Friday, March 12, 2010

Romans Sermon #65 March 7, 2010

What Do You Mean. . . I Have Died To Sin?
Romans 6:1-7

On January 21, 2008, 81-year-old Feliberto Carrasco's family members found his lifeless, cold, and stiff body in his home in Chili. Believing he was dead, they called the funeral home who came and took his body away. He was dressed in his best suit and placed in a beautiful coffin and transported to the wake where right in the middle of the festivities, he sat up very much alive and very very thirsty. Once he was given a glass of water and was able to talk, he told his family that as he came to and realized everyone thought he was dead—he simply couldn't believe he was really dead because he was craving water so badly--but on the other hand, couldn't understand if he wasn't really dead why he was in this coffin?

Well, many of us have the same problem this man did—we too are having a real problem understanding and believing that as the Bible says—we have died to sin because many times it seems like we are craving sin so badly. Today we are going to be talking about this very subject--”What does Paul mean when he says we have died to sin.” So turn with me to Romans 6:1-7 and let's begin.

As we begin, let me warn you—you are going to be tempted to check out on me, thinking, this is way too heavy, too deep, and too complicated? Just tell me that Jesus loves me and that everything is going to be fine. But don't check out—try to stay with me and you will put down some deep roots into the solid ground of God's Word that will give you the solid footing you need to fight sin.

Notice that in Romans 6, before we ever get to the practical application of actually fighting sin in verses 12-23, we are told in verse 11 that we must believe what God has said is true of us. And the problem most of us have is we don't know what God says is true of us and since we obviously can't believe what we don't know—we really can't effectively fight sin. So, in order to live the Christian life the way it is designed to be lived and enjoyed so as to see God get the glory and us the joy—let's learn what God says is true of us in regard to sin now that we are saved.

The "we" Paul is referring to in Romans 6:2 are Christians - that is, truly justified believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. So the question we need to ask is: What does it mean that all believers have died to sin and thus are not able to continue in it?

Grammatically speaking, the word Paul uses in verse 2 for “died” is an aorist tense verb which is referring to an action that has already occurred “once and for all”. It is not referring to an action that is repeated but rather an action that occurred once and will not ever occur again in the believer's life. So, we need to find out--in what sense did the believer die once and for all to sin.

Now it is also important to note that Paul uses the definite article with the word sin. In using the definite article “the” with the noun “sin”, Paul is making the point that it is not that the believer has “died to sin in general” but rather he has died to “the sin”. In other words, he, in using the definite article, is not simply talking about “sin” or “a sin”, or “sins”. Rather, he is talking about a very particular and very specific “sin”--which he is identifying as “the sin”. And if we were to trace the antecedent of “the sin” back to its source we would find that “the sin” Paul is referring to in Romans 6:2 is “the sin” he was referring to in Romans 6:1 and which is referred to back in Romans 5:21; 5:20; and 5:12, which is the verse Paul began his discussion on “the sin of Adam” that threw the whole human race into its condition of sinful depravity and hostility toward God so that the human race was condemned to both spiritual and physical death.

Now, let's go back to Romans 5:12 and begin there so as to understand what Paul is referring to when he makes the assertion that all true believers have died to “the sin”. In Romans 5:12, Paul begins a section of teaching in which he makes the point that before our salvation we were in union with Adam and thus in union with Adam's sin in the Garden of Eden. However, in salvation—that union with Adam and with his original sin is broken and the believer is placed in union with Christ as well as in union with His activity of conquering Adam's sin on the cross of Calvary.

So, in Romans 5:12, Paul makes the point that through Adam, “the sin” entered the world. Furthermore, through the entrance of “the sin” into the world—death or as it is literally rendered, “the death” also entered the world and spread to all men.
Now, this “death” is primarily referring to “spiritual death” that produces or results in physical dying and ultimately physical death.

Then in Romans 5:13, Paul says that from Creation until the Law was given through Moses—sin was in the world. Now here, he does not use the definite article thus, he is referring to man's sinful motives, attitudes, actions, and words rather than Adam's original sin.

Now the reason why “sin” was in the world and really characterized the world was because it came about as the result of Adam's first sin in the Garden of Eden. In other words, Adam's sin as the “head” or “representative” of the whole human race, resulted in and still results in people sinning so that we do not become sinners by sinning—we sin because we are sinners—and in fact were born sinners. But note that Paul's point is that even though man sinned from the time of Creation until Moses—his sin was not imputed to him or counted against him or recorded so as to be held against him for the simple reason that there was no law in place to hold him accountable.

