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Mar 19 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

Something Extra – Romans Chapter 6

I am providing these notes (Nancy!) as a supplement to the message from Sunday, March 18, 2018 (Exodus 9:13-chapter 11). In the first five chapters of Romans, Paul explained how God has given us access to himself through Jesus Christ and the grace we receive through him. In the following three chapters (6-8) of Romans, Paul details the necessity of breaking our addiction to sin, pointing out the difficulty of the struggle and finding supernatural help from the Spirit of God. These notes take us deeper into the point I wanted to make in the Exodus message.
I presented the first half of Romans 6 in typical Bible study fashion. The rest of the chapter, however, I presented as if it were an email from Paul, hoping to make it easier to follow the development of his thoughts. All things considered, Romans 6 is an important portion of scripture for Christian know, understand, and live. C. S. jr.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised through the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life. Romans 6:1-4

Intro: Paul develops the theme of this chapter by raising, then answering two questions

Verses 1 and 15, are responses to potential misunderstandings regarding his message of grace
– the questions are posed by an imaginary person as if in dialogue with Paul
• this person wants to know if Paul’s message means we are free to sin
• Paul answers both questions with a resounding NO!
◦ then he answers each question with an explanation
– the first question in verse 1 relates refers to a statement chapter 5:

. . . where sin increased, grace increased all the more (Ro. 5:20)

• so the first question is, Does this mean we can continue to sin so grace will increase?


Notice how quickly and forcefully Paul shuts the question down
– Grace does not condone, justify, or promote sin!
• Paul reveals a radical idea no one had ever heard: “We died to sin”
◦ if we’re dead, we cannot go on sinning
◦ but when did we die? we had not heard that we died to sin
•. Paul tells us, “Go go back & read the fine print”–it happened at your baptism
– Baptism is the initial rite-of-passage into the Christian faith
• the baptismal rite-of-passage takes us from the life of our old self in this world
◦ and into the life of the Spirit
◦ there is a supernatural dimension to baptism that people often miss
• Paul says baptism places us with Jesus Christ in his death and burial
◦ but the objective of baptism is life, not death
◦ resurrection life calls for dynamic language — we walk in the newness of life

For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 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 from sin.
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. Romans 6:5-10

Paul knows he may have rattled his readers

So he further explains our union with Jesus, using a graphic Greek word, sumfutos
– the King James Version translates it, “planted together”—two trees that grow into each other
• Christians are joined to Jesus in such a way that where He goes, we go; His experience is ours

In verse 6, what, or who, is the “old self” that was “crucified”?
– Paul had traced our human ancestry back to Adam in chapter 5
• he also traced the outbreak of sin to Adam
◦ the spiritual DNA we inherited from Adam is the “old self”
• what is the result of its crucifixion? the body of sin is done away with
◦ the New International Version suggests an alternative translation: “rendered powerless”—disabled
◦ our internal engine that drives sin is desire

Think of the freedom we would enjoy if the desire for our pet sins was “disabled,” switched off. You may know of people who are addicted to doing things that do not appeal to you in anyway, such as gambling, gossiping or shoplifting. Others may agonize over the way they are controlled by these behaviors, but not you. Because you do not enjoy them and have no desire to engage in them, you are free. You avoid those addictions with ease. Freedom from the desire for sinful pleasures or pastimes is a wonderful psychological and spiritual state.

– if verses 6 and 7 emphasize death, verses 8-10 emphasize life
• Paul reminds us in verse 8 that we’re traveling “with” Christ
◦ his experience is our experience — he carried sin to the cross, then died to it
◦ the mastery of sin’s power is broken
• Jesus will not have to deal with sin or death ever again
◦ from now on, He lives to God without distraction

Is freedom from sin the experience of most Christians?

Yesterday I was reading in Psalm 34 and came across this line, “to those who fear Him there is no want.” What does that mean? “No want” means that nothing is lacking; it describes a state of contentment. The verse gave me the impression of an end to wanting. In Revelation 9:1, hell is referred to as a “bottomless pit.” That is exactly the nature of desire, a desperate and insatiable craving. A person could descend into desire forever without ever coming to the end of it. The words, “dead to sin” thrill me. The flip-side is “alive to God.”

