Robert Jeffress - Christian, Thou Art Loosed
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Over the years, I've had many people ask me, "Pastor, if God is willing to forgive all of my sins, past, present and future, then why can't I just keep on sinning"? It's an honest question that I'm sure we've all posed at some point, but as we'll see today in Romans 6, salvation isn't just a get out of hell free card. In fact, Christian and sin don't belong anywhere near one another. My message is titled "Christian, Thou Art Loosed," on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
It was a few years ago that the movie Lincoln was released, many of you may have seen the movie. It chronicled president Abraham Lincoln's attempt to gain passage and ratification of the 13th amendment to the constitution, which would abolish slavery. Interestingly, Lincoln had proclaimed the emancipation proclamation two years earlier on new year's day 1863, but it took more than two years and the death of Lincoln himself for the states to finally ratify this 13th amendment. When it happened, the news was big. It spread throughout the country that slavery had been legally abolished, but in the one of a great ironies of history, many, many of those who had been declared free from slavery chose to live on as slaves in the deep south.
One slave was interviewed and he was asked, what do you think of the great emancipator Abraham Lincoln? His response: "I don't know nothing about Abraham Lincoln, except they say he set us free. And I don't know nothing about that neither" as Chuck Swindoll writes, "What a tragedy. A war had been fought, a president had been slain, a constitutional amendment had been ratified, but the majority of once enslaved men and women continued to live as slaves". As tragic as that is I can tell you something even more tragic this morning. And that is Christians who have been freed from the power of sin and death through the death of Jesus Christ who choose to live as prisoners as slaves of sin. That's the greatest tragedy of all, people who have been purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ, whom God has declared you are free from the consequences of sin and death still allow slavery, spiritual slavery to be the rule of their life. And it's that tragedy that Paul addresses in Romans 6.
If you have your Bibles this morning, I will want you to turn to Romans 6, as we see God's message, his emancipation proclamation so to speak to every believer in Christ. And it is this: Christian, thou art loose. Turn to Romans 6. You remember that we just looked at in the last part of Romans chapter 5, about our union, our oneness with Jesus Christ. 164 times in the New Testament, Paul says that as Christians, we are in Christ. Remember when we're born into this world physically, we're born in Adam, we are a part of Adam. And because of that, we are sentenced to death. But when we trust in Christ as Savior, we are put in Jesus Christ. And that means everything that happens to Jesus is going to happen to us.
Now, Paul continues in Roman six, remember there's no chapter division, by taking that truth and applying it to our life as Christians. Because we have been justified, because we are being sanctified, what place should sin have in a Christian's life? And so he begins in verse one of 6 with what seems to be an off the wall question. He says, "What shall we say then? Are way to continue in sin, that grace might abound"? Remember, Paul was a champion of grace and Paul spends the first five chapters of Romans saying, "No, we are justified by grace apart from the works of the law". Why is that? Why does God refuse to allow us to have anything to do with our salvation? Because if it's by works or ritual, then salvation is a reward that God owes us rather than a gift he bestows upon us.
So Paul was always doing battle against those who denied grace and wanted to add works into the salvation process. The second enemy of grace Paul did battle with were those who abused grace, that is those who would say, "Well, look, if I'm saved by grace and it has nothing to do with works, why shouldn't I keep on sinning as a Christian"? After all Paul, didn't you say in verse 20 of chapter 5 if we continue to sin, grace abounds all the more? I mean if my sin causes God to pour out his grace and if God is glorified when his grace is poured out, why shouldn't I keep on sin? Why not keep on sinning if God is going to forgive me? And so that's why he asked this question, should we who have died to sin still live in it? But Paul says a true understanding of grace does not encourage sin. It encourages obedience to God. He asks the question, "Shall those of us who have died to sin continue in it"?
When he says continue, now listen to this, he's not talking about an occasional stumble. He's asking the question, if we are truly saved, do we continue to habitually sin? What is his answer to that? Look at verse 2. May it never be. The Greek phrase is "Me genoito". Me genoito, it is the strongest refutation in the Greek language possible. Me genoito literally translated "No way Jose". That's what it says in the original text. Shall we continue to sin? No! May it never be and then he asked the follow up question. How shall we who have died to sin still live in it? The answer is it's impossible. In 1 John 3:9, the apostle wrote "No one who is born of God practices sin". That word practice, it means habitually participates in sin. No one who is born of God practices sin because his seed abides in him. God's seed abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God.
