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Changed Through His Life
Scripture: Romans 6:1-14
Track 3 of 3 in the History-Changing Words series
Running time: 40 minutes, 31 seconds.

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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

View all sermons by this speaker.

Sermon for Sunday, April 3, 2005
3rd sermon in a 3 part series
"Changed Through His Life"
"History-Changing Words"
(Romans 6:1-14)
Copyright 2005 G. Charles Sackett

Recording was not on to begin. . . . . . .(starts with)

. . . . . question - Can we change? I want to turn that question just a little bit this morning and ask you this question. Can we not change?

It strikes me that coming out of the Easter season, having talked about, spent time with this marvelous thing that we call resurrection; having thought about the fact that Jesus came, lived and died for us and we have somehow engaged that story. The question for me really is, if you're "in Christ", how can you not change? Because just the very fact that you're "in Christ" means that something of remarkable quality has occurred. There has been an amazing thing happen. And in fact, whether you like it or not, you have changed. If you are "in Christ" everything about you is now different as far as your relationship with God is concerned. The only question is, will you live like that change has, in fact, occurred?

I need, for just a second, to give you a brief grammar lesson. Ah, in verbs there are two different kinds at least. One of them is an indicative verb. The other one is an imperative verb. An indicative verb as you know, is a simple statement of fact. An imperative is a command. Statements of fact are just that. I went to town. That's all it says. Commands, on the other hand, are things that we're supposed to do.

And a second lesson, only this one not about grammar. This one is about Bible study. When you read your Bible, one of the things (of the many things) that you might look for (one of the things that you look for, you listen for) is repetition. Do things occur repeatedly in the text that you are looking at so that you might notice it? It might be a point of emphasis for the author.

Our text this morning is Romans 6. I mentioned last week that we would come to that since it comes so naturally on the heels of Romans 5, which is what we looked at. I want to read for you from the New Living Translation. It's just slightly different in its wording than your New International Versions, but I would encourage you to follow along because we'll come back to that particular translation.

Romans 6 I want to start with Romans 6:1. It continues after this ending statement of Romans 5. If you remember last week Romans 5:21 says as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God's wonderful kindness rules instead giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Well, then. Paul says, Should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more kindness and forgiveness? Of course not! Since we have died to sin; how can we continue to live in it? Have you forgotten that when we became Christians and were baptized to become one with Jesus Christ, we died with him? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism, and just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised as he was. Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin - for when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

And since we died with Christ, we know we will also share his new life. We are sure of this because Christ rose from the dead and he will never die again; death no longer has any power over him. He died once to defeat sin and now he lives for the glory of God.

And so you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Jesus Christ. Do not let sin control the way you live. Do not give in to its lustful desires. Do not let any part of your body become a tool of wickedness to be used for sinning. Instead, give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. Use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you are no longer subject to the law, which enslaves you to sin. Instead, you are free by God's grace.

There's an assumption, particularly in the first ten verses of this chapter. And the assumption is, that all of these people have been through an experience of identifying themselves with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

This particular text simply reaffirms that which every New Testament scholar would tell you that in the New Testament era, the first century, there was no such thing as an un-immersed believer in Jesus. Everybody had been through the experience of having gone through a baptismal where they were literally buried in water and raised up out of that water. Which is what the word "baptism" means, by the way. We didn't ever translate the word. The word in Greek is baptizo(??) and all we did is bring it over in English and call it baptism. The word literally means to dip something under, to dunk it; to plunge it; to drown it in some sense.

And every person who came to Christ in the New Testament, went through that immersion experience in water in order to symbolize a connection, a participation with the thing that Jesus went through when he was buried.

Now by the 2nd Century this early church writing that we call the Didache identified one possible alternative and that is if, (well, in fact, it identifies a couple of things) that the first preference would be running water. The second preference would be standing water. The third, and if it were necessary, and there just wasn't enough water for you to get fully immersed in it, you could take water and pour it over a person until they were completely drenched. That would be allowed according to the Didache.

I remember when I first encountered this particular text. I was a student. Was listening to a preacher and he was preaching on Romans 6 and he said Romans 6 was never intended to try to convince us that we needed to be baptized but was rather a backward look at someone's previous experience. Well, when you think about it, that's exactly what's happening. He says, "Don't you remember when? Don't you know that all of this happened in your background?" He assumes that these Roman Christians had been immersed into Jesus Christ. In fact, it is standard for Paul to ask that question or to make that assumption.

