For a long time in my Christian life, I found myself on the “tread mill”. Things seemed to always be a big deal or worse or better than they actually were; I didn’t find much traction; or I was up and down spiritually. It was frustrating, to be honest. Then I spent more time in Romans 5-8. Those chapters began to set my heart free from the frustration cycle. For the first time in my life, I began to see real victory over certain sins and I started to comprehend, more deeply, God’s love for me, God’s grace toward me, and God’s never-ending patience with me. And it was freeing…it still is.
That’s what Sunday’s sermon was about. It was about this journey for me of learning this spiritual reality…I am united with Christ, in His death and in His resurrection. And that reality is more of a reality than my mind believes sometimes. It’s in this union with Christ that God frees us and changes us. And it’s in this union with Christ that we will one day, be eternally free.
I pray that you’ll listen to this sermon again and again. And I pray that you’ll be encouraged in your walk of faith.
Things to ponder from Sunday:
- A Christian brother approached me Sunday with a great question: what role does the Spirit of God play in our saying ‘no’ to sin and empowering us to change? He asked this because I didn’t mention the Spirit’s work on Sunday. My reply was and is 3-fold: 1) we cannot say ‘no’ to sin or be empowered to change without the Spirit; 2) I didn’t mention the Spirit’s work because Paul didn’t mention it in Romans 6 and I was focused on the objective reality of our union with Christ found in Romans 6; 3) Paul doesn’t introduce the work of the Spirit in the believer’s life until Romans 8. With those 3 things in the back drop, let me just add…I sincerely believe that there if there is no Spirit in a person’s life, this means they are not a Christian. And I sincerely believe that if a person is a Christian, the Spirit will be at work in them. And, I think the brother’s concern is a good one: as Christians, we are completely reliant on the Spirit’s work to change us by the power of God. But, finally, I will say…we, as Christians, do not take the time nor the energy to fully contemplate the impact and the reality of our union with Christ. When I say it’s the objective reality, I mean, it does not change and it happened. Therefore, when you feel like you change or you’ve sinned, that objective reality does not. It is one of the most comfortable and compelling doctrines/ideas in all of Scripture.
- Another brother on Sunday said that the sermon reminded him of Galatians 2:20, which says, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” I refrained from using this text on Sunday because I as pressed for time (ran long, as many of you know:). But notice a few things in this text that show this union:
- Crucified with Christ…
- Christ lives in me…
- My life in the human flesh is lived by faith…in the King James Version reads, “I live by the faith of the Son of God”, as if our union with Christ is so real that we’re living by Jesus’s faith.
- This is a living, breathing, practical perspective on our union with Christ. We live, but He lives. We died with Him. The faith we have…is His faith. Amazing.
- I want to make sure that’s clear that I think there are various ways to overcome sin and various strategies that can help. But what I want to make sure we never do…is detach those from the power of Christ to forgive and the power of Christ to transform. For instance, I do think there is merit to learning how to fight certain temptations…but not without dependence on Christ. So, while I joke about the 7 steps to spiritual success, I’m basically ranting on the humanistic, moralistic, behavioristic attempts that take Christ out of the picture. Let me be very clear: there is no overcoming sin in our lives, without Jesus. So, if praying for certain things when you’re tempted, help you not give into sin, then do that…while you’re depending on and looking to Jesus.
Coming up next:
This coming Sunday, we will look at Luke 9:23-24, and God’s call on us, as His children, to take up our cross and follow Him. This will be an “easy” jump from Romans 6 and our union with Christ.
From the Cheap Seats:
- This scene after the Buccaneers vs. Saints was awesome: https://twitter.com/JamesPalmerTV/status/1351017125444546568.
- This goal was amazing: https://www.nbcsports.com/video/raheem-sterling-nets-fourth-manchester-city-goal-v-crystal-palace.
- I have no idea how the Bucs will stop the Packers. They’re really good. And, I love watching the Bills play.
- I’m picking a Packers/Chiefs Super Bowl, which would be amazing. But I’m pulling for Bills and Bucs.
To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.