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In Romans 6 Paul brings us back again to talk about the dangers of our sin if it goes unchecked. But he also gives us a solution for how to deal with this problem. Continuing his logical progression for why faith is justified, Paul challenges the believers to question why if they say they are Christ’s and have been saved by him they keep on sinning? This is a relevant question for us and Paul convinces us to love Christ more than the sin.

In shaping our thinking Paul wants us to see the merit and value of union with Christ. Christ is not distant from us, rather is becomes part of us, an engrafting, as we trust in him for our salvation. Paul wants believers to keep their sin in check and says clearly that we cannot live in two worlds: a world of sin and a world of grace. We can only live by grace if we desire to know God and his goodness.

But this grace is not to be abused and tested by how much we can sin and thereby allow God to demonstrate his great grace. If we are in Christ sinning should be expelled from us and we look to Christ and live for him.

Romans – The heart of the Gospel is a teaching series from Annalong Presbyterian Church. Find out more at

David McCullagh:

I wonder if you have ever tried to get out of a job. I don't mean your paid employment, I mean some other job at home that you know you have to do but you really don't want to do, or a job that someone's asked you to do. And there's always going to be one of them, no matter how diligent we are in doing things, there's always going to be one job that needs to be done. Think of those poor souls who have to bring their bins out tonight in the rain. Particularly down along Mance Avenue to the end of the road. It's a job you try and put off in the hope that the rain will end, but you know eventually it has to be done. We can make all the excuses that we want. We can prioritize other things. We'll do whatever it takes simply not to do the job that really deep down we don't want to do. When I was younger I was made to wash our cars. My father would put, pull the two cars up one behind the other and I would be given a bucket with soap in it and a brush and a bucket with clean water and a chamois in the other. And the rule was if you drop the brush or you drop the chamois then make sure that you rinse it before you start again in case a stone got caught in it and that would lead to scratches on the car which my father just could not have. Washing the car was fine on a summer's day, but in the depth of an Armagh winter, my teenage self despised it. I would say that it was too cold. My father would get me gloves and warm water. I would say it was too dark. My father would bring out a stand light so that I could see. Any excuse I would make, my father had an answer. So I thought, just do a bad enough job, and he'll never ask you to do it again. And you know what? It didn't work. My father just sent me back out again to wash the car. We can make excuses for things all the time. And that's what Romans 6 wants to tackle. Paul wants to make sure that we don't take advantage of God's goodness, nor do we abuse his love towards us. And so we once again come to a passage about sin, but it's also a passage that talks about the solution for sin, as Paul continues to build this argument for faith. Why we should believe it? Because for Paul, it is the most beautiful thing to witness. And that's why he's taking time. That's why he's throwing out rhetorical questions. That's why he's making it very clear that this is what we are to know and understand. And helpfully, we can look at this passage in three sections. First of all, we are to be grace filled. Secondly, we are to know union with Christ. And thirdly, we are to offer. True worship. So let's begin by being grace filled people in verses 1 to 4 And I tell you about my attempt to get out of cleaning the car because it's a similar Argument that Paul is presenting for our natural desire to remain in sin having dealt with Adam our death in Adam and life in Christ and the freedom that we receive in the last passage, we're now presented with the next obvious step. So Paul concluded chapter 5 in verse 21 by saying, As sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness, leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Paul has made it very clear for us that God's grace is generous towards us. God doesn't hold back. His grace is given freely. And it truly covers a multitude of sins. But there is perhaps a danger with such generous grace. Because we mere human beings can begin to abuse that grace. And that's what Paul is pointing us to. He's saying that we can so easily think of God's grace so well that we can abuse it by keeping on sinning. Paul says that some people rationalize their sin to make God look all the more generous. Do you see how it works? The more I sin, then the more generous God can be. And doesn't that make Him look good? And what does it say about us? Well, Paul says it means we're not serious about the faith to which we've been called. Because what we say in doing this is that we think more of ourselves than we actually do of God. This is not what we should be thinking. And Paul forcibly asks us the question in verse 2, How can we who die to sin still live in that sin? Look at that question for a moment either in your Bible or the direct copy and paste on the screen. This is a deep question and one that we all need to consider. How can we, who died to sin, still live in it? And there's a difference here between recognizing the grip that sin still has on us as humanity, and the choices we make to remain in that sin. Please notice the distinction. Paul says it's not possible to do this. You cannot have your foot in both camps. You cannot live in these two. Worlds. We can't be Christ's and live in sin. We are to flee sin and trust in God's goodness. We're not to play him the fool thinking that we can get away with it because we won't get away with it. And Paul gives further arguments in verses three and four that point us to the resurrection of Jesus. And that's what Paul is doing. He's always pointing us beyond the grieve. He's making a very practical statement that all human flesh will die. So what's beyond the grave? And he wants to raise our eyes beyond how the world sees it, so that we can look to the Saviour. And he argues that being baptised into Christ means that we were baptised into his death. This means that we all face death. But if that is the case, then, as he was buried and resurrected, we too will be resurrected. Not in our own strength, but in his victory over the grave. That's why we read the passage in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, verses 20 to 23, at funeral