SERMON TITLE: Freedom through Resurrection
TEXT: Romans 6:5-11 (ESV)
SPEAKER: Josh Hanson
It’s great to be with all of you this weekend at Gateway Church. And one thing I want you to know is that God loves you and I love you too
Today we’re continuing our series in the book of Romans. A few weeks ago we finished chapter 5 and began our time in chapter 6 — where we noticed a shift in Paul’s focus. Paul — who wrote this letter — has shifted his focus from the idea of justification — our being declared righteous — no longer guilty — because of our faith in what Jesus has accomplished — Paul’s shifted from justification to the freedom given to those whom God has justified.
So let’s turn to our passage for today and discover more about this freedom.
ANNOUNCE THE TEXT
If you have your Bible please turn with me to Romans chapter 6. We’ll be looking at verses 5-11.
And, if you’re a guest with us, something we like to do at Gateway is let you ask questions that we answer on our weekly podcast. So if you have a question, you can text it in to the number printed on the bottom of the sermon notes sheet or you can submit it on the Gateway app.
RE-ANNOUNCE AND READ THE TEXT
Here are the words found in Romans 6. Beginning in verse 5.
“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:5-11 ESV)
We’re talking about freedom in this series and we’re seeing how freedom — true God given freedom — isn’t all that different than what our culture thinks about freedom. Now there are some differences between our culture’s definition of freedom and the Bible’s — which is to be expected. For example, last week we saw something that’s counterintuitive — how death leads to freedom — because it’s through Jesus’ death — that our freedom has been made possible. So — to be a Christian — is to be someone who’s now free from the penalty — and the reign and rule — of sin and death. Sin and death are no longer undefeated enemies for you. They’ve been defeated and God’s people are now free from their reign and rule. And one result — of all of this — is that death is no longer the end for us.
And in our text — for today — Paul stays on this theme of freedom — because — with death no longer being the end for the Christian — after death — comes resurrection. And just like we’ve been given freedom from death, God’s people are given freedom through resurrection. Our freedom comes through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Death leads to new life through resurrection.
Now — to talk about resurrection — is to talk about an idea that’s not widely accepted by many today. Many people don’t see a need for resurrection. Similar to what we’ve been talking about for the past few weeks, many people don’t see anything fundamentally wrong with humanity — they believe that we’re all basically good — and because we’re good there’s no real need for us to change — we’re all so swell just the way we are — so there’s no need for a new life — a better life — even eternal life. And if there’s no need for a new life, then there’s no need for a resurrection.
Now — and I’ve said this many times — in the beginning when God created humanity — he looked at his creation and said, “It’s good.” So we were originally created good — in fact — all of creation was declared to be good. And — and this is important — even our relationship with God and his creation — were good — in the beginning.
But there’s an event that happened that has — to say the least — messed things up. What happened? The fall. Because of Adam and Eve’s sin — death and destruction and disease and all sorts of bad things were introduced into our world. In fact, all of creation has been corrupted by the fall — from the farthest star in the universe to the smallest molecule — everything has been corrupted by sin. And this is why we not only experience things like hate and murder, but also experience things like cancer and hurricanes. Creation has been corrupted. And it’s groaning to be renewed — creation — if you listen closely — you’ll hear it longing to be remade — creation is groaning for a resurrection.
And this is why Jesus came into our world. He came not just to defeat Satan, sin, death, and Hell — which he did — he also came to reverse the effects of sin — both in humanity and in all of creation. And this reversal — which is taking place right now — all things being made new — this reversal was made possible because of Jesus’ death — as we saw last week — and it comes through his resurrection — which is what we’ll see today. So — for God’s people — not only have we participated in Jesus’ death — but through faith in him — we’ve also experienced a resurrection — a spiritual resurrection. We look forward to the day when we’ll experience a physical resurrection — along with all of creation — but for now — God’s people — through faith in Jesus — experience a spiritual resurrection. Through faith we’re raised to new life with Christ. And — like creation — we long for the union of our spiritual and physical resurrections.
