WHO CONTROLS YOU?
THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW
Romans 6:8-18 Now if we
have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that
Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer
is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but
the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead
to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your
mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 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. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not
under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law
but under grace? May it never be! 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? 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, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
If we are to be Christians, sometimes we have to stop thinking like
Americans. This in no way is intended to be a "slam" on this nation as a nation.
I am deeply grateful to be a citizen of this country. I am deeply appreciative
of the many things life in this nation gives me access to. I have experienced
'red tape' in another nation, and there are very few [if any] processes in this
nation that begin to equal that experience. I have seen the bribery system at
work in another nation, and I have never seen anything in this nation that
equals that. I have seen injustice and abuse in another nation, and I have seen
nothing here that equals that. This nation is far from perfect, but its
imperfections are much superior to the flaws of many other nations.
However, if we are to be Christians, sometimes we cannot think as typical
Americans think. The Christian's concept of life's purpose and the typical
American's concept of life's purpose are quite different. The Christian's
understanding of joy and the typical American's pursuit of pleasure are quite
different. The Christian's view of money and the typical American's view of
money are quite different. The Christian's concept of relationship and the
typical American's concept of relationship are quite different. The Christian's
understanding of commitment and the typical American's understanding of
commitment are quite different.
To be a Christian is to look at the world, at life, and at death quite
differently. No one looks at the world, life, and death as does the Christian.
This evening I want to direct your attention to Romans 6. To challenge you to
think about Paul's point, I need to set a context.
- I want to share with you my understanding of the reason that prompted Paul
to write the letter of Romans to Christians in Rome.
- The Jews, the city of Rome, and the "happening":
- Nobody was like the Jews--they did not work one day each week and they
had some very unique beliefs and traditions.
- Consequently, a lot of first century people did not like the Jewish
people--they lived in isolation; they often acted superior to other
people; and they were constantly influencing other people to leave
accepted religious practices.
- There was a history of the Jews being forced out of the city of Rome.
- In 139 BC [over a hundred years before Jesus was born] the Jews were
expelled from Rome for "attempting to corrupt Roman morals."
- In AD 19 the Jews were expelled from Rome because there were too
many of them and they were converting to many Roman natives.
- In a third incident, Acts 18:1, 2 states:
After these things [Paul] left Athens and went to
Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having
recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had
commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.
- The Roman emperor once again expelled the Jews from the city of
Rome because of an argument about "Chrestus" in the Jewish community
- The greater majority of scholars believe this was an argument in
the Jewish community about Jesus Christ.
- It was such a passionate argument that it caused riots.
- Evidently at this time the Roman authorities made no distinction
between Jewish people and Christians.
- The expulsion likely occurred around 49 AD as an Imperial edict
that was automatically canceled when Claudius died.
- In Romans 16:3 we read this greeting from Paul:
Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in
- Thus when Paul wrote Romans, Aquila and Priscilla already had
returned to Rome.
- While the Jewish religious practices were protected in Rome because
Judaism was an ancient religion, Jews throughout the Roman empire were
often the subjected to anti-Semetic feelings.
- The problem:
- When Jewish Christians left Rome, the church had a distinct Jewish
- Jewish practices and customs were respected.
- Things were done the way Jewish tradition dictated.
- When Jewish Christians returned to Rome, the church had a distinct
- Things were not done as Jews did them.
- Jewish ways and traditions were not respected.
- Jewish Christians generally expected to find the church doing things
exactly like they left them, and they were not--and gentile Christians had
no interest in going back to the Jewish way of doing things.
- Both sides were arrogant; each group of Christians felt superior to
- That caused all kinds of problems in the Christian community in
- With that as a brief background, go with me to Romans 6.
- I want you to think about this focus as we begin our thinking.
- This was written to Christians.
- Everyone addressed was baptized because he or she believed in Jesus
- Romans 6 is not an evangelistic sermon on baptism.
- This is a continuation of Paul's argument on the attitudes of
superiority which had no place in the Christian community.
- Paul's primary point is not focused in the atonement of Christians but
in a Christian's continuing death to sin or evil.
- Their baptism is only an illustration Paul used.
- Some tried to make Paul's concern ridiculous enough to be rejected by
making it silly.