If you remember Acts 19 he encounters several people who are believers but they don't have the Holy Spirit. And his first question in Acts 19 is this. "Into whom were you baptized?" If you don't have the Holy Spirit then into whose baptism did you participate? And they said, John's baptism and he said, essentially that's the problem. You need to be baptized into Christ and that will resolve this issue. And so he baptized them.

Well, Romans 5 introduces this dilemma, this human dilemma that we are all sinners. You remember by Adam's choice to sin, he inflicted all of us with this problem. SIN! In fact, the word for sin in the New Testament, one of the words for sin in the New Testament occurs 174 different times. Forty of those occurrences happen in Romans 6, 7 and 8 as if this little brief period, a 1/4 of all the occurrences of that one particular word, occur right here. And probably best summarized by this statement in Romans 6:23 the wages of sin is death. . . . That's the problem that we all face.

Coming out of Easter we've had this story told to us about Christ's sacrifice for sin. And the question then becomes; How does his sacrifice for us become helpful to us? How do we, in some way, appropriate the death of Jesus so that it is valuable to us? Other than just a historical event that happened to happen 2000 years ago? Paul's answer to that was. You identify with Christ in his experience. Now remember that lesson. If something is repeated multiple times in a text you probably ought to pay attention to it.

Now come back and look at a few places in this particular chapter. Romans 6 Look down here, for example at Romans 6:4 We were therefore buried with Him. Come over to Romans 6:5 we have been united with Him. . . And then again in Romans 6:5. . . .we will be united with Him. . . . In Romans 6 midway through the verse our old self was crucified with Him. Romans 6:8 . . .if we died with Christ. . . .we will live with Him. . . Do you hear this identification/participation language? We do what Christ did in order to experience what Christ did. That's the wonder of this image of baptism is that when someone dies to sin, they are buried and raised up out of a resurrection. It's the very image that Paul uses in Romans 6 to help us understand how we participated in Christ's experience. And in that participation we have the privilege of also experiencing this. His new life just as he died and was raised. We die, are buried and raised.

There was a wonderful song that came out just a few years ago by Kyle Matthews called "Been Through the Water" and I learned this last Tuesday, actually, or Wednesday, that there is a video that goes with it that I think tells the story marvelously. So if we can make our technology work this morning, I want you to watch this song and see it unfold in front of us.

Video - - - - - - -

"When you've been through the water, you don't wear your old shoes on your brand new feet."

It's a wonderful image of what Paul is trying to talk about in this particular text. He starts out with the assumption that every believer is an immersed person in Christ.

They have identified in some way with Jesus and have participated in His death and resurrection. And they are all, by the way, indicative verbs. Every last verb in that first ten verses is a simple statement of fact. This is the case. This is what you did. But at verse 11 there is a shift in the grammar. And the grammar now moves immediately to all imperative verbs. Because of this statement of fact, you have experienced identification with Jesus, therefore, don't sin any more. Don't put your old shoes on your brand new feet.

It's an interesting thing, this thing about command. Look at Romans 6:1 for example in this chapter. Shall we go on sinning? That's the question. Should we just keep sinning? Romans 6:2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Romans 6:6 . . .we know that our old self was crucified so that the body of sin might be done away, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. Look again at Romans 6:11 . . .count yourselves dead to sin. . . .Romans 6:12. . .do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies. . . .Romans 6:13 Do not offer the parts of your body as instruments of wickedness. . . . The text could not be clearer that we're supposed to stop sinning. Don't use any part of your body as an instrument for sin.

I found a picture that I want to show you of a violin. I know nothing about violins. (Is that picture up there somewhere?) There it is. It looks like a violin to me. That violin, by the way, is a particular violin. It was built in 1717 by Stradivarius. It recently sold for just under six million dollars.

Now I'm suggesting that you would not take that violin and use it for a hammer. I couldn't find a hammer this morning to fix one of the things down here so I found a screw driver. Everybody knows that a screw driver is every bit as good as a hammer when you need it. But I don't think I would take a six million dollar violin and do the same thing with it.

Paul says, don't use your body as an instrument of sin. It is way too valuable because it is now covered by the blood of Jesus. Don't sin! It's the command to simply stop doing the things that are wrong.

This, I mentioned last week. A friend of ours who passed away whose funeral was last week. Her name was Doris. Doris wanted a list. She couldn't quite get this thing through her head that it was okay to just let the Spirit give you some guidance. Read your Bible and everything would be. . . . .she wanted me to make her a list. These are the things that you can do. These are the things that you can't do and then she could post it on her refrigerator and she could kind of read it off every day. Well, I could never get the list together but I have found a couple that I will read for you.

