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Last in the Series on Baptism January 24, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Baptism, Death of Christ, Discipleship, Resurrection, Romans, Sanctification, Sin, Spiritual Growth, Spiritual Power, Spiritual Warfare, Temptation.
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A COMMITMENT TO SPIRITUAL LIFE (Romans 6)

In “Beyond Cigars: Modern ways to announce your baby‘s birth” on babycenter.com, Angela Navarrete writes, “When you were born, your dad might have announced your arrival by handing out cigars…Today’s dads have come up with more creative ways to announce their new progeny…If you want to hand out something more substantial than a card, go for edible birth announcements. Online, you can order personalized candy bar wrappers with your baby’s name and statistics. (The newly wrapped bars look) just like normal candy bars, but the label (reads something like this):
RYAN PATRICK GALLANT
Net wt. 7 lbs. 10 oz.
and on the back:
VITAL STATISTICS
Baked: May 21, 1998
Serving Size: 19.5 inches

Baptism is God’s choice of heavenly birth announcements. When I was baptized, God was announcing to the world, “He’s mine! He’s mine! He’s mine!” Baptism is a very meaningful symbol because I am announcing to the world, I am a new creature. I am different. I have died to sin.

A. Baptism illustrates that we have died to sin (verses 1-4a). To be baptized into the body of Christ is to be baptized into the death of Christ (compare with Galatians 3:26-29 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-14). [The scriptural development of the doctrine of baptism is (1) John’s baptism as a symbol of discipleship, (2) Pentecostal baptism accompanied by the reception of the Spirit, (3) Paul’s baptism into the body of Christ, and (4) baptism in this passage and in Colossians 2:11-15 as identification with the death of Christ.]

a. This is not present tense—”I am dying to sin!”—That is reformation. A slave does not need reformation but liberation. A man in sin does not need an overhaul, he needs a new engine!
b. Neither is this future tense—”We will die to sin”—Otherwise, something might happen that would prevent me from dying to sin. I am not looking forward to the day when I mature to the point where I no longer sin. Neither am I looking for an experience that will make me so holy that I cannot sin anymore. I am looking back to an experience that has already happened.
c. Notice also that we are not commanded—”Die to sin!” That is our problem. We cannot die to sin. We are incapable of keeping that command until we are connected by faith with Christ’s death. Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ, therefore I no longer live. Jesus Christ now lives in me. And the life that I live, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
d. Finally, it is not an exhortation—”You should die to sin.” Why? Because you are already dead to sin, if you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior and the only hope for salvation and eternal life.
e. This is a simple past tense—”You died to sin.” The simple truth is that if you are a believer, you have already died to sin. It’s a past event, an accomplished fact. What is a Christian? Someone who has died to sin.

In his book 40 Days, Alton Gansky relates this story: “Harry Houdini made a name for himself by escaping from every imaginable confinement — from straightjackets to multiple pairs of handcuffs clamped to his arms. He boasted that no jail cell could hold him. Time and again, he would be locked in a cell only to reappear minutes later.
It worked every time — but one. He accepted another invitation to demonstrate his skill. He entered the cell, wearing his street clothes, and the jail cell door shut. Once alone, he pulled a thin but strong piece of metal from his belt and began working the lock. But something was wrong. No matter how hard Houdini worked, he couldn’t unlock the lock. For two hours he applied skill and experience to the lock but failed time and time again. Two hours later he gave up in frustration.
The problem? The cell had never been locked. Houdini worked himself to near exhaustion trying to achieve what could be accomplished by simply pushing the door open. The only place the door was locked was in his mind.”

B. Baptism illustrates that we are raised to new life in Christ Jesus (verses 4b-11).
1. We walk in newness of life (verse 4b). What Jesus did on that cross makes possible this newness of life reality. He died for your sin so that you might die to sin. The picture here is of your sins being paid for on the cross by Christ Jesus.

2. To unite with Him in death is to unite with Him in resurrection (verses 5-11). Physical newness of life begins with conception. Spiritual newness of life begins with death (6:2-4a). Not everyone agrees that humanity begins with conception. That is the whole issue between the pro-life and pro-choice advocates. One thing, however, that everyone can agree on is that something marvelous, something amazing, something beyond our understanding begins at the moment of conception. There is a combining of DNA that is unlike anyone who ever existed before. We are talking about a physical newness of life beginning with conception. Spiritual newness of life begins much, much differently. Spiritual newness of life begins with death.

This concept of death producing life may seem somewhat strange to you. Consider what Jesus, Himself, in John 12:24 says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” In other words, there is no spiritual life possible apart from the physical death of Christ. He died to produce life.

C. Our spiritual relationship with Jesus takes away all excuses for sin (verses 13-23).
1. We as believers decide who to fear and serve (verses 13-21). We can successfully resist the empty and deceitful promises of the world because we are no longer captive to our sinful body. We were captive to our sinful body. We are still in our body which is susceptible to sin but we are no longer slaves to sin unless we decide to enslave ourselves.

“…(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).

Freedom from righteousness leads to… (verses 19-23).
– Uncleanness (verse 19).
– Lawlessness leading to more lawlessness (verse 19).
– Shameful behavior (verse 21).
– The wages of sin – death (verses 21 and 23).

2. The result of freedom in Christ and from sin and from the law is two-fold: holiness and eternal life (verses 22-23). These two are not two separate results but different aspects of the working of God in our life.

You see, when we receive eternal life through Christ, it is not talking just about never ending life. We now have eternal life. My old spiritual deadness exists no more. It no longer has a hold on me. I do not have to live according to my former sinful flesh but now through Christ have spiritual life that enables me to fight against all the evil influences around me. That is one of the reasons that the symbol of baptism is so important. It is a powerful statement of a new reality.

Let me explain that one of the things that you are doing when you are baptized is making a statement about yourself. You are saying, “I am a new creature in Christ Jesus.” Now don’t misunderstand. You are not saying you are sinless in your everyday life. None of us can in reality make that statement but every believer in Christ can say, I do not have to sin because I have put my faith in Christ and I am now a new creature.

INVITATION: Have you died to sin? Not are you trying to. Not do you want to. Have you put your faith in Christ and died to sin and become in Christ a new creature, walking now in newness of life? Have you been born again? Just as a baby cannot conceive and birth itself, you cannot spiritually birth yourself. Jesus has provided salvation for you through His death, burial, and resurrection. You must simply accept it by faith in Him, in the working of God. God did this for you. Will you accept His work in your life? Will you trust what He has done to save you from sin?

If you have died to sin, if you have put your faith in Christ, are you in or out of the lion’s cage? Only a fool would get in a lion’s cage. Only a fool would trust Christ and then let sin rule over him or her. Get out of the cage!

