6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. - Romans 5:6-11
Good news! If you believe that Jesus is God and that his death, burial, and resurrection has covered your sins, then through Jesus Christ you have received complete forgiveness for your sins and everlasting life with Christ in heaven.
This is the gospel, and when you put it this way, it seems straightforward. But as you think about this good news, a lot of questions tend to arise... and one of these is a pretty big one:
If you're saved, Christ's death has brought forgiveness of all your sins--past, present, and future--does it really matter if we sin?
There are two types of people reading this, and both need an answer to this question:
Person #1: You believe in Jesus, have confessed that he is God and accepted that his death and resurrection has covered your sins--can you keep sinning?
Person #2: You don't buy into all of this Bible stuff and don't see the need to believe that Jesus is God and that his death and resurrection has covered your sin--maybe you prayed a prayer or asked Jesus into your heart because you think that will get you into heaven; or you're using the idea of Jesus' forgiveness as a get out of jail free card--is that really how this works?
Paul answers these questions for us in Romans 6:1-12:
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
In other words, because we have guaranteed forgiveness through Christ, should we allow ourselves to keep sinning? Paul answers for us in verse 2:
2 By no means!
Absolutely not! But why? This is the harder question for us to answer, but Paul goes on:
We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
What's he saying here? Since you have died to sin, you can't go on living in it. Now this answer raises two more questions for us:
1. What does "you have died to sin" mean?
Paul is talking to believers here--we know that because verse three goes on to tell us that he is speaking of those who have been baptized into Christ Jesus. So, if you're person #2 there's some bad news--you're already living in sin, and you won't be saved from death or receive forgiveness until you put your faith in Jesus Christ. But if you're a believer you have died to sin! What does that mean? Jump down to verse 5:
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
What Paul says here is that there is a union between believers and Christ, so that what happened to Christ is counted by God as happening to us! So, if Jesus died, that means we died. If Jesus was resurrected, that means we will be resurrected. So, when verse two asks, "How can we who died to sin still live in it," Paul is referring to our death that happened on the day that Christ died. Verse 6 explains this a little more for us:
6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
The old me--the me that chose to define what's good and evil for myself, the me that didn't believe in Jesus, the me that was stuck in sin--died when Christ died. God counts the old, sinful me as dead. But, look at verse 8:
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
So, we died with Christ; but is Christ still dead? No! And because he lives, our life is now his life--that's what it means to be united with Christ. And that's the true answer to our next question.
2. What does "you can't go on living in sin" mean?
We can't go on living in sin because our life should reflect the life that we've been given--Christ's life! If you've died to sin, you can't go on living in it anymore--that would mean choosing your old, dead self over your new, living self. Does this mean that we have to be perfect? No, the key word is living in sin. Paul doesn't say that we won't struggle with sin and even fall prey to sin from time to time, but we cannot go on allowing sin to be a habit in our lives.
If regular sin is a pattern in your life then you're choosing to continue living as if you were dead instead of experiencing the freeing, new life you've been given in Christ.
So, Paul is giving us two things here:
In Christ, we are dead to sin--that means our identity is no longer in sin, but in the life of Christ. Sin's guilt and power should no longer prevent us from experiencing the holiness of God.
What confirms the fact that we are in Christ is that we cannot live in sin any longer. We aren't o.k. with regular sin in our lives; instead, we desire to live worthy of the life that Christ has given us.
So, let's go back to the two people reading this:
Person #1: You believe in Jesus, have confessed that he is God and accepted that his death and resurrection has covered your sin. Can you keep sinning?
No. So here's what you need to do: examine your life for any recurring sin and confess them to the Lord in prayer now, asking him to help you live a life worthy of the life that you have been given through Christ.
Person #2: You haven't yet declared that you believe that Jesus is God and that his death and resurrection has covered your sin. Maybe you prayed a prayer or asked Jesus into your heart because you think that will get you into heaven, or you're using the idead of Jesus' forgiveness as a get out of jail free card--but you want to experience the new life that's free from all the sin, guilt, and shame that weighs so heavily on you.
Here's what you need to do: confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, and you will be saved. His death will be your death, and his life will be your life.
Today is the day. Make a commitment to turn from your sin and live. Receive the new life that Jesus offers, and walk from death and sin into life and holiness.
Middle School Pastor