Grace versus Sin

Posted on 10/19/2014 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


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EVEN THE MOUNTAINS

We praise you Lord because you're worthy
You are Lord and King of the earth and sky
Let us lift you up and declare your glory
Let us lift our hands and our voices high

Even the mountains praise your name
the rocks and the stones cry Holy!
Whoever seeks for your face
will never be the same
Let your kingdom come
in Jesus' name

I'm an instrument, I am only a vessel
Help me open up to receive your love
Let us put to death thoughts of opposition
Let me step aside and point the world to above


MIGHTY IS OUR GOD

Mighty is our God
Mighty is our King
Mighty is our Lord
Ruler of everything

Glory to our God
Glory to our King
Glory to our Lord
Ruler of everything

His name is higher
Higher than any other name
His power is greater
For he has created everything


I LOVE YOU LORD

I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear


*** listen to the audio to hear the introduction ***


I'm glad to see that you came back. Last Sunday's message was very long, and unless you enjoy having your toes stepped on, it might not have been very fun.

We talked about "Our Favorite Sins," and saw that we all have as part of our lives thoughts, actions, and attitudes the Bible condemns. We excuse them in the Church culture and even try to make them look cute.

And while I was hoping to show a good balance between realizing they are sins, and sin should not be a practice for those who are born again, it is not self-condemnation that will free us from them, but developing a constant lifestyle of crucifying the flesh daily.

See the fruit, kill the root.

But I almost feel as though I just left things hanging. When we see those things, do we just say, "It's okay, every single Christian practices these sins, and Jesus did the whole work anyway." Or is there some sort of call to action that comes with the Holy Spirit's revealing to us of our sin?


Let's read today from the book of Romans. And we're going to read a lot, and it is my intention to talk only a little. And Lord, we ask that You speak to each one of us directly through the Scriptures by Your Spirit. Help us to see pass our mind's judgment of the letter, as those letters point our Being toward the timeless, nameless Truth of Your Word.


Romans 1 (NKJV)

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned;
13 (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.
16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.
17 For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)

18 Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,
21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Okay. So I love this first verse: "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ."

That's a nice concept to have in our heads. But it is beyond glorious to experience that peace first hand. Peace with God. The peace that surpasses all understanding; or, put another way, peace that the human mind can't grasp, can't understand, can't put in a box to store away from some time in the future so it can pull it out again, and go through certain steps to congure it up again.

Peace with God now. Total inner rest. Your sins have been forgiven. When you sin again, you have an advocate with the Father; and when you confess your sins, you are forgiven. You stay clean. You stay at peace with God.

Oh sure, your carnal mind can cover up that peace when you become identified with and lost in it, but it is there. And it goes much deeper than anything experienced outside of the spotlessness created by the applied blood of the Lamb.

This peace, this total inner rest, is talked about in the book of Hebrews, where God swore in His wrath that they would never enter His rest, and He set aside another day, the day called Today, as He calls us to hear His voice and fully rest from our own ways and rest in the deep, joy-producing peace that comes from fully resting in HIS works instead of our own.

And then, in verse eight, we see this demonstration of God's amazing, endless Love for us, in that He didn't require that we clean up ourselves first; but while we were still sinners, still self-made enemies of everything for which He stands, Christ took our place on the cross. He died for us. And He asks us simply to come. Are you weary and heavy laden? Just come to Him, and He will give you rest. Lay your burden on HIM, and REST in Him, and get to know Him. He is gentle. He did not come to condemn you, but to completely pardon you, and to make you best friends with the Father.

And then down in verse 20, we see that where sin abounds, grace abounds much more. In other words, God's grace is ALWAYS greater than our sin. It's never the other way around.

I attempted to weave that into last week's message. It's easy for us to get caught up in the Law so much that we lose sight of that which frees us from the Law, and we start trying to justify ourselves by our own works.


And, then, we go off the OTHER side of the cliff. Or let's say "ditch," that's less scary-sounding.

So I lie, or cheat, or worship idols, or practice gluttony, or am puffed up with pride. God's grace covers me, so it doesn't really matter. Right?

Well, let's read the next chapter, then we'll talk about it a little, and then we'll close.

Romans 6 (NKJV)

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
4 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.

5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!
16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.
18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Okay. So I think this clears up THAT question. God's grace is not a license to sin. Rather, His grace frees us from sin, and it gives us supernatural enablement to walk in that freedom. It is God's MERCY that does not make us pay for our sins but instead nails them to the cross, and it is His GRACE that brings to us the Faith that connects us with that cross. Not Faith as the blind belief the world thinks it is, but Faith as solid proof of something beyond the world of material form or the reach of our physical senses or the realm of our human mind; something solid and sure, that cannot be produced, but must instead by given. Given to us by God.

So the title of today's message is Grace versus Sin. And indeed that just might be an accurate perspective. Grace causes us to be free from Sin, and slowly turns our attention to the root of our sins so that, instead of remaining caught and enslaved by that Sin, we can rest in Life, in Righteousness.

15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!
16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.
18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.


So God's Grace enables us to walk in Righteousness, as we are set free BY that Grace FROM Sin.

And I realize that when we hear the word "righteousness," we tend to think about the FRUIT of Righteousness. But Righteousness, while we can define it with many words, it is not what we do, and it is deeper than any words or anything our human mind can grasp. Just like Sin, the root called Righteousness is something that cannot be adequately defined, but can only be known by your Presence.

