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What Benefit?

I would guess that most of us reading this right now are born again…..saved ….in other words, we’re Christians. At times, many of us find ourselves in a struggle. We do things….say things…that we know are wrong.

We sin…and afterwards we are filled with shame and guilt.

We know that God washes away our sins with the blood of Christ. (1 John 1:7)

1 John 1:7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

And we know that when we confess our sins God forgives us and cleanses away all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9)

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

So, God has put in place a spiritual mechanism, if you will, for removing the sin and the effects of the sin we allow the devil to bring into our lives. That’s a good thing but isn’t it tiresome and disappointing when we see ourselves in that sin-confess-sin-confess cycle?

It is my hope and prayer that what we consider in this teaching will cause us to open our hearts to the Lord for Him to do a deep adjustment in our souls.

Join me by praying this aloud: “Father, will You do that for me….please? Will You open my heart to You so I can be freed from the sin-confess cycle? I present myself to You right now to DO JUST THAT. Amen”

All the verses I will quote in this piece are from the New American Standard Bible because that is what I was reading when I received this Word. I’ll start in Romans 5:15 and will move quickly through Chapter Six.

First, I want to ask a question that I hope we can answer by the end of this article:

“Why do we live, even as Christians, doing things we KNOW are wrong to do?”

In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul was reviewing what had happened to and for them through them receiving Jesus as their Lord and them being saved.

"For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ." (Romans 5:17)

The first “one” was Adam. Paul is contrasting him with Jesus, who came to fix everything Adam broke. Jesus came bearing a superabundance of grace and righteousness.

"So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men." (Romans 5:18)

Adam brought condemnation to all mankind and separation from God. Jesus brought justification. It literally means “an acquittal of all charges.”

"For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:19)

Adam’s disobedience made us into something: habitual sinners. The obedience of Jesus to His Father made us righteous.

The problem, though, is that from our birth until the day we are saved, all we know is how to sin. Even the “good things” that we do are done for sinful reasons. The information of how to survive through sin is stored in the memory banks of our brains.

Why do we still live like that? We do it because we think it gets us what we need. We do it because, even though we often are aware it is wrong to do…we still think it is good to do.

"The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:20-21)

Paul tells us that God gave the Law so that transgression or, literally, “side slips” – error…sin would increase.

There are two things for us to see here today.

1) God hates sin but He gave the Law so we would know for sure that we were sinning when we sinned. It’s a way to measure good and bad.

2) God knew that because of what Adam did in the Garden we would instinctively break any rule that was presented to us.

Paul says, “but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…” The more we sin, the more grace God had for us. This is why it is bogus for anyone to ever say that what they have done is too much for God to forgive.

God has LOTS of grace for us.

God knows how some people think. He knows that some people will think, “Well, God has lots of grace for my sin…so I’ll just sin as much as I want because God will forgive me anyway!”

Paul addresses this idea:

"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:1-2)

I’ve lost count of how many I have prayed with to receive Jesus as Lord. I’ve done a lot of prison ministry and other kinds of ministry over the years.

Having said that, I’m not sure that we do a great job of leading people to Jesus sometimes. Oh, we pray the “sinner’s prayer” with them and baptize people and that’s great. People DOget saved.

My concern is that we often are not telling people exactly what has happened to them when they are saved and we can see the result of that in how they live AFTER they are born again. So many seem to live after receiving Jesus as Lord as if nothing has happened to them.

For instance, how many of us were taught that when we prayed to receive Jesus as our Lord that we would literally “die to sin” like Romans 6:2 says we did?

I wasn’t. I was told that all my past sins would be washed away and that if I died right then, I would go to heaven. That was true, for sure, but it wasn’t the whole truth.

Perhaps the reason that what follows in Romans 6 was first written to the Christians in Rome is that Holy Spirit wanted them (and us) to know more of what happened when we were saved.

God is going to reveal the “spiritual mechanism” He put in place to rescue us from not only the sin debt that was bringing us straight to Hell but also His plan for changing us in a completely fundamental way.

He was grieved that our automatic go-to lifestyle was to sin. He was grieved that we lived as those who had no other choice….because WE HAD NO OTHER CHOICE…. and He loves us.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

He loves us so much that He set in place a way that we could not only be rescued from our sins….but also from our lifestyles of sin.

"...for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)

The word “soter”, translated “Savior” means “deliverer….rescuer.” He has rescuedus….saved us from the trap of habitual and instinctive sin.

