The Courageous Church: Grace-Filled
“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” vs. 14
St. Ignatius’ Bean
Ignatius beans is known by various names, such as St. Ignatius, Ignatia, Ignatia Amara, Lu Song Guo, Saint Ignatius-beans. This plant is a climbing shrub or a small tree that often grows up to a height of above 60 feet. The shrub bears flowers that have a greenish white hue and are swathed with tiny silky bristles. The fruits of the Ignatius bean shrub are about five inches in width and enclose a yellow pulp and each fruit contains as many as 20 hard seeds that are oval in shape.
This large woody shrub was discovered by the French chemists Joseph-Bienaimé Caventou and Pierre-Joseph Pelletier in 1818 in the Philippines. The shrub was later introduced in Cochin China and is extremely valued in this region for its remedial properties. The shrub derives its name from the Jesuits who were attracted by this plant. The commercially grown variety of beans are approximately one inch long, have an oval shape and a muffled blackish brown hue. These seeds are not only extremely tough, but also have horns and are covered with silver color fine bristles lying flat against the cover. Each fruit of Ignatius bean encloses anything between 12 to 20 seeds that are surrounded by a yellowish pulp.
The homeopathic remedy Ignatia is also useful for treating headaches, especially where the sufferer has a heavy sensation in his/ her head and light-headedness, depression, emotional instability, anxiety, and a few other disorders. Extreme caution should be used when taking this
Here is the scientific name for this plant: Strychnos ignatii and Strychnos tieute. Ring a bell? Yep, most of you see what it produces: Strychnine. Ignatius bean contains the poisons strychnine and brucine.
So hear this now: Ignatius bean is UNSAFE. It is poisonous. Long-term use of Ignatius bean can cause liver damage and be fatal. If you already have liver damage, you are especially at risk for toxicity.
You might be asking why you are getting this very interesting science lesson in church this morning? Think about how many people probably died before the actual Strychnine was discovered. Many times things look appealing but the reality is they can kill you. You don’t realize it at the time. Today we are going to talk about sin and grace and continue our series on The Courageous Church . If you are able, please stand as we read Romans 6:1-14 from God’s Word.
Read Passage – Romans 6:1-14
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
The Illusion of Sin
I am going to talk about something today that we really don’t like to talk about. It is something that has been around since the Garden of Eden. It is unpopular in today’s culture and many churches try to avoid the subject all together. It’s sin. A lot of people don’t like that things are called sin and many people like to say that it’s just the church’s way of controlling peoples minds and actions. In fact, in today’s world right and wrong are very subjective in most people’s eyes and many feel there are really no wrongs. Many ask; “What is right and wrong?”
Ex. ISIS Most of us are watching in the news what ISIS is doing and we know they are brutal guerillas who have very little value for human life. Yet, they are growing at alarming numbers both personal wise and financially. Many (most not in this part of the world) join their forces and rally behind their cause. We have to ask why they could consider such a thing?
Here is the issue: there is an illusion of sin. Sin gives the illusion that it is good for you, won’t hurt you, and you deserve to have what it is offering. The bottom line is that sin has an appeal to us. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t want it.
Ex. Gambling – look at the commercials and how happy everyone is and they seem to be having a great time.
A Way Out
In our passage today Paul is addressing the problem of sin. He is giving us the reality of sin that it is real and harmful and that sin kills. But…there is good news Paul wants us to understand; there is a way out. There is a solution to sin and that is grace. This passage in chapter 6 is an extension of his thought from ch. 5:20:
“But where sin increased, grace increased all the more…” Rom. 5:20b
See sin is real. We need something to counteract our sin and that remedy comes in the form of grace. Paul tells us that where ever there is sin, there is an abundant amount of grace to cover that sin. That remedy came when Jesus died on the cross and died for our sins. Knowing that does not mean that we should just accept sin or even sin at a greater rate so we get more grace. So Paul asserts in verse 1:
“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” vs. 1
Paul is challenging us and the logical, or illogic, that we just keep sinning so that grace is poured out more and more. Grace is not a “free pass” card for sin. No, we need grace to restore our relationship with God and to be in right relationship with Him.
We have studying what is is to be a courageous church and how that impacts how we relate to God and how we care for each other. Grace is a huge part of being a courageous church. Let’s define grace.
What is grace? Grace is: God’s unmerited favor. It is kindness from God we don’t deserve. There is nothing we have done, nor can ever do to earn this favor. It is a gift from God. Grace is divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration (rebirth) or sanctification; a virtue coming from God; a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine favor.
Now that we know that, we can discover through Romans 6 how to live that in our daily lives.
