Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE HARD PART”

Romans 6.11 

I was looking through my files this past week when I came across a letter I received from the Monrovia ministerial alliance. They wanted to know whether or not our Church would be participating in an ecumenical worship service during the Thanksgiving season. I tossed the letter into the trash, just as I toss every letter from the local ministerium into the trash. It is a practice I began at my first pastorate in Brawley, many years ago. And why do I do that? It certainly isn’t because I think I’m better than the men and women of the cloth who are members of the local ministerium. I’m certainly not better. However, I refuse to associate with the local ecumenical crowd in my official capacity as the pastor of this Church because I don’t believe it is pleasing to God for born-again pastors to join into a group of lost pastors, and then try to mix men who do not believe God’s Word with those who do believe God’s Word, those who are in favor of abortion with those who correctly recognize it to be murder, and those who promote “safe sex” instead of Biblical chastity.

“Pastor, don’t you think you ought to put aside the differences you have with others?” Obviously, many differences can be put aside and should be put aside so that folks can live as good neighbors. I interact every day with men and women with whom I share no fundamental beliefs, and I do so without controversy or conflict. That said, the Bible asks the question concerning matters of ministry and service to God, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”[1] Obviously, the answer is “No.”

One of the great problems in Christianity today is the tendency of believers to run with anyone who says he is a believer, just because he says he is a believer. That’s why this bigot and racist who ran for governor in Louisiana back in the day, and who came out in support of Donald Trump for president last year, David Duke, claims to be a Christian. There are a bunch of knot-head Christians who will vote for a guy just because he says he’s a Christian and will ignore the fact that he used to be the Grand Dragon of the Louisiana KKK. Praise God he lost the election back in the day and last year was ignored by everyone except the Democrats and the mainstream media who tried to connect him to President Trump, who has had long friendships with such Black notables as Hall of Fame football player Jim Brown, entertainer Steve Harvey, professional boxer Mike Tyson, and many other African Americans.

There are so many people who say they are believers who are not, there are so many people who claim to be born again who still get drunk, who still gamble, who still use drugs, who still commit fornication and adultery, who still cheat on their taxes and timecards, who go to liberal Churches where the Bible is not believed and Christ is not exalted, that the few genuine believers that there are in the world unwisely think that living the kind of life that those spiritual frauds live is acceptable in the sight of God.

Living the low-level powerless existence of so many who claim to be Christians is not acceptable to God. God did not graciously send His Son to die for our sins and to provide for our salvation so we could come to know the Holy One of Israel and then live unaffected lives. No. The justified person will live a different life as a believer than he did before knowing Jesus Christ.

For the last three weeks, I have preached in Romans 6.1-10, part of the aim is to show you the Apostle Paul’s reasoning back to the statement I just made. This evening comes the hard part. For this evening we come to that verse in Romans where Paul turns the table on his readers. Up till now it’s been listen. Now it’s do. Up till now it’s been learn. Now it’s live.

My friend, let me encourage you this evening. You do have a new life in Christ. Jesus Christ has made a difference for you, if you have trusted Him to be your savior.

Let me share with you three things you must understand to enable you to do the hard part: 

First, YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE’S DOCTRINE 

And this is found in the verse that’s before us at present, Romans 6.11: 

“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” 

Three things to take note of at this point:

First, notice that we are brought to a conclusion in this verse. There are two words that show this to be true. The word “likewise” and the word “also.” Throughout the previous ten verses, Paul has shown his readers the consequences of Christ’s great saving work on Calvary’s cross and what impact His glorious resurrection from the dead is supposed to have on us who believe. And here is what these two words are used to communicate to you and me. Do you recognize that Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection influenced His relationship with sin, with death, and with God the Father? Sure they did. That’s what Romans 6.10 is all about. “Likewise” and “also” we should recognize that Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection affected our relationship with sin, with death, and with God the Father.

That’s the conclusion we are brought to which, secondly, results in a command. Surprising to many who cherish Paul’s letter to the Romans without noticing, this is the first occasion in the epistle where Paul uses the imperative mood of a verb.[2] This means that he has completed enough of his instructional material; he has spent enough time developing the doctrinal foundation for right living that he now has the liberty to command the reader, to command the believer, to command the Christian, to fish or cut bait. And the word he uses to issue the command is the word “reckon.” This word “reckon” is an accounting term. Paul does not want his readers to reckon themselves to be dead unto sin so that they will be dead to sin. He commands his readers to reckon themselves to be dead to sin because they already are dead to sin. What we have here is a command issued by an apostle of Jesus Christ, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, by the authority of the Lord Jesus Himself. And this command directs us to recognize reality, not alter it; to conform to truth, and not create it.

