Category Archives: Sermon

Psalm 122

Title: The Simple Pleasure of Public Worship

Text: Psalm 122

Introduction: Simple Pleasures. Most times, it seems, that what we enjoy most in life – are the simple pleasures.

I don’t know, maybe it is just because I’m getting older, but that is what I look forward to. I know everyone likes something different. Lisa and I are headed out of town for a couple of weeks of summer vacation. We’re going to do what we love. I’ve been praying the weather is nice and we can have a fire at night. I don’t know what it is about a fire in the fireplace or fire pit, but I could just sit and stare at it for hours. When you’re in the mountains it seems there are more stars – and they’re so much brighter.

The Simple Pleasures.

If the pilgrims are making their way up toward the Temple for worship and ‘singing’ these Psalms of Ascent, then, Psalm 120 is sung while they are still far off. Psalm 121 is sung as they see the hills of Jerusalem in the distance – maybe they don’t see the city, but they know they’re getting closer. If so, then Psalm 122 would be sung as they stepped inside the gates of the city. Just to be inside the gates! Man, they’re so close! Simple Pleasures.

What joy there would be when they arrived! The journey would have been long, but it at this time, would be considered worth it! Maybe they’ll be like Jesus who turned his face toward Jerusalem in Luke 9.51; There are like 6 references to their journey toward Jerusalem. You read through Luke and you follow Christ and where he goes, but if you’re not looking specifically at the references, you’ll miss the pilgrimage. These guys are probably thinking their journey is for a feast or festival – It is the Passover – but, I believe Jesus knew exactly what he was doing. He was going to be the Passover lamb to be sacrificed for the sins of the world.

Maybe the people have been on a long journey and now they’ve arrived. I wonder what went through their hearts and minds. I wonder what their senses picked up that was familiar and brought excitement. The sound of animal hooves on the stone road or the noises they make as they coo and crow. The sights and sounds of the big city that they’ve not heard since last there? I wonder… I’ll bet it was the simple pleasures.

 

Let’s pause for a moment and bring this home: What goes through your heart and mind when it comes time to go to church? What do you think? What do you feel? Is there excitement? Is there a sense of anticipation?

Look back with me now to Psalm 122; rd v 1-2; someone said, “it’s time!” and now they’re standing within the gates.

Transition: note with me the first simple pleasure David records…

I.     There is a joy that arises from within when the Psalmist hears the invitation to go to the house of the Lord. (1-2)

exp.: I was glad! The House of Yahweh; which, by the way, forms bookends to this Psalm. You’ll see the House of Yahweh again in v9; I think this joy rises up within because the psalmist loves to worship Yahweh.

If this Psalm is of David, then the context is of David already standing within the walls of Jerusalem rejoicing at the call of someone who had previously said to him, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” For the Psalms of Ascent, this psalm was added to this collection because it works perfectly with the pilgrims who are making their way to Jerusalem. There is an excitement that arises when one considers coming to the house of God to worship him.

ill.: I liken it to Youth camp. You guys just got back. Some of you testified to how wonderful it was. If Duffey were to announce this morning that He is putting together a group of teens who will be going back to Camp, I wonder if any would be like David here and say: I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go back to Youth Camp!” At Youth camp, you probably worshipped and fellowship and had experiences that are unlike being in the real world. You’ve withdrawn from the world and you’ve enjoyed the mountaintop experiences of getting away from the world and getting closer to God.

app.: Look at his experiences of worship: v4, to give thanks; v6-8, for prayer (peace, security, prosperity, unity, community);

t.s.: there is joy – and if you don’t have it, I can’t make you experience it. It is something that is born from within you. There is joy that arises from within when the believer hears the invitation to go to the house of the Lord because the believer loves to worship God. But there is a 2nd Simple Pleasure…

II.    There is a gratitude that arises from within when the Psalmist thinks about the city where the Worship of God is central and the rule of David’s throne is set. (3-5)

exp.: Jerusalem, the psalmist loves Jerusalem! Why does he love this city?

