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In a previous post, I identified the primary purpose of evangelism as the glory of God. However, to say that it is the primary or ultimate purpose is not to say that it is the only purpose. There are lots of reasons why Christians should be active in sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others. In this post, I want to focus my thoughts on how one goal of evangelism is the salvation of lost souls.

Evangelism seeks to save sinners from condemnation

Evangelism should never be a mere intellectual exercises. There is too much at stake. Those who have not believed the gospel, those who have not entrusted themselves to Christ, are perishing (John 3:18, 2 Corinthians 4:3). Everyone by nature is a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). We cannot miss this. Peoples souls are at stake. While we cannot force results, we should never the less desire to see people respond to the message in saving faith.

We cannot afford to miss the clear reality that evangelism is a rescue mission. However, we cannot thing of this rescue mission like those we have seen in the movies. What makes this rescue mission different is that the power to rescue lies not in the evangelist or in the person being evangelized, but in the message of the gospel itself. It is God who must use the gospel to open the eyes of the unbeliever (John 3:7; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Peter 1:23-25).

Evangelism seeks to save sinners from enslavement

However, in our contemporary understanding of man’s condition, it appears that man’s greatest problem is God’s wrath in the form or hell (i.e. eternal punishment). Yet this seems to miss the total implication of what it means to be under the wrath of God. Read Romans 1 for example. There we find that the “wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18). But what does it look like to be under the wrath of God? As we continue to read, we see that God gives these people over “to the lusts of their hearts” (Romans 1:24), “to dishonorable passions” (Romans 1:26), and “to a debased mind” (Romans 1:28). God’s wrath does not just have eternal consequences, but has a direct bearing on the present.

In fact, later in Romans we read about how apart from Christ we are slaves to sin (Romans 6:17-18). This means evangelism is not just about seeing people saved from God’s future wrath, but from sins present enslavement. Realizing this will help guard us from trying to sell the gospel as “fire insurance,” because it will help us convey the entirety of the sinners need. They need to be saved not just from hell, but from the sin that currently enslaves them.  A message that calls for liberation from hell without liberation from the enslavement of sin is like calling for and end to the death penalty, but leaving the person in prison. They are still condemned, but the punishment is not as harsh.

Evangelism seeks to save sinners from being estrangement

Now lets take the previous point a little further. What is the ultimate cost of sin? Is it merely that we as sentenced to condemnation in hell? Does it included being enslaved by it? The answer to these questions comes back to what we establish as the greatest good. If a life free from punishment and free from sin is ultimately the goal, then their is no greater cost, but what if those things existed without God? I believe if we think rightly about these things we will realize the greatest consequence of sin is not eternal punishment or present enslavement to sin, but the breach it causes in our relationship to God.

But the great news of the gospel is that it resolves this problem as well. “Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12-13). This I believe is the greatest blessing of the gospel…it brings us to God (1 Peter 3:18) and makes us His adopted children (Ephesians 1:5; 1 John 3:1).

So when we are telling others of the good news of Jesus Christ, let us not loose sight of the fact that it is for their good. We want to see them reconciled to God, so that they are no longer under condemnation, are freed from the enslavement of sin, and are brought back into a proper relationship with their creator.

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“While others have their fellowship with Satan and their lusts, making provision for them, and recieving pershing refreshments from them (“whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” [Phil. 3:19]), they (the saints) have this sweet communion with the Father. … Further; this will discover a main difference between the saints and empty professors.As to the performance of duties, and so the enjoyment of outward privileges, fruitless professors often walk hand in hand with them; but now come to their secret retirements, and what a difference is there! There the saints hold communion with God: hypocrites, for the most part, with the world and their lusts – with them they converse and communicate; they hearken what they will say to them, and make provision for them, when the saints are sweetly wrapped up in the bosom of their Father’s love.” (Communion with the Triune God, 130-131)

This quote by Owen was a great reminder that a man is never more than he is in private. I appreciate his description of the person who is conversing with his lusts, giving consideration and discussing with them how he might make opportunity to enjoy them. It reminds me that sin is seldom stumbled into, but is often the result of having not guarded his heart and allowed himself to be put in a situation where temptation is likely to occur.

