June 13, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Romans 6)

Submitted by Michael H. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Romans 6

          Our new relationship to sin based on our relationship to Christ

Apostle Paul counters those who would argue that we could go on sinning so that grace may increase, and he emphatically replies, “By no means!  We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”  In other words, the chains that enslaved us to sin before have now been broken because of our newfound relationship with Christ.  Just as it would be nonsensical to go back to prison after being rescued, it would be nonsensical to go back sinning even if that makes the rescue look more amazing.  Jesus Christ brought me into a new life that I would be united with him and no longer united with sin.  It doesn’t mean that sin has been completely banished from my life, but it does mean that I am no longer tethered to sin.  This is a new reality that I need to internalize again so that I would share the same disgust as Apostle Paul toward my old relationship with sin.

Personal Application: Ever since I made my decision almost 10 years ago to follow Christ and be united with Him, my life has changed and been given a new purpose, joy, excitement, and peace.  Certainly, it hasn’t always been easy, but it’s far better than the old life I would be living in if I continued to remain in sin.  So how can I live in sin any longer?  I can’t go back, and to entertain the idea of going back to my old life should be utterly repulsive.  I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I went back to sinning like I used to, but I know it would be devoid of purpose, joy, excitement, and peace.  Old habits die hard, and it’s not easy to give up old patterns from my former life.  It’s not easy to give up old patterns of how I relate with other people, how I spend my free time, how I spend money, how I view the opposite gender, etc.  Such old patterns are deeply embedded.  Such old patterns don’t disappear overnight, but at the very least I can share in the same attitude as Apostle Paul, affirming that I died to such old patterns.  So how can I live in them any longer?  If I have been united with Christ, then it’s clear that there is no place for the old way of life.  There is no place for sin to have mastery over me.  There will be times when Satan would tempt me to look back on my old relationship to sin and paint it in a colorful light.  Satan would have me entertain such thoughts so that I might go back to sin.  I pray that I would remember the facts of how sin left me poor and empty so that I would look upon my old relationship to sin with disgust and revulsion.  I pray that I would affirm my new relationship with Christ, recognizing how this new relationship brings life and holiness.

          Offering the parts of our body in slavery to impurity/wickedness vs. righteousness

In this passage, there is a clear line between what we offer ourselves to.  We are either offering ourselves in slavery to impurity and wickedness, or we are offering ourselves to God in righteousness.  One thing that is very clear is that Christian life is spiritual battle.  It’s a struggle.  The struggle is not some intense duel of epic proportions that can be won after a brief moment.  Rather, the struggle is in the mundane choices of how and to whom we offer ourselves.  Just because we made that crucial salvation decision does not mean the war is over.  In fact, we have only begun a journey, and that journey is sanctification.  Sanctification is an ongoing struggle to becoming more like Christ.

Personal Application: As I become older and a more “seasoned veteran” of Christian life, it’s easier to stop struggling and to let down my guard.  It’s easier to become more complacent and to let more things slide.  I find myself not wanting to struggle and not wanting to confront any degree of emotional discomfort.  I sometimes mistakenly view my life as if I were on a cruise ship rather than on a battleship in wartime.  Consequently, I carelessly and thoughtlessly cruise through life obeying my own fleshly desires, not recognizing the ways in which I offer my body in slavery to sin.  I’m not working as hard as I used to.  I’m not sacrificing my time like I used to.  I’m not reaching out to others like I used to.  I’m not taking risks like I used to.  I’m not praying like I used to.  More importantly, I’m not struggling with God and in his Word like I used to.  Is it because I have legitimate health concerns?  Is it because I have excusable hardships?  I have to admit that I have grown physically and emotionally lazier.  I need to be alarmed over this fact, because each day I am offered a multitude of mundane choices as to how I will conduct my life.  I need to recognize that my body naturally wants to offer itself to impurity and selfishness, and that it takes struggle over every mundane choice to offer my body to God and to righteousness.  Mundane choices can include whether to reach out to someone, whether to sleep in longer, whether to help someone in need, whether to take a risk in faith, whether to watch a certain movie, whether to spend a little longer in prayer or in the Word, whether to help clean, whether to help cook, whether to tell the truth, whether to aimlessly surf the internet, whether to sacrifice a little more time serving, etc.  Each day and each moment presents opportunities to offer myself either as an instrument of wickedness or an instrument of righteousness.  There are no shortcuts to righteousness.  It takes making hard choices and doing hard things that go against my natural desires.  I cannot underestimate the importance of my everyday choices as to how I will offer my body in my sanctification.

