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Sin Is Not Your Master - Part 6

Tom Pennington • Romans 6:1-14

  • 2017-06-18 AM
  • Romans
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Well as we prepare our hearts for the Lord's Table this morning, I want you to turn with me to Romans 6 again; and this morning we're just going to consider one verse together, Romans 6. Just to remind you as we continue to work our way through this magnificent letter, we find ourselves in the first half of Romans 6:1 - 14, and the main point of these verses can be reduced to this: we are no longer slaves of sin; we are no longer slaves of sin. Because of Christ, because we are in Him, because of what He accomplished in the work of redemption, we have experienced a radical change in our relationship to sin. We are no longer slaves to sin.

Now, Paul begins this paragraph by introducing us to a flawed conclusion about the believer's sin in verses 1 and 2. I'm sure it was a conclusion that was thrown up to him many times by the opponents of the gospel, saying, "Paul, if it's true, as chapter 5 ends, that grace now reigns instead of the law, instead of sin, that whenever we sin, grace abounds even more." Then verse 1 of chapter 6, "What shall we say? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?" Is it okay for a Christian to live habitually in a pattern of unrepentant sin so that grace can abound? Verse 2, "May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" Paul says if you're a Christian, you died to sin. That is, you died to the reign of sin in your life, to the rule of sin, to your utter abject slavery to sin; that's over. And so, you can't, having died to sin, continue to live in it as a pattern of life; it's impossible.

He then goes on in verses 3 - 10 to provide a detailed explanation of the believer's death to sin. Let me just kind of recapture what we learned in these verses together. The point of verses 3 - 10 is that what happened to Jesus Christ, our representative, happened to us; and as a result of that, our relationship to sin is radically different. He entered the realm of sin and death, and He dealt with it once for all, and we are in Him, and so our relationship to sin has changed as well.

Before Christ, Christian, you were a slave of sin. Every unbeliever is a slave of sin. Jesus said that the one who is committing sin is a slave of sin. But at the moment of regeneration, at the moment that God gave you life, your old man, that is your old self, the person you were before Christ, died spiritually with Christ just as Jesus had died physically. And just as God raised Jesus Christ from the dead physically, at the moment of regeneration, He raised you spiritually to new spiritual life. You are a new person in Jesus Christ, and the result of that is that the dominion or the rule of sin in your life was permanently broken. From the moment of your conversion, from the moment of regeneration, you have a new power, Christian, to overcome sin both in its individual acts and in its habits. That's the point of verses 3 - 10, and we've seen Paul explain that carefully as we walked our way through those verses.

Now, last week I just introduced to you the third part of this section, and that is the practical application of the believer's death to sin. We see this in verses 11 - 14. You see, the truth of our union with Christ and the declaration and the work of God that makes sin no longer our master must be (if I can use this word), "activated". And by that I mean this, it must be believed and it must be acted upon. It's something that God has already done, Christian, in your life; but for it to be fully worked out in your living, there are some things that you and I must do, and that's the message of verses 11 - 14.

Now, Paul's practical application of our death and resurrection with Christ comes in a series of five imperatives in these verses. This morning in the brief time we have before we take the Lord's Table together, I just want us to consider Paul's first practical application; it's in verse 11 and it's this: Consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God." Look at verse 11, "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."

Now as I noted for you last time, it is remarkable that this is the very first imperative, the very first command in Paul's letter to the Romans. He has spent all of his time so far, almost 6 chapters, he has spent dealing with the doctrine of what has happened to us, the doctrine of justification, the truths of the gospel. He has laid down a foundational understanding, and for the very first time Paul tells us to do something. And it is a crucial command because as we finished last time, let me just remind you of this, understanding what Paul means here in Romans 6:11, is absolutely crucial to your Christian life and experience. But it's frequently misunderstood, and so, I want to start unpacking this verse by looking at what Paul does not mean.

One of my mentors is Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and he often did this, and I love it because it sort of clears the misunderstanding, the fog, the clutter out of our brain so that we can really grasp the truth of what Scripture is teaching. So, let's clear the clutter here and look at what Paul does not mean in verse 11. And I must say to you that I have at various times in my Christian life and experience had one or more of these misunderstandings. They're very common, so let's see if we can make sure we don't misunderstand Paul.

