“If we have died to sin, then why do we keep sinning?”

That is a good question.

That is the most recent post over at Tim Challies blog, ‘Informing the Reforming’ 

http://www.challies.com/reading-classics-together/if-we-have-died-to-sin-why-do-we-still-sin

I think the book of Romans answers the question quite well. Start with chapter 6.

 

What do you think?

 

 

 

 

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If you would gain your life…

This may be hard for you to hear.  Many won’t like what they hear.  But what else are we to say? The hard truth about ourselves and the hard truth about what we will face. And then a word of hope:

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 click here > If you would gain your life…

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 An under 15 minute ‘quick hitter’.  If you like it…pass it around. If you don’t care for it…pass it around anyway…for it is the truth and it may be just what someone you know needs to hear.

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 Thanks, Pastor Mark.

And thanks to flickr and crayolasue, for the photo.

 

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Here is the problem…

Day 139: To be embalmed by ansy

 

Now…just what will your little, moralistic, religious, good works, “keeping the Commandments as best I can” project do about that?

Absolutely nothing. That’s what.

In fact, your little project of ‘doing’ is exactly what’s going to take you to the place where they put that tag on your toe. And I’m going there right along with you, for my doings.

Christ Jesus is the only one who can give you life, when you need it again. And He won’t be looking at anything you’ve done for help. In fact, He has promised to give forgiveness and eternal life to all that belong to Him…in spite of all that we have done (“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”) And this He does for us…everyday! (we need it everyday…do we not?)

Sorry (not really) to throw a monkeywrench into your pietistic escalator of self-justification. It’s time you jumped off that thing, anyway.

Trust in the One who has done it all for you. Who is doing it all for you. Who will yet do it all for you. Trust in Him…ALONE. What…. He’s not good enough for you?

And the chorus from the Roman Catholic/Baptist/ Calvinist/ Pentecostal/ Evangelical-non-denominational peanut gallery is… “YEAH, BUT ! ! !…”

You can take that “YEAH, BUT” and ….(Lord forgive me for what I am thinking)

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Do you look good on wood?

PIC00001.JPG by PeterVogelPhoto

Each and every person on this planet faces their own cross.

We will either go to it in this life, or the next.

When I see a cross, that is the first thing I am reminded of…that I will not escape it. The world will have it’s way with me unto the grave.

But that grave will not hold me. Death’s power, it’s sting, is no longer permanent thanks to that very same cross.

Romans 6:3 -11

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?   4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.   5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.  6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.   7 For he who has died is freed from sin.   8 But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.   9 For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.   10 The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.   11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

In my baptism, God has already put me to death…along with Christ Jesus.

But He has raised me from the dead, also…along with Christ Jesus.

This is His promise.

Maybe our promises aren’t always fulfilled, but God never breaks His promises.

That is something we can count on.

And if that is not enough for us, He reinforces that promise and works in us His good and gracious will, giving us the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation each time we ingest His body and blood, and each time we hear His Word preached or taught. And that is apart from anything that we do, say, feel, or think.

No, it’s not magic. 

It is the power of God through the gospel for all who have faith.  The very same faith that He gave us when we were dead in our sins and trespasses.

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Does this post give you trouble?  Do you feel uneasy with it?

Or do you feel relief?  Freedom?  The joy of a new life…yet given to you once again?

 

 

 

The Terribleness of Death

I spoke to my brother the other day on the phone. He seemed a bit down and I asked him how he was. He told me that the sister of his son’s friend had just died that day of cancer. She was 16 years old.

I did not know this girl, or her family. But after I hung up the phone, I thought about it. I thought about her and her family. I thought about my brother and his family. 

I thought of how terrible it is to have a life snuffed out  in the blossom of youth, a whole life ahead of her and all of the joys and sorrows that would have gone along with that life.

 I thought of the terrible, unfair nature of life and how it rips the guts out of people. I thought about the finality of it all. I thought about how this girl’s family will cope with the loss of their baby. To me, 16 is still a baby.

I couldn’t imagine how terrible it must be for them.  But I know that it is.

