Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 6. Experiencing the power of the cross . No 03:- Dead to sin (Part 1)

. No 03:- Dead to sin (Part 1)

EXPERIENCING THE POWER OF THE CROSS

DEAD TO SIN (Part 1)


2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (ESV) 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

Introduction.

In my last sermon we started seeing the critical value of the cross in the life of a believer on a daily basis. For it is at that cross where Paul said, ‘when one died for all, all died’. So we asked the question what this means. We all understand the substitutionary role of the death of Christ for the believer, which means that Jesus died in my place, but is their more to that, Paul says I died.  Why would Paul say that we died and then add, “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised?” Does this mean that the cross actually affects my life on a daily basis? Now if that were not true why would Paul tell the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV) 18 For the word (or message) of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God?” How can the cross be the power of God for us who are ‘being’ saved if it simply had substitutionary power the day Jesus died? Surely the message then would be: “I am a sinner guilty of the wages of sin which is death, Christ died in my place, praise God, thank you Jesus, I believe it, so see you in heaven.” Surely there should be more. Why then does Paul say in Galatians 6:14 (ESV) 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” You see for Paul there is a life of experience to be found in the cross. The cross means something on a daily basis, but not the cross as a symbol, but the fact that Christ died and I died with him.

Paul’s theology of the cross is extremely articulate and clear, but because it is scattered amongst the epistles, we often miss it. Paul understood three things about the cross, and we must see it in his writings. He understood that there is a positional death for every believer in the death of Christ. This we saw clearly so far, Christ died; we died, so my position is that I am dead in Christ. Paul then has a clear understanding of the experiential death and life of a believer who is in Christ. We will look at this later, and then lastly Paul sees a perpetual death in the life of a believer in Christ.  So not only did we die in Christ but we keep on experiencing that on a daily basis until we see Him face to face in Glory.

So in the last sermon we started talking about our positional death and what that means to us. I also reminded us about some of our great enemies that stand against us. There is sin, Satan, there is death itself, there is self, there is the flesh, there is law, there is the world, so we can go on and on. So where do we start as we face these enemies? We start with Paul in verse 14: ” because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;”

Now watch carefully Christian. There are conclusions we need to draw as we face these enemies. Paul says he is controlled by the love of Christ because of the conclusions he drew and the conclusion he drew firstly relates to his positional death. So what does Paul teach us regarding these enemies of ours that we struggle against daily? So let’s look at a few of them and draw conclusions.

1. We are dead to sin.

This is the first conclusion we need to draw when we say that when one died we all died. The death of Christ is more than doctrine, but to get to the experiential we need to understand the positional. So we are going to dig into that doctrine now, but we will only fully understand it when we start applying it.

So, we are dead with Christ because when one died for all, all those in Christ died. To understand this practically, Paul makes a very bold claim that those who died with Christ when Christ died for our sins, died to sin. So sin was nailed to the cross and my position towards it is that I am dead to sin in Christ. Romans 6:1-2 (ESV) “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

How did we die to sin? This is exactly what Paul taught us in 2 Corinthians 5. So let’s retranslate that verse.  14 … because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died to sin:” Now obviously Paul concluded this, because we see it all over the show. Here in Romans 6 Paul lays the bed-rock of the Cross as the ‘fixed point’ for the personal life of the believer, which includes our personal victory in every aspect of need.

So what is the big deal of sin? Why would sin be our enemy and why would Christ come and die for our sins, and why would we be dead to sin in Christ? Because sin is bad, and now remember we are talking about real sin, not somebody’s opinions, not somebody’s legalisms or traditions that we break with. Remember two sermons ago we saw in Galatians that Paul would not give into what the Judaizers called sin.  I am talking about real sin, sin that separates us from God.  No wonder CH Spurgeon calls sin the world’s worst tyrant. Listen what he says: “Sin has brought more plaques upon this earth than all the earths’ tyrants. It has brought more pangs and more miseries upon men’s bodies and souls than the craftiest inventions of the most cold blooded… tormentors. Sin …. is such a tyranny that none but those whom God delivers have been able to escape from it. Nay, such a tyranny that even they have been scarcely saved; and they; when saved, have had to look back and remember the dreadful slavery in which they once existed.”

