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Sin Is Not Your Master - Part 5

Tom Pennington • Romans 6:1-14

  • 2017-06-11 AM
  • Romans
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It's important for you to understand that whenever people stray from the clear teaching of Scripture, they invariably come up with bizarre ways to try to deal with their sin. I'm reading several books right now on church history, and it's interesting that during those periods of church history when society at large is in a period of decay and decline, one of the most tempting paths for professing Christians to travel is the path of monasticism. Anthony, who lived in the 4th century, is considered the founder of monasticism, that is the idea that we should simply withdraw from the world, that we should live as hermits, either by ourselves or in some sort of a commune with other Christians, separated physically from the world, and that that somehow is going to encourage our spiritual growth.

So, this idea really began in the 4th century, but in the 5th and 6th centuries, it reached its zenith. The great Western monastic, the greatest of them, was a man named Benedict. Benedict decided to live as a hermit in a cave around the year 500 A.D.

Now, if you understand what has birthed this idea of monasticism in the past, it shouldn't come as a surprise to you that in our decaying times as our culture slides back into true paganism, the idea of monasticism is again being floated and even praised in the larger Christian community. Specifically, it has recently achieved a great measure of notoriety through a writer for the National Review, a man named Rod Dreher, who has written a book entitled, The Benedict Option, in which he argues for a kind of monasticism.

Dreher is Greek Orthodox, so he embraces the same works-based righteousness as is present in the Roman Catholic Church; but tragically, his book has been commended even by some in the evangelical community, some of them, I think, for political reasons. They don't embrace all of the spiritual stuff that he sets forth; others because they do, in fact, fully embrace the spiritual ideas of monasticism that he presents.

Understand this however, monasticism is not and never has been a biblical solution to dealing with the world, the flesh, and the devil. In fact, turn to Colossians 2. Keep your finger there in Romans 6; but Colossians 2, notice verse 20, Paul says,

If you have died with Christ, [it's exactly what we're talking about in Romans 6.] If you have died with Christ to [those, and part of that means to the … [basic] principles [that are taught] in the world, then] why … in the world, do you submit yourself to.…" [those elementary ideas of essentially asceticism? That somehow, by hurting the body or by withdrawing the body from evil influences, that somehow, that's going to work.] Verse 21, "Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!" [In verse 22, Paul says these ideas are] "… the commandments and teachings of men?" [not of God. And in fact, he says in verse 23, this whole idea of asceticism along with monasticism,] "These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom …" [but it's really just] "… self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body…." [But he says understand this; look at the end of the verse 23. Such things as these] "… are of no value [no value] against fleshly indulgence."

So, it never has been, never will be helpful in the true battle with sin. If you doubt that, read some of the history of monasticism, and read some of the things that went on in monasteries and nunneries.

But I have to say in reading some of the church history about monasticism, my favorite form of monasticism, for its sheer creativeness, has to be a group of people called the Stylites. Now maybe you've never heard of them, but these were hermit monks who decided in some cases in order to earn their salvation, in other cases as the way to pursue closeness to God and personal holiness, (and I'm not making this up), they decided that the way to do that was to live out their lives on the top of columns; think Greek columns.

Simon the Stylite, who lived in the 5th century, is the one who really sort of began this idea, but his first attempt at trying to sort of punish his body didn't turn out too well, and you can imagine why because he first tried to live buried up to his neck in the ground for several months. Now, in polite company, I'm not going to let you think about where that goes, and how that works out, but clearly this was not a good idea. And so he decided that he could best achieve personal holiness (after that failure) by being elevated, by being closer to God, by being put away from the world, elevated out of the world and living on a column. So again, I'm not making this up, Simon the Stylite actually spent over thirty years of his life living on top of a sixty-foot high column near Antioch.

Now, I have to tell you, then I have to admit this to you, when I first read about the Stylites, when I read about him, my first thoughts weren't spiritual. My first thought was about the practical logistical issues involved with living on top of a column. I mean things like food, water, bathroom, and then my second thought wasn't spiritual either, and that was, boy, this idea wouldn't work out very well in thunderstorm country like Texas; a sixty-foot column. And like you, when I thought about it, when I read about it, I chuckled because it is humorous; but at the same time, it is terribly tragic because this is an entirely futile way to try to secure your salvation from God as some did or as others did; it is a worthless way to fight the battle with sin because wherever we go, even on top of a sixty-foot column, we carry our sin with us. You understand that.

