“Since Grace is Grace…” Pt. 2
January 21, 2018
Yesterday our family went to the Fort Worth Stock Show. We attempt to do that at least one day every year and yesterday was our day. Where we park, we always start with the animal barns. Though we didn’t do it completely yesterday, we typically go through every barn, down every aisle in every barn, looking at every animal. And the first barn we start with is the swine barn. And that sounds somewhat ominous right after breakfast, but the smell is rarely bad. In fact, I often chuckle (as I did yesterday) going through those barns, because along with the sound of excited talking of the participants and the judges on the loudspeakers, the sounds you hear the most are showers and hair dryers. At the end of the barn are massive bathing areas for the animals and they’re always full. And in the stalls, owners are meticulously grooming their pigs and goats and sheep and cattle — hair clippers are carefully grooming the length of the animal’s coats, brushes are making the hair to lie properly, and hair dryers are both drying the hair and fluffing it up so that the clipped hair looks appropriately full. It’s fascinating to see all the instrumentation and expense that goes into making a pig look good.
And then the pig goes into the show pen and they look great. They walk obediently under the taps of their master’s crops on their backs and they wait while the judges judge and then they are walked back to their pens. And in those pens within moments they are again covered in sawdust, straw, and a few less mentionable items. Hours of making a pig look good for a few minutes are now forgotten. No matter how hard you try, a pig is still a pig and a pig is going to wallow like a pig wallows and smell like a pig smells.
There are some who might suggest that the same thing is true of people — they are what they are and they just can’t change. They’re either “good” or “evil” and they are what they are. But the gospel says something different. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest news there is. And it is the greatest news there ever has been or ever will be. The gospel is great because it provides the answer for the single greatest problem man has — sin.
Yet the gospel often is simply treated as a “Get of Jail Free” card. Too many believe that it removes God’s anger against us and frees us to do whatever we want with impunity, and with no further obligations or realities — in part because that’s just what we are and we can’t do anything differently. “Since grace is grace, then we do not need to bear fruit and fight against sin; we can be sure of our salvation even if we are living unfruitful and disobedient lives…(because grace is grace).” Is that what the New Testament teaches and is that what Paul teaches in Romans 6?
Paul says, “May it never be!” The idea is abhorrent to Paul. And he summarizes his position by saying, “how shall we who died to sin (had the power of sin removed) still live in (an ongoing state of sin)?” In other words, we’ve been forgiven of sin and freed from sin so that we don’t have to sin.
But because of remaining flesh, we still struggle against sin. How will we win that fight? In part, it is by remembering what the Lord has provided for us in our salvation:
The grace that justifies sinners also frees sinners from the power of sin.
The good news for the believer is that unlike the pig at the Stock Show, his nature is changed. He’s no longer a sinner under the curse that keeps him unable to please God and only to do unrighteous deeds. Because of his identity with Christ, He is a new man.
How can the believer not live in a continual pattern of sin? How can he help himself stay out of sin? Paul reminds his readers of three truths about their transformed lives that they should know (and consider and meditate on) in the fight against sin:
- “I’ve Been Baptized” (v. 3a)
- The meaning of baptism
- The significance of baptism
- “I’ve Been Identified with Christ’s Death” (vv. 3b-4a)
- “I’ve Been Identified with Christ’s Life” (vv. 4b-5)
Download the rest of this sermon on Romans 6:3-5.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website tomorrow morning.