Yielding Your Body

We Who Died to Sin  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:50
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What happens when we, who died to sin, do indeed sin? What happens when we let sin reign in our body, in one or more of our members? What happens when, instead of not letting sin reign in my mortal body, I instead yield by body to it?

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When we left last time, I had fully intended that we go on to Romans 6:14 this week, “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” But almost immediately it became clear that we have yet further need to understand the fullness of Romans 6:12-13, such that I am compelled to return to them once again.
Romans 6:12–13 LSB
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting your members 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.
And I remind you, here in verses 12 and 13, we see the first real commands to believers in this entire epistle. Even the “consider” of v11 is only to bring us to understand and not miss the logical conclusion that the first 10 verses are saying – we are dead to sin, we are alive to God, and all on account of our union with Christ Jesus.
Do you catch the sheer importance of this change from an indicative, something that indicates what is, over to an imperative, a command?
Indicatives don’t give direction. They don’t include possibilities. They are firmly rooted and describe reality - what is. They don’t talk about what could be, or what should be, or even what must be or might be. They talk about what is or what was. “I fell” is an indicative. “I am fallingis an indicative.
Imperatives, commands, aren’t like that. The thing hasn’t happened yet, the state doesn’t exist yet. A command is not a certainty, it of necessity includes a possibility of failure, of that which is commanded not occurring. There is direction given, “Fall down”, “Fall out”. And though the command is given, there is no assurance the command will be carried out.
In other words, although it should happen, there is also the possibility that it will not happen. Depending on the command, there may even be a high probability that it won’t happen. The soldier may refuse to fall out of formation, Shadrach and his comrades refused to fall down to worship the golden image of Nebuchadnezzar.
So, to apply this to our text, let’s re-read Romans 6:12-13,
“Therefore do not let sin reign [imperative] in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting [imperative] your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present [imperative] yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
Although I am commanded to not let sin reign, there is a possibility of my failing. It does not say “therefore sin shall not reign”, but “therefore do not let sin reign.” And the difference between the two, we so easily miss when we study this sixth chapter of Romans.
And in truth, it is this sort of mis-interpreting of scripture that, I believe, has caused so very many in this modern age of self-aggrandizement and self-promoting and self-congratulating in our churches to avoid teaching our christian duty of living in holiness!
You see, this is what they say, because they don’t take the time to understand what Paul has been saying, they say
“Look, here. Paul writes to us that we should not let sin reign in you, and as a result of doing so, of our living to God, sin won’t be the master over you because then you’re living by grace.”
Or, just as bad,
“Sin can’t reign in your mortal body, if you are truly saved.”
Or even worse,
“You must act as if it were true, even if you don’t believe it to be so, but if you act as if it were true sooner or later it will become true.
And even the dullest person will soon realize that this isn’t any help at all, there is no hope, no assurance, because sooner or later we know that we will sin, and will despair of ever being saved. And I have heard many people preach through, or in discussion, say these very things. These are based in dull-minded psychological self-help mumbo-jumbo, and have no relation to what scripture actually says!
This is why it is so very important for us to realize exactly what is being said, and what is not being said, by the apostle. And I somewhat repeat myself from last time, because it is so very important that we grasp this: I, myself – the me that is – am united with Christ Jesus in his death, his burial, and his resurrection. I am baptized, meaning I am immersed into Him as surely as a ship broken apart and sunk to the bottom of the ocean is immersed into the sea. Just as sin no longer has dominion over Him, even so it no longer has dominion over me myself. But not so my body, this body which still has a relationship to sin, still in slavery to sin, verse 6 says. But I myself may now control and restrain my body, my mortal body, that part which will most certainly die, in that it is not permanent but is instead temporary.
And so, although I am commanded to not present my members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, I might not do so. Although I am commanded to present myself to God as one alive from the dead, although I am commanded to present my members and instruments of righteousness to God, I am not certain to succeed until my body is glorified, until our bodies are at last redeemed, according to Romans 8.