But we can all be creative. I am confident if I went around the room this morning and asked you to express some of the ways that you have tried to deal with sin in your life, I suspect we would come up with some equally fruitless and perhaps in some cases equally humorous ways because this is where we go apart from Scripture.

But the biblical prescription for dealing with our sin is found here in Romans 6. And at its foundation, there is a spiritual Emancipation Proclamation. In fact, the first half of this chapter is making this basic point; we are no longer slaves of sin; that's verses 1 - 14; we are no longer slaves of sin. Because we are in Christ and because of what Christ accomplished for us in His life, death, and resurrection, you and I have experienced a radical change in our relationship to sin. We are no longer enslaved to it. Christian, sin is not your master; you are no longer its slave. And by the way, this is not related to what you feel. It's not related to your experience. This is simply true, if you are a Christian, Paul says you are no longer a slave to sin. It is no longer your master.

Now Paul begins this paragraph by introducing us, as we've noted, to a flawed conclusion about the believer's sin in verses 1 and 2. He anticipates objections to his doctrine of justification by faith alone, by grace alone; the fact that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more; that now as believers, we no longer live under the law; instead we live under the reign of grace. He anticipates that, and verse 1 of chapter 6, he says, "What shall we say then?" In light of all of that, "Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?"

Paul's answer in verse 2 is, "May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" We have died to sin. It makes no sense that we would continue to live in the very thing that we died to. But his point in verse 2, the core statement that he really develops through the rest of this section is we died to sin. We noted that in the context what Paul means by that, you have to be very careful here; all that Paul means is this, we died to sin's reign, to its dominion, to its slavery. That's what we died to.

He then launches in verses 3 - 11 into a detailed explanation of the believer's death to sin. He starts in verses 3 - 5 with the specific means of our death to sin, and that was our union with Jesus Christ. At the very moment of our salvation (if you're a Christian, this happened to you; at the moment of salvation), the Holy Spirit baptized you, immersed you into the body of Christ; you became part of the body of Christ. Verse 3, "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Jesus Christ," that's that Spirit baptism at the moment of salvation when we're immersed into Christ. And if that's happened, notice all who were immersed into the Jesus Christ at the moment of salvation, all of us, the end of verse 3, "have been baptized into His death."

Here's all that Paul is saying, he's saying "Listen, Jesus Christ died physically. He was buried physically. He was raised from the dead by the Father physically." And he says, "If that's true, if that's true, in the same way (if you're a true Christian), you died with Christ." At the moment of conversion, you died with Christ. That is your old self, the person you used to be died. You're no longer the person you were because the Holy Spirit changed you. He changed you at the heart level, and now you are a new creation. Your old self is gone for good; you're a new person in Christ.

In fact, notice verse 5, he says, "For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death," in other words, if we died with Christ at the moment of salvation, if our old self stopped existing, we then certainly, verse 5, will also be united with Him in the likeness of His resurrection. If one happens, the other happens. We've been raised with Christ to new spiritual life. We are no longer under the reign of sin as we were in our life before Christ. So, having explained the specific means by which we die to our sin, our union with Christ, we're united with Christ. He's our representative, and whatever He does, we get the credit for. So, since all of that has happened, Paul then sets out to explain the spiritual ramifications of that in verses 6 - 10.

Now, he first picks up the theme of our death with Christ that he mentioned in verses 4 and 5, and he develops it in verses 6 and 7 as we noted last week. We covered this last week. In verses 6 and 7, he talks about the spiritual ramifications of our death with Christ. Verse 6, "knowing this, our old self was crucified with Him." In other words, at the moment of regeneration, at the moment God changed you, your old self died, and it's gone forever. Verse 6 goes on to say, this happened "in order that our body of sin might be done away with." Or, as the marginal note says, "might be rendered ineffective." So as a result of your death with Christ, your physical body, which is dominated by sin and which still has sin … I should say your body is the beachhead from which sin has its influence in your life. That was rendered powerless. Your physical body and its ability to enslave you, this is what Paul is saying, was rendered powerless when you died with Christ at the moment your salvation.