"I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm." (Psalm 40:1-2)

If you have never cried out to Him to save you. Perhaps today is YOUR day.

God reveals His plan…His spiritual mechanism to save us from lifestyle sin AND our sins. He had some things in mind for us and to do that He had to do some things in a sequence that leads to what He had in mind.

"Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?" (Romans 6:3)

Did you know that you were literally placed into Jesus…baptized into Him when you prayed to receive Him as your Lord? And that when that happened you were baptized into His death?

Galatians 2:20 says that we were “crucified WITH Christ.” So, we were. (Romans 6:6 will say that too.)

"Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:4)

God wanted us to “walk in newness of life.” He wanted us to habitually live a new lifestyle – one that wasn’t automatically sinful. To do this, we had to be buried with Jesus so we could be raised with Jesus but - it isn’t love to bury a person alive. So something had to happen first.

"For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection," (Romans 6:5)

We had to join Jesus in His death so we could be buried and raised with Him.

"knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;" (Romans 6:6)

So, from God’s viewpoint, we HAD to die so Holy Spirit baptized us into Christ when we prayed to be saved and the people we were (who could not resist sinning) were crucified WITH Jesus.

God wanted “our body of sin to be done away with” because that was the only way we could ever be freed from being slaves to sin. We HAD to die with Jesus. Why?

"for he who has died is freed from sin." (Romans 6:7)

Because dead people stop being slaves.

So, we had to die. It was the best way.

Looking at these last few verses backwards we can see the plan of God for us. God thought:

“I love them so much that I want them to be freed from sin. The only way that can happen is for their body of sin to be done away with. The only way THAT can happen is for them to die with Jesus so that I can resurrect them WITH Jesus. The only way they can die with Jesus is for Holy Spirit to baptize them INTO Him. The only way THAT can happen is for Jesus to go to them and die for them. Only then can my beloved children be restored to Me.”

Isn’t His love for us HUGE?!?!?!

So, we died with Christ but we did not stay dead. We rose with Him, too! That’s good news!

"Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him." (Romans 6:8-9)

Colossians 2:12 and 3:1 both refer to Christians having been raised from the dead WITH Jesus. So, we were!

God wanted us to never be under the authority of a bad master ever again.

Death is a bad master. Death comes through sin. We’ll see in Romans 6:23 that death is the payoff or wage of sin.

The word Holy Spirit uses there for “master” is the VERY SAME word that is used when we confess Jesus as our Lord.

In Romans 6:9 God tells us that He no longer wants death to be our lord.

Have you ever considered that before being saved death and sin were our masters…our lords? This means that, ultimately, we served satan – the one who brings sin and death into our lives as if he were our master.

Have you ever thought about that?

Have you ever thought that when we allow sin to run our lives that, even as Christians who have Jesus as our Lord, we are, at least temporarily, letting satan be our lord moment by moment?

It’s sobering to ponder this, isn’t it?

"For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God." (Romans 6:10)

Jesus went through death so that He could die to the sin that He became on the Cross for us. He now lives a life to God.

God’s plan was that we would be baptized INTO Jesus and take that journey through the Cross WITH Him. So, now, we too are essentially dead to sin and can live our lives to God….but we won’t live that way if we don’t think of ourselves as being dead to sin. So, Paul tells us to do just that:

"Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus." (Romans 6:11)

The words “consider” or in the King James “reckon yourselves to be dead to sin” literally mean this: “Take an inventory of yourselves and see for yourselves that you really are dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

Why don’t we make a proclamation right now to God, ourselves, one another and satan and his demons? You might want to say this out loud so the devil can hear it and shudder:

“I proclaim, in the name of Jesus, that I am in Christ Jesus – baptized into Him by the Holy Spirit of God and that, since I am in Christ, I am dead to sin and alive to God!”

Paul tells us to not let our old, mean “lord” (sin) to continue to reign or rule in our lives.

"Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts," (Romans 6:12)

He says that when we DO allow sin to rule us, satan’s desire is that we OBEY sin’s lusts or longings. The word “obey” means to “listen intently and do as we are told.”

Sin is aggressively active! We cannot drop our guard.

Now, Paul tells us to not continue to do something:

"and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." (Romans 6:13)

Once, I was speaking in a prison and knew the men in that unit were short timers: they were about to be released back into the free world. I asked them to raise their hands if they knew of one person who, if he or she had the chance, would hurt them. Almost everyone raised his hand.

