Monthly Archives: June 2018

Romans 7.7-25

Title: The Christian’s Relationship to the Law

Text: Romans 7.7-25

CIT: The Law of God is a wonderful gift because it shows us the nature of God and God’s desire for our perfection. But, sin corrupts the Law, as it were, and leads us deeper and deeper into sin.

CIS: The Law brings knowledge and with that knowledge produces death.

 

Introduction: The president of the United States exited the Gilpatrick hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at about 8 pm. He was headed to make a speech. John Shrank held his Colt pistol up from about 4-5 feet away and shot the president in the upper right part of his chest. The bullet hit its target and blood began to flow, but Theodore Roosevelt wasn’t fazed.

The crowd jumped on the man and began beating him, yelling, “Kill him!” I suppose they would have beat him to death, but the president stopped it. President Roosevelt commanded the crowd to stop and asked the man to be brought to him. He wanted to see this would be assassin and ask him why he did it. The man only stood there. No response. “Oh, what’s the use,” said the president. “Turn him over to the police.”

The president coughed into his hand a few times and determined that since no blood was coming forth, he must not have been lung shot. Later, he would find out that he was wrong. His people ordered the president to the hospital, but Roosevelt overturned their decision. Nope. He had a speech to give and he wasn’t going to miss it.

Transition: Well, I’ve not been shot, but I feel just as strongly about what I have to say as I’m sure Roosevelt felt about what he had to say. I would imagine that my topic is even of greater importance.

 

Thesis Statment: Today we will look at the law and find that its impact on us is quite different than what we might expect.

Certainly, it is different than many Jews would expect. The Jews struggled with this thought. They asked:

  • If where sin abounds and grace abounds all the more, then should we sin all the more?
  • Are we to sin because we are not under law, but under grace?

Last week we saw how Chapter seven is a reflection of Chapter six. Chapter six was about The Christian and his relationship to sin. Chapter 7 is about The Christian and his relationship to the law. Last week we focused on the principle where Paul states in v 1, that we are to die to the law, just as we died to sin. He then gives the illustration of the marriage covenant and how the covenant is dissolved upon death and likewise, when we die to the law, we’re now free to enter into a new covenant with Christ.

Verse six says in that same way, we’ve been released from the Law because we’ve died to it and now are free to serve in a whole new way of the Spirit. Paul begins verse 7 with another question: What then shall we say? That the law is sin?

Now, to get an understanding of where Paul is headed this morning, I’d like to take you straight to the end of Paul’s discussion on the Law to show you his conclusion on the matter. We find it in v.22: For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So, just how does he get there? Let’s look at his testimony:

  1. Ignorance: If it weren’t for the Law, he would have remained ignorant about sin (rd 7a)
  2. Knowledge: The Law revealed to him that he was a sinner. (rd 7b-8)
  3. Condemnation: He died when sin came to life in him. (rd 9-11)
  4. Salvation: Only through Christ Jesus our Lord. (25)

That’s what I think is happening in chapter 7, Paul is giving us an autobiographal sketch of his life – his testimony if you will. So, what we’re seeing here is that Paul makes a declaration of the Law and each person’s legal standing in verses 1-6. He gives the Principle in v1 (rd v 1), the illustration of marriage in v. 2-3, and the application in v. 4-6. In the rest of the chapter, Paul will then outline the experience of the law in a person’s life from a personal perspective and the experience each believer has in relation to the law as they die to it.

Note the person pronouns in Chapter 7 (I, me, my). Show pic of the personal pronouns in my Bible.

I think the passage then moves from simply being Paul’s testimony, to a statement of all Christians. All of us are like Paul. We’re all sinful. We all struggle with the same things.

I’ve outlined my message this way:

  1. The Beauty of the Law
  2. The Ugliness of Sin
  3. The Hope we now have in Christ

Transition: Let’s look first at The Beauty of the Law found in 7-12

I.     The Beauty of the Law (7-12)

exp.: We just read these verses as we looked at Paul’s testimony. His conclusion is that the Law is good. See verse 12?

  • The Law brings knowledge (7a)
  • Knowledge brings Death (7b-11)
  • This reveals the beauty of the Law, that it is: (12)
    • Holy
    • Righteous
    • Good

app.: You should say to yourself as you read v 12: WHAT? That didn’t make sense at all. Paul is saying, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad… so it’s good. So naturally, another question is asked in v 13, the 4th in this section,

t.s.: Did that which is good, then, bring death to me?

