Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 6. Experiencing the power of the cross . No 04:- Dead to sin (Part 2)

. No 04:- Dead to sin (Part 2)

EXPERIENCING THE POWER OF THE CROSS

DEAD TO SIN  (PART 1)

1 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 implications of the critical value of the cross in the life of a believer on a daily basis and specifically how it relates to sin. We were able at the end of the sermon to retranslate verse 14 of the text before us to read: “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died, TO SIN”.  So when Jesus died on the cross to sin, we died to sin and that is exactly what Paul taught us in 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?”

Now just a reminder where we are going.

Now remember, we are trying to make sense of 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 and just what the message of the cross means to us on a daily basis. Why does Paul so often use the terms die, make dead etc. in his writings? We have seen earlier that it is because of the conclusion that he drew regarding the death of Christ, that has radically revolutionised his life and that he therefore now is controlled by the love of Christ and he no longer lives for himself because he understands the cross and what happened there.

Somebody once said: “Don't confuse my personality with my attitude. My personality is who I am. My attitude depends on who you are.” In the same way as a Christian your personality is not going to change unless your attitude towards the cross and towards sin changes. Because of the cross, as a Christian in Christ, you are a new creation. Ultimately the Christian life is about attitude, altitude and latitude. Let me just say this and I want to put it in aviation terms. Your attitude in life towards the message of the cross and sin will determine your altitude (how high or low you will go emotionally and spiritually). This in turn will affect your latitude (how far you will go ultimately). I believe that many of us might not be controlled by the love of Christ and we might still live for ourselves and not for Christ because we have not drawn the right conclusions regarding the cross. I trust that we have drawn the right conclusions regarding the fact that it is at the cross that we are dead to sin as we saw in my last sermon.

Now also remember that I mentioned that we will look at ‘experiencing the power of the cross’ in three parts, namely our positional death, our experiential death and our perpetual or continual death. Also remember that we have a few enemies that wage war against us. They are sin, Satan, the flesh, self, the world, law and we can add a few more very practical issues like racism. Now originally my intention was to fly you through our positional death to all of these and then only to get to the second part which is our experiential death, but I have reconsidered and decided we will look at the positional death of each one and then immediately apply the experiential death to that enemy of ours. At the end of the series we will apply the perpetual death to all of those as it has bearing on all in a corporate sense.

So, in my last sermon we said that we are dead to sin, that ghastly enemy that purchases for us eternal damnation in hell. We are dead to that ghastly sin that vicious enemy that caused the Son of God to die for us on the cross of Calvary. Now we need to apply it. We are dead to sin, now for the experience.

Something radical happened the moment I became born again. There is a lot about it in Scripture, but look at Paul’s calling and how his ministry relates to the topic at hand and our experience. Acts 26:18 (ESV) “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Notice just how our position changed. We came from blindness to sight, from darkness to light, from Satan to God, from damnation to forgiveness, from wickedness to sanctification and from unbelief to faith. This is one radical positional change. This is another way of saying that “God turns broken pieces into master pieces”. People, we are in a new Kingdom, and in this new Kingdom the rules are different. If you do not understand your change in position or in Kingdom you will not survive. You cannot play rugby based on cricket rules. You join another team and the rules change. In the Kingdom of God the rules are different than the Kingdom of Satan. If somebody claims to live in the Kingdom of God and they want to live on the basis of the old rules, maybe they are not in the Kingdom at all, or they are just failing to understand the dynamics and rules of the new Kingdom.

So the question this morning is how do we deal with sin? How do we take aim at sin? How do we fight sin? How do we mortify sin?

Firstly, reminding ourselves how bad sin is.