And so, when we are in Presence, dwelling within the inner place of Righteousness, we are free from the nature of Sin. You don't need to and can't grasp the true meaning of this in your head. Just know it deep down. Know it with the Presence you are.

And this says that we are slaves either of Sin or of Righteousness. That word "slave" tends to bring an image to our mind of someone with a whip to his back being commanded to do the master's biddings upon pain of death. But while that picture might work with Sin, it doesn't quite work with Righteousness, so we can know that, in this passage, the picture is wrong. It points to the wrong thing.

Instead, when we act in Sin, it comes naturally. And when we act in Righteousness, it comes naturally too.

"Wait a minute," I can hear someone thinking, "righteousness does NOT come naturally. Sometimes we have to do things that are NOT natural to us in order to be righteous."

But what is saying that? Is it not the carnal mind? OF COURSE Righteousness does not come naturally to the flesh. SIN comes naturally to the carnal mind. And being identified and getting caught up in that mind is what causes us to be led away by it into that with which it is most comfortable, and that is whatever is friendly with the root nature of Sin.

Righteousness comes naturally to our spirit man, our Presence, while Sin comes naturally to our carnal man, our earthly mind. So when you see something inside of you to which Sin comes naturally or which is drawn to Sin, you can know that this is not YOU. It is your flesh man. It is your carnal mind. It is the human mind in which even most Christians spend most of their time on earth.

So am I saying that we should feel condemned and not be at peace in God's Grace if we are lost in our minds?

Absolutely not. What I AM saying is that, the more we are lost in our minds, the less we will experience that Peace. And the harder it will be for us to forceably produce things that look like the fruit of Righteousness.

But you can't force real fruit to grow, just like you can't make apples grow on poison ivy, or figs grow on thistles. Go to the root of Righteousness, and make that place of inner stillness your home. You CANNOT sin while you are fully there, and you WILL produce the fruit of Righteousness.

Now, if you see the fruit of unrighteousness growing in you, and you haven't yet found that place of Righteousness, should you just ignore the fruit?

Well, the Bible seems to tell us, in many different words, "no." It's poison, and it contains seeds that will grow more of the same. Instead, cut off the fruit of sin and throw it in the fire, the fire on the altar of a life of praise, a life of worship.


19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.


I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. He could have just as well said, I use these limited, imperfect words, because you are likely to be listening with your earthly minds. But that to which he was pointing cannot be adequately put into words. Words simply point you TO it, but you cannot KNOW it until you look away from the words and look instead, with the Presence you are, at that to which the words are pointing.

And that's as close as I know how to point with words.

God gave us the simplicity of the cross of Christ. No matter where we are, we can know that God loved us so much that He clothed Himself with human flesh and paid the price for our sins on the cross. That's the starting place, and the only way in. And that's all you need to know to have the stain of your sins washed away and be reconciled to God.

22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


As we saw last week, the fruit of Sin tells us we're still living in sin, and the fruit of Righteousness tells us we're living in Righteousness. We might see both fruits coming from us, that Jesus said a good tree produces only good fruit, and a bad tree produces only bad fruit.

There are two root systems inside of you. One of them is the fallen human mind that is in league with the nature of Sin. The other is the born-again Presence that you are.

When your Presence uses your mind as needed, it quickly loses its place as your god who creates idols for you to worship, and starts taking again its place as a tool for you to use.

When your carnal mind feels as though it is you, then it is empowered to take control, to constantly lead you into the fruit of Sin it produces when you feed it like that, and it uses you to build itself up and to do its bidding.

You are a slave, or rather, whichever one is dominant at a given moment, is the one who lives through you. And whether you are thinking, or feeling, or doing the acts of righteousness or sin, tells you in which one you are living.

Do you recognize the truth of this?

Be still and know. Dwell in God's Sabbath Rest Today, right Now. Let Peace be your dwelling place. Let Eternal Presence be your home. Use the forms of this earth -- material things, your mind and its thoughts, and all the other things that are passing away -- use them, YOU use them as temporary tools; YOU, the Presence you are; and when you discover you have been putting your identity in any of them, feeling as though they are part of who you are, just come back to the Truth. See the labels your mind puts on everything. And let them go. Dwell instead in silence, in stillness, in Presence, in Peace, in Righteousness, in Holiness, in God.

And when you are in that place, your flesh is melting away, or as the Scriptures word it, your flesh is being crucified. Let it be. Your eyes are on where God dwells in that silent, still, peaceful, righteous, holy place the carnal mind cannot know and cannot go.

And you will know, first hand, the Grace of God that is greater than all Sin.


Let's go ahead and close today's service. This altar is open, and you're invited to get out of your seat and make your way to the front if you feel so directed, as an outer act of full surrender to this Righteousness -- not the acts, which are only fruit, but the still, silent, peace of God out of which that fruit flows.

If you'd like someone to talk or pray with you, you can instant message one of us. Or if you're listening outside of Second Life or at some other time, you can go to almcyberchurch.org, click the Pastors' Offices or Prayer Center link, and contact us there.

Whenever you need to leave, you're dismissed, and if you can stay until after this time at the altar, you're invited to make your way up the steps to your left when you're done here, and we'll meet there in a few for some fellowship.

Come, and let's allow God to lead us into His Grace versus Sin.


*** listen to the audio to hear the closing prayer ***