Dealing With “The Struggle” Part 1

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Romans 7:23-25 (NLT) 

23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.
24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

In this chapter, Paul is talking about a daily struggle that all Christians deal with – the struggle of the will, the mind and the power of sin. Everyday we deal with this inner struggle where we want to do what is right and we want to please God. The problem is that we have a fallen nature that wants to do the exact opposite. Our sinful nature wants gratify our sinful desires and do what is contrary to what God wants us to do. Paul is not just talking about the possibility of sinning, but rather about the impossibility of not sinning. Is Paul suggesting that we just give up? Not hardly! Paul’s writings, both later in Romans and in his other letters, suggest a Christian life that is one of victory through the power of the Holy Spirit. Although Paul never talks about a state of sinless perfection, he does suggest that we can have victory over sin in this life because of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. What Paul is saying here is that on our own we do not have the power to overcome sin. However, he does say, “the answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” And what is this answer? We will discover the answer in the next chapter. Stay tuned!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

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Whose Slave Are You?

Greeting In the Name of the Lord:

Romans 6:22 (NLT) 

But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life.

Bob Dylan was correct when he said, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody…it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you gonna have to serve somebody.” We live in a society that values individualism and self-determination. We live by the creed “I did it my way.” Therefore, we like to think that we are not slaves to anyone or bound to do anything except what we choose. How wrong we are! We are all slaves to someone or something. Paul makes it all very plain – we are either slaves to sin or slaves to God. A person who chooses not to live as a slave to God is a slave to their own sinful desires and they are controlled by those desires. He proves this point by saying, “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living” (Rom. 6:16, NLT). If we choose to whole-heartedly live according to what our sinful desires tell us to do then we make ourselves its slave. Thank God there is an option, we can become slaves to God and righteous living. We can choose to obey God and His Word. Righteous living is based on the concept of holiness – being set apart for God. Since God Himself is holy He requires that those who would follow Him live lives of holiness. As the Apostle Peter wrote, “But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:15-16, NLT). We can choose to be slaves to sin which leads to death (Rom. 6:23), or we can choose to be slaves to God which leads to life. What’s your choice?

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Dying to Live

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Romans 6:11-12 (NLT) 

11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
12 Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires.

A medieval monk named Thomas a Kempis wrote, “You cannot possess perfect liberty unless you wholly renounce yourself…Forsake all and you shall find all…Truly the life of a good Christian is the Cross, yet it is also a guide to Paradise” (Of the Imitation of Christ, 131, 177). Jesus calls us to die to our sin, in essence, to say “no” to sin. Jesus offers us new life free of charge; all we have to do is accept it. However, we must also be willing to live out this new life. We must be willing to totally commit ourselves to a new life of faith. While it is true that we have died to our old way of life, but we must be completely committed to living out this death and resurrection on a daily basis. What Paul is talking about is self-denial, a term that is foreign to our “of it feels good, do it” society. How do we do that? First, we must understand that God has given us the power to say “no” to sin. God told Cain way back in Genesis 4:7, Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” Would God have told him to master something if it was impossible? Of course not! So how do we master sin? It is done through the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatian church, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses” (Gal. 5:16-18, NLT). When we yield to the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives we receive the power to overcome sin. Be an overcomer!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

Water Grave


Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

Romans 6:3-4 (NLT)
3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death?
4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

 Back in the early 80’s the Christian Rock group Servant recorded a song called “Water Grave.” The lyrics to the verse went, “I’m goin’ down to the river, and I’m gonna be buried alive. I want to show my Heavenly Father, the man I use to be has finally died.” Whenever I think of water baptism this song just naturally comes to mind. In essence this song echoes what Paul tells us about the subject in his letter to the Romans. He tells them, and us, that when we are baptized in water symbolically we are dying to our old way of life. If you think about the symbolism is unmistakable. As we are immersed in the water it illustrates the act of dying and being buried in the ground, and coming out of the water shows that we are being raised to a new life. Water baptism is a public affirmation that this has already happened in our life. It is a testimony to the world that our old sinful self has been crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20) and is dead. Therefore, sin no longer has the same control over our lives that it used to before Christ. It also signifies that just as Christ rose from the grave changed, we too have been changed and been given the power to overcome sin (Rom. 8:37). This raises two questions, and the first one is have you been baptized in water? If you haven’t you should be because Jesus commanded all His disciples to be baptized in water (Matt. 28:19-20). The second question is, are you living like you’ve been baptized? Are you living like you have died to your old life? If your not you can by taping into the power that God has given you in Christ and in His Word. Live like you’ve been given new life because of the Good News.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark