Victory Over Sin
Introduction: The law has taken a beating in our last few studies! Not only is it not the key to salvation, it is not even a description of all sin. The law may seem down and bloodied, but it is not out, because sin is still in the picture. This week we begin Paul's argument about the importance of right behavior. Does this involve the law? If not, what does it involve? Let's dive into our study and find out!
- Read Romans 6:1. Why does Paul even ask this question? Is it reasonable to conclude after studying his last two chapters that sin is irrelevant?(Yes. If we are saved by what Jesus did, if our actions cannot save us, then we might conclude that we can continue to sin and not worry about it because Jesus' grace will cover it all.)
- Read Romans 6:2. Is Paul's answer clear? (No ambiguity here. Paul tells us "by no means" should we willfully continue in sin.)
- Why should we avoid sin? (We died to sin.)
- Did you notice in your life when that happened? If not, what is Paul talking about?
- Read Romans 6:3-4. What does Paul mean when he says that we died to sin? (Now we see the point in time when we died to sin. When we are baptized, we die the death to sin that Jesus died. When we rise out of the water in baptism, we are raised to a new life.)
- I sometimes feel that I could use another baptism (or two). How about you? Do you feel that your spiritual nature could use a real wash? Does it really feel like you died to sin? (Read 1 Corinthians 10:16-17. I think this is the way to maintain our baptism experience. To use an automotive analogy, Communion is the periodic baptism "tune-up" for our inner being.)
- New Life, Dead Past?
- Read Romans 6:5-7. Why does Paul write about Jesus' resurrection when he is addressing our attitude about sin? (Jesus was resurrected to life in heaven. He was resurrected to a place where sin is not present. This should be our attitude toward sin. We want to progress to a place where sin no longer reigns in our life.)
- Sin leads to death. Did we die for our sins? (When Jesus died on the cross, we died.)
- How is that consistent with the idea that we died to sin at our baptism? (The logical conclusion is that we embrace our death with Jesus when we are baptized.)
- Read Romans 6:8-10. Is our death to sin automatic? If we get a good and proper baptism, we no longer have a desire to sin?
- After baptism, does death no longer have the mastery over us? (Paul does not specifically say that. At this point he is only clearly writing about Jesus. But, let's read on.)
- Read Romans 6:11-12. When Paul writes "in the same way," is he saying that our experience is the same as that of Jesus: once crucified and sin is gone?
- What does this teach us about post-baptism sin in our life? Is it a matter of choice? (Yes, it is a matter of choice. It is not automatic and it is not "once and I never have to worry about it again." Paul says "don't let sin reign in your mortal body." Don't "obey its evil desires." This tells me that "in the same way" is aspirational - it is the goal we set before us. Sin is still present, but I must make a choice not to let it rule me.)
- When Paul writes about "its evil desires," is this the evil desires of my post-baptism body or the evil desires of sin? (It does not matter, because whichever it is, we have to deal with it.)
- When Paul writes of my "mortal" body, is this different than the "resurrected" body that I have in Jesus after my baptism? (Apparently, we still have a "mortal" body hanging around after our baptism. Paul is at least teaching us that we still have to deal with the sin problem after we are baptized. We have an obligation to obey the law of God. "You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him." E. White, Steps to Christ, p. 47.)
- Practical Advice For Living and the Law
- Read Romans 6:13. What practical advice does Paul give us to avoid allowing sin to be our master?
- How would you follow this advice, as a practical matter? For example, what does it mean to "offer" your body parts? And, which "parts" are we talking about? (If we decide to do something, we first use our brain to decide how to do it. We then use our hands, feet and back to make it happen. This is what Paul is writing about. Make a conscious effort not to plan and execute sin. Instead, plan and execute those things which advance the Kingdom of God.)
- Think just a minute about the plans you have been working on today or this week. Were they advancing the Kingdom of God, advancing the kingdom of you, or advancing sin?
- Read Romans 6:14. Does this mean the law is dead? Or, at least dead with regard to your life?
- How can the law be dead if sin is still alive?
- Read Romans 3:19-21. How does this explain that idea that we are not "under law?" (All the law does (and it is an important work) is to make us conscious of sin. It cannot save us. Therefore, when it comes to our salvation, we are not "under law," but "under grace!" The law is very much alive and, like a professor, it is instructing us about our sin problem. It is simply not the means by which we are saved.)
- Read Romans 6:15-16. What does this say about the relative health of the law? (This is the second time that Paul tells us in this chapter that we must still be engaged in the battle against sin. We just learned that the law makes us conscious of sin. Paul tells us that despite grace (or because of grace) we should still not sin. Therefore the law is an important tool for identifying the sin problem(s) in our life which we need to avoid.)
- Let's be practical. Sin is often fun. Why worry about sin? If we are saved by grace, what advantage do I enjoy by avoiding sin?
- I once heard a Christian say about a planned sin, "God will forgive me." Is that the issue - whether God will forgive us of intentional sin? (Sin is progressive. Sin enslaves us. That slavery brings death.)
- Read Romans 6:17-18. Do you feel "set free" from sin?
- Since I still struggle with sin, does that mean that I have somewhere taken a wrong turn?
- Read Romans 6:19. Why does Paul call me weak? What does it matter whether or not I am weak when I am a slave? What choices do slaves have? (This is the answer to the last few questions. Because we are weak we still struggle with sin. Paul teaches us that sin and righteousness are progressive. If you keep choosing sin, you will go deeper into sin and become more firmly bound by it. If you keep choosing righteousness, you will become steadily more righteous until the pull of sin becomes less. We should not feel that something is wrong with us if we still struggle with sin.)
- Read Romans 6:20-23. Is our choice between evil and good an easy choice to make? (I think this is advice for adults. Paul says to look back and see how obedience and disobedience affected your life. Paul teaches us that obedience brings practical benefits during our life, and eternal life after death.)
- Friend, what does your personal history teach you? We all continue to have choices to make. Either we choose to follow God and walk in the path of increasing righteousness, or we choose to follow Satan and walk in the path of increasing sin. Your path may be a zig-zag. But if you use God's law and your conscience as a guide for the choices that you make, your zig-zag will be towards righteousness! Why not decide today to choose the path towards holiness?
- Next week: The Man of Romans 7.