Radical Grace


By Johnny Tatum


The purpose of this study is to present that when the old Sin master calls us, Jesus Christ, who identifies with us, steps in and says I am [insert your name]—our problem is we choose to overrule Jesus and to respond to Sin.







In this series, we are focusing on grace, specifically, why we stress grace.  We have seen that for every good and desirable thing that can be part of the Christian life, as presented in the New Testament, the source is grace.


We have seen that grace is absolute freedom in two aspects:


(1)  It is freedom from punishment for our sins, and

(2)  It is freedom from the power of sin.


Grace must be embraced in both parts.  If we just embrace the first part of grace—we are totally free, totally forgiven—and we do not really care about the aspect of grace—the agent of breaking the power of sin—then we are abusing grace.  On the other hand, if we do not accept the first part of grace, then we are in danger of going into legalism (trying to obey the Law through SELF-effort).  So, we have to embrace both aspects of grace.


During this series, our main focus is on the second aspect of grace: How grace breaks the power of sin in our lives.  If grace does not bring about drastically changed lives for a Christian, then it does not matter what our theology about grace is.  It is totally academic.  It means nothing.


Grace is the avenue for changed lives, and the key is in Romans 6, which is the very best place in the whole Bible for understanding how it is that grace produces changed lives.




Please Note:

To make sure there is no misunderstanding, we emphasize that everything we say about grace applies only to Christians.  There is not a power available for changed lives for unbelievers.  What is a Christian?  I mean someone who at some point in his/her life believes Jesus Christ is his/her Savior—His work on the Cross is the atoning death for that person’s sins.  Paul says:

We (Christians) who died to sin. (Romans 6:2)


To Unbelievers:

In your life, do you want the power source, which is God’s Grace, so that you will have freedom from the punishment of your sins (total forgiveness) and freedom from the power of sin?  We have good news for you!  Paul says:

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord (Romans 6:23).


So how do you receive this free gift?  Simply say:

Lord God, I confess I am a sinner and I deserve to go to hell because of my sins.  But I believe that when Jesus Christ died on the Cross, He was paying the penalty for my sin.  And when He arose again, He rose to give me eternal life.


Paul says:

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).



Today, I really want us to personalize all this, so I will use the pronoun, I, or I will use [insert your name].  When you read I just say I; if you read [insert your name], just substitute your own name.  Pretty easy—right?




The way I died to sin was this: Before I was saved—before the Cross—I was tied to sin in two ways:


The first way I was tied to Sin: Sin was my master.  Remember, Paul personifies Sin [with a capital S]; Paul has been talking about Sin as an evil person.  Before I was saved, Sin was my master.   He was a tyrant.  He forced me to do his will, which was to sin.  It was not always gross, external sin.  It was just self; getting the needs of SELF met in the world.  That is what Sin does.  My compulsion to Sin was my master, and that compulsion was so strong that Paul calls him a person.


The second way I was tied to Sin [which is a way that is opposite of the first]:  I was irresistibly attracted to Sin.  He was my master and that is just what I wanted.  Before I was saved, Sin was always pulling me down.  That pull was always on me, pulling me down like gravity, and I always responded.  In fact, I was a willing accomplice.  In responding to that pull of the Sin master, I was actually doing just what I wanted!


But before I was born, God the Father put me in Jesus Christ, and beginning with the Cross, Jesus Christ was my representative.  When Jesus Christ was there on the Cross, I was there with Him.


Now in what sense was I there?  As—


q       The person that was an absolute slave to sin.

q       The person who could not possibly resist that call of sin.

q       My old man.

q       My old self.





I was crucified on the Cross with Jesus of Nazareth.  Then Jesus went in to the Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, and I went in to the Tomb as well.  I was in there for three days.  The reason that is important is that it shows that in God’s perspective, my old self was really dead, because He was in that cave for three days.  But then when Jesus came out, I came out with Him.  In fact, Jesus came out as a different person, and so did I; He came out to a newness of life, and so did I.





Before the Cross, Jesus Christ was associated with sin.  Let me say very quickly: It was not His sin; it was ours.  However, He was associated with sin because He had voluntarily taken mine on Him.  What a picture of love:  He was willing to identify Himself with me even though I was a sinner!  Furthermore, He did not identify Himself with me after I was saved; He identified Himself with me while I was still His enemy.


That is why I love the passage in Hebrews where it says that Jesus Christ was not ashamed to call us His brethren—


He is not ashamed to call them brethren. (Hebrews 1:11)


He had every right to be ashamed of us, but He did not mind stepping in and saying I will be [insert your name]’s representative, even though I was a sinner.


Since I was identified with Jesus at the Cross, there is a fundamental difference in my life.  Before the Cross, the old Sin master would call, and it is not just that I responded every time, it is that I had no choice every time.


After the Cross, the old Sin master still calls—just like he always did—and he calls me by my name: [insert your name].  But when he calls, [insert your name] does not answer.  Instead, Jesus answers and says What?  The old Sin master calls [insert your name], and Jesus says I am [insert your name].  That is what identification means.


So the Sin master says You certainly do not look like [insert your name].  And Jesus says I am identified with [insert your name]; now, so when you call [insert your name], you have to go through Me.  That shows how willing Jesus is to identify Himself with us.


When the old Sin master calls, Jesus steps in and says What do you want?  But the problem is that we are overruling Jesus and we are choosing to respond to the Sin master.


The old Sin master does not have authority over me anymore.  His power is broken.  That is how I am dead to sin.  Jesus took my place; He is my representative; He is in me.  When the Sin master calls with a new temptation, Jesus steps in, and Jesus is totally, completely dead to Sin.  Since Jesus is dead to Sin and He is my Representative, then I am dead to Sin.  I can consider myself dead to Sin.


Being dead to Sin means that Jesus, who is totally dead to Sin, is my representative, He is in me.  So when the old Sin master calls [and he does all the time], Jesus is willing to intervene and say What? If you have any problems, you have to come through Me.  So Paul says Consider yourselves dead to Sin.





Let us look at an interesting distinction.  Paul says that we died to sin, but he does not say that we are dead to sin, does he?


That is because in our own nature, we will never be dead to sin.  It is Jesus in us who is dead to sin.  We become dead to sin in our lives as we identify with Jesus, who is dead to sin and who is within us.  As we identify with Jesus, we are Considering ourselves to be dead to sin.


But that is very difficult to do, because it does not seem that we are dead to Sin, does it?  It certainly does not seem to me that I am dead to sin.  What does that mean?





To consider ourselves dead to sin is simply to believe the truth that the old Sin master does not have power over us anymore because Jesus took away his weapons at the Cross.  So he does not have power; however, we empower him.  He has no power, but we give him power.


How do we give the old Sin master power?  It is not by sinning.  Sin is a result of our empowering the old Sin master; it is not the cause of it.  We tend to think that if we sin more, we are empowering the old Sin master.  No, it is just the opposite.


We have given him power and that is why we are sometimes slaves to sin.  We empower him, not by our behavior, but by our wrong thinking.  Actually, to make it more blunt, it is by our ignorance.





Next, we will begin to see how it is in our actual lives that Sin does seem to have power.  This is very difficult to understand because in Romans 6, we get the impression that Sin is not even a factor in our lives anymore.  We are dead to it.  Our attachment to Sin is history.  Then in Romans 7, Sin comes up again.  It is hard to understand.  We are going to see how it is that we are arming the old Sin master, who does not have any weapons of his own anymore!




Next: Radical Grace #12) Romans 6, Part 5—Empowering The One Who Has No Power

Are We Empowering Sin By Trying To Obey?


Back To: Radical Grace Series Page

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