Sin & Death: Sin for God’s Glory?

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2)

We join this letter immediately after the writer — Paul — has made an earth-shattering statement: “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” Astounding! God’s grace is so enormous, so elastic, that it wraps all the way around our sin like an unbreakable balloon. The more we sin, the bigger God’s grace gets to cover our sin (through faith in Jesus’ death in our place on the cross).

sandd_350You can never, ever sin so much God’s grace isn’t big enough to cover your sin. What a great God! The more we sin, the more impressive His forgiveness looks. So we should make Him look really impressive by collecting all of the sins we can, right?

Paul answers that. Depending on your translation, he says: “No!” “By no means!” “God forbid.” “May it never be!” “Certainly not!” Why? Because God’s impressive grace doesn’t stop at covering your giant pile of sin; it also flipped off the shock collar that kept you from breaking free of sin in the first place. (More on that idea tomorrow.)

Think: Is it a weird idea that God’s grace is limitless — that we can never out-sin His ability to forgive? Or is it so normal an idea that we take it for granted?

Pray: Thank God for His impossibly impressive grace and forgiveness for your sin (if you’ve trusted in Jesus’ death in your place on the cross).

Do: To get a clearer picture, read Romans 5.

Sin & Death: Dying to be Free

“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:3-4)

Have you ever thought about faking your own death? It’s become a standard plot device in movie and TV shows. When a character has messed up his life beyond repair — or when someone wants him dead — he fakes dying so he can either escape to a new and better life or go undercover and fix a problem in his old one.

sandd_350In today’s passage, Paul reminds Christians we’ve already pulled off the “die to get free” trick. Except we didn’t fake it; we really did die spiritually. Like everyone else, we’d trashed our old lives with our sinful choices. The clock was ticking down to the moment Eternal Death would do us in for good. Jesus gave us another way out — through another kind of death.

By placing all of our trust in Him, Paul says we became so close to Him that we were marked with His death in our place on the cross; we were buried with Him (the picture of baptism); and we were spiritually resurrected to live a brand new life. Now Forever Death can’t get us; sin has lost its power over us; and we’ve started over far away with every debt wiped out.

Think: Have you ever thought about becoming a Christian as “dying to get free”? What changes do you think someone would have to make if he faked his own death and started over brand new? What changes make sense for a Christian after “dying with Christ” and beginning a new life with Him?

Pray: Ask God to keep reminding you that you’re living a new life, not an old one where you have to do what sin says.

Do: Jot down a few reasons a character in a TV show, book, or movie would fake his own death.

Sin & Death: Dead, Then Not

“If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. ” (Romans 6:5)

Yesterday we talked about getting dead as a path to a brand new life. By placing all of our hope in Jesus’ death for our salvation — by accepting that our whole life is His, is “Christ-ian” — we were spiritually duct taped to Him in His death.

sandd_350The Good News is that duct tape — or spiritual superglue or [fill in analogy for unbreakable bond here] — holds and carries us right through the death and the burial to the resurrection. Do you get what that means? As a Christian, your spirit cannot, will not, die again (even when your body croaks). You are alive, just as Jesus was alive when He walked out of His tomb. Death can’t hurt you.

More: When you do croak, buy the farm, kick the bucket, take your last desperate gasp of air on this fallen planet, your body will be resurrected and made brand new and eternal and perfect, just like Jesus’ is. Because of Jesus. Through faith in Jesus. You are united with Him forever. Right now — and then — you are absolutely free from the power of sin and the threat of death.

So why do we still sin? More tomorrow.

Think: Do you usually think of yourself as being “united with Christ”? How should that change the way we think about ourselves?

Pray: Think about what resurrection is worth to you, then think about what you paid for it. Thank God for the gift of eternal life.

Do: Read about how your present and future resurrection should change your life today in Colossians 3:1-4.

Sin & Death: Master Sin

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. ” (Romans 6:6-7)

Romans 6 is like a “big ideas” parade, and it’s too easy to just watch them march on by without really getting it. Don’t do that! Jump up on the parade floats and experience them. Take a little time to really understand this.

sandd_350First: What is your “old self” that was crucified with Christ (if you’re a Christian)? It is not your “sin nature” or your “want” to sin. We’ve still got that, right? Your old self is the BC version of you — “before Christ.” Sin owned that version of you. You had to do whatever it said. You were powerless.

