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James Merritt - Rise Up

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    James Merritt - Rise Up

This may be, if you're a believer, this may be the single most life-transforming message you'll ever hear me preach in my ministry. I'm dead serious. If you're a believer, you really need to stay awake for this one and especially if you're a believer and I just described your Christian life where you're living more in defeat than you are in victory, you've got this one sin and you just can't seem to get victory over it. If you're not a believer, you've got the same problem. You know, even though may not be a believer, you may say well, I still don't want to be in this. I still don't want to do that, and I just can't seem to get free of it.

So, if you're here today and you would at least be honest enough to admit, you know what, Pastor? I am. I'm trapped in pornography. I'm trapped in bitterness. I'm trapped in lust and greed and selfishness, spiritual apathy. Just fill in your own blank. It doesn't matter. You can escape that trap. Now this chapter is so important to me. I'll tell you how important it is. This is the only complete chapter I had all of my three sons memorize when they were kids. They didn't like it. It's a long chapter, but I did it for a reason. Someone has described the Book of Romans as the emancipation proclamation of the Bible, and there's a reason for that. Three times alone in this chapter. Three times in three verses we read these words. Set free from sin. Three times.

Paul says if you're a believer, you've been set free from sin. If you've got Jesus Christ living in you, and you're living in Him, you have been freed from the power of sin. You can win the battle of sin. The problem is too many of us don't even show up for the war. Too many of us have gotten so discouraged and so convinced I'll never win this. This is just one thing I will never overcome. You threw in the towel a long time ago. You waved the white flag a long time ago, and you're living just like a slave, and Paul comes along and says listen to me. You can rise up against that sin. You don't have to stay on the mat for the count. You can get up, and you can win against sin.

And what we're going to do today, Paul gives us three secrets, and they're so practical. He gives us three secrets on how you and I can win against sin, and when I tell you what these are, it's going to make sense because it really does work in your life 'cause you practice it in some way every day. The first thing he's going to tell us has to do with our mind. The first battle you've got to win is in your mind. The second secret has to do with your heart, and the third secret has to do with our will.

Now, I'm going to make a promise I don't make very often. I will promise you that if you will believe what I'm about to tell you in the next 20 to 25 minutes, if you'll believe me. If you will apply it on a daily basis to your life and if you'll start living like you really believe this is true, I promise you. Not that your life will change, it has to change. It cannot stay the same if you believe what we're about to read, what I'm about to say, and if you apply it to your life. It's just that absolutely transformingly dynamically powerful. So, there are three things you've got to do. All right. Number one, we've got to receive victory with our minds. We've got to receive victory with our minds.

Now, four times in this chapter Paul talks about something that we need to know. Unfortunately, even though Paul's readers were Christians, there was a truth that they needed to know that they had not yet learned. I don't know whether they ignored it or they hadn't heard it or it never registered, but they really didn't know the truth that would set them free from sin you remember what Jesus said about knowing truth? He said this is how big truth is. Jesus said you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. Well, Paul is just talking about being set free from sin. So, when you put those two things together, I say okay. I know the first thing I've got to do if I'm going to overcome sin in my life. I've got to know the truth. You can do right until you know what's right and what you don't know not only can hurt you, in this sense it can spiritually kill you.

So, that raises a question. So, what is it that Paul says we need to receive with our minds? What is this truth that I need to know? Verse 6, "For we know," you know something in your mind. "We know that our old self," that is that's who we were before we became a Christian. That's who we were before we came to the Lord and before we gave our lives to Christ. "Our old self was crucified with Him". In other words, when He died, "so that the body," physical body, "ruled by sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been," let's read this together, "set free from sin". That's what Paul says. Now, Paul says okay, there are two things you've got to know, and you've got to get these into your mind. You've got to receive this into your mind. Two things.

Number one, we are dead to sin. Say that with me. We are dead to sin. All right. Number two, we are free from sin. Say that with me. We are free from sin. Now, if you're a follower of Jesus Christ, those two things are true about you. You are dead to sin. You are free from sin. Now, I know right now you're saying, okay, I've got one question. So, when did that happen and how did that happen? Well, he just told us. We're told that the old self that's the person we were before we met Jesus, our old sinful nature was crucified with Jesus. Now, that's such a big truth, you've got to get this into your mind, so we'll put it up on the screen.

