Living in Christ
If you have your Bibles, I’d invite you to turn with me to Romans, chapter
6. As you do so, I want to remind you of a fact that may catch you off guard. For six and
a half chapters, the apostle Paul has been writing to us about various things. If you
notice, that not one time has he told you do anything. Isn’t it interesting that for
six and half chapters, the apostle Paul hasn’t told us to do a single thing. Now, you
may have been wanting that a little bit. “Paul when are you going to get finished
with justification.” You may be saying, “Ligon, when are you going to get
finished with justification?” But, the apostle, for a very specific reason, has not
commanded you to do anything yet. Because it is more important, he believes, that you
understand first, what you were, then, what God has done for you; then, what God has done
in you, and then, what God has made you to be. Only then are you ready to hear and respond
to His commands.
In the Christian life grace must be operative before obedience is a possibility. Gospel
obedience flows from the realization of God’s work of grace on our behalf. And so the
apostle Paul has been belaboring your previous condition apart from Christ, what God has
done, what God has done for you, what God has done in you, what God has been making you to
be before He gives you a command. And so we get almost into the second third, even close
to the second half of the book of Romans before he gives his first command. I want you to
bear that in mind, as we come to this passage, because in and of itself, it is a sign of
God’s grace. We remember Augustin’s words from his Confession when he
prayed to the Lord. He said, “Lord, command what You will, but give what You
command.” In other words, Lord I know what Your law commands me to do, but I
don’t know how to do it unless You give me the grace to do so. And Paul is stressing
that very point in the way he lays out the book of Romans.
And so as we move from Romans 6:10 to Romans 6:11, we move from that section of Romans
which is stressing what God has done for you in forgiving you, to what God is doing in you
and how you respond to the grace of God. So let’s hear God’s holy and inspired
word here in Romans, chapter 6, beginning in verse 8:
“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. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all, but the life
that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive
to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you
should obey its lust. 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. For sin shall not be master
over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.”
Amen, and thus ends this reading of God’s holy, inspired and inerrant word. May He
write its eternal truth upon our hearts. Let’s pray.
Father, this is Your Word. We pray that by Your Spirit, we wouldn’t just be
interested in it or made curious to understand it intellectually, but that we would be
transformed by Your word, that we would respond to Your word by loving it, by desiring to
be conformed to the description of Your purposes contained therein. We pray Heavenly
Father, that in any of these things if we are unfamiliar with Your grace, that this would
be a day of grace for us, and that we would come to know Jesus Christ savingly. But in all
this, we pray that Your people would be instructed and those who were not Your people,
would be drawn into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. These things we ask in
Jesus’ name, Amen.
I. In faith union with Christ, the believer is not
only dead to sin but also alive in Christ.
There are two
things that we need to see to understand what is going on in chapter 6 of Romans, and the
first is this. In the Christian life, I’m going to use a grammatical phrase, in the
Christian life, the indicative precedes the imperative. What in the world do I mean by
that? Well, simply this. We do not obey in order to be redeemed, but rather we are
redeemed, and that redemption enables us to obey. In other words, what we are in the
Christian life, precedes our ability to obey that which God would have us to do. And this
is emphasized not only by Paul, but we find it in the Old Testament as well. You will
remember the story of the Exodus. How God sent Moses into the land of Egypt with the law,
and he said, “If you would obey the law, I will bring you out of Egypt.” Now
already you are scratching your head, and you’re saying, “I don’t remember
that story.” Good, I’m glad you don’t. It’s not there. He did not send
Moses into Egypt and say, “If you will obey the law, I will bring you out of the land
of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, and I will redeem you.” No, He sent Moses into
Egypt with a revelation of Himself, and a revelation of His covenant of grace. He had
heard their cries because of the gracious covenant which He had made with Abraham, and
therefore, He was going to bring them out of the land of Egypt, and once He got them out
of the land of Egypt, lo and behold, at the mountain of Sinai He gave them the law. So He
redeemed, and then He gave them the law.
