You Are Sunk Into Christ - Not Evil

Text: Romans 13:11-14 

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

If I had a dollar every time a person apologized to me for their inappropriate actions, well… I would be a wealthy man.  

For example, several weeks ago, when I was at the gas station, one of the clerks had a blowup and unleashed her tongue against another employee, only to look over and see me. The other clerk raised her hands and pointed in my direction as if to indicate that she messed up royally in front of a religious man wearing a collar. The coarse clerk then quickly made a sloppy sign of the cross over her head and said, 

“Oh no, I’m definitely going to hell. I’m so sorry, Reverend; I will watch my language next time!”

You see, somewhere along the way, this clerk came to see the Church and the pastor as advocating for the opposite of evil and vice. Obviously, she had come to see Christianity as mainly existing to promote good morals and well-behaved citizens, which she was not doing at the time.     

Let me be perfectly clear, though, the Christian Church is certainly in favor of good morals and ethics. Unlike many liberal church denominations, the true Church does not dismiss the Law of God as if it does not matter. Good works, good morals, and good ethics matter and are important for the Christian, the Church, and culture. However, for the Church, it must be very clear that good behavior is not the opposite of bad behavior. For the Christian, good works are not the opposite of bad works. Or, we could say it like this; virtue is not the opposite of vice. 

Back to that coarse clerk at the gas station, I made sure to drive this point home to her by saying,

“Ma’am, I am an old hockey player; strong language doesn’t really phase me. However, if you were to use Jesus’ name as a cuss word, well… then we would have a problem.”

With both clerks looking a bit confused, I continued, 

“Why on earth would we ever use Jesus’ name as a cuss word when He died to forgive us of our sins? I figure if a guy dies and rises from the grave to give us forgiveness and then raise us from the dead, well… we shouldn’t be using his name as a cuss word. You hear what I am saying?”  

You see, both of these clerks needed to understand that the opposite of a foul tongue was not a righteous tongue. The opposite of vice is not virtue, and the opposite of evil is not goodness.  

So, if this is the case, what is the opposite of vice? What is the opposite of evil? In a simple word – “Christ.”  The opposite of evil and vice is not to do better and try harder but Christ.   

Did you notice what the Apostle Paul stated in our reading from the Epistle of Romans? He denounces superficiality, overindulging, sleeping around, degeneracy, bickering, and grabbing everything in sight. That is right; he throws orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, sensuality, quarreling, and jealousy under the bus. But then, he does not tell the readers in Rome to be clearheaded, chaste, agreeable, and content. No, instead, he tells them quite literally to “sink into Christ.”  He tells them to be clothed – to settle into Christ. For the Apostle Paul, all roads lead to Jesus.   

Dear friends, consider this a moment. Even if you and I were to quit all our habitual cursing, boozing, womanizing, gossiping, prideful arrogance, and lazy attitudes - this would not make you and me a godly Christian. That is right; if you and I were to become squeaky clean, prim, and proper, that would not make you a Christian. Hear this loud and clear; hell welcomes the christless rule keeper just as much as it welcomes the godless radical. Whether you are walking the straight and narrow or hell-bent on destruction – if you are not sunk into Christ, you’ve got nothing! To many people’s surprise, hell is going to have religious monks ‘and’ crooked drug lords alike – who have both rejected and forgotten Christ.

And so, beware this morning from taking the wrong turn! 

Yes, indeed, it is good to reject orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality, sensuality, quarreling, and jealousy. But if you have rejected these and have sunk yourself into a clearheaded, chaste, agreeable, and content life without Christ, well… you still are in the dark. You are still a citizen of the kingdom of sin. Having a well-polished life in the kingdom of sin and darkness means nothing. It is like being a polished tomb with a dead man’s bones on the inside. It is like being a cup that is clean on the outside but dirty on the inside. It is like having a vibrantly decorated house but still remaining blind. Tragically, way too many people in America are so very busy decorating their spiritual houses with pretty flowers, well-mowed lawns, and beautiful curtains while not stopping to realize that these spiritual houses are a part of the kingdom of darkness.    

So, if this is true – and it is – what should a person do? 

Well, that is where the message of Advent comes into view. You see, Advent is not about what you and I do but what Jesus has done. 

And what has your Jesus done?  

Well, your Jesus came to humanity to redeem humanity from the clutches of death through His birth and crucifixion.  

Your Jesus came to you in the waters of baptism to snatch you out of the darkness.  

And someday, your Jesus will come to you and raise you out of the grave. 

Dear friends, your Jesus draws near to you because He is not a distant God. He is not content to leave you in the kingdom of darkness and sin to try and make the best of things. Instead, He draws near to you to draw you unto Himself.  

Please listen very carefully to this:  Jesus does not remove sin from you, leaving you in darkness but instead; He removes you from darkness to bring you into the Kingdom of Light. Never forget, being a Christian is not about you redecorating your spiritual life, but it is about you being transferred by Jesus' life, death, and resurrection from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.    
Now with all of this said, there is always someone out there that responds to this glorious Gospel by saying, 

“What about good works? Can a Christian do whatever he wants? Should we keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? Are you saying that we shouldn’t try and improve our life?”

Baptized Saints, think of it this way: if you were removed from a country where sin was supreme and in control, how can you still live in an old house that is in that country? In other words, if you no longer belong to that country of sin – if you have left it for good - how can you continue to live in a county that you already left? You can’t! 
And so, you can’t give provision to darkness and sin when you belong to Christ. Christ has nothing to do with darkness, and neither do you. 
But again, we struggle with this reality because we keep on sinning. But why is it this way. You see, there is a part of us that will always want to return back to the kingdom of darkness. There is a part of us - which we call the old Adam - that is prone to wander and is prone to leave Christ. The old Adam likes to kick off the garments of Christ, like an angry child trying to get out of wet snow pants. The old Adam can’t stand the Kingdom of Light, and so, there is only one solution – the old Adam is not to be given any provision, any quarter, and any sympathy. The old Adam must be drug out into the town square to drown and die again and again and again through repentance and absolution. When the old Adam tries to pull you back to the kingdom of darkness, that is when the Holy Spirit pulls you back into your baptism, where your old Adam drowns, and you are then centered in Christ.  

And there sunk into Christ, not only do you have forgiveness, life, and salvation, but the Lord Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, bears good fruit in you. He creates holy impulses in you.  

Baptized Saints, your Jesus comes to you so that you may be sunk into Him.  And when you are sunk in Jesus, your sins are sunk as well – you are forgiven. 

Baptized Saints, make no provisions for the old Adam, for you belong not to the kingdom of darkness and sin, but you belong to Christ and His Kingdom of Light. Put on the armor of light that has been given to you as a gift, and never forget that you belong to the day.  

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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