||Heart & Soul: A Study through Romans
||Don’t Look Back
Connect Recap Notes: September 8, 2019
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "Don't Look Back"
Text: Romans 6:1-7
Returning to a life of sin after becoming a Christian is like winning the lottery but choosing to continue to live in poverty. Pastor Nate Heitzig poses this question: Can one be a Christian and continually pursue a sinful lifestyle? In examining Romans 6:1-7, we find the biblical answer: No. Because of what God has done for the Christian, the Christian's rightful response to God should be to pursue a transformed lifestyle.
- Get Up (vv. 1-2)
- Go Forward (vv. 3-5)
- Never Go Back (vv. 6-7)
Get Up (vv. 1-2)
- In Romans 6-8, Paul began to teach on the outcome of justification—the practical effects of salvation. Paul refuted the argument of the religious leaders of his day, who taught that man can work to earn salvation.
- The word continue in verse 1 carries the idea of habitual persistence, like a person living in the muck and mire of sin. Christians are not to continually live in sin (see v. 2).
- Before salvation, sin is an established way of life (see Ephesians 2:2). Paul told Christians to get up, out of the muddy mess of sin, and live for God and His glory.
- Paul did not teach that Christians will not be tempted or fall into occasional sin; he emphasized willfully and intentionally living in sin. In verse 12, Paul said, "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body." Christians are not to let sin control the way they live.
- For the observant Jew, faithfulness meant keeping rules and regulations; but Paul saw the underlying issue: humanity's sinful nature. The solution is justification through Christ and living a life of obedience in response to God's work in Christ. Salvation will produce holy living, but holy living can't produce salvation.
Go Forward (vv. 3-5)
- After salvation, the Christian must go forward, and the first step forward is baptism. In verse 3, Paul gave us a glimpse into the profound nature of baptism. Water baptism is an outward showing of an inward doing; it does not wash away sin, but is a symbol of identifying with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
- Justification by faith isn't a legal matter but a living relationship, so our response should be to identify with Jesus. This is God's imputed righteousness in our life, and because of this living union with Jesus, Christians have a new relationship to sin; baptism symbolizes that we are dead to the old self and raised to new life in Christ. Paul put it this way: "Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin" (v. 11).
- Paul talked about "newness of life" in Christ (see v. 4b). He uses the same word in 2 Corinthians 5:17, to refer to a "new creation." Newness of life is the outcome of God's indwelling, giving us "a new heart" (Ezekiel 36:26), "a new song" (Psalm 40:3), and a "new man" (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Never Go Back (vv. 6-7)
PracticeConnect Up: The Christian life can be summarized in three overarching acts of God:
- Once we get up to go forward, we should not go back to our old ways. In verse 6, Paul states our old self was "crucified with Him…that we should no longer be slaves of sin." The old self was crucified with Christ, so we need not be controlled by sin.
- The phrase "done away with" (v. 6) does not mean annihilated, but "rendered inactive, made of no effect." Sin is out of business, and you can never go back to it in the same way.
- Many Christians are missing an essential truth of the spiritual life: Christ has won, therefore, you have. We don't fight for victory, but from victory. We share in what Christ has done on our behalf. Satan was defeated at the cross; we should live as though this were the case. We can't overcome sin on our own strength—only through Christ. God, in Christ, has paid our debt, opened the prison door, and set us free. We must recognize the victory to live a Christ-like life.
- How do we walk in victory? Paul gives the solution throughout his letters: "Walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:16; see also 6:8 and Ephesians 5:8). We must allow the Spirit to conform us into the image of Christ—sanctifying us and producing fruit (see Galatians 5:22-23) and gifts for edification of the body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
Throughout Romans, Paul shows how Christ procured our salvation (see Romans 8:27-32). Jesus calls us (see John 15:16), confirms us (see John 12:44-47), and conforms us (see John 13:15). Discuss the role of the Spirit in all areas: calling, confirming, and conforming. How are both Jesus and the Spirit involved in getting Christians up, moving forward, and never looking back?
- Calling: God calls and convicts people of sin (see John 16:7-8). Confirming: God saves us and seals Christians with the Spirit, confirming we are His children (see John 14:16-17; Ephesians 1:13-14). Conforming: God emboldens Christians to be a witness in the world, conforming us into the image of Jesus and to live a Spirit-empowered life with fruit and gifts (see Acts 1:8, Romans 8:30; Galatians 5:22-23; and 1 Corinthians 12:4-11).
Connect In: How can Pastor Nate's outline act as a guide for the local church? As an example, the church is to:
What other parallels can you find?
- Proclaim Christ (vv. 1-4): encouragement to get up; pursue a certain way of living (vv. 5-11) baptism, turning from sin, etc.: motivation to go forward; proceed as Christians (vv. 12-14): caution to never go back.
