BIG IDEA: In Christ I am dead to sinful desires and alive to righteous desires.
We all have things in our life that we are passionate about. Family, sports teams, hobbies, food, etc. These things are not wrong. In fact God has built a desire into us to experience joys such as these; however, we can very easily make them idols. Genesis gives us a viewpoint of where our real satisfaction is supposed to be directed.
When God created the world, He gave Adam and Eve gifts they could enjoy that would point them to Him, but the serpent convinced Eve that God had withheld other joys from them. Eve took the fruit that God forbade her to eat, gave it to Adam, and Genesis 3:7 says their eyes were opened to sin. Consequently, they would no longer find joy in their Creator and would search for it by selfish and sinful means. Essentially, that is the definition of sin: disordered values or choosing to value ourselves over God.
So how can we turn our misplaced passions into idolatry? Here are some examples of misplaced identity:
- Fitness: Designing your whole life around the pursuit of optimum health or feeling guilty for enjoying food that might not fit your diet. There is nothing wrong with being passionate about exercise or health, but it should not be all you think about.
- Leisure: Living your life for the next time you can go on a vacation or participate in a recreational activity. Playing sports or going on trips are wonderful things, but your desire to go biking should not take precedence over your family or church.
- Hobbies: Rearranging your life around your hobby and not having room for the body of Christ. Hobbies are wonderful ways to express the creativity of God, but they become your identity when you are known by them (i.e. “the guy who has that nice car”) or when you when you can’t properly participate in your church because of them.
- Substances: Abusing a substance to where it becomes an addiction, for instance, relying on food and planning your whole day around it. Alcohol can also be abused, but it is a mistake to call someone or refer to yourself as an alcoholic. That is creating an identity out of something that is a sinful desire, and it gives you an excuse to engage in abuse.
- Personality traits: Using your personality, heritage, or city of origin as an excuse to sin. What does this look like? Here are four examples. 1) Some people have the desire to control everything, so they become overbearing and call themselves “obsessive” rather than sinfully controlling. 2) Others pass off their anger or fieriness because of their heritage and blame it on their hair color rather than take control of their temper. 3) Others excuse their stubbornness by referencing their roots rather than admit they struggle with pride. They might say something like, “That’s just how Dutch people are.” 4) Lastly, some excuse their rudeness because of their type A personality. “I’m sorry you were offended, but I just tell it like it is.”
We need clarity on these, and the clarity is that in Christ you are dead to sinful desires and alive to righteous ones. You don’t have to be trapped in being a stubborn and angry person. Paul says in Romans 6 that once we are saved, we do not have to continue in sin; we are secure in Christ and saved by grace through faith. Paul then anticipates that someone might say they would receive more grace if they willingly sin again and again; however, if the Holy Spirit is dwelling in you, it is impossible to live a lifestyle of habitual sin and still be a believer. There is no vital connection now to sin; you are plugged into Christ and your Creator. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were given desires for joy in their Creator, but sin created separation, which turned us to try to find satisfaction in sinful things. Paul now says that connection has been restored with our Creator, and we are no longer bound to answer to our old master.
Friends, we simply must know what happened to us at salvation. Consider these truths. Because of who we are in Adam, we were under sin’s dominion when we were born. We had no other options; we were a slave to sin. Then God introduced the Law to show us how bad we really were. The Law condemned us because there was no way we could keep it, and death was to be our penalty. But, praise the Lord, God sent Jesus to die for us, and when He died, the Law was destroyed. He took our death penalty and broke the dominion of sin.
Romans 6:5 says we experienced death in and with Christ and now He is in union with us. Because Jesus has a relationship with the Creator of the universe, we do too. Now we have the means by which to enjoy our Creator through the things He created. Romans 6:12 also tells us it is not enough to hear these truths; we have to reckon this to be true and yield ourselves to our new Master. By doing this, we can find joy in Him through the gifts He has given us. Unfortunately, we can still hear the voice of sin, but we are not slaves to it; we can choose to run from it.
If you really believe that at God’s right hand are pleasures evermore (Psalm 16:11), sin will no longer have power over you. Silly things no longer have to be your identity, and your pursuits do not have to be the end to themselves. Call sin “sin” and stop excusing it. Know who you are in Christ and claim the truth. Yield to your new master and find true satisfaction in Him. We challenge you to memorize Romans 6:14. It reminds us that we need to claim the truth of who we are.
Father, we all have longings and desires, and it’s easy for us to say that’s who we are. But your Son broke that dominion and we are no longer condemned or obligated to follow the old master. Help us to pursue Jesus and a deeper relationship with You.
Listen to Sunday's sermon here: