Slaves to Righteous Living

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

July 2, 2017

Romans 6:12-23 | New Living Translation (NLT)

Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.

Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.

When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

We continue our journey through Paul’s letter to the Romans.  It seems like we’ve been here quite a bit of late, but since we are in the Epistle three year cycle, we are going to see quite a bit of Paul’s writings.

Earlier in chapter 6, Paul asks the question, “Should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?”  Very emphatically he replies, “Of course not!”  We have died to our old selves and been raise to new life in Christ.  This brings us to today’s passage.

Again Paul reminds us that sin is not the normal mode of operation for the one who is in Christ.  Do not let sin control the way you live.  Do not give in to its evil desires.  In fact, we are called to just the opposite, to let God control our lives – to give ourselves completely to God because of the new life that we have in Christ.  Instead of using our bodies as an instrument of sin, we should be using our bodies to give glory to Christ.  We are reminded that there is no middle ground here – either sin is in control or God is in control – it can’t be both.

Interesting here that Paul tells us, “Sin is no longer your master – for the law and it’s requirements are no longer in effect.” However we do live under the freedom of God’s grace.  Some would argue and now Paul goes on defense again – that since grace covers our sin, we are covered by grace.  Again, reminding us of the answer at the beginning of chapter six – just because we are covered by grace, does not mean that we can go on sinning.

Again we have the choice – are we obedient to sin – or are we obedient to God.  One leads to death and one leads to righteousness and it’s obvious which leads to which.  The death and resurrection of Jesus frees us from the power of sin – we are free from our slavery to sin however we are commanded to live righteously.

Paul uses the analogy of slavery – either you are a slave to sin, impurity and lawlessness, or you are a slave to righteousness.  Being a slave to sin will only send you deeper, being a slave to righteousness will lead to holy living.

This section ends with a plea to become slaves of God and his righteousness – do those things that lead to holiness – do those things that lead to eternal life.  As this passage closes we are reminded – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Which are you a slave to?  Are you a slave to sin? or a slave to righteousness?

Prayer for the Week

cropped-cropped-cropped-worship111.jpgFourth Sunday after Pentecost

O Lord, make us have perpetual love and reverence for your holy Name, for you never fail to help and govern those whom you have set upon the sure foundation of your loving-kindness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Raised with Christ

baptism-1959655_640Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

June 25, 2017

Romans 6:1-11| New Living Translation (NLT)

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 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 to life as he was. We know that 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 live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.

We pick up Paul’s letter to the Romans in the 6th chapter.  Remember again that Paul did not write with chapter divisions. He has just gotten done writing this line, “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”  This is what brings us to the question Paul starts today’s passage with.  “Should we continue sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace?”  Paul’s immediate answer is “NO!” We are reminded that sin is not the pattern for the believer – for one who believes and places his hope in Christ.  “How can we continue to live in sin if we have died to it?” we are asked.  Great question.  There are those who say that we sin in thought, word, and deed every day.  I’m sure Paul would argue against that.  As believers in the Wesleyan tradition, we believe it is possible not to sin.  Does it all depend on us? No…but with the help of the Holy Spirit we can have the power over sin.  If we can have power over sin, what did Christ die for.  This is exactly the point that Paul is making.

We are given the illustration of baptism.  This is a great scripture to go to explain the sacrament of baptism.  It is our identifying mark as believers.  When we go down into the water, we are saying that we die to sin – we are putting away the old – the natural – the carnal.  This is just the way Christ was buried when he died for our sins.  When we are baptized, we are buried with Christ – our old nature is gone. When we come up out of the water, it signifies that Christ has been raised and that we have been raised with Christ into new life.

In another letter to the church at Corinth, Paul writes, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come.”  It’s the same thought that we have already explored.  Because Christ was raised from the dead, we can live new lives in him through the glorious power that raised Christ from the dead.  Our old life has been crucified with Christ – and that renders sin powerless in our lives.  Yes, it still likes to rear its ugly head, but we have the power that raised Christ from the dead to overcome.  We are no longer slaves to sin – a little later on Paul reminds us that we are slaves to the new nature – the nature that pleases Christ.  Christ rose from the dead to break the power of sin.  Why do so many believers want to dwell where Christ has already closed the door?  It’s an interesting question. I would encourage you reader to live in the power of the risen Christ – the one who frees us from the power of sin and ultimately from the power of death.

Christ is risen from the dead and he is glorifying God.  We are called to live in the power of the risen Christ – dead to sin – alive in Christ – risen in Christ with all of the power that it entails, so that we may glorify God as well.

Sunday Afternoon Thoughts

Sunday Night Thoughts

A little early today, but since I’m awake to do it now, instead of after my nap.  We just got back from a wonderful meal at Sprague’s Maple Farms. Those of you from the Southern Tier know what I mean.  The kids took me out for Father’s Day.  Which Happy Father’s Day to all my father readers.

It’s been a good week here in the Brook.  I finished up my first official season of driving van and bus for the year.  We start back the week after July 4th, but I have a few weeks to break.

Summer has arrived – with both heat and humidity.  It was warm in church this morning – more on that later.

Yesterday was our district conference. This was our first District Conference in two years, because of the timing of our move. It also was our first District Conference as part of the Western New York District and pastors of the McCrae Brook Wesleyan Church.  Here in Western New York, it is a one day gathering.  Part of that is because we gather at other times of the year – our district doesn’t spread over a large geographic area, so we can get together on a regular basis.  Our church was recognized several times.  1) we were recognized for a 13% gain in attendance. 2) we gave 10% of our income to missions and 3) we were in the top 4 per capita giving in our district for giving to Global Partners.  Pam and I are excited to be part of a church like McCrae Brook.  We also got to see our good friend Wayne Richards, who now is with Habitat for Missions.  I love how this organization is partnering with churches for missions.  It was also to be with so many of our district friends.

We continue to be part of Emmaus Road, which is a ministry of First Wesleyan Church in Bradford.  This week, I led worship by myself.  We had a great spirit of worship.  God is on the move in McKean County and Western New York.

One last thing for today and that is that today was an exciting day.  Pam preached and I led the children’s worship.  We had 41 in worship this morning.  The only other Sunday we have had that many was on Easter Sunday and that was over two services.  I am beyond excited and many people were touched by Pam’s message.  Just last week we had 21 in worship, but we are now back to averaging 29 for the month of June!  It’s always amazing how God works, because it was hotter than a firecracker in church today.  I think it was somewhere around 85, even with the windows open. But God’s presence overcame all that.

That’s about all I have for this week. Blessings…

Prayer For the Week

cropped-cropped-cropped-worship111.jpg2nd Sunday after Pentecost

Remember, O Lord, what you have wrought in us and not what we deserve; and, as you have called us to your service, make us worthy of our calling; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.