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Archive for January, 2011

Slaves to Sin?

January 14, 2011 Leave a comment

Today I’m sharing from Romans 6. I encourage you to take the time to read the whole chapter. It’s powerful and encouraging, and it contains vital information for every Christian!

If you were to read Romans from the beginning, you would find that Paul has, for the last five chapters, been building a sound argument for the doctrine of Justification. It goes something like this:

  1. All mankind is helplessly wicked and as such, fit only for judgment
  2. Jews are not exempt from this wickedness, nor from God’s judgment, simply because they are Jews
  3. Good works are not sufficient to save you, nor to cure your wickedness
  4. Faith is the means by which we are justified before God
  5. Specifically faith in Jesus Christ, and His atoning work on the cross, brings justification

Having made this argument, chapter five begins with these wonderful words:¬†“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul goes in chapter five to discuss how in Christ we are completely forgiven and cleansed, and that we have become a new race of people in Christ, for “just as sin came into the world through one man…so by one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” We are no longer “of Adam;” we are now “of Christ.”

Here is where the argument picks up in Chapter 6. Paul, having sufficiently proved the sinfulness of all mankind, and having clearly shown the way to forgiveness and justification through Christ, now begins to deal with a very practical question: “But what about when a justified person sins?” The most straightforward answer to this is given in verse 11: “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” This sentence is actually the summation of his argument so far in chapter six. Hopefully you’ve already read it, and so are familiar with its content. If not, here’s the link again – Romans 6. The basic message is this: You should stop sinning, but not because of some “Because I said so” mentality, nor because you will somehow earn God’s favor through your abstinence, but rather because you are dead to sin! The “sinner” you once were is dead and buried, and simply needs to be forgotten. The new you is “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). You need to begin acting like who you truly are, and stop acting like who you were! Amen! Now to the part I really want to share with you…

“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” – Rom. 6:12-14

This verse hit me hard the other day. This verse is the cure for whatever sin you may be struggling with. Don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not saying it is some sort of “magic pill” that you can just read it a few times and all of a sudden sin will not be an issue for you. Many sins, especially habitual sins, take a lot of hard work and determination to overcome. But thanks be to God, victory is promised!

To me, this verse speaks more to the attitude which overcomes, rather than some super-spiritual thing that God does. Look at that first sentence: “Let not sin therefore reign…” Did you hear that? Don’t let it reign. Don’t LET IT reign. That means that YOU, if you are determined enough, have the power to stop the reign of sin in your life. Of course this power comes from God, as Phil. 2:13 says “for it is God who works in you.” (The reader should note that the immediately preceding verse in Philippians says “work out your own salvation” which is followed by, “for it is God who works in you.” When dealing with sin, we cannot take a “let go and let God” attitude. Rather, we need to approach it with determination and persistence, knowing that God stands behind all of our efforts and supplies us with the strength we need. Amen!) I digress…

Again, you must make the decision to not LET sin reign in your life. You must insist on this! You must reject sin in every form, you must determine in yourself that sin will not guide your life any longer, that you will not be a slave to sin, nor serve its desires. But how? Luckily for us, Paul answers that question…

Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness.” Why are we so bogged down with sin in our lives? Because we offer ourselves to sin at every turn. For most men, myself included, our eyes are often found fixed upon objects and images they should not be. Men are sexually stimulated through what we see. It occurred to me as I read this, all the various ways that I would “present” or offer my eyes to sin. Every time I stole a glance at a woman, or lingered on an image on a magazine, or watched a racy scene on a movie (come on guys, you know what I’m talking about), in each of those instances I was “presenting my members to sin as instruments for ¬†unrighteousness.” That is, I was allowing sin to use my eyes as if they were meant for unrighteousness. The only way to break the reign of sin, is to refuse to give our “members” (whether our eyes, or hands, or feet, or mind) to sin. Do you see how this would take some serious determination? I believe that if you are born-again, then you have a genuine desire within you to be totally and completely pure, blameless and above reproach in every area of your life. I believe that you know the areas of sin in your life, and you hate them. The problem is, most of us have given up. We’ve resigned ourselves to the idea that this sin will always be a struggle for us, that we will just have to deal with it. If you have given in to this idea, then you are letting that sin reign in your life. The solution is simple to understand, but perhaps difficult to live out…

