Romans Series - Part 4 - Sanctification

 St. Paul speaks about how to deal with the occasional sin.


many years ago I was I was counseling a young man who was really seeking out to live a life that was committed to Christ and he really liked it struggled for many years with addictions and as he turned his life back to God he felt like he's he's now moving in the right direction and life was looking good and he came and showed up and you know we're sitting one day and he said I actually I don't I don't know what to confess about anymore like life is good life is better my life is really good with God and I said so you know we started talking I started like probing and poking and what happened with this person was they had really overcome a lot of like the the things that we would consider big sins and when we say big things usually what we're talking about are things that are consuming us like things that what we were addicted to you okay things that are like it's in the daily grind that this thing is consuming my life and it's usually something that's like a big thing that we don't want to talk about we would be really embarrassed for anyone to know about that but what what I realized the more we spoke was that there were some little things in his mind they were little things that he felt like these were not that big of a deal and I'll never forget he said listen my life with God now is so much better than before I can't imagine that God is expecting me to like forget about these things and after all doesn't the bad outweigh the good anyway and I was like all right we gotta go back to Christianity 101 at this point and kind of reset our understanding about living a life of holiness and what does it mean to be a disciple of Christ last week we started talking about the notion of of sanctification and st. Paul actually he takes us through this beautiful journey in Romans six following this this talk about justification Romans five and if you remember from the last time we met we spoke the first fourteen verses he takes us through and he talks to us about habitual sin okay and he deals with habitual sin in and basically what he does is he convinces the reader that a lifestyle of habitual sin is not compatible with a life of grace okay and basically what he said at the very beginning of Romans 6 if you believe if you remember he says like how shall we who died to sin live any longer in it and this idea of living in sin is literally like I'm immersed in it it's my life it's my whole lifestyle is characterized by sin but then the second half which is what we're gonna talk about today Romans 6 verse 15 to 23 he's gonna turn to the occasional sin like those things that happen every once in a while sure before I was addicted to pornography perhaps I was an alcoholic perhaps I was constantly like an angry person I had a constant like I was always cursing like it was a habitual thing it was my life anyone who knew me I'm not talking about me personally by the way I'm just saying like the general mean maybe me as well who knows but the personal like each of us would say like people would look at us and say this is who this person was they were not a disciple of Jesus Christ they were living a life of habitual sin but what about the little sins what about that bit like what about the occasional thing like is that okay should we make a big deal about that okay and that's what st. Paul is going to turn his attention to in the second half of Romans 6 how do we deal with occasional sin like how do we do with those little things not the big things that consume our lives that we feel like we're drowning in but the little things that pop up every once in a while and we're like it's not that big of a deal right like there are bigger problems in the world but Saint Paul asked the question should we really care and if so why and that's what we're gonna turn our attention to today if you remember when we first started we talked about justification Romans 5 and we said that justification in God's notion of justice God's notion of justice dae-su di KO sayo it literally means what he believes what God believes is just is for us to be in his image okay now we distinguish between a human idea of justice and the divine idea of justice okay human justice you do something wrong you deserve punishment you deserve to go to hell you deserve to be cut off eternally okay that's a human like that if you do something wrong on your way to church you're speeding you get pulled over and you say listen I'm on my way to church the cop might say tough luck like you're getting a ticket right God's notion of righteousness of justice is different than the human idea Hey God's notion of justice is we ate of the fruit corruption entered into us eternal II human humanely we should be separated eternally but God says no no it's right it's good it's just for you to be in my image and if you remember we said that the devil heard that and he flipped out and that was the reason the devil falls right devil looks in and says this is not good this is not just okay why them and not me but God's notion of justice he says you deserve my image okay not because you're worthy because I'm good I want to give it to you okay I want to give us you've that in God's mind is just he made us free and he made us righteous sanctification then is the preservation of what we received in justification okay sanctification is us preserving or having preserved for us what we received through justification hey know these two words oftentimes confuse people but let me let me explain it more simply sanctification is being in