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Using Your Spiritual Bank Account (A Sunday Morning Sermon) May 20, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Romans, Sermons, Spiritual Warfare.
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We began last week learning an important passage of Scripture, Romans 6:1-13. I trust you learned verse one this week but if not, it is not too late to begin. This is the classic passage of Scripture on spiritual victory and it will be of great benefit to you if you learn these verses not only by memory but by meditating on them and thinking on them and letting God use them to change your life. Let us look now at this passage.

OBTAINING THE PRIVILEGE OF CHOICE

OUR SPIRITUAL BANK ACCOUNT

ROMANS 6:5-14

DO YOU HAVE A CHOICE?

How often have you heard someone say, “I’m my own man. I’ll do what I want to do.” With such a statement, they are implying that they have a choice in what they do. They are saying, if I want to do right, then I’ll do right and if I want to do wrong, I’ll do wrong.

This is not the picture the Bible paints of us as human beings. Look at Romans 3:9-18. What Paul is saying in those verses is that ten out of ten human beings, given the choice of doing right will do wrong ten out of ten times. We cannot do right. We are totally eaten up with sin. In verse 23 of the same chapter he writes, “…for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” If I shoot an arrow at a target and I miss the target ten times, some of my arrows will miss by more than some of the other arrows but they all will have missed the target. A miss, according to these verses, truly is the same as a mile. I am incapable of choosing good. There is, however, a way to obtain the privilege of choice, a way to become capable of making the right choice, of hitting the target dead on. This is what Romans 6-8 is all about.

UNITY WITH CHRIST

We obtain the privilege of choice by unity with Christ in His death and resurrection (verses 5-10). In the first four verses we find that our union with Christ in His death and resurrection make it impossible for me to continue, to live in, to habitually sin. I am well aware that this is controversial but this is the answer to many of those cases of people who claim to be Christians and live habitually in sin. They are simply not saved. Now I am not claiming to be wise enough to know hearts but it is clear from these verses, if I am saved, I will not habitually live in sin. I may struggle, I may be weak, I may fail dreadfully but it is an impossibility for me to continue in sin. Why is that true?

…Because His death liberates me from my “old man” and frees, i.e. justifies me from sin (verses 6-7). See also Col 3:9; Eph 4:22. Some would argue from these verses that we have only one nature, a spiritual nature. There is a sense in which that is true. Only the spiritual nature is the real me. The old man is not the real me anymore. Why? Because Christ died for my sin (Romans 1-5) There is a country gospel song from the early 70’s that puts it this way, “Thanks to Calvary, I am not the man I used to be. Thanks to Calvary things are different than before.”

We know, however, that not everyone is changed by the death of Christ. Only those who have died and risen with Christ are changed. Romans 6:6 says, “Our old self was crucified with him.” Verse 8: “We have died with Christ.” We know from Colossians 1:11-12 that it is through faith that God performs this miracle in our lives. It is not by works of righteousness that we are regenerated but by His mercy and this is applied to all who put their faith in him. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; 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 for me.” (Galatians 2:20; see also 5:24; 6:14.) So I am dead to sin.

DEAD TO SIN?  

What does it mean to be dead to sin? First, as we have seen, it means that those who put their faith in Christ become united with Christ. Romans 6:5, “We have become united with Him in the likeness of His death.” United with Christ means God grafted us into Christ. We are planted together with Him. One preacher describes it as a Siamese twin relationship with Jesus Christ. We cannot be severed from Him.

OUR JOINT BANK ACCOUNT WITH CHRIST

These are all wonderful pictures of being united with Christ but I like to look at it as a joint bank account. My wife and I have a joint bank account. Everything that is mine is hers and everything that is hers is mine. When I first came to Castleton two years ago, I went down to the bank and told the lady I wanted to open up a bank account. She sat at the computer and typed in all kinds of information about me and had me sign all kinds of papers. Then she took down all kinds of information about my wife. My wife, however, was not with me. She was in Ohio. Immediately, the account was opened and ready for use. I intended for everything that was in that account to be available to my wife for her use. There was just one little problem. The bank needed her signature. Until she signed a little piece of paper, I could put millions of dollars into the account and she could not access the money. The moment she signed, that account was a joint bank account. We were united financially.

