No Greater Joy!

Monday, September 15, 2014, 7:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “Follow Him.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 6 (NASB).

United With Him

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

There is a popular teaching today, with regard to our salvation, which teaches belief in Jesus absent of death to sin. Belief in Jesus isn’t even really described exactly, in these cases. They teach something like, “All you have to do is invite him into your heart. Then you are saved, you are going to heaven, and nothing can ever take that away from you.” Bam!

So, what’s wrong with that? Well, it is wrong if we don’t teach people the gospel that Jesus and the apostles taught, which says that coming to faith in Jesus Christ means dying with Christ to sin (to our old ways of living in sin) so that we might walk in newness of life. Coming to Christ by faith is not about cleaning up our old lives a little at a time, as is convenient for us. It is about being united with Christ in DEATH to our old lives of living for sin and self so that we can live for him and walk in his holiness in the power of his Spirit within us (See Lu. 9:23-25; Ac. 26:16-18; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24 & 1 Jn. 1-5).

When we get the idea that faith in Jesus Christ means only that he forgives our sins, and so now we have the hope of eternal life, but that nothing really has to change in our lives, then we have been given a false hope of salvation. Why? Because the Word of God teaches that Jesus Christ died so that we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See 2 Co. 5:15). Who is teaching that now, though? We hear so much about God’s grace these days, yet do we hear that his grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled and upright lives while we wait for his return? (See Tit. 2:11-14) Usually if you point these things out, you are called a legalist.

Yet, this passage makes it quite clear that IF we have truly been united with Christ, by faith, our old self was crucified with him, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin, for IF we have truly died with Christ, we have been freed from slavery to (the control of) sin. Amen! It is not true grace if we remain in slavery to sin, is it? True grace frees us from bondage to sin (from sinful lifestyles), and it sets us free to walk in Christ’s righteousness. It does not give us carte blanche to continue in sin free from guilt. In fact, we read in 1 John that if we say we have fellowship with God or we say we love God and yet we continue in sinful lifestyles, we are liars and the truth is not in us, and we do not really know God. Ouch!

One day we are all going to come before God. Many people are going to think they are bound for heaven because of some decision they made at some point in their lives to “receive” Christ into their hearts, but they are going to hear, “I never knew you.” Scripture makes it real clear that true faith in Jesus involves death to our old lives of sin. It involves listening to and obeying the teachings of Christ and the apostles. And, it involves walking in holiness, purity and devotion to Jesus Christ – all in the power and strength of his Spirit within us. It does not teach absolute perfection or that we will never sin, but it encourages us, that if we do sin, that we should go to our Lord in prayer and confession, and that we daily put off sinful attitudes and behaviors, and that we walk in the ways of the Lord.

Slaves of Righteousness

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

As followers of Jesus Christ, this is how we are to live. Sin should no longer be our master now that we are under grace. Instead, we should be slaves of righteousness. We are to be entirely at the disposal of our Lord Jesus to do whatever he wants us to do. We ought to be absolutely devoted to Jesus and to his will for our lives. We should no longer follow the ways of our flesh, or do just what we want to do, but we should give ourselves completely to him for his service in obedience to his commands. For us to be able to do this, we must daily die to sin and self and follow our Lord in obedience – all in his power and strength within us. We are to be holy unto the Lord, set apart (unlike; different) from the world, and set apart to God and to his service, growing in the likeness of Christ.

I remember the day when this next verse really sunk into my brain: “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness” (v. 20). In other words, we are one or the other but we can’t be both. We can’t be true followers of Jesus Christ if we are still living sinful lifestyles. If we are still living sinful lifestyles then we are free of the control of or slavery (commitment) to righteousness. As well, what benefit do we gain from sin? We may experience some temporal pleasure, but if we are truly in Christ, we should not be comfortable in our sin. Holding on to sin will only hurt our fellowship with our Lord and with fellow believers in Jesus Christ, and it will keep us from being effective in our testimonies and witness for Jesus Christ. There is no benefit to sin. If we continue in sin, we will not have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven, but we will face eternal punishment.

Yet, there is great benefit in being united with Christ in death to sin, and in walking in his righteousness and holiness in the power of his Spirit within us. We are free! Amen! And with freedom comes victory, joy, peace, purpose, fruit, obedience, fellowship and harmony. I know what it is like to live for sin and self, and I know what it is like to walk in harmony with my Lord, to listen to his voice, and to follow him wherever he leads. I can tell you that there is no greater peace or joy than to know that I am walking in obedience to my Lord, and that I am following him wherever he leads me. I am free! Praise Jesus!

Follow Him / An Original Work / February 21, 2013
Based off Luke 9:22-25

Jesus, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross.

Anyone who would come to Him
Must deny himself and follow.
He must take up his cross daily;
Die to sin and self each day.

Father, God above,
Loved us so: gave His Son.

If you want to save your old life;
Keep on sinning, follow your ways,
You will lose your life forever;
Hope of heaven gone away.

Spirit of our God
Gives us life in God’s Son.

Nonetheless, if you die to self;
Forsake your sin; follow Jesus,
You will live with God in heaven,
And forever praise His name!