In my last post we saw from the writing of Paul that when we come to Jesus and take on His death as our own through faith and by the grace of God, we are no longer sinners. We are no longer held accountable and condemned as sinners for we have moved from death to life through the working of the new covenant in our lives.
Change your thoughts tochange your behaviour
The very last verse of that section, Romans 6:11, tells us that we are to change the way we think for it says,
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
To “consider yourself” is to think differently about who you are and what you are now that you have entered the kingdom of God through the working of the new covenant by the death of Jesus Christ.
But it doesn’t end there with a change of mind. We need to now change our behaviours and act according to the new faith we have as Christians in Jesus Christ. This is the focus now of these next few verses in Romans 6.
If there is one issue that Christians struggle with it is how they stand in relation to sin after coming to The Lord. I would like you to read the title of this post once again before I go on. Done that? Good! So let me repeat it…you are NOT a sinner.
You are NOT a Sinner
And yet I know many of you in Christ are probably saying, “Yes I am. I am a sinner saved by grace.” In fact you may have those words on a bumper sticker or seen it on someone else’s bumper and read it nodding your head in agreement as you do. Well those words are wrong because that is not what the bible says and it is not the will and purpose of God or how His amazing grace works.
So I will say it once more. You are not a sinner…provided that you follow the pattern and the process that The Lord laid out for us to follow as we come to Him and learn to walk in His ways. Best of all, Paul outlines in some very powerful detail what that process is in these scriptures at the start of Romans 6 so let us take hold of these words and grasp the truth of the new covenant and the promises of God for us.
This section of scripture says the following and it presents a wonderful blessing to all who understand it.
God’s Amazing Grace
20 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.
Let us look at these few words and see what the blessings and promises are and how they work for us in Jesus Christ. In them we see the power that was at work in Jesus, and that is now at work in us to redeem us from this world. And by anyone’s standards, that is a truly wonderful blessing.
We see in this section how the actions of two men, acting as individuals, have changed the fates of all humanity. One brought death and destruction to all of mankind. The other promises reconciliation and life to all mankind.
The power of one
Both of these men began in similar circumstances but the outcomes of their lives and the impact of what they did were vastly different. Both began life as perfect creations of God. One fell from Gods grace and so doomed all of mankind to a life of sin and death. The other brought a process of reconciliation and transformation to lift man from the depths of this doom and to be able to walk in the glorious light of gods love, grace and salvation.
I am of course speaking of the first man Adam and Jesus Christ for the fate of the world as we know it rests on the actions of these two men. Adam, through whom we inherited the nature of sin and death and Jesus through whom we receive grace and the promise of life.
A few posts ago I wrote about the nature of sin in a post titled “What Is Sin.” In that post I looked at sin and identified that it is a very broad concept but at the root sin is the state of disobedience to and rejection of the will of God.
You must be freed from the law and sin
In these verses we see a further insight into the nature of sin and also the basis of how The Lord has overcome sin for us. Here we see one of the keys for overcoming sin and also a glimpse of what we must must believe and hold onto by faith to be able to stand freed from sin in Jesus Christ.
This matter of overcoming sin is covered in many parts of the bible by different writers and from that we can see how important it is to overcome it. Man cannot do this by himself but it is only by the grace of God that we are able to stand freed from sin and to complete that process of freedom we must be set free from the law.
The primary reason for Jesus coming to this world was to reconcile man to God. It was the purpose and goal of God the Father to establish a means by which man would be able to step aside from sin and come into a place where God is prepared to help man be reconciled to Him.
Reconciled to God
The Way of this reconciliation is through Jesus Christ. It was His life, death and resurrection that enabled the reconciliation to occur. And even more, God through Jesus Christ established the path for us to not only be reconciled to Him but to also walk a path that would lead to perfection in Jesus Christ.
So let us look at this a little more and see what this reconciliation is all about and what it means beyond the basics of this reconciliation.
What is the greatest gift of all? Well a really great gift is when you get something that you need or want without asking for it. But even better than that is when you are given a gift that you need AND you don’t deserve it.
Greatest gift of all
But the greatest gift of all is the one that God gives to mankind for He has given us something that we both need and want, something that we do not deserve and something that we cannot get except as a gift from God. He has given us the gift of life. Not just life now but the offer of life with Him into eternity.
And the best part about this gift is that we did not deserve it and yet God still saw fit to give it to us. What we see in these scriptures is how great a gift this is, what sacrifice had to made to give it to us and the great love that God had for man in t.he hope that man would seek His gift and Him with it.
Here we see a link between these three and how they interact to help us as Christians to grow. This verse reads:
Hope, Love and the Holy Spirit
“…and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
In the previous couple of verses we saw the progression and process of growth as we walk with Christ. We saw how suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character and character produces hope.
Now Paul extends that teaching to show us how hope works in us so that we are not disappointed or ashamed as we walk in Christ, and the power that fills us, keeps us and builds us up in hope is the power of God's love with which we are filled through the infilling and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
One of the things we know and come to expect as Christians is that we will suffer.
Suffering…part of the journey in Christ (…and yes that’s me digging my way out!)
Throughout the New Testament we see teachings about suffering, the need for suffering, how to deal with suffering and not to be surprised at the sufferings and ordeals that come upon us as Christians.
Suffering is an essential part of our walk with Christ. He suffered so that we could have this opportunity to come to God and be saved from this world of sin and evil. And we suffer because we have made a decision to turn away from the ways of this world and to seek a better life.
But there is a deeper purpose to the sufferings that we go though and that purpose is encapsulated in this scripture, which is one of my favourites, so let’s look at it and see what suffering actually does for us.
Access to Grace
The words of that most famous of hymns begin saying, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…” And grace is truly amazing. It is by grace that we have access to all the gifts and promises of God promised through the writings and words of His prophets, disciples, apostles and of course Jesus Christ his only begotten son.
But grace is an unusual concept and an odd word that is not really well understood. Moreover access to grace is even less understood because of the all encompassing nature of it.
But what truly shocked me about grace was when I read this one verse in Romans 5:2 and began to see that the giving of grace and the extent of grace was not as universal as both I and I know many others believed it to be. This was quite a revelation for it shows that there is a definite process and a way to receive the grace of God. It is not open to everyone but only to a select group, and when we know and understand the process then we are able to receive God’s grace and the bountiful promises that come with it.