||Heart & Soul: A Study through Romans
||Don’t Look Back
Don't Look Back - Romans 6:1-7 - Nate Heitzig
God is life.
Turn in your Bibles to Romans chapter 6. We're going to be in verses 1 through 7 this morning, for a message. I've titled "Don't Look Back," as we continue in our series, Heart and Soul. Who's been enjoying this series as we've been studying the book of Romans?
So good. Let me ask you a question as we start. Have you ever wished that you could change? Wished that you could be a better person? Maybe there's a certain sin that you struggle with that you just wish that you could get past. It feels like it's always there, hounding you, that any time you try to escape from it or get away from it, it's always there to ensnare you again. Anyone ever felt that way? That there's just, man, these things that you just wish would go away? There's a lot of really, really sanctified people in here who've never felt that way. If your neighbor didn't raise their hand, you can elbow them really, really hard in the side.
Well, today we're going to lay the foundation for how we can do just that, how we can break free from sin. An important questions can be answered in our message today, and that is this: can you be a Christian and yet be continually living in a sinful lifestyle? I find this is a question a lot of believers have, is what does it mean to be back-slided? Can you lose your salvation? Is it possible to be continually living in sin and yet still be a Christian? And the answer to that question is found today in our message, again, titled "Don't Look Back."
And I have found that sometimes, we as Christians can find ourselves looking back at our old lives. And there's nothing wrong with looking back at your old life in the sense of telling someone your testimony, talking about your old life and the past that you experienced, and looking at it with regret and remorse. Maybe some disdain for the life that you lived, and then talking about your new life in Christ. But I found some of us can look back at our sins that we struggled with, not with disdain, but actually with fondness and desire.
You hear some people share their testimonies, and when they get to the really juicy sinful parts, it almost sounds like they wish they could go back. It's like, (LONGINGLY) "Wow, man, you know, I was so entrenched in sin. It was crazy. [LAUGHS] I mean, the things I did, Oh." (NORMAL) And there's almost this fondness, this desire, this longing to go back to their old life. But as a Christian, going back to sin is like winning the lottery and go into a life of poverty. We've experienced the riches, the abundance, the mercy, the love of God. And to desire to go back to a life of sin is like receiving a winning lottery ticket, but going to a life of poverty. As a matter of fact,
I read a story online that says, three years after a lottery win, couple arrested in burglaries. And it said this. Apparently a Michigan couple who won $500,000 in a state lottery ticket, a scratch off ticket-- hold on for a second. Just imagine what you would do if you won $500,000. I'm like, man, I could live for at least a decade off that. Easy. We're good. I'm going to invest that. I'm going to make some money. I'm going to live on that as long as I can. Three years after a lottery win. They won in 2016. They've now been charged in a string of burglaries across five different counties.
Now, that might sound crazy or even absurd to you, but let me ask you this. How often do we go back to the sin that we used to commit, only to find no satisfaction? We've won the lottery. We've received the grace of Jesus Christ. And yet so many of us, not long after our salvation experience, are falling back in our old lives that we used to live. How we can live with one foot in the church, and the other foot in the world. A changed heart, but the same old life. We've been given the riches of God's abundant love, mercy, forgiveness, and grace, but we find ourselves looking back in our old lives, longing to return. We've won the spiritual lottery, but we're content to live in spiritual poverty.
Well, today, my call to you, my call to us, is don't look back. Don't go back to your old way of life. Don't look back at the sins of your past. Get up, go forward, and never go back. As a matter of fact, those are our three points today that we're going to look at here in Romans 6. Paul is giving us a call, Those of us who have been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. He's telling us don't look back. Instead get up out of the sin, the muck, the mire of your old life. Move forward. Go forward as you experience the Resurrection power of Jesus in your life and you walk in newness of life, and then never go back. Because you are no longer a slave to sin, but you are freed in the name of Jesus Christ.