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Lessons from Creation about the Future (The Answer to Global Warming July 5, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Creation, Global Warming, Holy Spirit, Religion, Romans, Sermons.
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God’s Answer to Global Warming: What Creation Teaches Us About the Future
(Romans 8:10-25)

INTRODUCTION: One of the hot button issues of our day is global warming. On this fourth of July weekend, this ranks among one of the top political footballs. Some are absolutely convinced using scientific data that our planet is slowly but surely warming to catastrophic levels. Others, also using scientific data, are just as convinced that we are simply experiencing a warmer period during the regular cycle of warming and cooling which the earth has experienced since its existence. It is likely that the reality is that we simply do not know and the best we can do is guess about the future of this planet.

But then God enters the picture. God agrees that the earth is in a mess. In fact, He had a part in this mess. He cursed the earth, making it less fruitful than it could be because of Adam’s sin. God cursed the ground so that Adam must work harder to provide for himself and his family.

So there is a sense, if the earth is warming, it is because God has cursed it and man has added a significant portion of sin and waste and abuse to the equation. If the earth is not warming, however, this earth is still cursed and is still groaning under the consequences of humankind’s sin.

In this passage Paul refers to the burden of sin on creation and takes from creation an important lesson for us to learn that will help us in our personal battles against sin.

That is one of the main purposes of Romans 6-8. To teach us, who have been forgiven of our sin, that it is possible to have victory over sin. We are already freed from the slavery of sin but our sinful bodies are constantly tempted and we need to be equipped to fight against sin.

The Spirit of God enables us in our struggle against our sinful flesh (verses 1-16). This is actually the main point that Paul is trying to make. If we are going to have victory now over sin, we need the power of the Holy Spirit.
Why do we need the Holy Spirit (verses 1-9)? Because our flesh is too weak to keep the law of God. Romans 6 teaches us we are no longer slaves to sin and Romans 7 teaches us we are no longer slaves to law and yet we find we can still fulfill the conditions of the law through the Holy Spirit. There are only two ways of living. In obedience through the Spirit or in rebellion through the flesh. There is no middle ground. The difference maker is not that God has adjusted His standards but rather that He has given us His Spirit.
How does the Holy Spirit enable us to please God (verses 10-13)? By enabling us to put to death the deeds of this sinful body.

Dr. Charles Ryrie once called Romans 8:13 the most important single verse on the spiritual life in the New Testament. He liked it because it contains a beautiful balance. There is God’s part—”if by the Spirit”—and there is our part—”you put to death.” Victory over sin comes when we do our part as we rely upon the Holy Spirit’s enablement. Victory over sin is neither entirely passive (“Let go and let God”) nor entirely active (“I’ve got to do this all by myself”). This verse balances a moment-by-moment dependence upon the Spirit with a tough-minded attitude toward the flesh. Is victory over sin dependent upon God or upon me? The answer is Yes!
I cannot do it without God.
God will not do it without me. (with thanks to Ray Pritchard)

The Holy Spirit’s enablement is a distinguishing mark of a child of God (14-16). How does the Spirit do this?
He leads us in our battle against sin. Verse 14 teaches us that there is a connection with being a Son of God and being led by the Spirit of God to fight our sinful flesh. The Holy Spirit convicts us through the Word of God and says to us this is the way, walk in it, do not pay debts to your sinful flesh (verse 12), you do not owe yourself anything. That is why in Ephesians 6:18, Paul commanded the believers to pray in the Spirit with watchfulness because Satan is out to tempt us to pay debts to our sinful flesh. We need the Spirit of God to lead us in the right ways and to protect us from the ways of evil.
He also assures us of our relationship to God (verses 15-16). Now why does that matter in our fight against sin? 1 John 3:1-3 tells us that confidence in our relationship to God is our motivation to purify ourselves, that is, to put to death the deeds of our body. Further in that same chapter, in verses 19-22, John tells that it is the Holy Spirit who gives us that confidence.
Our glorification with Christ is the purpose for our struggle against our sinful flesh (verses 17-18). Our struggle is pictured in this chapter as suffering. It is true that we are looking forward to the day when we will have new bodies with no pain and suffering but what is in view in this passage is the suffering that Christ endured and which we also endure as a result of our battle against sin. There are several reasons why I think it is specifically referring to our battle against sin.
Romans 7:24 makes it clear that this battle against sin for the believer is a hard battle. That is why Paul wrote Romans 8, to assure us that this battle is reasonable. Romans 6 tells us this battle is winnable, Romans 7 tells us it is a deadly battle, and Romans 8 tells us how to win that battle.
Secondly, the whole concept of being crucified with Christ is a picture of our submission to Christ and our battle against sin. Battles produce pain, suffering, terrible injuries, and death. The battle of sin is no different. It is like the crucifixion of Christ in its pain and suffering if we are willing to enter into that battle.
Finally, the immediate context has to do with the pain and suffering of sin. Our struggle against sin is won, not when we die but rather when we our glorified with Christ at His coming. That is what verses 17-18 teaches. Last Sunday, one of the founding fathers of this church, Dale Avery, passed away after a long and painful battle with cancer. His wife is grieving her loss as one would expect but as often happens, there is a sense that she is comforted because she knows that he is with the Lord and that his pain is over. God, however, is not finished with Dale Avery. When Jesus Christ comes to be glorified in His kingdom, Dale Avery will rise from the grave in Ephrata, Pennsylvania with a glorified body and will take his place as an heir and a joint heir with Jesus Christ. Because He identified Himself with Jesus Christ through faith, he will be exalted with Jesus Christ above the angels to the highest position in the universe under God the Father to rule and to reign through all eternity with the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Although His part of the battle against the suffering of sin is over, his glorification with Christ is still to come and it will be well worth it all, in fact, every struggle against sin and its suffering will seem nothing when he is crowned with the King of kings and the Lord of lords. The good news is this: not just Dale Avery but every believer in Jesus Christ will also be glorified with Christ on that day. But there is more…
Our glorification with Christ is the point in time when creation is finally released from the bondage of sin’s corruption (verses 19-22). For thousands of years the earth has been cursed because of sin and has been in bondage to corruption. When God sent the flood, He reduced the amount of sin from the earth but the earth remained cursed and in bondage to corruption. There is no physical force that can release the earth from this bondage. It is only when we are glorified with Christ in that last day that the earth will finally be delivered from bondage. If there is a global warming coming, then it is certainly because our sin has corrupted this world. It is inevitable.
Verse 20 points out that the earth in its present state is subjected to futility, frailty, vanity, weakness. This is a wonderful world from our point of view but it groans under the weight of sin. Why are we constantly in danger of famine? Because this planet under the bondage of sin cannot reach its potential.
God’s answer is the glorification of Christ and of His children with Christ at His coming. The earth will have new leadership: Christ and His royal family of brothers and sisters who have put their faith in Him will rule over this earth according to verse 22 with glorious liberty. It will be freed to produce as God intended for it to produce. This planet will become the utopia God intended for it to be.
This is described for us in the Old Testament in Isaiah 65:17-25 as well as in other prophets when the millennial kingdom is described and will be extended throughout all eternity through the new heaven and the new earth.
So what? How does this lesson from creation help me? We learn hope and patience. Like creation, we have an expectation in our glorification with Christ and that hope is our motivation to persevere in our struggle against our sinful flesh (verses 23-25).
Verses 23-25 teaches us those who have the first fruits of the Spirit have hope. In fact, our glorification is guaranteed by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We cannot see that hope yet. We cannot even imagine that hope but it is coming to every believer in Jesus Christ.

