“The Old Man Is Dead”
“Let’s open our book of Romans, Romans chapter 6. Romans chapter 6, we saw last week that we know that we are free from the guilt of sin, and we are free from the penalty of sin, but what we wrestle with probably the most in our lives is How, how, can we be set free from the power of sin? We struggle with sin in our lives, we struggle with habits that won’t break off, with practices that are destroying our lives, destroying our families, destroying our marriages. And how can we have victory? How can we be set free from sin’s power? Oh it’s great to know I’m going to heaven [going to be in the kingdom of heaven as an immortal being, as some believe]. But can I have a little bit of heaven on earth right now? Yes we can. (And we need to have a little bit of cool on earth right now, Vern could you get the air blowing a little bit, or else they’ll think that we’re going to hell. [laughter]) If you want to get on the road to freedom from the power of sin, there are some important truths that you need to know and believe regardless of how you feel, or what you’re experiencing. We need to know like we saw last week, that we are free in Christ [Messiah], we’re freed from the power sin, because we’re united to Jesus Christ, and have his life in us. It’s not just a legal thing, where I’m credited to be in Christ, but actually I am in Christ, I’ve been baptized into Christ. And we “baptized” that piece of cloth last week, into that little vat of dye, and when it came out, it came out with the attributes of that dye in it. We are united to Christ Jesus. We are baptized into him. We are one, mystically, miraculously, with Christ. He’s just not out there for us, he lives in us---“Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
We’re dead to sin, we have a new nature
But now the second thing we need to know is that we have died to sin, and that we have a new nature. We have died to sin. Get this. This is all I’m going to talk about today, is that we have died to sin, and we have a new nature. Look at verse 2, he says, the latter part, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” How can we who died to sin, still live like we were before we died to sin? He goes on in verses 6, 7 and 8, let’s read them (or follow along), “Knowing this, that our old self”---the King James Version says “the old man”, our old nature is what he’s talking about---“was crucified with him, that our body of sin”---that’s the flesh---“might be rendered inoperative, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” Now verse 11, “Even so”---consider, reckon it to be---“consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” I guess the Lord wants us to get a message. Seventeen times in twenty three verses we are told that “we have died” or “we are dead”. You’re reading your obituary right now. You’ve read an obit, you know, and I used to have a friend, she lives in northern California, she’s ninety-one years old. She’ll be ninety-two years old next year. And she used to be reading through the newspaper, and I’d say “Lela, what you readin’?” and she’d say “Oh, right now I’m reading the obituaries to see if my name is in there.” [laughter] She says, “When you get to be my age, you never are quite sure, you know.” So, I sort of thought that was funny. But you’re reading your obituary here, and an obituary usually tells how you were and how you died, and when you died. And sure enough that’s what the Scripture tells us right here, is who you were, you were a person in Adam, you were a person under the curse, and you were born little Adams, with little Adams nature in you. And that made you a child of wrath, having Adam’s [and Satan’s] nature. That nature made you do certain things, you had to do certain things. You had to live a certain way because you were controlled by that nature. But as a result of now being related to Christ, being born again into the family of Jesus Christ, you now have a new nature, a new identity, and a new Master. And we’ve been freed from the power and control of our old nature.
An illustration---our new nature verses our old nature
Let me illustrate. When I was growing up, we had several dogs. At one time we even had three poodles. And two of the poodles were really “Fifi” kind of dogs. You know what I mean? They were just Fifi-poodles. No offense to those of you who have those scrawny little things, but we had two of them when I was growing up. But then we had one macho poodle, and his name was Tony with a “y”, OK. He was stalky, he was MACHO, as a poodle, you know, and muscular. And I mean, he just didn’t fit into the poodle role. And my Mom would take him to the dog wash once in a while, and they would get Tony and he’d go all matted, there’d be sticks in him and little pieces of dirt and everything, boy he smelled, and all of this kind of stuff would be matted into him, his ears would just be matted up. Mom would take him to the dog wash and they would clean him up, and man when he came back you wouldn’t even recognize him at all. It was like he was a different person. First of all, they would peel back the fur from his little feet and painted his toenails. And then they primped him all up and poofed up his hair, and gave him a shave, and put powder on him, and perfumed him---and put bows in his hair! [laughter] And I’ll never forget how when Tony would walk in the door after one of those times, that he sort of walked curled, his little rear curled around towards his neck, and he walked sort of sideways like he was totally embarrassed, [laughter] and could not believe what had happened to him. It’s like “Aah, I don’t want anyone to see me!” and he’d run under the couch and he’d just hide. And you could smell wherever he went, you know, the perfume. It was just really amazing the change that occurred to Tony. And then he would have to go outside, and I’ll never forget the very first thing that Tony would do, he’d run out into the yard, go out into the grass, find an old doggie doolie and roll in it. [laughter] You see, not matter how much you cleaned up the outside, he still had a dog’s nature on the inside. And the world and all it’s programs takes you in your messed up state, they paint your toenails, so to speak, they go through an expensive program to trim you up, and primp your hair, and perfume you. And you graduate from the program feeling weird, wondering what’s going on, hiding out, and the first doggie doolie you find you go and roll in it, and nothing’s changed. The point is, is that we are not that way as Christians. We have been changed from the inside. It’s not a change on the outside. That’s why it’s hard for some of you to believe a change has occurred, because you know you didn’t go from a brown-haired person to a blond-haired person. You didn’t change visibly. But on the inside, the Bible says you became brand new. The Bible says that your ‘Old Man’ died, or ladies your ‘Old Woman’ died, and you’re not the same anymore. You don’t have an old nature anymore if you’re a Christian. You still have the flesh, which is sort of a residual weird thing that hangs around till we’re taken out of these bodies. The flesh is where sin tries to tempt you, and the flesh is the part of you that when you’re tempted, wants to sort of go out after that temptation. But you don’t have an old nature ruling you anymore. It’s clear in the Bible that you have been freed from that. We died to sin once and for all. And how did we die? It’s through our old self being crucified with Christ, verse 6, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with [margin: be rendered powerless], that we should no longer be slaves to sin---because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” And next week we’ll talk about the last part of verse 6, about the flesh, the body of sin that has been rendered inoperative. We’ll talk about how to get victory over your fleshly desires.