II.    The Ugliness of Sin (13-20)

exp.: Are we to blame the law for what sin did? No! The blackness of sin is exposed within the Light of God’s Wonderful Law. The closer we get to God and his holiness, the more we see our sinfulness.

Ill.: I think that’s why we try to compare ourselves to others. We look so good when we compare ourselves to other people. We can always find people who are worse than us. But, when we compare ourselves to the Lord, that’s when we see ourselves for who we really are. Our sinfulness is exposed.

exp.: Here is how it works: Sin exploits the Law! The Law is holy, good, and righteous. But sin, it produces death through what is good. Don’t you just hate when something good gets distorted and turned into something ugly?

ill.: That is what sin does: it takes something good and perverts it.

  • You and I were made for relationships. You and I were designed for intimate relationships.
    • Prostitution
    • Pornography
    • Homosexuality
    • Facebook
    • Cohabitation
  • Medicine and Science
    • Drugs
    • Alcohol
    • The Physical World (Evolution vs. Creation)
  • Music
  • Books

Ill: Johannes Guttenberg, inventor of the printing press said: Religious truth is captive in a small number of little manuscripts which guard the common treasures, instead of expanding them. Let us break the seal which binds these holy things; let us give wings to truth that it may fly with the Word, no longer prepared at vast expense, but multitudes everlastingly by a machine which never wearies to every soul which enters life.

And he said: It is a press, certainly, but a press from which shall flow in inexhaustible streams. Through it, God will spread His Word. A spring of truth shall flow from it: like a new star it shall scatter the darkness of ignorance, and cause a light heretofore unknown to shine amongst men.

Sin has corrupted this precious gift to mankind, just as sin does to every wonderful gift God gives.

app.: Sin is an ugly distorter. In the end, it brings death.

exp.: let’s keep reading. Rd 14; Paul is teaching us something very important here (about himself and every believer), that we have two parts to our person.

  1. The Fallen Nature (the flesh)
  2. The Divine Nature (the Spirit)

Note these two as we continue reading; rd v through v20;

So, here is this tension, Paul wants to do good, but struggles with doing what he doesn’t want to do. I think we’ve all been there. Paul is describing these two natures that live in each believer and are at war with one another: Galatians 5.17: 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

  1. The Fallen Nature (or the flesh):
  2. The Divine Nature: 2 Peter 1.4: His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

And this is exactly what he finds in v 21ff; rd 21; he finds these two natures at work in himself.

t.s.: So, the Law is beautiful, but sin perverts and corrupts it in such a way that I find myself drawn to doing the things I don’t want to do. Is there any hope for me? For you? Yes, You and I have our hope in Christ.

III.   The Hope we have in Christ Jesus (22-25)

exp.: rd 22-25a; Christ is our only hope; We must abide in him. This is what he taught us – to abide in him. And if we abide in him and his words abide in us, then, we would produce fruit. For apart from him, we cannot bear fruit. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Transition: Have you ever noticed that some things are meant to be used in a certain way, but they don’t get used that way? Some how, some way, the very thing that is meant to do something or bring about some cause, or result, or action, actually gets used in a totally different manner and brings about a totally different reality.

Take Roosevelt’s speech for example. I’m sure he never intended his speech to serve as a ‘bullet-proof’ vest. I’m sure he had no idea that by NOT cutting his speech, the thickness of the papers would help save his life.

Conclusion: President Theodore Roosevelt stepped up to the podium and asked the crowd to be especially quiet that evening. The crowd grew quiet and then Roosevelt dropped the bomb. “I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have been shot.” He then unbuttoned his coat to show a blood soaked shirt.

President Roosevelt’s speech lasted 90 minutes. He stood there and gave his speech the whole time.

It was determined later that what saved his life was his speech. I don’t mean that he made the speech, but rather the pages on which his speech was written. It was a thick wade of paper which he had folded up and placed inside his right coat pocket. Added to that, was the thickness of his overcoat and the metal eyeglass case in the same pocket. The bullet did make it through all of that and enter his chest. The followed up the fourth rib that leads to the heart. The Bullet did pierce his lung. But Theodore Roosevelt, ever the man’s man, didn’t let a little thing like a gun-shot wound to the chest slow him down.

