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Lesson 5: Growing in Christ *

Introduction: Last week we learned the heart of the gospel: salvation is by free grace alone, there is nothing we can do to earn it. Our studies for this week and the next two are about how those who are saved should live. Have you ever been embarrassed by a member of your "group?" It might be your family, your church, your organization, or, perhaps, a Christian leader. Someone did something that brought shame. Since a battle rages between good and evil, and those saved by grace have chosen the side of good, shouldn't we do everything we can to aid good, to repay love with love, and not harm the name of Jesus? Let's plunge into our Bible and see what it teaches us about how those confident of their salvation should live!

  1. Death to Sin

    1. Read Romans 6:8. How did we "die with Christ?" (Read Romans 6:1-3. That is one of the amazing things about grace. The penalty for sin is death. The Bible says that when we are baptized, we participate in Jesus' death on our behalf. Our debt is paid!)

    2. Read Romans 6:4-7. What is our relationship with sin after baptism? (Our old self died, therefore we have been "freed from sin.")

      1. Does it feel that way? (I struggle with sin. If you say you don't struggle with sin, you likely struggle with honesty.)

      2. When Paul writes that we are "freed from sin," how has our relationship to sin changed? (I think he means we are freed from being forced to choose sin. Sin is no longer our involuntary master.)

  2. The Choice

    1. Read Romans 6:8-10. Pay close attention here. If we died with Christ, does that mean in some supernatural way I have died to sin, even though it still seems to plague me?

    2. Read Romans 6:11. If we died to sin in baptism, why is Paul asking us to "count yourself dead to sin?" (I think Paul is making a common sense argument, not a supernatural argument. He says salvation was won for you by Jesus. In baptism you participated in Jesus' death on your behalf. Now live like you are dead to sin.)

    3. Read Romans 6:12. If something supernatural happened to me to kill my old sinful self, why is the Bible telling me not to let sin reign in my body? (This shows living a holy life is a choice. Paul asks us to choose to reject sin.)

      1. Whose evil desires are we discussing? (Sin in my "mortal body" has evil desires. This text brings great light. The post-baptism person, whose old self was crucified, has evil desires! Now we are talking about something that accords with my experience in life.)

      2. Notice a very important word, "reign." What is Paul saying about the nature of sin in our life when he says, "do not let sin reign in your mortal body?" What is he not saying about sin?(He is not saying "No molecule of sin can exist in your life." No, he says, "Don't let sin be in charge of your life!" If you find yourself (a person certain of salvation) wrestling with sin, welcome to the journey to holiness!)

    4. Read Romans 6:13. How should we contend with sin? (Choices. Choose God, not sin. Use your body to do what pleases God, don't use your body to do what is wicked.)

    5. Read Romans 6:14. Is the outcome in question? (As long as you are saved by grace, you know sin cannot be your master. You might wonder at times, but the outcome is clear. Paul says "Live like someone assured of salvation." Notice again the concern is sin being your master, reigning over you, as opposed to the ordinary struggle with sin.)

    6. Read Romans 6:15. Why does Paul add this question here? (People say the same thing today that they said thousands of years ago, "If I'm saved by free grace, and there is nothing I can do to earn salvation, then I might as well sin!" Or, if you are a critic of grace, you say, "Free grace means it doesn't matter what you do!")

    7. Read Romans 6:16-18. Why does sin still matter to those confident of their salvation? (We have made a choice. We have chosen God has our Master. God has freed us from the penalty for our sins. Therefore we need to be loving and loyal to our Commander.)

  3. The Big Picture

    1. Think about your favorite (or most troublesome) sin. Got it in mind? How does it impact others? Does that impact on others reflect love or selfishness on your part? Do your actions advance or hinder the Kingdom of God?

      1. Do you spend much time thinking about how your sins (or contemplated sins) harm others?

    2. Read Ephesians 6:10-13. What is the nature of the conflict over sin? (It is God versus "the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.")

      1. How are we a part of this conflict? (The counsel to put on "the full armor" sounds like we are warriors. We are soldiers.)

      2. What is the source of our power? (God.)

      3. Who is not the enemy? (Not other sinners.)

      4. What kind of fight is this? How can we fight Satan and demons?

    3. Skim Ephesians 6:14-18. What do these articles of war have in common? (With the exception of the sword, they are all purely defensive weapons.)

      1. What does this suggest about the nature of our battle? (You are the battle ground! Your life is the battle ground.)

      2. If your life is the battle ground, does it make sense that how you act is important?

    4. Read 1 John 3:1-3. How do children feel about normal, loving parents? (They stand together as a family against the world.)

      1. What happens if someone attacks a member of your family? (Your natural reaction is to defend the family member.)

    5. Read 1 John 3:4-5. How does our understanding of the family guide our thoughts about sin? (God is in a battle against sin. As part of His family we are part of this battle. Jesus died to save us from sin. If we look at the "big picture," rather than focusing on the temporary excitement of our sin issues, we will realize how important it is to take a stand against sin in our life.)

      1. How does this "family" analogy fit with the armor analogy in Ephesians 6? (It fits perfectly. We are saved by grace, but we are in a fight to preserve the integrity of our "family" (God and fellow Christians). We avoid bringing shame on the family. We help other members of the family.)

    6. Re-read 1 John 3:4-7 and then read Romans 7:14-18. How can you reconcile the apparent contradiction between John and Paul? (I think Paul is arguing the "little picture," meaning, "What does the sin in my life mean?" He answers, it means you are human. John, on the other hand, is arguing the "big picture." If we are part of the "God family," if our family is in a world-wide fight against evil, then we will want to avoid sin and evil in our life. Lawyers have a phrase that illustrates John's point, "How can you ride with the cops and cheer for the robbers?")

    7. Read 1 John 3:8-10, Romans 8:1-4 and Romans 8:9-11. We see here that the apparent gap between John and Paul has narrowed. This is where the big picture and the little picture come into the same frame. How does this help us to better understand grace? (We are saved by grace alone. The decision to accept Jesus is a decision to choose to live in accord with the Holy Spirit and not in accord with our sinful nature. Our goal must be holiness - and we must be serious about our goal.)

    8. Read Colossians 2:13-17. What does this suggest about the nature of sin? (In our goal for holiness, we need to realize that sin focuses on our relationship to Jesus. This is an issue we will continue to explore.)

    9. Friend, do you care about the sin in your life? Has salvation by grace alone made you sloppy when it comes to obeying God's will? Why not decide today to make holiness your goal?

  4. Next week: Victory Over Evil Forces.
* Copr. 2012, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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