It is a great reminder also to see sin as sin, and the pleasure of sin as “perishing refreshment”. At to remember that true pleasure and lasting refreshment are found in God. “In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Ps. 16:11b, emphasis added) 

“By nature, since the entrance of sin, no man has any communion with God. He is light, we darkness; and what communion has light with darkness [2 Cor. 6:14]? He is life, we are dead – he is love, and we are enmity; and what agreement can there be between us? Men in such a condition have neither Christ, nor hope, nor God in the world (Eph. 2:12), “being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them” (Eph. 4:18). Now two cannot walk together unless they be agreed (Amos 3:3). While there is this distance between God and man, there is no walking together for them in any fellowship or communion. Our first interest in God was so lost by sin, as that there was left unto us (in ourselves) no possibility of recovery. As we had deprived ourselves of all power for a return, so God had not revealed any way of access unto himself, or that he could, under any consideration, be approached unto by sinners in peace. Not any work that God had made, not any attribute that he had revealed, could give the least light into such a dispensation.” (Communion with the Triune God, 90)

Here Owen reflects on the condition of man apart from the person and work of Jesus Christ. He reminds us that there was nothing good in man, and that it was on account of nothing that man did that the fellowship between God and man could be restored. Even more, Owen hints at the reality that the God’s work in creation and revelation of His attributes through it did not suffice to shed any light on the means of God’s restoring man to fellowship with Himself, but light of the gospel is shed through the gospel: God’s work of redemption in the person of Jesus Christ.

For the last year or so I have been slowly working my way through the book of Romans. It has been at times one of the most humbling studies, while at others the most encouraging and up lifting. Let me share some of the hightlights of my last year of study.

  1. Foolishness. For a long time I attributed the foolishness of sin to the harmful effects that it has, such as hurting ourselves or others, but ultimately offending God. After considering Romans 1:22-23, I would suggest that the foolishness of sin does not stem from the consequences of sin, but rather from the surpassing value that we forsake in the act of sinning. “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man …” Notice that folly is connected with the exchange of the glory of God for something else. A series contemplation of sin should lead us to realize the vanity, not to mention the offense, of it. We exchange the worship of insurpassible worth of God for the worship of worthless things – or rather things that must derive their worth from the God. We exchange the eternal enjoyment of God for the fleeting pleasure of sin. We exchange Him who is of infinitely good for the partaking of that which is infinitely destructive. No matter how you cut the cake we are fools for having abandonded the God who created us for the creation.
  2. Fear of God. While this shouldn’t have really seemed to be such a profound topic, I am some what slow to catch on sometimes. When on considers what the fundamental root of all sin is most people would say pride, the exultation of self, which seems like a fair assessment. But let me suggest we look at it from a different perspective – that the root of sin is ultimately the lack of fear (or reverence) for God. “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (3:18) Now if we see God rightly, I think it would total change our perspective on everything. If we saw how holy and righteous and just God is would we not come to hate our sinfulness and rebellion against Him. If we saw how patient and kind and tolerate and gracious and merciful He is toward us would it not lead us to repentance (2:4) and to strive more diligently after personal holiness and devotion to God. If we saw how powerful and wise and good He was would we question His providential workings in our lifes or would we praise Him even in the days of trials and suffering. The way then to deal with sin is to behold more clearly the character of God.
  3. Soveriegnty of God and Justice. By far one of the most humbling passages to study was Romans 9 as Paul lays out the sovereignty of God is salvation. “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” (9:16) It is an extraordanary thing to consider that ones eternal destiny is not in ones own hands. Or rather that if left to my own will or running that results would be eternal condemnation and God would be right and just and fair in carrying out my sentence. But yet what great encouragement it is to think that my eternal well fair is the hands of an ever faithful and loving God.
  4. Great Mercy and Great Love. Let me end with this last consideration, over the last year as I have contemplated the love of God particularly in light of Romans 5:1-11 and 8:28-39, I have been utterly amazed that God’s would show such love and compassion, such mercy and grace, toward one such as I. As I have contemplated this amazing reality even today, I am yet aware that I have only begun to scratch the surface of the “depths of both the wisdom and the knowledge of God.” It is my hope and prayer even for the years ahead that I would be more amazed at who Jesus Christ IS that would cause Him to do what He DID, so I may tell others about this great God and Savior.
  5. Christ and the Cross. Ok, I lied, I am compeled to add one more. I have come to realize that the glory of God is not simply found in the Cross (i.e. what Jesus did), but also in the Character of the One who hung upon it (i.e who Jesus is). Without Christ, the God-Man, the Cross is simply and instrument of dead. For it was the very nature of the One who hung on Calvary that gave the cross its meaning. It is Christ who turns a simply blood stained piece of wood into a vibrant demonstration of the glory of God. And without the Cross, we would never have seen the vibrancy and beauty of the glorious God in the person of Christ. For it was by means of the Cross that Christ manifest the glory of the Father in such a way to us that we might come again to fear and adore the one who we had foolishly forsaken. So Christians let us seek to stir one another up not only to love and good deeds, but to the beholding of the glory of God in the Person of Christ and in the Cross of Christ.