Why? Verse 6 goes on to say, "so that we would no longer be slaves to sin." There was God's goal for you. Christian, when He saved you, God's goal was to make it so that you would no longer be a slave to your sin. Jesus said, "He who commits sin is the slave of sin." God wanted to break that slavery so there wouldn't be an ongoing, habitual, unrepentant pattern of sin in your life. Christian, sin is not your master; you don't have to obey it; that's the spiritual ramification of our death with Christ.

Now, that brings us today (as Paul moves on), secondly, to show the spiritual ramifications of our resurrection with Christ. Look at verses 8 - 10, Romans 6:8 - 10. In these verses, Paul picks up the theme of our life with Christ that he has already mentioned. In fact, go back to verse 4. He says, "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death." That's our death with Christ at the moment of salvation; our old self died "so that (Here's the resurrection.) as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." Verse 5, "For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, (There's the death of Christ and our connection with it.) certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection." So, in verses 4 and 5, Paul alludes to this relationship we have with Jesus' resurrection, and he picks up that theme, and he further develops it in verses 8 - 10. Let's look at these verses together.

Now, as Paul usually does in verse 8, he begins with a general statement. Notice what he says, "Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him." There's a general proposition. Look at what he says, "if we have died with Christ," in other words if we're truly Christians in the context here, if we're truly Christians, if our old self died with Christ at the moment of our salvation, if the person we used to be is done, then verse 8 says we are believing; that is, we are confident; we are sure "that we shall also live with Him."

Now, think about how Paul is arguing here. If you're attached to the Christian faith at all, whether you're Christian or not, you believe that Christ died, right? He died. Well, when Christ died, He didn't stay dead, right? We understand God raised Him from the dead; verse 4 says the Father raised Him "from the dead." Paul argues that our being raised with Christ at salvation to walk in new life is just as certain as Jesus's resurrection.

Now, look at verse 8 because the future tense there throws some people off. He says, "we shall live with Him." Some look at that and go, "Well, that must be talking about the future. That must be talking about our future bodily resurrection; if we died with Christ, then we're going to experience a future resurrection of our body. And that's true; that's taught in other places. In fact, we'll see it in chapter 7 and chapter 8. But that's not what Paul is talking about here because in this context, he's talking about the certainty of our new life in Christ right now. That's the whole point of this passage. Remember verse 1, Paul is answering what question?

The question, if a true Christian, right now, can continue to live in an unbroken, unrepentant pattern of sin. Verse 4, notice he says at the end of verse 4, "we too might walk in newness of life." When is that? When is he talking about? Right now! We were saved so that, right now, we would walk in a new kind of life than was true of us before our salvation. Verse 11, "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." When is that supposed to happen? Right now! It's not talking about the future; he's talking about right now. If at salvation we died with Christ, he says it is equally certain "that we" will "live with him." That is, we will be raised to new life.

So, how does Paul answer the question in verse 1? Can a true believer continue living in unrepentant, habitual sin? His answer is what? Absolutely not! Why? Because it is as certain that believers will walk in new life as it was certain that Christ would rise from the dead after His crucifixion.

Let me just put it bluntly; North Texas is filled with people who claim to be Christians, but Paul says, "if you are living in an ongoing, continuing pattern of sin in your life, if that's what really characterizes you, not righteousness, but sin, if that's who you are, then it doesn't matter how many professions you've made. It doesn't matter how many times you've been baptized. It doesn't matter how long you've belonged to this church or any church." None of that matters; if you haven't been changed at the heart level, then you're not a Christian. If the people in your life, if your family, if your friends, if the people who know you best don't see a life of righteousness, they don't see a desire to please God, to imitate Jesus Christ, then you haven't been changed, and that means you're not a Christian. This is the message; this idea of new life is the message of the New Testament.

