Summary: If I really want to live for Jesus I must first attend my own funeral
When Mary and I were dating, I often used to leave here house quite late on Friday night or early on Saturday morning. On one of those occasions I was driving down Orange Grove Road in my bright yellow Ford Pinto when I was pulled over by a Pima County Sherriff’s officer. When he asked me if I knew how fast I had been going, I said. “No sir.” So he took me back to his car and showed me the readout on his radar gun that showed that I had been going 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. I didn’t say anything to the officer, but inside I was actually quite proud that my Pinto had actually been able to get up to that rate of speed so quickly after stopping for the red light at the last intersection.
After asking me some questions about where I was going and running my license and registration, the officer said, “As a student, you probably can’t afford a ticket can you?” “No sir”, I replied. He told me that he was going to let me off with a warning, but that if he ever caught me speeding again, he wouldn’t be so nice.
So having experienced grace from that officer, I can assure you that every time I drove that same stretch of road after that I was very careful to drive under the speed limit and not presume that I would receive grace the next time.
But for some reason, when it comes to our relationship with God, there are a lot of Christians who have taken the position that since God extends His grace to me when I sin, I ought to keep on sinning so that I can get more of God’s grace my life. On more than one occasion I have witnessed those who claim to be disciples of Jesus intentionally choose to do something they know to be sin and comment that it’s OK because they know that God will forgive them.
But does God really want us to presume on His grace like that? That’s the question we’ll attempt to answer this morning from Romans chapter 6. So go ahead and open your Bibles to that chapter. You’re going to want to keep your Bibles handy because I’m going to be referring back to our passage frequently this morning
But before I read this morning’s test, let’s take a moment to review what we’ve learned so far in the Book of Romans.
• The first three chapters of Paul’s letter teach us that we are all sinners whose sin has separated us from God.
• In chapters 4 and 5 Paul explains the idea of justification which deals with how Jesus takes away the penalty of sin. In those chapters we learned that there is nothing we can do to take care of that penalty through our own efforts and that the only way to do that is to have God credit us with the righteousness of Jesus by placing our trust completely in His life, death and resurrection.
• Now, for three chapters, beginning in chapter 6, Paul is going to address the concept of sanctification which deals with how Jesus overcomes the power of sin in our lives and the process by which God produces actual righteousness in our lives as we become more like Jesus.
Before I read this morning’s passage, look back with me to chapter 5, verse 20, which sets the stage for what Paul writes in chapter 6.
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
(Romans 5:20 ESV)
When we looked at that verse last fall, we learned that even though the law increased our sin in the sense that it revealed specific standards that we have chosen to step over, God’s grace didn’t just cancel that sin on a one to one basis – it completely obliterated it.
And now, in chapter 6, Paul is going to address a hypothetical question that would naturally arise out of that idea. Let’s pick up in chapter 6, verse 1.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
Paul anticipated what some of his readers were undoubtedly thinking – if grace abounds when I sin, then maybe I should sin more because I’ll get even more of God’s grace. Unfortunately, 2,000 years later that same mindset still exists in the church. So Paul answers that question in the most emphatic way possible:
By no means!
This is one of those Greek idioms that is almost untranslatable into English. Paul uses the strongest words he can think of to make it clear that such thinking has no place at all in the life of a genuine disciple of Jesus. But, as someone mentioned in our Monday morning Bible study, Paul doesn’t just leave it at that. He goes on to give us a detailed explanation of why we should never think like that.