Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Romans 6:15 – 23

I. Does sin matter?

A. We have a choice... why not sin?

1. Some acts of freedom [sin] destroy freedom.

2. Some acts of submission [righteousness] create freedom.

(Ill.) Imagine a fence. Inside the fence is a dangerous junkyard with all sorts of things that hurt, harm, cut, bruise, maim, destroy, and kill. Outside the fence is freedom and safety. Inside the fence of sin we are in captivity to lots of things that will damage us. Outside, we are free and safe.

B. Does sin matter?

1. Sin leads to death (physical, spiritual, and eternal).

2. Obedience leads to life.

II. How does it work?

A. You have two choices:

1. You can choose between impurity and righteousness [which is a choice of attitude].

2. You can choose between deepening wickedness and deepening holiness [which is a choice of direction].

B. You can choose the consequences:

1. Who and what controls you determines what you are set free from.

a. Sin makes you free from righteousness [the obligation to do right].

b. Holiness makes you free from the emptiness, shame, and eternal consequences of sin.

2. Ultimately who/what you serve determines your eternal destiny (not what you profess or say you serve).

III. What’s the other side?

A. Theological arguments:

1. “We are saved through faith alone.”

a. Yes, but faith is reflected in our behavior.

b. The Bible says, “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” James 2:24 [Context is the err of “faith alone” as being sufficient.]


2. “If we are saved then sin is not a problem.” (I have heard this on many occasions.)

a. That’s what Paul is addressing... Sin is a problem.

b. What consequences do you want?

B. Worldly arguments:

1. “I don’t want to be a slave to God.”

a. It’s an illustration of who you choose to serve.

b. It’s the closest parallel:

1.) Slavery controls you.

2.) Freedom controls you.

2. “How can sin be a problem?”

a. Ultimately sin separates us from God... “wages of sin” [v 23]

b. Ultimately only God’s gift can give us eternal life. We do not earn our salvation by what we do, we reflect salvation’s change and effect by what we do.

IV. Now what?

A. Acknowledge, truthfully, where you are at now.

B. Believe, in such a way that it is reflected in your behavior, on Jesus.

C. Choose to offer yourselves to righteousness with the same energy and enthusiasm as you once did with sin.

D. Do what you know is right. If you fall down, get back up.
Romans 6:1 – 14
Because of the Resurrection

Do we have a gap between how we want to live and what we live? There are several traps we can fall into in our thinking. We can think that “God wants to make us better” or “We can change if we only had better self-esteem.” I’ve got news for you. God does not want us better or to feel good about ourselves. God wants us resurrected.

I. Because of the Resurrection... the believer is “dead.”

A. The effects of sin:

1. Sin causes conflict between people.

2. Sin brings shame, guilt, fear, and numbness.

3. Sin makes us emotionally and mentally unstable.

4. Sin separates us from God. The Bible says it cause physical and spiritual death.

Augustine admitted to praying three types of prayers in his life. First he prayed, “Lord, save me from my sins, but not yet.” Then he prayed, “Lord, save me from my sins, except one.” As he got older and more mature in the Lord, he gained understanding and prayed, “Lord, save me from my sins, and save me now!” [Source: Unknown]

B. The effects of dying to sin.

1. We “may” live a new life [v4].

a. The choice is yours, it is possible (but not automatic).

b. Possible does not make it so... God does His part and you must do yours.

2. The power of the resurrection at work in our lives:

a. Right now... spiritually.

b. Later... physically (eternally).

This leaves the question: “how can we live in it (sin) any longer?” [v 2] Answer: not well.

II. Because of the Resurrection... the believer is “free.”

A. The effect of the sin “nature” is slavery.

1. We have an “old man” [v 6].

a. The “old man” loves sin, it argues for sin and against righteousness.

b. The “old man” strains against what is right.

2. We have a “body of sin” [v 6].

a. The power of temptation over the body makes it hard/impossible to say “no.”

b. Here is a test, is there something you can not permanently do without? If so then it is an indication that something has control over you that you do not control.

B. The effect of the Resurrection.

1. The “old man” (self) is a nasty person.

a. It betrays us and sells us into slavery (of sin, things we do not control).

b. Sin becomes a brutal dictator, uglier than the ugliest because it eventually sends us to eternal hell.

2. This freedom from the “old man” (self) means:

a. Temptation is not removed or its pull over us (we may even suffer).

b. The power of sin and temptation is broken, making it possible to say no.

John Wesley said, “Sin remains but does not reign.” The problem is that we try to do this ourselves and end up with what A. B. Simpson said, “We become like the ghost who through self effort tries to die to sin and self and with the same self-effort gets back up and tries to live.”