Then I said this: “Close your eyes and imagine walking up that person and saying, ‘Do whatever you want to me.’”

One of the prisoners yelled out, “You must be out of your MIND!”

I looked at him for a minute and said, “You wouldn’t do that because you KNOW the person’s reputation and his habit is to hurt you. Right? What is the devil’s habit and reputation? Isn’t it to do the VERY SAME THING? You’re all wearing a prison uniform today. Is that not because satan did something to hurt you? He tempted you do sin and it cost you YEARS of your life.”

When we listen to satan, the father of sin, we literally present ourselves to him to do with us what he wishes. Can you think of ONE thing he has done to bless you? Ever?

I begged those men in that pre-release prison to be spiritually wise when they got out of prison and NOT go right up to satan and present themselves to him for obedience. I asked them – and I ask you now: “What has satan ever done to bless you?”

Satan has done NOTHING to bless you and that’s because he is not in the blessing business. He only "lives to kill, steal and destroy" (John 10:10a) but Jesus, in GREAT contrast, came so that we “may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b).

Let’s choose, moment by moment, to present ourselves to Jesus for obedience.

In Romans 6:14-15 Paul tells us that since we are under the grace of God sin will not be master over us and that we should not take advantage of the grace of God and sin anyway. Then he tells us something interesting about this whole process

"Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?" (Romans 6:16)

God has completely changed the nature of slavery. Now we get to choose our master! Prior to being saved we had no choice. Whichever we obey: God or satan…that one becomes our Lord for that incident. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want the devil being my master anymore.

In verses 17-18 Paul says that when we received Jesus as our Lord we stopped being trapped as slaves to sin, were freed from sin, became servants of God and His righteousness

In Romans 6:19 he speaks of how weak our flesh is and then he says this:

“For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.” (Romans 6:19)

In other words, whichever we choose….there is a sort of domino effect in it. Giving ourselves to satan and sin causes us to slide further and further downhill. Giving ourselves to God and righteousness causes us to become more and more holy, which is a better translation than “sanctification” in that verse. Instead of sliding downhill, we are LIFTED up!

In Romans 6:20 He tells us that when we were slaves of sin, you exempted ourselves from the righteousness that comes from God.

When I started today’s teaching I asked a question:

Why do we live, even as Christians, doing things we KNOW are wrong to do?

Then I answered my own question: “We do it because we think it gets us what we need. We do it because, even though we often are aware it is wrong to do…we still think it is good to do.”

In this next verse God challenges us to think about that.

"Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed?" (Romans 6:21a)

The actual Greek word translated here as “benefit” literally means “fruit”. What beneficial thing do we hope to get from the things we do that leave us ashamed?

The truth is that we do what we do because we think it will somehow benefit us. Instead, it leaves us emptier than ever. After someone confesses sin to me…especially something really bad and devastating, I ask them to tell me how it makes them feel. Then I encourage them to never forget how empty and ashamed it left them.

Paul tells us in Romans 6:21b that: “the outcome of those things is death.”

The truth is that, no matter what benefit we hope to get from sinful things, the entire package includes the damage that sin brings along with whatever short term benefit we (might) get from it. That’s why Romans 6:23a says that: “the wages of sin is death”.

In the second half of that verse he contrasts that sad payday with what God gives us as a free gift: “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I have no idea what sorts of things people here are struggling with unless they have told me. Even if people have done that….I had none of those in mind as I have written this teaching.

I’ve had my OWN sin in mind – things I struggled with in the past as well as things satan throws at me now.

These things God gives me to write are intended by God to first convict me…teach me…correct me…as much as it is for anyone else.

In this teaching God has told us, just as He did the Christians in Rome who originally got this letter, what He has done to save us from a situation as only He could have done. He has revealed His love and His answer to our problem.

We have chosen to follow Jesus for eternity and be voluntarily enslaved to Him. If there is anything pestering you that has kept you from enjoying that relationship with our King…if there is anything that is trying to get you to serve IT instead of Jesus…and if you are tired of that…..why not confess it to God right now….right where you are?

Cast that down. Receive forgiveness from your Father in heaven and give satan a bad day for a change.

Like Joshua said: “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…but, as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

That would be a good way to live.

The Lord bless you!

Pastor Mike McInerney

Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.

Decatur, TX 76234

© December 17, 2015

(For use with permission)

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