It is when we obey this command that we will be able, third, to respond to a contrast. And what is the contrast? It’s a contrast between what you are and what you were. It’s a contrast between what you were a slave to do and what you are now set free to do. It’s a contrast between what you had to do wrong and what you now get to do right. It’s a contrast between what you are dead to and what you are alive to. And just as dead people no longer do what they used to do when they were alive, living people can now do what they could not formerly do when they were dead. You used to be alive to sin, but now you are dead to it. You used to be dead to God, but now you are alive to Him. My friend that is Bible doctrine. Romans 6.11 brings us to a Biblical conclusion, issues us a Biblical command, to respond to a Biblical contrast between what you were and what you are in Jesus Christ. Understand that, and we will move on. 

Second, YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THE BELIEVER’S DIFFICULTY 

“Pastor, it’s hard to put Romans 6.11 into effect in my life.” My friend, no one knows that more than I do, I guarantee you. Let me share with you four difficulties that I believe make the implementation of this great verse so very difficult:

First, there is our ignorance of Scripture. So many Christians spend so little time studying their Bibles that they do not know what the Bible says about being dead to sin and being alive to God. Or they attend Churches in which pastors are trying to persuade Christians to die to sin when the Bible declares that they have already died to sin in Christ. Or they do so much looking around at other Christians and comparing of lives that they unwittingly settle for a life that may be common, but is not Scriptural, and is certainly not pleasing to God. “I’m pretty much doing what deacon so and so is doing. I must be okay.” What a mistake such a pattern of living is, depending upon other people to set the standard by which you live rather than the Word of God. The approach Paul recommends is found in Second Corinthians 10.12: 

“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” 

Second, implementation is difficult because of our deception by Satan. Let us understand two things very clearly in this regard: First, Satan blinds the minds of those who are not saved, often convincing them that they are saved (Second Corinthians 4.3-4). Second, Satan has his brand of religious doctrine that he promotes among believers as well as lost people. Mentioned in First Timothy 4.1-3 and other passages, this false teaching would deny that we are what God says we are, that we are dead to sin and alive to God: 

1  Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

2  Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

3  Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 

Satan would have us striving to do what God has already done for us, trying to die to sin when we are already dead to sin, and trying to live unto God when we are already alive unto God.

Third, implementation is difficult because of the evidence of our standing. Folks, realize that there’s no such thing as a Christian who rightly “feels” spiritually powerful, who senses a rush of spiritual might through his body, who is consciously aware of the dynamic power of God ready to spring forth into action as he speaks. As has been stated so many times before, our physical bodies and brains are equipped to function in the material universe in which we live. But the truths upon which we are commanded to act are truths which transcend this material universe. Therefore, since we have no physical evidence to substantiate our standing before God as a result of trusting Christ we are prone to act according to our feelings, to do what we think is right. But “there is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.”[3] Better, by far, is simply to trust God and look to Jesus Christ.

Finally, implementation is difficult because of our lack of experience of spirituality. How many of you walked with God before you were saved? Had your life been dominated and controlled by the Holy Spirit of God before Christ? Of course not. You see, when you become a Christian, you are embarking on something that is totally new to you and never before experienced by you. So you can see, what with the ignorance, the deception, the evidence, and the experience factors considered, why we have difficulty implementing this Bible doctrine into our daily lives. As challenging as it is to live by faith, live by faith we must. 

TO DO THE HARD PART YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE DOCTRINE, YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THE BELIEVER’S DIFFICULTY AND, Finally, YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THE BELIEVER’S DUTY 

Let us not mitigate or try to negotiate. Let us not reason or rationalize. Let us simply take God’s Word at face value, ignoring anything and anyone who disagrees with God’s Word. If we accept and act upon, in a straightforward manner, the Bible’s declaration about we who are genuine believers, there are four very pronounced benefits that we will each experience:

First, you will have confidence in the face of temptation. On what basis can Paul declare that we will not be tempted above that we are able, in First Corinthians 10.13? 