First of all, Paul does not mean you must deny reality. In other words, Paul isn't encouraging you to play some kind of a Christian mind game with yourself in which you could try to convince yourself that something is true that is in fact false. He's not saying you should pretend that you are dead to sin and alive to God when it's not true, just pretend it. He's also not saying that you have to think that sin, as a reality in your life, is somehow dead to you, that it's no longer present, that sin is no longer a reality or present in your life. That is pretense. We all understand that. We constantly battle the reality of sin. So, he's not telling you, look, just sort of play a Pollyannick approach to Christianity and imagine that none of those things are true that are true, that sin isn't there, and sin isn't a factor in your life, and instead just deny reality and pretend that you're dead to sin; that's not what he's saying. If you're a Christian, you are, in fact, already dead to sin and alive to God. We've seen that in the first 10 verses.

Secondly, Paul does not mean that you must create reality by your thinking. In other words, Paul isn't endorsing the power of positive thinking here; he's not taking the Joel Olsteen approach to Christianity. He's not saying that by thinking or by saying that this is true, it comes to pass. This isn't word-of-faith sanctification. He also doesn't mean that you only died to sin if you are considering yourself to be dead to sin or that you're only dead to sin when you're telling yourself that you're dead to sin. He's not saying that you have to convince yourself that you're no longer subject to temptation. There are those who teach that; just tell yourself that sin no longer has any appeal and attraction to you as if that somehow, if thinking that, would somehow create the reality. Listen, no amount of thinking can make you dead to sin and alive to God. God alone can do that, and if you're a Christian, He already has.

Number three, Paul does not mean that you must create reality by your actions. Paul is not saying here in this place that it is your duty and your responsibility to die to sin. In fact, Scripture nowhere says that it is your duty to die to sin. That's already happened. It happened the moment of regeneration. What Scripture does tell us to do is to put sin to death; that's a different thing. Understand then that this is not a command for you to die to sin and live to God. Nor does Paul mean that you're only dead to sin when you're not sinning so stop sinning and you'll be dead to sin. That's not what he's saying. In fact, let me put it to you in the largest possible sense. Paul is not asking you to do anything in verse 11 but to believe what God has already done. So, that's what Paul does not mean. Let's turn the page then and look at what Paul does mean.

Look at verse 11 again, "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Now, what I want to do is take that verse apart and walk our way through it. Let's start with just the first two words and consider the theological foundation of this command, and that foundation is what Paul has already taught us in verses 1 - 10. Notice those two little words that begin verse 11, "Even so" or thus also, same idea. These two little words refer back to everything that Paul has taught us in verses 1 - 10. Christ died. He was buried. He was raised from the dead. That happened literally, physically to Christ; and at the moment of salvation, you and I were united with Christ. We were placed into Him; or another way to say it is He became our representative, and then as a result of the fact that He becomes our representative, we received, at the moment of salvation, the benefits of His death, burial, and resurrection.

Now, when we talk about the benefits of the death and resurrection of Christ, we normally think of His purchasing our justification, His purchasing our forgiveness, His purchasing our right-standing before God, and that's true; that did happen. Chapter 3:25 and 26, talk about, 24, 25 and 26 talk about that reality. But those things happen outside of us in heaven. We are declared forgiven. We are declared righteous with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. That happens in heaven.

But there was, in the death and resurrection of Christ, also a foundation laid for something that happens inside of us and to us and that is our regeneration, our being given new life. There are a number of verses that intertwine these two issues. One of them is 1 Peter 2:24; listen to what Peter writes, "… He Himself [that is Christ] bore our sins in His body on the cross…." There is that one aspect of the death of Christ. He is purchasing our forgiveness. He is purchasing our justification in His death and resurrection. He is setting us right with God. Outside of ourselves there's a transaction happening between Christ and God that's accomplished by the work of Christ.

But then Peter goes on to say this, "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin…." Sounds like Paul, doesn't it? "… and live to righteousness…." In other words, Christ was also on the cross laying the foundation for what would be done in us, and that is the making new those who believe. You see, not only did Christ die for us to purchase our forgiveness and justification, but at the moment of salvation, the Spirit applied His death to us, and we died with Him. Our old man, the person we used to be, died; and as Jesus was raised from the dead, we were raised with Him, and we became, at that moment, a new person and began to walk in new life. That's what we've discovered together in the first 10 verses. We now understand to some level (as much as weak human minds can grasp these profoundly rich and deep theological truths), we understand these truths, and so notice verse 11, Paul says in light of that, even so in light of those theological realities, there's something I want you to do. So there's the theological foundation.