After the speech, President Roosevelt went to the hospital. The doctors determined that it would be too risky to remove the bullet. And so, the president lived with the bullet in his chest for the rest of his life.

The Law is like that, in a manner of speaking. You might think that obeying the Law perfectly will get you into heaven, but the Law was never intended to be perfectly obeyed. The purpose of the law is to show you your sinfulness and your need for a Savior. Some people use it in a way that it was never intended, hoping that it will save them. But the Law can’t save you – it can only show you that you need to be saved.

Application: Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

  1. Maybe you are at that place this morning. Just maybe you’re sitting there realizing that you are a sinner and all of your work at being good has never really been successful. Maybe, just maybe, you realize you need the forgiveness of your sin which comes only through Christ. Would you trust him this morning as your Savior, to come into your life and wash away your sin? This is the Gospel story, the good news:
    1. You and I are sinners. We become aware of this through the law.
    2. God is holy and our sin separates us from him.
    3. The only way to have a relationship with Him is to have our sin removed. But we can’t do that on our own. No amount of obeying the law can ever satisfy the debt we owe for our sin.
    4. So, because we were helpless and in an incredible state of need, God sent his perfect and holy Son Jesus to die for our sin. And, by placing our trust in him, he washes away our sin and makes us holy and righteous – which now makes it possible for us to have this relationship with him.

Would you trust Christ today?

  1. Maybe there is another decision on your heart? Maybe you feel called of God to share this good news with the world as a missionary, a pastor, or an evangelist. Maybe God is calling you to church membership here at Calvary? Maybe you’re just interested in learning more about these things.

I’d like to close with a song and then a prayer. After that, we’ll be dismissed to a time of fellowship with coffee and cookies and doughnuts. I want to give you a chance to respond to whatever decision God is placing on your heart. Come and visit with me in the back and let’s talk it…

Song: Show yourselves to be…

Are you showing yourselves to be following him? Let’s pray…

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Romans 7.1-6

Title: Praise for Redemption

Text: Romans 7.1-6

Introduction: a few weeks ago Larry asked me in our Bible Study time on Wednesday night if he understood me correctly when I said that we no longer have to obey the law – which, by the way, I did say. In the same week, Andy Stanley was highly criticized for his comments about Christians today and their need to ‘unhitch’ themselves from the OT.

Ouch. That scared me a little. I would in no way suggest that. So, I listened to Andy’s message and I think I understand what he’s trying to say. He’s trying to say what Paul said: We’ve been set free from the Law. It can’t save us! We don’t have to obey it’s demands any longer because Christ has set us free from it’s bondage.

The writer of Hebrews brings this out in chapter 8: Heb 8.7, 13:

For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

And there are more evidence of this:

Eph 2.13-22: 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.

Col 2.13-14; 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

He crucified it. I think this is the direction Paul has been headed all along in Romans. Let me show you what I mean. In 1.16-18 he gave us his thesis statement for the book: 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

How can he say v. 18 so confidently? How can he say anyone is unrighteous? Because of the Law. The Law shows us we’re sinners.

So, Paul says he loves the Gospel. This wonderful story begins with the wrath of God against sin. Sin is his first topic. You see that in chapters 1, 2 and 3. But, Salvation is revealed within this Good News. And, it comes by faith in Christ.

Look with me at chapter three as he arrives at this stage of the Salvation story: 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—

Paul says that the law shows us that we’re sinners, but it can’t make us righteous. He continues: 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

Note he says that it is apart from the Law and only through faith in Jesus Christ.

We continue our way through Romans and come to chapter 4. Rd 4.13-16a; 13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. What he is saying is that if the law could make one righteous, then all you’d have to do is obey it. But you can’t. All the law does is… continue in v 15. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. So, all the law really does is show us that we are sinners and that God is Holy.

16 That is why it depends on faith…

Then Paul makes his way through to Chapter 5 and declares in v 20-21, that through Christ, God has increased His Grace all the more where sin abounded. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Now, to address this issue, Paul presents to the reader a fictitious “Judiaser”. This pretend man debates Paul and asks a very serious question for the Jew in 6.1: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? Paul says absolutely not, and then he expounds through chapter six and chapter seven.