We have learned three wonderful lessons from creation. We have learned according to Romans 1 that creation teaches us the power and existence of God. We have also learned from Psalm 8 that we, humankind, is the center of God’s created universe. Today we have learned why. Creation is waiting for our glorification with Christ and the resulting freedom that it will enjoy as a result. For that reason, this battle against sin that we are constantly fighting is worth every moment. The purpose of the battle, the hope of our suffering is our honor and glorification with Christ. When you are weary of fighting against the pain and suffering of sin, be patient, persevere, remember you have the Holy Spirit to help you, to lead you and the future glory that you will have with Christ will be worth it.

Invitation: Commit yourself to killing sin as a believer. If you are an unbeliever, let me invite you to a relationship with Christ to become a son of God.

Lessons from Creation: (Part 1) What does creation teach us about God? June 14, 2009

Posted by roberttalley in Creation, General Revelation, Gospel, Religion, Romans, Sermons.
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LESSONS FROM CREATION:
WHO GOD IS AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
ROMANS 1:16-25
INTRODUCTION: This is the first in a three part series of lessons from creation. In our VBS this year, we are emphasizing the creation and other wonderful works of God. In connection, I would like for us to look in the Scriptures and find out what creation teaches us about God, about humankind, and about our future. Today, we will, using the Word of God, find out what creation teaches us about God.
Who Is God (Romans 1:16-20a)?
He is the Powerful God (compare verse 16 with verse 20a). If there is anything that creation reveals, it is that there is a mighty power at work in the universe. The creationist, the evolutionist, the New Age adherent, the superstitious animist, the agnostic, all would agree that the power that created this universe and that maintains this universe is a power beyond our ability, a power beyond our knowledge, a power beyond our duplication. The best that man can do is harness that power. We cannot create it. We can extract energy out of oil, from the sun, even from the atom but we cannot create any of those things. That is beyond our power. And that power is eternal. We cannot discover the beginning of it, nor see the end of it. That is why creation reveals the Godhead. We see the power of creation and understand that this could not just happen. There must be a god or gods who brought all this into being.
I understand that evolutionary theory claims that chance brought all of this about but they have yet to show how. They have theories and they have puzzle pieces but they have yet to produce an evolution. It is beyond their ability, it is beyond observable knowledge, and it is beyond duplication. Their very standard, that of observable knowledge does not produce a case of evolution but rather a universe of such immensity and complexity that one must consider that there is some type of intelligent designer.
Yet that is as far as observable phenomena can bring us. We can see God’s power and capability through creation but not His character and purposes. In order to see more than just the eternal power and Godhead, we need the gospel of Christ. The gospel of Christ shows us that God is Righteousness (verse 17). When you look at the universe, there seems to be no righteousness.
This week we watched a relatively recent movie based on the book, “Charlotte’s Web.” The young girl in the film, seeing her father about to put the runty pig out of its misery says, “It’s not fair.” This universe does not appear just. It does not appear right. It does not appear righteous. Runty pigs are born. Stars die. Species die out. The universe does not reveal the righteousness of God. That is only revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and only when one believes that gospel (see also Romans 3:21-26; 5:17-21; and 10:1-11).
He is the Judge (verses 18-19). Although the word “judge” is not used in these verses, this is exactly what is being described in these verses. That men are unrighteous is clear. We have fallen short of the righteousness of God and we deserve a just wrath on our own righteousness. The reason this wrath is just is because we have not sinned ignorant of God but rather with our eyes wide open.
You see, humankind has suppressed the truth by our own unrighteousness (verses 18b-20). From the time of creation, the power of God has been observable, the eternal Godhead has been deducible but humankind has suppressed the truth of the power of God and the truth that there is a God who is above anything that we could possibly imagine (See also Deuteronomy 4:19 and Job 31:26-28).
Why Does It Matter (Romans 1:20b-25)?
It matters because our knowledge of God removes any excuse from judgment (Romans 1:20b-21.) Humankind has refused to glorify God and to thank God for His gifts and glory even though we recognize Him in creation (verse 21). When we stand before God, if we have never heard of Him, if we have never heard of Jesus Christ, we cannot say we didn’t know. God will say, “You saw my power in creation, you saw through creation that I am God but you suppressed this truth in your unrighteousness and served yourself and other gods and even your own desires rather than serve me. You are without excuse!” God does not have to reveal Himself to us but when He does, and He does that in creation, it leaves us without excuse. You folks who go hunting and you folks who enjoy the beautiful lake that we have here, when you sit there enjoying the beauty of God’s creation, if you see that beauty and do not recognize God’s eternal power and Godhead through that creation, you will stand before Him without excuse.
It also matters because of the results: thanklessness (verses 21-25).
Through thanklessness, humankind became self-deceived, blind fools (verses 21b-22). Someone one said, “When you look truth in the eye and call it a lie, although it is still truth, you will still deny”. The human race is in denial. Humankind has a permanent case of denial, of self-deception, of purposely living in darkness thinking that they are living in the light.
When I was a kid, we use to play hide-and-seek at night in our house with my dad. Bathrooms and the living area were off limits. There was a long hallway with five bedrooms off of it. My dad would be it. We would all go and hide with all the lights cut off. My dad was great for coming in so quietly that you didn’t know he was there and then by listening he would hear where you were at and slowly quietly make his way to where you were. You would think he would be in the other end of the building when he would reach out and grab you and scare you witless. You thought you knew where he was. You thought you knew how the game was going done but you were just speculating and you were caught. That is what the world is doing spiritually.
Humankind began to serve, that is glorify and thank, the creature rather than the Creator (verses 23 & 25). Certainly this refers to idol worship and the making of gods. Praying to a human, whether living or dead would also be included. The word “serve” in verse 25 is always used in connection with some sort of religious act. It may sacrifices. It may be fasting. Most often it refers to prayer. When you pray to a statute or a person or a shrine or a cross or to a pastor or to a saint or to a ritual or to a church, you have changed the image of God from the creator to what was created. Why do people do this? Because they do not want to glorify God, put Him at the head of the table and they are not thankful, do not appreciate the one who created them. They deceive themselves and turn to worshiping something besides the true and living God.
God allowed their sin to follow its natural course (verse 24). God was not standing around helpless in all this. He allowed them to follow the desires of their hearts. He gave them up. What did He give them up to? Immorality.
Now verse 26 talks about the progression to homosexuality and verses 28-32 list twenty-one sins that characterize those who do not recognize the eternal power and Godhead. We as an evangelical community oppose gay marriage and all forms of homosexuality because God has set strict standards of intimate behavior: one man married to one woman until death do part but we need to recognize that uncleanness is the first major step away from God. Adulterous affairs, pornography, an intimate relationship of any kind outside of marriage, no fault divorce and easy remarriage, lustful thoughts, obsession with immorality in our reading material and in our TV shows, all of these things are included in the first major step away from God.
“Why (are these things) singled out as the first major step away from God? The answer is not hard to find. Sex is closely related to the human spirit. The way you conduct yourself sexually is a good barometer of what’s going on in your heart (Ray Pritchard).” Paul tells us that this is the natural progression of our depraved hearts.
If we were to continue in this passage, which for the sake of time we will not, we would see the progression in verse 26 to open homosexuality and in verses 28-32, twenty-one sins that characterize us at our worst. If you look at that list, you’ll probably find one of your favorite sins listed there.
Finally, It matters who God is because there is good news in the midst of man’s desperate situation (1:16-17).
The good news reveals salvation from wrath (verse 16a). The fact that Jesus came and died for our sins and rose again from the dead, that is the good news, the gospel. When I go to the ATM machine and take out money, I try to always get a receipt. I’m not trying to get economic theory or bank advertising or ideas on how to save money. I get the receipt because I want some documented facts. That is what the good news is, what the gospel is. The documented facts about Jesus Christ.
The good news reveals the power of God (verse 16b). It is wonderful that creation reveals the power of God but so much more wonderful to see the power of God to salvation through faith in the gospel of Christ. Faith that Jesus died for our sins according the Scriptures and that He was buried and rose again according to the Scriptures is a powerful and life-giving faith. Dr. Lee Roberson use to call it “Gospel Dynamite” because the facts are so powerful, so explosive that they can save a person from the slavery of sin, from the condemnation of hell, and from eternal separation from God and all that is good.
The good news reveals that power is unleashed by faith in God’s righteousness (verses 16c-17). If you keep the Ten Commandments, the power of the gospel to save remains unlit. Being self-righteous hinders the power of God but faith in God’s righteousness unleashes that power.
INVITATION: Remember those Indiana Jones’ movies. It seems that someone was always putting their faith in the wrong person in those movies. I suppose that was the way they made those movies interesting. Everyone was suspect, no one was dependable. There are a myriad of options out there in which you can put your faith. God has revealed to us that the answer is by faith in Jesus Christ.
Are you willing to accept the gospel of Christ? If you haven’t received Christ as Savior, if have not put your faith in Him alone for salvation, why don’t you do it today. He died for you, He bore your reproach, your sin, on the cross; He rose from the dead for you to prove that He is both man and God and that He is able to save you for all eternity; He lives for you today also, if you will turn to Him. If you want to trust Christ today or you have questions about how to be saved, will you meet our counselors at the back of the auditorium and they will show you from the Bible how to be saved.