Let's look, secondly, at verse 11 and see the specific audience, and it's all Christians. Verse 11 begins, "Even so consider yourselves…." Now, in Greek as in English, the pronoun "you" is often excluded when we give a command or when there's an imperative. For example, we don't usually say to a spouse or a friend, "You get me some ice cream, too." No, what we say is, "Get me some ice cream too, please." We exclude the "you" because it's understood in the command, right? That's true in Greek and in English. But in Greek, when the author includes the pronoun "you", when they actually say "you", they do so as a point of emphasis to stress that "you" need to do something. And that's exactly what Paul does here in verse 11. The Greek text of verse 11 reads this way, "Even so you [plural] consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God…."

So, to whom is Paul giving this command? Well, remember the context. First of all, remember the larger context of the section where we are. You go back to 5:1, who is he talking to? Those who have been justified by faith alone; 5:12, those who no longer have Adam as their representative but who now have Christ as their representative. Look at 6:2, those who have "… died to sin…." Verse 3, those "… who have been baptized [or immersed] into Christ." Verses 3 5, … those who have died with … been buried with … and been raised with Christ…. So, to whom is Paul speaking in verse 11? He is speaking only to true Christians who have experienced justification and regeneration. If you're in Christ, this is for you.

Now, let's look, thirdly, at the actual command, and the command comes in a single word, the word "consider". Look at verse 11, "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God…." Now, in the Greek text, the verb, the imperative, the command translated "consider" is in the present tense, and the idea is this isn't something you do once; this is to be a consistent pattern. Go on constantly considering "yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God." What does he mean, "consider"? Well, if you've been with us in Romans so far, you're very familiar with this Greek word. We have already seen it thirteen times in Paul's letter.

Most of those are in chapter 4. Go back to chapter 4 and notice verse 3, "For what does the Scripture say? 'ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.'" You see the word "credited"? That's exactly the same Greek word translated "consider" in 6:11. You see it in verse 4, "Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due." Verse 5, "… his faith is credited as righteousness." It appears again in 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 22, 23, 24. Most of the time when this word appears in Romans, the bulk of the times as it does here in chapter 4, it is translated as "credit".

The Greek word, and I don't usually give you Greek words; but I'm going to give you this Greek word because it has been brought into English in several different ways. You'll recognize it in a moment. The Greek word is "logizomai", logizomai. From this word, we get the English words like logic and logical. The word itself means this, as a result of careful calculation, evaluate, or estimate, or look on something this way. That's what the word means.

But I want to step back for a moment because I want you to understand the weight of this word. The largest Greek resource that I have on my shelves, some, (I think it's) ten volumes of Kittles Theological Dictionary in the New Testament says this word was used primarily in two ways in secular Greek; this word translated "consider". It was used as a bookkeeping term in business. That's why it's used as credit in chapter 4. It meant to credit or debit something, to post something in someone's ledger. It was used in that way, and this is where we get the English words like "log" as in a captain's log or a plane's log. We also get the word "logistics" from this word. We get the word "logarithm" from this use of this Greek word. All of those words relate back to this Greek word. It has to do with sort of the numbers side of some equation, the bookkeeping side.

It was also used, secondly, to describe objective thinking. In philosophy, it was non-emotional thinking. It meant to conclude or to deliberate. Our English words "logic" and "logical" come from this use of this Greek word.

Now, I tell you all of that for this reason (listen carefully), because I want to draw this together; I want you to see what Paul's doing here. Both of those primary uses of this Greek word had to do with what was factual, with what was real, with what was reality. Unless you were dishonest, you didn't post something in a ledger unless it actually existed. Do you understand? That's key to understanding this term. What Paul is saying in verse 11 is he's saying as a result of what actually is, as a result of what actually exists, I want you to come to this factual evaluation of yourself. I want you to, (can I say it this way?) I want you to post this fact in your spiritual ledger because it's true; it's real; it exists. And what does he say? I want you to consider or I want you to post this in your mental ledger about yourself. You, consider yourselves, that is your new man, the new person you are in Christ, I want you to understand that that new person is dead to sin.

What does Paul mean? Well he means what he has meant through this whole passage. He means that you are dead to the reign of sin in your life; you are dead to slavery to sin; you are dead to the controlling power of sin in your life.

Look at verse 14 of chapter 6; he states it very directly, "For sin shall not be master over you." That's not a wish; that's not even a command for you to do something. That's a statement of reality; because of who you are in Christ, sin will not be your master anymore.

Christian, what Paul is saying here is that you must believe what is true and factual and real, and that is that you are no longer a slave to sin. You must believe your Spiritual Emancipation Proclamation. Paul is not talking here about your subjective experience, your daily struggle with sin. He's talking about your position in Christ, your new spiritual state; sin is no longer your master. And then notice he adds in verse 11, you are to post in your ledger, mental ledger, the fact that you are dead to sin, but also that you are alive to God. What does that mean?