When Jesus died on the cross, He not only died for me. I died with Him. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He not only died for me. I died with Him. You've heard this many times. Jesus died for your sins. You've heard that a hundred million times. Right? You heard it growing up. If you've ever been to any church with any Gospel at all you've heard Jesus died for our sins. That's true. But what does that mean? Well, we think it means, well, He paid the penalty for our sins. That's true, but is that all it means? No, it's not. When Jesus died on the cross, He didn't just pay the penalty for our sins, He broke the power of sin. So, when you give your life to Jesus, the old you dies, a new you is born, and sin no longer has power over you.

Now, if you don't think that's true, if you don't think that works, let me just make it real easy, and I'll prove it to you. If you're a Christian, you believe you're going to heaven. You don't think there's a chance in hell you're going to hell. You just don't believe that. Right? Why do you not believe that? You say, well, because I believe Jesus Christ died to save me from hell. So, you think salvation is just fire insurance. Well, no. You're right. It is more than that. Now, think about this. Think about this. If Jesus died to save us from hell, then don't you think that Jesus died to save us from sin? If He can save us from one, don't you think He can save us from the other one? So, salvation is more than even what we thought it was. See, when Jesus died for our sin, He gave us the power to die to our sin. Let me, I want you to understand. I want you to think about sin for a moment as a bully. You've ever had anybody bully you?

I remember when I was in the first grade. I had to put up with a bully in the first grade, okay, and he was bigger than me so I got my bigger brother to beat him up, and he didn't bother me anymore. All right? But, I want you to think about sin. Sin is a bully, and here's what sin will tell you, and he's told a lot of you this, and you've bought it hook, line, and sinker. Sin said to you, you can't beat me. You got no shot against me. I own you. I can whip you any time I want to. You may as well give in, and you may as well give up because you can't beat me. Paul comes along, and he says let me tell you something about that bully called sin. When you give your life to Jesus, sin is just talk. That's all sin is. It's just all talk. That sin has no power over you.

So, Paul goes on to say this. He says, therefore, in light of that do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that's where sin takes over your body, so that you may obey its evil desires. Now, this is an amazing thing. Paul says, you know, if you're a believer, I've got news for you. Whether or not sin reigns over you, whether or not sin rules over you, whether or not sin dominates you, whether or not sin intimidates you, that's up to you. It's not up to sin. Sin's not calling the shots. When Jesus comes into your life, He calls the shots. So, it's really up to you.

So, you have the power to rise up against sin. You can literally say to sin back off. You can literally say to sin back down, but you've got to change your way of thinking. You have got to get it into your mind that when the moment you give your life to Jesus Christ, the power switch of sin has been turned off. You are free from sin. You are dead to sin. Sin is resident in you. It's not president over you. It has no power at all over you. Paul goes on to say this. He says, look, "if we died with Christ", Verse 8, "we believe that we will also live with him".

What was he saying? He said, look, do you believe Jesus died for your sins? Yes. Do you believe He was raised from the dead? Yes. Okay. Then you understand that when you give your life to Jesus not only does the old you die just like He died, you are raised to a brand new you just He was raised, and when Jesus comes into your life, He doesn't remodel the old you. He doesn't rebuild the old you. You don't just get an extreme makeover. You become a brand new you. He renews you. You've got a new nature. You've got a new owner. You've got a new master. You are dead to sin. You are free from sin. When our boys were small, my three sons, when they were smaller and they would go to school, I'd always get them together every morning before they go to school. We'd have a little devotional, and I'd pray for them and then I would always ask them a question, and they know what that question is.

Sometimes I ask it of them today. I would always say to them, "Okay, who are you and who do you belong to"? And they would always say I'm a Merritt, and I belong to God. I'm a Merritt. I belong to God. I'm a Merritt. I belong to God. And then I'd say, "Okay, now get on the bus and live like it. You're a Merritt. You live like it". We live a certain way. We've got certain standards. You've got a name to live up to. You live up to it. You are a child of God. You belong to God. You act like it. You live like it. That's what you've got to get into your mind. Listen, you've got to get into your mind right now I am a child of God. I belong to Jesus. I'm a child of God. I belong to Jesus and because of that I have power over any sin. Okay, so, you've got to receive that into your mind, and let me just stop right here. If you are not going to change your way of thinking, you're not going to change your way of living.