          What one reaps from sin vs. Gift one receives from God 

The consequence of living in sin is clearly spelled out.  Living as a slave to sin results in death.  Not just physical death, but death in a metaphorical sense as being cut off from the true source of life and flourishing.  This is the natural trajectory of such a life lived in sin.  Imagine a person who decides to be self-centered for one day, hoarding his time, energy, and money from others.  As he starts the trajectory of such a lifestyle, he continues to grow in selfishness until more and more people are cut off and isolated from his life.  Eventually, he will have destroyed all relationships and be eternally separated from all, including God.  Whatever instant gratification we think we obtain from offering ourselves to sin, we must also realize we are edging ourselves closer to the precipice of death.  I think about how so many people in this world remain in sin, and how their lives are gradually becoming poorer, emptier, and more hollow.  Many just eat, sleep, work, surf the internet, and repeat, increasingly losing touch with themselves, with relationships, and with reality.

On the other hand, the consequence of being a slave to God is holiness, which leads to eternal life.  This is the gift of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  One of the things I’ve had to learn in following Christ is that the process of sanctification is not a process of self-improvement.  As Jerry Bridges writes in “The Pursuit of Holiness,” the goal of sanctification is obedience, not victory.  We don’t become slaves to God because we’re in it for improving our character.  Otherwise, being a slave to God and to righteousness would be a self-centered enterprise.

Personal Application: Often, I view my Christian life looking for quick-fixes, for shortcuts, for personal successes, and for noticeable change.  I become frustrated when I don’t see outward fruit in my life in terms of my character and in terms of my behavior.  I think by now I am supposed to have changed and become some kind of admirable Christian.  However, God is reminding me through this passage that he simply wants obedience.  He’s telling me to focus on offering myself as a slave to God and to righteousness.  And what results is not something that I earn, but that it is a gift… the gift of holiness and of eternal life freely given in Christ Jesus.

Submitted by Myra C. of Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Romans 6

–               Our new relationship to sin based on our relationship to Christ

Romans 6 demonstrates how my relationship to Christ is to be baptized into Christ and buried with him into death (vv. 3-4). The imagery of baptism and being immersed under the water is to show how I have been immersed in Christ. This means that sin was taken care of by the death and resurrection of Christ. Hence due to my relationship with Christ, I must die to my sin and live for God. I am no longer a slave to sin but a slave to righteous of God.

–        Offering the parts of our body in slavery to impurity/wickedness vs. righteousness

Apostle Paul calls us to put away our immature ways of thinking that if we have grace, to take advantage of it and just continue to sin. We either offer our bodies and lives to wickedness or to righteousness. We become slaves to whatever we obey. Offering our bodies to impurity and wickedness results in death. We have been freed from being slaves to sin so that we can become slaves of God, which results in holiness and ultimately eternal life. This fact should cause us to flee from sin. Vv. 13-14 teache us how to walk in the freedom that God has given us by offering parts of our body to righteousness. We obey this in our body and not just in belief or in our minds. This is actually very practical advice for us to not offer ourselves whether it is our thoughts, eyes, hands, hearing, etc. Jesus has already set us free from being slaves to our sins but instead of living this kind of free life from sin, we keep yielding to our desires and appetites towards sin and hence live a defeated and enslaved life to sin. More than just barely surviving our Christian life, Apostle Paul calls us to be instruments of righteousness and to thrive in our Christian life. As we obey, we are freed to be God’s servants and love his people.

–        What one reaps from sin vs. Gift one receives from God 

When we sin we becomes slaves to sin and ultimately will reap death, eternal separation from God.
As we are obedient, we are offering our bodies to God and to righteousness in which we can experience freedom from sin, holiness, and ultimately eternal life. This is the process of sanctification in our lives that as we obey God in small details of our lives, God will sanctify us and make us holy.

Personal Application

Even though everyone is under the power of sin but to break that power is through death in Christ, in which we find life. Contrastingly, when I give into sin, I become enslaved and ultimately reap death. It’s almost ironic and very confusing but as I think about it, is very true. I find that when I do give into my sin, it soon masters me and causes me to become isolated, caught up in self-pity, denial, or guilt and shame. Whether it’s lying or face saving or inappropriate desires, it causes much shame, guilt and can often weigh me down. Instead of the freedom and pleasures that sin promises me, I end up feeling even more unsatisfied, empty and left with baggage. This is what I reap from sin as I give into my fleshly and wicked desires. Instead I can die to my desires for autonomy and selfishness and obey God and find that there is freedom from all these other things and freedom to be used by God to love others.