Now look at Romans 5:14. Here, Paul says, that nevertheless, even though man's individual and personal sins from the time of Creation until the Law was given in the days of Moses were not imputed against them—they still died. In fact, Paul writes, that “the death reigned over them”. And the reason why they died—in other words, suffered the consequence of Adam's sin, which produced “the death” or “the reign of death” is because they were seen by God as having been in union with Adam even though they were not physically in the Garden of Eden. In other words, God saw all people as in Adam and as doing what Adam did when he chose to sin against God.
And thus, since God saw us as being in union with Adam when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden—God attributed to every single human being that has ever lived “the sin” of Adam as well as the consequences of that sin which is “spiritual death”. And the proof that this is true is that everyone dies.

But then Paul takes us to Romans 5:15-17, and explains that just as when we were in union with Adam—Adam's sin was our sin and his consequences were our consequences when we come to Christ for salvation—we are placed in union with Christ so that He and His work on our behalf is attributed to us so that we can be saved from the consequences of Adam's sin—which was that we all became condemned sinners who enjoyed sinning.

Finally, he gets us to Romans 5:18-21, where he simply makes the point that those who have been saved by faith—have been placed in union with Christ and in this union with Christ have been made righteous in God's sight (v. 19) and placed under the reign of grace (v. 21) so that just as “the sin” used to reign in “the death”, “even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Don't miss the significance of Paul's point in verse 21 when he states that “the sin reigned in the death.” In essence, what he is saying is that the power of original sin or of the sin of Adam which was attributed to all people was derived from the fact that it caused the spiritual death of all people before they were ever born and that this spiritual death of which all people were included in resulted in them all sinning and then eventually all dying as well. Hebrews 2:14-15 makes the point that the devil, who tempted Adam to commit this original sin was the one who possessed this power of “the death”, which enslaved everybody through fear.
But, it also makes the point that the devil's power and thus “the sin's” power over spiritual death was broken and rendered totally powerless through Jesus Christ's death on the cross in our place and on our behalf. In other words, in the true believer's life, the old reign of “Adam's sin” which produced “complete spiritual death” has been destroyed and replaced by a new authority and a new reigning power in and over our lives and that is God's grace, which reigns in our lives through the power of Christ's righteousness that because it was imputed to our accounts guarantees to us not only spiritual life but eternal life.

And thus, Paul's point in Romans 6:2 is that when we came to Christ Jesus for salvation by faith in Him and in His finished work at Calvary—we died to “Adam's original sin” and “the spiritual death”, Adam's sin had produced in us so that it no longer has any effect or impact upon us. By virtue of the fact, that we were separated from Adam and placed in spiritual union with Christ—Adam's sin and the resulting spiritual death that took the form of hostility toward God and a love of rebellion toward God was removed from us so that we are no longer in the position of being estranged from God, being hostile to God, and being the unreconciled enemy of God.

In essence, when we came to Christ for salvation and were justified by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone—we died to the curse and the consequences of our old position in Adam. And thus we are no longer identified with his original sin and thus are no longer under the condemnation and effects of spiritual death—which can best be described as complete separation from God. You see, just as when a person dies physically—there is a complete break with the realm in which we live here on earth, so to, when we died to “the sin”--there was a complete break with the realm in which we once lived and with the ruler we once served which was “the sin”. And thus, Paul's point in Romans 6:2, when he writes: “How shall we who died to the sin still live in it?”--is simply that—if you are a truly saved person, God has produced such a complete break with your old condemned position and condemned standing before Him that it would be impossible for you to still live as though you were in that old condemned position and standing before God. Furthermore, in your salvation, God, in essence, crucified who you were before salvation with Christ so that not only have you died to your old position as a condemned sinner before God--but who you were as that condemned sinner died with Christ on the cross and then you were raised with Christ as a brand new uncondemned and spiritually alive person who while still bothered by and antagonized by “the sin” is no longer under its control or condemnation.

This is what Paul is telling us in Romans 6:3-7. Using baptism as the picture of our complete union with or immersion into Christ and all that Christ did and accomplished at Calvary—Paul tells us that when we were saved—we were in essence immersed into Christ so much so that we were seen by God as being in complete union with Him so that what was true of Him on the cross is true of us. So that, when Christ died—who we were before salvation died (Rom. 6:3). So that, when Christ was buried—who we were before salvation was buried with Him (Rom. 6:4a). So that, when Christ was raised from the dead, through the glory of God, we too were raised as “new creations” in Christ Jesus, who can now enjoy a qualitatively new and different life than we used to live as those who were slaves to “the sin” (Rom. 6:4b-6).