And you see this emphasized by Moses even in the giving of the Ten Commandments. Turn
in your Bible to Exodus, chapter 20, verses 1 through 3. In those verses, we have a
beautiful display of how grace enables law in the Christian life. Or to put it another
way, how the grace of God working in us, gives us new life, and thus the ability to be
obedient to and to desire to be obedient to God’s law. In Exodus, chapter 20 verse 1,
we read, “And God spoke all these words. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out
of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.” Now
note the order of verses 2 and 3. It does not say, ‘I you will obey the command, you
shall have no other gods before Me, then I will be the God who brings you out of the land
of Egypt, and out of the house of bondage.’ No, it’s the other way around.
I’ve already brought you out of the land of Egypt. I’ve already brought you out
of the house of savery. Now, therefore, as My children, this is the family law. This is
the parental law. This is the fatherly law given to My children. Obey it. You see, the law
does not redeem Israel out of Egypt. God’s grace redeems Israel out of Egypt. The
blood of the shed Passover lamb redeems Israel out of Egypt, but the law then is given in
response to God’s work of grace. What we are precedes what we are to do in Christian
experience. What God has made us to be by His grace, enables us to do what He has
commanded. Let’s go back to Augustin again. Oh Lord, command what You will, but give
what You command. Lord, what you command is right, but give me the ability to do that
which is right. Paul stresses that beautifully by spending six and a half chapters to tell
us about the indicative before He ever comes to tell us one time about the imperative,
about the command, about the mandate. The first key to your understanding of Romans 6.
Secondly, you need to see this. In the Christian life, justification and sanctification
are a package deal. As God grants us forgiveness in salvation, so He breaks our bondage to
sin. God’s plan of salvation is that we would be delivered from both sin’s
penalty and its power. In justification, He forgives our sins and accepts us as righteous.
And in sanctification He imparts new life to us through the resurrection power of Jesus
Christ and enables us to become that which He intended us to be from the beginning. As God
grants forgiveness in salvation, so He breaks our bondage to sin.
The problem is many Christians want forgiveness, but they don’t want holiness. Now
you’ve heard the prayer, “Sanctify me, Lord, but not yet.” I don’t
know where these emails come that tell these stories about children’s prayers, but I
get about one a week. I don’t what the key source is on that. But a few weeks ago, I
got one and I read this child’s prayer, and I said, “Aha, that will work for
Romans, chapter 6.” And the prayer went something like this: “Lord, make me a
better boy. But if you can’t make me a better boy, it’s all right because I
really like the way I am.” Well, that is precisely the feeling of many Christians.
They are perfectly happy being forgiven but not holy. They are perfectly happy being
accepted, but not righteous, forgiven but not sanctified. And the apostle Paul does not
consider that to even be a possibility if you are in Romans, chapter 6. Justification and
sanctification are a package deal. God’s forgiveness and God’s delivering us
from the dominion of sin in our lives, is a package deal. God doesn’t just save us so
that we can be forgiven and go on in our bondage to a life of sin, He saves us to deliver
us from that life of bondage. That’s what Paul is talking about here in Romans 6 and
especially here in verses 8 through 14, as He begins to set forth these imperatives, this
becomes very apparent. And I’d like to walk through the passage with you today.
Now in order that you can follow me clearly, let me tell you where we’re going.
Verses 8 through 10, we’re going to look at how resurrection gives us new life, and
it doesn’t just give us new life then, when He comes again and we are raised again
and united with our spirits, but it gives us new life now.
Then, beginning in verse 11, Paul gives the first of four commands for imperatives. The
first command in verse 11 is ‘know who you are.’ The second command in verse 12
is ‘be who you are.’ The third command in verse 13, the first part of the verse
is ‘don’t allow yourself to be used as a tool for sin.’ And the fourth
command in the second half of verse 13 is ‘give your whole being to God as a tool for
righteousness.’ And then he gives a word of encouragement in verse 14. That’s
the outline of what we’re going to do today. Let’s look at verses 8 through 10
II. In faith union with Christ, the believer is not
only dead to sin but also alive in Christ.