So what shall I do in the meantime? I am commanded to not to use my members as instruments, tools, weapons, of unrighteousness – but I do! Not only do I know that I do, but you know that I do, and I know that you do.
In other words, given that we are bound to fail to live the holy life we are called to live, how can we possibly please God? What will His response be? Will He remove His salvation from us? Will we be consumed in His wrath? Were we never really saved in the first place, merely deluding ourselves?
So, I think that it is most appropriate that we take a moment to consider this very real and pressing issue – what happens when we, who died to sin, do indeed sin? What happens when we let sin reign in our body, in one or more of our members? What happens when, instead of not letting sin reign in my mortal body, I instead yield by body to it?
In fact, I am quite certain that this very issue, that even though we believe we are saved, even though we went to the Father as it were on our knees, repenting of our sin, of our failure to believe Jesus is God raised from the dead and to treat Him as such, we find that now, perhaps even more than before, we increasingly realize the extent of our sin against God. And we become despondent, we become depressed, we become agitated and begin to wonder if we really were saved. After all, we see verses that proclaim “be Holy for I am holy” (1 Pet 1:16), or “go and sin no more” (Jn 8:11), or “No one who abides in Him sins” (1 Jn 3:6).
And so, anxiety and fear and depression accompany the nagging though given us by the devil, “you aren’t really saved, you aren’t nearly good enough to be saved by God.”
And to help us answer these questions and anxieties, I would like to have us look outside of our present focus on Romans 6, first starting in Hebrews 12, which I have alluded to previously.
The non-biblical view of a Christian, is that the purpose of God is to make the Christian man or woman happy, that He is a sort of genie there to benefit the Christian.
But that’s not His concern at all! The concern which God has for us is not so much our happiness, as it is our holiness. He has set us apart as holy, we learned in the first part of Romans 6. And in verses 12 and 13, He commands us, instructs us, in the basics of how to live our lives in holiness; namely that we not allow sin to reign in our mortal bodies, that we stop presenting our members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, and furthermore that we present ourselves to God as those alive, not dead, that we present our members as instruments of righteousness to God.
But that’s not all He does. He doesn’t just unite us with Christ, and command us to be holy, and leave it at that. No! Hebrews 12:10 declares this:
Hebrews 12:7 LSB
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
You see, God deals with us, now, as children. He cares for us, He loves us, not because of what we can offer Him, but instead because we came from Him, in the same way as a parent loves their own flesh-and-blood child with an abiding and affectionate and purposeful love, cherishing that child, desiring to see they mature from infant to toddler to preschool to grade school and on to adulthood! And because He loves us, He wants not just what is good for us in our own eyes, but He desires His greatest good for us! God, whose wisdom and knowledge reaches unsearchable depths, whose was are unfathomable to our poor and finite minds, desires true and holy good for us! A mature good, not simply the momentary, fleeting good our childlike minds may comprehend!
Many of us know this feeling ourselves, having been in the position of the child or the position of the parent. A parent doesn’t just go to a child and lay down the rules, then never visit the child again! No! Because we love our children, we discipline them. We tell them the rules made for their benefit – don’t put your hand up on the stove-top. And when we notice our child reach toward the stove-top, we speak sharply, to get their attention and stop them from hurting themselves! And we tell them, again and again and again!
And then after telling them, we begin to discipline them. “Why did you stay up all night? Not going to sleep will make you unable to face the coming day!” And if it continues, we remove distractions, we take away the X-Box, we take away the TV remote, we take away their i-pods. We discipline them.
We discipline them, not to punish and hurt them, but rather to correct their behavior, so that they learn to discipline themselves, so that they will live a life marked by self-discipline and righteous living, not harming or short-changing themselves by the decisions they make or the actions they take.