  • From the context of the king, David has been there all week at a festival. He now thinks about leaving and he can’t wait to return.
  • For the pilgrim from a faraway land, he’s thinking and longing about standing there again. Whether that is someone who is coming back from exile, or if it is someone who lives in the country but has to travel to Jerusalem for a festival and a time of worship, that person is longing for the city – And, that person is so excited about getting there once again, because it isn’t just any city.

Ill.: Consider that those who lived out in the country of Judea had to travel to Jerusalem and how hard that would have been. Do you remember Hannah and her husband, Elkannah? Their journey was once a year – year by year. Every year they would travel from his city to Shiloh, where the ark was at that time. Consider when a family packed up and went, who took care of the business; fed and cared for the animals, etc.?

ill.#2: There is work to be done. Lisa and I are going out of town. It is absurd, the amount of work. Lisa had to make three bulletins this week. I had to line up someone to mow our yard. There was a lot of prep work. And, when we return, we’ll be playing catch up for a few days.

These people had it harder than we do! They would be gone for longer than we will be gone.

There was this hard work, but there was also this ‘emotional’ experience – an emotional attachment. But, it is more than an emotional attachment!

  • There is stability here in Jerusalem.
    • The gates (v2) are strong and sturdy; rd v 3,
    • the city itself is built in such a way that it is described as; bound firmly together; And I think this is more than just stone and mortar, walls and towers (v7).
    • It is also a community.
      • You see this in v 4; there are 13 tribes of Israel and they’ve all come to this place for this celebration, this festival.
      • This is where the king lives and rules. The Davidic lineage. Remember the Christmas story? Jesus was of the house of David.
    • In the last section, you see two words that are very similar, but still different: Secure and Security. We’ll say more about these two words in a minute, but for now, note the feel of what being inside the city gates would bring to the pilgrim.

ill.: When I was in Harlingen as a young minister, my pastor required the staff to make hospital visits each week. In a church that size, there was always someone in the hospital. Every Thursday I would drive to Valley Baptist Hospital and visit members. To be quite honest, I didn’t know 99% of the people there who were members of my own congregation. But I got to meet some neat people. One such lady was in her late 90’s. She had been a part of FBC Harlingen most of her life. She played the piano and taught in the children’s Sunday School for decades. Her memories were much like what David is sharing here: they brought her joy and a deep sense of gratitude. She would refer to the church as ‘choych’. And she would say it with a sweetness, such a fondness that I think most folks just don’t get.

app.: I wonder if the younger generation is missing out on something truly wonderful in having an emotional attachment to the church? We’re so mobile. With 400 churches in Smith County, it is so easy to just move your membership.

Now, an emotional attachment isn’t everything, but it is something wonderful. There is an emotional attachment to the place and to the people. And I think it only comes through a loyalty of commitment to community and unity – to the people of God.

Let me ask you: What happens to you when someone mentions the church? Is there a feeling, an emotion that rises up within you of longing and desire? Is there joy and gratitude that arises within when you speak of the church?

Derek Kidner in his two-volume set on Psalms says: What Jerusalem was to the Israelite, the church is to the Christian.

Martin Luther: Our Jerusalem is the church and our temple is Christ.

app.: I think the text is clear that their reasoning for coming was to (v.4) give thanks. Unity and Community were byproducts of that mandate. They did not come to Jerusalem on a yearly basis to work on their unity.

t.s.: there is joy when he hears of and gratitude when he thinks of Jerusalem and the Temple. Then, there is a switch on the part of the Psalmist. His longing turns to an imperative. He commands the people to pray – and that is my 3rd Simple pleasure…

III.   There is a concern that arises within the Psalmist for the welfare of this divine institution as he considers the fragile state of the human condition. (6-9)

exp.: it feels good to care about something; to take ownership! In v6 he begins with a command: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. There is a question about whether this should still be going on. Maybe you’ve seen this bumper sticker? The Psalmist tells you what to pray – I mean he gives you the words: “May they be secure who love you! 7Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!” These two words secure and security have the connotation of May they ‘securely prosper and secure prosperity’. Why pray for these things? His answer is in 8-9: For the sake of my family and friends, for the sake of the Lord’s house.

