Romans 6.15-22

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Title: What does sanctification look like in people?

Text: Romans 6.15-22

Introduction: His name was Johnny and he didn’t like me. I was the young pastor with a head full of ideas, dreams, and goals of what the church could be. He was the old guard. Back in 1948, he helped build the building in which we worshipped. He and his young wife were married there and raised their children there. I didn’t use an organ or have a choir – the very things he liked about the church. I used a guitar and a microphone. I frustrated him and he frustrated me.

Johnny was hard of hearing. He blamed it on a lifetime of driving a tractor without hearing protection. He said they didn’t know back then what we know now about that sort of stuff. Every Sunday, he and his wife sat in the same spot: on the back row of the front section next to the soundboard. He sat there every Sunday because he wore special headphones that allowed him to hear the worship and the message.

Johnny was a part of a group of men who met on Tuesday mornings at McDonald’s for coffee. At 10 am, the men would take a break from wherever they were and whatever they were doing and gather to visit. It was there that things changed for Johnny and me. I was sharing my experiences in Europe. I told them I lived on the German border near Luxemburg.

Johnny was really surprised. “Luxemburg…” he said reflectively. I said, “Yes, sir. Do you know where it is?” He nodded yes and then began to unbutton his shirt. He unbuttoned his shirt down to just below his heart and he showed me a scar. He touched it and said, “It was in Luxemburg that I was shot.” The scar was about an inch from his heart. It almost killed him. There were others with him who didn’t make it; men who died right there where his blood was spilled.

As a kid, I used to play in those very trenches. We played war and found lots of machine gun shells and clips. I used to have two sashes I could wear across both shoulders. At that time, I never thought about the men who died there.

Memorial Day was created as a time to remember. It is usually filled with markers of a new season. Summer is officially here! There are picnics and flags and parades.

We take time to remember because we know that we are free. Remembering is good.

We have this wonderful freedom purchased by those who fought and died for our country.

Our topic today in Romans is about Freedom. I want to remind you of this spiritual freedom that was purchased for us when Christ’s blood was spilled for our sins.

We begin this morning where we left off last week, in 6.15. Paul is in the process of answering a question posed to him in v 1: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? Paul answers with two questions in v 2-3 and two more in 15-16.

His answer is simply no and the reason is that God is sanctifying us. Sanctification is a big word.

This weekend I traveled down to see my Aunt Betty. She took care of me when I was a little boy and didn’t have a momma. I think she came down in the summer. Anyway, as we sat there, cousins, uncles, and aunts – a mini family reunion, one of my cousins asked me what I was preaching on. I said sanctification. And immediately, I could tell she didn’t like me using that word. She said it was too big. I’d have to explain it. Well, she’s right. It is a big word and it often times does need explaining. Paul uses the big word to teach his students in Rome what God is doing in their lives:

  • In v19&22 he focuses in on the main purpose of his teaching: Sanctification. 19c – …so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. And 22b – the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. So note first the place he is going to land is Your Sanctification!
  • 2ndly, I want you to see how that sanctification comes about: rd v 16-17; through obedience.

So here is my thesis: Sanctification is demonstrated through your obedience.

Now, let’s dig deeper. What specific ways does Paul call for obedience? Well, I find three in this passage. Let me give them to you.

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience in three ways:

  1. In rejecting a sinful lifestyle.
  2. In living out the standard of God’s Word.
  3. In the fruit you produce in your life.

Let’s pick up in v15 with the 2nd two questions: 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Hold on now Pastor Fred! Didn’t you already say that we’re saved by Grace, through Faith in Christ? Well, yes, I did. We are saved that way. There isn’t anything we have to do or accomplish to gain our salvation. Paul has been clear on that. But now, he is clear in communicating to us that in this new life in Christ, we are to work out that salvation.

Remember what Paul wrote the Philippians (2.12-13): 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Paul is saying that God is at work in us sanctifying us to be more like him. And, at the very same time, we are to be working out our salvation. Just how does he work in us as we work out our salvation, too? Well, Paul gives us three parts to the sanctifying process in this passage. I’m not in anyway suggesting that this is exhaustive, but rather just what the church at Rome needed to hear.

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience in three ways:

  1. In rejecting a sinful life. (15-16)
  2. In living out the standard of God’s Word. (17-18)
  3. In the fruit you produce in your life. (19-22)

Note how all three points have something to do with your life. (repeat all three) Let’s begin with this first demonstration of obedience – rejecting a sinful lifestyle.

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience:

I.     In rejecting a sinful lifestyle (16)

exp.: rd v 16: 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?; Now, truth be told, this statement is a lot easier to make than it is to accomplish; But, it does get easier in many respects, as the years pass by.

ill.: Shawn and I were talking about this very thing earlier this week. There is something that changes inside of you when you become a new believer. And, that ‘something’ inside of you finds that sinful behaviors don’t bring the satisfaction it once did.

You’re just as tempted, but when you submit to that temptation, then you find there is no satisfaction in that behavior. There is guilt; there is shame. You ask yourself why did you ever let yourself do that again. You knew it wouldn’t make you happy, but you did it anyway. And then, you commit yourself to never doing that again. And, as you get older in the Lord, when you’re tempted in that manner, you say to yourself, “Nah, been there, done that, and all it brought me was misery.”

app.: As you surrender yourselves more and more to righteousness, and as you surrender yourselves less and less to sinful behavior, you see God sanctifying you and making you more like him.