We have a new nature---with a flesh problem
But this morning, all I want to talk about is nature. All I want to tell you is that you, if you’re a Christian, have a new nature. I was sort of raised with this kind of thinking, that as a Christian, this is the way I was, I had a black dog inside of me---the old nature---and I had a white dog inside of me. And the big battle in my life was I needed to feed the white dog so that it could beat up the black dog, and I could get victory over that black dog, that old black dog in my life. No, the Bible doesn’t teach that, and that is wrong. The Bible teaches the black dog was shot and killed at the cross. Amen! And that we just have a white dog now. [Actually as he brings out later, a “white sheep”, not a “white dog”.] We just have a new nature now, with a flesh problem, yes---but you used to have an old nature and a flesh problem. And that was really bad news. Now we just have a flesh problem, and walking in the Spirit can give you the victory over that. But you don’t have an old nature anymore. It died and you were given a new nature in Christ, in Jesus Christ. Because we’re in him we have a new nature. He’s the firstborn of a new race, “the firstborn of many brethren” the Scripture says [I believe in Hebrews]. The radical change that occurred, because it was invisible, I know, is hard to believe. But I don’t want you to live by your feelings, I want you to live by what the Bible says, and then let your feelings get into gear [i.e. as those feelings are now generated by a spiritual reality]. Feelings are weird things. You may say ‘Well Mark, I don’t feel like I’m a new person, I don’t feel like I have a new nature.’ Well, tough. You know, once in a while when I wake up, I don’t feel like I’m married either. Does that ever happen to you? You wake up in morning, and you think, ‘Oh, I’m married.’ It’s not ‘Wonderful bliss!’ It’s ‘oh, I’m married.’ [but if your not married, it’s ‘Oh…I’m single.’] I mean it’s, doesn’t happen often. [much laughter] But I don’t always feel married, you know the romance part, I don’t always feel warm fuzzies, and you know, sometimes it’s just the everyday ‘Hey, I’m married, and I know I’m married.’ Why, because of my feelings? No, because it’s a legal relationship, and it’s a spiritual union. [If you want your marriage to really click, keeping those “warm fuzzies” alive, it can be done. Click on http://www.howmarriageworks.com.] And I have that with my wife. And I know I love her, and I know she loves me, but I don’t always feel that, I don’t always feel like I’m on cloud nine. Nobody does. But I’m still married. I’m not married by feelings, I was married by a legal act, and by a spiritual union. And the same is true of your relationship in Christ. You’re a new creation, not by your feelings, but by a legal act, by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and God accredited you righteous in Christ---and by a spiritual union with Christ.