Well, that's an incredibly rich expression; but in the interest of time, let me just give you the list of what it means; we can see it right here in Romans. Back in 5:1, it means that you are now at "peace with God;" the war is over; you have peace with God. In 5:2, you stand now in His grace rather than under His wrath as the first three chapters explain, you now stand in His grace. Chapter 5:10, you have been reconciled to Him. Chapter 5:21, you have eternal life. Christian, you have the very life of God pulsing through you. Chapter 8:15, you have been adopted by God. You are now His child in the same sense that Jesus belongs to Him. You are the special object of His daily care. Chapter 8:28, He's weaving all the details of your life. He's affecting everything that happens to you in order to bring it to your spiritual good and His glory.

And this one's shocking to me, but according to chapter 8:38 and 39, He loves me with an unbreakable, unchanging, enduring love. And in fact, according to John 17:23, this is from our Lord Himself, He said that the Father loves you, Christian, as much as He loves Jesus. That's what Jesus said in John 17:23. You are alive to God; dead to sin, alive to God. Paul says this is real, this is reality, this is factual. Post it in your mental ledger and live as though it's true because it is. Consider it to be so.

Now, verse 11 ends by explaining the only basis on which all of this is true, and that is that little expression "in Christ Jesus." Notice what verse 11 says, "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Paul uses that expression (I didn't count them all myself, I'm taking the word of those who did), 164 times in his epistles. This is the first time he's used this exact expression in Romans, but of course he's addressed this idea already; he did it at length in the second half of chapter 5; we're no longer in Adam; we're in Christ.

So why does he use it here? Here in 6:11, Paul means this, listen carefully, let me sort of draw it all together. He says all I have been teaching you about your new relationship to sin is only true because God appointed Christ as your representative instead of Adam, and then God graciously decided to see you and to treat you, not as you are in and of yourself, but as you are in Jesus Christ. Verse 11, "Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."

Now, I want to ask two questions about this amazing verse. First question is this: how can we practice this command? How can we practice this command? Let me give you a little list. Number one, study and meditate on 6:1 - 10, until you understand it. Obviously, this is foundational, this is crucial to your Christian life and experience, to your daily battle with sin, and you cannot believe what you don't understand, and so you must study and meditate on this passage, pray for illumination, ask the Spirit to help you understand who you are in Christ, and do that until you've got your mind wrapped around this truth.

Number two, believe it to be true, believe it to be true. And this is Paul's main point here in verse 11. He's saying what I have already told you is factually true about yourself, should be equally true in your conviction. You are to look at yourself as God does. The new person that you are in Christ is dead to the reign of sin. Paul means that we must accept God's Word about us on this very point. Do you understand that the battle between God and Satan is waged in your mind between your ears? That's where the battle wages, and Satan would love nothing more than to get you to doubt what God has said. Thomas Watson, the English Puritan said this, "This is Satan's masterpiece. If he can but keep Christians from believing the truth, he is sure to keep them from obeying it."

You say, "But, Tom, how in the world can I really believe this about myself? It doesn't seem to mesh with my daily experience." You have to believe it exactly like Abraham believed God's promise of Isaac. Go back to 4, 4:18,

In hope against hope [that is against all humanly understood hope] he believed, [God's promise] so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, "SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE." Without becoming weak in faith, he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah's womb; [who was 90 years old] yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God … being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able … also to perform."

That's how you have to believe what we've learned in Romans 6. Here's how Lloyd-Jones puts it; I love this. He says,

We must just take the bear word of God, believe it, submit to it, and act upon it. This is what we have to do with this statement. Should someone come to me and say, "But how can I say that I'm indeed dead to sin when I'm conscious of sin within me, and I feel that I'm a terrible sinner?"

My answer is that you've got to believe it in spite of those feelings exactly as Abraham had to believe God's word that Sarah was going to bear a son though he knew that he had reached the age of ninety-nine and Sarah ninety. The thing was a sheer impossibility on the natural level. In spite of this, he believed God. And you and I must do the same." Believe what God has said about you, Christian.