Now — something interesting — is how this need for a resurrection — though not widely accepted — still finds its way into the language and thoughts of people in our country. For example — last month — Bernie Sanders was on the Joe Rogan Experience. Now put whatever you may think about Bernie’s politics to the side and listen to his response — when asked — “What’s the solution to the massive drug problem we have in the United States?” His answer may surprise you. And — no — I’m not going to do a Bernie Sanders impression — I sang last week — but no impressions — that’s where I draw the line.
He said, “Why is it that so many of our people are turning to drugs, to alcohol — I don’t mean a drink a night, but I mean serious alcohol problems — and tragically to suicide? We now have — for the last 3 years — something that is a-historical — something that has never happened before in modern history — and that is that our life expectancy is actually going down. And this is hitting all over the country but is especially hitting rural areas. And what the doctors are saying is that these are ‘diseases of despair.’” (“Joe Rogan Experience #1330 – Bernie Sanders,” youtube.com, August 6, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O-iLk1G_ng&t=3619s)
He then goes on to say that the reason for these ‘diseases of despair’ is that people have given up on hope. Then — of course — being a politician he goes on to give his ideas of what will give people hope — and then he says — about his ideas that he believes will give hope to people in our country — he says — “And people tell me all of this is utopian.”
Now this isn’t a Democrat vs Republican observation — so hear me out. His ideas — any politicians ideas — for that matter — are always about a better future — I mean — who’s going to vote for the politician whose campaign slogan is “The future — meh”?
So what’s my point? Even our politicians can’t help but talk about things in a way that’s utopian — they can’t help but speak the language — of what the Bible calls — resurrection.
Now many politicians — many Americans — for that matter — think we can create this utopian world by our own effort — but that’s not what we Christians believe.
We agree, people are in despair.
We agree that many are hopeless.
We can even agree on the result of all of these diseases of despair — death is winning.
And to all of this hopelessness — and darkness and despair — our Christian faith says, “There is reason to have hope because Jesus has promised a resurrected life to those who believe in him.” And this resurrected life isn’t just a “someday in the future” life — even though it includes our future life — that’s not all it is. It’s also our “right now in the present” life. And it’s only by living a resurrected life — now — that anyone — yourself included — will live — not in despair — but will live in freedom.
DEATH AND RESURRECTION
So let’s go back to verse 5 and learn more about this resurrection life. “For if we have been united with him in a death like his (Jesus’ death), we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Romans 6:5 ESV)
So Paul wants us to see the connection between our being united with Christ — in his death — and how this guarantees our being united with him in his resurrection. And he wants us to see the glorious hope that’s found in our union with Christ. Our being united to Christ. As I said — last week — our being stamped on Jesus’ Heavenly passport — sealed — his — forever. And this is what Paul’s trying to get us to see.
Our union with Christ is a reason to have hope. And he argues — that we have hope because we’re united to Christ — by using conditional statements — “if this is true — then this is also true.” This is how he builds his case for us to have hope — to not despair — he wants us to know — to believe — to live differently because of these truths about us — those who believe in Jesus — he wants us to have hope because we’re united to Christ in his death and in his resurrection.
So — before we go any further — what does all of this mean anyway — I mean — why should any of this matter to you? Well — for one thing — it means that there’s more to believing in Jesus than just believing in Jesus. Meaning, when you believe in Jesus you’re given freedom to live in a new way — a God honoring way — a resurrected way — an “according to what God has said in his Word” kind of way. And God’s people have a responsibility to live this “new life.” So you can say you believe in Jesus and it not have any affect on how you live — and that’s not the kind of believing that leads to freedom — not in this life — and not in the life to come.
So there’s more to believing in Jesus than that — than just waiting out this life until the eternal one begins. And this is because God’s people are not supposed to just sit on our hands while we wait for a future resurrection. Living the resurrected life isn’t just for “when you’re in Heaven some day.” For the Christian, living the resurrected life is for the here and now.