What Paul is saying in verse 6 is that whereas sin is still alive and well—its power, which is huge has no viable connection to you any longer because the “old man” it used to be connected to is dead. The “old man” is not merely referring to our Adamic nature or our old nature but rather to a person--”the person we were in our unsaved state in union with Adam and who therefore lived life under the tyranny of sin and death”. So, when you were saved, what was crucified with Christ was not merely a part of you called 'your old nature', but the whole of who you were before you were saved. And the old you was crucified with Christ so that “the body of sin” might be done away with.

That phrase, “done away with” is the Greek word katargeo, which means: to make something idle or to cause something to cease. It has the idea of a permanent cessation of power. In other words, whereas God did not remove the presence of sin from you when you were saved—He so completely cut off its connection to you that it has no real power over you at all. One way to illustrate it would be to get into a car with a standard transmission and push the clutch and the gas pedal all the way to the floor at the same time. As long as you do not take your foot off the clutch all you are going to experience is an awful lot of noise because as long as that clutch is pushed all the way to the floor the potential power being generated by the gas pedal being pushed all the way to the floor is not able to engage the transmission and start it moving. And whereas the reving of the engine is loud, obnoxiously irritating, scary, and makes you feel like the car is in control—as long as there is no connection between the engine and the transmission—that car is not going anywhere.

Well, that is what happens to you as a saved person—whereas sin is present in you—all it can do is make a lot of noise—but it has no power over you—and thus you are no longer a “slave to it”.

Thus, as Romans 6:7 restates—the person who has died is freed from “the sin”.
And here in verse 7, we have the best answer for what Paul means when he says that the true believer has died to sin—it simply means we have been freed from it in the sense that we have been freed from its penalty which condemned us to spiritual death as well as its power which blinded us to the fact that God could be enjoyed far more than sin.

Finally, we were freed from sin's identity, which had become our identity as unregenerate, unsaved, and eternally condemned sinners. Listen, if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ—that is—you have trusted and are trusting in Him alone for the forgiveness of your sins—then you have been freed once and for all from all this and furthermore you have been freed from sin's ability to destroy, ruin, compromise, or diminish your standing and acceptance with God and thus, your assurance of His continued love and grace toward you.

You are completely out of sin's reach and thus cannot ever live under its penalty, power, or identity again. It is impossible. Sin still has the ability to antagonize, irritate, tempt, and otherwise try to deceive you into thinking it can defeat you but that is as far as its ability goes—it cannot ultimately defeat you for you have been freed from the worst it could ever do to you—which is to separate you from the love of God. Which is why, by-the-way, that Paul ends this whole section way down the road in Romans 8:31-39.

In other words, before calling us to fight our personal sin—Paul assures us that irregardless of how well the battle goes for us—we are still more than conquerors in Christ Jesus our Lord—and thus we can engage this enemy knowing we cannot lose or be separated from Him Who is the greatest treasure and pleasure in life—God Himself.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Romans Message #64 February 28, 2010

The Believer's Fight With Sin Is A Fight To Believe The Seemingly Impossible!
Romans 6:1

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the United States Navy and Coast Guard often practiced what was known as “shooting across the bow”. When these ships would come across other vessels which were not flying their colors and thus could not be recognized--warning shots could be fired toward those vessels, usually in front of the bow—so as to get their attention and make it clear that they needed to immediately hoist the flags, which would identify who they were and what nation or kingdom they originated from.

Interestingly enough, even today, warning shots are also used by U.S. military planes, to demand some action of an “unknown and unidentifiable” aircraft that is approaching or in restricted U.S. Airspace. The usual scenario, when this takes place, is that of fighter jets being scrambled to intercept the “unknown” and “unidentified” aircraft to make it change course and then escort it to an airport where it and her pilot are taken into custody. However, if this unknown and unidentified aircraft will not change course, the U.S. Military aircraft may, if given the command, fire tracer rounds in front of the suspicious aircraft, which would immediately make the point to the pilot of the off-course airplane—to either change course or be shot down.

Well—all this to say that last weeks study in Romans 6:1-2 was Paul's shot across the bow—to get the attention of people--who thinking they are believers—really aren't. It was also his shot across the bow to get the attention of believers who need to learn how to fight sin in their lives.