Here Paul tells
us that our resurrection in Christ begins at the new birth, not just at the Second Coming.
When we’re united to Christ and when we are raised again with Christ, that not only
points to the day when we will one day be raised again in our mortal bodies and given a
glorious and incorruptible body and united with our spirits and reign with the saints in
heaven forever and ever, but it points to the now in which God is working His grace in us.
He’s not only imputed righteousness to us, He is imparting righteousness to us by His
sanctifying grace. And so in union with Christ, when we trust in Jesus Christ, when we
have faith in Him by the power of the Holy Spirit and we are united with Him, the believer
is not only dead to sin but alive to Christ.
Paul has been teaching in verses 1 through 7 about what it means to be dead to sin. Now
he wants to emphasize the positive side of being united to Christ. We’re living in
newness of life, we’re walking in newness of life because of Jesus resurrection life.
Jesus’ resurrection life is the source for the new life that is in us. Have you ever
wondered how exactly is it that a person is reborn? Nicodemus once asked that question to
Jesus. Jesus talked to him about the nature of the new birth and He emphasized what? The
work of the Holy Spirit. When Paul talks about that in Romans, chapter 6, he emphasizes
the resurrection of Jesus Christ which provides for us a source of new life. And in this
newness of life we experience a radical break with sin. You remember what Paul describes
us as before we became believers or apart from Christ in Ephesians, chapter 2, verse 1?
What does he call us? He says, “Remember you were dead.” You were dead in sin.
Well, in Romans, chapter 6, in order to emphasize to us how radical this transformation
work by Jesus Christ is, what does He say? Not that we’re dead in sin, but
that we’re dead to sin, and that we’re alive in Jesus Christ. So
it’s a total contrast. He’s saying that God’s grace is a radically,
transforming power. We are not justified by that new birth. In other words, God
doesn’t accept us because of the new life. He accepts us because of what Jesus did.
He accepts us because of Jesus’ righteousness. And when He accepts us, He always
gives us new life, too. In other words, they are a package deal. Forgiveness and the new
birth come together. And so we are justified by grace through faith, but along with that
we are given a new birth which enables us by God’s grace to walk in a newness of
life. In God’s plan of salvation, He plans not only to forgive us, but to change us;
not only to justify us but to sanctify us. Not only to free us from sin’s penalty,
but to release us of the bondage of its power. And that’s what Paul is talking about
here in Romans, chapter 6. When he gets to the imperatives, it is important that we
understand that particular principle. God’s grace perceives our ability to obey the
imperatives, but in God’s plan He not only wants to forgive us, but to change us, to
transform us, to make us like Him; to make us godly, to made us like the Lord Jesus
Christ. Now having said that, let’s look at each of these four imperatives.
III. Appreciate your union with Christ. Know who you
what Paul says. Even so consider yourselves dead to sin but alive to God and Jesus
Christ.” Here’s the first imperative. “Know who you are.” Isn’t
it glorious, that after going for six and a half chapters without a single command, the
first command that we hear from God through the words of the inspired apostle Paul is
simply this. Consider who I’ve made you to be. Here’s my first command for you.
You think about what I’ve made you to be. You think about who you are. Know who you
are. Paul is saying appreciate, dwell on, take in, internalize, what you have been made to
be in union with Christ. And this is so important because believers struggle with sin. I
say this in just a few minutes, but it’s very clear that throughout this passage that
Paul is saying these things because he knows that Christians do struggle with sin, not
because Paul thinks that Christians want to struggle with sin. Don’t be confused with
that. Paul knows that when he says to you, “You are dead to sin,” your
instinctive reaction inside would never be to say in Sunday School class, “Well, I
don’t feel dead to sin. I mean, you may say that, Paul, but it sure doesn’t feel
that way. It sure doesn’t look that way to me. When I look at my life, I don’t
feel like I’m dead to sin.” And that’s precisely why Paul is saying this to
you. Paul is saying this because we must actively, consciously appreciate, dwell on, take
in and internalize what God has done for us in union for Christ because sometimes it
doesn’t seem like much has changed. And the most mature Christians are the quickest
to see their own faults. And so it is vital that they pause to realize what God has
actually done in them now.