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 

In good measure, because we who are dead to sin are no longer in bondage to it. Sin really doesn’t have the tug on us it used to have, though we feel as though it does. Isn’t that an encouragement during a time of temptation? When you feel the same strength of enticement, you feel the same pull of passion and lust, but you know that you do not have to do what you are tempted to do like you were bound to do before you trusted Christ.

Second, you will have the assurance of your eternal salvation. Please understand the difference between being saved and feeling saved, the difference between having eternal salvation and having confidence that you have eternal salvation. If you know Jesus Christ, you have possession of eternal life. On one hand, you have the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, Romans 8.16. As well, we have First John 2.3, teaching us that our obedience to God fills us with confidence: 

“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.” 

And it’s true. With the inner witness of the Spirit and when you do your duty to God and live the life He has given you and declared you to have by faith in His Son, you will realize that you are living a life that lost people do not live. You are living a life that lost people do not want to live. You are living a life that lost people cannot live. And when you live that kind of life, comforted by the Spirit of God, coupled with you doing your duty, you have great assurance of your salvation.

A third benefit you will experience as a result of doing your duty to live the life Christ has provided for you is courage in the face of death. Paul was confident that to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord. And though every believer will be present with the Lord when he is absent from the body, not all believers are filled with confidence about this at the end of their lives. I’ve seen a great many people die. Lost people are always scared, even when they try to the end to bluff themselves and others unless they are heavily medicated. And though Christians always handle the end of their physical lives better than do lost people, those Christians with the unencumbered witness of the Holy Spirit who have done their duty, who have lived according to what Romans 6.11 says to be true, seem always to go out in fine style. You may not think your exit from this life is important, at all. But it will be important to your loved ones. It will be important to your kids. So prepare yourself for a glorious home-going by not grieving the Holy Spirit, and by doing your duty toward God and living the Christian life the way it ought to be lived.

Finally, for concurrence in the face of trials. Hard things and painful things are going to happen to you. It’s just a normal part of life. Some of the things that happen happen to everyone. Other things happen to just you, as God’s particular plan for you, to make you what He wants you to be. Still other things happen because you’ve brought them on yourself. Romans 8.28 tells us that all things work together for good to them that love God. But you know, that verse is hard to swallow sometime. It’s especially hard to swallow when the things you’re experiencing, the tough things, the hard things, the painful things, are things you’ve brought on yourself through sin and selfishness. But when you’re right with God, when you are doing His will, and the things that happen to everyone happen to you, or the things that God has especially for just you happen to you, it’s far easier to concur with God that such things are good. 

Imagine yourself to have been born in a jail cell. After all, the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ came to set the captives free and to lead captivity captive. Amen? So, your whole existence has been within the confines of this spiritual cell. Every time you reach out you are restrained by bars.

One day someone preaches to you the unsearchable riches of Christ, and you commit your life to Christ. That’s great. You now know the person Who has guaranteed that when you die, you will go to heaven. But what you haven’t yet realized is that when you cast your gaze upon Him, He reached down and unlocked that jail cell door. You didn’t see Him do it, but He did it.

Now He is directing you to come out and follow Him and live your present life with Him until it is time for your eternity to begin. But you see bars here and bars there. Everything you see and feel tells you that you are still held captive by the cell bars. But the Apostle Paul has just informed us that the door is now unlocked. Push it aside and walk through. Don’t live an imprisoned life anymore. Don’t live like you are in jail anymore.

It is Bible doctrine that you have died to sin and that you are alive unto God if you know Christ. True, there’s great difficulty, with those difficulties being difficulties of the mind, the thoughts, and habits. But oh, the benefits of doing your duty and obeying your new Master. What a privilege it is to live for Christ instead of living for yourself.

Ignorant, deceived, unverified, inexperienced believer....come. Walk through the cell door and meet us where we serve God and live for Christ. Begin to live like you’re dead to sin and alive to God because you are. What say we not only worship God together, but we actually serve God together?

Lost person. This kind of life can be yours only through Christ. Come to Christ now.

__________

[1] Amos 3.3

[2] John Carrick, The Imperative Of Preaching: A Theology Of Sacred Rhetoric, (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2002) page 86.

[3] Proverbs 14.12; 16.25

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org