Do you follow the news of Jerusalem? UPI headlines yesterday: Muslims Worshipers, Israeli Police Clash at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Jerusalem continues to search for peace, but peace eludes them. Why? Jesus told them 2,000 ago: 41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19.41-44 – We learned in our Christian History class this summer that there were Christians who knew this and fled to the hills and were saved when Jerusalem fell in 70AD.

1,000 years after David commanded the Israelites to pray for peace, Peace came and stood in their midst. And they missed him! You see in v 41 that it broke his heart as he wept over the ‘city of peace’.

(Pause)

ill.: Do you remember when David was chilling out in his Palace and looked out across the way and saw the tent where the Ark of the Covenant was? His heart broke. He thought it wrong that he, the King of Israel should dwell in a palace and the presence of God in the Ark of the Covenant should dwell in a tent. He set his heart and his mind to build a Temple for God. You probably remember the story. God chose his son, Solomon to build the Temple. So David prepared everything ahead time for his son. He got all the lumber and materials in order before he died so that his son could build that Temple.

It was at that time that the Israelites were given a picture of the Messiah, the Prince of Peace:

  • He is the king who was descended from David
  • He is the great high priest who would intercede for us.

app.: And only when you come to the place where you surrender your life to the King and ask for him to intercede for you as your priest can you truly find peace. Peace can only come through Christ. That’s why he wept. Consider Luke 13: 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! He wanted to gather them! He wanted that peace for them. But they had other plans.

Now, you might be wondering really Fred, you got that from here? Do you see v 3? That phrase bound firmly together? That is the same wording in Exodus for the prescription of how the Tent, which possessed the Ark, was built: bound firmly together. Exodus 26.11; So you have this imagery of God and the command of the tribes of Israel to ascend (v.4 – go up) to give thanks to the name of the Lord. Verse 5 declares the rule of the King who administers justice and judgment.

t.s.: And for me, that’s point #4 this morning and the conclusion of the matter:

Conclusion – The Reality of it all: they missed it (Luke 19.41; 13.34)

exp.: But you don’t have to miss it. That really is the message of the Gospel: there is no peace without Jesus.

They came to their festivals. They sang their psalms. They longed for peace, but when peace was in their midst, when peace visited them, they missed him. Don’t miss your opportunity to find peace.

Application: What are we called to do in light of this message? Three questions for you to consider:

  1. When was the last time you said: I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” The Psalmist loves Worship, he loves the place of worship, and he loves the people who worship God with him. There is a zeal and a passion for the Worship of God – for the Place of Worship, the People of Worship. Do you get excited about that, too?

ill.: One of the things I miss about my girls is that they used to get so excited about Sundays and going to church. There was an excitement about picking out their dresses; about picking out the necklace that would go with that dress; about the shoes that would match; about getting their hair done. I can remember driving by the church and my girls, when they were little would point it out with enthusiasm, there’s the church – like I was missing it somehow. When was the last time you got excited about church? When was the last time you said: I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”

  1. When you do come to the church, what are your expectations? What do you hope to accomplish? Do you look for those who aren’t here and make comments about them? Is this a social hour? Or, Do you come to this place for the sole purpose of giving thanks to the name of the Lord?
  2. Do you long for, deeply desire God’s favor to be visited upon the people of God? Do you pray for her peace? Do you pray for her prosperity? Do your prayers bubble up from the passion and longing you have for her? Pray for the Church.
    1. Matthew Henry: The peace and welfare of the gospel church, particularly in our land, is to be earnestly desired and prayed for by every one of us.
    2. Spurgeon said: For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. It is to the advantage of all Israel that there should be peace in Jerusalem. It is for the good of every Christian, yea, of every man, that there should be peace and prosperity in the church. Here our humanity and our children, our neighbors, and our fellow countrymen are likely to be blest.