I started reading The Legacy of Sovereign Joy by John Piper last week, and I have been greatly impressed by the perspective on grace that he draws forth from the life of St. Augustine. For those unfamiliar with the life of Augustine, prior to his conversion at the age of 32 he lived a life of fornication living for a long time with a woman who was not his wife. Yet later when reflecting on his conversion he wrote,

During all those years, where was my free will? What was the hidden, secret place from which it was summoned in a moment, so that I might bend my neck to your easy yoke?…How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which  I had once feared to lose! …You drove them from me, you who are the true sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh  and blood, you who outshine all light, yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts, you who surpass all honor, though not in the eyes of men who see all honor in themselves…” (pg. 57)

What a phenomenal perspective on the depravity of the human heart and the nature of our sinfulness! To see that we are enslaved to our sins not because we are simply ignorant of right and wrong, but because we love them. We sin because we find joy and pleasure in them. That is the way sin has been since the beginning to seek to find delight, joy, or pleasure outside of God and his will. Consider the tree of knowledge of good and evil in Gen 2-3. God tells Adam not to eat it because it will kill him, “for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Gen. 2:17). I can’t image that Adam look at that fruit and said, “Now I think I might enjoy it. After all death sounds like a lot of fun.” Lets be honest Adam would would have likely look on that fruit as being dangerous.

Yet in the very next chapter we find that the serpent has convince Eve that God’s assessment of the fruit or more particularly the consequences of eating it are mistaken. The fruit is not dangerous. It will not really kill them, but rather will make them more like God; it will enhance their enjoyment of the world around them. And all of a sudden, Eve’s assessment of the situation is totally backward. Instead of seeing it as dangerous and bring about death, she sees it as “good”, a “delight” and “desirable.” That is exactly how we see our sin. We see because we think it is good. We find delight in it. We take pleasure in it. We love it.

We need to have not only our concept of right and wrong corrected, more importantly, we need to have the object of our delight correct. We were not created to find delight in the creation, but rather the Creator. There is only One who is truly good and worthy to be desired and that is God, who has revealed Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Thus the way to truly deal with the sin in our lives is to teach ourselves the truth about sin and about God. We must seek to be convinced that the beauty and the majesty of the creator far surpasses than beauty in the creation. We must come to delight ourselves in God; otherwise, we will continue to delight ourselves in our sin.  And in order for us to find God worthy of our enjoyment God must first shine the light of the gospel into our hearts through his Spirit (2 Cor. 4:4-6). Let me finish we these words from Augustine:

A man’s free-will, indeed, avails for nothing except to sin, if he knows not the way of truth; and even after his duty and his proper aim shall begin to become known to him, unless he also take delight in and feel a love for it, he neither does his duty, nor sets about it, nor lives rightly. Now, in order that such a course may engage our affections, God’s “love is shed abroad in our hearts” not through the free-will which arises from ourselves, but “through the Holy Ghost, which is given to us.” (Romans 5:5). (pg. 60)

When I was in college, I was often told that if the professor ever says something 3 times you know it has to be important. I don’t know why three was the magic number, but it is true when people want to make sure that we know certain thinks they are sure to repeat the information several of times to be sure that no one misses it. In both the apostles Peter and James are sure to remind their readers that “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Jam. 4:6, 1 Pet. 5:5).

