Dead from sin – freedom through identification with Christ

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 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. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 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. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 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. (Rom. 6:1-14)


Right now something tragical is occurring in Swedish Christianity. Recently the pastor of Swedens’ first and largest Pentecostal church publicly claimed that the Bible does not clearly state that practiced homosexuality is a sin. He has also opened up the door for people living in homosexual relationships to be accepted as leaders of the church. The pastor has further stated that the change that is now happening in the church’s viewpoint of homosexuality might have been initiated ”by the Holy Spirit”. Suddenly, 2000 years of coherent and consistent theology on this topic is to be abandoned, just like that.


20 years ago this would probably have led to that the pastor had been expelled from the leadership of his church. Had it happened during the lifetime of Levi Pethrus, the founder of the Swedish Pentecostal movement, the pastor in all likelihood would never have been allowed to preach in another Pentecostal church in Sweden again.


There seems to be an ongoing campaign to change the view of homosexuality within the free (i.e. non-Lutheran) churches in Sweden. Seemingly, this campaign is driven by a few individuals, supported by the Christian daily magazine Dagen (once founded by Levi Pethrus). The message (in practice) seems to be: ”One cannot change ones sexual desires and since this is not possible it must be ok to act upon those sexual desires one were born with”. This is a lie from the powers of darkness aimed at aborting faith in that God is able to change peoples’ lives and set them free from the power of sin.


A person who is not born-again – no matter how good that person believes himself to be – cannot live a righteous life (from God’s perspective), since the person in question is a sinner by nature. However, we who are born-again have been crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. As born-again believers we have a choice; we can choose whether we wish to present our bodies as instruments of unrighteousness or not! Sin no longer has dominion over us, since we are no longer under law but under grace! Due to the fact that we – because of the blood of Jesus – have free access to the thrown of grace, we can receive strength from God to resist worldly lusts and live a righteous and holy life.


Our message is and remains the same: We communicate God’s unconditional grace and love for all people through Jesus Christ. The gospel’s good news about Christ’s redemption and the forgiveness of sins includes everyone, no matter who we are, what we struggle with, or what background we have. Without Jesus we are all sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God. God’s church can never become a “club of internal admiration”. It must be a ”hospital”  that welcomes all sorts of sinners (including ourselves) with open arms.


What the Gospel does not do, however, is to deny the reality of sin, or to claim that something that is clearly defined as sin both in the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible, no longer is sinful. For people to be able to realize that they are sinners in need of God’s grace and salvation through Jesus Christ, they need to realize what sin is. Ultimately, sin is a broken relationship with God. The fruit of sin is a diversity of immoral acts, including practiced homosexuality. In the New Covenant it is the work of the Holy Spirit to convince people of the sin related to man’s broken relationship with God – the sin of not believing in Jesus (Jn. 16:7-9).


For the self-righteous, the law of Moses still has a function; to silence his mouth so that he realizes that he is a sinner in need of God’s grace and mercy. This includes the religious Pharisee who believes he is better than everyone else, as well as the one that lives in sexual immorality and homosexuality without seeing the need to repent from his lifestyle (see 1 Tim. 1:8-11).


The message of the Gospel to believers who struggle with temptation and sin – no matter what sin it is – is: Your sins are forgiven, there is no condemnation for the one who is in Christ. God lives in you, come to Him as you are. Identify yourself with Christ’s death and resurrection. See yourself as dead to sin and alive to Christ. You are not what your thoughts or feelings claim that you are; you are what God’s word says that you are. You are righteous in Christ and because of that you can live in freedom from all forms of sexual sin and immorality. The body of sin has lost its grip over your life so that you now can live a life in purity. You are free. You have your true identity in Christ.


Repentance – a central concept both in the Old and the New Testament – means to change ones way of thinking according to the world, unto thinking in accordance with the message of the Gospel.


The believing parent who has a child that struggles with his/her sexual identity, should ask himself/herself this question: Do I allow my personal experience and my love for my child to start thinking like the world and abandon the Gospel, or do I faithfully hold on to God’s word, Jesus and His finished work?


The believer who struggles with his/her sexual identity should ask himself/herself this question: What is most important – my ”right” to live according to my own sexual desires or the faithful obedience to God and His word?


Jesus’ words that whoever wants to follow Him must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Him (Mt. 16:24), and that the one who does not prioritize Jesus higher that his family and his own life cannot be His disciple (Lk. 14:26) have never been more relevant than today.


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