So, first thing you've got to do, you've got to receive this into your mind, but that's where too many people stop 'cause you've got to take the second step. By the way, all three go together. So, not only must you receive victory in your mind, you've got to believe victory in your heart. You've got to believe it in your heart. Now, Paul's already told us what we need to know in our minds 'cause it's not enough just to know it in your mind. You've got to believe it in your heart. So, he says this in Verse 11, he says, "In the same way," that is in the same way now you've got this in your mind, "In the same way, count," we'll come back to that word in a minute. "Count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus".

Now, the word for count there, you may have a different translation. Some translations have consider. Consider yourself dead to sin. The translation I really like is the word, it says, reckon yourself dead to sin. You say why do you like the word reckon? Well, it just makes me think Paul was from the Deep South, and so, you know, I just kind of like that word. And then I decided should I use that word? And I said, well, I reckon not. So, here's the point. That word count is a very, very definite precise term. Much more precise than the term reckon. If you're an accountant, I'm an accounting major, it's an accounting term, and it literally means to put to one's account or count on it or bank on it.

Now, here's what Paul was saying. Paul says, look, I've already told you what you need to know in your mind. Right? You know what you know in your mind. Now, you've got it in your mind I'm dead to sin. I'm free from sin. He says, okay, if it doesn't get out of your mind into your heart, you're dead meat. It's not enough to know the truth in your mind. You have got to believe it in your heart. Now, let me tell you why that must happen, and you know this is true. We don't really practice and live what we know. We practice and live what we believe that at the moment you give your life to Jesus, the old you dies. Sin no longer has power over the old you because you are a new you.

Now, I know you're sitting there, and I know exactly what you're saying. You're saying, okay, I just got this one problem. I sure don't feel like I'm dead to sin. We're not talking about feelings. I never have said anything about feelings. We're talking about facts. It may be raining outside right now. I don't know. But let's just say it is. You may feel like it's not raining outside, but if you go outside, you'll find different. You may get up in the morning, and you may say, you know, I just don't feel like if I miss work this week they'll fire me. You quit showing up to work, they're going to fire you. You'll believe it.

Now, you say, okay, "I've got one last question. So what you're telling me is true, and I'm dead to sin, why am I still tempted to sin"? Great question. Because I have told you over and over and over and over to you. You're probably sick of hearing it. You are dead to sin. But not one time have I ever said sin is dead to you because it's not. And so that's why we're still tempted to sin. But here's what I want to show you now. Listen to this. If you will know in your mind, if you will receive in your mind you're dead to sin, and if you'll believe in your heart you are dead to sin and free from sin, then you're ready to take the third step and that is you will achieve victory by your will. Once you receive it in your mind and believe it in your heart, then you'll achieve it by your will. Look, when you know something is true, and you really believe something is true, you'll act like it's true. When your mind is right and your heart is right, you do right.

So, Paul says, okay, in light of what you now have received in your mind and in light of what you now believe in your heart, here's exactly what you're to do. Verse 13, "Do not offer any part of yourself," he's talking about your body. "Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness". Now, that word offer literally means to present as a sacrifice. It means to yield. It means to surrender. Paul says every part of your body is to be presented not as an instrument of wickedness, but as an instrument of righteousness.

Now, that word "instrument" has a double meaning. It can either mean a tool, something you build with, or it can mean a weapon, something you fight with. And the absolute key to having victory over your life is found right here in this verse. He says, look, your body is a tool. Now, you can use your body in one of two ways. You can either use your body to build God's kingdom up or to tear your life down. You can use it either way you want to. Your body is a weapon. You can either use it to fight against what is right or you can use it to fight against what is wrong. You can either use it to fight against sin or you can use it to fight against righteousness.

And so what Paul is saying is here's what I want you to do. Sin's a bully that's been bullying you for all of your life. It's time for you to call sin's bluff. It's time for you to stand up to sin. It's time for you to go nose to nose to sin and say, you know what? You're no longer going to use me. You are no longer going to abuse me. I'm going to offer every part of my body which is the only thing you can use anyway. I'm going to offer up all of my body for God's glory and for God's honor. You say, okay, how do you do that? Well, it's because of the word we just keep running into over and over and over.

So, he says in Verse 14, "For sin shall no longer be your master". Why? Because you're not under the law, but under... what's the word? Keep running into it. You are under grace. You just cannot get away from grace as a believer in Jesus. He's going to tell us this over and over and over. You are no longer in Adam. You are in Christ. You are no longer under the law. You are under grace. You are under new ownership. You're under a new master. You're no longer under law and because of grace, you can overcome sin. You say, wait a minute, I've got a question. What is the difference between being under grace and under law? And by the way, that's the difference between being a believer in Jesus and a non-believer. If you're a believer in Jesus, you're under grace. If you're not a believer in Jesus, you're under law.