– a problem with old school Christianity was its legalistic interpretation of Paul
• we were told it was our duty to kill our pet sins
◦ as if by sheer will power we can beat down our desires
• which do you find to be stronger, more attractive and compelling:
◦ your will power or desire?
– suppose one day you were suddenly confronted your strongest temptation
• a sin that soothed your agitation, eased the pain of living or relieved your boredom
◦ you consider it and for the first time it looks different
◦ you say, “Oh, that? I don’t want it any more”
◦ with a fully content heart, you turn and walk away
• “there is no want”—the hellish, bottomless desire is gone

Now, if this freedom came to us automatically with our baptism,
– or if we could achieve it through will power alone,
• Paul would not have to go on

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 as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace Romans 6:11-14

The things we can do with our bodies

We can “Count [ourselves] dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus”
– a good place to start here is to use your imagination
• for example, imagine how you think, feel and act living in this new freedom
◦ imagine also the things that have to die
◦ things we have to let go and surrender to God
– last month, I spent weekend in a monastery
• I noticed that a week after Easter the worship was still about resurrection
◦ I was told that resurrection would continue to be the theme until Pentecost
◦ at the same time, I had been bumping into this theme of resurrection, life
• while at the monastery, God told me, “I am bringing to birth something new in you”
◦ I realized that for resurrection to occur, there had to be a death
◦ for twenty years I had been asking God for something,
but that weekend I crossed it off my prayer list
that request had to die for God to do his new work in me

We can “not let sin reign in [our mortal bodies]”
– how does sin take control? When we “obey” its strong (intense) desires
• what is greater than our will power or desires? God’s grace
• again, we can begin the process by imagining it
◦ we can plan how we will open our hearts to God’s grace when desires rise

We can refuse to “offer the parts of [our] body to sin”
– here Paul conceives of our body parts as “instruments” or tools
• our hands, feet, eyes, mind, emotions–we come equipped with this technology
• this technology is ours to use however we want
◦ we can “offer” it to sin or to God
– Paul uses the same word translated “offer” later on (where it’s translated present)

Therefore I urge you [brothers and sisters], by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Ro. 12:1)

• every time we worship, we are presenting our bodies to God
• we are devoting our body parts to him for his service

What is the logic behind verse 14?
– by uncovering sin, the law us conscious of it (cf. Ro. 3:20)
• by an odd feature of our human nature, the law even increases sin (Ro. 7:7-8)
• but we’re no longer under that old government
◦ grace is our new government, removing the desire for sin and creating a new life
◦ grace enables us to call Jesus “Lord” — sin is no longer our master

I have not meant to give you the impression
that God expects us to become sinless
(I’m certainly not!)
But we can make continued progress over sin

I have not meant to give you the impression
that being crucified to sin is painless
We sometimes must give up a hope, a comfort, a pleasure
But it’s the wrong hope, comfort or pleasure
it is ultimately destructive

Find some time to sit in silence to reflect on Paul’s message
Imagine yourself dead to sin and the desire for it
See yourself alive to God
Breathe deep and open your heart to grace
The Spirit of God will assist you with these inner changes
And the freedom you feel will encourage you to continue the journey



From:      St. Paul
To:           Capo Beach Calvary
Subject:  Romans 6:15-23

To my dear friends in South Orange County, grace and peace.

As you heard previously from Chuck, my main concern in Romans chapter 6 was to answer two nagging questions about grace. I’m not surprised that some people try to hang on to their sins and use grace as their excuse. The power of sin over a human heart is one of those hard realities.

Verse 15 The second question I raise in this message appears in verse 15, “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?” I am exploring what it means to be “under grace” as opposed to being “under the law.” Does “under grace” mean we’re free to sin?

I cannot tell you strongly enough that the answer is an emphatic “No!” That is not what it means to be under grace. Sin is a spiritual disease, so it will always be a problem, an evil. Living under grace does not change the character of sin. Grace is God’s answer to our sin. But can never treat sin casually.

Verse 16 To better explain this problem, I will remind you of something you already know: Human behavior can be controlled by a variety of forces. One thought or action, if repeated can become a pattern, the pattern a habit, and the habit can become so ingrained it is nearly impossible to break.

Or think of it this way: Your brain consists of billions of neurons (we talk about the wonders of human neurology up here all the time—it glorifies God). Think of those neurons as tiny lights that are connected to other tiny lights by filaments so small they’re almost invisible. (These axons and dendrites in the brain enable neurons to talk to each other.)

A specific event or thought can race through thousands of these tiny lights, turning them tens of thousands of them on in less than a second. If the event or thought is repeated, it does not take lots of different turns, turning on many other lights, but it uses the connections it had already established. Each time that happens, the connections get stronger, forming automatic (and mostly unconscious) connections between a specific cluster of neurons. One thought or feeling can trigger the activation of the entire cluster. It all happens before ever reaching our conscious mind.

(Think of a field overgrown with weeds. Someone takes a shortcut across it and tramples down the weeds as he goes. Later, someone else sees the trampled weeds and crosses the field at the same place. Then another person follows, and another, and another. After awhile, weeds will no longer grow where people have been walking and the shortcut has become a path that anyone will automatically take to cross the field.)