And I know this can be hard because that old self of yours — of mine to, by the way — but that old “you need to get back in the grave” dead, rebellious self — is still hanging around. Stinking up the place. And this — at times — can make it seem pointless to keep on trying to live for God — I mean — how many more times do I need to mess up to prove that I can’t do this?
And living this way can be hard because others are struggling with their old “stinking up the place self” right along with you. And sometimes their stank makes your life stinky.
So here’s what we need to remember. We live in an overlap — our old self is still stinking up the place — even though we’ve got a new resurrected self. But the lie we must resist — is that the old self is dominant — that it has the power — that it reigns and rules your life — that’s a lie. Your resurrected self is where the power’s found because your resurrected self is a gift given to you from the All Powerful — resurrected — Jesus. Don’t give your old sinful nature self too much credit. Give credit where credit’s due — to God’s resurrection power in your life.
Now this isn’t a perfect analogy — but it may be helpful. Think of your old sinful self like a peewee football team. A bunch of — I don’t know — 5 or 6 year olds playing football. And your new resurrected self is like a professional NFL team made up of the greatest players of all time in their prime. Now there’s no competition — right — if those kids play against a team made up of the greatest players of all time. Those kids would get crushed — defeated — every single play — every single down — every single second of every single game. That’s the power of your resurrected life against your old sinful self.
And this is true — as we saw last week — because of your faith in Jesus. When he died to sin — you died to sin right along with him. And just as sin — right now — has no power over Jesus — right now — sin no longer has power over you. It doesn’t rule your life anymore. Sin no longer reigns. You — if you’re a Christian — you don’t have to give in to sin. Christians love to debate about how much freedom we have in our choices — but we tend to focus the whole discussion about whether or not an unbeliever can choose to follow Jesus. How about we focus the discussion on when we — Christians — who’ve been set free from the power of sin — choose to sin anyway. Because every time you or I sin — it’s a choice — because we’re no longer slaves to sin.
And here’s why this is glorious — even though it can feel like a burden because of the weight of knowing how fickle we are in going back to drinking from the polluted water of sin when we’ve been set free to drink the pure — living water — of Christ. Here’s why this is glorious: If you’re united to Christ — yes you died to sin with him — but even more wonderful is the fact that you’ve experienced a resurrection with him too. Which means you’re now empowered to live out of this new life — this resurrected life — this life of living for righteousness that Jesus has made possible.
But we’re not done talking about our death in Christ yet.
CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST
For — in verse 6 — Paul writes, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7 ESV)
Now this truth — that we’ve been crucified with Christ — is marvelous — it’s a bit mysterious — it sounds a bit weird — but it’s something true about you — if you believe in Jesus. Your old — sinful — rebellious — against God self — was crucified with Christ. I’ve got that tatted on my arm as a reminder.
That person was nailed to Jesus’ cross.
That’s not who you are anymore.
That you — who was controlled by the power of sin — that old you — who was following in the footsteps of Adam — that old you — who lived for things that have caused you to have all kinds of regrets — was nailed to a tree.
So there’s a spiritual tombstone with the date of your death to sin on it.
And I keep talking about our death to sin over and over again because this is where the fight against sin — victory over sin — happens in our Christian walk. So often we don’t tap into the resources that Jesus has given to us and — instead — we walk around like we’re defeated when we’re the victors. This is why our being united to Christ is such an important part of our faith. Because it means — being united with him in his crucifixion — your old self — that sinful and rebellious — “I hate God” demeanor that was controlling you — has been terminated. Your sinful nature — which you were enslaved to — was drowned in the sea like Pharaoh and his army. The tyrant of a slave master you were forced to submit to has been defeated.
