Reverend Singleton is continuing her series on the book of Romans. This week's sermon concentrated on Romans 6. Paul wrote this letter during the early times of the Christian church. During this time, people were trying to figure out how this new faith worked, and there were quite a few conflicting theories out there. This chapter is Paul's reaction to one of those ideas, namely, that someone could sin, then be saved, then continue to sin, and continue to be saved. Some even thought that if you sin more, you get saved more!
This seems like a strange concept, but I bet there are a few people out there even now who think this way. Sometimes I think that our assertion that we are "sinners saved by grace" can lead people into this kind of thinking. But Paul has a different take on this.
In the King James version, Chapter 6, verse 1 asks: "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? And verse 2 answers: "God forbid." The truth is, that Jesus came to save people from sin, not to enable them to sin more. Salvation through Jesus Christ cleanses you from all of your past sins, and also makes a way for you to stop willfully sinning.
There are two conditions for salvation. The first is repentance. This is a change of mind that results in a change of life. It needs to be visible. It's not just saying "I'm sorry." It's turning from the sinful way that you used to live, to a new, purer way. Sometimes this means leaving behind the way you talk, the things you do, what you are used to looking at or listening to, and even some friends who won't like the "new you" or will pull you back into your old ways.
The second condition for salvation is faith. This is turning to God even though you can't see the end results. It means trusting him to clean up your life. Many people wait to come to God until they clean themselves up. But you can't do it on your own. The good news is that God can clean you. He doesn't just sponge away the surface dirt, either. He cleans you from the inside out. You will no longer want to do the things that are against his will. And when he cleans you on the inside, people will notice on the outside.
So, how do you know that you have been saved? You will want to do things differently. Verses 15-23 use a metaphor of being slaves. Paul says that you used to be slaves to sin, but now you are slaves instead to God. Slaves have to obey their master. Since you have changed masters, you have changed allegiance, and changed who you obey.
Paul also writes about being "dead to sin." So, if you have died to sin, you no longer have any connection to it. You are free to have a new relationship with Jesus, without sin getting in your way. You have been cleaned up from the inside, and now the Holy Spirit dwells inside you, helping you to know what to do to stay clean. People will see the difference in your life. You will have the fruit of the spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;
Galatians 5:22-23a, NASB
And you will be a new person:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away;
behold, new things have come.
2 Corinthians 5:17, NASB