Confidence in Christ

  • Confidence in Christ
  • Romans 8:12-17
  • Brian Brownlow
  • October 13, 2019
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Good morning! I want to welcome all of you who are worshiping here in the sanctuary, those who are worshiping down the hall at LakeRidge Praise, and anyone who may be watching on our live stream. We’re glad you’re here!

 

Last week we began a series on Romans 8. The book of Romans has often been referred to as the “Roman Road” because it lays out the way of salvation. In a very direct and orderly way, the apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Rome lays out a roadmap of how we are saved. That road always begins with Jesus. Apart from what he did for us, we can never be saved. I would go so far as to say that everyone sitting here today knows that you can’t fix yourself. If you’re in this room, and you’re old enough to be able to understand pretty much anything that I’m saying, you’ve already figured out that you can’t fix yourself. You can’t save yourself. We are in a mess because of sin, and as much as we try, we just can’t seem to get out of it. That realization can make a person feel really bad. Coming to the conclusion that “I am messed up and there’s not anything I can do about it”, is a great place for condemnation to get poured onto me.

 

Last Sunday, pastor Lyndol examined the first 11 verses of chapter 8. For those of us who feel the weight of sin, those verses give great hope. They are a promise that for those who are in Christ Jesus, there is no longer any condemnation. Yes, we know we have sinned. God knows we have sinned. We know we can’t do anything about it. God knows we can’t do anything about it, but he knows he can. Not only that, but because he loves us he has done something about it. Jesus came to pay the penalty for sin. He did it on our behalf so we wouldn’t have to. Remember, he knows we couldn’t do it anyway. In his love and his mercy for you Jesus died on the cross…was buried for three days…and then rose again…conquering physical death so that we would have hope that he can also conquer spiritual death.

 

Because Jesus conquered sin we, no longer live under condemnation. God doesn’t see you as sinful and ugly anymore. He sees you the way he created you. He sees you as good. He sees you the way you can be. He sees you living into a kingdom purpose. That purpose would not have been possible while you are still covered in sin, but, Praise God; you’re not covered in sin anymore. Yes, you’ve committed sins. The Bible says that if we say we are without sin we are a liar, and, even worse, we call God a liar. We are not going to do either of those two things. Yes, we have sinned. God knows we have sinned and he knows we can’t do anything about it. But he can and he has. You are now covered by the grace of Jesus Christ and those sins are gone. You are a new creation and the condemnation has been lifted. If you missed pastor Lyndol’s sermon last Sunday, I encourage you go to our website or Facebook page and watch it. He develops this idea in much more detail, so go check that out. This morning I’m going to pick up where he left off.

Turn in your Bibles with me to Romans 8:12-17 NLT.

 

12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.  13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.  15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”  16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. 17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters…

This passage begins with family language: brothers and sisters. There is a bond, a kinship, a closeness that is implied here. This is family language. The people who are receiving this message are not just loosely connected. They have deep relationships. The culture around them was not particularly accepting and they had the bond together, so even though they were not related by blood they’d come together and form friendships and connections that were amazingly strong.

It also begins with a connecting word – now don’t worry, I’m not to get into grammar too deeply here. On the other hand, this is a really important word. Remember this is a letter the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Rome. It’s also a message to all churches at all times. When we write a letter (or speak) to someone we are trying to tell them something. We are trying to make a point. Paul is certainly doing that here, so when he uses the word therefore, he’s connecting what he is about to say to what he just said. We’ve already established that what has come before this was the idea that there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Those are the same people that he’s calling brothers and sisters now. Those people who are part of the family of God – his fellow brothers and sisters who have trusted in Jesus, and therefore, now no longer have any condemnation for sin.

Now, he’s picking up and moving on to something else. Let’s look at it again: Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. No obligation. The former tie that you had to sin is broken. Just like the condemnation for your sin has been removed, the obligation to your sin has been removed. Before you had an obligation to sin – you were tied to that sin, but just like with the condemnation, the tie to the old sin is now broken, and you no longer have any obligation to live the way you used to live you. Jesus takes away the condemnation for the sin you’ve already committed and breaks the tie, or the obligation, to continue to sin in the future.

I think sometimes Christians believe the first promise but we don’t have quite as much faith for the second promise. We can believe that there is no condemnation for our former sin – that’s been taken away. On the other hand, we still live as if we expect to sin. Now, were not talking about the “big” sins. We do not plan to do anything that will land us in prison. On the other hand we embrace the fact that “being human” means we are will continue to sin, and there’s really nothing that can be done about that. We believe in forgiveness, but that sin is just a part of the human condition. The Bible has a different take on that. Here in Romans 8:12, and several other places, the Bible teaches that when we are in Jesus he breaks the power of sin.