As a matter of fact, why don't we all do a little exercise right now? Let's look back at our lives before Christ. Let's pull a T Swift and say we are never, ever, ever getting back together. We've got bad blood with sins. Let's just shake it off, and experience a new love story in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Was that too many Taylor Swift puns in one message? You're like, "Nate, one is too many Taylor Swift puns in a message."
Well, in this passage, we continue to learn more about all that God has done for us. Throughout the book of Romans, so far, in this study through Heart and Soul, we've had the opportunity to check our spiritual bank balance. We've already seen through Romans that he has justified us, bringing us peace with God. We've accepted God's conditions on knowing him. We've discussed the idea of unconditional surrender. And we now have access to His presence, day and night. We learned that he is even interceding for us on our behalf at this very moment. As I've said, we truly have been given an incredible gift. We have won the lottery, but there's more. Let's read Romans 6:1-7.
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not. How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of as we're baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into his death? Therefore, we were buried with him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." I want you to underline that, newness of life. "For if we have been united together in the likeness of his death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of his Resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with." Underline that, the body of sin might be done away with. "That we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died, has been freed from sin."
The first thing we see, the first call that Paul gives us, is to get up. Look at verses 1 through 2 with me. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Certainly not. How shall we who died to sin, live any longer in it?" Paul starts with a question, and it's a simple question. He says, "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" See we have now come to chapters 6-8 of Romans, and Paul begins a new development in his teaching in this section of Romans. Remember, Romans, as a whole. Is really all about salvation and its practical effects on those who are saved. And now, here in this passage, we finally see the outworking of justification.
Up to this point, Paul has been building a case that every one of us is a sinner, we're all lost, we're all messed up. "There's none righteous. No, not one." And he's presented this idea that a man named Jesus Christ came to the earth and died for our sins, so that we could be made righteous on his behalf. And Paul calls this process justification. Just as if I'd never sin. So that's where we're at, up to this point, in Romans. Paul now begins to talk about what justification looks like and causes within a believer's life. This is the out-workings of justification. And our first two points really deal with this idea. And, in essence, this whole passage can kind of be summed up in this sentence. Paul is saying, "Shall we continue sinning, that grace may abound?" No. Get up and move forward in the newness of life that Christ Jesus brings.
In this passage, Paul is refuting the argument that he's assuming religious leaders might bring. People who would think that because he is teaching that salvation comes totally and completely from God and there is nothing we can do to make it happen. I.e. circumcision or keeping the law or any list of the things we think can get us to heaven. Paul is answering a question that some might ask. Which would be, if we are saved by the Grace of God, if He is the one who justifies us just as if it never happened, then why not continue sinning so that more grace might come.
They're basically asking this question, Hey, Paul, is this whole justification thing a free pass to continue living our old lives the way that we've lived them, as long as we're justified? Is this a hall pass to keep on sinning? Can we take this justification principle and say, "Awesome! Now I can live like hell, and go to heaven. What a deal! I get to experience everything I want on Earth, and then I get to go to heaven and everything's good. After all, won't God forgive us anyways? Is this a license to sin? The word, to understand this, "continue"-- shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound-- carries the idea of habitual persistence. That is to say, shall we habitually persist in sin, that grace may abound? It was sometimes used of a person who intentionally chose to live in a certain place and made that they're permanent residence.
Think of it this way, perhaps you're thinking about moving or maybe before you've thought about moving, buying a new house. And you've looked around, you've looked at homes, you've looked at the options, you've had conversations with your family. And at the end of the day, you've decided that, no, instead of moving, we're going to continue to live in the place that we currently are. We will continue to inhabit and persist in our home that we're currently at, instead of moving. Picture the prodigal son. Living, choosing to live, habitually persist in the muck and the mire with the pigs, when his father's house is just a phone call away.