For example, Colossians 3; maybe you're familiar with this one. This one also, by the way, starts with baptismal language. It's tied to that experience. Colossians 3:1 Since you have been raised with Christ, (there's the language; it's tied directly to chapter 2 which talks about being raised in baptism) Colossians 3:5 here's the command. Put to death (well, put what to death?) . . .whatever belongs to your earthly nature; sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed. . . .. Come down now to Colossians 3:8 get rid of things like anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language. Do not lie to each other (well, why?) because the old self has been taken off and you have put on the new self, which is renewed in the image of your Creator.

There's a list for you, if you need a list to work with. Back up a few pages to Ephesians 5. Here's a little list for you. You can tie this one down someplace and write it on your refrigerator.. Ephesians 5:1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person - such a man is an idolater - has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

Paul says in Romans 6 because you have experienced a relationship with Jesus, stop sinning. That's a command. But I have to be honest with you, commands bother me. I mean, ah, I take it to be the truth. I don't, I'm not dismissing it. What amazes me is that Paul's statement is not only should you stop sinning, you can stop sinning. That's the remarkable thing. It's not just that he tells you, you should do it. He tells you, you can do it. That's the wonder of this thing. It is absolutely marvelous

If you look at Romans 6:6-7 in particular, he says, . . .we know that our old self was crucified with Christ so that the body of sin might be done away, that we should no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

The language changes. This one verse has an unusual construction. It's - the meaning of the verb is once something has happened, it just keeps on happening. It doesn't stop. You have been set free from sin. Not a one time occurrence. Not, it's just been taken care of but once, but it just keeps happening and happening and happening. We have been freed from sin.

In fact, he uses this same language in Romans 7:2 to remind us of what that might look like. And he uses a situation of a widow and a widower. You are bound in your marriage until your mate passes. But once your mate passes, here's the language. You are free. You're free from sin. Because you have died with Christ.

Dostoevsky was a famous 19th century Russian author. He was captured, arrested as an insurgent. He was threatened to death. He and several other people were taken into the public square where they were blindfolded and their hands were tied behind their back. They were standing in front of a firing squad when tsar Nicholas I commanded their death. Here's what they heard. They heard the guns cocked. They heard these two commands; "ready, aim!" And about that time a horse, set up ahead of time by tsar Nicholas, came charging into the arena where there was a decree read that their death sentence had been stayed but they would be spending life in prison instead.

Dostoevsky considered himself to have been dead. As he was going into the prison, a lady handed him a New Testament, the only book allowed in a Russian prison. And he pored over that New Testament for ten years and fell in love with Jesus. He made famous this statement. It is a remarkable statement; "If anyone proved to me that Christ was outside the truth, then I would prefer to remain with Christ than with the truth."

His sense of death was so profound it changed his whole life. That's exactly what Paul is trying to say in Romans 6. Our sense of having died to sin is to be so profound it changes our whole life.

So here's a simple truth for you. Sin is easy to find; but it's really hard to get rid of.

I've got a really awful picture for you, so if you don't want to look at it, it's okay. Show that Guinea worm will ya? There it is! Oh! Ooooooo By the way, that's a miner bad one. I had lots of worse pictures. This is a Guinea worm. A Guinea worm only exists in central Africa so you can be safe unless you're going to go visit somebody over there. It's a very, very small, little tiny thing that is inside of something that's in the water. And when you drink the water, your gastric juices eat this thing that this hides in and then it gets in your system and it gets out into your bloodstream. Then the male and the female get together and they have little ones and then those little ones invade your body and they begin to grow. This is actually about the size of a paper clip. Only it gets to be about three feet long.

And then it eventually finds its way, usually into a lower extremity, your leg or your foot and it will come out like this one is. Then you have to wrap it around a stick or a pencil and you have to inch it out. If you break it, chances are it will die inside your system and you'll die so you have to be very careful inching this Guinea worm out. It sometimes takes weeks. Sometimes months to get that three foot long worm out of your system.

Now I told my wife I was going to tell you that and she said, "you're not!" And I said, "yeah, I am because it's such a good illustration of sin." Sin is so easy to find and so hard to get rid of.