To escape sin’s slavery, that old self had to die with Jesus when you believed in Him for the forgiveness of your sin. Death is the legal termination of a slave owner’s contract. At that moment, sin became the powerless one. Its authority was “done away with.” You are free. You never have to sin again.

So why do we still sin? Stay tuned.

Think: Do you ever think of unbelievers as slaves to sin? How is a slave different from someone who volunteers to do the same thing?

Pray: Thank God for freeing you from slavery to sin by allowing your old self to be crucified with Jesus.

Do: Spend another couple of minutes on this big idea float by carefully reading Romans 5:6-8 again.

Sin & Death: He Died Once

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. ” (Romans 6:8-9)

Have you ever heard someone say, “Every time you sin, you put Jesus to death on the cross all over again”? It’s a great line for trying to guilt-motivate someone to do good. “I’m making Jesus suffer even more by the sin I’m doing right now; that’s awful! I’ve got to stop!”

sandd_350It’s also a lie. Jesus died. Past tense. One time. He did suffer unbearable agony for our sins. If we have any conscience at all, we should feel overwhelmed with gratitude by the idea of the pain He endured for our selfish and worthless choices to sin. And every sin we do next did contribute to His pain on the cross.

But the cross is as empty as the tomb. That terrible moment is long over. He does not continue to experience it. Paul is clear: Jesus died to sin once for all. He cannot — will not — die again. Ever. He experienced death and beat it. Mission accomplished. He’s alive now and free to continue God’s work in the universe. Amazingly, Christians are also dead to sin’s power and free to serve God.

Think: Does it make your head spin to realize that Jesus died long ago for the sin you’ll do tomorrow? How does that make you feel about your future sin?

Pray: Thank God for Jesus’ willing death in your place on the cross — and thank Him that Jesus is done with that moment and His battle with death is over.

Do: See if you can find a passage in the Bible that describes where Jesus is right now.

Sin & Death: Volunteer Sinners

“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” (Romans 6:11-12)

All week long there’s been this lingering question about sin: Why do we still do it? Why is it still such a battle for us NOT to sin? Paul keeps saying that we died spiritually with Jesus, right? He’s saying Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is applied to us when we trust in Him. We’re free, he keeps saying, from being sin’s slaves. It doesn’t own us any more.

sandd_350So why don’t we just stop? Here’s the deal: We’ve been freed from the power of sin. It’s not the boss of us. But we’re not free, yet, from the “want” to sin. We still like how some sin feels. Even though we know it leads to death. Even though we know it’s what Jesus died for. Even though we know it’s ugly and painful and wrong. We still want it.

Paul said it’s time to do battle with your wants; he called them “evil desires.” The want to sin is the want for something evil, even the want for the “little sins” that don’t seem like a big deal. Remember, Paul urged, you don’t have to do any of that any more. Now that you’re free, don’t be a volunteer sinner. You can tell it “no” and walk away. That’s what free people do.

Think: Are you ever tempted to think you have no choice about your sin, that you cannot control yourself? How does that fit with Paul’s teaching here in Romans 6?

Pray: Ask God to remind you that you never have to give in to temptation; you always have the power to say “no.”

Do: Try to memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13. It won’t take long, and it’s handy to have in your head when the temptation to sin feels especially strong.

Sin & Death: Dear Sin

“Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:13-14)

“Dear Sin: I like you. I like the rush of doing something I know is kind of bad. I like the pretty package your gooey, ugly insides come wrapped in. I know I don’t have to serve you any more, so I’m making this official voluntary presentation of all my body parts — including my brain and mouth — to do whatever wicked stuff you can think up.”

sandd_350It’s never like that, is it? We don’t think about “offering” ourselves to sin. We just do the wrong, sinful thing — often without even thinking about it. But the result is the same as if we’d sent sin a love letter with all of our sinning body parts attached as a gift.

Paul urges us to think about it. To make a choice. To send our love letter to the God who freed us from sin and offer all our parts — mind, mouth, and eyes, included — for HIm to use to do good stuff. We’ve got to ask ourselves every day: Who do we really love? Who will we serve today — our want to sin or the God who saved us?

Think: Do you ever think of your brain and the rest of your body as tools you can use either to serve sin or God? How have you been using those “instruments” lately? Who have you been serving?

Pray: Ask God to give you a strong desire not to waste your life and body on sin but to let Him use it for accomplishing His work.

Do: Write a love letter to God, offering Him your body and brain to use however He wants for His purposes.