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Freedom from Sin

Last week we asked the question: “What Good is the Gospel?” When we think about sharing the ‘good news’ of Jesus Christ with others, exactly what good is it that we sharing with them?

And I think most of us would quickly point to an eternity in heaven with Jesus as the first and most obvious answer to that question. After all, having the hope that when we die, we won’t be eternally condemned as we deserve, but rather, we have the assurance of eternal life with our Creator – that’s some pretty significant good!

But what if there is even more than that? What if our salvation is more than just a get-out-of-jail-free card? What if there is some significant ‘good’ to be had right here and now – BEFORE we die and see Jesus face-to-face?

Well, actually, that’s just what the Bible teaches! According to the Bible, eternal life doesn’t begin when we die – it starts right from the moment when we accept Jesus as our Saviour. The Gospel brings about a radical life-change immediately. We don’t have until wait to get to heaven before we experience the goodness of the Gospel!

And so last week, we did just a quick overview of just four incredible benefits of the Gospel. And I won’t rehash them all today, but just in point form, here are the four things we looked at.

#1. Jesus’ death paid the price for our sin

#2. Death and sin are both defeated.

#3. God lives within us.

#4. Our lives have meaning and purpose.

Now of course, this is not an all-inclusive list of the goodness of the Gospel – this is just a sampling! And we’re going to dig into these benefits over the next few weeks to see just how good they really are and how they can radically transform our lives right here and now.

So I am really excited to spend the next few weeks with you examining the question: What Good is the Gospel? And I trust that as we look at all this, we will be reminded all over again of why the Gospel is such good news!

I want to start by reading a passage from Romans chapter 7. This was written by the Apostle Paul, but I want you to see if you can relate to his struggle. Here’s what he writes in Romans chapter 7, starting at verse 18.

I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 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.

Romans 7:18b-25

It’s almost hard to believe that this was written by the Apostle Paul – the guy wrote a significant portion of the Bible! And yet here he is, writing about his continuing struggle with sin.

Does anyone here relate to that at all? Do you relate to Paul when he says “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart.  But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind.”

Isn’t that the Christian experience? We love God. We want to do what is right! We want to please God with our lives. We want to honour and obey him – and yet inevitably, and sometimes almost continually, we fail. Like Paul says,”In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”

Can you relate to that? I sure can! And maybe that surprises you. (Or maybe it doesn’t!) But the fact is, I think every Christian here knows that struggle. We know what it’s like to desperately want to live free from sin and to honour God with everything we do – but we just can’t pull it off! 

I think a lot of Christians get very frustrated with that struggle. We echo Paul’s sentiment: “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?”

Well, that’s where the good news of the Gospel comes in. Paul says “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

As I mentioned in our overview last week, the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ has defeated sin and death – but what exactly does that look like for you and I? How do we experience His victory over sin in our lives today?

This morning I want to point out three ways that we can see the goodness of the Gospel as it relates to our struggle with sin. Even as we struggle, we can see the goodness of the Gospel make a huge difference in our lives.

So here’s the first goodness of the Gospel that we can see even in our struggle with sin.

#1. Because of the Gospel, we have a new nature.

Before we came to Christ, we had only one nature. A sinful nature. One author defines our sinful nature like this:

“The sin nature is that aspect in man that makes him rebellious against God. When we speak of the sin nature, we refer to the fact that we have a natural inclination to sin; given the choice to do God’s will or our own, we will naturally choose to do our own thing.”

And that’s certainly what we see in the world around us. Mankind’s natural inclination is ignore what God wants – and instead to do whatever we want to do – whatever we think is best for us. We can see that even in children. Their natural inclination is to be… well, selfish!  Unless you teach them otherwise, they’re going to take the biggest cookie first, they’re going to push to the front of the line, and their going to demand their own way every time. We have to work hard to train our children to think and act differently – so that they learn to put others first or to consider what someone else might want.

But that natural inclination to be selfish is the sinful nature. That’s the nature that we are all born with. And that’s the nature that is always rebellious towards God.

Paul writes in Romans 8:7…

7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. Romans 8:7-8

Our sinful nature has no interest in pleasing God – its only interest is pleasing ourselves.

But when we come to Christ, God gives us a new nature. 2 Corinthians 5:14 says…

Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them…  This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 17

The moment we receive Christ as our Saviour – we are literally, not physically, but spiritually, born again! We receive a new life and a new nature. This nature is the complete opposite of our old nature.

21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.  Ephesians 4:21-24

You see, our new nature is one that actually wants to please God – and this is exactly why we have such a struggle with sin – it’s because we have these two natures that are in complete opposition to each other. Our old, sinful nature wants to default to pleasing ourselves – and our new Christ-like nature wants to please God.

So this might be a funny way to think about it, but if you are experiencing that ever-present struggle with sin, that’s actually a really good thing! That show’s that you really have been born again and that you have that new nature that truly wants to please God – that nature that strives to be truly righteous and holy.

If you didn’t have that new nature, you wouldn’t struggle with sin. You wouldn’t care about pleasing God. It wouldn’t bother you when you fail to obey him.

I often have people ask me – particularly new Christians, “How do I know I’m really saved?” They usually ask that because they’re struggling to live like the Bible teaches. Maybe they’ve been struggling with some addiction or anger or pride – maybe they feel like their blowing it at home with their families and they think, “I’m sinning against God so much – maybe I’m not really saved!? Maybe I did it wrong – maybe I’m not a Christian…. How do I know?”

