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Sermon #3147

Sin and the Christian

A Sermon on Romans 8:12-13


Romans 8:12-13 ESV KJV
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (ESV)

Sermon Description

There are many aberrant teachings on the doctrine of sanctification. Some like to say the believer is completely hopeless with regards to sin but is this true? Must the Christian only focus on “abiding” in Christ? Does the regenerate person have no power to act against sin? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones vehemently denies such claims. In his sermon on Romans 8:12–13 titled “Sin and the Christian,” he says the Christian is indeed not hopeless. Instead, the believer is called to realize the truth about their union with Christ. Furthermore, they must not deny the doctrine of regeneration through an insufficient doctrine of sanctification. The Holy Spirit has made them alive and the Spirit of God dwells in them. This gives the Christian power in this life for godly growth. As they walk through this life they should expect maturity. The Christian is far from hopeless in their fight against sin. They have all that they need in Christ and by the Spirit. Dr. Lloyd-Jones admonishes Christians to wake up from their lethargy and realize what God has done to them in Christ. Let them march to Zion, shining forth in good works and glorifying their Father who is in heaven.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The apostle Paul is addressing two popular theories of sanctification in Romans 8:12-13. One theory says that sin can be completely eradicated from a Christian. The other says that Christians can have a "second experience" where they realize they are hopeless, hand everything over to God, and receive victory and freedom from struggle.
  2. Paul argues against these theories. In verse 12, he says Christians are not obligated to live according to the flesh. In verse 13, he says if Christians live according to the flesh they will die, but if they mortify the deeds of the body through the Spirit they will live. This shows sanctification requires effort and struggle, not passivity.
  3. If the popular theories were true, Paul would not need to make an argument or give commands. He would just tell Christians to have a "second experience" and hand everything over to God. But instead, Paul appeals to various doctrines and argues from them that Christians must make effort to overcome sin.
  4. The theories are inconsistent with what Paul has already said about Christians. Christians are no longer slaves to sin, in the flesh, or under the law (Rom 6:17, 8:9, 7:5). They have new life and the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9, 6:11). So they are not hopeless. They must make effort in light of these realities.
  5. The theories see no room for Christian growth or maturity. But the Bible speaks of Christians progressing from children to young men to fathers (1 John 2:12-14), being transformed into Christ's image (2 Cor 3:18), and growing in grace (2 Pet 3:18). Falling into sin does not return a Christian to the beginning of the Christian life.
  6. The theories seem to make sanctification dependent on a Christian's own effort to "abide in Christ." But the Bible teaches that God is at work in Christians, enabling them to will and work for his good pleasure (Phil 2:13). God disciplines Christians to make them holy (Heb 12:10). God, not the Christian's own effort, is ultimately responsible for sanctification.
  7. Anecdotes and testimonies are not a reliable way to evaluate a teaching. Many false teachings like Christian Science, Theosophy, and Positive Thinking report life-changing experiences and freedom from sin. The only way to evaluate a teaching is to compare it to Scripture.

The Book of Romans

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.