This was the point of our whole first sermon and I don’t want to repeat it all. But remember that sin is the missing of a target, a wandering from the path, a straying from the fold. Sin is a hard heart and stiff neck. Sin is blindness and deafness. It is both the overstepping of a line and the failure to reach it - both transgression and shortcoming. Sin is a beast crouching at the door. In sin, people attack or evade or neglect their divine calling. These and other images suggest deviance; even when it is familiar, sin is never normal... Above all; sin disrupts and resists the vital human relation to God. Sin has no lasting benefit and should not be pursued for any gain.

Secondly, by reminding ourselves of our position on the cross.

Look again at Paul’s comment in 2 Corinthians 5:14: “because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died..” Paul’s life changed because he could arrive at conclusions and the most important conclusion he arrived at is that he is dead and as we saw in the previous sermon he realised that he is dead to sin. The reason Paul did not continue in sin is because of what he said in 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?” Again he draws a conclusion. This is the starting block, namely a reminder. Shall we continue to slander one another? No we are dead to it. Will I keep on getting drunk? No I am dead to it. Will we continue in hatred, bitterness and unforgiveness? No we are dead to it. Will I be unfaithful to my wife or husband? No I am dead to it. Will I disobey my parents? No I am dead to it. Will I steal? No I am dead to it. Will I covet my neighbour’s belongings? No I am dead to it. Will I use the Lord’s name in vain, or simply foul and vulgar language? No I am dead to it.

So Paul says that if you want to start dealing with sin, first figure out why you should stop, and the reason is it does not fit your position or the New Kingdom that you are in. Church family, do you realise that we apply these rules on a daily basis in other areas of our lives, so this is not new to us?

For example, you wake up in the morning and you feel that you do not want to go to work, because you are tired, the weather is bad, or maybe you have family over, mom in law has come to visit. These are all good reasons to not go to work. But, what do you do? You remind yourself of your position. I am employed, I have to work to eat, I expect a salary at the end of the month and what you do then is to make dead that temptation of staying in bed, you get up and go to work.

Let me give you another example. I remember when I went over to America, which is a change of Kingdom by the way; I would be tempted to drive on the left side of the road, and to cruise at 120 km per hour on their highways as we are allowed to do in South Africa. But what did I do? I reminded myself, Nicki, you are no longer in South Africa, you are in a different Kingdom with different rules. So I reckoned myself dead to South Africa as far as a starting point is concerned. I reminded myself of my position and I adjusted my actions accordingly.

One last example. Many smokers have to smoke every half an hour or every hour, they just cannot live without the weed. But on these long trips I would do to Los Angeles every year they are able to get on the plane and they are able to refrain from smoking for the whole trip in spite of the temptation. Why? They obviously remind themselves of their position. They reckon themselves dead to home, and the rules of home, or the rules of the great outdoors and they kill their habit, at least till they get to their destiny. Their position has changed, they are now on SAA or Delta or whatever and there are rules in that Kingdom which calls for obedience. If you forget where you are and you smoke on the flight, the stiff penalty will more than remind you that you forgot your position. At least on this flight you are dead to smoking.  And so I can give illustration after illustration.

So, the point is that in all of us there is an inbuilt capacity to remind ourselves of our new position and to act accordingly. Do you know that each one of us has been created with the capacity to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as well? Now that capacity is in bondage to sin, and unless I draw some conclusions or remind myself of my position I will continue in sin.

So your starting point is. ‘I am dead to sin, how can I live in it any longer?’

Thirdly, by making dead sin.

This then brings us to the important part, but it will make more sense now in the light of the above. Our position is that we are dead to sin, our practice is to make dead sin. Now how do we do that? Look at what Paul says in Romans 8:13 (ESV) “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” So, we are dead to sin, but now by the Spirit we must put to death sin.

I want to approach this third point from two angles.

Firstly, what it is not. It is not sinless perfection. Christian, we are saved from the power of sin, but we are not saved from the presence of sin, and until the day that the sons and daughters of God are revealed in glory we will have sin in our lives. That is why John in writing to Christians says in 1 John 1:8 (ESV) “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” That is why Paul can say that he is the chief of sinners. Look at 1 Timothy 1:15 (ESV) “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. He does not say that he was a sinner, he is a sinner saved by grace.  So any Christian who tells you that you can be sinless perfect this side of glory are guilty of the sin of lying. Dealing with sin is going to be like tug of war, back and forth, back and forth, till you are over the line.