Connect Out: How can Pastor Nate's points act as an outline for evangelism? Here are some thoughts to discuss:
- Get up: the need for salvation in Christ. Why does a person need Jesus? Go forward: What actions are required for a new believer? Never go back: What things should a new Christian continually do so he or she does not fall back into their old lifestyle?
"Don't Look Back"
- How can we break free from sin?
- Can you be a Christian and yet be continually living in a sinful lifestyle?
- Sometimes, as Christians, we find ourselves looking back at our old lives
- There's nothing wrong with looking back as you share your testimony, or looking back with regret and disdain for the life that you lived
- However, some of us look back at the sins we struggled with not with disdain but with fondness and even desire
- As a Christian, going back to a life of sin is like winning the lottery but continuing to live in poverty
- We've experienced the riches, abundance, mercy, and love of God, but how often do we go back to the sin that we used to commit, only to find no satisfaction?
- We need to move forward instead of going back to our old way of life
- Don't look back at the sins of your past
- Instead, get up out of the sin, the muck, and the mire of your old life
- You are no longer a slave to sin—you have been freed in the name of Christ
- In this passage, we continue to learn more about all that God has done for us
- So far, we've had the opportunity to check our spiritual bank balance:
- We've seen that He has justified us, bringing us peace with God
- We've accepted God's conditions to know Him
- We've discussed the idea of unconditional surrender
- We have access to His presence, day and night, and we've learned that He is interceding for us at this very moment
- Paul began a new development in his teaching for this section of Romans
- Paul started with a question, then answered it
- The book of Romans focuses on salvation and its practical effects on the saved
- Up to this point, Paul had been building a case that every one of us is a sinner—we're all lost and messed up
- Paul presented the process of justification
- Jesus Christ came to earth and died for our sins so that we could be made righteous on His behalf
- Get Up (vv. 1-2)
- In this passage, Paul began to talk about what justification looks like and its effects within a believer's life
- Paul asked if we should keep sinning "that grace may abound" (v. 1), and he answered firmly
- We should get up and move forward in the newness of life that Christ Jesus brings
- Paul refuted the argument that he knew religious leaders would bring
- He anticipated the argument because he was teaching that salvation comes from God and there is nothing we can do to make it happen
- Paul answered a question that some might ask: If we are saved by the grace of God, and He is the one who justifies us, then why not continue sinning so that more grace might come?
- Is justification a free pass to continue living our old lives?
- Can we be justified and continue in sin?
- The word continue here carries the idea of habitual persistence
- This word was sometimes used of a person who intentionally chose to live in a certain place and made it their permanent residence
- Luke 15:11-32
- Some of us experience Stockholm syndrome—we fall in love with sin, so when Christ brings freedom, we reject it
- In verse 2, Paul answered his own question: "Certainly not!"
- In the Greek, this was the strongest repudiation that Paul could possibly bring
- How can those whose relationship with sin has been broken by their own death continue in their sin?
- Paul presented a paradox
- When you become a Christian, you die to self and become alive in Christ
- It's impossible to be dead and live in something at the same time
- As Christians, we should be dead to sin, but we choose to be the walking dead when we walk in our sin
- Before salvation, sin is the established way of life
- Ephesians 2:2
- Prior to salvation, sin is the default
- Salvation is a hard reset; it wipes your life clean and provides a fresh start
- Paul told us to get up out of the muck and mire of sin—to get out of that cycle of sin and misery
- As believers, we are new creations in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:17)
- Paul did not say that we won't struggle with sin or temptation
- Throughout the Christian life, we will always struggle with sin to some degree (1 John 1:8)
- Paul wasn't speaking of a believer's occasional fall into sin, because that happens to everyone
- He was speaking to those who intentionally, willfully choose to sin as an established pattern in their life
- What controls the way you live?
- If there has been no change in your lifestyle after salvation, but you continue in sin, the question isn't whether a believer can lose their salvation, but were they ever saved to begin with?
- Jesus made it really simple when He said, "Every good tree bears good fruit" (Matthew 7:17)
- If you want to know if you're a Christian, examine your fruit; if you're not bearing fruit, you're a dead tree
- The problem for those in Paul's day was the belief that holy living and following the Law brought about God's favor and resulted in salvation
- Throughout Romans, Paul showed the extent of our sinful condition; there is no way for us to earn God's approval
- The great news is that God's favor toward us is not because of what we've done for Him, but because of what He's done for us
- The understanding of this truth should revolutionize the way we live
- Holy living will not produce salvation, but salvation will produce holy living
- Many have had their eyes opened and they believe conceptually
- But they haven't turned from the power of Satan to God (see 1 John 3:9)
- Practicing sin means sin becomes your natural response in real-life scenarios
- The repetition of the word know in verses 3, 6, and 9 indicates that Paul wanted us to understand this doctrine
- Christian living depends on Christian learning
- Duty is always founded on doctrine, and if Satan can keep a Christian ignorant, he can keep a Christian impotent
- Go Forward (vv. 3-5)
- It's time for us to stop practicing sin and start practicing righteousness
- We need to start learning God's Word so that we can put it into practice
- It's not enough to just get up and get out of the filth and mire of sin; we need to go forward in the newness of life found in God's Word
- Paul said we've left our old way of life, and now we should go forward in a new life
- Our new life is a new relationship with God and a new relationship to sin
- This is what baptism is all about—it's an outward showing of an inward doing
- Baptism doesn't wash away someone's sins; it's a symbol of identifying with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ
- Baptism appropriates the divine provision that God has for you
- Justification isn't just a legal matter between us and God, it's a living relationship
- You can't avoid sin's power merely by imitating Christ any more than you could avoid falling off a building simply by imitating Superman (see Romans 5:18)
- The power is found in impartation, not imitation, and that's what baptism is
- Through baptism, we are identified with Christ; when He conquered sin, sin was conquered in my life (see Ephesians 2:1-10)
- Because of this living union, we also have a new relationship with sin
- We are dead and buried in our identification with the death and burial of Jesus Christ, but we are also risen with Him in new life
- We should identify our lives by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus
- In verse 11, Paul told us to "reckon" ourselves dead to sin
- Paul said we need to stop feeling like we're destined to stay under the power of sin
- There are certain things that only God can do, and there are certain things that only we can do—only He can justify and forgive, but only we can repent
- The Scriptures are full of descriptions of the believer's new spiritual life—what it means to walk in newness of life
- As a child of the Most High, you must choose to either possess them or reject them
- He promises a new heart (see Ezekiel 36:26)
- He promises a new song (see Psalm 40:3)
- He promises a new self (see Ephesians 4:22-24)
- God has offered you all these things, but you have to accept them
- Even though God's given this to us, we still have the capacity to sin
- We need to discipline ourselves to live in the Spirit's power and to live according to God's Word; as we do, that break with sin will happen
- We have a greater defense and offense than we could ever imagine in Jesus Christ (see 1 Samuel 17:45)
- The power to no longer be under sin's control, but to live in newness of life
- We have been stolen from our graves through baptism, not because we are worth something or because we are famous, but because the grave could not hold Jesus Christ
- We are alive in newness of life through Christ
- Sadly, many believers are still living like spiritual corpses, not realizing all that God has done for and given to them
- We must walk in newness of life, but also recognize that the battle lines are drawn
- We must choose to go forward in newness of life and choose to never go back
- Never Go Back (vv. 6-7)
- An important doctrinal truth emerges here
- The old self was crucified with Christ, so the body need not be controlled by sin
- The phrase "done away with" (v. 6) doesn't mean annihilated or destroyed, but rendered inactive
- Sin in your life has been put out of business; you can try to go back to it, but it's not going to give you the same fulfillment it once did
- We need to make a conscious decision each and every day to never go back to our lives of sin
- Sin wants to be your master, to have a controlling share and vote in your life as it did prior to salvation
- When you truly accept Jesus into your heart, sin is put out of business, but sin won't stop just because it's been defeated
- Get up out of the muck and the mire, go forward in newness of life, and never go back
- You're no longer a slave to sin—you've been freed, and the last thing the slave wants to do is go back to the evil master
- You're free; now never go back
- Many times, as believers are praying for victory, they're missing an essential truth that could revolutionize their spiritual lives
- You've already won
- We don't fight for victory; we fight from victory
- We don't fight the Devil; we stand in the power of the Lord's might
- We share in what He has done on our behalf
- Sin is already defeated; we just need to start acting like victors
- We are already victors, but often because of what sin has done to us—because of the scars it's left upon our lives and the pain that it's brought—we let it sit and fester in our lives
- Sin is a horrible master, but it finds a willing servant in the human body; the old nature gives sin a beachhead from which it can attack and then control us
- If we've learned nothing else in our studies through Romans, we've learned that we are all sinners and unable to change in our own strength
- Romans 7:18
- The power of sin is so devastating, destructive, and degenerative; we all know its allure and the resulting devastation that it brings in the life of a person who gives into it
- John 8:34
- Sin promises success, life, and pleasure, but it ultimately brings misery
- The gift that God has given to us is rebirth
- He's given you the tools and newness of life to rebuild your life into something truly fantastic
- God has done His part; the prison door is open and your debts have been paid
- Do you want to be free?
- You don't have to ask God to give you the victory; you don't have to ask for something that you already have
- Instead, build up your new nature, and the old will be weakened
- Walk in the Spirit, and you won't fulfill the lusts of the flesh
Donald Grey Barnhouse, Bob Dylan, Eliud Kipchoge, John MacArthur Cross references:
1 Samuel 17:45; Ezekiel 36:26; Psalm 40:3; Matthew 7:17; Luke 15:11-32; John 8:34; Romans 5:18; 7:18; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:1-10; 4:22-24; 1 John 1:8; 3:9
Topic: overcoming sin
Keywords: alive, debt, fight, forward, freedom, life, nature, newness, power, regret, salvation, struggle, victory