We have all heard many sermons, but the most important one is the one you preach consistently to yourself. This is the one you have internalized and act on. Thus, it is so important then to preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ in your mind.
Romans 5:17 gives us a great summary of the gospel: receiving Christ by faith, being given His grace through His payment for our sins and our standing in grace, God’s righteousness and not our own, and finally reigning in life in Christ. Paul will come back to these themes again and again in our study in Romans.
Romans 6 has two main sections. Romans 5:20-6:11 deals with our new reality of being united with Christ. Romans 6:12-23 write about the new choices we have as believers.
The new reality is that we do not continue in sin, even being under grace, because we have been united with Christ. We died with Him to sin and were raised with Him to a new life, a fact whether we believe it or not. Christ not only died for us but lives in us.
All He gives us is because we are in Him.
This new reality must be acted on - we consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, just like Jesus is. Each area of our life - our mind, heart, actions - needs to be analyzed to see if we understand our freedom in Christ to live for Him.
This reality now leaves us with two choices. We can continue to allow sin to reign in our lives or to present ourselves to God as alive from the dead. Sin is always a temptation for a believer and we need to count on this fact. It still is alluring and we can fall into it if not careful. Paul gives five reasons and motivations to not choose sin.
First, we are under grace and not the law (Romans 6:14). The law uncovers and stimulates the sin already in my life. When I see that I am under grace, it dampens sin since I don’t need to prove myself and am assured of God’s love.
Second, our choices have consequences (Romans 6:15-16). Whether I sin or obey God, this will affect my life. Sinning will control me if I allow it. Much better to act righteously in God and have true life.
Third, we have a new disposition to obey God (Romans 6:17-18). He has given us a new life that wants to obey Him. Why act against this?
Fourth, practice makes perfect (Romans 6:19). We get better at what we do - either sin or obedience. If we sin, it increases our capacity for further sin. The same is true for following God.
Fifth, we get the benefits of either choice (Romans 6:21-23). Sin brings death - in relationships, to yourself, to situations - and in the end we are ashamed of this. Obeying God brings life and true joy.
All of this is from being in Christ. He gives us this new reality that we must count on and to then make the right choices in following Him. Read Romans 6 again and ask God what message you are preaching to yourself. The gospel alone gives true hope and power in Christ.