There was a fella from the New York Times that went to Cambodia two years ago to buy prostitutes who had been enslaved in the sex market. He looked for. . . . . . . . .there against their will who were willing to leave. He paid $150 for the first one. He paid $203 for the second one. As they were getting ready to leave, this second woman, Srey Mom' wouldn't leave without her cell phone. She actually went back into the brothel and held onto the bed because she wasn't leaving without her cell phone. Cost him $55.00 to buy her cell phone. And then she decided she wanted her jewelry. This is a lady who has been imprisoned in a sex slave trade against her will, who has had somebody come and is willing to buy her freedom but she's hanging onto the bedpost because she doesn't want to lose her jewelry.

It reminds me of sin! And, how sometimes we long to be free but we're not willing to let go of that which enslaves us.

Sin is a vicious task master. That's why it's called slavery to sin. Don't let sin master you he says.

I remember vividly on Thanksgiving day when I was seventeen years old, sitting at the dinner table with Bill Griffin at our table. He had been there for years, every Thanksgiving. Bill was addicted to alcohol. His doctor had told him that if he didn't stop drinking he would die in less than a year. It was my job that Thanksgiving afternoon to take Bill back to the Veterans Hospital in Boise and deliver him back. Driving down State Street we had to go past the Pine Tavern. The Pine Tavern was Bill's hangout. As we got near the tavern he kept saying, "stop and let me out". And I said, "no". He said, "I want out". I said, "I don't care what you want, I'm not stopping".

He got angry at me, threatened me and I said, "listen if you want to drink yourself to death, you do it on your terms, but I'm not gonna help ya". And we drove by the Pine Tavern to the Veterans Hospital where I let him out at the curb. Where he preceded to climb from my car into a taxi and they dropped him off at the Pine Tavern. And he was not at our next Thanksgiving dinner.

Sin is a heavy taskmaster. I suppose one of the reasons I am so adamantly opposed to alcohol is because I watched a second friend who sat at our dinner table Thanksgiving after Thanksgiving go through what are commonly known as DT's. And if you've never watched somebody come down, you have no idea how heavy a taskmaster that can be. If you don't believe me, ask anybody who's addicted to anything.

Sin enslaves us and if you ask an honest addict, they will just tell you how hard life is. In fact, you could almost ask any honest sinner who struggles with any major sin in their life and if they would tell you the truth they would tell you that sin is a heavy slave master. And if they won't tell you, ask their spouse. Their spouse will tell you what it's like to live with somebody who's addicted to sin. Or ask their children. Their children know and some of you parents are sitting there saying, "no, ask the parents, because we know what it feels like to have children who will not give up sin in their life."

Paul makes two basic comments. He says, we have identified with Jesus in our baptism and therefore we have experienced death to sin and new life in Christ. And then he says, because that's true, we must not sin. See we choose our master. We are either slaves to sin. . . .or. . . .we live under grace as "free" people.

Frederick Douglas was a slave in Maryland. Wrote a book about his experience as a slave. The book was called, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave.

He was enslaved when he was taken away from his mother as a small child. He was beaten regularly until the blood ran down his back. He was kicked and beaten by his master until he nearly died. He was attacked by a gang of whites and nearly killed with a spike. He longed to leave, to be free. In his book he says that there were two great fears that he had. The first one was leaving behind his friends; the second was, "If I failed in this attempt, my case would be a hopeless one - it would seal my fate as a slave forever."

On September 3, 1838 Frederick Douglas took the chance and he escaped to the free state of New York.

I think those same temptations threaten us every day. We don't want to leave our sin because that's where our friends are and we're just deathly afraid that if we fail, life will just get worse instead of better. But to be real honest with you, the choice my friends is entirely yours. No one chooses your sin for you. You choose it yourself.

I have one more video that I want to show you. I think you'll understand it just as it stands.

VIDEO - - -

Sounds good doesn't it? "Come on in boys, the water is fine." And that is one of the temptations to think that just because we've been identified with Jesus that everything is easy from here on out. And you know that's not true don't you? It's a lifelong journey of living like a disciple. The water is fine. It is the place where you meet the blood of Jesus, where your sins are washed away and where, in fact, Delmar was right. "The Lord and the government got nothin' on ya." The challenge then is, to live like that's true.

And that's the invitation we offer you. That if you don't know Jesus; if you've not identified with his death and resurrection, that you do that so that the blood of Christ has an opportunity to wash you and to cleanse you and to free you. . . . .to set you literally free from the mastery of sin. But the invitation is to set your heart and your life in the direction of a lifelong discipleship where you live like your free. If you don't know how to do that we invite you to ask. We're always here and we want to tell you about Jesus.

Would you stand with me?