Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 11: The Grateful Dead

Romans 6:11-14

What might make you uncomfortable:

Today's Scripture challenges readers to think differently about themselves specifically that we, as followers of Jesus, are dead to sin and alive to obeying God.

What might make you uncomfortable is that, if we are dead to sin, then we have no excuse to blame our sin upon. It is up to us walk in the fullness of what Jesus paid for.

Today's Devotional:

Romans 6 through 8 begins a new section in Paul's letter regarding the "sanctification" of the believer. Sanctification is just a big doctrinal word that means, "to make holy." This section in Romans describes how God, by the Holy Spirit, grants the fullness of salvation to His sons and daughters.

Today's reading introduces readers to the doctrine of sanctification by answering three main questions:

1. Should we sin...since we can?
2. What happened at salvation that should keep us from sinning?
3. If this is true, how do we fight the temptation to sin today?

1. Should we sin?: Earlier in Romans we discussed justification - that God accepts us and saves us by grace through faith in Christ. We become justified by faith and God accepts us.

It could be easy for someone who has understood the free gift of God's salvation to ask the question, "If God has forgiven me, does that mean I can do what I want?" Probably every reader has thought along these times from time-to-time, as all people naturally are independent and sometimes struggle to submit to God's path.

Paul poses an interesting answer in response to this conundrum: "We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (6:2).

2. What happened at salvation that can keep us from sinning?

Paul's primary answer to the question posed above is simple: Believers are dead to sin.

Believers, when you decided to follow Jesus you entered into a new reality that could be humorously described as "The Grateful Dead." Your old spirit, bent towards sin and unrighteousness, was "united with him in death" (6:5). Jesus put a new spirit in you (Ezekiel 36:26) that provided you with spiritual life. You are now part of the Grateful Dead. God got rid of the old you, and His Spirit is creating something new!

Baptism, Paul explains, serves as a prophetic example of what happened at salvation. The old "you" was crucified with Jesus and buried under the water. We were baptized into His death and now are raised to walk in newness of life (6:4).

Theologian John Stott puts it this way:

Our biography is written in two volumes. Volume one is the story of the old man, the old self, of me before my conversion. Volume two is the story of the new man, the new self, of me after I was made a new creation in Christ. Volume one of my biography ended with the judicial death of the old self. I was a sinner. I deserved to die. I did die. I received my deserts in my Substitute with whom I have become one. Volume two of my biography opened with my resurrection. My old life having finished, a new life to God has begun"

Stott, John R. W., Men Made New: an exposition of Romans 5-8 (Downers Grove: IVP, 1966)

3. If this is true, how do we fight the temptation to sin today?

Reader, please note: Paul is NOT saying that Christians are sinless. If this were true he would have no reason to write "let not sin reign in your mortal bodies" (6:12) or "do not offer the parts of your body to sin" (6:13).

Empirically this stands true. If we are following Jesus then the Bible says that we are dead to sin. Yet, many of us still struggle with sin. How do we fight this temptation today?

The determining factor in our sanctification is, according to this passage, an issue of lordship.

Paul says that when we choose sin, we are letting sin "reign." We have the ability to actually "offer" ourselves to sin. When we live this way, sin is our "master." Although Jesus is always our Savior, sin can become our lord.

Sin becomes our lord when we choose a path that feeds our own evil desires rather than God's ways. When we come under the mastery of sin we are subject its degenerative power. Things in our life fall apart when God is not in charge.

Instead, Paul says that we are to live under "grace" (6:14). We live in relationship with God under Christ's Lordship. Romans 10:9 says that Jesus must be LORD of our lives, not just Savior of our sins. Like Paul, we have all become "devoted slaves" to Christ (Romans 1:1 - The Message). When Jesus is our Lord we obey Him and there is grace to walk in purity. Sin is not an issue, or an option. Its tyranny over our lives is broken. We stand pure, free, happy. We are the grateful dead.

In summary, Sam Storms states the main point of today's passage well in his online commentary of Romans:


We are part of the Grateful Dead! Let's remember the joy of our salvation, act like the old "me" has perished, and live a new life...set apart for God!


Today's message should empower you to know that sin is not in control of your life. Jesus is.
Recite the following truths aloud to help facilitate a paradigm shift in this area:
  • Jesus has power over my sin.
  • The old "me" was bent towards sin, but Jesus has closed that chapter of my life
  • The new "me" is not a victim of sin or the past.
  • The new "me" is alive to obeying God.
  • The new "me" submits to Jesus as Lord. Sin is no longer my master.
  • Today, I will choose to be grateful, because I am a new creation in Christ!

Author's Note: The term Grateful Dead comes from a book called "The Supernatural Lifestyle" in which author Kris Valloton addresses this subject.

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