When Paul says, “know who you are; realize what God has made you to be in
Christ” let me tell you what he does not mean, because every mystical heretic in the
history of the church has misunderstood this passage. First of all, Paul is not saying,
“Go take a Dale Carnegie and Norman Vincent Peale “Positive Thinking”
course and think positively about yourself. He’s not saying, “Look, okay, I know
you’re a sinner, but think real positive thoughts, have a good positive attitude
about yourself, and then lo and behold, that will have an attitudinal affect on you and
then you’ll not be a sinner.” Paul is saying, “This is what you are. You
are dead to sin. I want you to think about what God has made you to be, dead to sin.”
He’s not saying, “If you have a good positive attitude about it, maybe that will
become the case.” He’s saying that “It is already the case, and I want you
to reflect on it.”
Secondly, He is not saying in the manner of a new age guru, ‘visualize yourself as
dead to sin.’ If you’ve been in business or in sports sometime in the last ten
or fifteen years you have suffered through some sort of seminar where they told you that
you needed the art of visualization. You know what I’m talking about. When Rocket
Ismail ran that touchdown back from kickoff in a Notre Dame game a number of years ago, Sports
Illustrated interviewed him, and he said, “Well, you see, I visualized that
touchdown ahead of time. I stopped, I paused, I saw myself breaking through the line and
going 100 yards for a touchdown; and, therefore, I made it happen.” But the apostle
Paul is not saying that. He’s not saying, “Visualize yourself as person who is
dead to sin, and then maybe you’ll become one. You’ll break through the line and
become a person dead to sin.” Notice he is saying this already is a reality. You are
dead to sin. I want you to consider it. He is not saying to live in denial. He is not
saying see yourself as dead to sin and, therefore, never admit that you sin.
Let me illustrate this in a conversation. Mother and daughter are having a
conversation. Daughter says to mother, “Mother you were horrible to Barbara this
morning. You were so mean to her.” And mother says, “Oh, I’m dead to sin.
It was not possible that I could have been horrible to Barbara this morning.” This is
not what Paul is saying. He’s not saying that we should deny that we ever sin.
He’s saying, recognize that you are dead sin, the power of sin, the dominion of sin,
the bondage of sin in your life has been definitively broken. He is, furthermore, not
saying that we should always think of ourselves as forgiven. You know, someone comes up to
us and they say, “Well, Ligon, you know you’ve really sinned again me today, and
I’d like you to think about that.” And you respond by saying, “Oh, I’m
already forgiven, and God looks at me as forgiven; so you need to look at me as forgiven,
too.” Now that’s not what Paul is saying either. Paul is saying, by God’s
grace He has made you to be dead to sin. He has destroyed the dominion of sin, the reign
of sin in your life, and you need to realize it. It’s like a young man whose been
single a long, long time, and he’s married a wonderful bride, but he’s having a
hard time remembering that he’s not single any more. And he’s doing things like
going out and making major purchases without consulting his wife. And he’s making
social plans without consulting his wife. And an older and godly man pulls him aside and
says, “Son, you need to consider that you are married.” You see, it’s not
that the guy has to sit there and say, “Now if I think hard enough, I’ll be
married.” He already is married; he just needs to live like he is. It’s like a
woman who has grown up in the setting where she really hasn’t been loved with
devoted, caring, nurturing love; and suddenly, she’s in a relationship with a man who
is her husband who loves her. She really has a hard time taking that in. It’s hard
for her to believe that because she hasn’t experienced that growing up, and a wise
and godly woman takes her aside and says, “You know, he really is crazy about you.
