Check Your Position and Disposition 7/12/98

Romans 5:1-2
Page 1650 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ’s reason for visiting earth is explained in Romans 5: 8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

He is the focal feature, the empowering God who determines our position and disposition, in time and for eternity.

Romans chapter five concisely explains what it means to “follow Christ.” Therein, it is revealed:

We are saved by Christ’s death — objectively. He is the object of our faith.

We are saved by His life — subjectively. We, the subject, are impacted daily by His life.

Romans 5: 1 – 10 uses the word “sins,” plural. Christ’s death cleanses from them positionally.

Romans 5: 12 – 21 changes and uses “sin,” singular. Daily the life of Christ saves us from dominance by our old sin disposition.

We are saved by His death positionally — we are in Christ. “…having now been justified by His blood” (Vs. 9a). We are “saved from wrath through Him” (Vs. 9c). The wonder of this salvation is that it is a gift. In verses 15, 16, 17, 18 we are told salvation is a “gift.” Twice redundance is used for emphasis. It is called a “free gift.” If it is free it is a gift. If it is a gift it is free.

The idea of doing something to earn, merit, or deserve the favor of God is alien to Scripture. The concept makes man and God look bad.

It makes man look bad because it appears everything he does is an attempt to benefit himself by getting something for doing it.

It makes God look bad because it appears He can be bought off.

Hear the Word of God clearly on this subject: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2: 8,9).

“Grace” means God’s unmerited favor. Thus, from a Biblical standpoint there is no sacrament or service that can merit salvation. Therefore, the only way to obtain it is as a gift.

Let’s celebrate your birthday. Suppose I were to come to you with a gift and present it to you. Immediately you insist on paying for it. It is a valuable gift and I want to give it so I decline pay. You reach into your pocket and pull out a penny saying, “I want to at least give you something for it.” If that penny were received you would have purchased it. The penny is unacceptable because I love you so much I want to provide it for you.

Then too, what if I were to insist on you paying a penny for this valuable gift and you didn’t have a penny. You would be deprived of it. Salvation is a gift.

I have purchased the gift and now offer it to you. For it to be yours one thing remains. You have to receive it. You can reject it. For it to be yours you have to receive it.

God offers the wonderful free gift of salvation, but for it to be yours you must receive it. You do so by turning from your sin and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ with a life changing trust.

Once we are saved we should seek to serve the Lord and work for Him. We do so not in order to get something, salvation, but because we have already gotten something as a gift, salvation.

Recently I met a delightful person, Jim Brawner. He is the N national seminar director for Gary Smalley’s “Love is a Decision Seminars.” That is the new Jim.

He played football at the University of Arkansas during their glory days when Frank Broyles was coach. He was not a Christian at the time. He told me of the day Arkansas defeated the University of Texas 31 – 7. After the game the exuberant team piled on the bus. Excitement reigned. Jim sat down on the front seat next to the window as wild as any on the bus. Coach Broyles got on the bus and sat next to him. Immediately he felt he couldn’t be quite as rowdy as he intended to be. Coach Broyles sat down and said, “We have to give glory to God for that victory. We owe it to Him.”

Jim said, “That wasn’t what I was thinking.” He was thinking what a whale of a game he and his team mates had played.

Jim said that after he got off the bus he couldn’t think of anything else but what Coach Broyles had said. He didn’t sleep a wink that night for thinking about it. Not being a Christian he nevertheless got up the next morning and went to church. There he realized Christ was the missing element in his life and that he needed to be saved. Right then and there he gave his life to Christ and experienced transformation, new life.

It all happened because a Christian coach expressed his faith spontaneously.

When you come to Christ He changes you world view, that is, the way you look at things.

Recently I met Dr. Bill and Linda Burnett. She shared that she was born in Greece and learned Greek before English. Her dad was in the military and returned to the states for a few years before being transferred to France. There she learned French. She said that after a few months she realized she was thinking in French.

Then she made a beautiful application. When we learn Scripture soon we realize we are thinking in terms of the Scripture. It becomes our thought pattern. At that point the mind of Christ becomes ours.

An oft repeated theme in Romans is “much more.” In verse 9 it is used. Christ saves us, what then can he do for us —- “much more.” Time and again it occurs.

We are saved by His life dispositionally — Christ is in us.

“We shall be saved by His life” (vs. 10c)

When we come to Christ we come with a lot of baggage. We have a certain disposition, mind set, temperament, and world view. Our old lifestyle is unbecoming of the new life we profess. It is at this point the living Christ enables us to “be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). He can then save us from our former ungodly attitudes and character. We become new creatures. Your old nature need no longer control. The Spirit controlled temperament then characterizes you. Did you get that? It means Christ can enable you to live a spiritually victoriously life. Daily, by the living Christ, you are being saved dispositionally. Old character and conduct habits are broken and new life emerges.

Daily I am treated to an inspiring example. I get up around 4:30am. No one else in our family does. My wife isn’t a morning person. If she were not a Christian she would have assaulted me before 8:00am long ago.

The dual inspiration I have daily is first an example of resurrection. She gets up at one hour and wakes up at another.

The other is a demonstration of a disposition disposed to behave as a new creature in Christ. Though I know what her metabolism must be shouting inside her she always offers a warm cheery greeting first thing in the morning. Her responses are positive and optimistic. She does so because her disposition is determined by her position in Christ. Genes, hormones, glands, and metabolism aren’t allowed to control. They are, I am confident, struggled with, but it is Christ who controls.

Her responses are explained in Romans 5: 11: “And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

The more you become preoccupied with Christ the less you are absorbed with yourself and He begins to instinctively control your disposition.

Dispositionally He saves us from:

ANXIETY: There is a delightful little best seller called “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” and all stuff is small.”

If we view the events of life from that perspective we avoid anxiety, that is, worry.

Take for instance the moment a car cuts in front of you in traffic and slows you down. Do you blow your cool? That’s sweating the small stuff. How much were you slowed down? Probably .6 of a second. Not worth sweating.

BITTERNESS: Dr. Dean Ornish, who has pioneered vascular damage reversal treatments. He says bitterness is the most toxic of personality traits. We are concerned about preventing toxins getting in our water, food, and atmosphere. When they are there we go to great lengths to remove them. We need to do the same in our spiritual life.

Bitterness is the only personality trait that is harmful to ones health. Get it out.

Forgiveness is the cornerstone to good health. It removes toxins.

A moment ago I used the word “transformed.” Let me illustrate that.

As a college student in the bayou country of southeast Louisiana I had a favorite retreat where I could enjoy solitude and occasionally study. I would use a pirogue, that is a small shallow one person boat, and pole it, you can’t paddle a pirogue, way down in the swamp. The sounds of nature was all to be heard.

One day as I lulled away the afternoon reading in the pirogue a big water bug crawled up the side and perched on the prow of the boat. With those big bug eyes he just sat there looking things over. Down in the tannic water among the decaying leaves his friends were scurrying around in the mud.

As the afternoon passed the crusty shell of this creature began to dry. I watched for some time as gradually the back of the shell began to crack. Slowly, every so imperceptibly the crack widened. Then a miracle happened. The creature in that shell emerged through that crack. It sat motionless for some time as the sun dried it.

A trimmer went through its little body. Next it spread its wings and barely fluttered them. This it did several times. Then it strutted its gossamer wings and lifted off in flight.

As it circled overhead in its new world I looked back down in the water. There were its old companions still crawling around in the mud and decay. Overhead rose the transformed new creature. It had been born again with a new life and lifestyle. That’s transformation.