We pick up in Chapter 7 this morning. I want you to see that Chapter six and seven, though different, are very similar. Paul constructed it in such a way as to draw attention to the sanctification process.

 

Note how Chapter six is about the Christian and his relationship to sin, and, Chapter seven is about the Christian and his relationship to the law. Let me demonstrate this for you. You’re in Romans 7; now look back to chap. 6.

 

 

6.1: sets the topic as Sin

6.2: We died to sin

6.4: we might walk in newness of life

6.7: he who has died is freed from sin

Compare w/:

7.1: Sets the topic as Law

7.4: You have died to the law

7.6: we might serve in newness of the spirit

7.6: we have died to that which held us captive; we are released

 

So, here’s what we’re seeing: Paul is dealing with the Law in the same manner he dealt with Sin in the previous chapter. He uses the very same words. He uses the same flow. He uses the same thought pattern and the same sort of logic. He’s declaring that we’ve been set free from them both, sin and the law.

 

In the 7th chapter of Romans we see a type of Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde presentation about the Law.

I say that because (and I want you to remember), The Law of God is precious to the Jews. It’s precious to Paul. Ps 1.2: Blessed is the man… his delight is in the Law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.

Ill.: Lisa, Jenn and I watched Fiddler on the Roof Friday night. Tavia said that he wished he could be a rich man.

If I were rich, I’d have the time that I lack
To sit in the synagogue and pray.
And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall.
And I’d discuss the holy books with the learned men, several hours every day.
That would be the sweetest thing of all.

In the OT you find time and again, the love for God’s Word that his people had.

Psalm 19.7ff: it is perfect, reviving the soul; rejoicing the heart, enlightening the eyes, clean, righteous, sweeter than honey and drippings from the honeycomb. Think about that for a moment. The Jews felt the Law of God was sweeter than honey and drippings from the honeycomb.

Psalm 119 is replete with statements of the beauty and wonder of God’s Law and just how precious, how dear the Law is to the Psalmist and to the Jews. 4x’s in Psalm 119 the Psalmist says: Oh, how I love your law!

But, the Law was also cruel. The Law not only magnified the sin, the debt, the trespass, but it also increased the trespass. For all of it’s good, it brought shame. No one could ever live it out. Paul will press this point later on in 7 – that the Law is precious and cruel at the same time.

Read 7.1 with me. Well, what happens when a person is no longer living? They’re dead. In 6, he said we must die to sin. Just as Christ died, so we too die. That’s the picture of baptism. Back up in 6.Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

He is saying the same thing to us in 7.1: you are bound by this law, that is, until you die to the law.

My first goal today is to point out this principle.

Transition: If you’re taking notes, that would be point #1, for it is Paul’s first point. The Principle.

I.     The Principle (1)

exp.: And the Principle is this: You must die to the law, just as you die to sin. You have to fight this instinctive drive to set up standards as a way to earn your salvation.

t.s.: But just as he does in chapter 6, Paul then gives us an illustration to make his point in the next 2 verses.

II.    The Illustration (2-3)

exp.: In Chapter 6, he used an illustration and it was “Slaves and Masters”. In chapter 7, he’ll do the same, but this time it is “the husband and the wife.” Rd v 2-3;

Excurses: This passage isn’t about divorce. I know some folks like to use this passage to say people who get divorced and remarried are committing adultery. First, I want to caution you against establishing a doctrine on one verse. 2nd, I don’t think that is what this passage is teaching. Paul is teaching us about the Law and our need to die to the law. Let’s understand what he says within the context of the whole passage.

ill.: Remember the principle: you are bound to the Law until you die to the Law. Read v 2a: For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives… any problem so far? A woman makes a vow to her husband and she is bound to him while he is living. Pretty simple. Rd 2b; 2nd, if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So, if a woman is married to a man and he dies, she is no longer bound to the oath she made to him because he has died. Still pretty straight forward, correct. Let’s continue. Rd 2c; so, if she marries another man in this new situation she finds herself with her husband gone, she is NOT considered an adulteress. Verse 3: Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. So, without adding anything to Paul’s illustration, let’s look at the facts of his story. If a woman is married to a man, and she leaves him and lives with another man while he is still alive, then she is called an adulteress. That’s pretty straightforward. There is nothing in here about divorce. Paul doesn’t even mention divorce. Paul simply says, if this woman is married to this man and she goes and lives with another man, then she is an adulteress. She’s committing adultery. I’m pretty sure we would all agree with that. But, on the other hand, if her husband dies and then she marries another man, she is free to do so, because, she is no longer bound by the original contract. The bond between them has been severed because he died, freeing her up to marry another.