Hebrews 12:5–6 LSB
Like a loving father, God disciplines His children. Let’s be clear here, it is not to punish, but to reprove us, to show us that we have turned away from His will and that we need to correct our faults, the sinful act of failing to do righteously. When we train up a child, we set the expectation, we declare to them the way they should go, and when they fail we reveal to them their error, we tell them what needs to be done to correct their error, we train them how to live in a right manner afterwords. But importantly, not stopping at mere words, we also discipline them, we get their attention, we provide consequences to them in order that they comprehend that misbehavior must not continue.
And our heavenly Father does the same thing. He does not desire that His children, whom He loves and cherishes, wander about un-checked and un-rebuked when we yield our mortal bodies to sin! 2 Timothy 3:16 explains that he speaks with us in the same way we ourselves speak to our children; “All Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”. And, not stopping at His Word, He also disciplines His children on account of His great love for us, “He disciplines us for our benefit, so that we may share His holiness” (Heb 12:10).
This purpose ought to bring our minds right back to the purpose of God in Romans 8:29, to conform us “...to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers”!
The fact is, God will conform us to the image of Christ – that is a certainty! He will not leave us incomplete, He will not leave us unconformed to the image of His beloved Son! And to do so, He must discipline us!
How far is He willing to go to discipline us? How severely is He willing to chastise us? Turn your Bibles over to 1 Corinthians 11:30-32
1 Corinthians 11:30–32 LSB
For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.
For here, we see just how far God is willing to take discipline, to make examples we can see with our own eyes. Here, you should recall, there were those who failed to test themselves, to ensure that they had searched out their own lives for sin, they had failed to confess their sin to God, and so when they did not judge themselves, God disciplined them, for they had yielded their bodies and their members as instruments to sin an unrighteousness, and having done so, proceeded to continue celebrating Christ as Lord in the manner of the Lord’s Supper. And before we start objecting that was only due to abusing communion, let us not forget the discipline of Ananias and Sapphira, who lied to the Holy Spirit.
Has God demonstrated His willingness to discipline your yielding your body to sin with illness and disease? Yes, it says so right here. He is even wiling to kill you, your mortal body, as a testament to both you and to fellow believers if need be, that continuing to allow sin to reign in your mortal body is not acceptable. He does so through His providence, the circumstances of our lives. He does so through our finances, our comfort, our health, loss of goods and possessions, our intellect, our livelihoods, our surroundings, our homes.
Because all that exists is God’s to do with as He pleases, He may use anything under the sun to chastise and discipline us!
Now, let’s be clear… Not every sickness, not every death, not every calamity is a judgement upon us by God.
Paul was not given a thorn in the flesh as chastisement, but in 2 Corinthians 12:9, after pleading the Lord three times ,God responded to him, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” Far from discipline, it was given to him so as to prevent him from relying on himself, and also to encourage him to focus on Christ.
So we must, then, carefully, thoroughly, and deeply considering whether our present distress is in the presence of sin reigning in our lives or in our members, according to God’s standard rather than our own, should we see that it is chastisement, in that we have allowed sin to reign in our body and its members, let us not regard it lightly, let us not regard it as a small and trivial matter, but look on it with serious and severe inspection, that we may accept His reproof, His exposing and discipline of sin within our lives, and respond accordingly!
1 John 1:8–2:2 (LSB)
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
God regards sin as a serious matter, whether sin reigning in a person in Adam, or sin reigning in the mortal body of we who are in Christ, who died to sin in ourselves.
How serious? Serious enough to kill you for it.
But if we do regard the discipline of the Lord rightly, if we accept His reproof and discipline, we may turn back to Him and confess our sins, agreeing with Him that it is sin, repenting of it and turning away from it, He is faithful, He is righteous, He will forgive our sins, He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Because we have an Advocate, Jesus Christ the Righteous, who died and was buried and whom God raised from the dead, who has no relationship with sin, with whom we who died to sin are united. We do not lose our salvation when we sin, but if we are truly united with Christ, we will be chastened, we will be disciplined by our Father, on account of His love for us, for the purpose that we be conformed to the image of His dear Son, that we would be holy, just as He is holy.
And I cannot express just how great an assurance this must be to we who are in Christ!
Let us pray!
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