III. Because of the Resurrection... the believer is “alive.” [v 9]

A. The effect of the end of sin’s reign in life:

1. [v 12] “do not let sin reign” (have control).

2. [v 13] “do not offer the parts of your body to sin.”

3. [v 13] “but rather offer... as instruments of righteousness.”

a. An “instrument” is a fine object, not a common one.

1.) An instrument must be maintained.

2.) An instrument must be used (played) regularly.

b. To get good at an instrument you need:

1.) Constant instruction.

2.) Constant practice.

Once there was a ship’s captain that went insane. He was replaced by the first mate. Yet the old captain roamed the ship barking out orders even though he had been stripped of his authority. The crew could obey him (but the orders were often nonsense or dangerous) but didn’t have to obey. What we need to do is replace the “old man” (self) with Jesus Christ. [Source: Unknown]

B. The effects of the resurrected life:

1. Count (reckon – deliberately reason) yourselves dead to sin but alive to Christ. [v 11]

a. This counting means we count ourselves dead to sin and we count ourselves alive to God.

b. Say, “I am dead to sin and I am alive to God.”

2. Counting is in the continual sense.

a. It starts as a one time surrender (where you chose to chose).

b. It becomes a daily commitment (where you take one day at a time).

c. The habit that develops is a moment by moment response to temptation and to God (where you take one step at a time).

“The rest of the story” of the poem “Foot prints:” the man looked back and saw the foot prints in the sand. He saw the times when he struggled to follow Jesus, he saw the times when Jesus carried him, he saw the times when his foot prints were in Jesus’ foot prints. But after those came a strange sight. Both sets of footprints were all over the sand. He asked, “Master, why are our footprints all over the sand? Was I unfaithful to you?” Jesus answered, “My child, the time that the footprints were scattered all over the sand is when we danced with joy.” [Source: Unknown]

That is the resurrected life. Because Jesus is resurrected, you can also have new life and get rid of the sin that keeps you down. You can be free from the slavery of sin and its brutal demands on your body, life, and soul.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

On a personal note....

I will post next week... I'm taking my son off to Bible college, so it's been hectic around our house this week. It's a moment of sadness and victory at the same time. It is sad because a friend is moving away. It is victory because, God has done and is doing fantastic things in his life. When he was born (I remember it like it was yesterday), I went home from the hospital happily shouting in my soul "I have a son." Then I heard the still small voice remind me... "So did I."

Also, I have been chosen as an alternate for the 2006 Evangelical Homiletic's Society meeting in October. Sign up to go at www.ehomiletics.com and you can down load my paper (and many others).

For those who know I'm looking for work... I've applied at 49 different schools. So far no serious nibbles. Mostly I never hear back from the schools either way. However, there are some that are professional enough to let me know they hired someone else or that they are in process. A few have actually been rude, trust me, its better than silence. Since I don't have college level teaching experience (never mind real life teaching experience that the pulpit gives), I doubt I will be given a serious look... outside divine intervention.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Romans 5:12 – 21
Reality Check

Paul puts two ideas together by using two illustrations.

1. Adam = “trespass” and death.
2. Christ = “gift” and eternal life.

Each one acted as the common father/representation of their spiritual line.
– What the representative did, we did
– ADAM = we failed.
– CHRIST = we are righteous.

From these tow we see three effects.

1. The reality of sin and its effects.
2. The reality of grace and its effects.
3. The reality of victory through Christ Jesus.

I. The reality of sin and its effects.

A. Definitions of sin. (From words used in Scripture for sin. Not a complete list!)

1. “Transgression” means to step over a line.

2. “Iniquity” means something that is naturally wrong weather it is expressly forbidden or not. (e.g. not doing the good we know to do.... “to do nothing is to be part of the problem.”

3. “Error” means to depart from what is right.

4. “Sin” means to miss the mark (technical language), or failure to meet a standard.

5. Willful defiance of God.

6. “Unbelief” means the failure to believe (sometimes in the face of overwhelming evidence, such as creation).

7. “Perverse” means to be bent.

B. How did sin get here?

1. [v 12] “through one man.”

a. Adam sinned as a deliberate act of the will (Eve was tricked, see 2 Corinthians 11:3).

b. Sin is “unnatural” to God’s design.

c. Sin is an intruder breaking our relationship with God.

2. Universal death was the result.

a. Death is the pay check for sin [see Romans 6:23].

b. Death is the divine verdict on us all = “consequences.”

1.) Physical death = separation from loved ones.

2.) Spiritual death = separation from God.

3.) Eternal death = eternal hell is the permanent separation from both. It was never intended for humans.

c. Physical death is the proof of the problem.

d. There is cause and effect. Sin causes death.