What to do when you are in doubt about an issue? July 29, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Body of Christ, Character, Christian Liberty, Judgment Seat of Christ, Romans, Sermons, Spiritual Emotions, Teamwork.
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Back from vacation…I’m interrupting the Sunday morning series on God’s Word to deal with an important issue.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU ARE IN DOUBT

Romans 14:1-15:7

 

INTRODUCTION: When Christ died for us, He saved us from our sin and gave us a new nature. That is what Romans 1-8 is all about. In Romans 12-16, Paul describes how that new nature is to be lived out. Living God’s love out in your life affects every area in your life including those issues where the Bible does not clear up every doubt that you might have about that issue. That is the subject of chapter 14 and the first part of chapter 15.

 

BEGINNING WITH THE END 

Paul ends his instructions on doubtful issues with the instructions to receive each other in this area of doubtful issues just as Christ has received us. This is the general principle that we are to apply when someone disagrees with us over a doubtful issue.

 

It is important at this juncture to define what a doubtful issue is. A doubtful issue is any issue in which I am convinced in my mind that there is freedom but that other believers with whom I have close contact feel there is not this same freedom.

OKAY, GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE. 

We have two examples in this passage.

 

Romans 14:2 mentions that some believe that all things edible are lawful, but others for spiritual reasons eat only vegetables.

Romans 14:5 mentions that some believe that all days are the same, but others for spiritual reasons observe some days as being holy.

 

There are a lot of these types of issues.

  1. Some believe drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation is lawful, but others for spiritual reasons practice total abstinence.

  2. Some believe that Sunday is no different than any other day of the week, but others for spiritual reasons observe Sunday as the “Christian Sabbath”.

  3. Some believe that each Christian should vote his conscience; others for spiritual reasons prefer to vote either Republican or Democrat or perhaps even not at all.

  4. Some believe that corporate prayer in a small group is relatively unimportant, others find it to be a necessity for our spiritual growth and fellowship.

  5. Some believe that all types of music can be used for the glory of God in public worship, others believe that we should limit our worship music to a relatively small selection of types.

  6. Some believe that the mode of baptism is unimportant, others feel for spiritual reasons we should practice baptism by immersion only.

  7. Some believe that there is freedom in how we educate our children, others believe that only public schools or Christian schools or home schools are legitimate methods of education.

  8. Some believe that holidays like Halloween or the pagan practices that have been integrated into our Christmas and Easter celebrations are harmless, others believe that they are dangerous to one degree or another.

  9. Some believe that there is some freedom in the matter of divorce and remarriage, others believe that divorce and remarriage are forbidden in every case no matter the circumstances.

These are all issues that in our fellowship have been discussed at one time or another during the past two years. These are all issues over which good Christians disagree. There is debate as to what the Bible teaches in these areas. In the minds of some there is doubt as to that the Bible teaches in these areas.

AN ISSUE TO WHICH THERE IS NO DOUBT 

As we have seen already, there is no doubt as to how we are to treat the opposing side. We are to receive each other in this area of doubtful issues just as Christ has received us.