1. Believes We’ve Died to Sin
The first thing Paul points out about grace is that graces believes we’ve died to sin. He says in verse 2:
“We are those who have died to sin…” vs. 2
When I say that what runs through your mind? If you’re like me you might say; “Wait a minute, that doesn’t make sense, I still sin. I struggle with that. That doesn’t make sense!” But notice he talks about it a second time in verse 11:
“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin…” vs. 11
This is relating a very important point to us: sin does not have a stronghold on us anymore if we accept the work of Jesus Christ. I think many of us continue to struggle because we feel like sin should be wiped out and we just shouldn’t sin anymore. Here is the reality: we all sin and as long as we are in this earthly body we will struggle with sin. BUT…when we live in Christ we live in hope. We need to think bigger. We may struggle with sin but it is not going to be that way always. We think bigger by knowing with the grace provided from Jesus’ work on the cross, sin will not be forever and the sin that we do struggle with is covered by his blood. We can also think bigger by claiming victory over that sin. Many times we have gotten to the point of accepting sin and we just figure that is the way things are. No. We have dies to sin and we should live in the reality that Jesus gives us victory over sin and it’s stronghold.
Ex. Having a winning lottery ticket. You can have one but if you never cash it in, you won’t live with the spoils.
2. Knows We Live with Christ
A 2nd understanding of grace is that because we have died to sin, we now know that we live with Christ. This changes everything. It means we have an advocate and a helper to live in a new way. Verse 8 says:
“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” vs. 8
Let me expand on this with a story. (1 Samuel 17) Most of us know who David was. There is this story from when David was a young man. He was tending his sheep when his dad calls him to deliver food and supplies to his brothers who are fighting in the Israeli army. They are facing these guys called the Philistines. When David gets there he sees this giant of a man and everyday he comes out and challenges and one in the Israeli army to fight him. The Israelites are paralyzed. Nobody wants to fight him. They are living in fear. David comes along and asks why no one is fighting this guy. David says he’ll do it. He even gets to meet the king who wants him to wear his armor, but it’s too big for him. So David goes and fights this guy who is 9 feet tall and a seemingly unbeatable guy. But David says he is coming in the name of the Lord. He brings to the fight the things he knows. He’s a shepherd so he brings his sling and some stones. The giant laughs. In one shot David hits the giant on the forehead right between the eyes and kills him. He runs over and cuts off the giants head. He probably holds it up victoriously and then what happens? The Israeli army moves in and defeats the Philistines. David lived in victory because he trusted God and lived in his promises.
One of my favorite verse is Galatians 2:20:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Gal. 2:20
So get this, God has made you who you are and he has given you gifts and talents; just like David. He has given you everything you need to fight the sin that you think can kill you. Many of us live like that Israeli army. We are live in fear and are paralyzed because the enemy looks too big. When we have died to sin, we live with the power and the victory of Jesus Christ and his victory gives us victory.
3. Accepts We Have an Active Part
Now here is the third reality of grace, we accept that we have an active part. We are not called to in inactive but to actively be involved with our victory over sin and acceptance of the grace that Jesus provides for us. Paul tells us in verse 13:
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” vs. 13
This is a call to action. We are not to accept sin but to, in a sense, be active in resisting it and not letting it overtake us. Paul says not to let it reign. Let me give you another passage to help guide us in this; James 4:7:
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
Submit is a active verse in this verse. We are to actively submit to God and to resist the devil and his ploys of sin. Also notice the other active verbs in this verse, resist and flee.
Let’s go back to the story of David. David took an active part in defeating the Philistines through God’s calling. If it depended on the rest of the Israeli army, the victory would have never happened because they were not willing to take an active part. David showed the necessity of being active in God. But that activity is something that is planned for and worked at ahead of time. Think about David. He was in tune with God. He worshipped God, he spent time with God and he trusted God with his very life. We can do the same. We spend time in his word, he pray, we worship, we confess our sin, and we develop our trust in God and in the abilities he has given us. We overcome sin with the grace of God and by drawing close to him.
The final result of all this is that we live differently. We have grace. The grace of God provided through the work of Jesus Christ. We have amazing grace so we live differently. Verse 10 says:
“The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.” vs. 10
Because Jesus died, his graced is extended to us. We in turn, can now be the ones to extend grace to others based on what Jesus did for us. We become a church defined by grace. We recognize that we have sinned and we confess that sin. We recognize that others sin and that God forgives and extends grace so we forgive and extend grace.
The key point of this is Jesus. He has done it for us and we live differently because of him.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me….
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.
T’was Grace that taught…
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear…
the hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares…
we have already come.
T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far…
and Grace will lead us home.
The Lord has promised good to me…
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be…
as long as life endures.