The real exciting part of this message (for me) was this idea of how much we get when we believe in Christ for eternal life. It's amazing. And I'm going to try to organize my notes in this context.
- Free growth, not just free eternal life.
Most of us think something like this: "Okay God. Thanks for the Free eternal life. I'll take it from here." And we proceed to try to grow spiritually by reading our Bible, attending church, praying, etc. Those are all good things, don't get me wrong. But I can't think that I'll grow spiritually by doing those things. My efforts will never produce growth, just like my efforts didn't contribute to my getting eternal life.
Galatians 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
No, I grow spiritually the same way that I was saved -- by the spirit, not through anything I've earned.
Now that I have eternal life, though, I can invest in that life and by doing so change the quality of that eternal life. John 10:10 "...I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." As I obey God, I invest in my Eternal Life, I have a richer experience - both now and forever. Jesus talks about sowing and reaping, gathering fruit for eternal life.
- Super-abounding grace that covers all my sins -- past, present and future (they were all future to Christ).
In Romans 5:20, we read about the law entering so that "sin may abound". This isn't talking about sinning more, it's talking about our recognition of the sin abounding. The example he used is one of driving 45 on a street that we think is 35. We know we're wrong, thinking that we're 10 over. But then we see a sign that says speed limit 25, and our sin has abounded. We know just how wrong we really are. It's a qualitative abounding not quantitative.
But, Grace, even as sin is abounding, is super-abounding and totally overwhelming that sin. It's a tidal wave of grace. A new nature
- A new identity
I know, I'm overlapping, and not entirely following the same order. The sermon overlapped too -- I'm just trying to make sense of my notes so that I can ask the Pastor to fill in (and maybe correct) in the places where my handwriting wasn't fast enough to keep up -- I need to learn shorthand I think.
1 Corinthians 12:13 talks of being baptized into Christ's body. Baptism means to place into, or to immerse or dip. But in usage it means to identify with. When I became a Christian, I was identified with the body of Christ.
There was more here that I missed.
- A new standing
- A member of the eternal plan of God
- Reconciled to God
- Pre-known by God
- Redemption - "I bought you"
- No condemnation
- Relationship to God - His anger has been satisfied (propitiation)
- Without sin
- Joined with Christ in crucifixion, burial, resurrection
- Acceptable to God
- We are sanctified
- .... ... ... (wish I knew shorthand!) .. ... ...
- We poses every spiritual blessing
Romans 5:21 talks of the experience of death reigning.
Romans 6:2 Says that we cannot live in sin. This does not mean that we cannot persist in sin. The NASB is a poor translation here for inserting the word "practice" when the verb is "is" (something more akin to "live"). We can indeed practice in sin -- we see this in James, believers who sin unto death, and in 1 Corinthians, who Paul write to 5 years after they believed, accusing them of never growing. Instead, a believer cannot be "at home" in sin.
There exists in the believer a new nature that does not sin and does not want to sin (Romans 7:15). This new person cannot let us be comfortable in sin. This new nature can most certainly be squelched - believers do sin. Now there is a conflict between my flesh and my new man. But the real me, the one who is me on this inside, is perfect, and just trapped inside this sinful body (Romans 7-8). The normal experience of a believer is that we don't do what we want to do. Romans 7:16 If I do what I don't want to do, I agree with the law (what I'm doing is wrong, and I want to do what the law says). "This sin in me" is the culprit. The real me doesn't want to do that. In me (in my flesh), nothing good dwells. I want to do good, I just don't know how.
Romans 7:20 The flesh is the sin that dwells in me.
Romans 7:21 Evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. (The one who wants to do good is the "real" me -- hurray!)
Romans 7:22 refers to the "inner self" I do love God in my inner self. But there is something warring against me and imprisoning me -- I am a prisoner in my own flesh. Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Ezekiel 36:31 "Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and your abominations."
At believing you are new inside. Because of my new nature, I now have this inner conflict between my new spirit and my evil imprisoning flesh.
The necessary connection to sin has been severed
Now that the real me is trapped in my sinful flesh, I am conflict ridden. But the conflict has already been won - Jesus blood took care of that long ago. The flesh that I'm in conflict with has died. I don't have to serve it.
Suppose that one day I get a letter from a stranger claiming that he's just paid off my mortgage. I write him off as the lunatic he probably is. But the next month, when I go to pay my mortgage, the check is refused -- the bank claims that my mortgage is paid off. I laugh it off as an elaborate joke, and keep sending in mortgage payments. That I don't believe that my mortgage is paid off doesn't make it not true. Likewise, I don't have to believe that I'm free from sin. But it's still true. When I don't believe it, I can the flesh win this conflict and squelch the new spirit.
The beginning of change and spiritual growth comes the day that I understand who I am in Christ. In God's eyes, I am his perfect child who will always be his.
The devil's best ruse against me is to make me forget who I am, when I'm beating myself up for my sin, I'm not remembering who I am in Christ - I'm telling God that His payment for my sin wasn't enough. When I'm angry at myself, I'm not remembering what is true of me.