AUSTRALIAN PRESBYTERIAN BIBLE CHURCH
September 5, 2004
WAR ON SIN
VICTORY IN THE WAYS OF THE TRIUMPHANT WARRIOR
- this sermon was finished only in part,
so that there is what in the printed form may appear recapitulation of some of what is here printed, in Part II,
There is a divine declaration of war on sin. Shall we sin, asks the apostle, that grace may abound ? Certainly not!
This war meant a sacrificial 'bomb' imploding sin onto the Cross, and means
a spiritual cleansing, acceptance and victory for those who heart is purged and whose faith is set on Christ, their living Rock.
|1. DEAD ON ARRIVAL Romans 6:1-12|
Romans 5 shows the magnificence of the life God gives, filled with grace, assured of eternity. SIN THEN ? is Paul’s question. Sin so that much more grace will be shown in pardoning it ? Sin that grace may abound ? Some might seek such an outrage. You forget! comes his call. YOU DIED. He traces this out in three major images. Do not imagine for one moment that this ‘baptism’ has anything to do with some sacrament which speaks of forgiveness of sins and washing. This is all about DEATH! The sacrament of baptism is not a funeral service, but a covenant that brings life (cf. Colossian 2:11-12). It is not a crucifixion (Romans 6:6) but a birth celebration and covenantal embrace as in Acts 2:37-38.
There is however another sort of baptism (I Cor. 12:13) INTO the body of the Lord by His Spirit, that is a transforming emplacement, like putting in an artificial limb, but in this case, it is a natural one replacing what WAS artificial. Its cost can be great. It is like that of which Christ spoke to the disciples in Matthew 20:22, where He asked His disciples whether they could be baptised with the baptism with which He would be baptised, or drink the CUP which He would drink – that is, His death. You see that when, as in Luke 22:42, He asked His Father, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me: nevertheless, not My will but Yours be done!”
This ‘baptism’ therefore is a matter of identification with Christ IN HIS DEATH as a going concern! If your sinful old nature is really something you repent of, with all the particular sins which it held, the false ambitions, the erroneous judgments, the selfish desires, the carnal concepts, then it must go, to the Cross and be crucified with Christ, indeed buried with Him, or planted with Him. There is no crucifixion in the sacrament of baptism! There is however in the baptism of which Paul here speaks, the introduction in Christ to an alteration so profound, that germination is one of its images, while the roots remain in the ground, buried. This is the spiritual identification which relates to, and symbolically relays, the cross and resurrection of Christ. Here is the symbolic crux of which Paul speaks in decisive contradistinction from water baptism and its washing. This is for constant LIVING! and it is SANCTIFICATION in practice: it is the cost exercise in Christianity, not the admission symbolism. It is the code for life, not the concept of commencement.
|2. LIVE IN REVIVAL Romans 6:13-17|
In this, there is the
repentance to life (Acts 11:18). Thus in the covenant of the New Testament
(Matthew 26), in His blood, where Christ dies for you, you die with Him, and as
He rose again, in body, so you in spirit rise, regenerated. You remain buried in
your old sinful nature, crucified so that as Paul puts it,
"I am crucified with Christ..." (Galatians 2:20
cf. Romans 8:10). Thus Paul declares,
“Now if we died with Christ, we believe we shall also live with Him” – Romans 6:8. It is an event, and it is a characteristic of the Christian as well.
So far then, from sinning so that grace can be greater, even more than before, in some screwball fashion, you, having died with Christ, COMMIT YOUR MEMBERS, all you are and have, to HIM, as if in a ceremony; but this is no ceremony, rather a daily sacrifice, a continual consecration in which you seek His moving through you for His will, as a Father with His child.
In this case, with the divine power propelling you, you leave with Him not merely the guilt but the dynamic of sin, not merely the fault but the sinful command which would commandeer the stricken sinner: so that being as dead, you are immune. That is your resting place. Then, as alive, you take the course of presenting all your physical, mental and spiritual powers to God as INSTRUMENTS of RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Sin would love to become a master again, but you deprive it of the opportunity, having a PRIOR CLAIM in Christ! Thus, “Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law, but under grace” – Romans 6:14.
This is far from meaning that to escape sin, you cancel the law, for Paul declares, in Romans 3:31, “Do we then make void the law through faith ? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law!” Christ was delivered up for our sins and raised up for our justification, but not because LAW does not matter, rather because it matters ENOUGH FOR HIM TO DIE to cover our guilt against His law! Romans 6:14 instead means that SINCE the compassion and power of God is found in Christ and His sin coverage, together with His life gift to us, we are invigorated for victory. It is not some dead effort of flesh to be ‘good’ but the dynamic of God to transform our very hearts, that is in view. It is BECAUSE such grace works that sin fails in its humbling and destructive mission.