Let me just show you a couple of texts; turn over to Galatians 2; I mentioned this text last week; let me just remind you of it; Galatians 2:19. Paul says, "For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God." And then he says this, this very familiar passage, "I have been crucified with Christ." He's talking here about the very thing we're talking about in Romans 6. He says the old person that I was died with Jesus Christ, and now "it is no longer I who live." It's not the old me who lives, but now my life is infused with the very life of Christ Himself. "And the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

Understand, this is not some elite level of Christian. In other words, this verse isn't talking about if you're a really spiritual Christian, you have been crucified with Christ and this is how you live. No, this is every Christian. If you're a true Christian, your old self died and the life you now enjoy, the spiritual life you now enjoy is the infusion of the very life of Jesus Christ Himself.

Go over to Ephesians 2, Ephesians 2:1, Paul says you were dead; before Christ, you were spiritually "dead in your trespasses and sins." That's how all unbelievers are; before you repent and believe, that's true of every person; it's true of me, it was true of you, it's true of every person who has not yet come to faith in Christ. And he goes on in verses 2 and 3 to describe that slavery. Non-Christians are slaves. They are slaves to their flesh; they obey their bodies. They are slaves to the world system that Satan has created. They march in lockstep with everything the world thinks, and they're slaves to Satan himself, and usually that means false religion, false philosophy.

Verse 4, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, (listen to this) made us alive together with Christ." He made us alive! That's what salvation is.

You know, some people think, you know, you enter the Christian faith by some kind of a assent to the truth of the gospel. Well I believe in, you know like we sang before, I believe in Jesus. Well, so do the devils, so do the demons. They are not going to be in heaven. No, the entry point for God's kingdom is a radical change that only He can produce in the human soul. You say, "Well how do I get that change?" Well, that reduces us to beggars doesn't it? That's why Jesus began the Beatitudes by saying, blessed are the beggars in spirit for to them shall belong the kingdom of heaven. That's how we get in. It's all grace; it's all God.

Now, go back to Romans 6. So in verse 8, Paul makes a declaration of the certainty of our being made new, of our walking in new life as a result of salvation; and then in verses 9 and 10, verses 9 and10 he explains that, and he defends that declaration. The point of verses 9 and 10 is this, Paul says let me tell you what happened to Jesus Christ in His resurrection. Let me tell you what happened to Him. He was our representative, and what happened to Him in His resurrection is what happens us. So, if you understand the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul says you understand what's happened to you. It's so important to understand that verses 9 and 10 are not primarily about us; they are about Jesus Christ, and he's using Christ and what happened to Him as an example to teach us what has happened to us. And yet, he doesn't start with us. This is so important to understand. This is why a lot of people don't understand the Scripture or certainly the New Testament.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes this:

This is a most important principle. This is how the New Testament deals with us and our problems. It never starts with them directly. What the New Testament tells you to do always is to forget yourself altogether, to forget all of your problems, your temptations, your difficulties, everything else, to forget yourself and look at the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider first what has happened to Him; consider first His relationship to sin; then when you have got that clear, the next step is to say I am joined to Him, and what is true of Him is true of me. Therefore I deduce this about myself.

He's absolutely right. And then here's how Lloyd-Jones finishes. "First then, we must forget all about ourselves and our experiences and our subjective moods and states and conditions." And that's so true because what do we do when we have a sin struggle in our lives? Think about your own sin. What do you want? What do you want me to do? What do you want God to do? Do you want me to stand up here and say here are three easy steps to get rid of your sin?

Let me tell you what to do, that's what you want, that's what I want, that's what we're all prone to want by nature because we want the microwave effect of Christianity. Pop it in, and thirty seconds later, it's what it ought to be. That's not how God works. God here first shows us Christ, and He says let me tell you about Jesus Christ. And when you understand Him, then you can take that truth and apply it to yourself, and it will change your thinking, and it will change your life because we were raised with Christ to new life at salvation. What happened to Him has happened to us.

So, let's look together at what Paul teaches us here, not about ourselves first, but about Christ and His resurrection. First of all, in verse 9, he says Christ's resurrection was permanent. Now again, remember what he's doing. He's going to say, "Here's what happened to Christ," and the point is this has happened you too. But the point first is this is what happened to Christ.

Let's look at it. Christ's resurrection is permanent, verse 9, "knowing," again, it's back to what we know. Christianity is not first and foremost a feeling thing; it is a knowledge issue, "knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again."

