This is Day 2 of our series. Last evening our focus was on laying the foundation for our living by faith by Defining Faith – The Condition of Our Salvation. You recall that we acknowledged that sin is what separates us from God, and separation from God is what it means to be “Lost” as it applies to our spiritual condition.
It is Jesus Christ that became man in order to have the right and the ability to pay the pronounced penalty upon the sinner – Death. Therefore, it is Jesus alone that is the way to the Father and to eternal salvation.
Remember also that we stated that there are two aspects of sin:
1) Guilt, which makes us subject to God’s condemnation and wrath.
2) Depravity, which is the power in our life that causes us to sin.
Likewise, there are two aspects to salvation designed to deal with these two aspects of sin:
1) Justification, which is the work of God in our life, through Jesus Christ, that settles the problem of guilt. This is an act of God whereby we are ‘born again” when we place our faith in Christ as the resurrected Son of God who died as our substitute.
2) Sanctification, which is the work of God in our life, through the Holy Spirit, that deals with the problem of depravity. This work begins at our conversion and continues throughout our life as it is God’s expressed purpose to make us “conform to the image of Christ.”
Last night we dealt with justification. Tonight we will deal with sanctification and God’s plan to handle the problem of depravity and sin in our old nature. We will discover that just as justification comes as a result of God’s grace through our faith, so comes sanctification, by grace through faith! Tonight’s message is:
Defeating Sin – The Call for our Separation (2 Cor. 6:17)
Galatians 2:20 KJV: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Romans 6:5-11 KJV: 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. 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. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Sinned defined: The transgression of God’s will by thought (1 John 3:15), word (Matt 5:22), or deed (Romans 1:32), either by omitting to do what God’s law requires or by doing what God’s law forbids; Rebellion against the law and nature of God.
The sinless image of God in Adam became distorted by sin, the result being that man could no loner think, feel or act in a way pleasing to God. It is God’s plan and purpose to restore His original image in man!
Jesus did not die just so you can go to heaven.
Jesus died so that you can be set free from the bondage of sin!
*** Read “Examples of Sin in the Life of a Believer” from pages 11-12 of the booklet, Free to Serve God.
God’s Command to be Holy
We have all heard messages proclaiming that the day will come when we shall be set free from sin, at the resurrection and the glorification of the body. No more sin, no more temptation, no more failure! Glory to God what a day that will be! This is a good message…I have preached it myself! But there is one problem with this message. It does not deal with my need to be set free from sin now, be fore I die! Sin must be dealt with while we are still in these mortal bodies, for it is now that we are to be holy, not just in eternity.
I believe it is possible to do everything that God instructs us to do in His Word. I cannot believe that we are told to do something that it is impossible for us to do. Listen to these words from the mouth of God…
- Because it is written, be holy for I am Holy. (I Peter 1:16)
- Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey its lusts. (Romans 6:12)
- Awake to righteousness, and sin not… (I Cor 15:34a)
- Be angry and sin not… (Ephesians 4:26a)
- My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. (I John 2:1a)
If God expects us to be holy and to be victorious over sin, then there must be a way for that to be accomplished. Now before I begin to lose some of you, let me reassure you that I understand that we are not capable of becoming righteous by keeping the law. We are not justified by works, but by the grace of God through faith. We are born in sin, we all have a sinful nature, we are all sinners through Adam, and we are all sinners through personal sin. Indeed we are all dead in trespasses and sin, and there is no one who is righteous!
How then do we reconcile these simple verses that are instructing us to be holy and to not sin with the verses that tell us that we are all sinners and there is no one who is righteous. Add to that I John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” and the problem increases. So here we are born with a sinful nature, sinners by race and sinners by practice, instructed by God to “sin not,” but if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. We cry out with Paul in Romans 7:24, “O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from the body of this death?”
Let us return now to the opening verses of our text,
Galatians 2:20 and Romans 6:5-11.
Paul did not literally die with Christ on the cross. Neither are we literally crucified with Jesus. But it is this death with Christ that Paul directly connects to our being set free from sin – not just in the future, but now in the present life. Look at Romans 6:22…
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become servants of God…”
This does not look forward to some future event, but back to a past event. Paul tells you, “You have been set free from sin!” “How have I been set free” you ask? “Through your death” replies Paul. “But I am still alive” you argue! “Then consider yourself dead!” says Paul.
What I am proposing is not the doctrine of a second work of grace where one proclaims he is totally and finally sanctified, and therefore can no longer commit sin. What I am proposing is a work of grace that allows you to proclaim, “By the grace of God, I am able not to sin!”
When Paul declares that I am to reckon (consider) myself dead, he is stating that I am to see myself as God sees me. This will require self discipline, self control, and the breaking of old habits. The old nature will not give up peaceably. It has been in control too long to go without a fight. But every battle fought and won over the old nature causes it to weaken, and the new spiritual nature to grow stronger. But until we acknowledge the conflict, declare war on the enemy, and take up the full armor of God, we will live in defeat. And there is no place in all of Scripture that declares that we are to live defeated!
