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:
- Ignorance: If it weren’t for the Law, he would have remained ignorant about sin (rd 7a)
- Knowledge: The Law revealed to him that he was a sinner. (rd 7b-8)
- Condemnation: He died when sin came to life in him. (rd 9-11)
- 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:
- The Beauty of the Law
- The Ugliness of Sin
- 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)
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.
- Medicine and Science
- The Physical World (Evolution vs. Creation)
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.
- The Fallen Nature (the flesh)
- 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.
- The Fallen Nature (or the flesh):
- The Divine Nature: 2 Peter 1.4: 3 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, 4 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. 4 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. 5 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!
- 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:
- You and I are sinners. We become aware of this through the law.
- God is holy and our sin separates us from him.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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…