 

  •  

      We are to receive, we are to welcome as honored friends, according to 14:3, those believers who disagree with us, because they have been received by God. This is independent of how they treat us. This is independent of any offense we may feel they have committed against us. Why? Verse 4 tells us why. He is God’s. God will take care of him or her if they are wrong. That is the only basis on which we can deal with each other. Only God can determine who is truly right or truly wrong and we should leave it to Him to take care of.

  • How did Christ receive us (15:7)? The word implies hospitality, to be welcomed as a friend. When we receive Christ as Savior we are received as honored friends into His kingdom and that is how we are to treat those who disagree with us in these issues over which there is doubt. We find this same word used twice in 14:1-3. There are two things that are important to understand from these two verses.

SO HOW DOES THIS WORK?

Verse 1 gives us the practical application of these principles. If you have a broader understanding of Scriptures than those who are on the other side of the issue, receive them, welcome them as honored friends. Don’t debate them (verse 1). Don’t despise them or hold them in contempt (verses 3 and 10). Do not grieve and destroy your brother or sister in Christ (verse 15). Don’t dissolve the work of God (verse 20). Don’t cause them to stumble (verse 21).  

OBJECTION #1

Does that not make us a slave of those who disagree with us if we submit or we acknowledge our differences as legitimate differences. Look at verse 18. We are to be slaves in these matters, slaves of Christ. We do that, according to verse 19, by pursuing peace and edification. The word “pursue” is used in other places to mean “persecution”. We are to chase peace and edification like a hound dog trying to tree a ‘coon. This is not passive. This is very, very active. All you have to do to understand this, is to lay in bed at night and listen to a pack of ‘coon dogs in the distance chasing a raccoon or a ‘possum. They get closer and closer and louder and louder and more excited and more excited, that is the way that we are to pursue peace and edification of those with whom we disagree, without debating them but rather, if necessary, submitting to them.

OBJECTION #2 – BUT THAT IS A TERRIBLE BURDEN

You are correct! Not only are we to pursue peace but according to Romans 15:1 we are to bear with the scruples of those with a stricter conscience than ours, not by pleasing ourselves but by pleasing, i.e., accommodating ourselves to the opinions, desires, and interests of others. Paul does not pretend this is easy. The word “bear” implies something burdensome, something heavy, something that is perhaps exhausting to carry. That is why the picture of Jesus pleasing us, accommodating Himself to our interests, bearing our reproach in 15:3 is such a beautiful picture of what we need to do. In the same way that Christ bore our sins for our interest we are to bear the opinions of others for their good and their edification.

OBECTION #3 – HOW ABOUT THEM? 

This does bring us to a very thorny problem. What is the responsibility of the person with the stricter conscience? Are those with a less strict conscience at the mercy of those with a stricter conscience?

Romans 14:3b answers this question for us. Just as those with a broader understanding of the issue are not to despise those with a stricter understanding, those with a stricter understanding are not to judge, not to criticize, not to look on them as a criminal or to dispute with them as before a court of law. When they do this, even if they are right in their opinion, they are doing several things…

TAKING THE PLACE OF CHRIST

According to verses 4 and 10-12, the believer with a judgmental attitude has taken the place that belongs only to God. The place of judgment. The place of evaluation. Obviously, the Bible teaches that we can and should evaluate others to see if they are qualified for certain responsibilities or to know if they are believers of the truth or not but it is left to Jesus Christ alone to judge our opinions and how we lived them out. That is not my place and that is not your place.

CHRIST DIED FOR UNITY NOT UNANIMITY

According to verses 8-9, the critical believer has not only taken the place of God but he has attempted to destroy the unity for which Christ died. Christ died to save us from our sin, He died to give us an eternity with Him but He also died to make us one body in Him. He died that we as a body of believers might be united together in Him. Verse 15 warns us not to destroy with our critical attitude, those for whom Christ died. Romans 15:5-6 sums this up for both sides of the issue: “Be like-minded according to Christ.”

THE QUESTION FINALLY ANSWERED

There is a third group that is addressed in chapter 14. First, there are those with a broad understanding of an issue. Then, there are those with a narrow understanding of the issue. Finally, there are those who are not sure where they stand on an issue. There are two commands to this group. These commands apply to all of us but they are especially appropriate for those who are in doubt, those at whom the title of this sermon is directed.

ESTABLISH YOUR CONVICTIONS

Command #1 is given in 14:5—Be fully persuaded in your own mind. Do not let there be a shadow of a doubt about your position. Investigate, try to understand the issue. Paul expands on this concept in verse 14. He says, “I know and am convinced, persuaded, not just by logical arguments but by Jesus Christ that the opinion I hold is right.” He says though, “There are others who are not so convinced and if they are not convinced then they should stay away from the broader position.” Why? Because in verse 20 it is evil, it is bad, for one to partake, to be a participant of something of which their mind is not convinced that it is okay.

DON’T PARTAKE UNTIL YOUR CONVICTIONS ARE ESTABLISHED.

This brings us to the second command. It is implied in verses 22-23. “He who doubts is condemned, is damned if he eats.” If you are not convinced, don’t you dare follow the broader understanding of the issue. That is simple but that is the way that you should look at issues for which you are not convinced in your mind about the truth.

What is certain is that as a believer, whatever my opinion is, I am to fulfill the law of love in everything I do. There is not one area in my life, in which I cannot express the love of Christ. When I give up my rights the way God wants me to give up my rights, when I refuse to criticize and judge and condemn, that is, view others with the attitude God wants me view them, when I honor as a friend those believers, even though they differ with me on various issues, I am showing God’s love in my life. It does not really matter what your position is, if you have the stricter or the broader position or no certain position at all, you are to love your brother as Christ has loved you.

Last year I preached from this same chapter and mentioned a number of issues, many more than I have mentioned this morning that raised the eyebrows of a number of people. One of those was mode of baptism. In that area, I have a stricter conscience than some other believing Christians. I am not talking about liberals but people with solid Christian credentials. I believe they are wrong. The constitution of this church holds them to be wrong. I must follow my conscience but my attitude toward them must be Christian. Perhaps we cannot work together in the same church because of this issue but I am not to judge them, that is Christ’s responsibility.

AN INVITATION TO THE FAMILY OF GOD

We have talked today about some family matters. I trust that you understand that we have a wonderful family and Christ is the head of our family. The only way to become a part of His family is to be received by Him as an honored friend.