and moving towards a state of purification or state of purity so if in justification God's image is restored in us then in sanctification we take that image we preserve it and we become like him we grow and likeness towards him if you remember in Genesis 1:26 says God said let let us make man in our image justification according to our likeness sanctification okay so we preserve that image and we live out of it and that leads us to living a holy life just as we began in in Romans 6 verse 1 - for if you remember the end of chapter 5 st. Paul is begging the question says if there's a lot of sin there's a lot of grace right and it sounds like a sweet deal like that what shall we say then shall we sin more that grace may abound more writing it sounds like a great deal it sounds like I'm something like my young kids would ask write that like you're like he and he sees us scratching her head trying to process and saying okay a lot of sin means a lot of grace that means I'm gonna sin a lot so that I can have a lot of grace and he says certainly not how shall we do who died sin live any longer in it he then turns Nets talking about habitual sin he now turns to the second part talking about occasional sin and he approaches it with that same question answer type approach he says what what then shall we sin because we're not under law but under grace certainly not remember at the beginning he said shall we who died to sin live any longer and he's talking about the lifestyle the habitual sin now he's talking about the occasional sin the occasional sin is it okay for us to continue to sin occasionally the word sin here it's in a Greek verb tense called the air a artist a orest active tense which indicates dabbling in dissent like just playing around with a little bit right not too much just kind of like playing around the edges it's not the continual habitual sin that he describes at the beginning of Romans six but he's now just talking about dabbling in it is it okay he's asking for us to use grace as an excuse to sin saying like we have the grace of God so it's okay anything certainly not whether it's habitual sin or it's the occasional sin he's saying that we should not take God's grace for granted many years ago back in I want to say it was 2005-2006 Moore and I we had we were still living in Jersey at the time we were commuting to Queens on a Friday night for youth meeting out there I'll never forget on her way home from church one night there was an accident that happened literally we saw this happening 100 yards in front of us or maybe about 50 yards in front of us there was a off-duty drunk police officer who happened to rear end going very quickly rear end a vehicle and in the back of the car was a young child and it was not a babysitter or strapped and the mother the SUV went over the car and actually crushed and collapsed and killed the mother and the child and we were the the first ones on the scene and had to like physically hold the the mother and the child now it turns out that this was not the first time for this off-duty drone police officer he had been stopped before several times and what we learned later from some of the newspapers is that it happened to be that the reason he was still had his license and was still working is because he just so happened to be the nephew of the mayor of Newark and so he kind of got special privilege he was in a sense related to grace and what st. Paul here is telling us is being related to grace is no excuse to sin okay whether it's him the guy in the example or it's us just because we're related to grace we're now related to Christ that's no excuse for us to send grace is no more a license to sin then electricity is a license to electrocute yourself I mean it'd be silly electricity is powerful it can do a lot of good it can bring lights at the church where we don't have gas natural gas it'll be the source of heat okay it lets us power our wife Wi-Fi devices our computers can do a lot of good but how silly would it be if we said this is really powerful I'm gonna I'm gonna heckle electrocute myself like people look at and say you're nuts you're out of your mind okay and it's the same thing dealing with grace grace is really powerful force that can do a lot of good in our lives but how silly is it when we use it and we think it's okay that we just were like we just take it for granted so to speak we miss handle it there's no good reason to send unfortunately today we're constantly told that sin is justifiable because of my upbringing because this happened to me when I was younger because my surroundings because my DNA because my wife because of all of these things it's now justifiable for me to live a certain way think I had it really bad growing up so as a result of that it's okay like you just wouldn't understand right this is just something that happened to me it was that this now like gives me full rights to do it and nobody can question us grace is not freedom to do whatever we want it's the freedom to be free it's freedom in the one true God grace frees us not to do whatever we want but it frees us to live a life well-lived in Christ himself I want to give you a just four spiritual principles this morning that st. Paul speaks about in Romans 6 verse 16 and 17 says the following says do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey you are that one slaves whom you obey whether of sin leading to death or obedience leading to righteousness but God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine of which you were delivered what's he saying here he's telling us that we are slaves to something all of us are saved to something okay we are slaves to the one who we obey hey and we don't like that because we don't like the idea that we are a slave to someone or something but if we understand that slavery is us being obedient to the one we present ourselves to like we are basically we obeyed something whether it's our own inner desires it's what someone asks of us it's what the the devil plans before us through our passions or it's us submitting and obeying the will no word of God we're a slave to something sometimes we're it's fun being a slave like it's sometimes it's really fun being a slave to our stomach I mean like when when a feast is late right before you and there's like both fake and mock aronia and stuffed grape leaves and brownies and pumpkin cheesecake and like it is it's hot like it is it feels good temporarily right to be a slave to some of our desires right so I'm I'm not saying like slavery sometimes we say oh it's it's bad it's painful well the truth is slavery to anything or anyone but Christ leaves us in bondage okay we don't always feel it in the moment because sometimes it tastes really good okay over the last few weeks I made the mistake of letting that big giant cake I forget what I was for but we had a cake at church for something and we brought like 2/3 of it home and every night I was like I would everyone war has no idea she'll learn if she watches this sometime this week but every night everyone go to bed and I would go into the fridge I'd open up the fridge and I was like I'm just gonna have a cup of water and what was staring me right in the face the cake so I pull it out of the fridge set it down I didn't even have the decency to cut a piece and put it in a plate I just got a fork and started man I went nuts and every night every night I go to bed and you know when you have so much sugar before you sleep yeah yeah and I went to bed in the next and I wouldn't sleep well because it's like I've gotten all this sugar inside of me the next morning I'd wake up and I just had that funky taste and in my mouth and it's like I'm never doing that again then the next night I would do it again right sometimes we become slaves to things like and and we realize afterwards you're like never doing it again but that's the point of savory right sometimes we just we become slaves and we obey our stomach and we just can't say no few years ago in New York City I was walking down the road and I saw a man walking down the street with a sign on his shoulders the front of it said I'm a slave for Christ the back of it as he passed you could read it says whose slave who slaver you okay I said imma stay for Christ whose slave are you if you can't stop working we call that a workaholic makes you a slave to work if you're a slave to things and it's never enough we call that materialism if you're a slave to people you constantly need to win the approval of others that makes you a people pleaser if you're a slave to self your narcissistic we call that entitlements if you're a slave to your looks how you look that's vanity if you're a slave to money greed slave to food or social media or the fears of tomorrow we're all slaves to something or perhaps hopefully to someone number two is the truth is we have a choice in our slavery and that's a beautiful thing we're all slave to something but we do have a choice in our slavery okay and the choice looks like this you can be a slave to sin or you can be a slave or you can be come under what the scripture calls obedience or be a slave to Christ one leads to death the other leads to life and righteousness okay we have a choice and what I would suggest is when you make your choice choose based on the fruits like sometimes we're very short-sighted we say this looks really good and I need this now like I have to have a pound and a half of cake and 9:30 at night this looks really really good but I wasn't thinking about the fruit which was the next morning I was gonna feel like garbage and after doing this five days in a row like this extra roll this extra layers started forming and I started having pain in my back and my knees started hurting because now I'm carrying around an extra few pounds that my body's not used to okay think about the fruit slave to sin death slave to obedience to Christ righteousness and life number three is st. Paul tells us here actually you were slaves to sin you were slaves to sin listen to what he says verse 17 though you were were passed 10 slaves of sin yet you obeyed from the heart you obeyed from the heart the word obedience here means slavery means to be brought it's sometimes used synonymously for faith and but in this case he uses it as a parallel for being a slave and he says you obeyed from the heart I myself under obedience to Christ because I was once under tyranny he's telling us we are no longer slaves of sin but we still have freedom to sin hey remember what we talked about last week in Rome at the beginning of Romans 6 he says what shall we say then shall we who died sin live any longer in it not so and then he goes on and says for as many as were baptized into Christ have died to sin just as Christ was raised from the glory so shall you walk in the newness of life right so he's saying that we were freed we were slaves but we put on Christ we're no longer slaves to sin yet we still have the freedom to choose to sin and there's a difference there's a difference the difference is this when we sin it's because we choose to do so when I sin I can't blame anyone but the guy in the mirror that's it I choose it you choose it okay devil didn't make you do it the