But let’s be real — though the power of sin is defeated — it’s lingering effects are still around — like I said earlier — “stinking up the place.” And this is because we’re living — as Christians — in the “in between times.” One author has said, “The church lives...in two times: It lives in the time of this passing world, that is in the midst of ongoing secular history and world events, the time of decay that flows down into the past and into the ashes of death, but also in the time of the risen Savior and of the new creation that is already a perfected reality in him.” (T.F. Torrance, Atonement: The Person and Work of Christ, ed. Robert T. Walker (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2009), 256.)
And this means we’re in a pretty strange situation.
For example — because of our faith in Christ — we’re seated in heaven with Christ right now — yet — here we are in Northwest Ohio.
Because we’ve been crucified with Christ — and have died to sin — we’re told that we are holy, spotless, and without blemish in God’s sight. Yet how many of us have — today — said, done, or thought things that were anything but holy?
And because we’ve died to sin — and have been raised to new life — we have God’s Spirit in us and can live in a way that pleases him. And yet — though dead to sin — we often bend our knee to it as we give in to temptation.
We live in the “in between times.” This time of tension and harmony. This time of war and peace. This time of already, but not yet. It’s like we’re on a train that’s pulling into our station, but we’re in the back of the train. The people up in the lead cars are pulling into the station, but our train car hasn’t arrived yet. We know we’re going to arrive — we know that others — who are ahead of us — have arrived — but we’re not there yet — to our final destination — and there’s this longing in us to arrive — because we want to go home.
Living in this “already, but not yet” — this “in between times” — is like a story told about some prisoners during World War II. Some “soldiers had bailed out of an airplane behind German lines and eventually were caught and put in a prison camp. Two of the soldiers — one named MacDonald — was put in the American barracks — and the other — a chaplain — was put with the British soldiers. Every day the two men would meet at the fence separating the two groups and exchange a greeting. But unknown to the guards, the Americans had a little homemade radio and were able to get news from the outside. And everyday, MacDonald would take some news to the fence and share it with the chaplain.
And then one day news came over that little radio that the German High Command had surrendered and the war was over. MacDonald took the news to his friend, then stood and watched as the chaplain disappeared into the British barracks. A moment later, there was a roar of celebration. Life in that camp was transformed. Men walked around singing and shouting, waving at the guards, even laughing at the dogs. And when the German guards finally heard the news — three nights later — they fled into the dark, leaving the gates unlocked. And the next morning, the British and Americans walked out as free men.” (Illustration from Rodney Buchanan, “The Second Coming of Christ and the Last Battle,” February 17, 2002, sermoncentral.com, https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/the-second-coming-of-christ-and-the-last-battle-rodney-buchanan-sermon-on-second-coming-43428)
OK. When were the soldiers free? Was it when they heard the news on the radio or when the Germans found out 3 days later? There was some “in between time” wasn’t there — time between the soldiers hearing the news — that the war was over — and for the victory to reach their camp.
So what does an old World War II story have to do with our faith? Well here’s the great thing about having a Bible — but more than having it — a great thing about reading it. The Bible is like our little radio with news updates from God. And what we see in the Bible is that — yes — we will face struggles in this world — yes — we’re told that this world is not our home and is a bit like a prison camp — but we’ve been told the outcome of the war. We know that we’re on the winning side — that good will triumph over evil — that truth will win out over lies — that love will conquer hate — that Jesus crushed the Serpent’s head once and for all on the cross — I’ve got that tatted on this arm as a reminder.
So there’s reason for us to be cheering in our camp even though it feels like we’re still under the guard of our enemy. This is one of the reasons why we gather for worship each weekend as God’s people — to rejoice — to celebrate — to laugh at the dogs — because our victory is secure. The enemy is defeated. And we rejoice because we know that our enemy will soon be gone forever and the gates of Hell cannot stop God’s church from finding her way home. The train is pulling into the station and we’re almost home.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer — while in prison — wrote: “A prison cell, in which one waits [and] hopes...is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened ‘from the outside.’” We can’t open the door to this prison cell of a world, but we wait expectantly for the Promised One to return — who will come and open the door for us. And that day will bring upon us the greatest freedom we’ve ever known — which we read about in verse 8.
