Is anybody else here to celebrate a victory today? To give thanks to our all powerful God for the blessing of our salvation, our life, our inheritance!
I read a book several years ago that several of you have read and it was by a Pastor just up the highway in Grand Rapids. His name is Rob Bell and the book is “Velvet Elvis”. He does a great job in the book of taking things that are said and done by Christians and placing them in a new light.
One of the things he talks about is a lunch he has with a man who he is trying to help out. As the man explains his situation that man just keeps saying, “Well, I’m just a sinner”, “I’m just a sinner””, and on and on. He tells us that as he listened he keeps getting more and more discouraged.
Is this what being saved is all about? Is this Victory in Jesus? Is this what Jesus died for… So you can be a “just a sinner”. As I read his comments I was reminded of a bumper sticker. For those of us who have lived our life outside the faith and found victory in it there is a bumper sticker that is beloved by many Christians but aggravating to us.
Bumper Stiker: “I’m not perfect, I’m just forgiven”
While I get the sentiment of that statement I want you to grasp what it says to people who are outside the faith. Basically it says that we can do whatever we want and be forgiven, but they are just doomed to eternal Hell. We have a “Get out of Hell free card”.
You see, what this man was saying at lunch and what this bumper sticker is saying is that our life in Jesus Christ is only different from a life without Jesus because of that “Get out of Hell free card”.
So when we accepted Christ into our lives we didn’t really change. It is just that now he owes us Heaven. Nothing really changed. We’re just rotten sinners… we can’t help it. Does that attitude ring of victory or of defeat? When coming from that position in your life, are you more likely to fight through a problem or to let things happen to you? Are you the winner or the victim?
You see here is the issue. As Christians we live in a world of victims.
· “I can’t succeed because I was born in this neighborhood”
· “I’m abusive to the people around me because I was abused as a child.”
· “I have got to get a buzz to ease the pain of my life. You don’t know what I’ve gone through.”
· “I couldn’t make it through school because I have a short attention span. I just can’t concentrate.”
· “My husband doesn’t meet my needs. I found what I needed in my friend at work.”
But doesn’t the Bible say we are all sinners? Yes, the Bible says “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
In fact Paul gave us lots of ammunition here in Roman 3. He is quoting from a list of Psalms:
· “There is no one righteous, not even one;
· There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.
· All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
· “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.”
· “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
· “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
· “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.”
· “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Are encouraged yet? What is he talking about?
He is telling them that we will never be righteous by following the law. We tried it. We cannot pull it off. Adam and Eve tried it and we have been trying ever since. If we try to follow rules without God’s help in our lives then we will never succeed.
But here’s the thing; if we take our sinful nature as an excuse to victimize ourselves, then we are destroying the greatest gift ever given. You see, if we have accepted this gift of Jesus’ rescue then we have been made a Child of the living God.
We have been bought at a high price. The blood of Jesus Christ was shed for our rescue from sin. But blood alone is not the point. The point is that we have been given victory over being just a “rotten sinner”. We are not the defeated and incapable children of Satan who are forgiven by a god who is looking to defeat us. We are not a groveling animals allowed to come into his presents like some muddy dog whose owner has finally gotten him clean enough to lay on some piece of carpet in the back room. When you accept the Kingship of Jesus Christ into your life you have now been adopted into the family of God. You became a child of God!
Don’t want to just hear me say it? Hear the scripture.
John 1:12-13 “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
Luke 8:54 Jesus says “My Child”
Romans 8:17 “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
Romans 9 “…not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise”
Galatians 3:7 ”Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham”
Galatians 4:4-7 “ God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”
Eph 4-5 “Children of the light”
Phillip 2:15 “…blameless and pure, children of God…” “shine like stars”
1 John 3:1 “Children of God”
1 John 4:4 “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
Luke 20:35-37 “But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead … they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children”
John 10:34 “Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’?” (Psalm 82:6)
Does that sound like defeat? Do you recognize what has just been said?
You are a Child of God! You are A Prince, A Princess, A Brother, A Friend of Jesus Christ! You are a member of the family, you can sit on the couch, you can walk in the room with your head held high, and you can make eye contact.
You can dance if you want to. You can leave this world behind…. J
Does that smell like defeat to you? Is that the story of a poor sinner or the battle cry of victory? God’s plan was not for you to accept that you stink. God’s final plan was for you to walk into the throne room and agree to be his child.
“Cool… So I accept Jesus and I can now I can just do whatever I like and Jesus will pick up the tab. I’m not perfect, but I am forgiven.”
No, No, No, No, No!
That my friend is “Snatching defeat from the hands of victory”
Listen to Paul’s letter to the Romans and tell me if you think he saw that bumper sticker coming. Maybe someone showed up at one of his meetings with that sticker on his donkey.
This is from a modern paraphrase called “The Message”
1-3So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!
3-5That’s what baptism into the life of Jesus means. When we are lowered into the water, it is like the burial of Jesus; when we are raised up out of the water, it is like the resurrection of Jesus. Each of us is raised into a light-filled world by our Father so that we can see where we’re going in our new grace-sovereign country.
6-11Could it be any clearer? Our old way of life was nailed to the cross with Christ, a decisive end to that sin-miserable life—no longer at sin’s every beck and call! What we believe is this: If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end. Never again will death have the last word. When Jesus died, he took sin down with him, but alive he brings God down to us. From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.
12-14That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.
He is saying that the answer to the problem is not to make a big elaborate plan and a list of resolutions. The answer is to die to yourself and be resurrected in the life of Christ. Obviously not to literally die in the flesh, but to put away that part of you that wants to do wrong. Become free of the old master.
I never sin… Wrong
I’m a dirty rotten sinner, I can’t help it… Wrong
You can be a child of God and have His desires in your heart.
John 1:12-13 “…to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”
You can have victory over sin as a way of life. You can be free… Take off the weight of sin.
The key is not in you… The key is in your acceptance of the gift of Jesus Christ. The question isn’t whether you can be perfect, the question is whether you can accept the perfect plan of God in your life. The question isn’t whether you are just a sinner. The question is whether you take along with you the motivations and the mission of Jesus Christ.
Have you accepted Jesus Christ as the guide in your life?
Have you kept Him there?
You don’t have to live in defeat. You can share in Christ’s victory and live again as a Child of God.