6 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.
13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
I don’t believe in ghosts – for the most part. There’s one kind of ghosts that are all too real. They talked about those “ghosts” in the movie, “Amazing Grace.” That movie told the story of the 18th Century British political leader, William Wilberforce.
He’s really more than any other man, responsible for the abolishing of slavery in the British Empire. And that was at a time when African slaves played a critical role in the British economy and slave-owning interests controlled a lot of members of Parliament.
The battle took 20 years, but ultimately thousands of slaves went free. Wilberforce’s spiritual mentor was actually the man who wrote America’s most beloved hymn, “Amazing Grace.” In his early years, John Newton had been a slave trader, capturing and carrying thousands of Africans to slavery in Britain and the islands.
Conditions were so brutal that many didn’t even survive the voyage. Then John Newton discovered how Jesus Christ could forgive and change a man. In the movie, John Newton is going blind but he’s still pastoring his church in London.
And he believed in “ghosts” you might say. As he dictates what he calls “My Confession” to a scribe, he says, “I have lived for years with the company of 20,000 ghosts – those I made into slaves. Their blood is on my hands.”
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “The Ghosts of the Past.” We all understand the kind of ghosts John Newton was talking about. They’re not departed spirits. They’re the memories and the regrets of the things that we wish we had not done. The guilt and the shame we feel because of the people we’ve hurt, the damage we’ve done, the dark things we’ve done.
But remember the words that old slave trader, John Newton, wrote in the hymn that’s become one of the most recognizable songs in the world: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind but now I see.”
As John Newton dictates his confession in the movie, he reaches a conclusion that I found deeply moving: “Although my memory is fading, I remember two things clearly. I am a great sinner…and Christ is a great Savior.”
Well, that’s my hope; that’s your hope of being delivered from the ghosts of your past. Realizing we’re great sinners, and realizing that Christ is a great Savior. There’s awesome hope for all of us rebels against God.
In Psalm 130:3-4, our word for today from the Word of God, it says, “If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness.” Here is a holy, sinless God whose rule of our life we’ve defied by doing what we wanted time after time.
We deserve the eternal death penalty the Bible says that sin carries. But God loves you so much He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to give His life in exchange for yours; to do the dying for all the sinning you’ve ever done. And the Bible says, “Everyone who believes in (Jesus) receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”
That’s what He wants to do for you today. To erase every sin of your past from God’s book forever. To become your personal Savior from the guilt and the penalty of your sin. To cancel the hell that you deserve for a heaven you could never deserve.
All that becomes yours the day you open your heart to Jesus and tell Him you’re turning from your sin and you’re going to put all your trust in Him. He’s your Rescuer. You’re the dying person. When you grab Him, you’re saved.
This could be your day to experience God’s amazing grace for yourself. It’s more than a song. It’s a life-saving miracle that banishes the ghosts of your past.
If you want to make the “great Savior” your Savior, I invite you to visit our website. There’s a simple explanation there of just how your relationship with Him can begin. That’s ANewStory.com. Tonight, as you hit the pillow, you could have a new song: “I once was lost, but now I’m found. I was blind, but now I see.”