Summary: This sermon addresses how we cannot sow to the nature of the flesh and expect to reap from the Spirit.
WILLFUL SIN OR SERVICE
Text: Romans 6:3-14, 20-23
When I used to be a sales clerk at Spencers (now closed) at Outlet Marketplace adjacent to Carowinds in Fort Mill, S.C. I used to get into disagreements with my fellow employees. Most of them had what I like to call an "inoculation theology" wherein you can sin now and seek forgiveness later. When one receives a shot for measles, rubella, polio (now in drops), mumps, hepatitis b, chicken pox, tetanus and even the annual flu shot, one has been inoculated against getting those diseases. There are some people who use that type of thinking when it comes to sinning. Again, they think that they can go out sinning now and then seek forgiveness for it later. The missing element in this picture is repentance. To repent means that one is truly sorry for having done wrong and that one is not likely to be a repeat offender.
In Romans 6, Paul is informing us about the role of baptism. Paul seems to emphasize the gift of life, the attitude of gratitude and the journey of sanctification.
I. THE GIFT OF LIFE
A: Baptism illustrates the death of the old way of life to sin and the new way of life through
Baptism is not an inoculation or fire insurance. Baptism means that our sins have been washed clean in the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. John the Baptist called Jesus the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Leviticus 17:11 illustrates the understanding that there is life in the blood of sacrificial animals which was why they Jews were forbidden from eating the blood. When we were baptized, we were baptized into the likeness of Jesus Romans 6:4-5 puts it this way, "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised form the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection" (NIV).
B: The traditional definition of "baptism ..." is that it "... is an outward sign of an inward
and spiritual grace".
Being baptized means that we are born again (John 3:3). Jesus explained this concept to Nicodemus. Nicodemus misunderstood and thought that he was talking about a second physical birth. Then Jesus clarified what Nicodemus had misunderstood: "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit" (John 3:5-6). William Barclay notes that water is a "symbol of cleansing" and that Spirit is a "symbol of power" (The Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel Of John. Volume 1. Revised Edition. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1975, p. 129). That new power is more than a symbol it is the reality of the Holy Spirit’s presence which enters into a believer’s life so that her /she may begin life as new creatures in Christ---a "new creation" (Second Corinthians 2:16). Consider also First Peter 1:23: "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God" (NIV).
It has been said that "God has given us the gift of life and what we make of that life is our gift back to God". That fact is certainly true concerning the gift of having a new life in Christ, having been baptized into His likeness (Romans 6:4-5).
II. THE ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
A: God wants us to be grateful for the grace that He has given us through His only Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Those with an "inoculation theology take God’s grace for granted. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German, Lutheran priest who resisted Hitler’s demand for a "state church" called this type of thinking about the grace of God, "cheap grace". (William p. Barker. ed. Tarbell’s Teacher’s Guide. 89th Annual Volume. Elgin: David C. Cook Publishing Co., 1993, p. 197). But, the truth of the matter is that God’s grace is not "cheap" by any means.
Those with the "inoculation theology" want "to sow to the flesh and reap from the spirit" (Galatians 6:8-9 out of context/ eisogesis). But, the Bible tells us in Galatians 6:8-9 that "the one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" (NIV). And to live any other way as a baptized believer would be to "cheapen God’s grace" and be ungrateful. We should therefore remember "that we were bought with a price" (First Corinthians 7:23a).