You need to think about that, and take that in.”
Paul is telling you about a reality that God in His grace has already done for you, and
you need to pause and reflect on what He has done. Consider yourself dead to sin. Know who
you are. You are dead to sin, but alive to God in Jesus Christ. It’s not only that
Paul is saying, “Realize what the purposes of God’s grace are, to cause us to be
made like Him, to be godly and righteous. But He’s saying, realize what God’s
grace has already actually made you to be in the here and now. You know I think some
Christians believe that God saved us back then, and that He’s going to save us in the
future when He comes again in the great bodily coming of Jesus Christ, but in-between
it’s kind of we’re on our own. And Paul is emphasizing that many of you never
stop to think about what He’s done. You’ve got this glorious gift, and you
never, ever stop to think about it.
IV. In light of who you are, don’t live like a
slave to sin! Be who you are.
what he says in verse 12. He draws a conclusion from this. And his second imperative is
this. Be who you are. Act like who you are. Live like who you are. In other words,
he’s saying, in light of who you are don’t be a slave to sin. Look at his words:
“Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you obey its lust.”
There are three things in that sentence I want you to lock on to. Do not let sin reign
in your mortal body to obey its lust. Look at those three components. This is a very
important passage. It’s clear that Paul is not saying, “Okay, as a Christian
because you’re dead to sin, you should never, ever sin again. And if you ever sin
again you’re not a Christian.” He doesn’t say, “Do not ever sin
again.” He does say, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body.” You are
not under the dominion of sin. Your life is not characterized by the addictive,
controlling bondage of the desires of sin. It does not mean that you do not struggle with
sin, if you don’t believe me, look at Romans, chapter 7. Paul, by the way,
wouldn’t have to be saying this to us if we weren’t struggling with sin.
There are two things that you need to understand to understand verse 12. The first
thing is this: that it is really true that sin does not reign over us as believers. The
second thing is this: that believers really do struggle with sin. Paul wouldn’t have
to be telling you not to let sin reign if you weren’t struggling with sin. Think
about that. If all Christians in the church were sinlessly perfected, would Paul have had
to tell them “Do not let sin reign in your body”? No. So the very fact that he
has to say that lets you know that you are a believer struggling with sin. So what’s
the issue? Don’t let sin reign. Your life is no longer controlled by the desires of
sin. It’s no longer controlled by this agenda of sin. You are not under the addictive
power of sin. Your new life in Christ has brought you new desires and new godliness and
Isn’t it interesting that Paul realizes that before you can tell a Christian do
what God says here or do what God says there, they have to recognize who they are.
Paul’s ethics are always like this. He never says become who you are not. He says
rather, be who you are. Live what God has made you to be. And that’s very important
if you’re not a believer today. We’re not saying to you, ‘become what
you’re not.’ We’re not saying you’re not a righteous person. You
really ought to work at it. We’re saying that you can’t be a righteous person
apart from the grace of God and Jesus Christ. And if you’re not a person who is
trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ, the only thing you can do is recognize your own need of
His mercy and cast yourself upon that mercy, trusting in Him alone for salvation. Then, He
imparts to you a new life because being a Christian is not making a new start in
life, it’s receiving a new life to start with. And so the apostle Paul is
saying, “Be who you are.” He’s not telling you become what you’re not.
He’s saying act like what God has made you to be. Live in accordance with what
God has made you to be. So sin is not going to reign.
Now I mentioned three phrases. In your mortal body to obey its cravings or lust.
Let’s take the last one first. Look at the end of the sentence. To obey its lust.
