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Do Not let Sin Reign

by David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)


It is good to be together again as we look into the Word of God and make personal application.  The lesson is entitled, “Do Not Let Sin Reign.” The text is taken from the New Testament, the letter to the Roman Christians, Romans chapter six beginning in verse eight through verse 14.  Let’s listen to the Word of God.

Now if we died with Christ we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead he cannot die again. Death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died he died to sin once for all. But the life he lives he lives to God.  In the same way count yourselves 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 evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. This is the Word of God.

Back in 1954 there were more than 50 medical journals that claimed that it was humanly impossible for runners to break a four minute mile, that is, to be able to run one mile in less than four minutes, impossible. However, on May sixth in the year of our Lord 1954 a man by the name of Roger Bannister was the first man to run a sub four minute mile. He ran one mile in three minutes and 59 seconds. This feat ranks as one of the greatest feats in all of sports history.  And that is not the most astounding part of the story. Once the impossible was proven possible, in the next year four other runners also ran one mile in sub four minutes.  So what was the real barrier? Was it a physical barrier? Obviously not. A total of five different runners in about 20 months proved that it was physically possible. So what kind of barrier was it? It was a mental barrier, a mind set that was negative, an attitude inhibitor. More than 50 medical journals claimed that it was an impossibility, but beginning with Roger Bannister, he who refused to accept the naysayers, Bannister believed that he could break through this barrier and he did.  Again, a negative attitude can negate, defeat performance. We need to have a can do attitude which often changes the impossible to possible.  Roger Bannister refused to limit, to stymie his potential.

Now let’s make application to the spiritual realm regarding our moral and ethical deficiencies, regarding our spiritual weaknesses, regarding especially our bad habits, our habitual sins, our besetting pattern of disobedience to God’s moral standards. We all struggled with sin and we all sinned. The three so-called Christian sins are gossip, gluttony and glorifying self. God forbid that we would be guilty of any of these, or any sin. But yet we still sin. Even as Christians, even as born again baptized believers we all sin.  The difference, of course, is that a believer is under the blood of Christ through genuine saving faith. And there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.   But we are still sinners.

Now, perhaps, we are prone to lying or laziness or luxurious living without much regard for others.  Certainly we all have our spiritual, moral deficiencies. Greed abounds. Many of us are impatient and certainly there is the unconcern for the lost, those without Christ. We fail to witness as we should.  There are sins of commission and sins of omission. Do we tell ourselves that for me it is impossible to change? I am who I am.  God made me this way.  I am not perfect. So why even try? Well, what does Scripture reveal regarding born again believers and sin?  Is it impossible to change? Did God make us sinners?  Should we even try? Is it impossible to sin less? Does Scripture reveal that we can sin less, that we can grow, that we can mature, that we can grow in the process of sanctification, that is sinning less, not allowing habitual sin or a pattern of sin in our lives?   With the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit and our cooperation is effort involved?  Obviously it is. So what is our mindset regarding bad habits? Is our mindset that it is impossible to change?  Does our attitude of defeatism stymie us?  Is it limiting our moral attention? Are we just coasting or growing morally? Have we just reached a plateau in our Christian lives? Or are we striving to climb God’s mountain to be closer to God in our behavior, in our conduct, morally and ethically? What does God through the Bible reveal regarding these issues?

We have heard Romans chapter six and verses eight through 14.  Let’s look at this text more closely.  And God does not lie nor deceive us.

In verse eight of Romans six it says: Now if we died with Christ… Well, what does that mean here?  Was the apostle Paul writing to dead people, physically dead?  Obviously not.  Of course not.  Notice that Paul included himself.  We… if we died with Christ. Consider the context.  In Romans chapter six and verse six it says, in part, that the old self was crucified with him.  That is, once believers are born again, that is, made spiritually alive from above, from God, that is God’s work, our pre conversion self was put to death, was crucified. We are mortifying the flesh. In verse six it also says: So that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.  We do sin. We are sinners, but not slaves to sin. Not that we allow it to have mastery, be our masters. As born again baptized believers the power and the penalty of sin died with Christ on the cross through saving faith. It is paid for in full. Our sin is not counted against us.