Number three, remind yourself constantly about this truth until it becomes second nature. I think one of the main problems Christians have in their struggle with sin is not understanding who they really are in Christ. Listen, the old person you used to be before Christ, that person doesn't exist anymore; that person died; you are a new creature in Jesus Christ. In the illustration that I gave you before, volume 1 of your spiritual autobiography ended with your death to sin the moment of regeneration, and volume 2 of your spiritual biography began with your being raised with Christ to new life at the moment of regeneration. You can never go back to volume 1. It's impossible! You now live in volume 2. You are a new person in Jesus Christ.

Yes, you still have a portion of you that is unredeemed, the Bible calls your flesh, but you are a new creature in Jesus Christ, and understanding that is foundational to the battle with sin. Remind yourself that you have been proclaimed emancipated just like that illustration I gave you of when President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation; there were slaves who were legally free of their slavery who didn't believe it, and for a time still lived as if they were slaves. Sadly, there are too many Christians who don't understand the reality, and they live as if they are still slaves. Remind yourself of this truth until it becomes second nature, and you understand who you are in Christ.

Number four, remind yourself of this truth at the moment of temptation. This becomes a weapon that you use against temptation. Listen, when that old temptation that you struggle with again and again, when it raises its head yet again, preach, immediately preach this truth to yourself.

Here's how it works; the temptation comes; you tell yourself the truth; you say this and if nobody else is around (I probably wouldn't recommend you saying this out loud if others are around, but if nobody else is around), say it out loud, preach to yourself, "I am not the person I used to be. That person who loved that sin is dead. I am a new person in Jesus Christ, and this temptation comes from that part of me that remains unredeemed; but because of Jesus Christ, I am no longer a slave to this sin. I don't have to obey it anymore." And then pray for our Lord's help. What did He say in John 15:5, "apart from Me you can do (What?) nothing." You can't battle that temptation without Him. But preach the truth to yourself, and pray for His help in the moment of temptation.

There's one other question I want to ask and answer and that is how does this command help? You say, "Tom, really? I mean this is the best Paul can do in helping me deal with the sin in my life? How does this help me in the battle with sin?" Its help is immense.

Let me give you, again just quickly, a brief list.

Number one, it teaches us about our new identity in Christ. It reminds you of who you really are. I think this is half the battle. I think being aware of what God has done in your life and who you really are in Christ gets you halfway to the battle with the sin in your life.

Number two, it warns us that if we are living in unrepentant sin, God will discipline. Remember, that's the point of this whole paragraph; it started back in 6:1, is it okay for a Christian to habitually live in a pattern of unrepentant sin? And Paul says, absolutely not; you died to sin. It doesn't even make sense. But if you are a Christian, and as you sit here this morning, you know in your heart of hearts that there is a sin in your life that you are holding on to, and by that I mean you are refusing to confess it; you're refusing to express to the Lord a willingness to turn from it because you want to have it. If that's true of you this morning, then understand this, Hebrews 12:6 is still true, "…THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON … HE RECEIVES." If you are living in willful sin, if there is a sin in your life you just refuse to let go of, you refuse to confess, you refuse to turn from, then God will not let you continue to live in that sin. He will do whatever it takes to bring you back. Lloyd-Jones again very helpfully writes this,

Child of God, I warn you to be careful. If you try to live a life of sin, then be prepared for the words "whom the Lord loves he chastens". He will not allow you to continue in sin. He may strike you with illness. He may rob you of a loved one. He may smash your business. He may level you to the dust, but He will not let you go. He is going to perfect you, and nothing is going to stop Him."

Better take sin very seriously. It's no longer your master, and if you try to act like it is, Christ, our Lord, will deal with you.

Number three, this is helpful because it reminds us that the source of sin, the source of sin, is not the new person that we are in Christ, but it's our unredeemed flesh. Yes, there is an enemy within us, but it is not the essence of who we are. That's why Paul can say in 7:20, it's no longer I who sins. He doesn't mean I'm not responsible. He means it's not that new person that I am in Jesus Christ. It is my flesh that remains that is tempting me to sin. That's where it comes from.

Number four, this is helpful because it reminds us that we don't have to give in to sin. Listen, when you sin, Christian, you choose to sin. You don't sin because you have to sin. You're not a slave anymore.

Number five, it provides real hope for growth in holiness. We can obey God; we can grow in a pattern of obedience. Remember 5:21, grace now reigns in our lives in the same way sin used to reign; so just as sin produced more sin and slavery, grace reigns. And what does grace produce? Righteousness!