Who's ever heard of the term Stockholm Syndrome? Most people have. Who knows where that term comes from? Maybe a couple of you do. I saw a couple of hands. But most of you probably don't. Well, in 1973, there was a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden. And during the crime, several bank employees were actually held hostage in the bank vault for five days, while their captors were in negotiations with the police. Well, during this standoff, something strange happened. The victims actually became emotionally attached to their captors. So much so, that even when the government came and tried to save them, they rejected government assistance and chose to remain captives, rather than be freed. It actually went so far that once they were finally freed, they actually defended their captors and the motives for which the captors had abducted them. The victims fell in love with their captors, and they didn't want to be set free.
Now, that seems crazy, doesn't it? You're like those, People are dumb. That's just stupid. I don't know why anyone would do that. But be careful, because Paul is asking the question, how can those who have been freed from sin, still desire to live in its captivity? How can those who have been set free, still desire to remain captives in their sin and their despair? Paul is saying, Get up! Get up and get out of sin! You're free! You don't have to stay there anymore! And yet so many of us say, Well, sin's not that bad. It's not as bad as you think. I could stop, if I wanted to. Many of us fall so in love with our captor sin, that when Christ brings freedom, we reject it. We would rather continue habitually persist in sin rather then be set free.
Verse 2, Paul answers this question. Should we continue in sin, that grace may abound, and he says certainly not. The King James says may it never be. In the Greek, this was the strongest repudiation that Paul could possibly bring. He is saying certainly not. How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Paul is asking the question, how can those whose relationship in sin has been broken by their death-- and you say, well, I'm not dead. You are if you're a Christian. When you become a Christian, you die to self, you die to your sin, and you become alive in Christ.
So how are those who are dead in sin, continuing to live in sin? See, Paul is giving you a comparison, saying if you're dead to sin, you can't live in sin. It's impossible to be dead and living in something at the same time. It's like sin zombies. They're supposed to be dead, but they're alive. You realize many of us are like sin zombies? We're supposed to be dead to sin, but we're like the walking dead. Walking around in sin. We're sin zombies. We should be dead to sin, but some of us are still alive in sin.
The message phrases verse 2 this way, if we've left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn't you realize we packed up and left there for good? See, before salvation, sin cannot be anything but the established way of life. Ephesians chapter 2, verse 2 says, you let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhale disobedience. We all did it. All of us. Who's all of us? If you're part of all of us raise your hand.
Come on, I see some non-participatory people in there. You're part of all of us. Raise your hand. [LAUGHS] All of us. Every one of us. You, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, me. All of us. All of us. Doing what we felt like doing. When we felt like doing it. All of us in the same boat.
It's a wonder God didn't lose His temper and do away with the whole lot of us. [LAUGHS] It really is incredible, isn't it? The mercy of God. That He didn't just say, you know what? You guys are all so stubborn. Stubborn little punks just doing what you want to do whenever you want to do it. I'm done with you. The angels are better. I'll just stay with them. Except for that Lucifer guy. He'll go to hell.
It's incredible that God has mercy on us. See, prior to our relationship with Christ, sin was the natural way of life. But that's all changed. Prior to salvation, sin is the default. Post salvation, salvation is the reset. It's like an error message on your iPhone. Who's ever been caught in that spinning wheel of death on your iPhone? Or maybe that terrible Apple logo, then it shuts down and starts up, shuts down and starts-- it's the worst thing ever, right? You sit there holding your phone, so angry like, I just want to throw this thing against the wall. I'm going to say words that are not part of my sanctification process. This is just so frustrating.
And then you call Apple, and what do they tell you to do? Well, there's two options. The first thing is they try to encourage you to do a hard reset. They encourage you to take your phone and do this like Vulcan death grip on it. Hold three fingers on it and push really hard, and wait for it to restart to reset. And then, if that doesn't work, the next option for you is something really bad. And that is to wipe your phone. Who's ever called Apple and they say, well, the only thing you can do is wipe your phone? You've got to completely eliminate all the content on it, all the photos, all the contacts, all the apps, and you have to start fresh.
See, salvation is a complete wipe of your iPhone. Jesus says, hey, you're stuck in this cycle of error messages, these issues that are happening in your life. The only answer is to do a hard reset, is to do a restore, to wipe it clean and start fresh.