Because I know I have been made clean and even freed from the enslavement of my sin, I can be confident and make that choice to make my body a slave to righteousness. This means taking practical steps to make my body obedient to God rather than my desires of the flesh and sinfulness. I make my own choice of who will be my master. In Paul’s time, the status of a slave was someone who belonged to his master and was his master’s exclusive possession. As a slave, he has nothing of his own whether it is time or agenda or goals. Before sin had that exclusive possession over me in that I was addicted to my ways and my desires. All I could do was sin and saw no alternative. But after becoming Christian, God has become my master, whom I want to obey even though I can often fail and be tempted to my old ways. In order to really understand that God is my good master and not to return to my old master of sin, I needed to be convinced that I was truly enslaved by my sin and now I have been set free. My testimony is this exactly in that I was stubborn in my view of God wanting my life to be a constant struggle and dull. Yet when I chased after my desires and what the world convinced me was pleasurable in terms of achievements and entertainment and crossing boundaries, I was often left unsatisfied, guilt-ridden and looking for more. I was really enslaved in that even though I knew it didn’t satisfy and even would be destructive, I just wanted more. I experienced being set free from sin when I became a Christian and each time I struggle and repent in that I am no longer clouded and chained by my sins and the guilt and shame that comes with it. I am able to bring these things, my failures and shames to God and let go as I know that it has all died when Jesus died on the cross.

Now we are called to be instruments of righteousness to God through the members of our bodies. Practically speaking, this means being obedient in my body in terms of what I listen to, what I see, what I think about, and what I do with my body. I make that choice to obey and be that instrument of righteousness. As I continue to take small steps of obedience to God in all areas of my life, I find freedom from the guilt and shame from sin as well as the power from sin because I have another choice. My life thrives as I am more open, have room to actually love others, and to be a blessing to others rather than paralyzed. I find myself being obligated to other people and using my time, energy, and even money for others. I can really be an instrument of righteousness as I try to live a life that is more and more pleasing to God as well as loving those entrusted to me.

I am so thankful to God for setting me free from sin and for his gift of eternal life. Thinking about my life and how I was so enslaved to my sin, unable to let go of certain addictions and overcome my own desire despite also seeing its destruction and baggage, it is amazing that I am given this new chance and I want to obey my new master. I am thankful that I have that choice to offer my body for righteous and through my new master, I am given this new life.

Submitted by Ander C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Romans 6

–        Our new relationship to sin based on our relationship to Christ

The new relationship to sin based on our relationship to Christ is that we are no longer slaves to sin. When we choose to believe and follow Christ, we receive the same freedom over our sin. For “just as Christ Jesus was raised from the dead” the text says, “we too may live a new life.” What this means is that no longer does sin have to be what rules our lives. Sin no longer shall be our masters because of the grace we have received through Christ Jesus. The amazing good news here is that the sins that used to rule over us no longer have the handle and grip on our lives they used to have. Through Christ there is hope, no more thinking that I can never overcome, no more thinking that this struggle will forever rule, no more thinking that these addictions will never go away. And no longer do we have to try to work at or find a way to be freed from our sin because Jesus did all of that on the cross for us. This is the amazing message of the gospel that Jesus gave us a way out, in his death he died for us, and through his resurrection we are no longer tied down by sin but freed by grace.

 –        Offering the parts of our body in slavery to impurity/wickedness vs. righteousness

Because of the freedom we have through Christ, Apostle Paul says to not let sin reign in our bodies any longer. In order to live a righteous life he instructs us by telling us that it starts with not offering parts of our bodies to sin. That means that although I may not realize it, I am in a way allowing and giving myself to sin. It’s not that sin just overtakes our lives, at some point there is a decision and a choice that leads to wickedness or to righteousness. So we have to be very cognizant and aware of what we choose to look at with our eyes, what attitudes play out in our heart, what we choose to dwell on in our minds. Apostle Paul says, “Offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.” It is only in this attitude of service and self-sacrifice that leads to righteousness. The way of the wicked is easy because so often we don’t think about the choices we make with our minds, thoughts, and attitudes which most always is a self seeking one.

 –        What one reaps from sin vs. Gift one receives from God 

Sin reaps shame, guilt, regret, a false sense of freedom, burdens, imprisonment to addictions, hopelessness and ultimately death

Gift from God reaps hope, purpose, freedom from sin, truly being known, and holiness which leads to eternal life.