“…present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” There it is. We need to not give our members to sin, but to God. We have been brought from death to life, from sin to righteousness. If we can learn to give our “members” to God instead of to sin, then we will become servants of righteousness. All of a sudden, God will be sitting on the throne of your life, and not that sin. We have become “slaves of righteousness.” We have no need to continue on in our sin. We are free!

I told you that this verse hit me hard, specifically in the area of what I allow my eyes to look at. So what did I do with it? I went through my entire movie collection and purged every movie with even the remotest sexual content. I debated over a few of them, honestly, because I really wanted to keep them. I got rid of about half of the movies I owned. I also made a¬†commitment to God that I would not watch television beyond 8pm, knowing that many of the shows that air at that time are filled with images I shouldn’t be seeing. Is this radical? You bet. But I’m tired of letting sin reign in my life. I’m not going to let it control me.

I don’t know what your sin-area is, but I encourage you to take some time in prayer to let the Holy Spirit search you and find out where you have been giving your “members” over to sin, and allowing it to reign in your life. We are free! Amen! Let’s live like it!!

Categories: Bible, Life

The Conviction of the Holy Spirit

January 1, 2011 Leave a comment

So, as I was cleaning my apartment, and going through some old papers, I found a page of notes on “Conviction of the H.S.” It looks like I did it in a rush, but I was…well…convicted by it. I’ll try to recreate it as closely as possible to the actual page I found…

– Psalm 51

– “I will be sorry for my sin…”

– the individual’s will is involved: “I will be sorry…”

– There will be an overall recognition of one’s pervasive sinfulness

– There will be a recognition of guilt/consequences of guiltiness

– There will be a recognition of one’s helplessness and vulnerability before God as a result of their sin

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– After the recognition of all this, there will come a “godly sorrow”

– “Godly sorrow worketh repentence”

– Therefpre, this godly sorrow will cause one to repent of their sin

Repentance

– Confession/admission of guilt

– A “turning away” from sin

– The repenter will then plead for God’s mercy, ask God to restore blessings

– “Cast me not away from thy presence, O Lord; and take not thy holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of my salvation.”

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Conviction is God-initiated, but its fulfillment is based upon man’s response

– A “hardened heart” is one who refuses to listen to/accept God’s conviction

– “…having their consciences seared with a hot iron.”

– Our hearts become hard in the same manner that we acquire a callous

– The heart is often subjected to the “abuse” of the conviction of God – the heart is often pricked

– If there is little or no response, the heart will harden to protect itself from the next “attack” or “abuse”

– Over time, the heart becomes completely hardened to God’s moving –> this requires a “breaking” in order to be remedied. God has to break us to overcome our hardness of heart, which is a painful and humiliating experience.

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– Conviction requires humility

– True humility is the absolute recognition of who we truly are, and who God truly is!

“Thus saith the high and lofty one; I dwell in a high and holy place, and with him who is of a lowly and contrite heart, and a contrite spirit; to revive the heart of the lowly and to revive the spirit of the contrite ones.”

– God desires our humility and contrition so the He can bring us to a place of godly confidence in Him

I was especially convicted by the section on the “hard heart.” I wonder how many times I’ve hardened my heart against God’s conviction, instead of truly repenting.

Anyway, it is a good reminder that our lives should really be marked, not necessarily by continual acts of repentance (which would imply continual acts of sin), but rather by a general attitude of repentance. That is, a softness to the Holy Spirit, a sensitivity to His leading, His conviction. I long to be so sensitive to Him, that I would hear the “warning bells” of His conviction before I sin, instead of a disciplining conviction after.

Be blessed.

Categories: Bible, Life