Is it strong ? He is stronger. Is it condemning us ? Christ was condemned for us (Romans 8:32). Grace is sufficient (II Corinthians 12:9); and God is gracious to those who find Him where He IS to be found, in Christ as Saviour and Lord. And there, where He is, in His word as Lord, is to be found no flicker of change (James 1:17). Indeed, said He, the one who follows and teaches the least of these commandments is great in His kingdom, whilst the one who does the opposite is least. His word is not alterable, any more than your mouth!
Christianity means many things, but one of them is this:
It is a CRUSADE AGAINST SIN with the power to beat it.
It is a crusade for holiness with God, with grace to secure it.
It grapples with the greatness of man’s folly, incarcerates it in Christ crucified, liberates the human spirit from the domineering and dictatorial role of sin, its numbing influence, Christ being Himself torn and stricken, impact-bearer and Lord, breaking and not merely braking its dynamic. It is He who is the guilt offering and in substitutionary role, the Redeemer of His people, rising in a profound and infinite power from the death which this deserved, covering in Himself the sin which He bore for each one who so receives Him.
As Redeemer and alive (Hebrews 7:25), He administers life, not with officious paperwork, but godly priestly labour, ever interceding for His people whom He has brought to the heavenly places (Ephesians 2), the anchor within the veil of divine glory for His ‘ships’. In holy boldness, because of this His service, those who become His people by receiving Him through faith as He is, alive from the dead, come to His presence with assurance seeking all needs for serving Him and glorifying His name. His answers are often dramatic, sometimes require much patience, but are always loving, even in reproof (cf. Hebrews 4, 5, 7, 12).
NOTHING is too hard, and in nothing is HE too hard (I Corinthians 10:13), for He even drafts the yoke to the labour as a good carpenter (Matthew 11:28-30).
These are results, but in the process there is a permanent crucifixion with Him, of that old nature which was so rampant in its own rights (Colossians 2:12, Ephesians 2:13, 4:17-18), whether in imaginary morality or images of glory, or in admission of guilt. It is the same.
The case is not advanced by pretence or pretension and in the end all must repent of sin that deserves death or merely exit from the matter altogether (Luke 13:1-3), nor does faith fail to continue to draft sin to Christ for pardon, just as it receives instructions for labour (cf. I John 1:7-2:2, with I Cor. 12:11, Ephesians 5:17 – Do not be unwise, but knowing what the will of the Lord is.
Yet what if people merely live their lives, with or without lip service to Christ (which HE HATES – Isaiah 29:13). Towers, as this last reference to the words of Christ in Luke 13 shows, can indeed fall on any who have not yet repented; for this is the scope of their sin as sinners, as people on earth (cf. Psalm 1:4-6). There is no cover for the wilfully exposed; and as for His people, their willingness to suffer for His sake, not in rampaging might of flesh but in submission to His grace and goodness, as seems best to Him, this is a pearl among stones in this earth.
Indeed to the Christians at Rome, Paul writes that they “obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.” The Spirit of Christ vitalised them (Romans 8:11,13-14). The love of God ennobled them, while as they rested in Him, He enabled them (Romans 5:5, Ephesians 3:14-21, Hebrews 4).
|3. YOU CAN TAKE PAY OR A GIFT Romans 6:18-23|
When your old dead nature, deformed and distorted, led you, are you not now ashamed of its work ? Paul asks (Romans 6:21). Slaves of sin you were FREE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. You were like someone with a bank account of 0 dollars and 0 cents, exactly.
Now you are FREE OF SIN! in its taint and triumph. Set free from sin’s power, pollution and precepts, you have fruit in holiness; just as before, in its service, you had fruit in what is soiled, and sealed by death!
The new fruit is spiritual, savoury, and its end and donation is eternal life. By contrast, sin pays you, and its pay cheque is skull and cross bones endorsed: DEATH. You deserve it! your old employer happily says as you wind up at the end of life, take death, eternal shame.
On the other hand, your result, fruit and end in Christ is ETERNAL LIFE; and it is GIVEN AS A GIFT (Romans 6:23). Many cannot abide that, insisting that they are going to manage their own affairs: but if this life from God be not taken, whatever the reason, then its absence is like removing the sky for life on earth! Since this eternal life is a NECESSARY GIFT before the holy, awesome and majestic God, without which there is neither peace nor hope of it, the alternative is agonising for life, being the final solution for man without it!
That is the other option: and outside the life of God, it means death without Him. You are made by and for God, and you cannot live without Him and His peace, mercy and meaning: and after the tests are over, this shows! When you live for Him, that too shows. Truth shows, for there is no showmanship in Christianity: it is all for Christ or 'no show' for man, none at all! Christ makes this clear in Luke 14:27ff.. Clarity and charity are given; cost and compassion is infinite: and eternal life is abundant in beauty and grace. His LIFE is NOW, and its results endure for ever.