The Cross and Sanctification
Introduction: Last week we learned of an "alternative route" to salvation. This route did not involve keeping the law, it involved having faith in Jesus. As we more closely studied Romans chapter 3, we found that our "bypass" route around the Law turned out to be the only possible route. Instead of being an "alternative, bypass" route, we learned it is the only path to righteousness. That leaves us with the problem pointed out by Meic Pearse; this righteousness by faith stuff leads to an immoral culture. Or, does it? Let's jump into our lesson and find out!
- Increase in Sin
- Read Romans 5:18-19. How is Jesus the counterpoint to Adam? (Some may say it was "unfair" that Adam and Eve brought us sin - when we had no choice in the matter. To those who say that, Romans teaches us that Jesus brought us grace - when we had no choice in that either.)
- Read Romans 5:20-21. Why was the law added? (So that sin might increase.)
- Why would God want sin to increase?
- Why does grace grow with the increase in sin? (I think Romans is telling that our awareness of our sins increased with the law. We understood, when we considered the law, how far we were from the plan of God. This awareness of the extent of our sins helped us to realize the vast power of grace.)
- Read Romans 6:1. If grace increases to cover our expanding sins, does that mean that it is okay with God for us to sin? This goes to the heart of the argument by Meic Pearse - if we are justified by grace, can we forget about right behavior?
- Read Romans 6:2-3. Last week we discussed how Jesus died in our place. He died instead of us. This text refines this idea just a bit. What happened to us when Jesus died for our sins? (When Jesus died, we died.)
- Is this automatic? Jesus died, thus symbolically we died, and therefore we all have grace? (Romans teaches us that the symbolic mechanism for accepting this death is baptism. Grace is automatically available, but not automatically applied.)
- Read Romans 6:4. When do we have this "new life?" (Romans paints a wonderful picture here. Jesus' death on our behalf is accepted by us when we are "buried" in the water of baptism. This is our symbolic death to sin. Jesus' victory over death in His resurrection symbolizes our victory over the old life of sin. As we rise out of the waters of baptism we enter new life (new eternal life).)
- Increase in Right Living
- Read Romans 6:5-7. What is our relationship to our old life of sin? (Our "body of sin" was "done away with" so that we are no longer "slaves" to sin.)
- Read Romans 6:11-13. What is our obligation after we have been saved by grace? Will we find that sin is automatically gone when we accept grace? (Consider the language of Romans 6:12 "do not let sin reign in your mortal body." This tells us that we have a choice to make. Sin is a choice.)
- What kind of picture comes to your mind when you are told not to let sin "reign" in your life? Will you be completely sin-free? (We may fail in our struggle with sin, but we cannot let it have the upper hand.)
- Last week in my class, I drew a picture of the Ten Commandments with a little door entrance by the first and a little exit door by the tenth - with the word "righteousness" written just outside the exit door. Romans 3 teaches us that we cannot reach righteousness by taking this path through the Ten Commandments. Instead, I drew a path around the Ten Commandments, called "faith in Jesus" which ended in the same place - righteousness. As we stand at the point of righteousness looking up at the Ten Commandments, what is our obligation? (Our obligation is to try to obey them.)
- Is it likely, as we are looking up at the Ten Commandments, that we will sometimes feel that sin has the upper hand in our life - even after baptism? (Read Romans 7:14, 21-24. We see that Paul struggled with the problem of doing the sinful things that he did not want to do.)
- How do we avoid, according to Romans 6:13, having sin reign in our life? (We make choices every day. God tells us that a key to right living is to "offer" our body to God instead of to sin.)
- What do you think this means, as a practical matter? What does it mean, say, on Monday of this week, to offer yourself to God? (We have thoughts and actions which are not, in themselves, sin. But, each thought and action tends to lead us towards God or towards Satan. God tells us to pay attention to this. Move towards ("offer yourself to") God, not Satan, if you want to enjoy the new life in which God reigns. If you want a practical, Biblical illustration of this, read 2 Samuel 11:1-4. Each time the Bible mentions some activity of King David ask yourself, "Is this sin?" "Is this moving towards God or moving towards sin." You will quickly see how important it is to be sure your "innocent" actions are moving you towards God.)
- Read Romans 6:14-16. To what are we "slaves?" (Obedience. The conclusion seems inescapable that in my little picture of the Ten Commandments and the doors, we enter the "exit" door of the Ten Commandments and "work" our way through them. The goal is not salvation (we already have that by the grace of Jesus). We are not "working" to be saved. Instead, we are working to obey - to live a life that is consistent with the new life that Jesus has given us through faith.)
- Step back just a moment and consider where we are. I've got you back keeping the Ten Commandments. Is this just some slick way of tricking you back into salvation by works? What is significantly different between what I am teaching and righteousness by works? (The key difference is yours assurance of salvation. You make choices to keep God's law knowing that your salvation is assured because you are saved by the gift of grace, not your own efforts.)
- Read Romans 6:14 & 18. What other help do we have in making right choices? (By saying we are under grace, this text implies that God helps us in our decisions. By saying we are "set free" from sin, this suggests we have supernatural help. Let's leave Romans 6 for just a little bit and explore this idea.)
- Read Romans 8:6-9. What is available to us for right living? (The Holy Spirit. We must have the Spirit of God living in us in order to belong to Christ.)
- Read Romans 8:10-11. What do these verses suggest is the mechanism for giving "new life" to our bodies which died to sin? (This teaches us that just as the Spirit of God raised Jesus from the dead, so the Spirit of God will power our new life. When we rise in baptism to that new life, the Holy Spirit is there to aid us to live in obedience to God.)
- Read Romans 8:12-14. How can we have the ability to "put to death" sin in our life? (The power of the Holy Spirit.)
- Now, let's go back to Romans 6. Read Romans 6:19. Recall again, that we are righteous only because of our acceptance of Jesus' life and death on our behalf. After we have this righteousness, what is the goal of our life, according to verse 19? (Holiness.)
- Will this be immediate? (No. This gets back to my contention that we daily make choices that lead us towards sin or towards God. Romans 6:19 teaches us that when we were slaves to sin we were constantly making choices which led to "ever-increasing wickedness." Now that we are righteous, we are expected to make choices that will lead to ever-increasing holiness. Imagine you, holy!)
- Read Romans 6:20-23. What is the benefit of leading a life tending in the direction of holiness? (Eternal life.)
- Friend, the path to eternal life is before you. Jesus gives you salvation as a free gift. It requires nothing but your acceptance. But, after you become righteous, you have decisions to make every day. God expects, through your choices and the power of the Holy Spirit, to see you making progress towards holiness. There, friend, is the path - go forward in it.
- Next week: The Cross and the Great Controversy.