t.s.: For the application we must look at verse 4-6…

III.   The Application (4-6)

exp.: rd v 4; likewise. So, just as a woman is free from her marriage vows when her husband dies, likewise the believer… rd 4; we have been set free from that and are able to be bound to another – Christ. That isn’t the Body of Christ – the church, but rather the Body of Christ, physically speaking. rd v 5: For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. We were married to the Law, so we lived that way. But now, our circumstances have changed, as Paul says in Galatians 2: 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. His summary is found in v 6: But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

Paul mentions now, really for a 2nd time, the purpose and the reason behind this new marriage to Christ. First he says in v 4, in order that we may bear fruit to God. What kind of fruit is this? Well, in keeping with the teaching in Galatians, it would be the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Doesn’t that sound just like Jesus? We die to the law to bear fruit in our lives in such a way that others see Jesus in us. In Galatians 4.19, Paul says he is in anguish of childbirth to see Christ formed in them.

He says down in v 6 that we’ve died to the law and are united to Christ so that we serve (slave) in the newness (same word as in Chapter 6 for walk in newness of life) we serve in the newness of the Spirit. Without even knowing it, we served the devil. Now we serve God in the newness of the Spirit.

ill.: I have an old pastor friend who used to say that when he became a believer his “want to” changed. He didn’t want to do the things he used to do and he now, wanted to do what Christ desired of him. He wanted to serve in a pleasing manner. He wanted to be faithful. He wanted to walk in newness of life.

Conclusion: I think that kind of sums up how a believer moves from one realm into another. No longer bound by a set of rules to be obeyed externally, God writes his law upon our hearts. Now, what manifests itself in the life of a believer is what comes from within. Our ‘want to’ changes.

A young lady was so moved at her salvation she wrote a song about it. The Title of this song (a hymn you would call it): Praise for Redemption. You don’t know it by that title. You almost didn’t know it all, because when it was written, no one really liked it and it faded into obscurity for some 80 years.

In 1954, Billy Graham was hosting a crusade in London. It is truly amazing the anguish he endured there in London. He wanted to preach, but many of the religious leaders were so hard on him. Robert Morgan writes: The British Press was critical of the young evangelist and an Anglican bishop predicted Graham would return to America with ‘his tail between his legs.’ Funds were short, forcing the Graham team to take pay cuts. A member of Parliament threatened a challenge in the House of Commons, accusing Graham of interfering in British politics under the guise of religion. Friends in high places were advising Graham to cancel or postpone the meetings. Graham, shaken, dropped to his knees repeatedly, beseeching help from Heaven.

As a part of these struggles and financial cutbacks, Cliff Barrows began compiling hymns for the Great London Crusade Song Book. Barrows received many hymns from different folks. One such person was Reverend Frank Colquhoun, a well-known British preacher and lover of hymns. There was this unknown hymn by this lady named Fanny Crosby, who had published that hymn some 79 years before. That hymn was Praise for Redemption, and it goes like this:

To God be the glory, great things He has done; 
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.

Refrain:
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.

Jesus had redeemed Ms. Crosby and she wanted to shout praises of Glory to God for the great salvation she had experienced. So she composed that song. Of course, the song was sung for 3 months there in London in 1954 and exploded onto the Christian Scene.

Fanny Crosby wrote many songs about her faith. If this one had never been found, we’d still know about her faith. But aren’t you glad it was found.

Praise for Redemption. Fanny Crosby had found a new life in Christ. She had been taken from life to death. Do you hear her plea in the chorus: O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son.

If you’ve never accepted Christ, I offer him to you today. If you’ve been living by the law – trying to be good and never haven been changed by the Spirit. Would you come today?

Here’s how we do things at Calvary. I want to invite you to come talk to me (or any one of the elders) this morning about anything on your mind. There will be other church members there, too, of whom I’m sure would love to visit with you. We’ll have some coffee and cookies back there, and maybe some doughnuts.

Maybe you want to talk about church membership or feeling a call to missions or ministry. Come visit with us.

Let’s have a moment of silence and reflect upon the day’s activity.