Now again, this doesn't mean the Christian doesn't occasionally stumble, but sin is the exception in his life rather than the rule in his life. Unfortunately, too many of us, especially in the evangelical world and more specifically in the Baptist world, we separate justification from sanctification. We say about somebody, "Oh, he became a Christian years ago but he never grew in his faith. He never produced any fruit. He just continued to live exactly the same way he did before he was saved". No, Paul says, that is absolutely impossible. If somebody has truly been saved, there is gonna be a change in his or her life. Donald Greg Barnhouse is correct when he writes "Holiness starts where justification finishes. And if holiness does not start, we have the right to suspect that justification never started either".
Now I wanna clear up a misconception here, and I want to be sure you don't hear something I'm not saying. I am not saying that you have to clean up your life in order to be saved. You cannot clean up your life to make yourself worthy to be saved. The cleanup operation, the process of sanctification, does not start before justification, but it does start immediately after justification. When the seed of the Holy Spirit of God comes into a Christian's life, when he is that new creature, the Holy Spirit of God begins shining his spotlight, convicting him of things that need to change and giving him the power to change. And that's what Paul is saying here. If you truly been saved, not only have you been justified but you immediately begin in the process of sanctification. If there's no sanctification it means there was no justification.
How can we who have died to sin still live in it? We can't, we would never want to go back to our old way of living we have been truly saved. What is the place of sin in a Christian's life? Easy. It has no place in a Christian's life. Well, what is the remedy for sin in a believer's life? That's what he begins discussing in verse 3 of chapter 6. And if you wanna know how to deal with the subject of sin in your life, Paul says there are three words and principles you need to understand. The first word is know, verse 3. "Know that we have been baptized into his death". The first step for dealing with sin in your life is know the condition of your sin nature. Know the condition of your sin nature.
Now there are some Christians who deny that Christians even have a sin nature any longer and not recognizing the sin nature. Denying the sin nature can lead to disastrous consequences. In Galatians 5: 16-17, Paul talks about the sin nature. He calls it "The flesh" in this passage. He says, "But I say walk by the spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh, for the flesh sets its desire against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, for these are in opposition to one another so that you may not do the things you please". There is a civil war that goes on inside every believer between the desires of God and the desires of that remnant of the old nature within us. When we get to chapter 7 in a couple of weeks, we'll look at this in detail. It is wrong to deny the existence of the sin nature. You still have a remnant of it left inside of you but an equally lethal mistake is to exalt your sin nature. And frankly, that's the thing we're more in danger in doing.
Again, in the evangelical church, and certainly in the Baptist church. I remember hearing this growing up all the time. "You'll never be able to have victory over sin until you see Jesus one day," but until then, you're gonna live defeated lives. "No"! The apostle Paul says. "You don't have to wait until you get to heaven to experience victory over your sin nature". Why is that? Because your sin nature has been crucified. That's what he says in verse 3. Your nature has been crucified, look at verse 6 of Romans 6 as well. "Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin". That's significant, he uses the word crucified to describe what happened to our sin nature.
What happened to a victim of crucifixion? He had nails driven through his hands, through his feet, a spear thrust into his side. He suffocated as he tried to gain his breath. What happened to the victim of crucifixion? He didn't disappear, but he was rendered powerless. And that's what Paul says has happened to our sin nature. What confuses people is this phrase, "It has been done away with". He doesn't mean disappeared any more than a victim of crucifixion disappeared off the cross. He simply says it has been rendered powerless. When you become a Christian, your sin nature is crucified. Sin has no more power over your life than you choose to allow it to have. How is the power of our sin nature destroyed? Look at verse 4 of Romans 6. "Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the father, so we too might walk in newness of life".
Just as Christ was crucified and was buried, when we trust in Christ as our Savior, our old nature is crucified and it's buried. And justice Christ was raised to a new resurrection life, we are raised to a new way of living as well. Isn't that great? That's what happens to us. That's why Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "If any man being Christ, he is a new creature. The old things have passed away, new things have come". When Paul writes in Roman 6, "We are raised to a newness of life," he's not just talking about some future resurrection of our physical bodies from the dead. He's talking about a new way of living that begins the moment we are truly saved. What does that mean practically? It means before we are saved, we have no desire to read the Bible. It's boring to us, but after we're saved, we have an insatiable hunger for the Word of God.
