Romans 6: 1 - 4, What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. NKJV
Have you struggled with desires that contradict the Word of God since you have become born again in Christ? If so, then know that you're not alone. We're all humans, and we all have an old nature that we must confront and conquer so we can live free from the power of sin. The good news that I want to share with you today is that the greater One now lives in you, and your new life is hidden in Christ and not out in the world. When the Spirit of God filled your heart, He evicted your old master, the Devil, who ruled over your old life through the power of sin through the bondage of fear.
Paul tells us in Philippians that Christ died on the cross, and it was through His death that He disarmed principalities and powers, triumphing over them, He made an open spectacle of them. Jesus now has the keys that Satan used to have in his possession, death and hell. You see. Isaiah teaches us that when Satan was in power over the world, and before the cross of Christ, he would imprison people's souls, had absolutely no mercy on them, and wouldn't release them. However, when Jesus came and descended into hell, He stripped Satan of the authority that he had gained over mankind when Adam sinned in the garden. When Jesus departed from hell, He led captivity captive and took souls with Him from the holding cell. Satan's authority was stripped by the CROSS.
Preachers love to share the gospel and teach on the work of the cross of Christ. Jesus taught His disciples that they also must take up their cross (die daily), deny self, and follow His example in order to both have and enjoy the new life that has been given to us freely. He has, indeed, set us free from sin and the power of sin through His cross, but now we must be willing to live the new life of faith by carrying our cross and crucifying the self or old nature daily. Once again, Jesus broke the power of sin off of those who believe in Him, but Satan can regain that ground if we choose not to die to self. However, if we choose to die to self and obey God's will, sin can't touch us because the door of self has been shut and sealed.
Paul addresses an issue that he discovered in the church at Rome, and it is still being dealt with in churches today. Christians are professing to be born again, but using grace as a cloak (or excuse) for continuing in sin. Paul, in a loving, but sharp rebuke, explains to them, and us, that as many as are in Christ have now died to the power of sin. If this is true, and we all know that it is, then why do Christians still struggle with sin? It's not that you and I struggle with sin; it is that we still have the old nature (self) that tries to bring us back into bondage to the power of sin.
It is for this reason that Jesus teaches us to take up our own cross and deny self. When we say that we love Christ, but refuse to obey Him, we give place to the old nature to drive us back into sin. Paul tells us in Romans 8 that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but obey the Holy Spirit. When the church at Galatia decided to stop obeying the truth and wanted to go back under the Law, Paul told them that they had fallen from grace and were back under the curse of the Law because they weren't living by faith.
If as a Christian, or a new convert, you find it too hard to obey Christ and die to the old pleasures of sin, then you will never become strong enough to crucify the lusts of your flesh; eventually, those unrestrained or un-crucified lusts will drive you to commit sin in your heart against God. If you believe that can never happen, then I invite you to visit a jail or prison sometime and ask the inmates how many of them committed their crimes "after" they were saved. The truth is very clear, even though we're saved, we still have to love Christ enough to hang self upon our own cross and die to the old lusts and thoughts of our old man. As Paul taught us in Ephesians 4, we must then put on the new man who was created in true righteousness and holiness in Christ Jesus.
Even though we're free through the cross of Jesus, Satan tempts us with lustful desires to indulge in the old man so that he might entrap us in sin once again. We don't have to fall prey to his deceptive lies or strategies, if we will simply love Jesus more than life itself. After all, He is the One who gave us eternal life, freely.
Enjoying the New Life Hanging Out on the Cross,
Pastor Asa Dockery