Never trust or live by your feelings---they don’t know the difference between true and false---live by God’s Word
You’re a new creation. Now whether you feel it or not it’s still true. Your feelings are sort of out to lunch anyway. And so are my feelings. They’re weird. Feelings don’t know the difference between the truth and a lie. They can’t tell the difference between what is true and what is not. When’s the last time you watched a scary movie---you know, some suspenseful thing? We watched one the other night, we don’t watch very much TV at all, we could probably count three, four hours a month is about all we ever get to watch, we’re just so busy. So we decided, let’s watch this TV program. And we are so not used to the stimulus of television, you know, and the suspense---we were watching this thing, and ‘Uhh!’. I mean, I found myself, my heart was beating---boom! boom! boom!---and I’m sitting there thinking, this is the way I think, I think “Relax, man”. I’m gritting my teeth, you know. [good he wasn’t watching that killer-murder suspense thriller Hannibal Lector I think is the name of it, he would have had a heart attack.] “Relax, this is on tomorrow night too, the hero has to live you know, he’s not going to die, he’s going to live because this is on Monday through Friday at the same time, and they can’t write him out of the script. “So, relax guy.” And I look over at Leslie and she’s breathing heavy, you know, like this. And I said, “Man, are you scared?” And she said, “Yeah, I’m scared too, I can’t hardly stand it, can you? You want me to turn the sound off?” “No.” And as we’re talking, all of a sudden something scary happens, and I go “Oh!” like that. Now, that is a made-believe situation. It’s not even a real thing. It’s not even real life. But do my feelings know the difference between what’s true and false, real and not real? No! They just know what input they get and they “React!”. Feelings “react!”, don’t they? And so, you need to understand that you can’t base how you’re living your Christian life on your feelings, or else you’re going to be a basket case. You’re going to go around Reacting to everything that happens to you, you know. And you’re never going to get on solid ground. I want you on solid ground. Some of you are just spiritually flakey, and it’s because you’re not on the solid Rock of the Word of God. And you just flit around to whatever blows you, over here this week, and you’re blown over there next week, and this wind of doctrine blows you over here. Get on the Word. You’re always looking for some new high. ‘Well, let’s go to that church where they blow on you!’ [laughter] ‘How do they do that?’ It’s the garlic, man, the garlic. [lot’s of laughter] ‘Let’s go to that church where they extend their hands, and they pray for you, and you feel this warm presence around you.’ ‘Let’s go to that place where they jump up and down, and they danced around. Let’s go there, man, I need a fix.’ You need the Word. You need the Word, you need something that isn’t just a feeling. You go home, you’re going to face that family, you go home you’re going to face that wife, you know. [laugher. But some of us have non-believing spouses or families we live with. It’s tough at times.] It’s not going to do anything for you there. Not a thing for you there. You’re going to go back to work on Monday, you need something solid. Feelings evaporate, don’t they? Feelings evaporate. But the truth, man, that hangs with us. And that’s what I want to see you get anchored on, the truth of God’s Word.
We’re a new creation in Christ---a new species
Now the Bible says you’re a new creature in Christ. 2nd Corinthians 5:17, you know by heart, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. Behold the old things are past away, and all things have become new.” Literally it could be translated “He or she is a new species.” Did you know that that word could be translated that way? The Bible is saying such a radical change has occurred in your life that you are not even the same kind of humanity you were before Christ. There are two kinds of humanity, two kinds of human beings in this world---those who have a new nature in Christ [Messiah] and are a new species, and those who are the old species of Adams race. Somebody put it this way: “These two segments of the human race are at opposite poles, they’re basically an antithesis, they’re poles apart. They dwell together because they are both members of the family of man. They are of one genus, to use the zoological term, but something has happened to cause them to separate into two species within that genus. And this separation is at a far deeper and more fundamental level than mere genetics. The division is the result of a spiritual transformation, nothing less in fact than rebirth. It is not a symbolic rebirth, like that achieved by ritual in some pagan religions of antiquity and even of today. It is a fundamental change in human nature---so great a change that it amounts to a genuine form of speciation. We become a different species. We indeed remain in the world, but are no longer of the world.” That’s why you had better get into Christ. You’ve got to be born again. Because the only ones leaving this earth [or going through the literal transformation into becoming spirit beings, being created with an eternal spirit body at the resurrection to immortality, cf. 1 Corinthians 15:49-54] are the new race, the new race in Christ. You’ve got to get out of Adam’s race, and be born again by putting your faith in Jesus Christ [Yeshua haMeshiach for our Jewish readers]. At that moment you become a new person, you become united to Christ, and your old nature dies. It dies. Before, you were dead spiritually. Now you die to sin, you’re old man dies and you become a brand new person. Isn’t that what happens when babies are born? I’ve never seen a baby come out and it’s a little old man smoking a cigar. [laughter] A baby is not like a remake of something that’s already been, a baby is a brand-new person, a brand-new being that never existed before. And so when you’re born again, you become a brand new person that never existed before. You say, ‘Well, I don’t feel that way.” What have I been telling you about feelings? Maybe you don’t feel that way because you don’t know who you are in Christ. You just really don’t know. We need to get a grip on this truth that we are new creations, that we’re not the person we were before Christ, that we’re brand new, and freed from sin.
