Thursday, November 10, 2016

Touching Base, Part 318

13 Nov 16
“Know Ye Not…”
Eric Prost

In order to leverage this document for yourself personally or in a group, it will be necessary for you to take notes, even pictures of various PowerPoint slides, in order to capture key quotes in order to reflect on the text.  We encourage you to take notes, develop your own questions and engage with the text as you feed yourself and perhaps those you lead.

Series Title: Good News Bad News

Description:  From the moment we wake up to the moment our heads hit the pillow, we can be bombarded with bad news. Social media has made our world a lot smaller and exposed us 24/7 to the constant deluge of bad news. This fall we are starting a study in the book of Romans.  In the first 17 verses Paul talks about the good news, the good news that he will expand upon in his letter to the Romans. Join us as we unpack the good news, are challenged by it and anchored in it.

I like Romans, especially Romans 6, because it’s all about facts.  Amazing, difficult, almost unbelievable facts, but facts nonetheless.  Our chapter isn’t concerned with your experience or how you feel.  It’s all about what you know.  How you feel can be important, but whether you feel something is true doesn’t affect whether it is or not.

I think we often live as if the facts in Romans 6 are not true.  Here’s an example from psychiatry - I have patients who tell themselves they are incompetent or even unlovable.  But when I ask them, as they’re sitting in my office, how much they really believe that, they are able to come up with lots of evidence to prove that idea wrong.  Using their reasoning skills, they believe they are competent at work and that they do get along with others.  They can usually quickly come up with other explanations for the examples that they originally used to show that no one likes them.  But, even though the facts are to the contrary, those patients still go about their lives, day-to-day, living and feeling and believing that they are incompetent and unlovable. 

That’s why Paul starts off at four different times in our chapter with “Know ye not…?”, i.e. “Don’t you know…?”  This is theology that you can and should know because it’s life-changing. 

Paul writes bluntly.  Question:  What statements of fact do you see in the chapter?

Here’s the central point we need to understand:  “How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (v. 2) Question:  What does this mean?

You have died to sin.  You weren’t alive when the Cubs won their last World Series in 1908, let alone when Adam was in the Garden of Eden.  You never met Adam.  Nevertheless, your self, your whole humanity from the moment of conception was aligned with him.  You were born a sinner and lived under the reign of sin.  There’s no question that there were a lot of very real consequences to that alignment.  Then, when you became a follower of Christ, that old self died.  Your old humanity died.  You are no longer under the reign of sin.

And then you have risen, not in the future, but already.  You have risen with Christ to a new life, a new alignment, a new humanity, so that going forward “you should not serve sin.” (v. 6) You weren’t around when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge, but you were part of their humanity and their fall in every way.  You weren’t around when Christ was crucified, you weren’t nailed to an actual cross with Him, but the effects of His death, burial, and resurrection have had effects on you, the Christian, that are every bit as real as the effects of Adam’s sin.  You are a different self, a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17), risen with Him and united to Him.

Question:  Why do you still sin then?

Look at the next verse (12):  “Do not let sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body to obey its passions.”  What?  Paul tells me I’ve died to sin over and over in eleven verses and now turns around and tells me not to let sin reign in my body?

You still have a “mortal” body.  That’s not news.  Your body is a good piece of matter.  It is an important part of you.  But, even though you are a new self in Christ with a complete break from the old humanity, your body is not yet the one you will have in Heaven.  It is not yet a glorified body.  Christ had a glorified body when he rose from the dead, but you still have your mortal one.  It still is wracked with sin, and its parts—including the brain—are still subject to sinful passions.

So that is why we get the terrible struggle we do in chapter 7 that Pastor Mark will look into next week.

Question:  What does it mean in the second part of this chapter when we’re called “slaves of Righteousness” and “slaves to God” (v. 18, 22)?  Is this how you picture your relationship to God?

Eric Prost

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