That is the way it works with faith in Christ. He established the spiritual account of righteousness through His death and His resurrection from the dead but until I sign in faith, it does me absolutely no good. The moment, however, I trust Him as the only way of salvation, I become a joint account owner with Him.

WHAT IS IN THE ACCOUNT? HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS!

Secondly, being dead to sin means that God justifies me because I am united with Christ. That is what this word “to free” means. 2 Corinthians 5:21 puts it like this: “[God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” In other words, I have nothing to put into the account because I have no righteousness of mine own but the account is full because of His righteousness and I am full owner of the righteousness of Christ through my union with Him. That is what being dead to sin and alive to God means.

FREED FROM DEATH ALSO 

His past resurrection and our future resurrection frees us from death (verses 8-10). According to verses 4b-7 we have been transformed to newness of life. According to verses 8-10 we are untouchable by death. That is why Paul terms death as “absent from the body but present with the Lord.” We do not die but our bodies “sleep” awaiting that moment when we receive our glorified bodies. The surety of our resurrection gives us the privilege of living for Jesus now. The unbeliever is dead now in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2), is appointed to die physically and after death comes judgment. That unbeliever will be resurrected and will receive a new body of some sort but will be cast into the lake of fire which John calls “the second death”. The unbeliever never for a moment escapes the stench of death. He, like you and I are born into it but when we trust Christ as Savior we pass from death unto life. Death has no more dominion over us.

HOW DOES THAT WORK IN MY EVERYDAY LIFE?

This unity in Christ and justification by His death, burial, and resurrection enables me to draw His righteousness from our account for my everyday life every time that I choose too. Before I trusted Christ, that was not a possibility.

“…(Being dead to sin is) like watching a lion roar at the zoo. You may get a thrill from listening to the lion roar in his cage. But as long as the lion is behind bars, you’re safe. The lion can roar all it wants but it can’t do anything to you unless you do something (foolish) like crawl into the cage. Then you have problems. Sin is like a roaring lion. As long as you understand that the power of sin is broken, sin cannot dominate your life unless you choose to let it dominate your life.” Ray Pritchard

ON WHAT DO WE BASE OUR CHOICE? KNOWING WHAT IS IN THE ACCOUNT! 

We not only obtain the privilege of choice by unity with Christ in His death and resurrection being justified by faith in Him but practically by a proper analysis of our spiritual account (verses 11-14). Only then can we choose to live freely to God.

The word “reckon” means to balance the checkbook. One determines what the facts are and lives according to those facts. If we refuse to recognize the reality that we are dead to sin and look at the bottom line, we will yield ourselves to sin. Too often, we live in a spiritual fantasy world.

Our account, i.e. life is like Christ’s life (verses 9-11). That is why we can reckon or consider ourselves dead to sin. This is a mental and volitional act preceding direct engagement with temptation. “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).” Notice two things about this reckoning:

1) You reckon based on a certain knowledge and plan to act according to that knowledge.

1. Christ died for our sins.

2. We died with him.

3. God united us to Christ through our faith.

4. God justifies us because of our union with Christ.

“All of that precedes the command of Romans 6:11. That is the difference between Christianity and every other religion and every other moral improvement program.” John Piper

2) Notice that this only possible “in Christ.” This reckoning deals with the facts of the gospel, the sound doctrine that we talked about so often in the book of Titus as well as with the reality of the person of Christ. It is not with an idea or with a creed that we have a joint spiritual bank account. It is with God who became man in the form of Jesus Christ. We have a joint bank account with a living person who is both man and God.

MISUSE OF FUNDS

Our account can be ignored or used properly (verses 12-13). By using our account properly, I mean that you can “‘Say No . . . and Choose God.’ You have the privilege of choice based on Christ’s death for your sin and your unity with Him by faith in His death and resurrection which results in your justification.” (John Piper) When you recognize this as the truth, then and only then can you say no to sin and choose God. Otherwise, the best you can do is substitute one sin with a sin that is socially more acceptable.

THE WEAKNESS OF SPIRITUAL WILLPOWER

There is the danger of ignoring your spiritual bank account by trying to win victory over sin by will power and spiritual discipline. This is not to say that the practical steps we find elsewhere in the Bible or even in the secular world have no value but we cannot implement them in a God honoring away until first we have an account with God and recognize that it is full. We must have God’s power in our life. That power is in your life if you have trusted Christ as Savior. If you have not trusted Him, then you do not have and cannot have this power. You are a slave.