The only way to be received by Christ is to understand that you are a sinner. Like a sheep gone astray, your end is doom. You are spiritually condemned by God but Jesus bore your sins in His body on the cross so that you might become righteous, acceptable before God. Jesus paid your sin debt, was condemned, and punished for your sins. When you trust Christ as Savior your debt of sin is paid in full and you are received into the wonderful family of God.

Will you trust Jesus today and be received into His family?

The Bible position on Global Warming July 13, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Day of the Lord, Environment, Eschatology, Evangelicalism, False Doctrine, Genesis, Global Warming, Gospel, Judgment, Promises of God, Romans.
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Will probably use part of this article in the sermon on Sunday. Try to figure out which part of this article best fits in with Psalm 19. Let me know if you figure it out before Sunday.

must-read (Thanks to Tim Challlies at Tim Challies)

Second Peter 1:2-2:2 (How do we know the truth?) July 8, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Bible, Faith, False Teachers, Forgiveness, Gospel, Holy Spirit, Inspiration, Peter the Apostle, Romans, Scripture Memorization, Second Peter, Sermons.
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We continue to learn Romans 6:1-13 during these summer months.  I would like for us to think on verses 5-8. 

“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.7  For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.”

Paul says that there are some things that we know. He says that we are certain of the resurrection because we know that our old man was crucified with Christ, that our sinful body was done away with. How though can we be sure? He repeats this truth in verse 8 when he says that if we died with Christ, we can be convinced that we will live with Him. Again, the question is this, “How do we know?” His reply might be, because we know that the resurrected Christ will die no more. How though can we be sure? 

THIS QUESTION ABOUT TRUTH IS CURRENT! 

Tomorrow as we hold the memorial service for Ron French, this question will be uppermost in some minds, “How can we know that what God has said (about eternity in this case) is true?”

We have the answer in 2 Peter 1:20-21. Let us read these two verses and then we will answer the question, “How do we know?”

“…knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Peter begins this letter by pronouncing a special blessing on his readers. We find the beginning of this blessing in 1:2. This blessing is based on knowledge. Not just any knowledge but the full knowledge of Jesus Christ. Peter then goes on to explain what exactly this full knowledge produces in the life of the believer so that those who are reading the book will understand both the blessing of this knowledge and their responsibility to it.

FULL KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST SHOWS ITSELF IN OUR CHARACTER.

1.     This knowledge produces fruit (1:2-15). This is not theory but reality put into practice. The knowledge of God produces salvation and it produces the type of life that is different from that of the world.

a.      Verses 1-4 tell us about the eternal fruit that is produced by the Word of God. Although I will be talking about eternal fruit of the future and earthly fruit in our present lives, I hope you will understand as Peter does, that the two are inseparable. Look at verse 3. Peter speaks of that which pertains to life and godliness. Both of them are produced by the power of God by the means of the knowledge of God.

b.     Verses 5-7 tell us about the earthly fruit that is produced by the Word of God. Not only is the gospel of Christ the power that produces salvation, it is also the power that produces a godly life.

·        Why then do believers not live a godly life? Why do they not add to their faith, virtue and to their virtue, knowledge until it culminates in the love of God revealed in their daily lives? It is likely because the power of God does not work in them as it should because they have shunned the knowledge of Christ. Someone asked me several months ago what the verse meant that says that if we will not forgive our brother, neither will our Father in heaven forgive us. This is the explanation. If the gospel does not transform your way of living then it is very unlikely that your heart has been transformed. So if you never develop as a Christian to the point where you can forgive those who have sinned against you, then it is likely you have never experienced the power of God for salvation.

·        This brings us to a second question? What is my part in producing godliness? If I am incapable of producing godliness, why then am I commanded to do so? This is why the Word of God is necessary. You see, it is the power of God that produces godliness just as it is the power of God that produces salvation and eternal life but in both cases this power is set in motion by the Word of God and we respond to it by faith. This is the difference between dead works and faith. Dead works looks at the rules and says, “I can do that.” Faith looks at the promises and says, “God can do that for me,” and then responds by striving to do what God has promised to do within me. Those promises that we look at in the Word of God are like a carrot dangling from a stick luring us away from sin and leading us in the path of godliness (HT: John Piper). It is not by my power to walk in that path but it is by my assent. It is not my capability but it is my responsibility to accept and act upon the truth.

WHEN WE BEAR SPIRITUAL FRUIT, GOD’S WORD IS CONFIRMED.

c.     Verses 8-15 tell us about the necessity of spiritual fruit. We are assured by the Word of God as well as by recognizing God’s work in our heart and life. To continue strong in faith, it is absolutely necessary to be strengthened by the Word of God. I am not sure how far down the road of destruction one can go but it seems that it is possible that one can live in rejection of the Word of God to such a point that his spiritual eyesight is damaged (verse 9). In fact the implication of verse 10 is that those who have no fruit have no salvation.

GOD’S TRUTH IS NOT ONLY CONFIRMED BY OUR CHARACTER BUT ALSO BY EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS. 

2.     We know the truth by the confirmed word (1:16-18). Peter was not a moralist. He did not say I am going to tell you what to do over and over and over again until you get it. Peter said I am going to tell you what I have seen. He was an eyewitness. He was not talking about what he had heard from someone else but was speaking from his own personal experience. The confirmation of the truth of the Word of God is very important (Hebrews 2:1-4; 1 John 1:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15). That is what produces assurance of salvation as well as a holy life.

·        Sometimes someone will tell me about some experience they have that they accredit to God. Sometimes, the experience, although totally foreign to anything that I have ever experienced seems to not only be consistent with the Word of God but also to be evidenced by godliness in the life of the person who experienced it. As long as they do not lift that experience to the level of revelation from God or inspiration by God, then I can say nothing against it. Often though, there are those who tell me about an experience they have had and they attribute that experience to God and I know by their lives that God could have nothing to do with it. If He did their lives would be different. I have no confidence in their experience not because of the experience but because it does not confirm the truth of the Word of God. If your experience does not confirm the clear truth of the Word of God, then your experience is suspect.

·        Peter was different. He was not a perfect man. He was flawed but His experience with Christ changed him and now as he is coming to the end of his life, he writes and tells these people, you need to be reminded of the truth of the message of Jesus Christ. That will keep you from sin! That will establish you in the truth! It is interesting that he does not tell about the resurrection or the ascension of Christ into heaven but rather of the transfiguration, the time when Peter saw Christ in His majesty. Why? Peter understood that was the experience he had with Christ that best describes the second coming (verse 16).

WHAT IS IT THAT FRUITFUL LIVES AND EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS CONFIRM? 