"Christ," verse 4 says, "was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father." Why? What was the resurrection about? The resurrection was the Father's own testimony that the Son had completely accomplished our redemption. When He raised Him from the dead, there was no doubt that He was who He claimed, that He had accomplished what He said He came to accomplish, and the Father had accepted it. In fact, look at chapter 4:25, it says, "He … was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification." Now, because Christ completed the work of redemption, there is no need for Him to die again.

In fact, He never will, never can die again. Revelation 1:18, I love this. Jesus is talking to John on the Island of Patmos, and he says this, "I am … the living one … I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore." I'm never going to die again! It's done, over. Hebrews 7:16 says that Christ has the power of an indestructible life. It can't be destroyed, can't be done away with, an indestructible life. Hebrews 7:25, "He always lives to make intercession for" us. His resurrection is permanent. He's never going to die again. He's done dying!

Now, what's the point? Why is Paul saying that? Well again, now he intends, having taught us about Christ, he intends for us to deduce the truth about us. Remember, He's our representative; what He does, we get the credit for. So, if Christ's resurrection is permanent, what are we supposed to deduce about ourselves? Like Christ, your resurrection to new life at the moment of salvation is what? Permanent! It's permanent. You can't go back. The person you used to be is forever dead, and you are forever a new creation in Jesus Christ. You can't change that if you wanted to, which, if you're a Christian, you don't want to change; but if you could, you can't change that any more than Christ can die again. That's Paul's point. It's done. It's over. It's settled. It's permanent that you are a new person in Jesus Christ. You're living in volume 2 of your life; you can never go back to volume 1.

Now Paul makes a second point about Christ's resurrection, and that is that death is no longer master over Him. Verse 9, "knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again," death no longer is master over Him. Now by saying, "no longer," Paul is implying that there was a time when death was master over Jesus. Now that should immediately spark a question in your mind, how can that be? Christ is Lord of everything; how could death have been master over him? Well, here's how it happened. First Corinthians 15:56 says the sting of death is sin. What lies behind human death is sin. Jesus had no personal sin. He was without sin, holy, harmless, undefiled, the New Testament says. But He volunteered to come under the power of death and take its sting, not because of His own sin, He never sinned, but because He took our sins upon Himself. And by taking our sins upon Himself (He placed Himself) under the penalty of the law for sin which was what? Death! "The soul that sins, it shall die."

Look at 6:23, "the wages of sin [what you earn for your sin, what I earn for my sin] is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." So it was in that sense that death had power over Him. He willingly, voluntarily submitted Himself under our sin. He took our sin upon Himself; and in taking our sin upon Himself, He volunteered to take the death that came along with that sin. In that sense, death was His master, voluntarily so.

But how can we know Jesus is no longer under the power of death? The resurrection! In Romans, or excuse me, in Revelation 1:18, Christ goes on to say this, "I am … the living One; I was dead … I am alive forevermore," and then he says, "and I have the keys of death and" the grave. In other words, I have the authority over death and the grave. He conquered death and He's finished with it forever. Death is no longer master over Him. He's its master. Christ is no longer related to sin and death in any way. Verse 10 says, "For" [So here is Paul's explanation of why death is no longer master over Him.] "For [for this reason] the death that He died, He died to sin once for all."

Now that is a very curious expression. Notice Paul does not say what we expect him to say, Christ died for sin, which is true, but that's not what he says here. He says, "He died to sin." Why would he use that expression? Well go back to verse 2; what has he already said about us? "We died to sin." So, he's saying the same thing about Christ that he has already said about us.

When Christ came into the world (think of it this way), when Christ came into the world at His first advent, He came into the realm in which sin and death reigned. And for thirty-three years, He lived under the reign, in the realm of sin and death. And Scripture makes this point again and again about Jesus during His incarnation. All the way back in Isaiah 53 it says, He was "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." Why? Because, He lived in the realm of sin and death!

Hebrews 4:15 says, "we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin." He lived in the realm of sin and death without being tainted by it. John 11:35, the shortest verse in the Bible, says, "Jesus wept." About what? About the death of His friend, Lazarus! He lived in the realm of sin and death. Hebrews 5:7 and 8, "In the days of His flesh [That is during His incarnation.] He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One [who was] able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered." He lived in the same realm of sin and death you and I do; and of course, the greatest manifestation of this was on the cross when He bore our sins in His own body. What does He cry out? "My God, my God, [what?] why have you forsaken me?" It's because He was under the realm of sin and death.

