Summary: Chip Ingram talks about where believers can find the power to change their lives for the better.
If you’ll open your Bibles to Romans chapter 6, Romans chapter 6, as you get there I want to tell you a story about a young man named Dan and got to know him. He was a college player at a local college, could shoot the three-point like few guys ever, got into some trouble, watched him come to Christ. After every service, he would ask me, I mean, the top ten most difficult questions, and then we saw him grow, grow, grow, grow, and I still remember I was right in the hallway, and he stopped me.
He said, "Chip, I’ve got to ask you a question." I said, "Okay," and he just pulls out his Bible, Romans chapter 6. He says, "This verse right here, it says -- okay, verse 17, ’But thanks be to God that though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.’" And then he looked me right in the eye, about a 22-year-old, and said, "I don’t know if I can trust the Bible." I said, "Why?" He said, "I prayed to receive Christ." He said, "I’m not a slave to righteousness, Chip. I’m still struggling. I’m doing things that I know are wrong, and I’ve made progress, but is this true or not?"
What would you tell him? Interestingly, you know, God has a little program for pastors, and so after the service, a lady with kind of stringy, long blond hair, 30-something -- if you’ve ever been to Santa Cruz, huge drug culture -- came out of a promiscuous lifestyle, had a four-year-old out of wedlock, had been on heavy duty drugs, had been a Christian about a year and a half, and her life was being transformed. And she had this little four-year-old next to her, and she came up, and are you ready for this? The same day, she asked, "Can I ask you a question?" I said, "Well, sure."
She goes, "Well, I’ve been reading my Bible now, and God’s changed my life. I’m off all the hard-core drugs. I’ve broken off those bad relationships, but I’ve got a question, and it’s right here," and she pointed to verse 22. It says, "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become a slave to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life." She said, "I’m concerned about my little girl, Chip, and God so changed my life, but I’ve got to tell you, it says you’re set free," and she -- "I smoke dope almost every day. I mean, it’s one of the smaller things. I smoke dope almost every day, and I’m thinking what it’s gonna do to my little girl. I’m not set free. Where do you get the power to be set free? I’m not free yet."
What would you tell her? In fact, before we go on and think that this only happens in a church in California, if someone that you felt really comfortable with and you could open your heart and be absolutely vulnerable and know that you wouldn’t be judged, what area of your life would you say, "You know, I know I’m supposed to be free. I know I’m supposed to be holy. I know I’m not supposed to think or act or talk or -- but, you know, I’m a prisoner. My life, if people really knew, my life isn’t where I know God wants it to be." What would come up on the radar screen on your life? What would it be? Because,
see, we want to talk about where do you get the power to change. It’s one thing like last session to say, you know, "This is who we’re supposed to be, and God has given us the power, and He’s done this," but where do you get the power functionally to really change?
If you’ll notice on the front of your handout, I would like to go ahead and read -- I’d like to face this head-on, all right? Follow along. I’d like to let the cat out of the bat. Let’s talk frankly about the biggest challenge that keeps us from continually experiencing this miracle of life change or holy transformation, and I’m gonna suggest that -- are you ready for this? The answer is really pretty simple. It’s sin. What keeps us from becoming like Jesus is sin. When I’m selfish, when I’m envious, when I’m lustful, when I demand my own way, and when I hurt other people, you know what the Bible calls it? It’s sin.
When I do the right thing for the wrong reason, to please people, to impress others or simply gain attention and affirmation for me, it’s sin. The action may look good on the outside, but it’s wrong, and it’s sin. My flesh is in control. I’m not experiencing the holy transformation God intended for me, so instead of the Spirit being in control and helping me live out my new identity in Christ, on multiple occasions, at least in my life every day, I allow the flesh to be in control by the impulses of sin.