(Easter Sunday Message, 16 April 2017, given to the congregation of Ikthus East, Bacolod City)
Text: Romans 6:1-14
Introduction: The Christian’s greatest sorrow is the fact that he still has to struggle against the remnants of sin in his life. But Christ has not left him helpless in this regard. By virtue of his resurrection he has bestowed on us Liberating Grace. Grace is not only God’s showing favor to underserving sinners, it is also his supernatural power that gradually frees us from the power of sin in our lives, and will someday completely free us from the presence of sin in our lives. Liberating Grace is nothing less than the power of the resurrection at work in our lives, the same power that defeated sin and death and raised Jesus back to life.
1. The Power of Liberating Grace: Newness of Life (verses 1-4)
If we are saved by grace and not by works, does this mean we can sin all we want? No, because grace is medicine that cures the disease of sin. It destroys rather than feeds sin. Grace not only justifies a person, it regenerates and sanctifies her. God not only forgives the believer, he also gives her new life: He gives her the Holy Spirit who creates in that person a new heart that loves God and obeys him. That’s what baptism signifies: In Christ our old life died and was buried and we are raised to newness of life.
2. The Purpose of Liberating Grace: Freedom from Sin (verses 5-11)
Christ came to destroy the works of the devil. We’ve been set free and should not use our freedom to indulge the flesh because that would contradict the whole point of why we were given grace in the first place.
3. The Practice of Liberating Grace: Discipline the Body (verses 12-13)
Yes, we were given the power to escape the corruption of this world, a corruption brought about by lust or evil desires. But it doesn’t work automatically. We have to exercise ourselves unto godliness. There’s no substitute for this. At the end of the day, after we’ve prayed for God’s help and been encouraged by the Scriptures, we simply have to step out in faith in the power of the Spirit and just do it!
4. The Promise of Liberating Grace: Sin Shall Not Have Dominion Over You (verse 14)
Grace is like a flickering candle floating in the midst of a raging sea. It’s always under threat of being swallowed up by the waves of sin, but lo and behold, it comes up again and continues to shine. The grace of God in us cannot die. It will suffer setbacks, it might even become comatose, but it will sooner or later wake up again. The power of grace consists in this: that no matter how powerful sin is, and no matter how weak grace is, sin cannot put grace to death. Grace can’t be killed! Because grace is the beginning of eternal life in the believer, it is the life of the Spirit, it is the life of Christ, it is the life of God himself, and therefore it cannot die. To be sure, it is but the seed of eternal life that we have received; it has not yet grown into the great and mighty tree that it will someday become. But even in its present state of weakness, it is stronger than sin and death, for in spite of sin’s mightiest blows, no matter how devastating sin’s kicks and punches, grace will always rise up after every fall! Sometimes grace is so battered by sin that only a mere flicker of life is left. But then the flicker goes on flickering and then becomes a tiny flame, and finally it becomes a mighty blaze that consumes sin till no trace of sin is left.
Yes, sin might win some battles but it has already lost the war, because you’re not left to your own strength to save yourself (relying on yourself is what it means to be under the law, which leads to the condemnation of death): you’re relying on God’s grace, which can save you to the uttermost because of Christ’s indestructible life that is in you. (Christ in you, the hope of glory!) Because Christ is risen, we will one day rise too, with bodies imperishable and untouchable by sin forever! Then we shall say, “Sin and death, where is your victory? Sin and death, where is your sting!”