Before we're saved, we'd rather be any place in the world on a Sunday than in God's house, worshiping with God's people. But after we're saved, there's nothing that can keep us away from being with fellow saints. Before we're saved, sin is the rule of our life. Sin is our master, but after we're saved sin becomes our slave. If you're gonna have any victory over sin, Paul says, first of all know the condition of your old nature. It has been crucified. It has been rendered powerless. Secondly, he says, the second word is consider in verse 11. Consider the power of your new nature. Look at verse 11, "Even so, consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus". That word consider, we've actually run across it before in our study of Romans. It is that accounting term logizesthe, that is sometime translated reckoned, and Abraham believed God and it was logizesthe. It was counted. It was calculated as righteousness on his account. To logizesthe, to consider means to accurately calculate the true condition of something. So Paul says know that our old nature has been crucified, but calculate the power of your new nature.
Now here's what's important to understand about this word consider. Consider doesn't mean just positive thinking. It means to calculate what is really true. He's not saying just think positive thoughts, don't act in such a way or act in such a way in accordance with what you wish were true. He's not saying that just theoretically your old nature's been crucified and God's given you the power of the Holy Spirit to obey him. That's not what he's saying at all. He's saying you are to act as free men in regards to sin, not because you want to be free from the power of sin, but because you act actually are free from the power of sin. What's the remedies for sin in our life? He said, first of all, know the condition of your old nature. Secondly, consider the power of your new nature. And thirdly, present your bodies to God. Look at verses 12 and 13. "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourself to God as those alive from the dead and your members as instruments of righteousness to God".
Paul says, now that you know what is really true about your old nature and your new nature, start acting in accordance with what is true. Stop presenting your body at as an instrument of sin. Start presenting it as an instrument of righteousness. I don't know how to explain this truth to you except to be just painfully specific. Here's what Paul is saying. Stop filling your eyes with pornographic images, immoral images and start filling your eyes with the truth that comes from God's word. Stop using your tongues to slander people, to cause divisiveness, to spread lies. Instead use your tongues to build up other people and other believers. Stop allowing your feet to take you places you know God doesn't want you to go and instead use your feet, as Paul said, to share the good news of Jesus Christ stop allowing your mind to be filled and controlled by fear and start allowing your minds to be controlled by the peace of God.
Stop allowing your appetites and your addictions destroy your life and God's plan for you. Start bringing those appetites and addictions under the control of the Holy Spirit. That's what he's saying here. B. Martin Lloyd Jones use this great illustration to show the difference between our old nature and our new nature, by imagining two different fields that were separated by a road. One field was the field of sin, and Satan was the master over that field. The other field on the other side of the road is the field of righteousness, and God is the master of that field. When we are born, we are born into the field of Satan. We are his slaves, the rule of sin controls what we do and we receive the consequences every day for it. But when we become a Christian, God transfers us from the field of Satan to his field, his field of righteousness, where we serve him. And once we are in God's field, Satan has no power over us whatsoever.
Oh sure, he may yell at us from across the road. He may try to cajole us into being distracted or even coming back over to join him. But the truth is, his jurisdiction over us has ended. We are in a new field, a new way of living with a new master. You say, well pastor, what happens though if after being saved I find myself back in Satan's field, serving him and sin. One writer says it this way.
If you find yourself as a Christian in Satan's field again, one of three things is true. Number one, you won't wanna stay there. If you find yourself in the field of sin, you won't wanna stay there. It's kinda like our friend max, you just won't be comfortable with your old way of living any longer. Secondly, God will intervene in your life. That's another possibility. He'll bring such hard things into your life if you're back in Satan field that you will voluntarily remove yourself. And if you don't remove yourself, in some instances, God will remove you. He will take your life physically to be home with him rather than left here in the world to bring shame to his name.
The third possibility if you find yourself in Satan's field is you were never saved to begin with. It doesn't mean you lose your salvation. It simply means you never had it to begin with. Again, 1 John 3:9 says, "No one born of God persists, practices, sin, because God's seed abides in him". Paul asked the question, "How can those who have died to sin still live in it"? His answer? It's impossible, it's impossible. The message of the Bible over and over is this, only those who are saved are truly free from the power of sin, and only those who are free from the power of sin are truly saved.