If I say the word, “fourscore,” what comes to mind?

Many of you, especially you older ones, will automatically hear the words, “and seven years ago.” This you will also link with other thoughts like Abraham Lincoln, the Gettysburg Address, or the civil war. Fourscore is not unique to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (it simply means “eighty”), but for many Americans it is linked in a neural network of items related to that famous speech. Habits and other controlling behaviors are written into your brain in the same way. One incident, word, sight, or sound can trigger a patterned sequence—a bad mood habit, a resentment habit, a negative view of one’s self habit.

Here’s my point: these controlling forces of the brain can go one way or another. There are good habits and bad habits. There is righteousness and there is sin. Sin adds to all the ugly problems in the world. Righteousness works to correct world problems and promote health in all aspects of life. So even people like us, who are under grace, do not want sin to have any kind of control over us.

Think of sin as if it were an “evil spell.” You give in to it, and it takes over.

Excuse me, please. Someone is texting me. . . . Okay, I’m back again. (Peter says, “Hi.”)

Verses 17-18 Thank God for the miraculous change in our lives! There was a time when we all lived under the control of sin, but now we are free. How did that happen? How did you get free from sin? Well, someone told you about Jesus, you believed the teaching, and did as you were told. Obedience is the specific point where the change occurs.

The truth of God is what enabled you to obey Him with your whole heart. That was the first step in your liberation from sin—breaking its spell and putting an end to its control over your brain, body and soul. It was also your first step in creating a new set of behaviors. Now righteousness re-writes (or re-wires) our brains in ways that affect our thoughts, feelings and actions. This is the true freedom of your true self. You see, grace alters the structure of your brain.

You probably wouldn’t pick up on this if I didn’t point it out, but I did not say “the teaching was handed over to you,” but that “you were handed over to the teaching.” Never forget that. Some Christians act like they own God’s truth. They don’t—no one does. God’s truth owns you.

Verse 19 I could probably use a more accurate vocabulary to explain all of this, and I know that the metaphor of slavery isn’t as meaningful for you as it was for my friends in the first century. No one was free back then. You literally had to choose your master or you would be forced into service so someone else.

Anyway, I use metaphors because we understand best those things that relate to our human situation. I’ve found that it helps people if I give them concrete examples. I would use the language of addiction for your sake, but some of you don’t think of yourselves as “addicts,” so you wouldn’t pay attention.

I’m sure you understand what I mean about sin getting control of your life. Now I want to talk about your past and your present using the following four terms:

  • body parts
  • control
  • right and wrong
  • outcome

In the past you surrendered your body parts to the control of impurity with the outcome of more and more wickedness. Okay, so much for that. You were under the spell of sin. But the spell has been broken. In the present: you surrender your body parts to the control of righteousness with the outcome of holiness.

Verses 20-22 I’m going to walk you through this one more time, comparing your past to your present. In the past, under the control of sin, you were “free” from right and wrong. I mean some of you did not even have a conscience or a moment’s regret. Sin is narcissistic. You were more concerned for yourself than anyone else.

In those days you were “free,” your evil impulses were not restrained, and you had no motivation to do God’s will. But think about it: What do you have to show for that sinful lifestyle? Two things: shame and death.

Nowadays, you enjoy a completely different kind of freedom. You are free from sin! God is in control and He influences your brain, body, and soul. What do you have to show for this new freedom? Holiness and Eternal life.

If you think about it, holiness and eternal life go hand in hand. Holiness has to do with the mystery of God’s nature. There is no life that extends into eternity except that which is joined to God—the Holy One. When we surrender to His control, He draws us into Himself—His holiness and His life.

Verse 23 So to conclude my long answer to the original question, when it comes to grace and sin, here is how it works: Sin pays wages in the currency of death. The grace of God is a gift given in currency of eternal life. Once more I want to drive this into your heart: the key to breaking the spell of sin, receiving the miracle gift of grace, re-writing our brains with righteousness, being shrouded in God’s holiness, and eternal life is Christ Jesus our Lord!

Please try to remember what I said about your “body parts.” These are the places where sin makes its first contact with you. If sin gets in through these access points, it will take control. So every day, and all day long, surrender your heart, mind, hands, feet, eyes—you know the rest—surrender it all to God. Sin cannot get control over you if you’re constantly doing this.

Think about these body parts as access points the next time you receive Communion. Take Jesus Christ into every part of your body and being.

Thank you for letting me speak for myself this week. It’s a rare pleasure. There are a lot of know-it-all’s up here, and it takes some getting used to not being the only one.

Now may the Most High God keep you in the grace of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, forever and ever.
Your friend, Paul

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