Throughout this series, “United with Christ, I see things in Romans 5-8 that I’ve studied before, but they have come to me with new freshness and joy. Focusing on these chapters has given me a new sense of freedom from the power and penalty of sin and Jesus being my righteous advocate before God. It is simply a stunning display of God’s grace and power that stir me to gratitude and worship. In talking with many of you, this series has done the same thing to you.
Here are a few highlights with brief explanations:
Adam and Christ:
Adam, our 1st father and representative before God sinned and rebelled against God. Because of this, God accredited Adam’s sin to us as if we had done it. Our state of sin, death, and condemnation left us in an impossible situation. There was no way we could make ourselves right with God and no way to be freed from sin’s condemnation.
But Christ came to be the last Adam or last representative before God. He perfectly obeyed God and fulfilled every demand of righteousness in our place. Because of this, God accredited Jesus’ righteousness to us as if we had done it. By faith, we are no longer “in Adam” but “in Christ.” And “in Christ,” we have peace with God, access to the glory of God, and are God’s children. God’s grace is truly greater than all our sins.
Freed from the power and penalty of sin:
Because we are united with Christ, when Christ died on the cross, so did our sinful man. And when Christ was raised from the dead, so did our new spiritual man. This means that the power (authority or mastery) that sin had over us is now defeated, and sin’s penalty (condemnation) over us is broken. Therefore we can “consider ourselves dead to sin.” We don’t have to give into sin’s temptations anymore. And we are freed from the misery of condemnation. As Christians, we are not condemned to eternal separation from God and are freed from not making the metaphorical spiritual grade. In our union with Christ, we always have an ‘A.’
Walk by the Spirit, not by the letter of the law:
Because we are raised to live in a brand-new way, we’re also given a brand-new power to help us: the Spirit of Christ. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is alive and working in us and through us. He is helping us become more like Jesus every day. When people read that we’re to “walk by the Spirit and not by the letter of the law,” they immediately assume that we’re freed from obeying the law. But that’s not what Paul means. Being freed from the law means we’re liberated from sin’s condemnation when we don’t perfectly obey. But the law still serves us as a guardrail and a revealer of what pleases God. So to walk by the Spirit simply means we’re doing the things that please God. At a minimum, this would mean that the Spirit of God will help us obey the law of God.
Now, all of this shows us how we can fight sin daily. It literally will require what Paul called “dying daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). This is what Peter described as “dying to sin and living to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). Because sin is “right at our elbow” and is a very present, daily enemy, we, who are in Christ, have died with Christ to sin’s power and been raised with Christ to live with the power of His Spirit, can treat sin, as if we are dead to it, every moment of every day.
Let me explain this to you from a “pet” sin in my life. For most of my life, anger was a life-dominating sin. When I learned the ‘why’ of my anger, it helped me immeasurably. I saw that the idolatry of self drove my anger, which helped me quite a bit. But applying the idea of dying to anger, here’s what I began to do (and say to myself)…I began to tell myself, “you don’t have to get angry right now. You can be patient.” And then, I would pray for God to empower me to do the right thing. I would remind myself of my freedom in Christ to live like Christ, and I would regularly say to my anger, “you don’t control me anymore.”
Now, one of the biggest areas of my life (and I think most of our lives) is learning when the idol of self is trying to resurrect itself from the dead in my life. One preacher said, “it’s always good to have a good ‘ol murder every morning. Murder your sinful self every day!” As humorous as that sounds, it is true and important. As a Christian, I don’t belong to myself anymore. I belong to God, and Jesus is my King. His ways, dreams, vision, rules, and ways should matter to me more than my own. And dying daily is a critical lesson in this daily struggle.
This coming Sunday, we will study Romans 8:1-11 as we look at no condemnation. To think that God no longer condemns us but deals with us according to the “law of Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” is breathtaking.
I don’t think I can adequately express how great the church campout is. It’s a concentrated time away from the normal routines, hanging out with people with the same passions regarding their faith, family, and friendships. And it’s just…fun! Yes, it was hot (113 at the hottest). But it wasn’t unbearable. The water and shade made it tolerable. But being able to connect with various folks, watch kids do cool things, and eat fantastic food was so much fun.
Next year, we’re hoping to get everyone around in the same loop and hopefully in a location that isn’t as hot. But if you didn’t go, please make plans to join us.
From the Cheap Seats:
- The NFL Training Camp Season has started, and games start this week. Umm…I cannot wait. I love football season.
- Vin Scully died on Tuesday night. Here is a classic Scully moment of announcing: https://bleacherreport.com/post/mlb/92bcd1f7-ddb7-4ef8-838d-36f459cccfbe.
- I’m glad my favorite baseball team didn’t give up their AA and AAA teams for Juan Soto. But the Padres are scary with that lineup.
To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.