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“Since Grace is Grace…” Pt. 4
Romans 6:8-11
February 4, 2018

In her book, How Did I Get to Be Forty and Other Atrocities, Judith Viorst recounts her “Self-Improvement Program:”

I’ve finished six pillows in Needlepoint,
And I’m reading Jane Austen and Kant,
And I’m up to the pork with black beans in Advanced Chinese Cooking.
I don’t have to struggle to find myself
For I already know what I want.
I want to be healthy and wise and extremely good-looking.

I’m learning new glazes in Pottery Class,
And I’m playing new chords in Guitar,
And in Yoga I’m starting to master the lotus position.
I don’t have to ponder priorities
For I already know what they are:
To be good-looking, healthy, and wise.
And adored in addition.

I’m improving my serve with a tennis pro,
And I’m practicing verb forms in Greek,
And in Primal Scream Therapy all my frustrations are vented.
I don’t have to ask what I’m searching for
Since I already know that I seek
To be good-looking, healthy, and wise.
And adored.
And contented.

I’ve bloomed in Organic Gardening,
And in Dance I have tightened my thighs,
And in Consciousness Raising there’s no one around who can top me.
And I’m working all day and I’m working all night
To be good-looking, healthy, and wise.
And adored.
And contented.
And brave.
And well-read.
And a marvelous hostess,
And bilingual,
Athletic,
Artistic…
Won’t someone please stop me?

Some believers think that the spiritual life is like that self-improvement plan — “just work harder and you will be more spiritual…” Other believers think that the spiritual life is a passive submission to God — “let go and let God;” and if we don’t change, they say, “God never took away that desire, so I guess I can’t (and don’t need to) change.” And other believers think that the spiritual life is unnecessary — “we’re forgiven for all our sins, so any sin is irrelevant because God’s already forgiven it.” But the Scriptures don’t teach any of those “methods” of growth.

It is true that there should be growth and their should be maturity and there should be obedience and there should be a putting away of sin. But in contrast to self-righteous legalists, no one becomes more spiritual by their own efforts to keep some kind of moral law — either their own or God’s. And in contrast to the antinomians, becoming a follower of Christ doesn’t mean that we can indulge in whatever sin we want so that when we sin, God “is enabled” to be even more gracious to us. No, Christ’s death freed us from God’s wrath and freed us from sin’s ongoing power so that we can be obedient to God.

How can we do that? How can we fight against sin? Is it through the application of much willpower? No. It is based on educating ourselves with biblical and theological truth — and then acting on that truth. And at the center of that biblical truth is the truth of our identification with Christ. In this passage, Paul uses three words to indicate how our minds should be transformed about our union with Christ: believe (v. 8), know (v. 9), and consider (v. 11). Those words are the key in our battle against sin — a battle for which God has given us much grace (5:20-21).

The grace that justifies sinners also frees sinners from the power of sin through union with Christ.

How can we train our minds and equip ourselves to resist sin and obey Christ?

  1. Believe You Will Live with Christ — Now (v. 8)
  2. Know Christ Has Conquered Death and Sin (vv. 9-10)
  3. Consider Yourself to be Dead and Alive (v. 11)

Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 6:8-11.

The audio will be posted on the GBC website tomorrow morning.