls us here really in a very real sense to examine ourselves to see if we're in the faith.

Let me ask you this morning: do you claim to have experienced grace? Maybe you have walked an aisle at some point in the past; maybe you've prayed a prayer; maybe you've prayed a lot of prayers; maybe you've signed a card; maybe you joined the church that your mom and your dad and your grandparents belonged to. You say, "I have experienced grace, the grace of forgiveness." But if you are living in an ongoing pattern of unrepentant sin, it is very possible that you're not a Christian at all because that's inconsistent with the reign of grace. You're living like you're still under the reign of sin.

I plead with you today, truly repent of that sin. Turn from that sin and throw yourself on the mercy of Jesus Christ, and I can promise you this: He will receive you. He never turns away someone who truly comes to Him with a repentant heart.

But this is very important: even for genuine Christians there is a temptation to slide from celebrating grace to abusing grace; to tolerate sin or even to decide to sin, and in the back of your mind you're thinking something like this, "Should I do this, should I not do this, should I do this? Well, you know, I think I'll go ahead because even if I do it, what? God will forgive me." Paul says if you're a Christian, you died to sin.

Now you say, wait a minute, Tom. When did that happen? When exactly did this past event occur? Well, let me give you a little hint. In context, Paul is clear. It happened at the very same moment that you were transferred from being in Adam to being in Christ. In other words, it happened at the moment of your salvation; you died to sin. And it's so important to understand. Lord willing, we will look next time at what Paul means by this extraordinary statement.

Let's pray together. Father, we thank you for Your Word. We thank you for the profound depths of it, for how it challenges us, challenges our thinking, stretches our minds, carries us into the depths of Your own wisdom. Father, I pray that, as we track through this passage together, that You would use it in the lives of all of us who truly know You through Your Son. Lord, may we understand better, may we know what we need to know so that we can live and apply the truth in the way we ought to. Father, help us to live in keeping with the reality that we died to sin. Father, I pray as well for those who here this morning who perhaps have made a profession of faith in Christ, who tell everyone around them that they are Christians, who have convinced themselves that they are, but who, in everyday life, live in an ongoing pattern of sin, a life controlled by, dominated by, enslaved to sin. Father, help them to truly examine their hearts to see if they are in the faith because that is so inconsistent with a life under the reign of grace. Father, I pray that if they're not in Christ, you would bring them to a true knowledge of Yourself today, that they would truly repent of their sins and confess Jesus as Lord today. And, Father, we ask that you would seal these truths to our hearts to the glory of Your Son and Your name. Amen.