Paul is pointing here especially to the realm of desires. I think it is very important to
understand what he is saying when he says, “Don’t let sin reign.” One of
the first ways that we know that God is doing a work of grace in our lives is that we no
longer desire to live a life of sin. We desire to live a life of godliness. We desire to
be like the Lord. We desire to see those things that are good and pure and beautiful. We
desire after godliness. We can say then with the psalmist, “How I love Your law, O
Lord.” And Paul is saying that one of the evidences of sin’s reign, is that your
desires are totally captive to sin. But when grace comes, you are liberated from that
captivity to sin. New life brings a decisive break with the desires of sin, and it brings
an advent of desires for righteousness. Now we don’t always follow those new desires
consistently. But thank God we don’t always follow those old desires consistently
either. And that’s the evidence of God’s grace. Sin is not king any more, Paul
says. Christ is King. God is King in your life. His grace is reigning in your life. So
remember who is boss now. Sin is not reigning any more.
Notice also, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body.” Paul is very aware
that the body itself can become a conduit for sin that affect our desires. The cravings of
sin often utilize the body in order to make their interest. Lust, greed, pride,
untruthfulness, strife spreading, and worldliness. Oftentimes the body itself provides a
conduit for these sins in our lives. And so Paul says, “Don’t let sin reign in
V. In light of who you are, don’t be a tool for
if you look in verse 13 Paul says, “Don’t allow any part of yourself to be used
as a tool for sin. This follows on this same idea that we’ve just been talking about.
In other words, Paul says, “In light of who you are, don’t be used as a tool for
sin. You are now redeemed by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, you’re forgiven of
sins, you have broken free from the power and bondage to sin, so don’t be a tool for
wrongdoing. Don’t let your body be used as an instrument for wickedness.”
We’ve said that Paul knew that the flesh could be a conduit for sin. And so he’s
saying, “Be on guard of sin’s use of the portal of your body to be a gateway for
Men, your eyes can be a portal for sin. Pornography, whether it may be written, whether
it may be in video form, whether it may be on television, whether it may be on a move
screen, whether it may be on the internet, it can become a portal for sin. And Paul is
saying, “Do not let the members of your body become a portal for sin.” In the
same way the eyes can be a gate for adultery, or the lips can be the gate for the abuse of
alcohol. And so the apostle is saying guard against the members of your body as
instruments for sin.
Women, the eyes can be a gate for jealousy and envy. When we look around, we see
someone who has things that we don’t have, and we really desire to have those.
Someone who has friends that we don’t have, and we really desire to have them.
Someone who has status that we don’t have, and we really desire to have it. Someone
who has acceptance in relationships that we don’t have, and we really desire to have
them. Jealousy can come in through the eye. Or perhaps the besetting sin is money or pride
or clothing or status.
But God is saying to us, thought the apostle Paul, Christian, look at how the body
itself can be used by Satan as a portal for sin, and don’t let that happen; because
you’re not under the reign of Satan anymore in sin. You are under grace. And that
means we are going to need to know our weaknesses, and we’re going to need to
recognize our temptations, and we’re going to have to confront sinful practices that
we know we have. And we’re going to have to stay away from known sources of
temptation. And we’re going to have to invest time in good habits and activities and
we’re going to have to consciously depend upon God’s grace to do it because we
know the power of sin, and how it can bring us into bondage. And so we’ll have to
strive in order to say no to sin. And Paul is saying here, “Don’t allow any part
of yourself to be used as a tool for sin.”
VI. In light of who you are, give yourself to God.
And then finally
he is saying this. Verse 13, the second half. “Give your whole being as a tool for
righteousness.” We’re not to allow any part of our bodies to be used for sin. We
ought to give all of ourselves, inside out, all of the members of our body as well as our
inmost being to God as a tool for righteousness. In other words, Paul is saying, ” In
light of who you are, a person who is dead to sin, and alive to Christ, give yourself to
God. Present your whole being to God, as someone who is alive to God, dead to sin. Give
your body to the Lord as a tool for righteousness, because sin shall not be master over
you precisely because you’re not under law, you’re under Christ.”