services such as the one this afternoon. Because in that passage, Paul says, But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, look what happens, so also in Christ shall all be made alive, but each in their own order, Christ first, because he is the firstfruits, and then at his coming all those who belong to him. There's an order to this, and the order is that we can trust in, in Christ's victory over the grave because he has resurrected. And so we can be sure tonight that if we are in Christ, as we will die a human death, as Christ did, spiritually we will rise. Because Christ rose. Isn't that amazing? That it is a hope that takes us beyond this world, and it takes us into the next. Not in some trivial way, but in truth that we need to know in this moment. Because this is a dark, cold world for God's people. And we need hope. That hope is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So that we too know that we will rise from the grave. It's what we call sure and certain hope. And if this is the sure and certain hope we have, then why do we want to keep on sinning and think we can get away with it? Because we can't get away with it, and we won't get away with it. We can't play God the fool. God knows us too well and so we must trust fully in his grace and not try to live in two worlds, one of grace and one of sin. We can only live in one or the other. And so as we think of what it means to be grace filled, which world will you live in? The one of grace or the one where you'll simply keep on sinning? So that's the first thing that Paul tells us. Telling us to be grace filled people, to go after the grace of God, not to abuse it, but to know all of its benefits. But the second thing he does in the larger chunk of this passage in verses 5 to 11, is he challenges us to know union with Christ. And so Paul's moving on to, uh, this, to further his thought process and draws our attention now to Jesus. And in verse 5 Paul speaks of this thing we call union with Christ. Now I could try and rewrite what many have written and so I want to read what Richard B. Gaffin has said. Union in Christ is the believer's solidarity or association with Christ by the Holy Spirit and through faith. By virtue of which, believers partake of his saving benefit. I think we all know what a union is. And the strongest union we can see is that union of marriage. Where there's a covenant made between man and woman to be in this relationship until their dying day. That's what a union is. It means they follow each other. The two are not going in separate directions. They are now one. And that's what union with Christ means. It, it, it means we are one with him as is Christ. So is ours. And it's probably John Calvin who is best writing this, and in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, in Book 3, he says this. Sorry it's very small, but it's a big chunk. Therefore, that joining together of head and members, head being Christ, that indwelling of Christ in our hearts, in short, that mystical union, are accorded by us the highest degree of importance, so that Christ having been made makes us sharers with him in the gifts with which he has been endowed. We do not therefore contemplate him outside ourselves from afar in order that his righteousness may be imputed to us, but because we put on Christ and are engrafted into his body. In short, because he designs to make us one with him. For this reason, we glory that we have fellowship of righteousness with him. It's Old English. It's a translation from the French. But it says exactly what it needs to say. And it's beautiful. Union with Christ and understanding that, that we put on Christ because we are engrafted into Him. It's a beautiful thing and it's something we need to know. In essence, we share everything with Christ. When we know Him as Saviour, then all the benefits of our salvation come directly from Him as He is in us. And in verses 5 to 11, Paul wants to assure us of this. And he lists for us what Jesus has done. And so being united with Christ in his death, in that he died a human death, so we will die. So we will also be united with him in the resurrection. Again, Paul is affirming this hope that we have. And verse 6 allows us to know plainly what this great union means, because Paul writes, We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. The whole purpose of Christ crucified, and our putting off our old self, as Paul speaks so frequently about in his letters, means that we are no longer slaves. Now we may think, but I'm free in this world, because one of the great things of humanity is that we live freely. But that, we don't really live free in this world because of the sin that so easily ensnares us. It's only union in Christ, knowing Him through the message and power of the Gospel, enables us to be free both now and for all eternity. And so all of our benefits are in Christ as we are engrafted into him. If you're a gardener, you know a little bit about grafting. And the first thing that I ever saw grafted was a Ponsetia bush. Because in the tropics, Ponsetias grow in your garden, a huge bush. And particularly in Malawi, they were very gifted at engrafting white Ponsetias. into red poinsettias. And so as you would walk, not at Christmas time, but in the depths of winter in July, you would see these beautiful arrangements in gardens of engrafted red and white poinsettias that just pinged from the brown earth. That engrafting was beautiful to see and something to behold. How much more beautiful is our engrafting into Christ? How much more beautiful to behold that we're not distant from him in the hope that we'll someday meet up But that in him in faith We are His fully. You see, life and resurrection are because of Him. So if we then know this, we can have a wonderful assurance of hope and the knowledge of a close relationship with Christ through union with Him. And so by way of summary, Paul says in verse 10, For the death he died, he died to sin. Once for all, and that's the important bit, but the life he lives. Why is that bit the important, that it's once for all? Because Paul's saying we've moved beyond the Old Testament sacrificial system. Where the death of a goat would occur once a year for the sins of the nation. No more, says Paul, is it needed. Because Jesus is the once for all sacrifice. So that we may live. A true life in him and verse 11 challenges our response and it's to be one where we are right with God. This means union with Christ so that we will be dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ. And who doesn't want to be dead to sin? We need to be dead to sin because it is the thing that holds us back. It is sin that hinders our relationship with Jesus Christ. And so we must be dead to it so