October 9, 2022 |Grace Abounds | Romans 5:20-6:4
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A few weeks ago, we looked at Romans 5:1-5 and how we a justified or saved through faith in Jesus. That those who are justified by faith have an unshakeable hope, knowing they will be saved from God’s wrath on the day of judgment not by their own doing but by hoping in Jesus’ finished work on the cross. Paul in the middle of chapter 5 explains how death enters though one-man Adam, and how enteral life came though one-man Jesus (VS 12-19). Now here at the end of Chapter 5 Paul starts to examine the role that the law plays in our life and how the Christian should deal with sin after salvation. Even in Paul’s day people were already questioning this bold proclamation of grace that was being taught to them. The typical Jewish view of the law in this time was that it was given to man to counteract our sinful impulses. In other words, the law was to be the left and right limits on your actions, to keep you from sin. According to one commentary there was a popular Jewish saying that said, “the more Torah the more life”. This thinking is still prevalent today in many churches that it is somehow the individual’s responsibility to maintain their standing with God. That being under grace will either cause you to continue in sin or be used as an excuse to sin.
According to a 2020 survey by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University 48% of Americans adults believe that salvation can be earned somehow. While not shocking that the world holds to a works-based salvation what I did find shocking is that 52% of self-professed Christians surveyed, which say they believe salvation comes from embracing Jesus Christ as savior alone, still hold a works-based view of salvation.
Pentecostal 41% / Mainline Protestant 44% / Evangelical 41% / Catholics 70%. This is the sad reality of the American Christian
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
The Law Increases (illuminates) Sin
Does the Law cause sin or make us sin, or as the Jewish people thought does it keep us from sin? No, it is only the lens which makes sin clear.
In my early days in the army at FT Bragg I lived in the barracks and during that time we would have room inspections. Usually, every morning or every other morning your Team Leader would come in and check your room to make sure you weren’t living in filth. These inspections were easy to pass as they were just looking for general cleanliness. Other times we would have more in-depth room inspections conducted by our 1SG or CSM. So, it was easy to think your room was neat and clean until they would bust out the white glove and run it along the top of your dresser or somewhere crazy like the underside of a drawer.
The Law is like that white glove during a room inspection it doesn’t make the dust or keep the dust out but reveals it. It is the perfect light that shines on the mess we wish to keep hidden. This is why the law is beautiful to the believer, because it is the light that makes it possible for us to find the wound which we are desperate to find and cure. By breaking the written law of God, we have willfully trespassed against God, just as Adam willfully broke God's spoken Law in the Garden as VS 12 tells us. Before salvation we like to think ourselves as able to live a good life and hold out against vast weight of the Law. We like to prop ourselves up on lies like I am a good person and I have never really done anything wrong, but to who's standard are you holding yourself too, yours or God's standard? For me personally I don't have to search past the 10 commandments to see how willingly I trespass against God. I can't make it passed the first one without falling on my face. You might say "I have never worshiped another God". Think of it this way have you ever put your time above God, your children, your spouse, your job, or anything else? Because when we put anything above Him it has now become our god.
James 2:10-11-For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
You see the Law very quickly and easily illuminates our open and willing rebellion against God. The Law drags into the light the darkness which we wish to keep hidden from the world. It sets a standard to which only God Himself could keep. Why would God set such a high standard that no man could ever hope to overcome? So, He could show us just how immeasurable His grace really is. Before we move on, I think that it is important that we define Grace and how it differs from Mercy. Grace is God blessing us despite our unworthiness, while mercy is deliverance from the eternal condemnation we deserve. Grace is the gift and mercy is the escape.
Grace Abounds All The More
In the midst of our rebellion, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Not that we were just sinners but enemies of God. It's like taking every action movie and flipping it upside down, so that the hero dies for the villain. The Lord will not force His grace on you, because if it is forced on you than it is no longer a gift. His love will not force you to spend eternity with Him. He will give you the desire of your heart by allowing you to spend eternity apart from Him. This is why the Law is so beautiful to me on this side of salvation. I don't have to stand and fight an army I have no hope of ever defeating on my own, because Jesus has already won the victory for me and in spite of me. John 3:17-For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
It breaks my heart when I hear some of the excuses I hear people give for not surrendering to God's grace. Things like "I have to get my life right first". Let me be honest with you, without Jesus and His grace you can't. It doesn't matter what you do or how many self-help books you read. Only through Jesus can you overcome whatever weight of sin is in your life. Another common excuse I hear is "You don't know what I have done". Well, is it worse than the sin of the guy that wrote this letter. Paul literally killed and persecuted the early church. King David, a man after God's own heart, fell into adultery and had her husband killed in battle by placing him on the front line. So, take hope that no matter how much trespass the law reveals, how much dirt is exposed by the white glove, His grace abounds all the more.
