Summary: The reality of Christmas is that God’s grace does not produce Christians who are cavalier about sin. My message in three words is simple: Don’t drift downstream.
It just seems the holidays are meant for laziness. The week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day is meant for sleeping in and for resting. Yet, I want to challenge your message during this “week of rest” - The reality of Christmas is that God’s grace does not produce Christians who are cavalier about sin. My message in three words is simple: Don’t drift downstream. Christmas is here to stamp out sin. Jesus’ intention is to extinguish sin. The Apostle Paul’s intention is to extinguish sin. The reason God designed Christmas was to extinguish sin.
So I say again: Don’t drift downstream in your fight against sin. Instead, be vigilant. The reality of Christmas is that God’s grace does not produce Christians who are CAVALIER about sin.
Some of you are struggling with sinful habits - gambling addictions, drug addictions, alcoholism, and pornography. In 2008, five million people participated in addiction programs because of alcohol or drug abuse. Some of you battle the thoughts of giving in to materialism. Many of you want to be freed from your sinful habits. The good news of the Gospel is that Christ died to grant forgiveness to sinners. Yet, the neglected part of the Gospel is that Christ also died to deliver you from sin’s mastery over you.
Think of the Gospel in this way. The Gospel declares the good news that one day when we stand before a holy God, He will accept unholy people because of your belief in Jesus Christ. The Gospel also provides the bolt-cutters to break the power of sin’s mastery over us in this life. God begins to remove the chains of sin’s dominion over us as soon as we believe in Him … as soon as we trust in Him… as soon as we treasure Him… He begins cutting the chains then and doesn’t wait until the day we enter heaven. Believers in Christ have been given the ability to live lives that are pleasing to God and fulfilling for themselves.
Find Romans 6 with me as we are wrestling with some of Paul’s most difficult to understand teaching. Don’t just think of this as a theoretical or intellectual exercise. The Bible was not given simply to increase your knowledge but to change your conduct.
“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification” (Romans 6:14-19).
The big purpose for Romans 6 is to show why justification by faith always causes people to live more godly. Romans 6 teaches that faith alone justifies us, yet it is never alone. It always brings with it a holiness of life. Yet, my fear is that many of you are not waging war. My fear is that many of us live lives seeking only to enjoy the quiet comforts of a little more convenience and a little more luxury. The church is weak because we are not convinced that there is a war. Conflict and Battle are not words that are foreign to modern-day Western Christians. Unless you believe that life is war – that the stakes are your soul – you will probably just play at Christianity. We must remember this: there is no standing still in the Christian life. Either you are advancing toward salvation, or you are drifting away to destruction.
So how do you battle sin?
1. Does Christmas Encourage Sin?
Verse fifteen is a question: “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?” (Romans 6:15a) It just about the same question as Paul entertained back in verse one. Both verses one and verse fifteen ask, “Doesn’t the grace that Christ offers encourage people to continue to sin?” Some hear the Gospel and respond, “If God loves me unconditionally regardless of my behavior, then I’m free to live as I please.” The question of verse fifteen arises because of Paul’s statement in verse fourteen.
“Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21)