Summary: Using actual road signs, we’ll see that we must count on Christ’s work, stop sinning, and yield our bodies to the Lord.
The Goals of Grace
Rev. Brian Bill
Before last Sunday’s service one of our daughters turned to Beth and asked this question: “Is Daddy not preaching today?” Beth told her that some special guests were going to talk about their ministry in the Middle East so there wouldn’t be a regular sermon. To which our daughter flashed a big grin, pumped her fist and said, “Yes!”
That reminds me of the pastor who was searching for something in his wife’s closet when he came across a small wooden box, tucked away in a remote corner. When he opened the lid, he was surprised to find nearly $200 in cash, along with two eggs. Curious, he took the box to his wife. She smiled awkwardly and said, “Oh, I figured you’d find that some day. Over the years, whenever you’d preach a bad sermon, I’d place an egg in the box.” The pastor looked at the two eggs in the box and thought to himself, “After twenty years of preaching and only two eggs, that’s not too bad!” But then he asked, “But what about the $200? Where did that come from?” To which she explained, “Whenever I collected a dozen eggs, I would sell them and put the money in the box.” I don’t know why you think that’s so funny!
If you were here last week, you would agree that the preaching was actually quite strong because we heard from people who are practicing what they’ve heard preached…and they’re doing it in the midst of incredible persecution.
Two weeks ago we were reminded that conversion must lead to life change; that justification is designed to move us to sanctification. Because of what Christ did on the cross, we can know, we can grow, and it must show. This morning we’re going to go to the next level as we look at the goals of grace by focusing on the what, the how and the why.
Everything up to now has been foundational and propositional. From here on we move to faith and practice. There are some very important things we must know if we ever hope to grow. Christian living is always dependent upon Christian learning because duty follows doctrine. We’re going to spend most of our time in Romans 6:11-13, but let’s begin by looking at verses 8-10 to see the what. This is essentially a reiteration of the first seven verses: “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.”
While this is a difficult concept to grasp, in a very real sense, born-again believers have died with Christ, we live with Christ, and we are raised with Christ. Our identification with Him is the basis of our belief and our behavior. The word “with” speaks of an intimate union; we died united with Him and we live united with Him.
The main point of these three verses is that Jesus has conquered sin and death, and as a result, so have we. Verse 10 says that “He died to sin once for all…” This is very similar to Hebrews 10:10 which says, “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Jesus died “once for all,” which means there is no need for him to do it again, and no requirement for us to do it either. His work on the cross is finished and completed. Hebrews 10:12 continues this thought: “But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.”
With that as background to the what, let’s move to the how. Notice this key linking phrase in Romans 6:11: “In the same way…” Let me make something very clear. Our practice must be rooted in our position with Christ. Everything comes down to Christ and His finished work on the cross, and our identification with Him. This is quite different from “positive thinking” or even “possibility thinking.” I like to call it “positional thinking” because Paul is going to give us three very practical steps that are rooted in the cross of Christ. We’re going to picture these steps by using three common road signs.
1. CAUTION SIGN. This sign slows us down in order to get our attention. It might be difficult to believe but this is the first command in the entire book of Romans! Look at verse 11: “…Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” The word “count” is very rich and literally means “to make a mental calculation.” It’s actually an accounting term for calculating and computing. In Paul’s day it was used when someone put something into your account. “Count yourselves…” is a present imperative, urging us to constantly view ourselves in this light.