Sin is our enemy because it does not want to lift you up, it wants to bring you down. Sin does not want to help you, no, it wants to destroy you. Listen what Peter says in 1 Peter 2:11 (ESV) 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”

Think about sin, and we all know that it can make you physically and mentally sick, it brings shame, it hinders prayer, it kills your desire for the Word of God and it does not only hurt a person in sin, but it hurts those around us. Sin laughs at our pain and delights in our misery. We can literally spend weeks just on the subject of sin. It is so bad that Romans 6:23 (ESV) says: 23the wages of sin is death…” and the bad news is seen further in Romans 3:23 (ESV) 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,…” So the wages of sin is death and we are all sinners. Sin is so bad that Paul says in Colossians 3:6 (ESV) that 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.”

Church family, sin is bad and we are to hate it. Sadly today we live in a society where sin is not acknowledged as the root cause for all our evil. We rather define it all in psychological terms. No wonder the Roman Catholic Cardinal of South Africa said two weeks ago that these priests who are committing all this hideous crimes against little boys are not guilty of sin or crime but paedophilia is simply a disease.

By the way there are psychologists who make a case for just about any sin as simply being a psychological condition or that circumstances justify behaviour. Interestingly, you will not find the word sin in any psychology dictionary. Modern psychology for example refuses to recognize drunkenness as sin; they rather call it a "chemical dependency." Homosexuality is a morally reprehensible sin in the Word of God; but modern psychologists call it an "alternative lifestyle." A rebellious man or woman may be diagnosed with hormonal imbalance, regressive anger, post-traumatic stress, clinical depression, or even a chemical-imbalance-of-the-brain; BUT no none-Christian psychologist would dare cut to the chase of the matter and call it what it is namely sin. On the contrary you feel like a sinner in this world if you stand up against sin. Stand up against homosexuality and you suffer of the sickness called homophobia.

There are so many of the doctrines of the Bible that will make no sense if you do not understand the terrible nature of sin. Think about them. What does salvation, God’s judgment, heaven, hell, death, punishment, justification, sanctification, propitiation or redemption mean to us without an understanding of sin? I believe the very reason so many Christians do not grow in their spiritual walk is because we have forgotten just how ugly sin is. If you do not think that sin is ugly then think again about the cross and why Christ came into the world. 1 Timothy 1:15 (ESV) 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

Let me give you a few definitions of sin that will be helpful.

Firstly, sin is missing the mark. The word sin comes from the Greek word ‘hamartia’. The word hamartia is rooted in the notion of missing the mark (hamartanein) and covers a broad spectrum that includes ignorant, mistaken, or accidental wrongdoing, as well as deliberate iniquity, error, or sin. It was used for example when somebody was target shooting with a bow and arrow or threw a spear and they missed the mark. So at the centre of sinning is missing God’s target for our lives. This can be seen in the negative wrong doing and in the positive for failing to do what is right.

Secondly, sin is rebellion. Sin is failure to confirm to God’s law both in action and attitude. 1 John 3:4 (ESV) 4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” The slightest departure from absolute obedience to God’s commandments is sin. That is why sin is often called transgressions. A transgression is where you rebel against a rightful authority. Do you realize that even when you sin against your neighbour you actually sin against God? Even when David committed adultery with Bathsheba he prayed to God and said: Psalm 51:4 (ESV) 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.” So when we sin, we treat God as our worst enemy.

Thirdly, sin is perversion. A pervert is not somebody who sits looking at dirty pictures or who ogles over somebody of the opposite sex. To ‘pervert’ is simply to twist or distort. So if you take the good that God has given you and you twist it, you are guilty of perversion. For example sex is not sin, but when we twist its meaning we can find many ways to sin sexually. Eating is not sin, but eating that is twisted becomes gluttony. Money is not sin, but twisted it becomes the love of money and that is sin. Loving children is not sin; paedophilia is as it is a perversion of the love of children.