What I find more amazing is that both writers see humility as having a specific point of reference. Some people are humbled by being in the presence of some important individual. Others are humbled because of some circumstance in their lives, such as a natural disaster. Others are humbled by their own poor performance in various areas of their lives. But James and Peter both have a very different type of humility in mind – humility with respect to God.

James tells his readers “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord”, while Peter tells his, “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.” As I have pondered these verse the last week, especially James 4:6, I found myself thinking about the nature of the One in whose presence we to be humble, Jesus Christ.

  1. He upholds everything in the world (Heb. 1:2)
  2. He made all things (Heb. 1:2, Col. 1:16)
  3. He is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15)
  4. He had all authority on heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18)
  5. He is the lawgiver and judge (Jam. 4:12)
  6. He is the Lord of lords and King of kings (Rev. 19:17)
  7. He has the ability to save and destroy (Jam. 4:12)
  8. He can give life to the dead and call into being that which does not exist (Rom. 4:17)
  9. He is a consuming fire (Heb. 12:29)
  10. He is compassionate and gracious (Ex. 34:6)
  11. He is gentle and humble in heart (Matt. 11:29)
  12. He is the lamb who was slain (Rev. 5:12) 
  13. He is a jealous God (Ex. 20:5)
  14. He is the just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Him (Rom. 3:26)
  15. He is Holy, Holy, Holy. (Isa. 6)
  16. He is perfect (Matt.
  17. He loves righteousness and hates wickedness (Ps. 45:7)
  18. He loves his enemies (Rom. 5:8)
  19. He shows kindness, tolerance, and patience to all men (Rom. 2:4)
  20. He desires men to repent and live (2 Pet. 3:9, Ezek. 33:11)
  21. He is the sovereign God.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the character of the one before whom we should be humbled. I have become more and more aware as I have studied God’s Word that in the end the only reason anyone will not be saved is because they refuse to humble themselves before the Lord Jesus Christ.

“As I live!” declares the Lord God, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back, from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?”

Would not Israel have been saved if they had turned back? Would God not have shown them compassion and grace if they had forsaken their wicked ways and returned to Him? But alas it seems most people are too interested in their wicked ways to humble themselves under the mighty hand of Him with whom they will have to do. We must all stop to ask ourselves, “Are the fleeting pleasures of sin really worth it?”, “Is a moments enjoyment worthy and eternity of suffering?”

“Turn back, turn back, from your wicked ways! Why will you die, O sinner?” – Come to Christ for He has satisfied the wrath of God that your wickedness rightly deserves. No matter how wicked a sinner you may be, He has grace enough for you. No matter how unrighteous you may be, Christ’s righteousness is enough. You have nothing to offer the King, worry not, there is no charge…it is free. “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost.” (Isa. 55:1)

I have been reading The Soul’s Preparation for Christ by Thomas Hooker over the last few months. Which has really turned out to be a treatise on conviction of sin and what makes truly godly sorrow different from worldly sorrow.  Hooker asserts that most Christians in his day (and in ours as well) do not really sorrow for their sins.

“Now if all be true that I have said, there are but few sorrowers for sin, therefore few saved; here we see the ground and reason why many fly off from godliness and Christianity: this is the cause; their souls were only troubled with a little hellish sorrow, but theirs hearts were never kindly grieved for their sins. If a man’s arm be broken and disjointed a little, it may grow together again; but if it be quite broken off, it cannot grow together; so the terror o the law affrighted his conscience, and a powerful minister unjointed his soul, and the judgments of God were rending of him; but he was never cut off altogether; and therefore he returns as vile, and as base, if not worse than before, and he grows firmly to his corruptions.” (Hooker, 150)

What a great picture of the state of so many today! They have a knowledge of their sin and in one way or another are seeking a doctor to heal it. Alas, many even flee to Christ that He might mend their wound. I say, ‘Alas,’ because I fear that many are seeking to have the wrong wound mended. They are merely seeking to have all their bones set aright, so that they may continue in their previous course of life. They are not those who have realized that what they really need is an amputation.

