I have had many experiences on Sunday morning when I felt as if I could have been the only person in the sanctuary. The message presented spoke so clearly to my heart that it’s as if the message was written for me personally. Ever have one of those moments?
Well, I had one this past Sunday. My pastor is currently teaching through the book of Romans. He spoke on the first half of chapter 6 which talks about being “Dead to sin and Alive to God”. Granted, I’ve read this portion of scripture many times in my life, yet this morning was different. The simple answer for it being different was the way it was presented. It came across as a follow-up to the Easter message of Jesus’ resurrection. Beyond that, to use the title of a recent movie, the Lord spoke extremely loud & incredibly close to my heart.
In my last post entitled “Are you allowed to do that?!”, I had requested people’s opinions about tattoos on Facebook. The discussion blew up and was directed at how people view tattoos from a biblical perspective. It led to a lot of good discussion on the subject of sin. Quite a few mentioned scripture pertaining to how the Lord views an individual. “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7b, NKJV) This is exactly where I ended up as my pastor was speaking on Romans 6. All too often, I continue to look at the things I’ve done (my sin), and dwell on them. Sometimes for a little too long, which leads to a digression in to the “whoa-is-me’s”. Romans 6:1-2 states, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” The idea is that when Christ died on the cross, our sins died with Him. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that we could continue to dwell on our past sins like a pig in the mud. Jesus died so we could be clean. This concept of grace is lost on so many people, including myself. We tend to justify our sin because we know God will forgive us. What a horrible way to live your life! I had a friend in high school tell me that she wasn’t ready to live sold out for Christ because she wanted to develop a good testimony. In other words, she chose to fulfill her worldly desires rather than find peace and security in Jesus Christ.
“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4, NKJV) We as Christians sometimes forget that we are resurrected as well. We focus so much on trying not to sin that sin becomes our sole focus, rather than our new life in Christ. Though a difficult task, it’s what we’re called to do. Oswald Chambers wrote the following:
“You no more need a day off from spiritual concentration on matters in your life than your heart needs a day off from beating. As you cannot take a day off morally and remain moral, neither can you take a day off spiritually and remain spiritual. God wants you to be entirely His, and it requires paying close attention to keep yourself fit. It also takes a tremendous amount of time. Yet some of us expect to rise above all of our problems, going from one mountaintop experience to another, with only a few minutes’ effort.”
The idea is that walking in Christ is a difficult road. We will stumble. We may even fall. But the grace of God that is extended to us is to help us up, dust us off, and keep us going FORWARD. Reveling in your sin is about as good as falling down and saying, “I’m good. I like it down here. My leg hurts, my ankle is throbbing, but this will do just fine.”
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:12-14, NKJV)
There is a moment in my life that I need to focus on a lot more. The moment I was baptized in the Jordan River in Israel. I remember the water being extremely cold, but it didn’t matter. I was about to go through my own personal resurrection. It’s the moment I was lifted out of the water. That’s what I want to focus on. It was in that moment that I became clean. That’s the moment when my “old man” stayed buried beneath the water, never to be seen again (I walked in to the river a dead man, but walked out ALIVE in Christ!
“From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.” (Romans 6:11, The Message)
As I was writing this, a good friend of mine was completing a study of his and used the following within his message. I felt it a perfect fit to Romans 6 and a solid way to end my thoughts this time around. “The only way to effectively combat the pleasures of sin is by having a superior affection for something else. The gospel allows us to see the far surpassing beauty of God, and it gives us the strength to pursue what makes us truly happy: HIM.” God bless you! Rak Chazak Amats!