boogeyman in the closet under the bed didn't make you do it okay your parents didn't make you do it no one made us do we chose it and that's not like that doesn't feel good that doesn't sound good no it's not your sin nature that force you know no we when we sin weights because we choose to okay we give in to our desires and what we're being told here is now live every day consistent with the freedom that you have in Christ you know that that's that childhood song I have decided to follow Jesus no turning back no turning back you're saying it's a choice that we make every single day it's not just every day but it's every day throughout the day we we choose to walk with them the language that uses though here and he says you were slaves of sin yet you obeyed from the heart he's saying here that faith is not merely intellectual okay faith is not merely intellectual in other words it's not just about getting a bunch of information in our heads if it was the Pharisees would have been the most righteous of people there would have been most holy people not only that there's a lot of people who know the Bible front and backwards very well it's not about have it's not simply about having the right information it's about obeying from the heart number four is doctor informs us he says yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered it's really beautiful here actually when st. Paul says this that he says that form of doctrine which you were delivered what he it gives the the image here the form he's saying it describes a mold that shapes us okay so when we obeyed from the heart what happens is our lives become softened if you will like a metal when in heat and fire and that form of doctrine what he's telling us is here is although faith is not merely intellectual doctor teaching shapes us it forms our lives in other words what we believe impacts how we live what we believe impacts how we live I posted up a couple days ago on my social media posts that I'm and I said listen this is not about triumphalism is not about me being a cop the file is not about anything okay other than I am grateful for the fact that with Orthodox spirituality I don't have to reinvent the wheel I don't know just make up something new okay the church's talk preserved the doctrine for the last two thousand years I can simply take that and figure out how do I live that in my own life okay dr. informs us that's what he's Thomas here he says that form of doctrine has has shaped our lives okay he says that form of doctrine delivered you if you think teaching and what you think doesn't impact you st. Paul's telling us here otherwise proverbs 23 verse 7 as a man thinketh so he is what we think impacts how we look who we are all the talk that we give ourselves whether negative or positive tell you something if you immerse yourself in the scripture daily and you immerse yourself in the word himself Jesus Christ as you're reading the scripture I'm telling you that will shape your mind we had our kids start doing something every morning when they woke up they have we posted like a little eight and a half by 11 on the back of their bed it says I am a child of God I'm a saint I'm holy I'm free I'm a masterpiece I'm constantly reminding themselves who they are in Christ who they are they're his beloved I want my kids knowing every single day who they are because the world is telling them constantly who they're not and what they are and it's always a distorted image I don't want them listening to any voice but the voice of the Good Shepherd what he does is he takes us after he melts us by the work of the Holy Spirit the Word of God in our lives and he then pours us into this mold of truth that shapes us into this beautiful image that we received in justification remember we said that sanctification is preserving that beautiful image of God in our lives he tells us in verse 18 that you are slaves of righteousness having been set free from sin you became slaves of righteousness so in other words why not then occasionally sin he's saying because sin is no longer your master and we no longer serve it we're no longer to be brought under the tyranny of sin we're set free from sin that means we never have to sin we never have to give ourselves back to sin again okay sin in other words is not our boss it's not our master once again if I sin it's not because it's my master it's because I've chosen that sin and the reason I emphasize that is because that requires us to have responsibility okay I'm responsible for every decision every action I take a slave is one born into a condition of slavery one whose will is swallowed up in the will of another one who's bound to the master with bonds that only death can break a slave is one who serves his master to the disregard of his own interest so what happens if you became a slave of Christ the same holds true the same holds true we become his were born into him when we're reborn in the baptismal fonts our will is swallowed up we say not my will be done but your will be done and our bond to our master Christ can only be broken by death when we serve our master we do so in disregard to our own interest being a slave of God is truly the only slavery that will make us free because he's the only free being in the universe there's no one else who's truly free in the universe but him you know when we talk about being created in the image of God we talk about look that the image of God and the likeness of God are two separate things the father's described the likeness we become like him that's a life of virtue but the image of God means that we're able to love because