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News for Monday, December 23, 2013

Sunday School Lesson — Bible Studies for Life
Dec. 29: An Identify You Must Embrace
By Josh Moore

Focal Passage: Romans 6:8-18


As we continue our study of the gospel in Romans, Paul makes a shift in chapter 6 from discussing the foundations of the gospel toward investigating its impact on the life of the believer. Now that we know the grace of God comes to us through faith in Jesus, what does that mean for our lives? Often when we read the news we think about how a new law or ordinance will impact our lives. We ask, “What does that mean to me?” Romans 6 demonstrates to us how the gospel transforms our lives in Jesus Christ.

Embrace your new life with Christ (vv. 8-11). Paul describes the stark difference found in new life with Christ. Now that Jesus is raised from the dead, He can no longer die again. Death has been swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54). Likewise, we must consider ourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ Jesus. Every aspect of life has a new purpose and meaning. The former way of life is gone; we cannot go back. When the Spanish Conquistadors arrived in the new world, their leader Hernando Cortes ordered all ships scuttled to eliminate any thought of retreat. In the same way, when we are buried with Christ in death and raised in newness of life, our former life is scuttled and we look ahead to the new life we have with Christ.

Enlist in the battle against sin (vv. 12-14). We must not kid ourselves; the Christian life is a battlefield. Spiritual warfare is real, and the forces of darkness are assembled against us. Paul says in Ephesians 6 that we do not fight against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. In warfare all must declare loyalty. During World War II almost every country on the globe had to choose whose side it was on, whether Axis or Allied. We are in the midst of spiritual warfare and must choose a side. We enlist in this battle against sin by offering up our bodies to God. As Paul declares in Romans 12:1, we are to present ourselves as living sacrifices, which is our logical response to the grace God has lavished upon us. Instead of the dead sacrifices as in the Old Testament, God calls His people as living sacrifices, presented to the Lord as instruments of righteousness. Only through our death and resurrection in Jesus can we truly live a life that is pleasing to God.

Enslave yourself to righteousness (vv. 15-18). We live in a society that celebrates freedom. It may surprise you that the gospel calls us to slavery. The interesting notion is that everyone is a slave to something. As Paul says in Romans 6:16, you either obey God or you obey the desires of sin. In Roman culture, many would voluntarily enter servitude to pay off debts or to escape destitution. They would present themselves to the estate owner as a slave. When we respond to the gospel, we are presenting ourselves to God as slaves to righteousness. The amazing truth is that true freedom is found in slavery to God. For through Jesus Christ, God has freed you from the bondage of sin and has raised you in newness of life, where you are bound to righteousness. That is true freedom. Those who see Christianity as a dull and repressive lifestyle do not realize the death grip the bondage of sin has on them. As Paul tells us later in this chapter, the wages of slavery to sin (perceived freedom) is death, but the gift of God (slavery to righteousness) is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

— Moore is the director of church relations at Union University in Jackson. He also serves as minister of education at First Baptist Church, Dresden.

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