Secondly, we now need to look at what it is. Making dead sin is aligning my experiential state with my positional state by dealing a death blow to temptation. It means that I invoke all the power I have in the Spirit of God to deal with sin as it rears its head in my desires. Dead dogs don’t bite, if they do they are still alive and dead Christians should not sin. We have to mortify sin, we have to kill it, and we must fight it as if it is a fight unto death. Is that not what Romans 8:13 says? “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

Something that excites me as I read this section is that dealing with sin is aided by the Spirit, so we do not have to cope alone. It is He that convicts us of sin in the first place. John 16:8 (ESV) “And when he comes, (The Spirit) he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:” It is not our job to play Holy Spirit in the lives of people. He knows what sin is and He will convict people of sin. So as the Holy Spirit in my innermost being and through His Word reveals sin in our lives we have to fight it with all we have. Did you know that Paul at least thirty times in his writings talks about fighting, wrestling and striving against evil desires? So Christians, the commandment ‘thou shalt not murder’ does not apply to sin. Here the great commandment is ‘thou shalt murder’. And in all this we are aided by the Spirit. He is greater than he that is in the world and He helps me.

Something else that excites me is that we do have the picture of the puzzle box. Have you ever tried to build a 3000 piece puzzle without a picture, or have you tried to build a puzzle when the pieces of two puzzles are mixed? It is nearly and impossible task. When you make dead your sin experientially you know what the picture looks like, because you are dead to sin positionally. So all you do is to bring your actions in line with who you are. Let me give you another text that highlights what we are talking about here. Colossians 3:1-9 (ESV)1 If then you have been raised with Christ, (position) seek the things that are above (experience), where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (position). 2 Set your minds on things that are above (experience), not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died (position), and your life is hidden with Christ in God (position). 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (position). 5 Put to death therefore (experience) what is earthly in you (against your position): sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away (experience): anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices.”

You see what I meant when I said this kind of thinking is central in Paul’s writings? So to put to death is to figure out what you should look like, what the picture on the box looks like, and praise God the Holy Spirit helps us to understand that picture, and then we fight, we make dead, we abstain, we put away anything that does not fit the picture.

The story is told of a man who visited his friend who was an artist. In his studio there was this big granite block. He asked him what he was going to do with that upon which his friend responded that he was going to turn it into a horse. Inquisitively his friend asked him how he does that, to which he responded. Oh it is easy; “I just chop away everything that does not look like a horse”.

That is what Paul is saying. He is saying, hey guys, remember how you lived before when you did not seek or think of the things above, that was when you could not conclude that if Christ died for you, that you have died. Remember that time and remember those things. Well then the picture on the box looked different because it was darkness, it was under the power of Satan, it was in your blindness, but now that you are dead in Christ the picture has changed, now, throw away all those pieces that come from your old puzzle, they do not belong in this box, and build with the new pieces that Christ has given you.  See the picture of Christ hanging on the cross and you with Him, dead to sin, and align yourself with that picture.

So Christian, to draw this sermon to a close. Romans 6:14 (ESV) says: “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” So therefore Romans 8:13 (ESV) For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Yes it will be a battle till we are in glory, but in the meantime 1 Timothy 6:12 (ESV) “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

So the power of sin has been demolished, but not in its entire presence and influence, so fight, fight, fight and when you have done everything; fight some more, till you appear in glory.

I said all I wanted to for today, there is so much more to be said, but just before you think that Paul alone understood this, let’s end with a verse from Peter, and you can chew on it on your way home. 1 Peter 2:24 (ESV) “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, (why?) that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

Amen.

Logos Community Church: - 7 April 2013