In verse seven of Romans chapter six and verse seven it says, in part: Anyone who has died has been freed from sin. We have died to only living for self.  We now live for the Savior.  Now certainly even though our old self is dead now—we have been born again—sin still retains a foothold in our lives, because we still have to struggle with our sin nature, with the flesh. We deal with the world and with the evil one, with Satan, the three sources of sin: the flesh, the world and Satan.  But sin is no longer in complete control or should no longer be in complete control or dominion over us.  We have the indwelling Holy Spirit to help us to be overcomers and we can be more than conquerors.
And what does this mean to us as born again believers? We are now new creatures, new creations in Christ Jesus.  We do not have to think, talk and act like our pre conversion selves most of the time. Of course we can backslide. But we can also confess and repent and God is faithful and just to forgive us all of our unrighteousness. In our process of sanctification, in our spiritual growth, our moral improvement, our progress with a can do mindset and attitude and effort, certainly with the help of the Holy Spirit can break through the barriers of specific patternistic sins.
In Romans chapter six and verse four it says, in part: We, too, may live a new life that is growing in sanctification, growing in obedience to the Lord. It is mission possible.

In Romans chapter six and verse 11 it says, in part, to count, that is to consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. It is attitude. It begins with attitude. Count ourselves dead to sin. Here is our confidence that God is working in us and through us with a new start and as a new creation, as a new creature morally on the inside by the way that we think which ultimately amounts to the way we talk and the way we act.  We have been forgiven. Our sin condemnation has been lifted through saving faith in Christ. Now is for us to live it out, to work out our salvation which is proven by our process of personal sanctification with God’s help, because God has changed us on the inside. We are no longer the same.

In verse 12 it says, in part: Do not let sin reign in your mortal body. Christians still sin, but we are striving. We are struggling to sin less and less. We haven’t given up on our moral deficiencies and weaknesses. We are not to let sin reign, that is, be on the throne of our lives like a king of our lives, like a master of our lives. Sin must not be in control. It must not and should not dominate us, have dominion over us. We are not perfect, but we are aiming for perfection as maturing Christians, as is revealed in 2 Corinthians chapter 13 and verse 11. We are aiming for perfection. If we don’t aim, we are never going to hit the mark. We are never going to hit the bull’s eye. We are not even going to come close to the bull’s eye if we are not aiming for the bull’s eye, to hit the mark.
As it reveals in Ephesians chapter four and verses 22 through 24 where it says, in part: Put off your old self to be made new in the attitude of your minds, made new. We have been born again. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit.  We are new creatures in Christ Jesus. Over and over again the Scripture reveals that we can grow in the process of sanctification and holiness.

In Ephesians chapter four and verse 24 it says: And to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness, because this is doable. It is possible.  God never challenges us or commands us to do something that we cannot do. God gives us the power by the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is doable with God’s help, but it begins with attitude.  We need to know that we can break through these barriers of patternistic sin.

In Romans chapter six and verse 14 it says, again, for emphasis: For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. Law keeping does not justify us or help us to overcome sin.  Christ and his death on the cross and our obedient faith in him justifies us and Christ as our Lord and master and through the Holy Spirit gives us the power over sin.

For example, consider the apostle Paul who knows all this to be true, personally and intimately as he wrote inspired of the Holy Spirit in the Roman letter. Consider the pre conversion Saul of Tarsus, according to 1 Timothy 1:13 it says, in part, that he was a blasphemer, a persecutor, a violent man. But also consider the post conversion Paul the apostle.  According, for example, to 2 Timothy chapter four and verse 16 that says, in part: No one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. Does that sound like the same person? No. Paul was changed from the inside out, a new man, a new creation in Christ Jesus. And with the help of the Holy Spirit Paul broke through barriers of arrogance and violence and glorifying self and spiritual pride and hate to become a humble, compassionate man dependent on his Lord, because Paul did not limit his spiritual potential. Paul did not stop growing morally and ethically. Paul matured spiritually and so can we.

All born again baptized believers have the same Spirit of God within us, just as Paul. We have the same Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit does not have us equally, that is, as controlling as we submitting to the Holy Spirit as we should.

Mount Sinai and law keeping could not make us alive to God in Christ. It only exposed our sin and our feebleness spiritually before a perfectly holy God. But Mount Calvary, which focuses on Christ’s work and our faith in him and his work on the cross for us made us alive through faith to God in Christ.  And Christ has erased our sins that condemn us. Sin should not reign in us. The Savior and the Spirit should reign in us, be in control. The choice is ours. We can remain carnal, weak, anemic Christian coasting, not growing, or we can be Christians who are overcomers, more than conquerors, break through believers.

And, by the way, the current world record for running one mile, I believe it is now three minutes and 43 seconds.  Men have shaved off another 16 seconds. The impossible continues to be more possible. And with God all things in his will are possible.  And we are to purify ourselves even as he is pure.

-David Johnson preaches for the  Sellersburg (IN) Church of Christ

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