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Romans 6.23

Title: The Gospel: A Story of Comparing and Contrasting

Text: Romans 6.23

Introduction: Do you guys know who Michael Rotondo is? He is the 30-year-old man from NY who was evicted by his parents. They gave him 5 or 6 letters of eviction. They pleaded with him to get a job. They reasoned that there were plenty of jobs out there, even jobs for folks who have horrible work records. Just get some employment. They wrote in an eviction notice back in February: “There are jobs available even for those with a poor work history like you,” one letter they sent him reads. “Get one – you have to work!”

Finally, on May 22nd, they took him to court. Michael lost. He moved out this week.

What a nightmare. I feel for his parents. They felt used. They wanted their son to quit being a leech. Earn a wage!

That’s tough. I know our government gives lots of handouts. There are many who survive from weekly government checks. I’m not knocking those folks. Unless of course, their career is living on the government – kind of like Michael, here living off his parents.

His parents offered him $1,100 to move out on. The money was for Deposits, first month’s rent, etc. he turned them down.

I’m not them, so I have no idea what they went through. But, as a parent, I know the feeling of wanting your child to grow up and become self-sufficient – to earn a wage.

Our verse this morning uses that word – ‘wage’. We’re in Romans 6.23: 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

6.23 is the summation verse of Chapter 6. It began back in v 1 with a question – a question a “Judaizer” would have asked. You can imagine a debate going on where Paul declares the teaching of Acts 15 and someone begins to question him. Saved by faith are we now? Where sin increased, grace increased all the more then? So, Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound all the more?

Well, Paul gives us the answer in verse 2-3 and 15-16 with a definitive: No! And then he spends the rest of the chapter explaining it all. Verses 20-23 are the closing statement to an argument that says we should not, we must not continue in sin… We’ve been set free from all of that

Now, Paul compares and contrasts three different elements to his summation.

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

  • Wages and free gift
  • Sin and God
  • Death and Eternal life

 

  1. We first find The Means by which we receive our reward. It is something we earn or we can’t earn it, but rather are freely given.
  2. Next, we see The Master we choose to serve who gives us this reward – whichever it might be…
  3. Finally, The Manifestation of our full reward is revealed.

Transition: Let’s begin with this first element… A comparing and contrasting of:

I.     The Means

exp.: One of my favorite sayings on God’s Sovereignty is: The One who determines the ends, also determines the means. I don’t know who said it or where it comes from. But what is being expressed is the idea that God is the one who makes all the rules. rd v 23: Wages vs. Free Gift; 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I assume that we all know what wages are. Wages are something we earn and are owed to us. We’ve ‘worked’ for wages. Usually, this involves time, energy, effort, etc. We’ve worked for someone and now that someone owes us.

When you look at the free gift, that doesn’t really fit. A gift isn’t earned. I’ve heard of parents saying stuff like: if you’ll lose weight, then I’ll give you this gift. That’s twisted. That’s not a gift. That’s something that is earned. You usually deserve your wages. You’ve worked for them. You don’t usually deserve a gift. It comes free of charge and with no strings attached. If there are strings attached, then it isn’t really a gift. It’s just that person trying to get something out of you – probably for selfish reasons.

ill.: Consider the parents of Michael Rotondo. They wanted to give him a gift $1,100 to pay for deposits, first months rent, etc. They wanted something from Michael – to move out. Their ‘gift’ wasn’t really a gift – was it? That’s different.

app.: Boy, this has me thinking about times I thought I was giving a gift, but really was selfishly trying to get something myself. Maybe I had good intentions or maybe I thought I was helping whomever for whatever reason. But, if I’m honest, I was probably giving that gift as a reward or a wage.

t.s.: I think to understand this better – this concept of wages – and to understand it correctly, we must look at this 2nd element: A comparing and contrasting of

II.    The Master

exp.: 6.23: 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. I think it becomes clearer when you put them side-by-side and place it in the context of the slave owners found in v 20-22; Slaves of sin and Slaves of God. This terminology bothers folks today because it isn’t PC. Consider some of our translations even change up the word slave for servant. But, Slave is the correct word. When you’re a slave and you work, you usually aren’t working for pleasure – to earn a wage, you simply work because you’re told to do so. You’re doing the work of your master. So one master is Sin and the other master is God. And in both illustrations, you don’t work for your master to get something from them. You work for your master because you are his slave. The Master then gives you what he wants to give you. The master, Sin, pays out what he wants. The Master, God, wants to give free gifts.