A MILLIONAIRE WITH NOT A PENNY IN HIS POCKET 

There is a second way to ignore your spiritual bank account. The first way ignores that it exists. The second way, acknowledges that it exists, even thrills at the existence of the account and then never uses it.

“A member of our family is currently learning to ride a bicycle. I won’t say who it is, but she is learning how to balance herself on the wheels and pedal down the street. And she is doing very well at it. But so far, the only way she has ever found to stop is by running into something. I am constantly picking her up out of bushes and off the sidewalk because the only way she has been able to stop is by running into something. The other day I was helping her, and said, “You don’t have to run into things to stop; there is another way to do it. A provision has been made so that you can stop this bicycle without having to run into things.” I showed her that all she had to do was to reverse the pedals and the coaster brake would bring her to a stop. I had shown her this before, so when I said that to her, she looked at me and said, “Well, I am sure relieved to know that there’s another way to stop.” I realized that she didn’t need me to tell her that. What she did need was to actually do it when it was time to stop. What good does it do to have a bicycle that has a provision for stopping if you never use it? You might just as well not have it.” (Ray Stedman)

The first way says, “I must better myself.” The second replies, “That is legalism.” I am afraid that the “fear” of legalism has become the smoke screen for a lack of discipleship and commitment to Christ and His church.

The person who does not acknowledge that Christ is our joint account owner, confesses as sin going to grandmother’s funeral instead of being in church. The person who acknowledges the account and does not use it, uses grandmother as a priority for not being in church. The first way chastises oversleeping and missing daily Bible reading and prayer. The second way refuses the discipline of doing these things on the basis that it is not expressly commanded by God. Ladies of the first way wear Amish type clothing to prove that they are modest. Ladies of the second dress immodestly and then blame those who look.

This is a trap that we all must be very careful not to fall into. When I first left home and began to work, I used to give 10% of my gross income as tithe and 10% above that to missions. That was what my Dad did and I was following His example. If I did not give that amount, I felt guilty. In fact, I felt guilty about all kinds of things because I was trying to become spiritually acceptable to God. I failed miserably because I knew my heart. On the outside, I was admired for my spirituality but I knew the truth. I was saved but I did not fully acknowledge my account in Jesus Christ. God began to work in my life and as I began to grow and understand more of the Word of God, I became convinced that tithing was not a New Testament command. My giving became inconsistent. I never quit giving. In fact there were times in my life when I continued as I do now to give a tithe. That giving was not based on what Christ did for me though but on what people might think. That is not necessarily bad but as a prime motivation it is as useless as the motivation of trying to become spiritual. What happens is that as soon as people were not looking, I found excuses not to give regularly. This is just one area where we see that we can fall into either the trap of legalism or of spiritual carelessness. Both ignore the spiritual bank account God provides for us. Legalism does it unknowingly and spiritual carelessness does it knowingly. Legalism tries to make the right choice in its own strength. Spiritual carelessness chooses to make the wrong choice. Both are harmful to us spiritually.

THE ACCOUNT MANAGER 

Our account is managed by God not by ourselves (verse 14). It is by the grace of God that I can say no to sin and choose the right way. Sin is subtle and Satan is sneaky and I find myself giving in to sin much too often but by the grace of God, I do not have to. I have a full account to draw on and every time I draw on it, God pays me back double in dividends.

QUESTION 

Do you understand why we are memorizing these verses this summer? We are looking at, investigating our account with God through these verses. It is God’s intention through the truth of these verses to change your life. Let me challenge you to memorize with us. If you cannot memorize, then read these verses every day through Labor Day. Let these verses and the truth in them fill you with thoughts of what God has done and is doing in your life and what He has provided for you in the future, in eternity.

If you do not have an account with God, you can open one right now. I know you have nothing to put in. God neither wants or needs your rusted pennies and plug nickels. He has more than enough to fill your account with righteousness. Would you trust Jesus today? Unite yourself with Him in His death and resurrection through faith in Christ. Let God justify you and free you from the guilt and penalty of sin.

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