Let's read these two verses again and review his argument. Paul's main point here is that the true believer in Jesus Christ cannot continue on loving and living with sin as he or she did before coming to Christ for salvation. The key to understanding what he is saying in these two verses and really the entirety of Romans 6 is the word “continue” in verse 1. “Are we to continue in sin because we think God's grace will cover it?”

As we saw last week, this word is the Greek word meno, which means to abide comfortably with or in. Thus, the idea that Paul is putting forth is—Can a true believer continue to live comfortably with his sin? Can he continue to pursue sin without any conflict in his soul . . . is another way of putting it. And Paul's answer is an emphatic--”No Way—Its Not Possible!”

Because the true believer has died to sin—he can no longer still live in it. Oh, it isn't that he never sins or is never tempted to sin or does not struggle with sin--Rather, as a believer who has died to the reign, control, power, and spell of sin over his life, he now sees sin and his sin in particular for what it is and is no longer beguiled by it and cannot simply tolerate it with no conflict in his soul.
He cannot live comfortably with it and thus he will take up arms against it and he will fight it even if the fight lasts the rest of his mortal life.

And whereas, we know there are people who do believe they are Christians because they have made a profession of faith sometime in their lives—but who still live like the devil and have no problem doing so—that is not where most of us here are at—is it? Oh, we may have moments when we are living like the devil but we will have a problem with these, hopefully, few moments. I doubt very much that there is a sizable number of people here in this church who--while professing to know Christ--still loves, enjoys and participates in their sin experiencing no conflict in their soul and who believe their sin really doesn't matter because God's grace will cover it anyway. And Paul knows that very few of those who will continue reading and studying Romans to this point in the book are on this end of the spectrum where they are flaunting grace and pursuing sin with reckless abandon all the while professing to know Jesus. He knows, just as I know, and many of you know and have even experienced—that the true believer has a tendency to move to the other end of the spectrum--to the point where he becomes so discouraged in his fight with sin and his many defeats that he doesn't think and believe God's grace can help him.

Interestingly enough, I have found in my talks with believers that the scenario many have in common when it comes to sin is that they really do hate it and desire to fight it and be free of it--but more times than not—when the temptation to the particular sin they are struggling with raises its head—they end up after a bit of a very short skirmish—giving in—and then hating themselves and falling into a fit of despondency and despair. And in their despair, they usually tend toward three extremes.

The first extreme is looking at their sin failure and concluding that this is not consistent with being a true believer and thus I must not be a true believer—therefore, my profession of faith was not real and genuine therefore, I need to be saved—and so they will go to the Lord for salvation—again--and sometimes—again and again and again—all the while hoping they say the right words and really mean it in their hearts this time.

The second extreme that the despairing believer may tend toward if their theology allows for it—is to believe they have lost their salvation and need to be saved again. Now, since most of us understand the Scriptures to teach that the true believer is secure in his salvation and that it is Biblically impossible for the truly justified believer to become unjustified and thus unacceptable to God—our tendency is toward extreme number one—in which we keep trying to get saved again or toward extreme number three, which is, to become so entrenched in our despondency with the ineffectiveness of our battle with sin that we become discouraged to point of thinking the battle is hopeless and that we will never see it defeated nor us sanctified.

Well—again, Paul knows that these are the extremes most believers tend toward when their battle with sin has become embarrassingly ineffective and ugly. This is why, he gets our attention the way he does by 'shooting across our bow” as it were. You see, the first thing we have to have in the battle with sin in order to effectively engage it and keep it engaged in combat is the Assurance of our salvation. And this is why—he makes this strong point—that if you don't have a conflict with sin and are able to abide in it comfortably and with no conflict in your soul—you are not a true Christian. Now, the reciprocal truth is that if you do have a conflict with sin in your soul and you cannot live comfortably with it and you wish to be rid of it—it is because you are a true believer irregardless of how well you are fighting the battle.

You see, if we are to fight our sin as true believers we must fight our sin knowing we are true believers. Just as an unbeliever will not fight his sin—a believer who is not confident he is a believer will not fight his sin effectively. The Assurance of our justification and our acceptance before and with God is always the platform from which believers must start in their battle with sin. We do not battle with our sin so as to earn our salvation and consequently our acceptance with God. Nor do we battle with our sin so as to maintain our salvation and thus our acceptance with God. Rather, the reason why the believer battles his sin is because he is a believer and is therefore justified before God and therefore acceptable to God. In other words, the believer is not fighting to gain assurance of his salvation but because he has the assurance of his salvation.