- It is true that grace increases as sin increases (5:21).
- So some suggested the best way to magnify God's grace is to sin as
much as possible.
- Is that true?
- Is it true that Christians should sin as much as possible to
highlight God's grace?
- Paul said that was a foolish argument that had no merit!
- Christians who would make that argument did not even understand the
purpose of their own baptism.
- Just as Jesus gave the ultimate act in death to sin by dying on the
cross, the person who decided to be a Christian shared in Jesus' death
to sin [by rejecting temptation] and renewing life through following
- The basic purpose of baptism is to die to sin by choice; how can a
Christian deliberately continue to sin if he or she has died to sin?
- I want you to notice throughout this chapter the emphasis on death to
Romans 6:6,7 Knowing this, that our old self was
crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with,
so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed
Romans 6:12,13 Therefore do not let sin reign in your
mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 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.
Romans 6:14 For sin shall not be master over you, for
you are not under law but under grace.
Romans 6:15,16 What then? Shall we sin because we are
not under law but under grace? May it never be! 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?
Romans 6:18 and having been freed from sin, you became
slaves of righteousness.
Romans 6:20,21 For when you were slaves of sin, you
were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then
deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of
those things is death.
Romans 6:22,23 But now having been freed from sin and
enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and
the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift
of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- What I call your attention to is this one fact: there is enormous
emphasis in Romans 6 on the Christian's choice/decision to die to sin.
- That is how we choose to be like Jesus Christ on a continuing basis:
he was free from sin, and we choose to accept him to be free from sin [by
God's mercy and grace] every day of our lives.
- Just like he said, "No!" to temptation frequently, we say, "No!" to
temptation on a daily basis.
- When people became Christians in the first century, they made a decision
to change purposes for life and lifestyles.
- Certainly, circumstances were a little different then.
- As far as we know, everyone we read of in the New Testament was a
first generation Christian.
- The church began in Acts 2.
- The only specific information we have indicates that adults responded
to the teaching.
- Jews came from a background of Judaism which worshipped the same God
and embraced the same basic moral values.
- Gentiles came from a background of idolatry which worshipped
different gods and had different moral values.
- A few came from an atheistic background which did not believe in any
god or any set of moral values.
- Today, at least in the southern part of this country, our situation is
in contrast to that situation.
- How many of you here tonight come from at least two generations of
members of the Church of Christ? [show of hands]
- How many of you come from at least three generations of members of the
Church of Christ? [show of hands]
- Is anyone here who comes from four or more generations of members of
the Church of Christ?
- Realize we would not ask those questions in the congregations in the
New Testament--they all were first generation Christians.
- With that change has come another change that I personally consider
- Today among many Christians there is much more likely to be the
concept of "joining or placing membership in an institution" than adopting
a new purpose for life expressed in the way we live.
- For example, if we ask a person if he or she is a Christian today, we
will often get the popular answer, "I go to church regularly."
- Granted, "regularly" means different things to different people.
- Yet, many people prefer to say they have membership in an
institution than to say they follow Jesus Christ on a daily basis.
- Perhaps more to the point, we had rather they talk about membership in
an institution than to talk about following Jesus every day.
- We simply do not know what to do with the talk that focuses on
following Jesus daily--we do not know how to determine what that means.
- If someone talked about dying to sin and being alive to Christ,
though that is very biblical, it would confuse us.
- The end result is one that many of us do not like.
- Far too many Christians live like people who have no commitment to
- Yet, they can be quite comfortable spiritually because they say they
are members of an institution.
People who are Christians choose to die to evil influences in themselves,
evil influences in the community in which they live, and evil influences in the
I know this is a very complex issue that has many different causes. ONE [and
I emphasize one] reason many younger people reject the church is because we
stress institution so much and lifestyle so little. Christians can be as
materialistic or pleasure-centered as they want to be, and it is okay with the
institution -- we do not say much about it as if that is perfectly moral. Young
people know enough to know that simply is not God's way.
It was not that way in the New Testament! The major stress there was on how
Christians in the first century lived. I urge us to do two things. (1) Be a
functioning part of the Christian community. (2) In your life and your choices,
follow Jesus Christ every day. Be dead to sin and alive to righteousness!
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 26 February, 2006
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