Thursday, June 27, 2013, 8:30 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “My Jesus, I Love Thee” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 6 (NIV): http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%206&version=NIV Christ died for us In Romans 5 we read that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The passage also tells us that Christ’s righteous act in dying on the cross for our sins resulted in justification and life for all people, not that all people are saved, but that salvation was provided for and made available to all people via Jesus’ blood sacrifice for sins on the cross, and is appropriated to all who come to Christ by faith. Then, it states that “…But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” So, shall we go on sinning? … so that grace may increase? “By no means!” It appears that, even in the early church, they struggled with this whole issue of understanding the meaning of God’s grace, and with using God’s grace as an excuse for continued and willful sin. I think it was Solomon who said there is nothing new under the sun. We may have different ways of sinning these days, and the excuses may vary, but the underlying issue is still the same, and that is, it would appear, professing followers of Christ looking for any loopholes that might give us an “out” for continued and willful sin. If we can convince ourselves that being under grace requires nothing of us at all, because Christ paid the price for our sin so we could go free, so that means we are free, and if we can convince ourselves that freedom in Christ is a “carte blanche,” i.e. complete freedom to act as we think best, then we can continue in willful sin without guilt and still claim God’s grace. Yet, that isn’t how it works. Not only can we not continue in willful sin (lifestyle) and still be in relationship with Christ (see 1 John), but if we have truly been born again of the Spirit of God, and our Lord Jesus has freed us from slavery to sin, how can we, in good conscience, and out of love for Christ and appreciation for what he did for us, and out of the true experience of being set free from slavery to sin, live in sin any longer? Jesus Christ did not go to the cross and die a horrible death and take upon himself the sins of the entire world just so we could go to heaven one day, as wonderful as that will be. He died so that we would be free from the control of, and bondage and slavery to sin on a day-to-day basis. We no longer have to yield to sin’s control! Amen! Hallelujah! Praise Jesus! We can say “NO!” to sin because Jesus set us free from the power of sin over our lives. So many people, though, are preaching a different gospel today of a false grace, absent of our need to die to sin and to walk in obedience to Christ. Romans, chapter 6, alone blows that theory out of the water! Those of us who have truly made Christ our Lord and Savior have died to sin, meaning that we have made a conscious decision of our will to allow Christ to cleanse us of sin and to transform us in heart and mind away from a life given over to sin and toward a walk of faithful obedience to Christ. So, how can we live in sin any longer? And, yet, many of us do. It is illogical, and yet it is our natural bent. So, why do it? Sin only harms us and hurts others. So, why continue in something that only brings harm, that injures our relationship with God and others, and that ultimately could cost us eternal life with God in heaven? It makes no sense. Why continue in slavery when you’ve been set free? I know what it is like to be in slavery, and I know freedom, and I know I never want to go back! That doesn’t mean I’m perfect. It just means I have decided to live for Christ, to obey his commands, and to not continue in willful sin, because I love my Lord. Slaves to Righteousness Christ not only died that we might be free from slavery to sin, and so we may have the hope of eternal life with God in heaven, but he died in order to give us new lives in him while we still walk the face of this earth. I can tell you that there is no better place to be ever than to be in the center of his will, obeying his commands, walking in his light, being daily in fellowship with him, and living to please him in all I do and say. Yet, like Paul, I have not arrived nor have I already been made perfect, but “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me;” “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (See Ph. 3:12-14). This new life in Christ involves daily dying to self and sin (See Lu. 9:23-25). We are to count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. This means that the life we live is no longer our own to do what we want, but we have new lives in which the “I” no longer exists but Christ lives in us and the life we now live, we live by faith in him (see Gl. 2:20). So, we should no longer give way to sin, i.e. to let it take hold in our lives and in our bodies. Sin should no longer be our master, because we are under grace. This is the true meaning of grace! A “grace” that teaches you that you don’t have to turn from your life of sin, or that tells you that obedience to Christ is not necessary, is no grace at all, for it leaves you still in your sin. And, it gives you a false hope of eternity with God in heaven, which is the meanest trick of all! In Ephesians chapter 4 we learn the principle of the put offs and the put ons. In other words, coming to Christ means we put off our old lives of sin and living for self, being transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God, and putting on our new lives in Christ, created to be like Christ/God in true righteousness and holiness (Ep. 4:17-24). As well, the grace of God “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” (See Tit. 2:11-13). We can’t just put off sin or try to live good lives. We have to cease being slaves of sin, and we have to become slaves of righteousness. This means that daily we have to die to sin and self and we have to choose to put on Christ and to walk in his love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness in obedience to his commands, and in surrender to his will for our lives. And, this is key! My Jesus, I Love Thee / William R. Featherstone / Adoniram J. Gordon My Jesus, I love thee, I know thou art mine; for thee all the follies of sin I resign. My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art thou; if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now. I love thee because thou hast first loved me, and purchased my pardon on Calvary's tree; I love thee for wearing the thorns on thy brow; if ever I loved thee, my Jesus, 'tis now. I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death, And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath; And say, when the death-dew lies cold on my brow, If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.