An analogy---slave verses free
On January 1st 1863 Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which declared free all the slaves in the cessation of Southern States. As a result the South lost its source of slave soldiers, and then nearly 180,000 former slaves joined the Union Army. [Special note here: I’m a serious history buff. General Lee had been working on getting every slave who served in the Confederate Army his freedom. If the Confederate States of America had won, from what I am beginning to learn, they would have ended slavery all on their own sooner or later. Watch “Gods and Generals”. But God himself did not want to see this nation of ours divided into two parts. America, the United States of America, has always been a force for good and not evil in major conflicts. When we conquer a nation, it is to set it free from tyranny, and most of the time we never remain as an occupying force, but only as a guarantor of that nation’s new won freedom (except in the Philippines from 1898 through to 1941, Hawaii, Guam and the Solomon Islands to this day). That’s the big picture. I know it’s muddied by evil dollar diplomacy, which also funds gun runners who support evil wars (South America 1945 to just recently via the CIA [see Lord of War starring Nicholas Gage]). But America stopped an evil empire, Nazi Germany and Tojo’s Imperial Japan from becoming rulers of the world. Had the South been allowed to free the slaves on their own time schedule, there would have been little of the bitterness of loosing the war which fueled 100 years of segregation in the South which held the Blacks down. In the North dollar diplomacy toward the South took over after Lincoln’s assassination, often called the era of the “Carpet Baggers”. History is not as clear cut or well understood when you get down to the fine points. But the big picture was that we had to remain a single major nation and power in order to be a force for good and help hold evil at bay. WWIII will be different, evil will win out, even against our fine nation which is now succumbing to evil within its midst at all levels. Jesus will have to return to put an end to WWIII and save what’s left of humanity. Just some thoughts about the North and South. And btw, my family had a Major-General in the Union Army. The Emancipation Proclamation was written in 1862, and not delivered in a speech by President Lincoln until 1963, when the Confederate Army was still a powerful force to be reckoned with. So the slaves in the Confederate States were by no means freed by a speech given by a President in the Northern states. Slightly wrong historic event to use as an analogy.] But even though the slaves of the Confederate States were freed, several problems existed, and one of the problems that existed was that of ignorance. The slavemasters tried to keep the slaves from hearing that they were freed, tried to keep them from hearing the news that ‘You’ve been declared free.’ Because the news would set them free, and they didn’t want them to be free, so they’d ‘Don’t let ‘em read a newspaper.’ ‘Don’t let ‘em listen to anybody who’s come from town. Let’s keep ‘em in bondage as long as we can.’ Do you see that happening to some Christians today? They’ve been told ‘You’re this, and you’re never going to change.’ And we need to understand that we’re not, we’re not legally bound to our old master, our old nature anymore. We’ve been set free in Jesus Christ. Another problem those slaves had was, a lot of them still lived in the South, and as long as they were around their old master, he could push them around. But as Christians we’ve been delivered from the domain of darkness Colossians 1:13 says, “…and [we] have been transferred to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” And so our old nature cannot do anything with us today, we’re dead to that, we died to sin. It doesn’t have any power over us. It’s not our master anymore. [A more accurate analogy was used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10, where he showed how the Israelites were freed from the Egyptian slavemasters, the Egyptian Army had been killed in the Red Sea while they passed safely through it. But the problem was, they left Egypt, but Egypt hadn’t left them yet. They didn’t put Egypt out of their lives even though Egypt for them had been made inoperative, there were no more slavemasters over them, the Pharaoh of Egypt had been rendered inoperative over them, no longer had authority over them. But then Paul goes on to warn the Corinthian believers not to follow in the sinful attitudes that apparently Israel was not capable of coming out of, murmuring, complaining, rebellion etc. But Egypt was no longer their master anymore, Pharaoh of Egypt was no longer their master. So Paul’s analogy seems to fit better than the Civil War one. Always search the Bible first for your analogies, then go to secular history afterward if a suitable analogy exists.]
We are dead to sin, but alive to Christ
Man, as one of my illustrations, you know I have a few strings I could pull with mortuaries, and I wanted to bring a cadaver in. I thought, ‘Man, this would be the greatest illustrated sermon I’ve ever had!’ And I’d have this cadaver here, with a white sheet over him, and then I’d say “Now the Bible says, “You have died!” And then I’d pull back the sheet, you know, like in biology class. Ooow, remember the smell of cadavers in biology class, that smell of embalming fluid? Yuck. And I would say, “Now, let’s see how much power temptation has over him, now that he’s dead. Come on, somebody bring a filthy magazine. OK, let’s open his eyes.” Someone would hold his eyes open. “Now let’s see, is there any response here? Is he grabbing for it? Is he going ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah!’? No response. Man, he acts like he’s dead or something. Well let’s whisper some temptation in his ear. ‘Hey, you want a drink?’ He used to be an alcoholic before he died. ‘You want a drink?’ No response. What’s the matter with him? He acts like he’s dead.” Well you say, ‘Mark, you turkey, he is dead, that’s why he’s not responding.’ Exactly. Exactly. Look at verse 11, “Even so, consider yourselves to be”---what?---“dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” You see, Satan wants to keep you in ignorance concerning who you are in Christ. He wants you to think you have to sin, you have to do this, because you always had to before you were a Christian. Well I’m telling you, by the authority of God’s Word, that you don’t have to sin anymore. ‘Mark, are you saying that we are to be sinless?’ No, 1st John 1 says “That if any man says he’s without sin he’s a liar and the truth is not in him.” But I’m telling you, you should sin less. No, I’m not teaching sin-less-ness, but I am teaching we can sin less, and sin doesn’t have power over us. We don’t have to do those doggy things anymore, because we’re not dogs anymore---we’re sheep. Amen? We’ve had a fundamental change of nature. And we don’t have to obey the old master anymore, because he is dead to us.