In order to save us, Christ chose to subject Himself to this realm in which sin and death reigned. He took our sin upon Himself as 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, God "made Him … to be sin," not that He had personal sin, but God credited our sin to Him and treated Him as if He had lived our lives, and He took upon Himself the penalty for our sin which was death. And when Christ died (here's the point Paul is making), when Christ died, He died to sin and death. And notice verse 10; He did so "once for all," once for all.

Turn to Hebrews 9. The writer of Hebrews makes this point so beautifully, so profoundly, Hebrews 9, notice verse 24, Christ didn't enter into some earthly temple, but He entered into the presence of God, or He would have had to have offered Himself often, verse 25, "as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own." Verse 26, "He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now [This is what Jesus did.] once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." Once was all it took.

Go to 10:11, "Every [human earthly] priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, [That is Christ.] having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD." In the Old Testament system, priests never sat down because their work was never finished because sin was never really atoned for; they were just anticipating the sacrifice that would, the sacrifice of Christ. But Christ having made one sacrifice for sins Himself sat down because it was finished. It was once for all. First Peter 3:18 says, "Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God." Jesus died for sin once for all.

By the way, let me just say in passing that this is why views of the Lord's supper that imagine that the priest is somehow re-sacrificing Jesus Christ (as in the Roman Catholic mass, for example), this is why those are so tragically flawed, because Jesus offered Himself once for all, and He sat down; the work of redemption was completed as He said even at his death, "It is [what?] finished."

Now, go back to Romans 6; death is no longer master over Jesus because of the resurrection. But what are we then to deduce about ourselves? If He, as our representative, acted in our place, and if we get the benefit of what He did, what does this say about us? Paul's point here in Romans 6 is that (like Jesus Christ), you have died to the realm of sin and death, and it is no longer your master any more than sin and death can ever be Jesus' master again; that's the point. You see how closely tied these concepts are?

Now, Paul makes a third point about Christ's resurrection: it's that Christ now lives to God. Look at verse 10, "For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God." You know, I don't think there's any better explanation of what Paul's talking about here than Hebrews 9:28. Listen to the writer of Hebrews, "Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many," that is of all those who will ever believe in Him; that was His first coming, offered to bear the sins of many. He will appear a second time. Here's the second coming, "for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly (wait for) Him."

In His first coming, Jesus came in relation to sin; but His relationship to sin was voluntary, and it was temporary. When He died, that relationship ended. He willingly took on the guilt of our sin. He entered a world where sin and death reigned, and He died to sin and death once for all. When He comes again, He will come without any relationship to sin. He died once to sin, but Paul says He now continually lives to God. While He was in this world, He lived in the realm of sin and death, but that is no longer true. Jesus now lives to God (not to say that He didn't live to God while He was here), but He lives now without any relationship to sin, without any relationship to death other than being their master and victor; He lives to God.

Now, here in verses 9 and 10 of Roman 6, Paul is talking entirely about Christ and His resurrection. In His death, our Lord died to sin and to death forever, once for all. They will never exercise any power in His life for eternity. Sin is dealt with, death is conquered, and now He lives entirely in the realm of God and His glory.

What's the point? Listen, Christian (here's the point); you, in the same way, now live for ever to God. You live forever to God in the very same way. Before Christ, you were a slave of sin; but at the moment of regeneration, your old self died spiritually with Christ just as Jesus died physically. And just as God raised Christ up physically from the dead, He raised you up at the moment of your salvation, spiritually to new life. You became a new person in Jesus Christ. What was the result of that?

Paul's whole point in this paragraph is this: the dominion of sin; the slavery that you once experienced to sin was permanently broken at that moment. You were given a new power to overcome both the acts of sin and the habitual pattern of sin in your life.

Sinclair Ferguson puts it this way; he says, "By the new birth, a radical break with sin takes place. Although the character of sin in the Christian is no different from its character before he became a child of God, the status of sin has been dramatically changed. Formerly, when you were before you were in Christ, it reigned like a king; but now although still present, it has been dethroned and no longer has a rightful claim upon our lives." Christian, you live like Jesus Christ to God.