ill.: Does it make you uncomfortable to consider yourself a slave? This is the term Jesus used to describe those who practice sin. He said in John 8.34 that everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. It really is like that isn’t it? Sinful behavior is like a chain that holds you captive and doesn’t let you go.

app.: But that isn’t the way it goes with God – when He is your Master. In that same passage, John 8, Jesus said that if the Son sets you free, you’re free indeed. Or as some younger folks would say: You’re really, really free. Not just free, you’re not just really free, you’re really, really free!

How is this possible? How is someone a slave to righteousness, a slave to God and free at the same time?

I think you have to understand the whole story. I’m talking about the story that begins with Creation. God created you – a human being – to exist a certain way. Satan has corrupted that through sin. Sin promises so much but delivers nothing. Sin promises to make you feel better, look better, be more popular, to remove your pain, to gain more friends and the list goes on. But the truth is – Sin doesn’t deliver on its promises. Sin gives you a temporary fix to a permanent problem.

But God created you for a different existence. You were not created to be in bondage to sin. You were created for a relationship with God.

Imagine coming home to the one who made you and setting you free from this bondage of sin which leads to death, – setting you free to live life as He designed. Imagine coming home to him and finding that he doesn’t exact a wage from you, but rather lavishes precious gifts upon you.

Jesus tells this story in Luke 15.11-32;

app.: the one son who broke his Father’s heart returned. I love the picture of the father waiting, watching. I love the picture of the father running. I love how the father lavished precious gifts upon the son.

t.s.: And that leads us to our last comparison…

III.   The Manifestation

exp.: 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Death or Eternal Life. Sin’s ultimate wage is death. God’s ultimate gift is eternal life. Hmmm… I wonder why it is so hard to choose? Would you call it irony that in refusing to choose, you really are making a choice anyway?

ill.: Michael Rotondo’s parents really wanted something special for their son. They wanted him to be totally free and independent. I think that’s what all parents want for their kids. Some folks probably think a great illustration from them would have been if they bought Michael a home and gave it to him as a gift. No strings attached. But this is where the illustration breaks down. I’m assuming that these parents are doing what they’re doing because they’re trying to teach their son what it means to be truly free.

app.: Isn’t that odd. They’re doing something that seems really mean to do what they would consider in the best interest of their son. I’m sure there are many who see that as contradictory: how can hurting him, how can making him struggle and suffer now make him better and stronger later?

t.s.: Well, there seem to be a contradiction in coming to faith in Christ, too.

Conclusion: Here is what I mean: true freedom comes when you finally surrender your life to Christ. You’ve tried living life your way. You’ve been a slave to sin and maybe you didn’t even know it. You see what that life has done for you. Rd 6.21; that life brought you shame. Now, will you trust your life to Christ? Will you surrender your life to God and trust Him to do things his way?

The Bible teaches us that we’re all sinners. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And what does it cost us to be sinners – each and every one of us? Death. Eternal death. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Note that last phrase: in Christ Jesus our Lord. Death is the payment due, but Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for you and me. When Christ died on the Cross, God took your sin and placed on him. He died for your sin. And he took the righteousness of Christ – all of his perfection – and put it on you.

So, when you put your faith in Christ, God takes away your sin and makes you righteous in His eyes. Then, you begin to live life the way he designed – in a relationship with Him.

Application: So, what would I like you to take home with you today?

  1. When you give gifts, are they really gifts or wages for something you desire? What a great reminder to us to think through what is given and what is expected. What a great reminder that Sin operates that way: it makes you think you’re getting something, but in reality, Sin is the one who does the ‘getting’.
  2. I hope that last question has you thinking about your heart. Is it selfish? Does your heart seek your own way? This is your life – Are you who you want to be? Are you who you thought you’d be?
  3. What is really stopping you right now from surrendering your life to Christ? Really?
  4. Is this not the most incredible story you’ve ever heard? A good and gracious God who desires a relationship with you will do whatever it takes to make you into the person he created you to be – even to the giving up of his own son. Would you tell someone?

**Post Sermon Remarks: Giving is a touchy subject. My purpose is to challenge each person reading this to search his or her heart concerning intention and motive.

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