We’re no longer slaves to sin
When the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea, that Red Sea represented the death of Christ. (It’s really hot, everybody’s fanning themselves. Is the air-conditioning on? It’s on, ok. So, stop breathing, pretend that you’re dead today, [laughter] it won’t be so hot in here.) Anyway, when they passed through the Red Sea, which represents the death of Christ, there was a separation. And remember, their enemies, their old masters were coming---“Come back you slaves! You’re going to be our slaves, you can’t get away from us!” And they were on their chariots---and everybody’s watched the Ten Commandments, so what happened?---the water crashed down over them [the Egyptian Army]---Right?---and destroyed their enemies. And they were free on the other side. And now they could say---“Na, na, na, na na!---we don’t have to serve you!---Na, na, na, na, na, there’s separation, there’s death between us and you!, Na…” [laughter]. But you know what happens to a lot of Christians, instead of having that attitude toward sin? The attitude they have toward sin is they still jump when the old master says “jump!”. It’s sort of like where you were involved in a terrible job where they expected you to do everything, they ruled your life, they controlled you---not 40 hours a week, we’re talking about 60 to 80 hours a week---they call you in the middle of the night---“We need you to come in! Get in here!” They were never grateful for anything you did, you sort of lived in terror of losing your job, so you did everything they said, you tried to do it well, but it wasn’t well enough. Nothing was ever good enough for them. You felt like a slave. They’d call you up, you’d have to cancel going to your kid’s birthday party. You’d cancel vacations for them, everything---they had you in bondage! And then one day they up and fired you! [they call it being laid off nowadays, but it amounts to the same thing. This is not a laughing matter, right now I am in a job that has become like this, for me, and most of the employees where I work, for this large electronic manufacturing company which will go nameless for obvious reasons. But look up and read James 5:1-5. God knows what’s going on in the business world, even today’s.] First you were devastated, and then suddenly you realized that you were relieved. “I’m free.” For the first time in a long time you went to bed at night and didn’t think you’d have to worry about the phone ringing. Within a few days you got a new job, an actual five-day work week job, a job with benefits---a job where you had Saturday and Sunday off! You had worked at the new job for maybe a week, when in the middle of the night the phone rang. On the other end of the phone was the old boss. He said, “Hey Martin! Martin, get in here right now, we need you right now! You left us in the lurch, we need you to come in here right now, we need this fixed.” “Oh, oh, just a minute…and you start to get out of bed, you start looking for your pants, you get your pants about halfway up, and you say---“Wait a minute! You fired me! I don’t work for you anymore!” You pick the phone back up “Hey, jerk! Get lost!” [What a coincidence! Pastor Martin has just described my company, except for one thing. When they “lay you off”, since it’s legally termed a “lay-off”, if you haven’t found employment yet, say two weeks down the road, say, you’re unemployment checks are just about to start (so you’ve been two weeks without pay), and if you answer that phone so they actually contact you, and they say they want you back, that stops that unemployment check right in it’s tracks, and you have to go back, or risk going three months without unemployment coverage for refusing work. And then after three or four weeks they lay you off again. I say this because it has happened where I work more than once.] And you go back to bed. You’re free from that tyranny. I mean, you almost went back to that, you almost went back to work for him, out of habit. And that’s what some of you are doing in your Christian walk, I know because I’m talking to you, I see you. You’re forgetting, you’re freed from your sinful nature, you don’t have a nature that’s making you sin anymore. If you sin, it’s because you’re choosing to. Oh, oh, nobody likes that anymore. Modern-day psychology has got an excuse for everybody and for everything. Doesn’t it? You have a problem with drinking, it’s because you have a disease that is incurable. And this thing will have a control over you the rest of your life, and you’re helpless before it! [that’s what modern psychology says. But I am---excuse me---was an alcoholic. Now I am going to be perfectly 100 percent honest with you. Over many years I drank socially, but as time went on my tolerance for alcohol went up and up and up. Solomon warns us about this in Proverbs, saying that alcohol is deceptive. I.e. a person can be developing an addiction to alcohol without realizing it, it happens slowly, as a person slowly increases his or her intake of alcohol because his or her tolerance for it has gone up---they’re not drunk, so they think they’re ok. When I did realize it, finally, and being a Christian (this happened to me in my Christian life---alcohol consumption in extreme moderation is not sin, that’s what the Bible teaches) I cried out to God for deliverance. Let me tell you this, this is the truth. I walked away from alcohol like I had never had a drink. Miraculously, the addiction was broken. But I am human, and under a few times of extreme trial and duress I have slipped up a few times and had a strong shot of alcohol. But then I realize what I’m getting into, ask for forgiveness and power not to go back to it, and I don’t. So I have had a few of these slip-ups, but I can count them on one hand over a three or four year period. And even now, the desire for the stuff just isn't there. Now for alcoholics in the world, I would honestly have to say, these few slip ups would probably have started them merrily back on their way into full-blown alcoholism. Once a person develops an addiction to alcohol, he or she cannot resume drinking, even in extreme moderation, even as a Christian. I will throw that caution out to all of you. That is just the physiological nature of what an alcohol addiction does to your body. But Pastor Martin is 100 percent correct that we have become a new creation and that we have power over sin. Alcoholics in the world---I’m talking about non-believers---don’t walk away from alcoholism without a huge, long drawn out and often painful struggle with alcohol. As a believer in Jesus, that has not been my experience at all. That is my personal testimony, for what it’s worth. editor.]