3.     We know the truth by fruitful lives and by confirming testimony but first and foremost we know the truth by the prophetic word of God (1:19-2:2). This is what was confirmed by the eyewitnesses, the prophetic word of God. This may (or may not) imply predicting the future although the predictive prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ concerning the Messiah coming in power and majesty are certainly foremost in the mind of Peter as well as his Jewish readers.

a.      A prophet never spoke his own message. It was always the message of God that he spoke and that message when believed would bring light (1:19-21).

·        “The content of the Bible is revelation. The process by which that content was written down is called inspiration. And it wasn’t a high level of human activity, it wasn’t even a high level of religious human activity. Men were in the process but it didn’t originate with them and it didn’t come from their desire and their will, they were used as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit and enabled to speak from God. They spoke divine words. God used them. It was their personality. It was their background, some of their insights, their experiences, their perceptions, but every word was the word of God. (Macarthur)”

b.     A false prophet not only speaks his own message but it brings destruction on those who believe it (2:1-2).

WARNING! ALL THAT IS TOLD IS NOT TRUTH. 

There are a lot of wrong voices crying to be heard. These voices are described in 2 Peter 2:1-2. We find out two important things about these wrong voices, the false prophets.  

First, they have always been around. Peter quickly moves into his present day but he begins by saying, “Yes, we have the Word of God but do not forget, the false prophets are from ancient times also.” Just because something is old does not make it honest or true. What makes truth is not age or lack of it but a reliable source and Peter says that the Holy Spirit speaking through men is the only reliable source of truth. 

Secondly, they deny and reject Jesus Christ. It is not about believing in God. It is about trusting Christ. He is after all the only way to God. It is not about doing good works to please God. Good works deny the sufficiency of the work of Christ on the cross. It is not about the traditions of men but about the truth of Christ. How then do you know the truth? Certainly, you can look at what God has done in the lives of believers. That is evidence of the power of the knowledge of God. If you are a believer, you know now that God has given you the power to bear fruit. Strive to do it. It is very clear what the fruit should be. Make your life correspond to that fruit.

There are also the eyewitness testimonies that confirm the truth of the Word of God. Peter is one of those. Ultimately, though you are going to have to put your faith and trust in the promises of God for yourself. Only then can your way be lit to salvation in this life and in the life to come. 

Freedom from Slavery (Romans 6:15-23) May 27, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Memorial Day, Romans, Sermons, Spiritual Warfare.
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We have memorized the first two verses of Romans 6. I would like us to read together the first three verses of this great chapter. As you are turning to Romans 6, I would like to illustrate visually what it means to be baptized into His death. As you can see, I have a glass of water here and I have a toothpick with a paper clip attached. My question for you to think about as we quote and/or read these verses is this. If I immerse the toothpick in water, will the paper clip get wet?

  1. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?

  2. Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

  3. Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  

THE IMPORTANCE OF CHRIST’S DEATH 

The death of Christ is essential to our spiritual freedom. Jesus Christ as an example without His death for our sin is absolutely worthless. Why? Because we were slaves of sin. Verse 17-18 describes the process of being baptized into Christ Jesus’ death.

17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart (that is, faith) that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

At the end of this chapter, Paul sums up his argument with these words:

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

How is it that the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus? Through faith in His death on the cross as being the only path to freedom from the slavery of sin.

TODAY – AN ADDITIONAL ILLUSTRATION

This illustration is not meant just to paint us a pretty picture but to show us how we are to live as believers in Jesus Christ. Just as Paul used this figure of baptism to illustrate death to continued sin and resurrection to newness of life in Christ Jesus, he now uses in verses 15-23 a new illustration, the figure of…

…FREEDOM FROM SLAVERY (ROMANS 6:15-23)

There are two questions in this chapter. You should now be very familiar with the first. It is found in verse one. “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?“ This question asks about the possibility of the believer living in habitual sin. Verse fifteen, however, deals with a different question, the question of occasional sin. In verse 14 Paul points out that we are not under law but under grace. He anticipates the reaction to this statement. “Certainly God’s grace will excuse that. After all, it is not like it is a habit. It is one of those things that just happens. God will forgive me. It is not so bad as all that.” The answer is the same in verse 15 as in verse 2. Certainly not! (One can almost hear Paul say, “Duh-uh!). God is opposed to all sin. Those who feel that habitual adultery is somehow worse than the occasional wandering eye can clearly see that God’s answer to both is, “No! If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are free! Do not dare use God’s grace as an excuse for even the tiniest sin!”

SPIRITUAL SLAVERY IS SPIRITUAL LOYALTY 

This freedom from the slavery of sin is dependent on the obedience or loyalty of faith (verses 15-18). Loyalty to Christ will not permit occasional crossing over to the other side to Satan’s line. (A. T. Robertson)”

Tomorrow as we celebrate Memorial Day, we will be celebrating those who died because they were loyal to their country. We will be celebrating the memory of those who submitted themselves to armed service because they believed that it was essential to the continuing liberty of their country and of themselves as free men. Military service is in a very real way a type of slavery. A slavery that is dependent on obedience and loyalty. Spiritual service is also a type of slavery and it is also dependent on obedience and loyalty.

TWO POSSIBLE MASTERS 

If you are a slave to sin, you feel freedom to sin. According to verse 20, we see that loyalty to sin will not permit crossing over to the side of Christ. One the other hand, if you are a slave to obedience, you have righteousness, the freedom to do right. It is true that in Romans 7 (which we will have to leave for some future period) there is a division of the will within the believer. This is actually where we get the picture of the two natures. The spiritual reality is this, that every person is either unsaved and enslaved in the sense that he is loyal to sin and not to righteousness or he is saved and enslaved in that he is loyal to righteousness and not to sin.

In this passage we find out to where these two freedoms lead. Let us begin with the negative.

FREE TO SIN! 

Freedom from righteousness leads to a life of slavery to sin. This life is described in verses 19-23. Last week, I mentioned that being a believer and not using the righteousness of Christ to resist sin was like riding a bicycle without using the brakes. Afterwards I was asked, “To where does running our spiritual bicycle into a tree lead?” These verses not only describe the life of the sinner but the consequences in the life of the believer if he ignores the spiritual brakes with which God has provided him.

Uncleanness (verse 19). Jesus used this term once in Matthew 23:27 when He said that the Pharisee’s were like beautiful tombs and mausoleums filled with dead men’s bones and uncleanness. Ephesians 4:17,19 makes it clear that we choose this slavery to sin that leads to uncleanness. Paul writes, “…the Gentiles (speaking of unbelievers)… have given themselves over… to work all uncleanness…” Look in Romans 1:24-25. What Paul is saying here is that because they gave themselves up to uncleanness, God freely lets them go. In fact, he says that uncleanness is what God allows to take over the lives of those who do not acknowledge Him as God.