Paul knows that people will use that phrase, “you’re not under law,
you’re under grace,” as an excuse not to follow after the way of righteousness.
And so he puts it the other way around. He says, “Why is it that we present the whole
of ourselves to God as tools righteousness?” Well, the reason that we do it is
because we’re not under law, we’re under grace. What in the world does he mean?
He means this. The law doesn’t have the power to enable you to do that, but grace
does. The law tells you what you should do, but it doesn’t have the power to help you
to do what you should do. Grace gives you the power to do what the law tells you to do.
And because you’re not under law, and you’re not under the condemnation of the
law, therefore you’re not under the opposition of the law and the conviction of the
law because you’re under grace. You’ve been redeemed, you’ve been forgiven,
you’ve been empowered. Do what the law tells you to do, because you’re not under
the law, but because you’re under grace. So in light of who you are, give yourself to
God. Live life in the conscious gaze of God. He is witnessing everything that we do. We
live before his face.
This is so important both for our witness and for our assurance. Think about that for a
second. Let me promise you this. You’re a believer. You’ve been forgiven by God
and the Lord Jesus Christ, and you are living in such a way that you are not pursuing this
new walk of faith, this new life in Christ. I promise you will struggle with assurance.
When David was in the midst of that nine-month sin with regard to Bathsheba, he tells us
in Psalm 51 that “his bones waxed old.” He was under the conviction of sin. Did
he have assurance? No. God didn’t want him to have assurance. He loved him too much
to let him have assurance in a situation like that. If you’re not pursuing after this
new life, I promise you you’ll struggle with assurance.
But secondly, let me say this. This is so important for witness, because this new, this
transformed life is crucial to our witness of the truth of the gospel. I had the privilege
of eating supper with Eric Alexander last night, and I was asking Eric, “Eric, how
did you become a Christian?” And he said, “Well that’s very interesting
that you’ve asked because there’s no one in my family who was a Christian. My
parents weren’t Christians, my grandparents weren’t Christians. As far as I
know, my great grandparents weren’t Christians.” I asked, “Did you come
under the influence of some faithful, evangelical preacher?” “Well, actually no.
Initially the influence was three friends in school who were Christians, and I could see
in their lives that there was something totally different about them. They were different.
God had done a work in them, and they were different. And then my brother was saved. And
when I saw him again, I realized he was different, and that was what God began to use in
my life. Transformed lives of Christians as a witness to Jesus Christ.” It was very
interesting. He went on to tell us that when he was twelve years old, a young man named
William Still came to be the associate minister at their church where he had grown up.
Eric was twelve years old, and already by the time he was twelve, he had decided he wanted
to be a medical doctor. He did eventually go to medical school at the University of
Glasgow. But there was a lady in the church who had a crush on Mr. Still, who was single.
And she would find any excuse she could to get into a conversation with Mr. Still. So one
day before Sunday School, she was talking to Eric, and she saw Mr. Still walking by, and
she said, “Mr. Still, I want to introduce you to Eric Alexander.” And so she
drug him over to speak to little twelve-year old Eric. “Mr. Still, this is Eric
Alexander, and when he grows up he’s going to be a doctor.” And Mr. Still leaned
over, and he put his hand on Eric’s head, and he said, “Eric Alexander, whatever
you grow up to be, I hope you grow up to be like Jesus.” Isn’t that interesting
that that’s precisely what happened, and it’s precisely these friends, who were
like Jesus, that God used to bring Eric Alexander into a saving relationship with Jesus.
You see, being transformed by the grace of God is a crucial part of our witness, and if we
don’t have the desire to walk in that newness of life, it is a definitive evidence
that God is not doing His work of grace in us, and we need to seek that grace. May God
grant that we would be both forgiven and transformed. Let’s pray.
Our Lord and our God, we bow before You and praise Your Holy Name. We ask that You
would enable us to walk in newness of life by the grace of the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’
© 2019 First Presbyterian Church.
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