Fourthly, sin is emptiness. The apostle Paul tells us that sin is futile. Ephesians 4:17 (ESV) 17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” It is useless, pointless and does not achieve anything. Sin has no greater and more glorious purpose. It is like drowning at sea and trying to pull yourself out by your own hair. No sin has any benefit, because there is always a cost.

Fifthly, sin is an abomination to God. As humans, but now even so much more now that we are Christians, we are supposed to love what God loves and hate what God hates. Church family, sin gratifies our enemy, it gratifies Satan, and it does not gratify or please God. When we sin we are acting like people who are spiritually blind and deaf, we act as those who are unfaithful to a faithful God, we are committing spiritual adultery because we are in a loving relationship with that which stands in enmity towards God. And to continue in sin is to be like a dog who returns to his vomit. Proverbs 26:11 (ESV) says: “11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” To sin against God is like cutting off the branch from the tree that supports you while sitting on the other side of the cut.

The big problem with sin and when we do not deal with it is that it easily overtakes you and entangles you in its web like a spider that catches its prey. That is why the Hebrew writer writes in Hebrews 12:1 (ESV) 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,…”

So after all I have just said, and I could have said so much more, we must begin to understand the significance of Romans 6:1-2 (ESV) 1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Something had to happen to sin. Paul says our position changed, we are now in Christ, sin is no longer our master, we are dead to its punishment and we are dead to its power. But we must reckon ourselves dead to sin, you must draw the conclusion as we saw in 2 Corinthians 5:14.

Do you understand why Christ would die for our sins? In reality we were to die for our sins, because sin is so bad and the wages of sin is death. I really believe we will never fully understand this fully until we get to heaven. I don’t think we understand just how bad hell is that God would go all out to rescue me from hell, to the point that he would send His Son to die in my place. If we are going to hate sin and deal with sin we need to come back to the message of the cross and realise that our sin deserved eternal hell.

Now we need to be careful here. Too easily we divide sin into categories of what is not too bad and what is very bad, and we often do it to justify ourselves and to judge others. Jesus had something to say about this. Luke 13:2-5 (ESV) 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

James tells us that all sin is sin in the eyes of God.

James 2:8-11 (ESV) 8 If you really fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.”

So no matter if you regard yourself as a small sinner, the wages of sin is death, hell was reserved for you. I love the way that Robert Murray McCheyne put it: “We were all over the lake of fire, but it was from this that Jesus saved us, He was in the prison for you and me – He drank every drop of the cup of God’s wrath for you and me, He died the just for the unjust. O beloved, how should we prize, love, and adore Jesus for what He hath done for us. Why we will never, never know, till safe across Jordan, how our hell has been suffered for us – how our iniquity has been pardoned! But, O beloved think of hell.”

So this morning I want you to think of sin, I want you to think of hell, and I want you to think of Jesus Christ who died for sin and I want you to think that in Jesus Christ we died to sin with Him. So if Jesus through His death was victorious over sin, surely we through our death to sin with Christ or in Christ have to become victorious over sin. Remember that Jesus Christ paid for our sins past, present and future, and while it is true that we are saved from the power of sin we are not saved from the presence of sin, so sin will be with us till the day we die, but remember Paul says we cannot continue in it, because we died to sin. So Christians while we will not eradicate sin completely this side of glory, we need to deal with sin, but you never will until you grasp that which we saw today and realize that because you died with Christ to sin it means something practical, and not just theoretical.

Christ died, I died, how can I live in sin any longer? The significance of this will become very clear when we get to the experiential outworking of the cross in our lives. In the meantime it is sufficient to know that you have experienced a positional death to sin. I trust that you have concluded with Paul today when he says: 2 Corinthians 5:14 (ESV) 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;…” I trust that you have concluded that you are dead to sin in Jesus Christ. Your first enemy is defeated in Christ.

Amen.

Logos Community Church: - 24 March 2013