I have another friend, that I met through blogging, who lost her son not all that long ago in a wreck on an icy road. I can see her tears and pain in the words that she wrote and that she still writes today. She is a strong woman of faith. But the pain is there. Of course it is. Time will ease it, sometimes. But it will never go away. Not in this lifetime.

Another friend just lost her sister in-law (age 26) a few days ago in an off road vehicle accident that almost killed her brother as well. In the blink of an eye a mother of two little ones, a wife, daughter, and sister, is gone. 

Death is not a “passing”.  It is death.  It is the end of being. It is final. There is not an automatic segway into some etherial Shangri-la. When you die, you are dead. You no longer ‘are’. I emphasize this fact because of all the “spitituality” that is floating around out there in our biblically illiterate society. We fear death, so we make it palatable. We turn it into something that we can handle.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I can’t handle it.

Death is not something that I can soften, or paint with cheery colors, or laugh off with fatalism.

Death is our certain outcome and there is a date on the calender with our name in the square. This life passes us by like a snap of the fingers and our day will be here.

I went to a funeral of a co-worker several years ago and the minister doing the funeral service said that he didn’t know why we had to die. I looked around casually to see if anyone was as astounded by that remark as I was. If anyone was, I couldn’t tell.  “The wages of sin is death.” I’m pretty sure that’s in the Bible somewhere (more than once).

Because of the first Adam and his rebellion, we too have that rebellious nature. We too, want to ‘do it ourselves’…call the shots…put ourselves first…ignore God’s law. We don’t love God and our neighbors as ourselves.  We just don’t want to. 

God promised Adam that “on the day that you sin (eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil) you surely will die.”

That was the day that we stopped trusting in God. We are all complicit. There is not a one of us who desires to listen to God and to obey…otherwise we would.

But God loves us anyway. He made us… we are His creation. He does not desire that our sin and our resulting death have the last word. He wants us to live forever with Him!

So He did something about it. He sent the second Adam, Jesus Christ…”just as sin entered the world through one man, so does one man’s act of righteousness lead to aquittal and life for all people.” (Romans 5:18 paraphrased)

Jesus had to die, too. But His death on that bloody cross was for us. To save us from eternal condemnation and eternal death and eternal seperation from God.

By faith, God makes us righteous and grants us salvation. He does this in our baptisms, where He gives us the forgiveness of our sins, and the Holy Spirit. He does this for us in His preached Word, and in His Holy Supper. He wants us to have life forever, the way He originally intended that we have it. So He gives it to us again through faith, because of Jesus Christ.

God has given you life to begin with, and He surely can give it to you again when you need it again. His favorite thing to do is to pull people up from the bottom of graves.

He loves you. He forgives you ALL your sins. He has promised to make you His child in baptism and by faith. All so that the terribleness of death can no longer follow us into His Kingdom.

Jesus Christ has conquered sin, death, and the devil…FOR YOU!

 

That, my friend, is the Good News.  Amen.

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Do you believe it?  If you do…then you’ve got it!

But don’t take that Word of promise for granted.  There are other words out there also, that would rip you away from that belief and bring eternal death back into your future.

Find a church where the promises of God are read and preached, and where His Sacraments are offered freely in accordance with those promises.

Do you think you’re going to hear this stuff at the mall, or the Dodger game?

You need to be kept in faith. There is a long race to be run, you know.

We must die

We must.

Sin demands payment. New life is dependant on it.

No death…no life. 

“If you would gain your life, you must lose it for my sake.”

There are some “Christian blogs” and “Christian churches” that really don’t believe that. They really don’t believe in dying to the self. They are really ALL ABOUT AFFIRMING  ‘THE SELF“.

Instead of using God’s Law as a hammer to crush the rebellious ‘self’, they prop up that ‘self’ by making him/her believe that he/she is really “NOT ALL THAT BAD”…and with a little cleaning up(a little help from the church) they can become what they really ought to be. OR..they don’t even bother with any of that and they just say “anything goes”. “There really is no sin (sin is an old fashioned “bible word” – we know better now) so just do your best, it’s all about love and acceptance, and trying , and giving, and being tolerant”… yada ,yada, yada.

The trouble with both those errant views is that NO DYING takes place.