FREEDOM THROUGH RESURRECTION
“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:8-11 ESV)
Here — once again — Paul argues that the reason for our hope — the reason why we Christians believe that we will spend eternity with Christ — the reason why we have confidence in our future resurrection — is because we’ve died with Christ. No death. No resurrection. This isn’t just true for us physically — this is true for us spiritually as well.
For just as death no longer has dominion — it has no power — over Jesus — his resurrection — the empty tomb — is his “winner’s trophy” over death — “Jesus 1 — Death 0” — is on the scoreboard.
And just as Jesus’ death was “once and for all” — by that Paul’s saying that Jesus’ resurrection signals the end of what Adam began — the reign of death and destruction because of his rebellion.
Therefore death and sin no longer have lordship over God’s people. Jesus has said, “Death, you no longer rule.”
And why can Jesus say this? Because he defeated death.
And when someone stronger comes around — well — they’re the new sheriff in town. And Jesus came and defeated death and has put the sheriff’s badge on his chest — or even better — he put the crown of the King of all kings back on his head.
And — for those of us who believe — Jesus is Lord — not sin — not death.
Jesus is King — not sin — not death.
And — having died with Jesus — we now live for him. We’re free from Satan, sin, death, and Hell and are free to live for Jesus — by the power of his resurrection.
We’re to live in freedom — through his resurrection. Or as Paul says, “Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
We’re to live the life of the age that is to come — we’re to live our eternal life — in the here and now.
Acknowledging — by the way you live and by the things you value — that you have a new King and Lord.
Showing — by the way you live and by the things you value — that sin and death have been kicked to the curb — and the One you now follow — the One you now live to please and honor and obey — is Jesus.
“But Josh — this is nice and all — hopefully — inspirational — but what does being alive to God — what does the resurrection life look like in the here and now?” Now the Bible is full of examples of what this life looks like, but here are some quick thoughts — some ways to live this resurrected life.
First, immerse yourself in who God is. Not in who you think he is. Not in who Hollywood or your favorite Youtuber says he is. Immerse yourself in the Bible and let God tell you who he is. And — I promise — you’ll discover a God who’s the definition of beauty — who’s the definition of goodness. You’ll encounter a God who has all power, and is all knowing, and is everywhere, and is wonderful, and just, and righteous, and holy, and full of never-ending love — among many other things. Immerse yourself in who God is. The gospel of John is a great place to start.
Second, forgive. We live in a world that holds grudges. We keep tabs on who’s hurt us, and who can and can’t be trusted — we even keep a list — even if it’s just in our heads — on who we want to pay back some day and — for some of us — it’s our spouse. But the only way you live the resurrected life is by — first — being forgiven. And those who’ve been forgiven — Jesus says — are to be those who forgive others. Who’s someone you need to forgive?
Third, obey the unpopular commands and virtues in the Bible. In our culture, there are parts of our Christian faith that’s appreciated. Sometimes it’s easy to think that people are completely against us — but that’s not always the case. Think about the biblical virtue of love — that’s a great example of something widely accepted by people who don’t follow Jesus. But there’s much about Christianity that goes against what our culture values. Submission and humility would be a couple of examples. But a resurrected life wants to live according to God’s standard and not simply meet the standards of our culture. What commands of the Bible should you be pursuing as a resurrected person? What biblical virtues do you need to begin practicing?
Finally, renew and use your mind. Someone has said that “we’re a culture that thinks with its feelings and hears with its eyes.” (I think this was Ravi Zacharias, but I’m not sure.) If someone wants to know how you’re doing they ask, “How are you feeling?” Now our feelings are important, but they aren’t everything. And this is why I’d encourage you to renew — and use — your mind. Read God’s Word. Study it. Memorize it. Meditate on it. Go see who God says you are — in Christ — and then start living according to who you are.
Have you experienced the freedom that comes through resurrection? Freedom by being united to Christ in his death and his resurrection? Freedom that comes from experiencing your old self having died and a new you having risen from the spiritual grave?