The true believer fights sin because a change really did take place in his life when he placed faith in Christ and he really did die to sin so that now it is not normal for him to continue to pursue sin with no conflict in his soul over it. Thus, he fights sin because it is what a person who has died to sin because he has trusted in Christ for salvation and has become a new creation in Christ does. And so it is the very desire to fight sin and it is the very conflict in your soul that you experience when you do sin and the desire to stop sinning and really the desire that God would just take you home rather than allow you to continue to sin that is the assurance that you truly are a saved person. And this assurance is what gives the believer the confidence to stay engaged in the fight. And this is why Paul uses the little word “then” in Romans 6:1 to point us back to the truths we know to be true about our salvation and which are found in Romans 4:16-5:21.

Notice again, his very first question in Romans 6:1. “What shall we say then?”
You see, before he shoots his artillery barrage across the bow of our weak faith—so as to get the attention of those who need to be spiritually strengthened in their fight against sin--he points us back to those truths about our salvation. In essence, the little word “then” is making it clear that the the fact that you can no longer live comfortably with your sin is the evidence that Romans 5:21 is true of you and that you have been truly removed from the reign of sin and placed under the reign of grace where according to Romans 5:20 God's grace is always super-abounding toward us.

Furthermore, our new attitude toward our sin in which we cannot peacefully co-exist with it is the proof that we were truly reconciled to God through Christ Jesus Who paid our sin penalty in full as Paul tells us in Romans 5:6-11. And if we are having a fight with sin and are thus no longer at peace with sin in our lives it is because as truly saved people we are at peace with God as Paul teaches in Romans 5:1-2.

So—you look at all this and you say—OK--well there has been a change in my attitude toward sin since I trusted in Christ and it is true that I can no longer comfortably co-exist with my sin and you are right—whereas before I could sin and not give it another thought—now I can't sin without it causing me great conflict in my soul. So, yes it would appear that there is evidence that I am a saved person but if I am a saved person why can't I stop sinning? If I am a saved person why am I still struggling with sin? And why does it appear to me that my sin is getting the best of me so much of the time? In fact, if the truth be known—I am having a terrible struggle believing that I will ever defeat sin in my life and truly be sanctified and finally present blameless and spotless before the throne of God.

And here is where the little word “then” points us to what Paul has to say about Abraham in Romans 4:16-25. Paul tells us that just as Abraham was told by God to believe the impossible—that in spite of everything he knew to be true about himself and his wife Sarah, which led him to believe that there was absolutely no way it would be possible for them to have a child at their age—God would keep His promise and give them a son--so we too, need to believe what appears to be impossible to us—that one day we will experience total victory over our sin and see it lying dead at our feet. And that when it appears that we are not being sanctified and growing in our faith that we really are. And that everything we see and know about ourselves is telling us that becoming holy is an utter impossibility—that it isn't—because God has told us that He is going to make us holy and sanctify us completely.

Listen, in order to be saved, we had to believe that God could and would save wretches like us based upon His grace rather than upon our works. And the reason why that truth is so important for us to continue to grab ahold of even years after we have been saved is because just as we were saved by God when everything about us said it could not be true--so we are sanctified by God through His grace when everything about us and everything we know and see to be true about us tells us it is impossible.

You see the word “then” is pointing us back to not only the fact that God's grace super-abounded to us in our salvation which in human terms was an utter impossibility--it is also pointing us forward to the fact that God's grace super-abounds to us in our sanctification when in human terms it seems like an utter impossibility. In other words, just as God in His super-abounding grace saved a wretch like me when it seemed an utter impossibility--so God in His super-abounding grace will sanctify a wretch like me when it seems as though it is impossible.

Now, lets contemplate the difference between sanctifying and saving grace. We know that God's grace toward the unbeliever who comes to Him for salvation is able to cover any and all sin that he has ever or will ever commit. Saving grace is for the purpose of covering and dealing with all of our sin so as to truly make us acceptable to God. Well—if in saving grace—all of our sin, past—present--and future, has been taken care of by God so as to be totally forgiven, and in fact removed from us as far as the east is from the west so that as Paul says in Colossians 2:13-14--
“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and he has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Then let me ask you what is the purpose of sanctifying grace? Obviously, it is not provided to us for the purpose of covering our sin or paying for it or making us acceptable to God—that is what “saving grace” did.

