What does it mean to “serve in the newness of the Spirit”(Romans 7:6)? This is one of the most important questions a believer in Jesus can ask because the answer is the only way to get off of the swing from license to legalism. Unfortunately as believers, we swing back and forth between these two extremes for much of our walk with the Lord.
We start our walk with Jesus so thankful for grace and grateful that the thimble of our sin was fully overwhelmed by the ocean of God’s grace. As we understand this unmerited favor, there comes a season where we take it for granted. If we’re not careful, we start to justify sinful choices on the basis that we have God’s forgiveness and use God’s amazing grace as a license to sin.
Convicted of this, we overreact and feel as though discipline and devotion and rules and regulations are what we need to prevent falling into temptation so we can re-earn God’s favor. We continue for a time until it gets exhausting and wonder why we even try—after all, God is going to forgive us anyway.
So we swing back to license…then back to legalism…and back and forth, again and again. But there is a new way to serve God that get’s us off of this awful and exhausting pendulum.
On that pendulum, the law is the pivot point and sin is the power that makes it swing. What an awful abusive relationship as we are battered between two extremes! The only way out of this awful and abusive relationship is for us to die. But how? How could we somehow die to the law and to sin and then be born again to newness of life and live in and serve in the newness of the Spirit?
The answer is found at the end of Romans 7—“I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25)
When we died with Christ, we died to the law and to sin. When we rose with Christ, we rose to newness of life—we have been born again to newness of life! And now, we no longer desire to find a balance in the tension between license and legalism, but our desire is to live in and to serve in the newness of the Spirit.
There are two extremes in reaction to God’s grace: on one side there is license; on the other side, there is legalism.
On one side of the spectrum, there are those who see God’s unmerited favor too good to be true. It’s almost too dangerous to tell people that they are completely forgiven and righteous forever because of Jesus. After all, wouldn’t they use that as permission to sin? This is license—“since we are saved by grace, we are free to live however we please.”
On the other side of the spectrum, others feel compelled to avoid the dangers of license and think it is necessary for strict adherence to some sort of tether to goodness and godliness—a law we must live by if we are to have any hope of pleasing God. This is legalism—“we must please God by living according to the law to sanctify ourselves through our own efforts to be good.”
Normally when there are extremes on either end, there is usually a position found somewhere in the middle. But, that’s just not the case here. God has something for us that is completely separate from this entire spectrum.
Watch or listen to our study of Romans 7 as we understand how we can be free from the pull of these two extremes.
In Christ, we have a new nature—a godly nature that loves righteousness and wants to walk away from wickedness. It is unnatural now for us to sin. Not only has Christ set us free from having to live in sin habitually, He has also set us free from having to fall for sin episodically as well.
How? There are three ways:
It might look and sound something like this:
“Lord, you have set me free. You have made me into Your righteousness. I want my everything to be an instrument of who You have made me to be. Lord, I offer you my eyes, my mind, my hands. Let them be a continuation of who You have made me to be. Let them be instruments of righteousness.”
This isn’t just a one-and-done prayer. Look for opportunities to offer yourself up throughout your day until it becomes a habit. “Lord, I offer up my work to You. I offer up the physical strength you have given me to You. I offer up the ability that you have given me back to You. I want the whole of me to be used as instrument for Your glory.”
Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days;
let them flow in endless praise,
let them flow in endless praise.
In our previous study in Romans, we talked about how the power of sin has been broken and how we are to reckon that we had died to sin and rose to newness of life in Christ. We no longer have to live in sin!
This Sunday, the Apostle Paul walked us through how to practically offer up our body to Christ so that we don’t even have to sin episodically—even if there is an ocean of God’s grace.
Watch or listen to our study of Romans 6:15-23 as we considered the simple, yet effective information, appropriation, and application that will keep us from living in and falling into sin.
In Romans 6, Paul speaks to our identity—our spiritual DNA—of who we are in Christ. The reality of our identity in Christ is so important to keep in the forefront of our minds. Why? Because our flesh, the world, and the devil continually try to trick us and convince us that we are still slaves of sin and slaves to sin.
But Paul shouts the truth to our souls and says, "The Son HAS set you free, so now go BE free!" You are no longer a subject of the reign of sin and death that came as a result of Adam's disobedience. If you are in Christ, you are now a citizen of the reign of righteousness, the reign of grace, the reign of life that came as a result of the obedience of Jesus. You are now made into the very righteousness of God in Christ. You died with Christ on the cross to the reign of sin and death and disobedience. You rose with Christ from the grave to live in the fullness of the newness of this life in Him—full of life and love and righteousness.
So now go and BE who you already ARE! And don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Don't be fooled to think that you still are who you were. That person died with Christ and sin no longer has any hold over you now that you have been raised with Christ. Reckon yourself dead to sin and alive to God!
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” This is a question that the Apostle Paul poses in the section of scripture we considered this Sunday. After all, since God’s ocean of grace is greater than our thimbles of sin, should we just keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of His wonderful grace?
In response to his own question, Paul doesn’t advocate for legalism (trying to earn God’s favor) or license (using God’s grace to rationalize sin). Our motivation for obedience should always be love for God. After being saved by grace through faith, we want to choose to stop sinning out of our love for God.
And yet, Paul’s answer to the question is more elemental than love. He encourages us to remember who we are in Christ—and then simply be who we already are. It’s here, at this basic level, where we find a more readily employable application than just another exhortation to love the Lord more.
Watch our study of Romans 6:1-14 as we reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God.
God thinks about you…a lot. How do we know this is true?
Just look up, then look down.
We now know that there are at least 2 trillion galaxies without our known universe, each with an average of 200-400 billion stars. And you are just one of almost 8 billion people on a little rock rotating around a spark that is just one of those 200-400 billion stars in our galaxy.
This information might make you feel small and insignificant IF you had no hope in God or knowledge of His word. And yet, here is what God’s word says about those 2 trillion times 200-400 billion stars:
“He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.” (Psalm 147:7)
Now, look down and consider the number of grains of sand you could hold in your hand. Then think of how many handfuls of sand there are at a beach. Then think of the number of beaches on earth. Then think of what God’s word says about those grains of sand:
“How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand…” (Psalm 139:17-18)
Why is what God’s word says about stars and sand significant? Because the number of grains of sand on earth is similar to the number of stars in our observable universe! And yet, God thinks about YOU more than the number of grains of sand on earth, more than the number of stars in our universe, even more than all the aspects of all creation combined—and His thoughts towards you are good!
He loves you! He can take you from a small, insignificant speck of dust to a co-heir with Christ—no matter who you are or what you’ve done. God loves YOU so much that He died on a Roman cross to rescue you—to pay your price for you—so that you can be elevated from a slave to sin to a saved, sealed, redeemed, and reconciled co-heir with Christ. Call out to Him today—He is willing and wanting to save!!
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends