Sunday, July 31, 2016

Choose Life!

Scriptural Reading: Romans 6:1-4, 12-14, 20-23
Devotional Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

We are in Unit II – “A World Gone Wrong” of the three units of the quarter. This is the fifth lesson of a five-lesson study looking at Paul’s words to the church in Rome about the need to turn from ungodliness, wickedness, and corruption and to move toward the realization of the creation God intended: a loving, obedient relationship with God through the redeeming power of Jesus Christ.

I have a friend and on one occasion she told me she wanted to be baptized again. I did not understand why and told her she had already been baptized. Her defense was that she was a child and did not understand Jesus at the time. I did not argue with her as to her belief. After all, it was her choice. However, I still believe she began to walk in the footsteps of LORD after her first baptism. The baptism was simply an outward show to everyone of her desire to follow Christ and no one ever knows all there is to know about the LORD. We continue to learn. We put off our old man or unrighteousness and walk in a newness of life or righteousness. Sometimes we slip along the way, but the Holy Spirit assists us to keep in right standing with the LORD. It is written at 2 Cor 5:17-19, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (NKJV) She invited me to come and watch her second baptism. I was very happy for her as I watched her joy in the LORD, even though she and I disagreed in the need for the second baptism. She had chosen life, a visual demonstration of baptism into Christ again!

We were given a Get out Of Sin Free card because the price was paid, but that does not give us a license to sin. We must choose between death and life. The Apostle Paul emphatically writes in Rom 6:1-4 that people are “slaves to sins”. He writes, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the death by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (NKJV)

It is totally irrational to believe that you are doing our good God a favor by continuing to sin so that it will increase His grace to us. If you have died to sin, why would your sin still be a living force? In accepting Jesus Christ in our lives we must put off the old man of sin, the sin nature, and destroy all unrighteousness. Baptism binds us to Christ. It is our allegiance to Christ by which we offer ourselves to Him. Particularly, we are baptized into His death, into a participation of the privileges purchased by His death, and into an obligation both to comply with the design of His death, which was to redeem us from all iniquity, and to conform to the pattern of His death, that, as Christ died for sin, so we should die to sin. We must recognize that baptism is a symbolism for a type of death. It is a washing and spiritual cleansing of sins. This is why it is tied to repentance and a type of burial. Only dead people are buried. Baptized people put sin to death and bury it when they believe, repent, and are baptized. They come from out the water through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the point of their rising from their baptism, they have died to sin and a new life begins in Christ Jesus.

In continuing his discussion on sinning less and teaching the Romans how to choose life, the Apostle stated in Rom 6:12-14, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (NKJV) We should not let sin reign in our mortal bodies. It is true that our flesh is weak, but we must attempt to be holy because our God is Holy. Do Not Obey the lusts of your flesh. Also, do not present your bodies as members of unrighteousness. We can’t live under divided loyalties. God only accepts the holy sacrifices. With the love of Christ reigning in our heart we are to yield ourselves to God. Paul later wrote in Rom: 12:1-3, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” (NKJV)

Paul now explains the choice of believers between sin and righteousness. Verses 17-19 are not part of our lesson, but I felt they assisted in our understanding. He begins in Rom 6:17 by stating there is a pattern of teaching that must be strengthened by intentional instructions. Verse 18 lets the new believer know they are no longer slaves to sin and are now slaves to righteousness. They are now serving God and will choose what He would have them to do. He even gave an example in verse 19 that they must understand that sin and righteousness are not to coexist in the life of a believer. Impurity and wickedness are incompatible with righteousness and holiness.

Our lesson picks up again at the Apostle’s writing of Rom 6:20-23. Paul gives the pros and cons of the choice between good and evil, the master sin or master God. It is as if a person is able to do comparison shopping for his afterlife while he reads and meditates on these verses. He wrote, “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD.” (NKJV) In the old lives some people were slaves to sin and free of the control of righteousness. These people simply did not care about doing the right thing, following the will of God, but only following their own will. If they inventoried their lives they would find there was either not much fruit in their previous activities or they are ashamed of the fruit. The end item of these activities is a wage (earned and deserved payment) of death. Other persons chose to be set free from the sin master to become a slave of God and His righteousness. As compared to the fruit of the sin master, they will receive a gift of God (inherited – act of faith) which is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD. I would rather accept the gift of eternal life than work doing it my way to hell.

We must always acknowledge that sin will exist in our lives. Just do not let it dominate. The Apostle continues to teach this to the Romans in ch 7 verses 21-25, “I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. (NKJV)

Written by Deborah C. Davis

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