- We must understand that through Christ’s sacrificial death He provides the means whereby we can be set free from sin.
- We must acknowledge that while God has provided the means for us to be set free, in His sovereignty He has placed the choice upon us as to which nature we will submit to. In other words, after conversion, willful sin is a choice!
- We must determine that our sin is offensive to God and make the willful choice to die to that sin. This means we make the choice that we will not submit ourselves to obey the desires of the flesh (See Joshua 24:15 “Choose you this day whom you will serve…“).
- We must reckon ourselves to be dead since he who is dead is free from sin.
Conclusion – 1 Peter 1:13-16
So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (I Corinthians 3:16 NJKV)
- The old sinful nature (the nature of Adam by whom we all die) that has ruled over us throughout our lives is not removed, but a new nature (the nature of Jesus, by whom we all have life) is placed within us. We actually have the nature of Christ within us.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (I Cor. 15:22 NKJV)
- God confirms His New Covenant with us by the writing of His Law on our hearts. We have no need for someone to tell us what is right and what is wrong because God’s Law dwells in our hearts.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Hebrews 8:10 NKJV)
Do you understand how it can be proclaimed, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (II Corinthians 5:17 NKJV). In the eyes of God we are not the same old creatures we once were. We are a new creation, a holy priesthood, and the dwelling place of God. We have been given everything we need to be free from our old nature. We have been justified from sin and sanctified (set apart) for righteousness.
God has certainly done His part. Look at the three gifts God has given to us in order to accomplish His purpose for us to be holy.
¨ We have the Holy Spirit of God indwelling us.
¨ We have the very nature of Christ influencing us.
¨ We have the law of God written on our minds and our hearts instructing us.
It is now time for us to apply these truths to our lives. God has prepared us to be a holy people. Now we must live like the people He has created us to be!
Reckoning Oneself to Be Dead
I have often heard Christians, in an attempt to show humility, say that they are just sinners saved by grace, that they just can’t keep from sinning every day, but that their sin drives them to God in prayer for forgiveness. In fact this sounds very much like the issue Paul addressed with the Church in Rome, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid! How shall we who are dead to sin live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2 KJV). I have always wanted to shout, “Well stop sinning, and pray thanking God for victory!”
For I believe that while in ourselves
we have no choice but to sin,
as that is our nature,
we have the ability to not sin,
as that is His nature.
The choice as to which nature we follow
is now ours!
Read the following Scriptures that support this conclusion:
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 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. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Romans 6:11-16 NKJV)
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2 NKJV)
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:12-13 NKJV)
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law. (Gal 5:16-18 NKJV)
But I keep control of my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (I Corinthians 9:27 KJ21)
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. (Colossians 3:2-7 NKJV)
We could continue with such passages that instruct the Believer to put off the old life (or the old nature) and to walk in the new life (or the new nature). It seems to be obvious that what Paul is saying is that once we have become joined with Christ, we then have the ability through the power of the Spirit and the nature of Christ in us to choose not to sin. Both natures dwell within us, and they war against one another. But it is up to us to choose to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. It is up to us to live in the light and not in the darkness. It is up to us to die to our old selfish nature, and allow the nature of Christ to live in us.
¨ When Paul says that he no longer lives but Christ lives in him, this is a statement of his choice.
¨ When Paul says that he dies daily, that is a statement of his choice.
¨ When Paul says that he keeps his body under subjection, that is a statement of his choice.
We must not use the excuse that we are sinners by birth, as true as that may be, because we have been born again, and that birth is unto righteousness!
God’s Work of Redemption
It is important now to review the process that brings us to the moment of our conversion. This will not be an exhaustive list and is not intended to be a doctrinal statement. It will simply show the process of our coming to Christ for salvation.
- I am a sinner apart from God, dead in my trespasses and sins, totally unable to seek and find God on my own.
- God loves me as His special creation and desires to have fellowship with me and to restore in me His image that sin has so totally distorted.
- Through grace, God sends His Son to become my perfect sacrifice; He who knows no sin takes my place to die for my sin. Through His sacrifice the penalty of death for sin is provisionally paid for all mankind.
- God sends His Spirit to convict me of sin and to draw me to Jesus who has paid the penalty of death for sin.
- I accept by faith God’s free offer of salvation. I believe in my heart that Jesus is the resurrected Son of God. I confess and repent of my sin. I confess with my mouth that Jesus is my Savior, and I receive Him into my life and make Him Lord.
Most of the time this is where we conclude the story of our reemption. But this is not where God stops His wonderful work of grace in our lives. If we will continue to see this event through the eyes of God we will understand how it is that we are set free from sin.
- God sees His Son Jesus and the new believer as becoming one. The sin of the believer placed upon Jesus has been paid in full. The righteousness of Christ covers the believer so that God sees him as sinless.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (II Corinthians 5:21 NKJV)
As a seal of our redemption God sends the Holy Spirit to indwell us. We actually become the temple of God because the Spirit of God dwells in us.