So, okay, what's the difference? Real easy. If you're under the law, that means that you're still trying to establish a relationship with God. You're still trying to be right with God through keeping God's law and obeying the commandments. You're trying to be good enough for God, and what Paul says is if you stay under the law all you're going to do is become a slave to sin. And you say, well, why? Because the law was not given just to show us what we should do. The law was given to show us we can't do it. I said that last week. You're out here today, and you're saying, "Well, I'll tell you I'm just going to take my chances. I'm just going to try to make sure that my good outweighs my bad. I'm going to try to make sure I do more good than I do bad, and maybe if the good outweighs the bad, maybe God will accept me and maybe God will take me in".

I've just got to ask you one question. So, you're admitting to me you've already broken the law? Oh, yeah, I've broken the law many times, and the law won't cut it because God only has one passing grade and that's a hundred, and you've already flunked. So, what Paul is saying is if you choose to stay under God's law, you're just going to be in handcuffs to sin the rest of your life. That's all that's going to happen. You're going to get deeper and deeper into sin, but he says when grace becomes your master, grace sets you free. And grace doesn't just free you to know what you ought to do. Grace gives you the ability to do it. And with God's grace, you can rise up against sin.

So, I'm going to give you this challenge. You take whatever sin it is that's bedeviling you right now. You take whatever sin it is that's intimidated you and dominated you and saturated you and you just cannot seem to get victory over it. Just whatever it may be. Just go down the line. It's pornography. It's bitterness. It's lust. It's anger. It's impatience. It's greed. It's selfishness. You can say something right now sitting in your seat with 100% confidence because you've received it in your mind, you believed it in your heart. Now you're going to achieve it with your will. You can look sin, that sin, dead in the eye and here's what you can say. Sin, I am dead to you, and I am free from you. I am no longer under the bondage of trying to keep the law, and you're no longer my master. I am under grace and by God's grace I am saying no to you. I'm saying yes to God, and this body you've been using against me, I'm now offering as a sacrifice to my heavenly Father. You can say it. I'm telling you right now.

Now, let me tell you how this works. You cannot say to God, "God, right now I am offering my eyes as a sacrifice to you," and then go look at pornography. You can't do that. Not and mean it. You can't get up in the morning and say, "Lord, today I offer up my mouth as a sacrifice and an offering unto you," and then go out and gossip about other people or use bad language. You can't do it. You can't get up in the morning and offer your ears up as a sacrifice to God and say, "God, just for today I'm not going to listen to any false, malicious gossip about anyone else". You cannot say, "Lord, just for today I'm going to offer up my feet as a sacrifice" and offer to you and then let those feet take you where you know you should not go. It's such powerful concept when Jesus died on the cross, listen.

When Jesus died on the cross, He didn't just deal with sin. He dealt with a sinner. He didn't just forgive you. He made a new you. He didn't just pardon you and let you out of the jail of sin. He not only let you out of the jail cell. He said, look, I'm going to give you the power to never ever come back in here. You rise up against sin. How do you do it? You know and remember in your mind who you are. In your heart you believe that what your mind knows is true and then with your body you start acting like it, and you start living like it.

So practical. So powerful. We can choose to become a child of our heavenly Father. We can change our family tree from Adam to Jesus. We can change our spiritual DNA. You don't have to be what your dad was. You don't have to be what his dad was. You don't have to do what your family's always done. You don't have to keep repeating the same thing over and over and over. I mean it. Listen, yeah, that's right. Just like that, you can change your spiritual DNA. You can get a new nature. You can have a new master. You can have a new life. His life can become your life. His death can become your death. His eternal life can become your eternal life.

Sin may affect you, but it will never infect you. It may attack you. It will never permanently defeat you. It may contact you. It will never condemn you because in the power and the name of Jesus and under the umbrella of grace, you can rise up against your sin. So, I'm just telling you. You receive this with your mind. You believe this with your heart. You achieve this by the grace of God in your will, and you will live the way Jesus died for you to live. He didn't stay in a grave in defeat. He came out of a tomb in victory and that's the way we can live as well.
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