Rather, it is provided to us for the purpose of fighting our sin and believing that in the fight God is going to ultimately sanctify us just as He promised He would. You see, God's grace in sanctifying us also super-abounds to us—not to cover sin which is already covered but to fight sin which is overwhelming us. You see, when our sin is abounding and seemingly defeating us at every turn—God's promise to us is that His grace is super-abounding toward us for the purpose of fighting it and not only fighting it but continuing to fight it even when we are losing horrendously.

I think James speaks to this in James 4:4-6 where in writing to believers about this whole fight with sin sounds a lot like Paul in Romans 6. Look at what he says. In verse 4, he is basically saying that if you are professing Christ as your Lord and Savior yet see no inconsistency in living a worldly and sinful lifestyle so that it appears as though your real loyalty is not to Christ but to the world—then you are an enemy of God—irregardless of your profession of faith. Doesn't that sound like Paul when he asks--”Are we to continue living comfortably in and without any conflict with our sin that grace may increase—May it never be!”

Then James makes the point in verse 5 that God jealously desires the spirit He has made to dwell in us or our “new man” to be loyal to Him and not to the world or to sin. And then in verse 6, James makes the point that God gives believers a “greater grace”. Now keep in mind that in salvation—God gives unbelievers grace. In sanctification God gives the believer grace—so here we are not talking about “saving grace' as much as about “sanctifying grace”. And when James writes that God gives us a greater grace in our sanctifying fight with sin so as to be holy—it is not that it takes more and greater grace to sanctify us than to save us--but rather, that it takes a greater degree of grace in our lives for us to believe we will be sanctified than it did for us to believe we could be saved.

You see, when we were brought to Christ for salvation and told to believe that He would forgive us our sin and save us from our sins--we came to Him as people who had been blind to our sin and to its effect of having separated us from God. We came to Christ knowing we were sinners but never having fought sin—we never really understood its power. But as believers who have gone a few rounds with sin and who in the fight with sin have been pressed against the ropes and even knocked to ground more times than we care to remember—we understand sin's power and thus simply because we now know what we are fighting with and how able it is to run us into the ground—we need a greater degree of grace to keep believing that in this fight, which we seem to be losing more than we are winning that God really is going to make us holy and one day present us before His throne as blameless. And we need a greater degree of grace—which God is providing to us as believers—to not fall into the three extremes—we tend to fall into when we sin miserably as believers. We need a greater degree of God's grace to keep us from continually thinking we were never saved in the first place and that we need to go back and get it right this time. We need a greater degree of God's grace to keep us from thinking we have lost our salvation and need to go back and get saved again. And finally, we need a greater degree of God's grace to keep us from falling into despair and a despondency over our sin that tempts us to run from God in shame rather than to run to Him for help.

As James puts it in James 4:6-8, God has given us who are believers this greater grace in the midst of the battle with our sin to do four very important things that will make all the difference in the world when sin is getting the best of us.

1.God has given us a greater degree of grace to believe that we can submit to God rather than sin. (v.7a)
2.God has given us a greater degree of grace to believe that we can resist the devil and that he will flee from us. (v.7b)
3.God has given us a greater degree of grace to believe that not only can we draw near to God as believers but God desires us to draw near to Him even after we have lost a battle with sin and to believe that when we do draw near to God—He truly does draw near to us. (v. 8)
4.And finally, God has given us a greater degree of grace to believe that we can fight and deal with our sin in a way that produces holiness as we continually repent of our sin and humbly confess it to God. (vv. 8b-10)


When Herb Brooks got the nod to coach the U.S. Hockey Team in the 1980 Olympics to be held at Lake Placid, New York he knew that the team to beat was the Soviet Union or the Russians as we now know them. And Herb knew that he needed to change the way his young amateur US team played the game if they were to have a chance at winning a gold medal against a team that had not lost a gold medal game in 24 years. But in order to change the way his team played against this team the Americans had never defeated before—Herb knew he needed to change the way they thought about the game, their opponent, and themselves. But most important, he had to convince his team that not only could the Russian team be defeated—it could be defeated by a team made up of American college players—that simply believed they could do it.

Well, you know the rest of the story—this American Hockey Team did defeat the Russian National Team in a game billed as a miracle—because they had the confidence to believe they could. And you see, this is why God has given us a greater degree of grace in our battle against sin—we need this greater grace in order to believe the seemingly impossible—that our sin can be beaten and that we will be made holy and someday be presented as blameless before the throne of God.

Pursuing the Glory of Christ as though He were the most important pursuit in all the world--Because He Is!

" Looking for the Blessed Hope and the appearing of The Glory of our Great God and Savior, Christ Jesus." Titus 2:13