Paul is telling us to get up out of the muck and the mire of sin, to get out of that old repetitive cycle of sin and misery, and to move forward into the grace and joy that is found in Christ. Because now, as believers, we are new creations in Christ, with the old things passed away and all things have become new. When you go to the Apple store and they reset your iPhone, it's kind of a bummer. But something great happens if you have AppleCare. Sometimes they'll give you a brand new iPhone.
Right? Isn't that exciting? When you go there and they're like, Hey, we can't fix it so we're going to give you a brand new one. (DISBELIEVINGLY) Really? Well, that's great news. Really, a relationship with Christ isn't even a hard reset. It's a whole new iPhone. He says, hey, the issues that you have in your life, they're so bad we can't fix it. So I'm going to give you a new you. All the old things have passed away. All things have become new. It's a fresh start. It's a fresh opportunity.
And that's not to say that we're not going to struggle with sin or temptation. Because throughout the Christian life we will always, to some degree, struggle with sin. I started out and I asked if there is some sin you struggle with, something that is difficult for you. That will always be the case. We will always struggle with sin to some capacity, because the Bible clearly teaches, if we say we have no sin, the truth is not in us. So be wary of that person, who says they don't struggle with sin. Because they're probably hiding something really big. They just don't want anyone to know about it. We all struggle with sin. We all deal with it. It plagues every one of us.
See, Paul wasn't speaking of a believer's occasional falling into sin, because that happens to everyone. He was speaking of those who intentionally, willfully choose to sin as an established pattern of their life. Romans 6:12 says, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, or literally don't let sin control the way that you live. Question, what controls the way that you live? Is it sin or is it Jesus? Because the two are mutually exclusive. You can't be controlled by sin and Jesus.
The great theologian Bob Dylan said it very simply. You're going to have to serve somebody. It might be the devil and it might be the Lord, but you're going to have to serve somebody. Man can only serve one master. Man cannot serve two masters. So what controls you? Paul is saying that if there has been no change in your lifestyle after our conversion and we continue in sin. The danger of the question isn't so much can a believer lose their salvation, but was that person ever really converted to begin with. See, that's the question. Was that person ever a believer to begin with?
See, Jesus made it really simple when He said, how do you know if a tree is alive. It bears forth fruit. If a tree doesn't bear fruit, it's dead. And if a tree is dead, what does He say He'll do? He'll cut it down and He'll throw it in the fire. I didn't say it. Jesus said it. Don't get mad at me. I've got a tree right now on my front yard. It is dead. It doesn't have leaves. It doesn't bear fruit. It looks exactly the same in the summer, winter, spring, and fall. It is dead.
Well, Nate, you're so insensitive. You don't know its heart. You're right, but I know it's fruit. And Jesus says you can know someone's heart by their fruit. So the question when someone's continue living in sin isn't have they lost their salvation, but it's were they ever a Christian to begin with. If you want to know if you're a Christian, examine your fruit. Look at your fruit. Look at your branches. If you're not bearing fruit, you're a dead tree.
He's telling us to get up and to get out of sin. Don't look back. Get up, get out, and start growing in newness of life. See, the problem for those in Paul's day and in this writing was that they got the cart before the horse. They believe that holy living, which to them translated as keeping the rules, keeping the regulations that brought about God's favor, and it resulted in salvation. But throughout Romans, Paul has been showing us, Paul has been explaining to us the extensive of our sinful condition and that there is no way we can earn God's approval, and we all fail miserably and continually. I want you to repeat that after me. Miserably and continually. One more time. Miserably and continually. It's getting an F on the report card every semester, every year. Miserably and continually.
But the great news is that God's favor towards us comes not on the basis of what we've done for Him, but on the basis of what He's done for us. He doesn't care that you got an F on the report card. He decided to take the test for you and He's going to give you the grade that He got, and He got an A-plus. It's not based on what you did. It's based on what He's done. And the understanding of this wonderful truth should revolutionize the way we live our lives. No, holy living, which we are incapable of, will not produce salvation, but salvation will produce holy living. If you have been saved, you will bear fruit. Salvation will produce holy living.
