One of the most beneficial things I learned from my professors during my seminary days was that ministers must continually preach the message of the cross to the people of God for their growth in grace. One professor in particular constantly exhorted us to preach Christ “for pardon and power.” The longer I am a Christian, the more clearly I see the wisdom of this counsel. The message of the cross meets our deepest need for pardon and power as we seek to overcome indwelling sin.
Few things trouble the soul of the child of God as much as the presence of indwelling sin and the sober realization of the inability of the flesh to overcome it. True believers often come to the end of themselves and cry out: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24). Christians grieve over sin and spiritual weakness. They long for victory over it. The Scriptures command us to be diligent in examining ourselves (1 Cor. 11:28), taking heed to ourselves (1 Cor. 10:12) and asking the Lord to “Search me and see if there be any grievous way in me” (Ps. 139:23–24); but they do not stop there. God’s Word reveals that the work of Christ is the source of pardon for sin as well as the source of power to overcome it. Believers possess this power by virtue of their union with Christ in His death and resurrection. In order to grow in Christlikeness, the believer must remember that sin’s dominion was broken when Christ died and rose again. This is the apostle’s chief concern in Romans 6:1–14, a passage to which we must regularly return.