We are a new creation in Christ---sin doesn’t have power over you anymore
But the Bible says “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation, the old things have passed away---look, everything has become new!” ‘Oh, if you have a problem, it’s because of your hidden childhood memories.’ Today there are Christian books and seminars designed to tell you that you are a prisoner of your childhood memories. The Bible says if you’re in Christ, ‘you are a new creation, and the old things have passed away, and new things have come.’ You say ‘What do you mean, Mark, I still think about those memories, they hurt me.’ Yes, they don’t evaporate, but they don’t have a controlling power over you anymore---unless you let them. See, once you begin to see who you are in Christ, you get freed from these things. But our ‘modern’ counseling techniques, the stuff that’s infiltrated the church from the world is drinking in the lie ‘that we are the way we were, and we cannot change.’ And you see, that’s a fundamental difference between Christianity and the world. Christianity declares ‘You are not the same person once you come to Christ, and that you don’t have an old nature anymore, making you sin---you have a new nature.’ I mean, these support groups, they’re based on the premise that you’re never going to get over what you’re doing. Baloney. The Bible says sin doesn’t have power over you anymore, you’re freed from sin. Look, verse 14, “For sin shall not be master over you.” Why? “because you’re not under law but under grace.” [i.e. you’re not under the Old Testament requirement to keep the Law of God on your own, but under grace, the grace of God, which is spelled out by the promise of the new covenant which states that God will write his holy Law in the hearts and minds of his spiritual children, believers in Jesus. Read Hebrews 8:6-13 and Jeremiah 31:31-33.] You are free from sin now. If you’re a Christian you don’t have to sin. I didn’t like to hear that, I liked having an excuse for my sin. I liked being able to say, ‘Well, I can’t help myself. I was born this way.’ I’m sorry, you’ve been re-born, and you’ve been reborn a different way. You’re free from sin, and if you sin, it’s because you want to. Look at verse 7, “for he who has died is freed from sin.” Look at verse 18, read it, “and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Look at verse 22, read it with me, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive the benefit resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.” The NIV has “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness [sanctification], and the result is eternal life.”
Get a grip on who you are
Oh, how many of us have been put in the bondage of our temperament types?---the four temperaments. What a mint someone made off of that baloney. If you’re in Christ, you’re first-born anyway, aren’t you? What difference does it make what your natural birth order was? Weren’t you born again in Christ? I’m saying that counseling and programs that are not based on the truth of Romans 6, 7 and 8 are worthless. They do not change, they change the outside, but they don’t change the inside. It’s time for us to stop trying to manicure the dog, the dog needs a new heart, the dog needs a new-birth. And you need to realize that the power of sin is broken---not that you’re helpless before it---no, you have the power of Christ over it, and it [sin] doesn’t rule and reign unless you let it rule and reign. And this puts the responsibility back on the individual. But we’re living in a society that wants to blame everyone else or anything else but “myself”. And the church has bought into it. And that’s why the church [the body of Christ in general] is so screwed up, and so messed up, and falling apart---because it’s living like the world. And the counsel it’s giving is the world’s counsel. We need to get back to the Word, and we need to reprogram our people, and reprogram our minds, and we need to tell people ‘Look, you’re free in Christ---you’ve been freed from sin.’ ‘But I don’t feel it!’ That’s the problem with this whole generation is that we live for what we can feel, instead of for the facts. I mean, whatever happened to 1st Corinthians 6:9-11? It says, “Or don’t you know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God…” and then it lists, “don’t be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers shall inherit the kingdom of God.” And then he goes on to say, “and such were some of you, but you have been washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” He doesn’t write to ex-adulterers, he doesn’t write to ex-homosexuals, he doesn’t write to ex-alcoholics, he writes to saints when he writes to these people. He calls them saints, and he’s telling them they used to be that way. Those things used to control your life, but now you’ve been freed from those things in Christ. You don’t have to sin, you don’t have to take another drink, you don’t have to shoot up one more time, you don’t have to sleep in bed with someone who’s not your husband or wife again! You can say “No!” if you’re a Christian [or Messianic believer in Yeshua]. Before you were a Christian, you couldn’t say no. Before you were a Christian you couldn’t say no. Before you were a Christian you had a nature that made you do things like that. Now you don’t have that nature. What’s your excuse? You’re disobedient? You may be a spiritual brat? Or you may be a spiritual baby. Babies don’t know who they are---do they? When a baby is born---have you ever met a baby that said “Hi, my name is George, and this is my social security number”? [laughter] No, babies depend on everybody around them to tell them who they are. Right? “You’re Emily, Emily, say Emily. Say Emily. Who are you? Who’s this?” And when they finally say “Emily!” “Aah! She said who she was!! All right, she knows her name!” And you know, with new Christians it’s the same way, with those around us, we have to train them who they are in Christ. You’re not the old doggy, you’re not the pooch you used to be. But every once in a while, you know, you just react the old way because you are so used to it you forget, no that’s not who you are anymore. It’s sort of…this happened years ago, but it’s such a good illustration. I was over at somebody’s house, we were having a swim party and I was playing with their three girls and it was ‘Pastor Mark, Pastor Mark, throw us in the pool.’ So I started, I was chasing them, throwing them in the pool, throwing them in the pool. I must have thrown them in the pool twenty times. And finally the youngest one, she began to get tired, and I kept throwing her in the pool, and she’d lift herself up out of the pool, and you could tell she’s getting more and more tired, and finally all I had to do is just look at her, and she jumped into the pool. That’s where some of you are at in your spiritual life. You don’t realize that you don’t have to get into the pool, you’re so used to having Satan throwing you into the pool, throwing you into the sin, throwing you into the mess. But now his power has been broken, but you didn’t realize it and all he has to do is sort of look at you now. He can’t even throw you in, he can’t touch you anymore. But he looks at you and you jump in the pool. I’m telling you, you don’t have to do that anymore. You’re not a dog. The world says “Once a dog, always a dog!---just reform the dog! Put the ribbons in, paint the toe nails, spruce up the old pooch.” And so we got programs we pay hundreds and thousands of dollars to go through the programs where they spruce up the pooch, you know. And you come out and go roll in the poop. [laughter] You’re family’s going ‘We put all that money into that program and it didn’t even last a week!’ That’s because there’s got to be a change of heart. And the world doesn’t understand that, the world doesn’t know that, it’s doing the best it can. But it hasn’t read Romans 6, 7 and 8. And I’m telling you, that if you’ve come to Christ, you’re not a dog anymore! You are a sheep! And some of you just don’t realize it. You’ve been thinking, you thought you’ve felt this “baah, baah” in your throat, but you’re going around like as sheep dog, you know. “Baah-Arf! Baah-arf!” You’re not a dog, so stop trying to be a dog, stop acting like a dog. Stop chasing cats and cars [and women, you guys], you’re a sheep, you’re not a dog. And some of you, you’re just doing gross things, like dogs, they throw up and they eat it. [laughter] And don’t get grossed out, you’ve got dogs, you know they do that. The Bible says dogs do that. That Bible teaches that. It says “Even a dog returns to its own vomit.” And that’s gross, but that’s what I see some of you doing. You’re sheep---“Baah!”---and you’re trying to do the same gross things that you did when you were a dog. Come on, act like who you are. Get a grip on who you are in Christ. You don’t have a dog nature anymore. And yet, some of you are still eating dog food. Why? ‘Well, I ate dog food for so many years, I just, I know I’m a Christian, and this dog food sort of gives me indigestion, spiritual constipation [laughter], but it ah, I’m just sort of used to eating it.’ I’m telling you, you don’t have to eat it anymore. The Good Shepherd wants to lead you in green pastures, besides still waters. What are you doing living like a dog? You’re not a dog.