And I usually tell them, “If you’re asking those kinds of questions, that’s usually pretty good evidence that you are truly saved.” Someone who doesn’t have that new nature from God wouldn’t be concerned about failing to please him.

So the very fact that there is this battle in your mind and in your heart is actually great news! It shows that you are a new person who is working towards becoming more like Christ. The struggle is all part of the process as the Holy Spirit works in you – renewing your thoughts and attitudes – changing you to become truly righteous and holy.

So that’s the first good news. Because of the Gospel, we have a new nature.

Here’s the second good news that we can experience in our struggle with sin:

#2. Because of the Gospel, we are free.

Now because we were born with that sinful nature, and for a time, it was our only nature – by default, we had no choice but to obey it. The Bible often describes us as being slaves to sin. Our sinful nature was our master and we had no choice but to obey it.

Jen Wilkins from the Gospel Coalition writes this:

“Before we were justified, our broken wills were utterly subject to the power of sin. We chose sin at every turn. Even when we made choices that appeared good from an external standpoint, because we had no higher internal purpose than to glorify self, these choices were ultimately sinful as well.” ~ Jen Wilkins (The Gospel Coalition)

What’s she’s saying here is that before we came to Christ, even though we did things that appeared good, because these were done with selfish motives with no thought of glorifying God, these things were all sin. Like Isaiah 64:6 says… 

“We are all infected and impure with sin.

    When we display our righteous deeds,

    they are nothing but filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:6 

Even though we might have been “good people”, we were completely and totally enslaved to sin. It was absolutely impossible for us to please God.

However, all that changed when we accepted Jesus as our Saviour. We read Romans 6:6 last week.

6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. Romans 6:6-7

Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we were set free from the power of sin. We are no longer enslaved to our sinful nature. It no longer had any say over us. We are now free to obey our new nature and to do the things that God created us to do.

If we jump down a few verses to verse 12 in that same chapter, Paul continues. He says:

12 Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. 13 Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. 14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

Romans 6:12-14

And that’s really the crux of the Christian life – sin is no longer our master, we now live under the freedom of God’s grace!

This freedom is central to the message of the good news. We are free to live the way God created us to live. He never intended us to live as slaves to our sinful, selfish, rebellious nature – doing the things that result in pain and sorrow and ultimately, death.

He created us to be free. Free to do the things that God intended for us – things that bring us true joy and peace and satisfaction! Things that honour and glorify our Creator!

Larry Fowler from Focus on the Family says:

Jesus was not setting us free to do whatever we wanted; He was freeing us to do what we ought to do. He was liberating us to walk in relationship with God and to be the kind of people He created us to be. 

And this is the freedom that sin had long denied us.

~Larry Fowler (Focus on the Family)

In our world of hyper-individualism, we often confuse freedom with personal independence. We think freedom is the ability to make our own decisions, to choose our own course in life, to do whatever we want, whenever we want. But as long as we are slaves to our own sinful nature – no amount of personal independence will give us true freedom!

True freedom is only found through Jesus Christ. He frees us from the power of sin, and empowers us through his Holy Spirit to do the things that we were created to do. That’s why Paul writes in Romans 8:12:

12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. Romans 8:12-13

And this is kinda looking ahead to what we’re going to talk about next week, but God’s Holy Spirit – living in you – empowers us to live the kind of lives He created us to live. We’ll probably end up reading this again next week, but I think it’s also very fitting here today. Galatians 5:16 says…

16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 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. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 

Galatians 5:16-25

This is the freedom that we have through Jesus. Freedom to follow the Holy Spirit. Freedom to have lives full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

That’s the kind of freedom that I want to have!

And that actually leads us to our third and final goodness that I want to talk about today.

#3. Because of the Gospel, our struggle with sin will one day be over.

I know it is really hard to imagine now – but one day we will go back to being a single natured person. Instead of two natures constantly battling it out – we will have only one nature. But this time it won’t be our sinful nature that’s in control. It’ll be our new Christ-like nature.

This is what theologians call our glorification. Sanctification is the process that we become more and more like Christ as we resist our sinful nature and instead follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. But glorification is when God does the final work of removing our sinful nature from us along with all of it’s damaging effects – include death.

We read a snippet of this last week from 1 Corinthians 15. I started at verse 55 then, but let me back it up to verse 50 today.

50 What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.

51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.

54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.

55 O death, where is your victory?

    O death, where is your sting?”

56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:50-57

When these corrupted dying bodies are transformed into immortal, sin-free bodies that will never die – at that moment, our sinful nature will finally be done away with.

Can you imagine!? No more temptation. No more sinful desires. All we will ever want do is exactly what God created us to do. God will remove every trace of our selfishness, our rebellion, our sinfulness from our lives.

In fact, every element of sin in the world will be no more. We got a glimpse of this last week when we looked at Revelation 21:3.

3 I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:3-4

This is our future hope of absolute freedom from sin. The absence of death, sorrow, crying, and pain are all the result of an absence of sin. It truly will be an incredible day when sin is completely and utterly removed from our lives!

And all of this is made possible by Jesus’ death and resurrection. This is why the Gospel is such good news.

  • Because of the Gospel, we have a new nature – a nature that that actually wants to please and glorify God.
  • Because of the Gospel, we are free! Free to do the things that God created us to do – things that lead to true joy and peace and satisfaction.
  • Because of the Gospel, our struggle with sin will one day be over. One day soon our sinful nature will be removed forever and we can enjoy freedom and life with our Creator for eternity.

That’s good news.

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