I suggest to you that many people claiming to be Christians, really aren't. You say, Nate, that's bold. You can't judge a man's heart. You're right but, again, I can judge his fruit. And if there's no fruit, there's an issue. Perhaps, they maybe never really heard the true gospel to begin with or maybe they just accepted part of it but not all of it. Remember Paul, when he was describing salvation to Agrippa, said that salvation was to have their eyes opened. That is belief. To accept, factually, the things you're hearing and to turn from darkness to light, and the power of Satan to God.
See, many may have had their eyes open they believe conceptually, Yeah, sure. I believe Jesus was a real person. Sure, I believe He died and rose from the dead. Sure, I believe all that. But they haven't turned from darkness to light. They haven't turned from the power of Satan to God. John MacArthur said, it is true that no believer will be sinless until he goes to be with the Lord, by death or by rapture. But a professed Christian who persistently disregards Christ's Lordship and his standards of righteousness by disobedience, has no claim on Christ's Savior-hood.
Donald Grey Barnhouse, another incredible commentator, said holiness starts where justification finishes. And if holiness does not start, we have the right to suspect that justification never started either. 1 John 3:9 sums it up this way, no one who is born of God, practices sin. Because His seed abides in him and he cannot sin because he is born of God. Now, I want to point it out, it doesn't say no one who sins is born of God. Because we all sin. It says no one who practices sin. Every parent who's ever had kids in sports understands this analogy, right? Because practice makes perfect.
Man, club sports, the amount of practices kids have in, like, club soccer and baseball and football. It's crazy. They're practicing for hours every single day, learning the plays, memorizing them, doing drills, making it part of who they are so that when they get on the field, it naturally comes out. That's what practicing sin means. Letting sin become so the way of your life, the way of your thinking, the way that you operate, putting these into practice so that in real day, real life scenarios, sin just becomes your natural response. Because it's what you've practiced doing.
That's what John is talking about there. The repetition of the word "know" in verses 1, 6, and 9 indicates that Paul wants us to know something, right? He wants us to understand something. It's a very basic doctrine and that is this. Christian living, living the right way, depends on Christian learning. Duty is always founded on doctrine. And if Satan can keep a Christian ignorant, he can keep a Christian impotent.
See, it's time for us to stop practicing sin and start practicing righteousness, start learning God's word, understanding His word, putting His playbook into practice, putting His playbook as part of our lives so that we will naturally, when the time comes, respond righteously rather than sinfully. 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. And that leads us to our second point, go forward.
Look at verse 3 through 4. Or do you not know that as many of us were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. Therefore, we were buried with him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. This passage talks a lot about baptism.
What Paul is telling us here is now we've left our old way of life, we've gotten up and out of the muck and the mire of sin, but now we're going to go forward based on a new life, based on a new relationship to God and a new relationship to sin. And this is what baptism is all about. Water baptism is an outward showing of an inward doing. It's a public declaration of an inward decision. Baptism doesn't wash away someone's sins, but rather baptism is a symbol of identifying with the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. One translation puts it this way, that's what baptism into the life of Jesus means.
When we are lowered into the water, it's like the burial of Jesus. When we are raised up out of the water, it is like the Resurrection of Jesus. See, baptism is appropriating the divine provision that God has for you. It is finding the ammo and using it. See, justification by faith isn't just a legal matter between us and God. Up until this point in Romans, the explanation of justification, it'd be easy for a religious person to say, oh, great. So, justification is just a legal matter. It's just a business matter between me and God. Once I sign the paperwork and my life is God's, I can just go back and live my life. And I'm sure my life belongs to God. It's done. It's paid.
What Paul is saying is that justification isn't just a legal matter, it's a living relationship. It is, according to Romans 5:18, justification that brings life. See, that power isn't the result of imitation. Understand this. You can't avoid sins power by merely imitating Christ, any more than you could avoid falling off the building by simply imitating Superman. Imitation isn't where the power is found. There is no power and repeating phrases. Even prayer itself isn't all that's required, because it's not imitation where power is found. It's impartation that power is found.
