“So, I’m saved. Now what? I was told that if I confess my sin and call on Jesus I am saved by faith. Further, I was told that because of what Jesus did on the cross I am justified before God, have peace with God, and am declared righteous. But I don’t feel righteous. I still struggle with sinful thoughts and impulses. I feel old urges coming to the surface. Preacher, was I really even saved?”
It is not uncommon to hear that believers in Jesus still struggle with sin. Sin is a powerful force that can be felt within one’s innermost being. It can tug and pull at one’s heart, and according to scripture it even wages war against us (Rom. 7:23; Gal. 5:16-17; 1 Pet. 2:11). Sin has a master and his name is Satan. The Bible says that “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Satan wants believers to think that sin wins. He wants believers in Christ to be defeated by sin. He even wants them to believe that he has control over their lives.
However, in our text Paul is explaining that believers have been given a new life in Christ (Gal. 2:20). This new life is symbolized in Baptism (Rom. 6:1-6). When Christ took our sins to the grave, he took the power sin has over us to the grave as well. And when Christ rose from the dead by the power of God, He gave that same resurrection power to us.
Therefore, when a person calls on Jesus to be saved, they receive two things simultaneously. The first thing they receive is freedom from their old master (Rom. 6:11-12; 16-18). While lost, a person is under the spiritual control of Satan. He is a harsh task master and always leads people to sin and death. But when a sinner turns to Jesus, he is freed from Satan’s grip and power (Rom. 6:12-14). Jesus said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). The second thing they receive is the life of Christ. The life of Christ is not only free from Satan’s control but has power over Satan. The result is that believers can live victorious lives in the name of Jesus (Rom. 6:7-10).
Satan can approach a believer and demand obedience to sin. He can entice, lure, and seduce a saved sinner; but despite the fierceness of his roaring he can never command him again. Paul is explaining that the power of sin is dead to a believer (Rom. 6:22; 7:4-6). Please note, he did not say the temptation to sin is gone. Unfortunately, believers can and do fall to temptations. However, obeying sin is a choice, not a necessity. Therefore, the Bible says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Not only that, but Paul is urging saved sinners to live out of the new life they received in Christ (Rom. 6:4-5, 19). The life of Christ is expressed in righteousness. Because he gives us his life, we have confidence that we can now live lives pleasing to God. This means that in addition to being freed from sin’s power, we are now free to live out of the righteousness of Christ Himself. This means that we can now say “No!” to Satan and say “Yes!” to Jesus.
May that be the burning desire of our hearts