The natural thing to do now would be to list a bunch of sins and say, don’t do them. But, something I don’t want to do is begin listing sinful behavior. Paul has already been preaching that this new life in Christ is not based on a bunch of do’s and don’ts. It’s about a relationship with God in Christ.

t.s.: So how do you know what is right and what is wrong? How do you know what is sinful? Well, he tells us next…

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience:

II.    In living the standard of God’s Word (17-18)

exp.: rd with me v17-18; 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

We’re now set on a different course. We have a new standard. It isn’t the NY Times or Fox news. It isn’t The American Medical Journal or American Journal of Psychology. It is the Bible – God’s Holy Word. I was inspired by a statement by Al Mohler this past week and copied it down. This isn’t a quote, but it is definitely from him.

The Bible is the inerrant and infallible verbally inspired Word of God. It is where we find the pattern of God’s pleasure and design for the family and his church. Families and churches flourish when they live it out. In it, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is found. It is the Good News that any sinner who puts their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. The Word of God is where we find our theology and other doctrines that are rooted unapologetically in Scripture and are the only sure foundation for the home, the church, and the Christian life.

I love to hear stories of people who were raised to have a great understanding of the Word of God. And, then, maybe even years later, they came to salvation in Christ. The Word of God then becomes so clear. They already have this knowledge and this newfound faith brings clarity. Old stories, parables, and teachings all have a greater meaning.

Paul is just such a person. Timothy is, too. Paul wrote to Timothy in his 2nd letter to him: 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

t.s.: Sanctification is demonstrated through obedience in rejecting a sinful lifestyle, in living out the standard of God’s Word and finally,

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience:

III.   In the fruit you produce in your life (19-22)

exp.: a righteous life bears good fruit. As you take point #2 further, living out the standard of God’s Word, you begin to bear fruit in keeping with such a life.

Rd v 19-22; Two types of fruit

1.  Shame and ultimately, death (21); remember that life? Aren’t you ashamed sometimes when you look back over that life?

Ill.: This weekend, one of my cousins shared how she went off into the world when she left her momma and daddy. It was interesting to hear her story and just how far she was out in the world wandering. But she said in 2006, she came to the end of herself and found the Lord. Her life isn’t perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but, where she came from and the pain it caused her, the shame it brought her are all testimonies of God grace in her life today. But now… rd v 22;

2.  Sanctification and ultimately, eternal life. (22)

She is a changed woman, and I’m so glad to know her now. You see, I found out that 30 years ago, we lived close to each other. I was like: Man, I wish I would have known! We could have been hanging out together. She said, “You wouldn’t have wanted to know me then.” v 21: 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed?

The fruit of the Spirit is manifested in a life lived by the standard of God’s Word. In God’s Word we find it isn’t so much about do’s and don’ts anymore, but rather about producing the fruit of the Spirit. God’s Word teaches us that the fruit of the Spirit “is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). We don’t produce the fruit of the law… but of the Spirit.

  • Consider love: it is something you choose to do. You can choose to love someone, even when you don’t feel like it. That’s because love isn’t a feeling, as much as it is an action.
  • Consider joy: it isn’t so much about happiness. It is a state of being. There are many times when I’m not happy about something or with something, but the joy still abides. I think it also is a conscious decision to be joyful. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter all sorts of trials.
  • Consider peace: peace is something you can have because of what you know. You can have peace anywhere and at any time. It’s like joy, a state of being. It’s like love, in how you are toward others.
  • Consider patience: patience is what you do or what you don’t do. It is something that rises up from inside and calms your fears and your doubts. Patience sometimes means waiting with an expectation.
  • Consider kindness: kindness is something that is in you, but is demonstrated outside of you. You’re kind in your heart and it comes out in your actions.
  • Consider goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. All of them are seen in the actions of a person, but all of them come from that place inside you where the Holy Spirit abides.

app.: Once, you were slaves of the sinful nature which always led you to lawlessness, doing the things of which now you are ashamed. But now, you’ve been set free from those things to live a new life. What an incredible freedom we now have – to live a sanctified life that produces life-giving fruit.

Conclusion: I love that this weekend is Memorial Day Weekend. We’re reminded of the great cost we have in our freedom as Americans. But, with this freedom comes responsibility. I think some people forget that.

Likewise, our freedom in Christ comes with responsibility, too. And, some people forget that… that we have:

  • A responsibility to reject the sinful lifestyle.
  • A responsibility to follow the standards of God’s Word in our lives.
  • A responsibility to produce in keeping with that standard: the fruit of the Spirit.

So, what are some take-a-ways from this message today?

Application:

  1. With freedom comes responsibility.
  2. I hope you enjoy the holiday by taking advantage of the opportunity to do something in light of your freedom.
    1. One way is to come to our picnic tonight.
    2. You might attend one of the ceremonies tomorrow.
    3. Visit one of our veterans. Ask him or her to tell you a story about someone who died while serving our country.
  3. Sit down and take an honest assessment of your life. This might involve a pencil and some paper. Ask yourself if you have rejected a sinful life and then work your way through your day:
    1. Open up your browser history. Maybe you’re not going to bad sites, but maybe you are being wasteful with your time and energy.
    2. Consider your TV time and energy. Are their shows that distract you from being a sanctified person?
    3. What does a godly person look like to you? Write down your thoughts and then compare your life to what you think it should be.
  4. List the fruit of the Spirit on a sheet of paper. Write out one action you can take to display that particular fruit of the Spirit. Just pick one and work on it.
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Filed under Romans, Salvation, Sanctification, Scripture, Sermon, Sin, The Gospel

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