It's impartation. That's what baptism is. I am in Christ. I am identified with Him. Therefore, whatever happened to Christ, happened to me. When He died, I died. When He rose, I rose. When He conquered sin, sin was conquered in my life. And according to Ephesians 2:1-10, I am now seated in the heavenlies with Him as well. It's impartation. It's becoming like Him. And because of this living union with Jesus, this new relationship with Jesus, I also have a new relationship with sin.
See, in the context of what Paul is saying we have made a break with the past. 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, newness of life. So let's accept that fact as true, and begin to appropriate it into our lives. Let's experience the impartation of the grace of Jesus within our lives. Let's begin to identify our lives by the death, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus. Then, and only then, can we make a break with our past.
In verse 11, which we're going to get into next time, Paul tells us to reckon ourselves dead to sin. This word "reckon" sounds like a good Southern term. Biblically, it means to count as true. So Paul is saying count as true and stop feeling like you're destined to constantly stay under the power of sin. God has opened the prison door, and I have to walk through it. See, there's certain things that only God can do, and then there's certain things that only I can do. Only God can justify. Only God can forgive. But on the other hand, only I can repent. Only I can appropriate and count these things as true and start possessing my possessions.
And that leads us to the end of verse 4. Read it with me. It says, even so we should walk in newness of life. I told you to underline this. This is the same word used in 2 Corinthians 5, verse 17, where it says, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. Behold all things have become new. See, the scripture is full of descriptions of the believer's new spiritual life, of what it means to walk in newness of life. These are possessions that had been willed to you by God, your Father. As a child or son of the most high, you either need to choose to possess them or to reject them.
He promises a new heart. Ezekiel 36:26, and I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. He promises a new song. In Psalm 40 verse 3, he has put a new song in my mouth. Praise to our God. He's promised a new self. Ephesians 4:22-24, you were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires. To be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self.
Again. It's all about possessing your possessions. They've been given to you. God has offered them to you, but you need to choose to possess them. Again, you take your broken iPhone to the Apple store. They can choose to give you a new iPhone. You have to choose to take it, or you can say, no, I'm good with the old broken iPhone. I'll just stick with that. Well, seriously? I mean, we're going to give you a brand new iPhone. It's yours just take it. No, no, I'm good. I'll stick with the dumb Apple logo and the spinning wheel of death. I'll choose that life.
See, it's important to understand that even though God's given this to us, we still have the capacity to sin. The point is we're no longer under the jurisdiction of it. John MacArthur says the tyranny and penalty of sin, both in and over the Christian's life, has been broken. But sin's potential for expression in his life has not been fully removed. His human weaknesses and instincts make him capable of giving in to Satan's temptations when he lives apart from the Spirit's power and God's word. See, it's discipline. We need to discipline ourselves to live in the Spirit's power and according to God's word. And as we do, that break with sin will happen.
Olympic athlete Eliud Kipchoge smashed the world marathon record in Berlin, finishing the marathon in 2 hours, 1 minute, and 39 seconds. Which for a little bit of context is a pace of 4 minutes and 38 seconds for 26 miles straight. I doubt anyone in this room could finish a mile in four minutes and 38 seconds for one mile, let alone 26 straight. After this incredible feat, he said, only the disciplined ones in life are truly free. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods and your passions.
See, many of us are slaves to our moods and our passions, and we're often defeated in day to day living because, once again, we don't fully realize how much God has placed into our account. It would be like trying to hold back the enemy in a battle with no ammunition, while all the while you had more ammunition than you could ever use in 1,000 battles in your storehouses. It's like fighting with swords and stones when you have guns and tanks in the garage. Remember 1 Samuel 17:45 says, you come to me with a sword, a spear and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
Our defeat, Christian, lies largely in our ignorance of the facts. We have a greater defense and offense than we could ever imagine there is in Jesus Christ. 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 we have been stolen from our graves of sin because the grave could not hold Jesus Christ. We are saved from death, because death couldn't hold Jesus Christ.