3. Two ways we are “sinners.”

a. We are sinners by “nature.”

1.) We inherited it like we inherit other genetic traits, only this is spiritually inherited.

2.) It is “universal” (no one is exempt) and bring God’s wrath and condemnation.

3.) Theological terms include “depraved” which means we are helpless.

b. We are sinners by “action.”

1.) We sin with knowledge and will (sometimes we seem ignorant, but we are not).

2.) We commit acts of sin because by nature we are “bent” towards committing these acts. (Like why a dog acts like a dog and not a cow or a cat.)

3.) We need a “double cure.”

Simple effect of the reality of sin:
– We start life as a sinner?
– As a sinner that means we are spiritually dead.
– Unless something else takes effect we are dead in our sins.
– We need God’s grace because we are unable, by our own strength and work to restore or gain a right relationship with God.

II. The reality of grace and its effects.

A. Definition of grace.

1. Grace is undeserved favor or kindness.

2. Grace comes from an is dependent on the desire of the One giving it.
FACT: God “wants too!”

B. The major contrast between sin and grace:

1. Disobedience.

a. Adam’s sin was a violation of God’s command. (What Adam did was wrong because it was forbidden.)

b. The poison of sin (willful disobedience) spread to all of Adam’s descendants.

c. We were “made sinners.” This is a legal term that means declared (tried and found guilty) sinners by due course of the law.

3. Obedience.

a. Jesus provided a gift.

1.) “Salvation” from the reign of sin and death.

2.) “Righteousness” means were are made right before God.

b. [v 19] “many will be made righteous” This is a legal term which means to be declared free from the penalty. (Justification.)

(Ill.) In a civil trial a defendant can be guilt and have to pay $1. In other words, they may have violated the law but in the eyes of the Judge they were justified.

C. This grace is an “abundant provision” [v 17 ].

1. Consider these things:

a. The power of sin to infect everyone.

b. The power of guilt over us.

c. The power of a single offense.

2. God’s grace exceeds all this!

a. It does not matter how bad you think you are... God’s “want too” (grace) can cover it.

b. It does not matter how good you think you are... You still need God’s grace.

III. The reality of victory through Christ Jesus.
(Go ahead, make your own list of what this does or could mean to you.)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A “short” course on Spiritual Warfare

(Please note, I was on vacation last Sunday. This is last (and this) Sunday nights' brief outline. You must look up the verses or you will missunderstand. WARNING: due to the nature of the material, if you are NOT a believer in Jesus or ARE spiritually or emotionally immature please do not read this section of the blog! This is a very deep and heavy subject and this post is a very, very, very, brief sketch of two sermons. In other words, you need a solid biblical and theological foundation to understand the material.]

1. There is an enemy. [1 Peter 5:8]

***** This is the common enemy of humanity. Historically, the enemy’s goal has been to “steal and kill and destroy” [John 10:10] through sin [Genesis 4:7] *****

FALSE: Satan has no power over the Christian.
TRUE: Satan has no power that God does not allow. [Job 1:12] In other words, God may allow the believer to be attacked and tormented, as Job was.

FALSE: Satan is the cause of many of our problems.
TRUE: Satan can pressure us, BUT our choices decide the outcome, consequences, and results. [James 4:7] The myth allows us to pass on our personal responsibility.

FALSE: Satan has nothing to offer.
TRUE: Sin has its pleasure for a season. [Hebrews 11:25]

FALSE: Satan is easily beaten by the “name of Jesus” or being covered “by the blood of Jesus.”
TRUE: The things that overcome Satan are: the blood of Jesus, testimony, and the sacrifice of our lives. [Revelation 12:11] In other words, our victory is eternal not for the present moment.

2. People are not the enemy. [Ephesians 6:12]

***** When people attack us, we take it personally and miss the point of spiritual warfare. [John 15:18] Since sin is slavery, slaves are under someone else’s control. If you have a problem with someone, you are having a problem with the person’s master. *****

3. The enemy attacks with ideas. [2 Corinthians 10:5]

***** Mental images can be completely irrational and separated from reality. Opinions are formed before information is collected and facts are interpreted. [see Ephesians 6:11] *****

4. We have “weapons.” [2 Corinthians 10:5 and Ephesians 6:14 – 18]

***** Humans expose their ignorance and own sin when we interpret others. This can only be done by projecting our attitudes and motivations onto the other person. Jesus taught us to pray for those who persecute [Matthew 5:44] and mistreat [Luke 6:28 ] us, bless those who curse us [Luke 6:28], go the extra mile [Matthew 5:41], turn the other cheek [Matthew 5:39], love them [Matthew 5:44]. *****