Let me present to illustrations of what I have in mind. The first is taken from the TV show 24. In the process of keeping a dangerous chemical bomb from getting out in the open it became necessary for one of the agents, Chase, to cuff it to his wrist. The problem was that once the device was attached there was no way to remove it. This left him and his partner with really only two choices: either they leave Chase to die when the device denonated or they severe Chase’s hand from his arm in order to remove it. Now they obviously chose the latter, it was a much better option to lose his hand than to lose his life. So to we must come to see that the only way to be saved is to allow God to sever us from the sin that is cuffed to our souls.

The second example is this. Suppose a man who was driving his car. As he was passing through an intersection he collides with another car, which he did not see. Unfortunately, this man was not wearing his seat belt and so his injures were rather severe. Now with the help of his doctors and time the man healed. Because of the accident he recognized his need to wear a seat belt, so he resolved to wear one from then on. However, the very next time he decided to go for a drive, he ended up in another accident. Fortunately for him the injuries were not as severe, but still required medical attention. You see what he and the doctors had missed was his original injuries were not ultimate the result of not having on a seat belt, but the fact that he was almost blind.

Unfortunately, many people find themselves in a similar position spiritually. They do something that cause them to realize the danger of sin and so they decide they need a safety net, so they start going to church or doing other “religious” things. Yet it is only a matter of time and they find themselves right back where they started, because they have never dealt with the real problem, which is the sin that is still dwelling in them.

So for those of you that do not see the depths of vileness of your own hearts, I would encourage you to look closer to ask God to show you the true nature of your own heart. For those of you that have already seen much of the filthiness that lies within you, seek the help of the Great Physician in removing it from your life. You see it is not eternal punishment that keeps God at odds with us, it is the sin that resides in us. If we should like to see more of Him, then we must put to death the sin that remains. More of God requires less of sin. Just look at heaven there we will know God most fully and there will be NO sin in His presence.

In Romans 5, Paul shows how in one man, Adam, all were condemned, while in One Man, Christ, all are justified. In the concluding verse of this chapter we read, “as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” I have found this distinction between a reign of sin and a reign of grace more and more intriguing as I have been studying the the fact that the gospel is by grace alone this last week. It seems that all men fall into one of two camps they are either being ruled by sin or they are being ruled by grace (Rom. 3:9ff, Rom 5:12-14). In this thread, I want to take a moment and highlight some of the main characteristics of the reign of sin that came to my mind.

  1. Sin sets self as sovereign. Having rejected the rule of God, men seek to establish themselves as sovereign. “In those days there was no king in
    Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judg 17:6, cf. Deut. 18:8, Prov. 21:2)
  2. Sin loves foolishness. Having rejected the knowledge of God, men seek to establish guidance for their lives based on their own speculations about what could be or should be (Rom. 1:21, Rom. 3:10, Prov. 1:7). A quick read the book of Proverbs shows over and over again that fools love folly, and they despise wisdom.
  3. Sin pursues unrighteousness (self-righteousness). Without God or His wisdom to guide them, men are left to pursue a “righteousness” which is defined on their own terms, which is really not righteousness at all. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20).
  4. Sin follows paths of destruction and misery. Without God as the greatest enjoyment, they are always exploring looking for new things to satisfy them. In their pursuit of “happiness”, they are willing to use what ever means necessary, including deception and violence. (
    Rom. 3:13-16,
    Jam. 4:1-4)
  5. Sin never brings peace. Because they are always looking to expand their own rule and authority, they are always at war. They cannot have peace until all who stand in their way have succumbed to their own rule. (Rom. 3:17)
  6. Sin brings death. Since all the works of men are tainted by sin, they only serve to earn them death (Rom. 6:23). Therefore, to assert that a person must do works in order to obtain salvation is impossible because no one is capable of doing any good works unless they first are justified by faith (Rom. 5:1), “whatever is not from faith is sin.”