We are alive in newness of life. And yet, sadly, many spiritual people, many believers, are living like spiritual corpses, not realizing all that God has done for and given to them. God is the ultimate grave robber. Walk in newness of life, but also recognize that the battle lines are drawn. And you must also choose to go forward in newness of life, and then never go back. And that leads us to our last point. Again, Paul has up to this point said don't look back, get up, get out of the muck and the mire of sin, go forward, walk in newness of life.
And then, now Paul's final call is never go back. Look at verse 6 through 7. Our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with. I told you to write that down, to underline it. That we should no longer be slaves of sin. For He who has died, has been freed from sin. An important doctrinal truth emerges here. That is this, the old man's self was crucified with Christ, so that the body need not be controlled by sin. The phrase here, done away with, which I you told you to underline, it doesn't mean annihilated or destroyed.
Some people think that that means that is destroyed, it's annihilated, it's gone. It's not gone. What it means is rendered inactive, made of no effect, or simply put out of business. Put out of business. That is to say, when something is put out of business, you can never go back to that thing for the same fulfillment that it once gave you. If a restaurant goes out of business, you can go back to the restaurant. You can knock on the window. You can ask for food, but no one's going to give you food. It's out of business. It can no longer give you the thing that it used to give you. It can no longer give you the fulfillment that it once did.
Sin in your life has been put out of business as a believer, which means you can try to go back to it, but it's not going to give you the same fulfillment it once did. It's not going to give you the same joy. It's going to give you the same satisfaction, the same pleasure that it once did. It is out of business, and you should never go back. We need to make a conscious decision, each and every day, to never go back to our lives of sin. Don't look back. Don't go back.
In Lord of the Rings, there's a scene one night when Gollum has a conversation with himself. It's one of my favorite scenes in all the movies. And Gollum, without the power of the ring weighing on him, is beginning to transition from bad to good. He's beginning to no longer be Gollum but to become Smeagol. And Gollum tries to convince Smeagol that that's a bad idea. So Gollum comes and says, you don't have any friends. Nobody likes you. Gollum says, you're a liar and a thief. You're a murderer. Well, throughout this whole conversation, Smeagol continually responds by saying, go away, I hates you. Go away, I hates you. Finally, Gollum says, you hates me? Where would you be without me? I saved us. We survived because of me. To which Smeagol replies, and I might try to do in his voice, we'll see. (IMITATING SMEAGOL) Leave now and never come back!
It wasn't that good. You don't have to clap. Actually, he says very simply, what Gol-- what he replies, he says, not anymore. Not anymore. Leave now, and never come back. See, you have waging within your soul, a Gollum and a Smeagol. The flesh and the spirit. Right and wrong. Sin wants to be our master. Sin wants to have a controlling share and vote in your life, and prior to salvation, it did. But when you truly accepted Jesus into your heart, sin is put out of business. But sin won't stop just because it's defeated.
Sin will come and whisper to you late at night, you don't have any friends. Nobody likes you. No one at the church understands you. They don't know who you really are. In the world, you had friends. The people you partied with, they care about you. They like you. They know who you are, and they accept to you. Sin will try to throw your past in your face and say, you're a liar. You're a thief. You're a murderer. You're an adulterer. God can't forgive you. God doesn't want you. Sin will tell you, where would you be without me? I was the one who got us here. You're here because of me. Christian, we need to rise up under the power of Jesus, and respond by saying, with boldness, not anymore, sin. Leave now, and never come back. Never come back.
Get up out of the muck and the mire, go forward in newness of life, and never go back. Because you're no longer a slave to sin, and when a slave has been freed the last thing, the slave wants to do is go back to its evil and tyrannical master. You're freed. Never go back. This is why many times as believers are praying for victory, they're missing an essential truth that could revolutionize their spiritual lives. And that is this. When you're praying for victory, you've already won. We don't fight for victory. We fight from victory. We don't fight the devil. We stand in the Lord in the power of His might. We share in what He has done on our behalf. Sin is already defeated. We just need to start acting like it, start acting like a victor.
