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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the most difficult aspects of Christianity for people to come to grips with is how they stand in relation to the laws given by Moses. Part of the reason for this confusion is contained in this scripture which says in verse 31:
Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
We are set free from the law of sin and death by the death of Jesus Christ. But this verse tells us we must uphold the law. So the challenge for all Christians is to understand how we now relate to the law and that is what I will look at in this post.
This is one of those verses that is often quoted by Christians as evidence of the sinful nature of man and showing that all mankind are sinners. The verse says,
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”
And it is true. All of mankind has sinned and all of mankind has fallen short of the glory of God.
Ever since Adam and Eve fell from God's grace in the garden of Eden, man has been under the power of sin and it has brought death to all men.
But do we have to stay that way? Do we have to stay under the power of sin? Is there a way of escape by which we can once again be reconciled to God and be restored to the glory of God? And if so how does it work?
Well the answer is YES we can escape sin and be restored for God has established the process. So let us today look at how we overcome sin and come back to a relationship with God.
There are six foundational teachings that underpin the practice of Christianity as taught in the bible. These are found in Hebrews 6:1-2 which says,
1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
These are important for all Christians to enable us to walk in the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus teaches us in many places about the importance of having a firm and solid foundation on which He will build His church. And in the scripture quoted above we are told what that foundation is.
Returning then to the verses in Acts 19:1-6 we see the application of these foundational teachings and how Paul ensured the foundations were correct and solidly in place for the Ephesian church. The first four of the foundation teachings are clearly seen and applied in this short section so let us look at those teachings and what Paul taught this fledgling church.
In this section of scripture we see Paul and his associates travelling through parts of the old world preaching to the people in different cities and regions.
There are a few insights we can gather from what they did and how they approached the people. It is worth looking at these to see how they were being led by The Lord to take the gospel of the kingdom of God to the world as they went about preaching the word.
Philip had spent some time in Samaria but was then directed by The Lord through the Holy Spirit to move on. He was instructed to go down the road from Jerusalem to Gaza as there was more work for him to do.
This was a significant road and there were people moving along it coming and going from Jerusalem. Among these travellers was an Ethiopian of high standing who had been to Jerusalem to worship God at the temple. This man was clearly a devout believer and was seeking the truth for we see him in his chariot as they travelled reading the prophet Isaiah.
But he was confused and unable to understand the scriptures that he was reading. It was at this point that the Holy Spirit instructed Philip to join the Ethiopian so as to instruct him further. And there is an important lesson in these scriptures for all of us today concerning baptism.
There are many advantages to being a Christian and knowing Jesus Christ. The full number of them may never be known by us as individuals.
However in this section of scripture we see that Jesus points to the specific advantage that we received not through His coming, but by His going. By this He is referring to the advantage that comes to man through His death, which I have called the Jesus Advantage and the reason why Jesus died.
Jesus points to one specific advantage that we will receive through His death, which I will discuss shortly, but there are others that we received through His death which are also worth looking at as they go to the core of the Christian walk and understanding why Jesus died.
Jesus and the Father were inseparable. They thought alike, acted alike and worked together as one. In this scripture we see the depth of their relationship when Jesus says to Philip, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me?” (Verse 10)
So close were they that you could not tell any difference and Jesus sounding a little exasperated says also to Philip, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (Verse 9)
So today let us look at these words and think through the implications of what the Lord was teaching the disciples.