Let me be clear, God continues to work on us, and what we call his sanctifying grace continues to draw us closer to him as we live in that relationship and embrace him as a good father who is teaching and growing us. We are in a process. However, when we fail to embrace the truth that the power of the cross is greater than the power of sin we will just continue to live in a way that just kind of helps us “get by” in this life while we hope for things to get better in heaven. Just this past weekend, I was at a conference the speaker, a man named Graham Cooke, made the comment that many Christians no longer have a sin nature, but they still have a sin habit. Sometimes we believe the first promise – there’s no longer any condemnation for sin – but we don’t really believe the second promise – there is no obligation to continue in sin.

That’s not the picture God gives us here in v13. Instead, he says, “13 For if you live by its (sins) dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live”. There’s a back-and-forth there between the living and the dying. And as he usually does, God puts those in a different way than the world does. He says if you livelive by sin you will die. But, if by the power of the spirit you put to death sin you will live. Sin has to die for us to live. We all know we can do that ourselves. We’ve already been over this before haven’t we?! We try to stop sinning, but we can’t. Look at what God’s word says about that. If through the power of the spirit you put to death your sinful nature, you will live.

Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. Do you see how God’s message to us coming through the letter written to the church in Rome 2000 years ago is all coming together? There’s that family language again: children of God. Who are the children of God? They are the brothers and sisters that Paul is writing this letter to. It’s those of you sitting in church today. It’s those of you sitting on your couch watching this on Facebook live – maybe in the middle of the week. It is anyone who comes with all of their baggage, condemnation, and sinful habits and asks God to transform their lives.

Everyone is welcome in the family of God. Everyone is offered a place in God’s house. He doesn’t force us. He invites us, and we have a choice. For those who accept the invitation we get to become his children. You want to know something else really great about being a child of God? You become an heir to all he has. Verse 17 tells us that we get to share in his glory.

This passage does an interesting contrast between the children of God – his sons and daughters – and slaves.  The beginning of this passage talked about obligation. A slave is obligated. A slave has to do something because they are being forced. They act out of fear. In a healthy family, sons and daughter honor and obey their parents out of love not obligation.

 

There is an old John Wayne movie titled The Undefeated. The movie is set immediately after the Civil War. There is a Confederate Colonel who is gathering all of his loyal troops and their families to make a move to Mexico with the hopes of reorganizing the Confederacy. There is a scene in the movie where they packed as many of their belongings as they possibly can into wagons. The wagons have been outfitted with special hidden compartments to store weapons and as many other possessions as they can possibly carry. They want to look like poor travelers but they’ve got a lot of valuables stashed in these wagons. As they are about to pull out, all of the plantation slaves are lined up. The Colonel walks over and in this weird moment that is supposed to be a touching scene, he says goodbye to a man who is apparently his favorite. He thanks the man for all of his years of service and hands him a watch that had belonged to his grandfather. There seems to be some level of respect but no emotion and the Colonel quickly turns to leave all the slaves just stand there looking at the group about to depart. Before they leave everything on the plantation including the huge beautiful mansion is burned so the carpetbaggers from the north won’t be able to get it. Now I fully realize that this is a movie, and I also realize that the reality of the situation would have been that the slaves would never been able to own or maintain the property, however, that scene has always struck me as being very odd. On one hand, there’s this tender goodbye, but on the other hand there is a total separation between the two groups. Whatever the family can take they’ve taken. Anything they can’t take, they burn to the ground. The slaves are left with nothing but an old watch that might feed them for a few days.

 

God has no slaves. As odd as it may sound, because no one wants to be a slave, sometimes we choose to be slaves to God. We try to offer him our obedience as a slave would. That’s not what he wants. Let me pause a moment. God is holy and when we are in his presence there will be a holy reference in an honor to the creator of the universe. He does require obedience. But in a healthy family sons and daughters honor, respect, and obey their parents because they love them. Everything is healthy about God’s family.

 

When you accept the offer to be a part of his family, to be his son or daughter, you will not be given a spirit of fear. You will be given a spirit of adoption. I remember hearing a woman sharing a testimony about being adopted by her earthly parents. She said that she didn’t understand when she would hear people lash out at their adoptive parents with the charge, “you’re not my real parents.” For her, she couldn’t imagine anything more loving than to be adopted because her parents chose her. God chose you. He adores you and he wants you to be in his family. He doesn’t want a slave. There are no slaves in the house of God; only sons and daughters who have been chosen to be a part of his household forever. No fear… no condemnation…no obligation to continue to sin.

 

Show Chris Sanders video.