If you thought I was weird a second ago when I told you about Smeagol and did that voice, you're really going to think I'm strange now. I used to have a pet snake and my pet snake, I would feed mice to, because that's what snakes eat. Well, one day the snake went to attack the mouse that I put in his cage and the mouse attacked the snake. And the mouse actually scratched the snake on the eye so much so, that the snake got scared. Now, the snake still killed the mouse, but the snake was so frightened by the scratch, he actually refused to eat the mouse. He had already won. The mouse was dead. But he let that mouse sit in his cage for five days without touching it. To the point that the mouse started to kind of decay and rot, and I finally had to take it out and throw it away.
That's gross, but we do the same thing. Sin is already defeated. You're already a victor, but often because of what sin has done to us, because of the scars that it's left upon our lives, the pain that it's brought, we let it sit-in our lives and fester and decay. Destroying not just our lives, but the lives of those around us. Sin is a horrible master, but it finds a willing servant in the human body. The body's not sinful, the body's neutral. It can either be controlled by sin or it can be controlled by God. The old nature simply gives sin a beachhead from which it can attack and then control. And if we've learned nothing else in our studies through Romans, we've learned that we are all sinners. And in our own strength, we are unable to change.
Paul remarked on this dilemma in Romans 7:18, when he said, for I know that in me, that is in my flesh, nothing good dwells. For true will is present with me, but how to perform what is good, I can't find. The power of sin, so devastating, so destructive, so degenerative. We all know it's allure and the resulting devastation that it brings in the life of a person who gives into it. It's like a venom, a plague, a virus. It ruins everything that it comes into contact with. This is why scripture warns us of the elusive glamor and trickery of sin, because it's not only evil and destructive, it's also very appealing. It promises freedom, but it brings slavery. John 8:34 says most assuredly I say to you, whoever commits sin, is the slave of sin. It promises success, but it brings failure. It promises life, but the wages of sin is death. It promises pleasure, but it ultimately brings misery. And as much as we hate it, we all know what it's like to be caught in its web.
I want to close by reading you a story of a Cambodian woman that I read about named Bofa. Bofa was so badly in debt that she ended up losing everything. She lost her house. She lost all of her possessions. She was in complete desperation. And so, the only thing she knew to do to provide for her and her family was to turn to prostitution, so she did. In 2014, an anonymous donor heard about her story and decided that he was going to pay all of her debts. Every outstanding bill. Every single place that she was in default with in her life, he paid for it all. He bought her house back. Not only that, he gave her enough money to start a sewing machine business within her house, so she would have an alternate means of providing funds for her and her family. Well, upon hearing of this incredible act of generosity, this is what she said, I feel like I've been reborn. Through their generosity, I can now rebuild my life.
Christian, the gift that God has given you is that you've been reborn. And he's giving you the tools, the newness of life, to begin to rebuild your life into something truly fantastic and great. And to go back to your life of sin would be like Bofa going back to her life of prostitution after she had been freed, after she had been reborn, after her life had been made new. God has done His part. The prison door is open, your debts have been paid. Do you want to be free?
As Jesus said to the one man, do you want to be made whole? Many people don't. There's God's part in all of this, and then there's ours. If you're a Christian, understand that you are no longer the slave of sin. Realize 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 automatically be weakened. Walk in the spirit, and you won't fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Don't look back. Get up, go forward, and never go back.
Lord, we thank you for your word, the truth that it reveals. Lord, I pray that you would help us to appropriate these blessings into our lives, that we would possess the possessions that you've given us, that we would experience the impartation of your love and your mercy and your grace, that we would break with our past and we would get up out of the sin and the muck and the mire, that we would go forward in newness of life, in a relationship with you, and that we would never go back to sin.
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In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
How will you put the truths that you learned into action in your life? Let us know. Email us at email@example.com. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.