For it’s this new you — it’s by living a new life in the freedom that comes through resurrection — that we — God’s people — are to show this world — full of people who are suffering from “diseases of despair” — where hope is found. We’re to show them that salvation isn’t just about God saving us from eternal judgment — of course our salvation includes that — but our salvation is so much more than that. Our salvation is about resurrection. It’s about hope. It’s about death being defeated — it’s about a new way of living. A God-honoring, Christ-exalting, Spirit-empowered — I once was lost but now I’m found — and even better — I once was dead, but now I’m alive — kind of life of freedom. I’m going to pray for all of us — that this resurrection life is what we leave here living. Let’s pray.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the freedom that you’ve given to your people. Jesus thank you for making our freedom possible through your life, death, and resurrection. And Spirit, thank you for uniting us to Christ — through faith — so that we died to sin’s reign in his death — and we’ve been resurrected to live a new life in his resurrection.
Father, Son, and Spirit, this world is a prison for many. It’s a place of hopelessness. Of anxiety. Of regrets. Of broken relationships. Of heartaches. People are literally dying from “diseases of despair.” And they are desperate for someone to come an unlock the door to their prison.
Help us — your people — to show others that the One with the key has come and unlocked the door. That they no longer have to be trapped in the prison cell. That freedom is available to all who turn to Jesus in faith. Help us to be faithful in telling others about the freedom that comes through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s in his name that we pray. Amen.
BOWLING GREEN TEAM SEND OFF
If you’re part of the Bowling Green launch team, go ahead and make your way up front.
Usually at this time — we’ve got our worship team back on stage — but today’s a special day for us. Today is “sending day” for our Bowling Green campus launch team. For the past two weeks, they’ve been worshipping with us somewhat in secret. Making sure they’ve got the set up and tear down worked out. That the Kidway area is put together. That all of the things we take for granted in permanent buildings — well — that all of that stuff is taken care of in a place we’re renting for a few hours on Sunday mornings.
They’ve got some great stories already. Not having offering baskets their first weekend. My sermon video freezing. Blank stares from college students who have never heard of a Christmas Tea before. We’ve had some good laughs as Mike tells us the latest “well here’s something we learned” story.
But — they’re up front today — because we want to bless them as we send them out to represent us — but more importantly — as they go to represent Jesus and his Kingdom to the city of Bowling Green. And I want to remind all of us that — though these folks are going — the rest of us are sending. There’s no “doing nothing” when it comes to us starting a new campus. You either go — which is what they’re doing — or you send. So as they go, we’ve got work to do at our campuses because we’re sending out key servants from among us and will need you to step in and fill some big shoes.
There are 5 nursery volunteers up here.
2 cafe workers.
3 youth volunteers.
5 Kidway volunteers
4 worship team members — including two bass guitarists — hint hint — if you play bass — we could use your help. Drummers too.
There are security team volunteers, prayer team folks, people who count the offering, and some who help park cars.
And two of the families were part of the launch team that helped to start our North Main campus — and now they’re helping us launch our third campus.
And as we send them out — for those of us who are remaining — who will step into their shoes and serve our children, and be a friendly face to new folks, and lead us in worship, and invest in our youth. These folks — being sent — is an opportunity for you to step up and in to serve.
So here’s what we’re going to do. And I want everyone to participate — North Main folks — just yell it loudly — we’ll hear you over here. I’m going to bless you with a closing prayer — we do this every week. And — then — here at County Road 9 — I usually end the service by saying what? God loves you. I love you. You are sent. But instead of just me saying it this week. After I say amen. I want us to all say God loves you. I love you. You are sent to our Bowling Green team. OK?
And know that we’ll have prayer teams up front if you would like to be prayed for today. Especially if you desire to live in the freedom that Jesus has made possible.
May you go living in resurrection freedom — freedom that comes by being united to Christ. Amen.
God loves you. I love you. You are sent.