Live According to Reality — sermon on Romans 6:1-11 by Ps Sam Powell
[August 4, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
Is it possible for a Christian to continue to wilfully and unrepentantly live a life of rebellion excusing it by claiming the grace of God?
The answer is an emphatic “No”.
We have summarized some portions from the sermon in case you don’t have time to listen to it. The sermon Living According to Reality: Romans 6:1-11 goes for 36 minutes.
What is being addressed in this question is not whether or not a Christian should or should not live like that. The answer is that it isn’t possible. It’s a contradiction in terms. A Christian living in rebellion to God is like saying that that object over there is a square circle. They are contradictory and can not exist side by side.
In Romans 6:1-11, Paul gives three strong reasons why this is so.
The first reason: In verses 1 and 2 it is the very design of Christianity to deliver men from sin. The only one who can come to Christ is the one seeking to be delivered from sin. Therefore if a man still desires to live in sin he has not come to Christ. It is not possible to truly come to Jesus Christ and desire to continue to live in sin.
A man who comes to Christ comes to be delivered from his sin. Therefore it is not possible to desire to live continuously in a rebellious life and come to Christ. They are contradictory.
The second reason: To be freed from sin means to be united with Jesus Christ in His death and His resurrection. If we claim to be Christians we claim to be dead with Christ. If we claim to be dead with Christ we claim that all our sins are nailed to His cross and we are risen with Him and have new life.
The third reason: It is not possible for a Christian to live a life of sin because Christ has risen from the dead. Sin and death have no more dominion over the head therefore they have no more dominion over the body. To say that we can continue in a life of unrepentant sin is to say that Jesus is really dead. This is why it is a contradiction in terms to say a Christian can live a life of unrepentant, deliberate sin — to continue in sin. Yes, we fall. Yes, we commit presumptuous sins. But the life that is in Jesus Christ poured out by the Holy Spirit always brings us to repentance and brings us back to the fold.
In verse 11, he says (Paul) live according to reality. Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Continuing to live unrepentantly and comfortably in sin and excusing it by claiming God’s grace, is merely continuing in the bondage of sin.
Some of you may be familiar with the hymn In My Hour of Grief or Need by Timothy Dudley-Smith. It is a hymn of lament. We won’t reproduce the lyrics here because they are copyright, but you can read them if you click here.
[August 4, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to August 4, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to August 4, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to August 4, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (August 4, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]
- Posted in: Christianity
- Tagged: false Christians, Galatians, Sam Powell, sermons
Is a key part of this being that we don’t sin comfortably??
I love God. I was baptized and confirmed. I read my Bible. And yet I have this sin of cursing. I hate it. It’s a terrible habit and when I’m upset the string of profanity that streams from my mouth is shameful.
Am I deceiving myself in saying and believing that I love God? There are several verses that talk about if you [are] of God you don’t continue to sin whereas if you continue sinning you are of the devil.
And if I sin by cursing and repent, yet I inevitably curse again at some point….am I really penitent, since I repeat the cycle?
Does anyone else struggle like this?
Hi, Anony, I will ask Sam Powell to answer your questions. Thank you very much for your comment. I honor your courage in asking those questions. 🙂
Dear Anony. It is such a good question, and you ask if anyone else struggles like this.
The entire 7th and 8th chapters of Romans are dedicated to answering your question, and even Paul “struggled like this”.
This life is a war against sin and the power of the devil. We will never overcome our sins in this life. If that were possible, then Christ would not have died. We cannot achieve victory because the battle between the (our) flesh and the (our) spirit is too great for us.
As a help, when you read, when Paul says “flesh” he means that corrupt nature that we received from Adam. “Spirit” means the new man that we received by faith when we received the Holy Spirit. And these two will always be at war in this life. Victory is only achieved when we finally see Him face-to-face. This is the battle that Paul describes in chapter 7. This battle only characterizes one who is born again, that is, one who has believed on the Lord Jesus. On the one hand we hate our sin and long for victory. On the other hand, we still do the things that we hate.
When we struggle, our first temptation is to believe that we can overcome our indwelling sin by extra will-power or extra strength. But we must remember what Jesus said. “Without me, you can do nothing”.
Paul then goes on to describe how victory is achieved in chapter 8 – walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh. When we live with the belief that we can put forth extra effort and overcome this evil heart, we are walking in the flesh, looking to the earth for strength, looking to the creature (me) for the power that only God has – the power to change the heart.
Instead, we are to walk in the Spirit – live according to the truth of the Gospel. There is no condemnation, that Jesus has taken away our sins completely by free grace, and He gives us the Holy Spirit, whereby we cry out in our pain, “ABBA, Father! Take away this hard heart of mine!”
And then continue through Romans 8, see the victory that is assured there! Everyone called is justified. Everyone justified (declared not guilty) is glorified – made like Christ and raised from the dead on the last day, to walk with Him forever.
Since this is true, if God is for us, who can possibly be against us?
A believer is one who knows the battle, who knows the weakness of her / his own heart, who knows the impossibility of cleansing themselves – and who also waits for the salvation of the Lord. It is coming. Wait for it!
As you go from day to day by faith, you will also find an astonishing side benefit – you will find yourself putting off the old man, and putting on the new. You will find your words beginning to change, from words of death to words of life. You will find your speech seasoned with grace like salt, instead of a tomb of death.
But it won’t come by the flesh, only by the Spirit.
Read through Romans 6, 7 and 8 in one sitting. Follow the argument. Every single Christian who has ever lived knows your struggle. If they say they don’t, they are lying to themselves, and perhaps should even question their salvation. For if they do not confess their sin and their weakness and their need for a Savior, how can they even be saved?
Hope this helps.
A reminder and a comfort from the old Heidelberg Catechism (1563) might be helpful in our ongoing war against sin:
God would not ever have us become prideful. That is a far worse sin in His eyes than we know. He resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. When we think we’ve arrived, that we no longer struggle, that we have this “righteousness thing” down, that is when we are in the greatest danger.
Keep holding to Christ. Keep crying out for the Spirit. And hold to the promise – there is now no more condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
Thank you so much, Sam! Your two replies to Anony have been balm to my soul.
I’m age [middle aged] and married for near two decades and have children. I got radically saved [several years ago] and my husband thinks he got saved because I got saved. He has been in continual and increasing sin all while claiming to be a Christian. From day one he was always irresponsible with [certain things] but we had a descent relationship [….] and chalking it up to his ADHD.
I navigated the problems pretty well up until I got saved – then pure evil entered. I was very patient and prayed and fasted and believed for his salvation. He loved church for social reasons and business networking – but at least he was hearing the Gospel. Over time he became more and more abusive in every single way except physical. I went to [several] different churches for help and they all said to give him more grace – then they dropped me like a hot potato. Horrible! I read Leslie Vernick’s book and did some phone sessions with her and learned a lot. Narcissists are evil and don’t change. If I stayed I must stay like Abigail. I’ve accepted that he is incapable of an apology along with no godly repentance.
My husband has gone through all the money and we are in foreclosure with huge debt – all debt in MY name due to his previous [actions]. He did this to fund HIS business that has suffered major blows – since I was caring for [….] special needs kids at home. (Doing better now but still need extra from me.) I stayed home to deal their therapies over the many years only to lose my career path.
I’m stuck [….deleted commenter’s age]! The entanglements are great and I am in constant prayer for God to give me direction. I have lost hope that my husband can change as he is getting more angry in public and has instant outbursts of rage if I buck him. After church he can easily put on a horror movie (which he never did before!) so I see this evil getting stronger and bolder. No real Christian could possibly increase in this much evil over time.
I believe God will make a path for me and deliver me from evil! Praying and believing.
Welcome to the blog!
You will notice that I edited your comment to eliminate identifying details. It’s not safe to give identifying details on this blog as it is a public blog and if your abuser happened to read our blog and saw a comment which he could identify as being written by you, he would likely punish you for reaching out to others for help. We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog. And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.
And you may find comfort in this post: Oppressed by the Wicked but Rejoicing in the Lord – Psalm 64.
Again, Welcome Victorious Overcomer!
Thank you for your response. I appreciate the psalm and especially the different translations!
I love this post because it so clearly and concisely lays out this important truth of the Scriptures and is such a good reminder that the Christian is dead to sin and risen to new life in Christ. I know we all as believers fall and sin at times, but those who come across as the most righteous “Christians” all the while with their on-going abusive, entitlement mentality demonstrate for anyone who is paying attention that they are not living in Christ. Thank you!
Preach, Pastor Powell, preach!
As Barbara said, “balm to my soul” indeed. Thank you so much for such a thorough, thoughtful, helpful reply.
And I do have that ‘buckle-down’ willpower alone initial response. Walking with Jesus all the way. Sin is going to be a lifelong struggle and all Christians struggle. Beautiful stuff. Printing your replies out and keeping them on hand. 🙂
Thank you. The Gospel of Christ truly sets us free from all of our sin and misery – including the doubts, fears, and struggles we all face.
What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Hold to Him; He is strong when we are weak.