5. We are the ones who are on the attack. [Matthew 16:18]

***** Gates are not an offensive weapon. Gates are used by those under siege. *****

6. It is God’s will that we face battle.

a. Adam and Eve [Genesis 3]

b. Job [Job 1 :8]

c. Paul’s thorn [2 Corinthians 12:7]

d. Jesus in the wilderness [Matthew 4:11]

7. What to expect in battle:

a. “Satisfy the physical.” [This is an appeal to passion. Notice that a legitimate physical need can become a battle ground. “Sell out.”]

b. “Do your job.” [This is an appeal to pride. Satan is suggesting that Jesus take the easy way. “Show off.”]

c. “Enjoy the benefit.” [This is an appeal to possessions. “Step up.”]

8. Strategies on hand to hand combat: (as modeled by Jesus in Matthew 4)

a. Be obedient to the Holy Spirit. The bottom line of spiritual warfare is “who will control your life?”

b. Use God’s Word. Every temptation was met with the truth of Scripture. That implies that we must know the Bible and use it correctly.

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” [James 4:7]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Romans 5:1 – 11
Holy Discontent

“God is not content with merely justifying a person by faith, but wants that original faith to produce results.”

I. God intends to produce results.

A. They come in three forms.

1. The PAST is put at peace [v 1].

a. Sin breeds unrest and puts barriers between us and God.

b. Jesus died to reconcile us to God.

2. The PRESENT is lived through access [v 2].

a. The idea here is “to be brought into” or introduction.

b. Through Jesus we have full access to God the Father.

3. The future is defined by hope [v 3].

a. We “stand” = a place of dignity/honor in the presence of God.

b. Hope makes eternity the immediate context of our lives.

B. The human problem seems incurable.

1. Malcom Gladwell (“The Tipping Point”) talks about the Darley and Batson study.

a. We are not influenced by the CONVICTION of our heart [what we believe].

b. We are not influenced by the CONTENT of our minds [what we know].

c. We are influence by most by the immediate CONTEXT.

***** The effect is that the immediate context has the ability “of turning someone, in that particular moment, into a different person. *****

2. The Christian’s CONTEXT is different.

a. The Christian’s immediate context is eternity [we are already in it].

b. The Christian’s immediate company is God [before whom we now stand].

II. God intends to move us closer [to Himself].

A. Why did God justify us?

1. There is a reason.

a. The reason is His, not ours.

b. What motivates God is not what motivates us.

2. There is a purpose.

a. The purpose is His, not ours.

b. God’s work is not for our benefit – it’s for others and ultimately His.

3. There is a plan.

a. The plan is His not ours.

b. We plan but God directs our steps.

B. The closer we are to God the less immediate context effects us.

1. It happens in relationships.

a. The closer you are to someone the more their opinion matters (and others do not).

b. Spiritually it is not a matter of the will, it is a matter of love (John Wesley).

2. God wants to move us away from:

a. The things that do not matter in eternity.

b. The things that can drag us back in unrest and separation from God.

III. God intends to move us to significance.

A. Reconciled people rejoice.

1. Reconciled people rejoice in suffering [v 3].

a. This is so contrary to “immediate context.”

b. If we get stuck in the immediate we never move through the process and the storms we go through are wasted.

2. Reconciled people rejoice in what we have [v 4].

a. There is an unmistakable awe in what Jesus has done.

b. There is an “unhidable” enthusiasm for something better that anything else we’ve ever experienced. [Possibly we are not enthusiastic because we have never experienced it.]

B. In what ways?

1. We learn to rejoice because:

a. We know circumstances are temporary.

b. We believe Jesus is forever.

2. We learn to love back.

a. We open ourselves to accept God’s acts of kindness.

b. We understand God’s unconditional love toward us.

1.) We are not innocent (righteous) or useful (good man) [v 7].

2.) We are powerless, ungodly [v 6] and sinners [v 8].

IV. God intends to move us past ourselves.

A. Human nature:

1. We see our actions as consequences of other’s actions (Swann study).

2. We others actions as the cause of what happens (Swann study).

3. We also remember selectively, the more invested, the more selectively.

B. Storms are the means God uses to bring the Christian to maturity.

1. Suffering is to produce perseverance.

a. It can produce stability [profitable].

b. It can produce pity [wasted].

2. Perseverance is to produce character.

a. This can produce consistency and ethical behavior [profitable].

b. It can produce arrogance [wasted].

3. Character produces hope.

a. This can bring our lives and dreams into line with Jesus.

b. Or it can produce a “success syndrome.”

“Hope is the fabric that holds life together.”

“Disappointment is the edge of discontent.”

Which will you chose to live in?