So, so far in this paragraph or this section, we've discovered a flawed conclusion about the believer's sin in verses 1 and 2, a detailed explanation of the believer's death to sin in verses 3 through 11. And that brings us to the third part of this section in verses 11 to 14. And I just want to introduce this to you, the practical application of the believer's death to sin, the practical application of the believer's death to sin.

Now let me just say for those of you who take careful notes, and I know there are many of you; I have slightly changed my outline from how I gave it to you before. I simply moved verse 11 under this third point because it logically fits better here because in verses 11 - 14, Paul applies the rich theology that he has been teaching in several, very practical, helpful ways. I hope you understand these verses, verses 11 - 14, represent Ground Zero in your own struggle with whatever your sin temptations are. The rest of our time this morning, just a couple of minutes, I want to introduce you to this first practical point of application; and next week, Lord willing as we celebrate the Lord's table, we will look at it in more detail.

In verse 11, Paul comes to his first command in this paragraph. Everything so far has been doctrine. He has simply been explaining to us what has happened to us. Let me make the point that Paul's approach here underscores the inextricable link between doctrine and practice. Let me put it bluntly to you. You will not, you cannot grow in personal holiness without a corresponding growth in the knowledge of what God has done for you in Christ. In fact, our Lord prayed in John 17:17, "Sanctify them [make them holy] in the truth; Your word is truth." Christian, this is why daily commitment to being in the Scripture is so important. If you aren't in the Scripture on a regular basis, you are starving your soul. You will not, you cannot grow in personal holiness. Invariably, when those of us who do counseling here meet with people, that's our first question, and sadly all too often, the answer is, "Well no, I'm not really doing well with that, I've just got this sin struggle I want you to fix." It's like, no-no; you need to understand these go together.

It's understanding who you are in Jesus Christ that helps you grow. Paul underscores the importance of doctrine. In this case, the importance of knowing what has happened to us by giving ten verses in chapter 6 before he ever tells us what to do. But it's even more profound than that. If you want to understand the importance of doctrine, listen carefully, you need to realize that Romans 6:11 is the first command in the entire letter. Paul has not yet given us one command. Everything to this point has been doctrine, intended to increase our knowledge.; The very first command in the entire letter doesn't come until 6:11, and look at the nature of that first command. Look at verse 11, "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."

This first command isn't even a command for us to actually do anything. Instead, it is a command to make every effort to understand and to believe what God has done. Notice the connection of application and doctrine verse 11, "Even so," in light of all those ten verses of doctrine. Verse 12, "Therefore," in light of those ten verses of doctrine, Christian, like Christ, you have died permanently to the reign of sin, and you now live to God forever. He has declared for you the Emancipation Proclamation; you're free from slavery to sin, so don't go on living like you're still a slave.

And listen carefully, the most important thing you can do as a starting point for dealing with the sin in your life is to change how you think about yourself and understand what God has done for you in Christ. Listen to Lloyd-Jones, "The first thing that is absolutely essential to our being delivered from sin," the first thing, you want help with the sin in your life? Lloyd-Jones says, "The first thing that is absolutely essential to our being delivered from sin is that we should realize the truth about ourselves as it is expounded in this 11th verse. Nothing, therefore, can be more important for us than to understand exactly what this 11th verse says and what it does not say." And he's absolutely right; and Lord willing, we'll look at in detail next week.

Let's pray together.

Father, we confess to you that we are by nature pragmatists; we just want You to give us three easy steps to get rid of the sin in our lives. But we're so grateful, oh God, that you don't do that. We're so grateful that You took the trouble to explain to us what has happened to us in Christ.

Father, I pray that you would help us in this week as we anticipate next week, to think about these things, to meditate on them, to apply ourselves to them, to live in light of it.

And Father, I pray for those who may be here this morning who've made some profession of Jesus Christ, but who are unchanged. Lord, may this be the day you strip away the blinders from their eyes and help them to see that that is not true Christianity, and may they cry out to you to change them at the heart level.

We pray it in Jesus's name, Amen.