The "S" Word

Romans-1024x685.jpg

What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

This is how Romans chapter 6 begins. In a way it sounds like the weak logic of a disrespectful teenager trying to explain away the truth. What is more common today is the silence on the subject of sin. Our culture has successfully silenced most meaningful teaching on sin. Instead we savor thinking that since Jesus died to save us from our sin, we’re good. It offends the sensibilities of today’s Christian to talk about what the bible says about sin.

So we see believers living comfortably in their sin or explaining why they continue in sin. They appear to have little understanding that when they were baptized they were embracing a death to sin. Their baptism should signify they understand that it is a death that they are prepared to contend with every day. (I die daily | Take up your cross).

When Jesus addressed the woman caught in adultery, he forgave her and instructed her to go and sin no more.

SANCTIFICATION IS THE LIFE LONG PROCESS BY WHICH BELIEVERS IN JESUS CHRIST BECOME HOLY.

Romans 6 is about sanctification. Sanctification is the life long process by which believers in Jesus Christ become holy (sanctified). Of course we don’t say too much about that either. The word sanctifies means to set apart for a particular use. Jesus prayed for us to be sanctified by the truth. God’s word is truth. The great commission includes instruction for us to teach believers to obey everything that Jesus commanded.

Oops, another word we don’t like to use anymore: obedience.

We think we are extending grace when we withhold (or soften) the truth, but that is not the case. Those who are under grace teach about a grace that results in righteousness – a righteousness that is by faith. Throughout Romans 6, we see references to what a believer is to know and believe and ultimately, what we resolve (count or reckon) to be true.

SANCTIFICATION MAKES US BETTER.

God justifies us, sanctifies us and because he does, our lives and our world is better. We can boldly embrace and teach the doctrine of salvation understanding it as part of the Gospel that we proclaim. Sanctification makes us better. God Sanctifies us to make us more like Jesus day by day. That’s why James teaches us to count it joy when we find ourselves going through trials that may be hard but ultimately help us to be better. When I die to a bad temper or a bad habit that sin does not control me anymore. I and the people around me are better off.

I can hear the protest, as much as I tried to avoid saying the obvious; I will end with this disclaimer:

WE ARE NOT PERFECT. WE WILL NEVER BE PERFECT IN THIS LIFE.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

Romans 6:22

Think about it.

The Righteous Will Live By Faith

“Suspected chemical attack in Aleppo” the news headline reads. Further down the page, another headline claims, “Death toll in Baghdad bombing rises to 324.” Again, “Fears of starvation and disease after deadly Sudan floods.” The troubles, however, are not limited to far-off lands, but are right next door to our homes. The shooting deaths of young black men in recent months and the resulting wave of hurt, anger, and frustration have highlighted a deep crack in the porcelain veneer of American prosperity. Likewise, the tumultuous political season has heightened people’s fears of the future. No matter where one looks in the world, evil appears to be winning – threatening peace, families, and lives.

IF GOD TRULY IS RIGHTEOUS, AND JUST, AND POWERFUL, THEN HE MUST RESPOND.

The prophet Habakkuk wrote during an immensely troubled time in his nation. Facing violence and injustice at home, and threats of war and destruction abroad, he pleads his case before God. The unusual nature of the book – Habakkuk is the only prophet who speaks to God on behalf of Israel, rather than the other way around – emphasizes his unique message. “The law is paralyzed,” he claims, “and justice never goes forth.” The righteous are like fish trapped in the net of evil men. If God truly is righteous, and just, and powerful, then He must respond. Yet, only silence.

Where are You when justice is perverted?
Where are You when brutal men kill for their twisted fantasies?
Where are You when women and children starve?
And Where are You when war and violence tear the nations apart?
Have You been watching yet done nothing at all?

Habakkuk provides a strongly worded rebuke of God for His failure to establish justice and peace in the world. Rather than striking him down for his insolence, however, God responds with a simple but encouraging word. He is still at work. The day is coming when He will make all things right again. In the midst of the cacophony of noise and violence, His promise is but a whisper, but it speaks the truth.

Until that day, though, the righteous will live by faith. (Habakkuk 2:4)

FOR US, THIS IS AN UNWAVERING TRUST IN THE UNALTERABLE PROMISE OF OUR UNFAILING GOD. ANY TIME WE SAY “AMEN,” WE STATE OUR TRUST IN THE FIRMNESS OF GOD’S PROMISE.

Biblical faith is not a blind or reasonless faith. The word itself is derived from the word for “rock” or “stone.” Faith is therefore a belief in something solid, firm, and unmovable. In turn, those who have faith will themselves be strengthened and made firm as well. For us, this is an unwavering trust in the unalterable promise of our unfailing God. Any time we say “amen,” we state our trust in the firmness of God’s promise.

For Paul, faith and the gospel are inseparable. In Romans 1:16-17, Paul says he is unashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God to save all who believe. He then quotes Habakkuk 2:4, “For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed, beginning and ending in faith, just as it is written, “’The righteous will live by faith.‘” This is the same man who was thrown out of every house of worship he preached in, was beaten within an inch of his life multiple times, mocked, stoned, and left for dead. Paul endured the ultimate shame because of his proclamation of the gospel. Even so, he will live by faith.

There is no shame in the gospel, because the promise which God made in Habakkuk is realized in Jesus. Through him, God is working to restore all things and reconciling all things back to Himself. The cry of the prophet is answered by Christ himself. When Jesus returns, he will not return as a meek and suffering servant, but as a king who will remove ALL injustice, war, hate, and death. Until that day though, we must continue to live by faith.