Personal Application

When I think about this passage, I’m reminded of why I have chosen to live the way I live. Why I have chosen to use the last 7 years of my life to serve God and be apart of college ministry. As I turn 30 this year, the more I have begun to think about what I am doing with my life and I begin to look at what people in the world my age do. They are in the prime of their careers, stepping into management positions and climbing up that corporate ladder. It’s tempting when I compare my life to theirs as I wonder why I am still trying to pursue loving people who don’t give me the time of day and are a decade younger than I. At my age aren’t people trying to start their families and secure for themselves a future? But the bible says this is not the better life. Apostle Paul defines two different lives, being a slave to sin or being a slave to God. As much as I would like, I just cannot deny Apostle Paul’s description that a life of sin leads to death. The older I get, the more I am able to see how rooted sin is in my life. I see every more clearly the many facets of sin that exist in me. Alluring as a life apart from God may seem, all I have to do is think about what a life apart from God reaps. And the truths of this passage align with my experience of sin. My sin has reaped only shame, guilt, burden, many regrets, a trail of victims and hopelessness. I’m reminded of the truth that there is no freedom in a life apart from God because sin ties you down. Sin tells me that I needed to protect my ego, try to be someone I am not in front of others, secure my future and family, to focus on my own life. But when I chose to do this instead of being “free” I felt trapped, unknown and life seemed so hopeless. Instead in Christ I am now a slave to God and that is the identity I need to remember and hold onto each day. Looking back on these past 10 years since my conversion, I can honestly say that being a slave to God is the best life there is. The result of my life has been not a loss of control but instead of freedom. Sure I experience shame as I am exposed for the sinner I am, but I am freely known and even better, I’m still accepted. No longer having to strive to be someone I’m not and chase after things that will never satisfy. Being a slave to God hasn’t been an easy road, I still do struggle with sin and I do fall to my sin. But as Christ’s slave, I have a master who is in control and so I have hope. Christ my master will not let my sin and past addictions hold me down. So, I am reminded today this is why I do what I do, why I deny my desires for comfort and peace and instead offer my body to Christ to be his instrument or righteousness. I pursue this life of service, of pushing myself mentally, physically, emotionally and choose not to indulge in what I want. It’s this amazing life of freedom and purpose that I have found in being a slave to God. Through God I have found meaning to live and most importantly freedom from addiction and healing over areas of brokenness in my life. No longer do I live burdened down by my past, for this amazing gift of the gospel has allowed me to experience a new life through Christ.

Submitted by Wenjie C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Romans 6

– Our new relationship to sin based on our relationship to Christ

Our new relationship to sin is completely different now that we are in a relationship with Christ. We have died to sin, how can we live in it any longer, as Apostle Paul says. Our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin may be done away with. We are no longer slaves to sin anymore. Instead we are alive in Christ. We have become free from the power of sin. We should not allow sin to reign in our bodies or obey its evil desires. Instead we are to offer our bodies to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will no longer be our master, because we are now under grace not law.

This is to be our attitude and approach to sin, in our lives and in our world. We have a new master and that supersedes the grip and control of sin. Our approach to life and how we should now live is one of maintaining strict boundaries around our lives so that we are not in a position to be tempted by sin or to give sin access. We are done with sin, so never allowing us to be toying with it.

– Offering the parts of our body in slavery to impurity/wickedness vs. righteousness

What we offer of ourselves, we become slaves to the one we obey–to impurity/wickedness leads to death while to righteousness which leads to holiness. Everything impure or wicked and sinful leads us down the spiraling path that ends in death–isolation and separation from God and all good things. It is the natural progression of these actions. On the flip side, offering our bodies to righteousness leads to holiness–to be set apart, to be used by God for his sovereign plans and bear his name. To become a part of the salvation plan God has for the world. To offer our bodies in either way, this is the result and where the bible tells us we will end up.

– What one reaps from sin vs. Gift one receives from God 

From sin reaps death, as wages of sin is death. One who becomes a slave to God reaps holiness and eternal life, for the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Reaping death or life is our choice as it is based on what we choose to follow as there are consequences to our actions.

Personal Application

The basic profession of all Christians is that we are dead to sin and we have new life in Jesus Christ. Sin no longer has power over me, but rather I have the victory of Jesus over death and sin to turn to, the freedom of eternal life and to live a life in obedience to God rather than my appetites.

I think sometimes in the midst of personal struggle or messing up again, it is easy to give into the lie that somehow sin has any say or power over me. That is completely untrue and that is the voice of Satan, because in Christ’s death and victory on the cross, sin has been defeated and the voice of Christ is something that should be the stronger word during those low times. In many respects, I can see myself allowing myself to be knocked down and staying down. And this passage needs to come back to me again during those moments. This goes along with the recent message about cynicism because it gives power to the voice of Satan saying things are hopeless when in reality it isn’t, the power of God which offers salvation is a larger reality. And for me who can easily fall into this needs to remember this well.

The struggle against sin is real. It is a choice to offer my body to impurity and wickedness or to righteousness. I think about how I need to give myself to righteousness which leads to holiness, obeying God, being a part of the priesthood and ministry he gives me. To give into my appetites and allow sin to rule my life, or to be the person that God has called me to be is something I need to choose daily and hourly. In reality this is something that is difficult but to position myself within this community and the good work that we have to do will help me fight against the sin that so easily ensnares and entangles. I think about ministry and the good work I get to participate in not merely as a privilege, but rather it is something that directly fights against sinful temptations. As I think about my life, the hedge of protection I have is really because of the ministry I am involved in, caring for and loving people, that it really fills my mind and doesn’t allow me to have an opportunity to stop and idle to allow sin to enter my life.

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