Lawlessness leading to more lawlessness (verse 19). Jesus will say to those who claimed to work in His name, “Depart from me you workers of lawlessness. I never knew you.” We think of lawlessness as being in the gutter and the ghetto. Jesus, however, sees the lawlessness of the heart. Lawlessness is any thought, word, or action that violates the law. I may or may not be aware of the law.

IT GETS WORSER AND WORSER… 

Notice where lawlessness leads – to more lawlessness. This may be a strong statement but it seems that individual sins never stand alone. They build on each other. I cannot think of one sin in my life that has been committed separately from all other sin. I have sinned in anger, in blowing my top. It is usually quite unexpected. Afterwards though I am able to look at what led up to that explosion and see a number of different thoughts and actions and attitudes that led up and built up to lawlessness. Sins do not occur in isolation.

Shameful behavior (verse 21). Sin is the type of behavior that leads to feelings of shame. Notice, Paul does not say that they felt ashamed of their behavior at the time they were doing evil but rather they felt ashamed of their past behavior because now they knew better. It is the believer who feels ashamed of his past behavior. The unbeliever often knows no better. That is the terrible thing about slavery to sin and to the fruit of uncleanness and to lawlessness built upon lawlessness and to the daily allotment of death. You might think you are having a good time, that you are doing the right thing, that this is the way to go but you are dying every second just a little bit more and a little bit more and you do not even know it. Think of those whitewashed tombs filled with dead men’s bones. Inside of them death reigns. Think of those to whom Jesus said depart from me you workers of iniquity. They were among those who performed miracles in God’s name but they were servants of sin plagued by death.

THE END IS… 

The wages of sin – death (verses 21 and 23). There are two things we need to understand about the picture described here.

First, Paul is not saying if you sin, your wages are death. He is saying, if you serve sin, if sin is your master, if your loyalty is to sin; then the fruit is uncleanness and lawlessness and the wages that sin will pay you for your uncleanness and lawlessness is death. Sin, your master, pays your wages and sin pays in only one currency – death!

Secondly, the payment is daily. The wages here are not the wages that one receives at the end of a work period. These wages are the daily allotment paid for a soldier’s rations. In other words, if you are not in Christ, you are surviving or subsisting on death. It is true that the end of sin is death but there is a daily payment of death handed out on the way down. That is what the unbeliever is surviving on.

There is an article taken from the Booneville Banner, Booneville, Mississippi, in the July 11, 1912 issue of their newspaper and written by a Rev. Robert J. Burdette, a Union Soldier. In it he writes about being on burying detail after the Battle of Corinth in Mississippi, “We found a dead Confederate soldier lying on his back… He was one of the Rogers’ Texans…I covered his face with a slouch hat and took off the haversack slung to his neck, that it might not swing as we carried him…

“Empty, isn’t it?” asked the soldier working with me.

I put my hand in it and drew forth a handful of roasted acorns; I showed them to my comrade. “That’s all,” I said.

“And he has been fighting like a tiger for two days on that forage,” he commented. We gazed at the face of the dead soldier with new feelings. By and by he said:

“I hate this war and the things that caused it. I was taught to hate slavery before I was taught to hate sin. I love the Union as I love my mother-better. I think that this is the wickedest war that was ever waged in modern times. But this, and he took some of the acorns from my hand-“this is what I call patriotism.”

“Comrade,” I said, “I am going to send these home to the Peoria Transcript. I want them to tell the editor this war won’t be ended until there is a total failure of the acorn crop. I want the folks at home to know what manner of men they and we are fighting.”…

“I was more and more devoted to the Union as the war went on. But I never questioned the sincerity of the men in the Confederacy again. I realized how dearly a man must love his own section who would fight for it on parched acorns…”

The acorns, the rations, the wages of sin causes the man who lives on them to fight with great loyalty against righteousness.

THERE IS ANOTHER WAY 

Just as freedom from sin leads to the fruit of uncleanness and of lawlessness upon lawlessness which leads to sins wages – death, freedom from sin leads to holiness and to the gift of God – eternal life (verses 19b-23).

The fruit is holiness or sanctification (verses 19 and 22). Often it is said that when we trust Christ we are freed from the penalty of sin and are now being freed from the power of sin and someday will be freed from the presence of sin. These verses teach that I am already freed from the power of sin and that is why I am holy and consecrated before God. 1Th 4:7 says, “…God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.” Just like a tree is planted and bears fruit, that holiness, that sanctification is lived out as I continue to present the members of my body to my master, the God of righteousness. Although my holiness was established in the past and continues in the present, it will ultimately be perfectly completed when I am with Christ Jesus. That is holiness ending in eternal life.

The gift of God – eternal life (verses 22-23). Eternal life is not only dependent on God saving me from the lake of fire (justification, if I may use this term in a non-technical way) but also from sin’s power (sanctification). Eternal life comes not only from forgiveness but also through God’s holiness.

Notice the contrast with the wages of sin. If you serve sin, you receive subsistence wages. If you serve God, if you are his slave, you receive gifts. That is not normal slavery but that is perfect slavery. You receive blessings and gifts not because you work but because you are a slave.

TWO QUESTIONS:

Whose slave are you? You are either a slave of righteousness, of God, or a slave to sin. You may become a slave of righteousness, not by being righteous but by accepting the free gift of God – eternal life – through Jesus Christ. There is no other way. Look again at verses 17-18.

17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart (that is, faith) that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. You have heard the truth. Will you obey it in faith? When I was growing up, I used to hear camp meeting preachers ask people if they would junk their church membership and turn to Jesus, if they would junk their good works and turn to Jesus. As we have seen, you can be religious and be a slave to sin and until you junk that religion you will never turn to Christ alone in faith. Whatever it is, moral or immoral, religious or irreligious, junk it…and turn to Jesus!

If you are a slave of righteousness, why do you present your members to the enemy? You are free from sin, why do you submit to the enemy. Turn to Christ for help. Present your members to Christ. Do it now and continue to do it day after day until Jesus comes to take us unto Him.

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.

God’s Accounting Practices May 15, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Romans, Terrible Parables.
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http://mysite.verizon.net/bizsopu4/2007.05.01_arch.html#1179233725385

Click the above link or “Terrible Parables” on the blogroll. This one fits well with parts of this Sunday’s sermon from Romans 6. By the way, have you memorized verse 1 yet?

The Tenses of Romans 6:1-2 May 14, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Romans.
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” Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?…How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”

“Continue” and “live” are active future tense verbs that are used synonymously in these verses. “Died” refers to a definite event that happened once in the past (second aorist). Obviously, death to sin precludes the possibility of living habitually (continuing) in sin.