Now, when you understand that (here's the real pastoral help behind this), when you understand that, it destroys the sense of hopelessness that comes with our relentless struggle with sin. How often have we promised ourselves that we won't commit a particular sin again and then we do? And then in our desperation, it's easy to conclude, "Well, it's just hopeless. It's just hopeless. I'll never overcome that sin in my life." This chapter destroys that sense of hopelessness. Listen, Christian, the power of sin in your life has been broken by our Lord. You can grow in holiness. I may be weak, but God's power is at work in me, and one day I will stand in His presence, blameless with great joy.

Number six, it provides assurance of our salvation. Do you understand these verses and the reality of your situation? You won't question your salvation every time you sin. And we've all done that, right? At stages in our Christian life, you're struggling, you're striving for righteousness, and you sin, and immediately your response is, "Maybe I just don't belong to God; I mean, how could a believer sin?" But Romans 6 says our status, our position, has changed; and when we sin, our relationship to God, that new status, doesn't change any more than a child stops being ours when that child sins. We have been transferred to a new realm. We live where grace reigns, and we stand in grace. That's where we are, and when we fall, that's the realm in which we fall, not where we once were.

I love the way, again, I just love the way Lloyd-Jones is so practical in this section of his commentary. I have to share this with you because it was really helpful to me in my own thinking when I read it years ago. He writes this, he says,

Imagine yourself at the foot of a mountain, and you are walking along on the level ground and you fall. Very well, you've fallen. But now imagine that you have been climbing up that mountain, and that you've got two-thirds of the way to the summit. Suddenly, there you fall. Is your falling there identical with your falling down at the bottom? Of course, it isn't. But there are many Christian people who seem to think that it is. They come to me and they say, "I've fallen into sin; I do not think that I've ever been a Christian." They are simply putting themselves back at the foot of the mountain again.

Chapter 6:11, provides assurance of our salvation; because while we still sin, our relationship to sin now is radically different. We're not enslaved to it as we once were. It doesn't describe who we are. We now hate it rather than love it, and we are experiencing a decreasing pattern of that sin in our lives and an increasing pattern of righteousness, and so it provides assurance of our salvation.

And number seven, it provides confidence that God will complete in us what He has started. Look at chapter 8, 8:28, "we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, [That is those with whom He predetermined the relationship.] He also predestined [That is, He predetermined their destiny. What destiny?] to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and those whom He predestined, [to be like Christ] He also called; [That's the effectual call.] and those whom He called, He also justified; [He declared them to be right with Himself because of the work of Christ.] and those whom He justified, He also glorified."

Listen, Christian, God has begun a work in your soul, and He will finish that work. He will finish it. He has broken the rule of sin in your life. You're not going to slip back into the rule and domination of sin. Righteousness will reign; grace will reign. He will finish what He has started. It's that plan of redemption accomplished by Christ that we celebrate in the Lord's Table.

Take a moment and confess your sin; prepare your heart as the men come. Our Father, after studying that passage together, we have to begin our confession by seeking Your forgiveness that we haven't believed You. Forgive us for our unbelief; forgive us for living as if we were still slaves of sin when You have permanently broken that slavery. Oh, Lord, help us to believe You, help us to understand, and then help us to take You at your bare word; help us to remind ourselves often of this and especially at the moment of temptation, to remind ourselves what You've done and who we are in Christ. And Father, may You use that knowledge to break the practical habits of sin in our lives.

Father, we also ask your forgiveness for our many other sins. Lord, we ask Your forgiveness for the sins of omission, those things that we should have done that You require that we have not. Forgive us for a lack of seriousness about using the means You've provided for our spiritual growth. Forgive us for our lack of serious reading and study of Your Word, for treating it lightly. Lord, forgive us for our lack of prayer. Forgive us for the failure to fellowship with Your people. Lord, forgive us for not engaging our souls in true worship when the people around us are worshiping, just our bodies are present, but not our minds engaged. Father, forgive us for all of those things that we ought to have done that we've omitted, a word that we should've spoken, a good deed that we should've done, but in our laziness, in our selfishness, we failed to do so.

Father, we also ask Your forgiveness for our sins of commission starting with our minds and our attitudes. Father, forgive us for those sins that are so characteristic of all of humanity. Forgive us for our pride, for our selfishness, for our lust. Father, forgive us for attitudes of discontent and covetousness, the willingness to deceive others to get our way, harsh spirit. Forgive us for words spoken that were not spoken to minister grace, but to tear down, words spoken in anger.

Lord, forgive us as well for those things that we've done, those acts that we have committed that are clear violations of Your law. Oh, Lord, forgive and cleanse us for Jesus' sake so that we can remember what He did with clean hands and pure hearts.

We pray in Jesus's name, Amen.

Romans