“Since Grace is Grace…” Pt. 3
January 28, 2018
In his tremendously helpful book, The Enemy Within, Kris Lundgaard writes this in the opening chapter, “Evil at My Elbow:”
All I wanted to do was surprise my wife.
Since we had moved into our new house almost a year ago, the refrigerator door handle had been on the wrong side. I had put off moving it because of my clumsiness with mechanical things. But on this Thursday afternoon while my wife was at work, I was set to redeem myself and right the wrong.
I was halfway through the job. I had the refrigerator and freezer doors off and wanted to get them back on soon so nothing would spoil. I was at the pivotal step of swapping the hinges from the right side of the refrigerator to the left, when I realized that each hinge was fastened by two torx screws. Two lousy torx screws. There is only one tool in the universe that can (safely) remove a torx screw: a torx socket.
I didn’t have a torx socket.
Right then my three boys decided to move their Traveling Sibling Rivalry Show into the middle of my angst. I lost it. I let them have it, though they didn’t deserve it. They stared at me as if I were a monster from Alpha Centauri, while I ranted in an unknown tongue.
In mid-fit I had an out-of-body experience. I saw my contorted red face screaming at my charming boys and knew at once I was doing something evil. So I stopped and asked their forgiveness, right? Wrong. Something had control of me—it was as if an alien had invaded my body and was forcing me to do his bidding. It was long after they had fled from my wrath before I recovered my sanity and my conscience and humbled myself before them in groveling apologies.
I spent the next several days feeling like a whipped puppy. Was I really that wicked? How could I hurt my children like that? Had I done irreparable harm? Would they forgive me? Would God forgive me?
Anything like that ever happen to you? [The Enemy Within, 21-22]
I suspect that like Kris and like me, you know something like that feeling. It may not have been anger, but you know the sense of, “what have I done?” Where does this stuff come from? And how can we fight against it? Or does it even matter that we should fight against it? As believers, can we do what we want and not worry about sin, and simply appeal to grace and assume that in some sense sin is even good because it magnifies God’s grace and forgiveness?
To that latter idea, Paul says, “May it never be!” (Rom. 6:1) The idea is abhorrent to Paul. As he will say in verse four, the very reason we’ve been justified is so that we too [like Christ] might walk in newness of life. In other words, we’ve been forgiven of sin and freed from sin so that we don’t have to sin. We don’t have to sin, but we invariably do sin. So how will we win the fight against sin? As we noted last week, in part, our victory over is by remembering what the Lord has provided for us in our salvation —
The grace that justifies sinners also frees sinners from the power of sin.
How has a believer been freed from the power of sin? Paul identifies three ways we have been freed:
- Our Old Man is Dead (v. 6a)
- What is the “old man?”
- How was the old man crucified with Christ?
- Our Body’s Inclination to Sin is Negated (v. 6b)
- We are Justified from Sin (vv. 6c-7)
- We often say around here and I said it again last Sunday, the battle against sin is a battle that begins in the mind. In order to act righteously, we must first learn to think righteously and conform our minds to the truth of God.
- When Paul moves into the application of the truth of our salvation in chapter 12, the first thing he will talk about is the renewal of the mind ( 12:2). And he will say something similar in this chapter (6:11). To fight against sin, we must constantly remind ourselves of what we are in Christ and what Christ has done for us.
- As Paul began his argument against antinomian in v. 3, he asked, Do you not know…? There was a body of truth about salvation that the Romans should have known, even though Paul had not yet been to Rome or taught the Roman church directly. And he continues that same thought in verse 6 — knowing this… That is, there is something that the Romans (and the antinomians) should know about salvation that they are not acting on. With both references to “knowledge,” Paul is reminding us that to fight against sin and live righteously, we must begin thinking the right kinds of ways.
And here in this passage are three thoughts that we must think.
Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 6:6-7.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow morning.