Our victory is found in God's grace, and if there is a victory that means there must be a war going on. Not a war of nations, but of two spiritual superpowers; Sin and Grace. Sin has a kingdom. Paul in Vs 21 clearly tells us that sin reigns in death, therefore, to reign it must have a kingdom to be over. This is a powerful kingdom that only through the grace of God, by giving up His son may we too become partakers of this victory. As believers in Christ, we have moved from the kingdom of sin and death to a new kingdom of grace and life. A kingdom free of the burden of the Law.
If only the letter ended there, it would be so easy just to live in grace like this. But remember when Paul was writing this letter he didn't put in the chapters or verses. He didn't get up from writing the letter and think I think this is a good place for a break, I will come back and pick up with a new thought totally not connected to the one before. Unfortunately, Paul wrote this as one continuous thought. Look at how he answers his own question in VS 2. By NO MEANS, this was a commonly used expression of rebuke at a completely unacceptable inference.
Walk In Newness
Now that we have ever abounding grace it's ok to live however, we want to right? I mean I prayed a prayer in church one time so now I have checked the salvation box and have access to God's grace, even though nothing has changed in the way I live Monday thru Saturday. But I am covered right?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book called The Cost of Discipleship, he defined cheap grace as “the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ”.
This prevailing attitude that I can have Jesus as my Savior without also acknowledging Him as my Lord. See its ok for Jesus to be my savior because that cost me nothing, but if He is my Lord than it cost me my passions and desires. God's grace calls us to righteousness through the process of sanctification. To be a new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:17-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, He is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Paul clearly tells us that we have been baptized into Jesus' death, and that we were also buried with Christ into His death. Understand that as Jesus took your sin on the cross, He was also taking your sinful flesh with Him to the grave. When Jesus arose on the 3rd day, He did not bring that sin back with Him. He left it dead and in the grave forgiven.
Every time we fall back into an old sin it's like we are trying to steal back parts of the victory won by Jesus in order that we may give into our flesh. It's like trampling through the blood of Jesus at the cross on the way to the tomb to take back something that doesn't belong to you anymore. Once you surrender to the free grace of God your life no longer belongs to you. You and I are now purchased no longer gripped in serving the flesh and its selfish desires but immersed in the redeeming blood of Jesus. Jesus Himself tells us in Matthew 16:24-25- "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. This is why Paul tells us in Galatians 5:24-And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. These verses crush our selfish desire for this cheap grace. Grace that allows for no change in our life. Jesus is telling us that to follow Him is to die to self, that me and my desires no longer matter. Jesus, I have counted the cost and I am willing to lose everything to include my life to gain everything in eternity with you. Yes, grace frees us of debt we could not pay, it defeats a kingdom we cannot overcome, but it does not give us a free license to sin.
Peter teaching against false teachers gives this harsh warning about returning to sinful ways.
2 Peter 2:21-22- For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: "The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire."
Can you really be redeemed and make a home in sin? Will you sin after salvation, yes but it should never be a home that you are comfortable living in. The Christian walk is an intentional purposeful one that can only be done in Christ's strength.
Philippians 4:13- I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
This is the secret Paul says he has learned in VS 12. That in any hard ship in any circumstance he will not rely on what he is capable of doing, but rather he will rely on Christ to be his strength.
Is grace so cheap that we have such a flippant attitude towards sin? While God's grace cost me nothing it cost Jesus everything. A man that knew no sin had to become sin, my sin, in order that I might be found righteous before the Father. Remember as one of my favorite pastors Voddie Baucham “the only thing we bring to our salvation is the sin that needs forgiving”. Yet we can get so wrapped up in our own desires that we forget the personal cost it took on Jesus. While He is fully God, He is also fully man.
“the only thing we bring to our salvation is the sin that needs forgiving”. Voddie Baucham
My freedom, your freedom came at the cost of the stripes on His back. But what brings me to my knees in worship is the fact that Jesus was willing to be separated from His Father so that my sin may be buried with Him. This is why Jesus is so worthy and deserving of my worship, but yet that is another thing I am quick to steal from him. I have become so comfortable in His grace that don't take the time to worship all He has rescued me from. That any victory I have could be anything less than gift from God.
Lastly walk in the newness of life in the grace of God. Free of the heavy yoke of sin. Romans 6:7 says for one who has died has been set free from sin. Every step is now for the glory of God. Allow the Holy Spirit to mold in your life new desires and passions. Desires that are kingdom minded. The grace and love of God should be flowing out of you towards others, because of the grace and love that was first given you. This is how we are to be known, not by strife and division, but by love for one another.
John 13:34-35-A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
The Law has made it clear that you are guilty of trespass against God. That without Christ you are hopeless, but for the grace of God abounding all the more. Grace has given to us what we couldn't do ourselves and it has lifted us into a righteous hope of enteral life through Christ Jesus. This grace has not given us an escape clause to live freely in sin, but rather access to the one that can make us righteous. If you are here weighed down with burden of sin, surrender your life to Jesus and know just how abounding His grace really is. And if you're here this morning already given your life to the Lord, but you feel the chastisement of the Lord rejoice that you are His and die to yourself. Stop going back to the tomb looking for a life that doesn't belong to you anymore and turn your eyes upon Jesus and walk in the newness of His grace.