The Power of the Gospel, Part 5

Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

Far too often the Gospel is thought of as a weak and effeminate message for people who need to choose Christ for themselves. It is thought that if we present the Gospel to people in a gracious and winsome way they will not be offended by us and perhaps make a decision for Christ. Other think that if we do good things for people they will see what we are doing and that will help convince them to decide for Jesus. What we must be reminded of over and over in order to tell the truth to others about their sin and the Gospel is that they are slaves to sin and under the dominion and power of the evil one. It takes a Savior with great power to rescue sinners and take them out of the kingdom of evil. This is beyond the power of sinners themselves, so it is all by the grace of God Himself.

The following verse shows us one aspect of what it means to be a slave to sin and of the type or kind of power that is needed to free those who are slaves. “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6). According to this text, if we follow the line of thought, the slavery that we are in is to the old self. The flow of thought is this: The old self was crucified with him that the body of sin might be done away with. In other words, the old self or the self-centered and prideful self must be crucified so that the body of sin would be done away with. The purpose or result of this is so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. It is only when our old self is crucified that the body of sin is done away with. Only when the old self is crucified are we no longer slaves to sin.

The text actually tells us that the old self “was crucified with him.” The cross of Christ is to be seen by the believer as where the old self was crucified when Christ was crucified. The old self must die and in Christ one will die to that old self. But what we also must see is that as the blood of Christ was shed and now must be applied, so the self that was crucified on the cross must in some way be crucified and died to now as well. The fact that Christ was crucified one the cross is the guarantee that the old self of sinners will be crucified now so that they may be free from the body of sin and no longer be slaves to sin. What Christ did in the past will certainly be carried out in the present for those that His death was efficacious for. He was crucified which shows that some will beyond doubt die to self and be delivered from the slavery of sin now.

For the moment, however, we must look at the promises of the Gospel in this regard. The good news of the Gospel is the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is also the good news of the Gospel of the kingdom of God. If any person is awakened to the depths of his or her sin by the mercy of God and the illuminating work of the Spirit that person will see that s/he is not just a sinner, but is a sinner that is in slavery to sin. That person will see the self-centered nature of self and realize that self does not have the power to cast out or kill the power of sin that resides in self. Here is the testimony of Paul: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). Without debating the question of whether Paul was speaking about himself as a converted man or not in this passage, the point is still clear. Paul wanted to be set free from the body of death and of sin. He knew that the only Deliverer was Jesus Christ. The applied cross of Christ was the only way for this to happen.

Paul continues his thought in Romans 8:3: “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.” The Law cannot ever free the soul from the power of self and the flesh, because it was never made to do so. It is only the Lord Jesus Christ who can free the soul from sinful flesh. The thought is continued in Romans 8:13: “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” One must be freed from the slavery of sin in order to put to death the deeds of the body.

Colossians also makes the same point: “and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (2:11-12). The body of flesh must be removed in and by Christ. This death to self must occur in order to be set free from the power of sin and of self. It is Christ alone who can accomplish this by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No human being can do a work this mighty, but instead it takes the power of Christ Himself to do it.

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