God is love were created to be immortal to live forever were created with a logic because he's the logos he's a rational being and were created to be free because he's the true free bring he's he is the the one who is free right when we give ourselves to sin all of those become distorted we became mortals we came enslaved to sin our minds became convoluted and distorted and we're no longer able to love others we only began to love self alright let me wrap up final thoughts how how then do we keep from enslaving ourselves how do we keep ourselves from living in sin st. Paul says I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh she's basically saying he's insulting our intelligence sorry to say but he's saying because you can't get it any other way I'm gonna put in very simple terms for you okay he says I speak in simple terms because of the weakness of your flesh and then he goes on he says for just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanliness and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness number 1 verse 19 he tells us present your members of as slaves of righteousness present your members this is an active thing that we do I want you to imagine your first day on a new job and you leave at work you leave work at lunchtime and you say I'm gonna leave it now at lunch and I'm gonna go and I'm gonna work for my old employer to be lunacy okay you said I'm just gonna go away for a couple hours and I'll be back and I'm gonna just go work for my old employer just for the next couple of hours okay when we present ourselves we're presenting ourselves were saying I belong to my new master my new boss my new super he is the boss of my life righteousness is my boss what did I do to present myself to sin and what do I now do to present myself to Christ on the day of our baptism we actually shift allegiances okay Dave your baptism you turn your back on Satan you say or announce you you're wicked you're despicable you're filthy get all these things and I love this part I'll share this with you guys so many times of the Greeks it's like Savage I love it the priest says now spit on them they pull and they turn their back and they say now face towards the east say I accept your Christ my god you're turning your allegiance you're saying I despise you you have nothing to do with me okay we're saying I present myself as a vessel as a wet been as a tool of righteousness in the hands of God number two is think about the power of habit the power of habit lawlessness leads to more lawlessness yes righteousness leads to more righteousness or holiness you see these four trees the first tree is after one year of growth the second one after five years the third ten years the fourth twenty years which three will be the most difficult to pull from the ground first second third or fourth which is the most difficult to pull from the ground the fourth one the one that's been there for twenty years why because the power of habit the longer we do something the more difficult it becomes to change that habit okay the same goes for for sin as well as holiness the longer I do something the stronger more deeply rooted it becomes the more that we focus on investing into a life of righteousness the more our life becomes rooted and it's harder to change that number three third and final is once again think about the end product think about the end product Saint Paul says here what fruit did you have that in the things of which you are now ashamed what fruit did you have in those things that you are now embarrassed about that you're now ashamed of right there's things he's saying that you were you're now embarrassed even talked about he says what was the fruit of those things and then he goes on and gives us the answer he says the fruit of those things it's death but now you've been set free from sin you become slaves of God you have your fruit to holiness and the end is everlasting life for the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord what was the fruit of the sin the fruit of sin with shame and death he sing but the fruit of Christ is holiness and everlasting life he's telling us have a longer vision a longer focus don't focus on the next five minutes he's saying have a longer focus think about the end product the truth is when we compromise with sin we lose out on so much joy when I compromise with sin I miss out on joy I miss out on peace that feeling that that sense of wholeness completeness with God I miss out on a true life and be set on freedom I miss out on having a proper vision I miss out on being able to love in the proper sense of the term but the same holds when I make myself obedient from the heart to that doctrine that liberates me that molds my life when I do so I experience a life of joy a life of peace I'm truly able to love my neighbor as myself my life begins to stand out and be different it becomes holy I asked you guys what does it mean to live a holy life when we describe God as being holy what we're saying is God is different than anything we've ever seen before he's other so the word holy literally means it's it's other than right in other words there's nothing that can describe God he's holy right we look and we say God not nothing can describe okay and even our feeble attempts they come short when we live a holy life that's the experience that other people have that's what other people ought to do when they look at they say bill that person is different that person doesn't react the way that I react in that same situation they're living a holy life there other than anything that I've experienced and seen before