Sunday, September 28, 2014

Our Amazing New Reality!

We have been looking at our New Life in Christ found in Romans 6 the last two Sundays and discovering that this new life is the answer to the nagging question, “Why not continue in sin that grace may abound?” Today, let’s look at a few more verses that bolster the idea that we died to sin when we were placed into the death of Christ through baptism, and we rose to newness of life. Therefore, we are no longer sinners, but saints! Our disposition was set towards death, dying and sin, but God in His infinite wisdom and grace transferred our record to Jesus’ account and gives us the record of the life of Christ. Now that is the good news of the gospel!

The apostle Paul writes in Romans 6 ~
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The concept of having to “die daily to self” is clearly taught against in this passage. Think of the absurdity of having to go to God each day and ask him for your old man back so you can place him again on the cross.  Paul shouts to us “NO!”  There is no need to die again, for God has accomplished all we need for life and godliness already.  But then how do I get righteousness living into my life?

That answer is so simple that I cannot fathom why it took me 30 years of walking with Christ to finally understand how to walk in righteousness and holiness.  The same faith that affords me eternal life also gives me righteousness, here and now each and every moment I walk in faith and believe that I am holy, set apart to God and freed from sin.  It is not that God does not give us all we need to walk in holiness; He does, and He will. What is often missing is my faith to believe that I am indeed in Christ and He is in me.

So why does the Christian sin?  Sin by its very nature is a lack of belief that what God will supply and do in our lives is enough.  We want to play God, be self-sustaining and have things our way.  Yet, when we understand what God has done with us “in Christ” and realize that we are sitting at this moment on the right hand of God, this belief compels us to walk in holiness.

Oh, you mean positionally, right?  Yes I do!  To be positionally in Christ simply means that is our position.  A positional doctrine does not mean that it is not also ACTUALLY true. Why is it that I can believe that I am actually saved, but when the scriptures clearly teach that I am dead, and buried in Christ and have risen to a new life, I consider that to be a positional doctrine worthy of reflection, but not worthy of actually being true?  Paul, Peter and John do not tell us that they are talking about these things by way of reflection, or illustration.  They tell us that these things are actually true for all who believe in Christ.

Romans 6 is but one chapter of God's hundreds and hundreds of promises that points us to God's realities and truths. But will we reckon them to be true? Will we believe them?

I am ~
baptized into the death of Christ
buried with him by baptism into death
was raised up with Christ from the dead by 
the glory of the Father
have been planted together in the likeness
 of his death and resurrection
my old man is crucified with him,
 that the body of sin might be destroyed
I am dead so I am freed from sin.

What should be our response to these truths?
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, 
but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. {Romans 6:11}

When God says "reckon" He is asking the Bible to "count it as if it were so." The same “reckon” that God uses to make us righteous, He asks us to use in believing that we are indeed dead to sin and alive to Him. We have a most marvelous God who, when we believe Him, grants us unconditional grace. Yes, unconditional so that all our sins are forgiven: past, present and future. The work of Christ in our lives is not simply to pardon us, but to actually allow us to walk in righteousness, as we believe on His promises and walk in them. 

It is believing God that stops sin dead in its tracks. For we will always act out what we really believe and what we focus upon.

Think about this with me for a moment. If you are a golfer, you know the last thing you want to do when you stand over the ball to strike it is to be thinking, “Don’t slice, don’t slice.” Your chances of slicing go up dramatically when you are thinking about slicing, even if it is thinking about not slicing. Instead, you should be imagining the ball floating perfectly straight through the air to the hole. You might still slice, but if your focus is on being straight, you will hit it straight far more often. The entire body follows the mind to help produce the results we focus upon.

You get what you focus upon in life, and if your focus is on “Don’t sin, Don’t sin,” what you are looking at is sin and you soon will find yourself either falling into the mud of sin, or finding that what you accomplish for righteousness is under your own power.  Far too many Christians show the lies they believe when they say things like ~

"I am just a sinner saved by grace."
"There is nothing good in me, except for Jesus."
"I am so unworthy!"

When we hear this talk Lori and I want to scream, "Stop it!" Stop saying, "Don't slice, Don't Slice!" Instead, focus on righteousness, and specifically focus on the fact that we are in Christ and He is in us. We are saints of the most High, children of God, joint heirs with Christ to the Kingdom God, alive in Christ, freed from sin, and sitting with Christ on the right hand of God! This is our new realty, and this must be our focus!  How many times does God's Word speak of a Believer as a sinner? Zero!  We were sinners, but now we are saints of the God most High. Believe and focus on these truths and sin quickly gives way to obedience, not under our own power, but under the power of the Spirit.

Is this not what God intends for the Christian?  Not that we should walk in obedience struggling against our fleshly desires each moment of the day, but instead to believe God that the “body of sin” is destroyed with Christ.  My focus must be on my new life, not the old.  No more dying daily, no more crucifying the flesh, simply walking by faith, like Abraham and entering into all of the promises of God.  Only then can we begin to catch a glimpse at what God means when He says that He calls those things which be not as though they were {Romans 4:17}.

Are you “in Christ?” Is Christ in you?  Just as the pardon must be accepted by believing in God's saving grace to be fulfilled, so too must a New Life be accepted before it can be lived out.  If we are focused on the old man with its sins, and unable to believe God in our new man, we are doomed to patiently wait for God to take the slow grinding years of life and circumstances to train us with progressive sanctification.  

But what if, just by chance, or better yet by God’s Word, one could simple believe God and obtain the promised new life in an instant?  What if all old sins could instantly fade away and each and every time they tried to come back the believer could say, “God Forbid!   How shall I who am dead to sin do these things anymore?”  Now all we have to do is to reckon it to be true and we will find that our faith becomes the substance of reality in our lives, and that indeed, all of God’s promises do come true.  Don’t trust me on this… trust God at His Word.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
1 Corinthians 5:16-17