Sermon preached on Sunday, March 2, 2014 at Garden Valley Chapel during our morning worship service based on Romans 6:17.
Take your Bible if you will and open it to the book of Romans, Romans chapter six, verse 17.
Today I want to draw our hearts to thanksgiving. The Apostle Paul called the believers at Thessalonica to “give thanks [in everything], for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:18).
I believe it won’t be difficult to do so as we consider “the glorious gospel of the blessed God” (1 Tim 1:11)…as we consider our glorious salvation.
What better way to begin giving thanks to God than addressing the first benefit of being a saint - the grace of salvation that we have received in Christ Jesus.
At the moment of salvation you and I received the grace of salvation. We received God’s unmerited favor to needy sinners.
It was the undeserved and unrepayable kindness/mercy which was given to each one of us who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Notice what God did not nor will He ever say -
“I am gracious and I give you salvation, but one false move and I’ll take it away.”
Grace would not be grace. If we could keep from sinning we would not need grace, because we would merit salvation, we would deserve it. If there is no need of forgiveness, then there is no need of grace.
But we that this is not the case. We need forgiveness. We need grace. God is holy and just, He cannot ignore sin. It must be punished. As Paul tells us in Rom 6:23 -
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This was God’s supreme provision of grace: by His work on the cross, Christ fulfilled the demands of God’s justice by taking the penalty of our sins upon Himself. He became guilty for our sin and the price was paid in His death.
Because of Christ and His atoning work on the cross, we stand in grace.
There is something else we need to remember about grace. It is a free gift and not loan. We are not to say,
“Well, God was gracious to me and He saved me, and now I have to pay Him back.”
Grace makes us totally indebted to God. The cost is so great we cannot repay it. We cannot pay for our salvation either before or after we are saved.
Paul made this point in Rom 4:4 -
4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor [Gr. χάρις], but as what is due.
If you or I were able at any time or in any way to earn God’s forgiveness, it would be our due. You would call that “what is due” but you would not call it “grace.”
Grace does not operate on the principle of works, of earning. Money can be given or it can be earned, but God’s grace can only be given.
Now how can you ever repay God for what He offers us in Jesus Christ?
The good news my beloved, is that we do not need to pay for salvation. God in Christ has paid for it.
Now we do owe God our highest love, our deepest devotion, and our greatest service as expressions of our thankful hearts, but not because these are able in the least way to buy or repay His gift of love and mercy to us.
It is no wonder that grace is at the heart of Christian theology for grace summarizes all that God provides His elect.
Now the legalist cannot tolerate grace. To them it appears like license. Grace to them, appears like lawlessness.
That is why our Lord, speaking to the religious and moral Jewish leaders, shocked them with the fact that tax collectors and prostitutes would enter the kingdom of God before those religious leaders. Matthew recalls these words of our Lord in Matt 21:32 -
32 “For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.
They had found salvation while the self-righteous leaders had not.
Grace is a very hard thing to handle to those trying to earn their way into heaven by good works. Grace simply sounds like liberty to sin.
Perhaps thinking of such antagonists, the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 6:1 -
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
The same question is asked in a different way in v. 15 -
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!
The answer to both of them is: “May it never be!” - the strongest Greek idiom for repudiating a statement. It contains a sense of outrage that anyone would ever thing the statement wast true.
The entire chapter is dedicated to the doctrine of sanctification. In chapters 3-5 addresses the doctrine of justification. Justified means to be made right and men are made right with God by God’s grace through faith.
Having addressed justification, now the Apostle Paul writes of its result and that “newness of life” (6:4 - i.e. sanctification).
In this chapter, he shows that the believer has a totally new relationship to sin after salvation, different than before.
As verse 4 puts it -
4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
And then in v. 6 -
6 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;
Now in the second half of the chapter it is said with a new analogy.
Notice the simply axiom Paul introduces in v. 16 -
16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
Here Paul speaks of a new master. A truly justified, redeemed, saved individual is going to have a different relationship to sin than before because he has a new master, namely Christ.
Now at this point the antagonist, the person who struggles with grace, the legalist, all ask the question, “shall we sin?” Deliberately is the idea - persistently, continuously, habitually. The answer is an emphatic Spanish “no!”
On what basis? On the basis that you serve a new Master now.
That Master is Christ Jesus who has paid the penalty for sin in His death and thus the power of sin has has been broken. This is good news indeed! This is grace, my beloved - the grace of our salvation. Not based on our merit, but on His.
His grace justifies the sinner (Rom 3:24) and saves those who were dead in their transgressions (Eph 2:5). Solely by the grace and power of God are we saved. Amen? Amen.
It is no wonder that we are eternally grateful. It is no wonder that we have reason to be thankful this morning, my beloved.
The Apostle Paul writes to those Christians in Rome and says -
“I thank God that you, who were once slaves of sin, are no longer of that character, but you have now obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered to you.”
In this, Paul tells us what is true of any Christian. As Martin Loyd-Jones has said -
“Thus speaking, he [i.e. Paul] throws out one of the most wonderful definitions of the Christian to be found anywhere in the Bible.”
And so a Christian is one who has experienced:
A Great Change (“you were”)
An Internal Change (“from the heart”)
An External Change (“you became obedient”)
17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, (ESV)
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