that we can be alive to God. And again, it's going back to where Paul started. You can't have both. You can't be half dead and half alive. It's one or the other. And Paul is urging us to seek that union with Christ. So that we will truly be dead to sin and alive to God and his one and only son. Union with Christ is a truly wonderful thing. And we don't have time to explore it in all its fullness and richness this evening. But as we've looked at it here and Paul challenges us to know this union in Christ. The invitation is for each of us to know Christ more. To enjoy that union with him, so that we will know the benefits of his salvation. And these benefits are many. And let me ask you, do you know them for yourself? If you don't, then Paul warns us in the third part of this passage what it means for us eternally. That there is a consequence to continually reject Christ, to ignore that beautiful union that he invites us to. And so Paul finishes by saying in this last part in verses 12 to 14, offer true worship. Don't be dead. Offer true worship that brings life and demonstrates life. And so the challenge of sin comes again in not letting it reign in our mortal bodies. And Paul is very good at this. In all of his writings he speaks both of the physical body as well as the spiritual body. And at times he combines the two. Because he wants to ground this. He wants to give us images that we will understand. And so what he says here in our mortal bodies is that we must resist the pull of sin that so easily is on us and we are to stand firm. In verse 13 Paul goes on to talk about the parts of our bodies, he calls them our members. And having this verse in front of us will perhaps help us understand it a bit better. Paul says do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments of righteousness. In a nutshell, what Paul is talking about is that sense of when we offer our members, our members are our hands, our feet. Our mouths, our language, our heads, our eyes, everything that he uses in how we would serve God. And look what he says. Offer them to God. Don't offer them to sin. Don't give them over to sin. Give them to God. And do you notice the parallels that he puts here in this verse? Do not present, and then he goes on to say, but present. He talks about them being instruments of unrighteousness, one moment, but then whenever we're doing something right with them, it becomes instruments of righteousness. And so this language of presenting members sounds very formal to us, but what Paul is doing is, it's, he's bringing us back to the language of the temple. Because in the temple, Israelites presented their gifts to God. And now we present our bodies to him, we, we don't, we're not part of the sacrificial system. Yes, we give willingly and joyfully because of the needs that are required by the church in its mission and ministry at home and around the world. But we also know we present ourselves in service. And so we no longer present what was needed in sacrifice. We present worship. We present ourselves. We are to give every part of ourselves to him as our spiritual act of worship, which Paul will speak of in chapter 12. And by the way, chapter 12, looming at us, is that big moment where we change from Paul's theological presentation to the practical outworking of it in the closing chapters of this book. And so being made in the image of God, we are to present every part of ourselves to him. And look at how we're to do it. We are to present ourselves as transformed people. This then raises the question, do we know that we are transformed? We perhaps don't like to think ourselves as being changed, but that's exactly what must happen to us. Because we are to change from our way of sin and death to the way of truth and life. And we can't do this on our own, it's only through the power of God, through his Son, Jesus Christ. And verse 14 crowns this passage by saying, For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law, but under grace. When we live by God's standards, we know, and know His grace at work in our lives, then sin has no dominion over us because Christ has conquered sin. What, what it is, is it's, in other words, it's penalty is not ours because of that very sacrifice. And so as we finish this evening, we need to make sure before this very minute is through that we are sure and certain of the transforming power of the gospel in our lives. If we don't, then we have the opposite of hope. We have despair, we have doubt, and in truth we have weakness. We have no one to rely on to save us. It is only Christ who can do that, and we must trust in Him. Paul explains this further in second Corinthians 12 verse nine by saying, but he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, Paul goes on to say, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. It is in the weakness that, that we can know, that we can do nothing for ourselves, that it is only Christ who is strong. And so, we relish His grace, because that is what we need. And His grace is truly amazing, because it frees us from our sin, and it makes us alive to God. Do you know this freedom? And do you know life in God? It can be yours tonight, if you will but receive it. And this is where we take a break from Romans, until the new year. But Romans chapter 6 and verses 1 to 14. challenges us to be grace filled and not allow sin to trick us into thinking that we can get away with doing what we want. We must know that we are truly free. And so that question again, do you know this freedom of life in God? We are to know union with Christ, the greatest and deepest relationship you will ever know as all of him is in us. And so do you know this freedom in this union with Christ? And finally, we are to offer true worship so that he can receive all the glory and we thereby prove that sin has no place in our lives. True freedom indeed. Do you know this freedom and life in God? Because tonight it can be each of ours to know more, or to know for the very first time, because this is truly God's grace and his goodness towards us. Let us pray. Our Father God, thank you for your word that continues to challenge us as to what the heart of the gospel is. Thank you for this picture that Paul is building for us. So may we pay attention to it. May we know what it means to be grace filled people, to know union with Christ, and to offer true worship, so that we will demonstrate that we are truly transformed people, that the gospel has taken hold, and we will no longer stay in sin. In fact, we will stay away from it, because we will love Christ more than the sin. Such amazing grace that gives us freedom. May we know that each in our lives this night and for all eternity. Amen.

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