Consider yourself Alive to God Sunday, March 15, 2015
6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Skeptical Artist Convinced
An account of the conversion of the artist who painted one of the beautiful national pictures that adorns the rotunda of the Capitol at Washington was given in the New York Observer. When he selected his theme he was an utter unbeliever in Christianity. As a subject relating to American history was required, he chose the embarkation of the Pilgrim fathers, without a thought of its religious associations. After outlining his characters as grouped on the deck of the Mayflower, the question arose, why were they there? He saw that they were motivated by some principle he could not comprehend. He studied their times, their lives, their deeds, their sacrifices, their plans and hopes; and as he studied the truth gradually stole into his own soul, till he had learned to believe in their God and Savior. He found that the secret spring of all their actions was their religion; that their lives were hidden with Christ in God, and that they could abandon home, country, wealth, for freedom to live for Christ. Not till he became a Christian could he understand their motives or characters, or was he fitted to put his immortal work upon canvas.
(from Heartwarming Bible Illustrations Copyright © 1998 by AMG International, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)
This artist found out what it meant to consider himself alive to God.
I do not know if this artist read Paul's letter to the Romans before his conversion. I am confident the Pilgrims whose lives brought about his conversion had done so.
Paul asks some difficult questions in this passage of Scripture. Question like this: Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? He emphatically answers for us, Never!!!
Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Never!!!
Paul says that when we submitted ourselves to be baptized, we were Baptized into Christ's death. Our baptism was an outward symbol of the spiritual experience we had when we answered God's call to accept His gift of salvation. We heard God say to us that we needed Him in our lives and we responded to that call and invited Him in. We accepted Him as our Savior and Lord. We believed that the death of Jesus was proof of God's love for us. We put our trust in God to save us and to begin leading us into all truth.
Here in Romans Paul says we died with Christ and were buried with Him. We died to what we were without God. Our sin was forgiven and we became a child of God.
Paul says if we died with Him we are also raised with Him to newness of life. We died with Christ to sin and now are free to live for God, to live with God at the center of our lives.
He tells us, because we have joined Christ in the baptism of death and resurrection, we are to consider ourselves as dead to sin, but alive to God. We are to no longer allow sin to reign in our lives.
We have been changed from being slaves to sin to being slaves to righteousness. We now have the ability to live with God as Lord of our lives. We have God in us, leading us, teaching us, helping us to become the glorious creatures we were meant to be.
Paul tells us the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Heaven is included in this, but this life, eternal life, begins now. We do not have to wait to be joined with God. He pours out His Spirit within us. He is Emmanuel, God with us. This connection to God is the source of this life. It flows into us like the sap in a grape vine flows from the roots to the stem and out into the branches. This is the living water that Jesus spoke of to the woman at the well. It over flows from us to others as we in our turn share with them how God has loved us and loves them as well.
Here in Romans we are told to consider ourself dead to sin and alive to God. Before we accepted Christ we had no choice. We were simply slaves of sin. We were living as we pleased going our own way and doing our own thing. Living without the influence of God in our lives in any meaningful way.
Now we can choose. We can consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. We can begin thinking of ourselves in the light of this enormous truth that was revealed to the world when Our Lord walked among us. It was foretold, but now God had come down to man. He came to show us the way to live with God at the center of all we think say and do.
Consider yourself – what does that mean?
Think of yourself in this way. You were considering yourself to be a slave to sin. Now we are to regard ourselves as slaves to God. We were thinking of ourselves as servants of the enemy. Now we are to think of ourselves as servants of God. Where once we believed that we could live without regard for anyone else, now we know we are called to love God and to love others.
Where once we lived in the shame of our failures, we now consider ourselves to be children of the King, who have been forgiven and are now free to love Him with all that is within us.
Where we once allowed ourselves to be controlled by our old man, we are now to submit ourselves to the Spirit of God and serve Him. We are to choose to believe that He will empower us to live with Him on the throne of our lives instead of being controlled by the world, the flesh and the devil.
This is what it means to consider ourselves alive to God.
I found a poem this week that spoke to me about how we see ourselves and our children.
From My Likeness to His Image
My, how I love them, these sons God gave me,
But there's a great problem, My likeness I see.
I hear their groanings, I hear their plea,
And I know the reason,They're the likeness of me.
They cannot help it, they can't seem to see,
They have my nature, They're the likeness of me.
Born with my likeness, with most of my need,
Born with my weakness They're the likeness of me.
In all that they do, I see, I can tell,
They are just like me, I know them right well.
Oh God, hear my prayer as I plead now for them,
That they be changed from my likeness,
To the image of Him.
Changed from my likeness, made after His plan,
And grant them real strength, In the deep, inner man.
From my likeness to His image, conformed to His plan,
For to be like the Savior, Is to be the best man.
(from Heartwarming Bible Illustrations Copyright © 1998 by AMG International, Inc. All rights reserved.)
To be the best people we can be. This is God's plan for us. All that He has done or will do in our lives is for this purpose. When we are living as if God loves us and are believing that it is a good thing to follow His leading, we will know the peace of living in the Spirit. We will bring glory to our maker.
This is the life that our children need. It is nice when we see our children walking in our footsteps. But how much better to know they are walking with the Lord. How much better to realize that God is re-creating His image in their lives.
I do not think it a great stretch to say that Paul was speaking to the Christians in Rome as if he were speaking to his own children. He had a heart for God and he loved to share the good news with anyone who would listen. God used Him to spread Christianity throughout the middle east and even in to Europe.
Paul's letters have guided the church through 20 centuries of taking the gospel to all nations and helping them to make disciples around the world.
Here we are in this community on Green Valley Drive, attempting to share this good news with our families, friends and neighbors. We have joined in with all those who have gone before us who have considered themselves to be dead to sin and alive to God.
We invite you to join us if you have never taken this step in your journey. Believe that God loves you and that following Him is the best way to live. Consider yourself alive to God.