These things should all serve as a good heart check for all of us. Are we always looking for something more or something new? Do we find ourselves always restless? How do we approach life? How do we decide which path to take? How do we respond when we don’t get our way? If our approach to answering this questions, begins with ourself or worldly wisdom and proceeds to answer them or achieve some ends no matter the cost, then it is likely that our lives are being ruled by our own sinful hearts rather than by the grace of God.

I saw in the paper today that former Seinfeld co-star Michal Richards apparently made a series of racial comments during a comedy routine on Monday, because of some heckling from the audience. In his apology, Richards said, “I’m not a racist. That’s what’s so insane about this.”

Unfortunately, I have to disagree with his evaluation of his character. Jesus said in Matthew 15:18-19, “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.”  Racism and other evils are a result of the fall. They are a result of our sinful hearts.

I in means am writing this to condemn Richards in fact I kind of feel sorry for the man. You see he like most people is living in denial of the fact that the bad things we say are not an accident they are evidence of what is really in our hearts. But like most people Richards will apologize and go on his way and never deal with the heart of the matter.

As a Christian, this is a great reminder to me not to ignore the words I say, but to realize that they come from my heart. I can be thankful for situations in which I might become short or impatient or make a rude comment, because they allow me to identify sin in my heart that still needs to be put to death. It allows me to see my true colors.

It is the testing situations that we see if repentance has just been an outward change or an actual change of heart. Some of you may think it doesn’t really matter as long as something changes, but Jesus would have disagreed. He said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Mt. 23:17-28).

So let us not be like the hypocrites who seek an outward change, but let us be like David who desired true repentance when he said, “Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:9-10).

It was not to long ago that there was a major debate within evangelical circles over whether a person could have Christ as savior and not have Him as Lord. As I have studied the 6th chapter of Romans this last week, I realized that “Lordship” is really at the heart of the gospel.

In the closing chapter 5, Paul tells us “as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”  (Rom. 5:21). Paul has just informed us of one of the greatest contrasts in history. On one hand, you have sin and death entering into the world through the transgression of one man (Adam), and on the other you have righteousness entering into the world through one righteous act of one man (Christ). Paul wants us to understand that through Adam their came a “reign” of sin, while in Christ their has come a “reign” of grace.

In chapter 6, Paul then sets for this great truth that through Christ their comes a change in the reigning, or lording, influence in a persons life. Paul then develops how this change of “Lordship” takes place on both a theological level and a practical level.

Theologically: First Paul in 6:3-11 shows us that the change of ruling principal in a persons life comes from their union with Christ. Having been united with Christ, they have become shares in His death, so when Christ surrendered to the control of death, the believer did also. However, when Christ rose again in triumph over the reign of death, the believer arose to a new life with Him. To put it simply, the believer has been crucified with Christ and now Christ lives in them. (cf. Gal. 2:20)  As Paul explains later when a person becomes a believer they are not only freed from sin, but are also enslaved to righteousness. Sin is no longer the lord of their life, but God is.

Practically: Paul then devotes 6:12-21 to instruct the believer to act out this truth. They are to present their members as instruments of righteousness, rather than as instruments of evil. They are to act in such a way as will reflect this great truth. Sin is no longer the ruling principal in their lives. It does not tell them how to act or how to think or how to feel, but rather God becomes their sovereign and grace becomes their teacher. So Paul tells us in Titus,

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. (Titus 2:11-14)

It seems pretty clear to me that there really is a “Lordship” controversy going on the world today and it has everything to do with salvation. Those who are still under the reign of sin are also under the reign of death. Those whose lives are controlled by sinful desires are likely still in their sins and have not truly come to Christ despite any confession they may have made to the contrary.

But those who are truly united with Christ will show themselves to be no longer under the lordship of sin, but now under the lordship of God. The ruling principal in their hearts will be the grace of God, which was purchased at the cost of God’s only Beloved Son. And as the love of God is poured out in their hearts and the appreciation of this grace grows, they will be more and more conformed into the image of their Savior. And this change orignated in the heart, therefore, it cannot be produced by the will of man or human effort, but only by God effectually changing the heart of the man through His grace.