You don’t have two natures within you
And you don’t have two natures in you---“Baah-Arf!”---“baah-arf!”, you know. The dog was shot. He’s dead. You have a new nature. The flesh is the part of you that like remembers all of that, and wants to sort of act like that. And we’ll talk about the flesh next week. We can’t cover all of this in one week. If you can just get it, and get a grasp on the truth that you have a new nature, and the old one is dead, and you don’t have to sin anymore---and you’re only sinning when you chose to. You see, that’s going to help you. ‘Oh yah, put me on a big guilt trip.’ Well, I’m going to put you on an accountability trip, because either you’re going to make Jesus Christ a liar, either he’s right or you’re wrong. And I chose to believe him. And I’ve seen it, I’m not preaching off the top of my head. This set me free, when I realized I didn’t have two natures in me. I have a new nature, my new nature never wants to sin. Did you know that? Look at 1st John. Keep your finger in Romans. 1st John, near the back of your Bible, chapter 3, verse 9, “No one who is born of God practices sin...” And that’s true. Remember, this letter of 1st John was written as sort of a Christian ID---how do you know if you’re a Christian or not? You read 1st John. One of the marks of a Christian is, a Christian is a person that when something comes up in his life that’s wrong, and he knows it’s wrong, he fights it, he doesn’t practice on how to refine it. OK? “No one who is born of God practices sin, because his seed”---God’s seed---“abides in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” What does that mean? It means that the new you, the seed of God that abides in you [i.e. the Holy Spirit cf. John 14 & 16], that new nature, never sins. That’s going to go right to heaven with you. Now what responds to sin? The Bible calls it “the flesh.” It’s more than just these bones and body we wear, but he calls it a principle of sin that’s still left in us after we’re saved. But it does not have…it’s not a master, it’s not a lord, it’s not something that makes you sin. It’s something that just responds to sin. It’s something that says, when you’re tempted, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!’ But the new nature always says “No, yuck.” You say ‘Yeah, it does?’ Yeah, but some of you never listen to your new nature. Try it, next time you’re tempted, just listen. There will be part of you that says “Oh yeah! Yeah, I’ve got to do it.” But then if you really listen, there will be a new part of you, that new nature that says “No.” And at that point I wish there was a button I could push that would say “Yes” or “No.” But that’s encouraging to me, to know that the new me, my new nature, is not a sinful nature. It never sins. Sort of cool, isn’t it? And I don’t have to sin. Now I do sin. Why? Because I’m not thinking. Temper flares, driving down the freeway someone does some stupid thing, I forget I’m a sheep and think I’m a dog---bark! bark! bark! bark!---you know. What did I do that for? I’m not a dog. But, you know, for years I barked. Some of you walk by certain places and you smell that smell of poop, sniff, sniff, sniff, and you want to go roll in it. I mean, that’s as gross as it is in God’s sight. You look around. ‘Only for a minute. Only for a minute.’ What are you doing in there? [probably referring to a bar room, but it could be worse depending] You’re not a dog. See, if you were a dog, you’d have to. Ever watch dogs, you try to keep them from sniffing something? Sniff, sniff, sniff, sniff---you know, it’s like their nature, they have to. But you don’t have to anymore. So stop. And you have the power---we’re going to look at the power of Christ too, in a couple of weeks, the power of the Lord. And I wish we could stay here all day and maybe talk about the whole thing all in one lesson, but we can’t.
We have freedom over sin---Jesus Christ can set you free from anything
And so what you leave with today (oh I don’t have a watch, we can stay here all day long), we’re free in Christ, we’re freed from sin. Some of you need to think differently. You need to see there’s a difference between psychology and Christ’s way. There’s a difference between humanism and God’s Word. And it’s not some figment of my imagination, it’s a basic difference we believe that our gospel causes a brand new creation, a new spiritual life in a person who is born-again, and that they have freedom over sin, and Christ can set you free from anything. And the problem is, if you’re not free, is either you don’t know it, or you don’t want it. It’s not popular, because a lot of us want somebody to come along and coddle us for the rest of our lives, and make excuses for us, for the rest of our lives. And I’m telling you, you’re wasting your life. Come on, get with it, wake up, stop wasting time, stop running after these things that won’t work and won’t satisfy. Stop eating the dog food, and paying $50 an hour for it, and get into the Word of God. You need to get into the Word, you need to be praying, you need to be fellowshipping with other Christians if you’re going to be strong. You need to act like who you are. You need to hear that you are in a new family, and in this family we don’t do those things, because we’re not in that life anymore. We have a new identity. We’re free. Let’s pray.
‘Father God, I thank you for the truth of your Word, that has revolutionized so many lives, when we see that the old nature has been broken, that we are free from sin in Christ---that the old taskmaster, the old slavemaster is on the other side of the Red Sea, we don’t have to obey him anymore. There’s no whip on our back making us sin. We’ve quit, and we have a new job, we don’t have to listen to the old boss anymore. We’re free to say “No!” now, in Jesus name. We’re not dogs, we’re God’s lambs. Some of us, Lord, we’ve never realized that, we thought we were just reformed dogs. We didn’t realize that there was an absolute change of nature. And yet, some of us Lord, have never had that change in our lives. We’ve never had a new birth. Today, as we sit here, as your heads are bowed, eyes are closed, if you want to become a new creation, if you want to have a new nature, you want to be able to live a brand new life in Christ, I want you to be able to. And all you’re going to have to do is ask Jesus (Yeshua) to give you a new life, and he will. Just pray this prayer with me. In the prayer, we’re going to ask God to save you, cause you to be born-again, make you a new person. If you feel God moving on your heart, if you want to be free, if you want to be a new person, and you’re sure you’re not right now, then pray this prayer with me right now. ‘Lord Jesus, I ask you please to come into my life. I need desperately the change that has been talked about here. I need a new nature. Please forgive my sins. Please forgive me for living the way I’ve lived. I come to you just as I am, but I believe that if you come into my life, I’m going to be changed. I believe you’re going to make me a brand new person. You’re going to give me power in my life to say “no”. The old person is going to die, and Jesus you’re going to live in me. I believe that. I accept you as my Savior, in Jesus name. Amen.’” [A transcription of “Romans 6:3-14, THE OLD MAN IS DEAD”, given by Pastor J. Mark Martin, Calvary Community Church, PO Box 39607, Phoenix, Arizona 85069]
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