2015-09-18 - The Business of Building Saints
Romans 6:1-14 (NKJV)
Jesus favored stories, but Paul was at the far other end of the spectrum. So read the text above a time or two more, if you need to, in order to get your head around it. I have read it several times now, since this passage is being used in a preaching class I'm taking. I think to understand the passage, we must investigate and determine the who, what, and why of the message – so let's begin with the who.
As with most letters, the writer reveals who the message is addressed to, near the beginning. The epistle, or letter, to the Romans is no different. Romans 1:7 says it is written "to all who are in Rome … called to be saints." Examine the text, and you will see "we", "you", and "us" sprinkled throughout. The "you" would be the Christians in Rome, but notice he usually uses the word "we." This is self-inclusive plural language, so he is talking to the whole church - the saved.
And that brings us, then, to the what of the message – sanctification. Romans 5 ends on justification. Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. (Romans 5:18 NKJV) Justification, as defined by dictionary.com, is "the act of God, whereby humankind is made or accounted just, or free from guilt or penalty of sin." Justification is the act of being justified – "just-if-I'd never sinned." The slate appears clean; the record is wiped with the blood of the Lamb.
Romans 6 picks up with what follows justification. It talks of sanctification – the process of becoming more saintly. Sanctification comes from the Latin root Sanctus, meaning holy. It can be defined as "to make holy, set apart as sacred, consecrate." Both terms are used to describe salvation, to some extent, but they are different. What's the difference? J. Vernon McGee, in his Thru the Bible series states, "Now let me put it like this, justification is an act; sanctification is a work … Justification is for us; sanctification is in us. Justification declares the sinner righteous; sanctification makes the sinner righteous. Justification removes the guilt and penalty of sin; sanctification removes the growth and power of sin." So let us see how it changes lives by building saints.
First we see sanctification specified in verses 1 to 10. It is broken into two steps. In the first seven verses, Paul tells us we are dead to sin. Our sin was buried with Jesus. We must step out of sin's curse. Jesus died to free us from it – get up and leave it where it's at. As you step out of sin's curse, you step into the Savior's call, in verses 8 to 10. Our sin is buried, but just as Jesus' story doesn't end with the grave, we rise up in a new life. Death is defeated, sin is defeated, and now we are alive for Jesus. As you turn away from sin, you turn towards Jesus as your new master.
Next, in verses 11-13, we see sanctification sought. To be sanctified, to be more saintly – God commands us to do three things. First there is a gauging in verse 11. Reckon yourself dead to sin. Determine in your head and heart that sin is dead and has no hold on you. You were bought away from it with a high price. Then you must change the governing. Sin reigns not in you, but rather Christ reigns in you. Then there must be a giving. You are to present yourself, not for unrighteousness, but for righteousness. An interesting pattern appears in these verses, in that for every "don't do," there is an opposite "do." It is not enough to just stop doing evil. You must start doing good.
Finally we come to the why of the message, in verse 14. I see verse 14 as an answer to "because why?" If you have children, you know what I'm talking about. You say do this, and they reply "because why?" So 1-10 defines sanctification, 11-13 tells you what to do, and 14 says why you should. Why? Because sin has no dominion over you. Why? Because you are not under law, but under grace. It's all about grace.
Joshua 24:14-15 (NKJV)
We have a choice, but the real reason why we have the choice is the saving grace of God - God's amazing grace. You are saved by grace – you are justified by grace – you are sanctified by grace – through faith, not by works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8)
We are free to be the people of God. We are free to be saints. We are free to give our lives to him, because he first gave himself for us. Will you exercise that freedom and surrender to him?
All scripture references from KJV (King James Version) unless otherwise noted