Good Friday was (is) all about ‘death’. 

It was about what we really think of God (in the end). He shows up in His goodness and mercy and love…and we stake Him to rough timbers untill every drop of life runs out of Him.

Jesus knew this would happen to Him.  He knew (and knows) what’s in our hearts.

And yet He went freely to that death.  He tells His followers that we must also die.

We must die to thinking that we can do anything without Him. That we are “not that bad”. That we can take the stench of sin out of ourselves. That we can, by just trying our best, become better in His eyes. We must die to all of that.

That cross tells us that we will die. It tells us that there is no escaping death. No easing it, no skirting it.

And that is what God’s law does. It puts us to death. That we might have remorse for our sin. That we might be humbled, repent and believe… at least for a while.

Then, when we are sufficiently dead…can raise us again to new life…even as the Father raised our Lord Jesus on that Glorious morning.

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That view is not very popular today. It makes God’s Law into a demand (which it is – laws that do not demand anything really are not laws) and many despise not being able to live any way they want to, without guilt.

It also takes the religious “God project” out of the hands of those that like religion. That enjoy playing the game of  ‘religious self improvement’.

“Yeah, Buts!”…start your engines!!!

Are the “yeah, but’s” trying to stave off death?

Death of the Old Adam, Death of the Old Eve

Jesus said that if you would gain your life in this world… you must lose it.

Is there any dying going on in your church? Are people losing their lives on a regular basis?

It’s supposed to happen, you know.

St. Paul tells us that “the law brings death.”

 There is no life in it.    Life… the authentic, genuine life in Christ that the scriptures speak of, and that the Saints testify to, is found only through, and in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Back to death.

The new life in Christ Jesus can only come about as a result of the death of the old Adam/Eve. The old Man/Woman must be put to death and not coddled.

OK, I’ll buy that…but how?     We mentioned it earlier…God’s Law.

The law will do it’s job on us.   It will expose our sinfulness.   It will demand from us.    It will wear us down.     And it will kill us.

In many churches today, there is no dying.   

The old Adam/Eve are celebrated!   They are wined and dined on a diet of Christian progressivism.   They are not killed off but improved upon, made well, made better and better…striving to be like Jesus.

How is that dying?

The law needs to be wielded like the sword that it is.   It needs to be pointed directly at the heart of the old Adam and run clear through him.   All the old Adams and Eves need to die… and that is me and you and everyone else in the pews.

Does this need be a fire and brimstone type sermon with finger wagging and high energy emotions?    No.   Not really.   It can be…but it’s not necessary.

The law is so powerful, so intrusive into all of our lives, that it can just be as simple as pointing out how you are being had all week by your own sinfulness, the demands of work, of homelife, of city and nation, and the devil, who is real and who is after you.  The law does it’s work on you by making you realize how far short you have fallen from the standard that God uses for measuring our performance …and that is ‘perfection’.

“Your righteousness must EXCEED that of the Pharisees and scribes.”
       “You must be PERFECT as your Father in Heaven is PERFECT.”
                     ” SELL EVERYTHING you’ve got and follow me.”

That is the Law.    Jesus’ sermon on the mount wasn’t a lawnmower manual on ‘how to’  become a better Christian…it was a death sentence,  handed directly to you and executed right then and there.  He was trying to kill us!

He was trying to kill us off to the ‘God project’ which is “religion”!    Our efforts at making ourselves more presentable is not making us better…it’s making us worse!

We need to die.  And when we are sufficiently dead enough, to self and our little game of self justification,  then that pure sweet sound of forgiveness spoken from the cross and spoken over you at your baptism can go to work on you and in you,  and raise you up, and breathe new life into you and make you whole again.

It is the other side of that two-edged blade of law and gospel. The ‘life’ side.

It is Jesus’ declaration to you. In the words of the pastor, in the water and Word of baptism, in the bread and the wine of His supper…”You are forgiven!”

Death and resurrection. Repentance and forgiveness. A picture of baptism.

     All…for you!      Go now… and live!      You are free!       That’s the gospel!

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All of that came as a result of a death.

Is there any dying going on in your church?