 

Here at Calvary, we spend time in fellowship after our worship services. If you’re a guest, we’d love to visit with you, too. If you’ve never accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, we want to take advantage of this time and share Christ with you. Maybe you have a commitment you’d like to share with us: surrendering to missions, joining our fellowship and becoming a member – whatever it might be – we’re going to have a moment of silence to reflect upon the Greatness of God and consider what He is calling us to do. After that time of silence, join us in our time of fellowship – come and talk with us.

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Psalm 121

Title: The Lord is my Keeper

Text: Psalm 121

Introduction: A kindergarten teacher told every student to draw a picture of what was important to them. In the back of the room, Johnny began to labor over his drawing. Everybody else finished and handed in their picture but Johnny didn’t. He was still drawing. The teacher graciously walked back and put her arm around Johnny’s shoulder and said, “Johnny, what are you drawing?” He didn’t look up; he just kept on working feverishly at his picture.

He said, “God.”

“But Johnny,” she said gently, “no one knows what God looks like.”

He answered, “They will when I’m through.”

 

Today I want to describe God to you in such a way that you’ll know Him better. I can’t say you’ll know what he looks like when I’m done, but I hope you’ll have a deeper, richer understanding of Him.

 

Open your copy of God’s Word to Psalm 119. I want to show you the flow of Psalms. Psalm 120;

This morning we move from Psalm 120 – a statement of distress and struggle, to a psalm of God’s magnificence. This Psalm is really all about God: His greatness and His goodness.

What a great lesson – even before we begin – to take our eyes off of us, off of our problems and focus in on God.

In this situation of distress and struggle, the Psalmist changes his tune (pardon the pun).

The Psalmist asks a rhetorical question to begin with: rd v 1 – I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?

Let me give you some context quickly. This Psalm was originally set in the context of the King asking this question and responding to himself. In v.2 he answered himself. Then, in v.3, the Priest would take over the Psalm with this amazing declaration of God’s greatness. When the Israelites returned from exile, they used this Psalm in the context of themselves – those returning from exile. They would speak in v1-2 and the Priest would make the declaration in v3-8;

  • Confession of Faith: Where does my help come from?
  • Confidence in His Character:
    • He is steadfast, causing us to be Immoveable,
    • He is faithful. People will let you down. A Human Guard will fall asleep while on duty, while on the wall. Not so with God.
    • He is your protection, your guard, and your keeper.
    • Not just in this moment, but in your future, He can be trusted.

Transition: so, let’s begin with this first section – the voice of the people who are beginning their journey.

From where does my help come? They know.

I.     A Confession of Faith in the Creator God. (1-2)

exp.: rd v 1a; the hills, or mountains. There is this idea of lifting up the eyes to see where God is. You’ve probably noticed that Israel – against God’s demands, by the way – offered sacrifices on the ‘high places’. These folks had a perception that God dwelt on high and wanted to offer their sacrifices on high. But God told them that sacrificing on the high places was what the previous occupants of the land did and they weren’t to be like those people. The Israelites were given specific commands about sacrificing. Again, I don’t think this is a concerned question (i.e., like I’m scared and I don’t know where I’ll get the help I need.) I think this is rhetorical in nature. Rd v 1a again; rd 1b; I love this word ‘help’.

  • Help: We often think of help as that assistance that makes work or toil easier. That isn’t what this word means in Hebrew. Help in Hebrew doesn’t mean assist. It means without assistance, without intervention I would die or I would fail – I would not make it. The English idea of help has weakened this word. Consider: rescue, redeem or
  • Lord: Yahweh. God’s covenant name. And then, there is an answer you might not expect. My help comes from the Creator God – Yahweh. This is the very first characteristic we learn about God in Genesis 1.1 – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

ill.: As one stands in Jerusalem, at the Temple, you can see the mountains which surround the city – or, I guess in today’s understanding, make up the city. I was told there are 7 of these summits. I was drawn to them one day while I was at the Dan Hotel in Jerusalem. I was rooming up on a higher floor and stepped out onto the balcony where I was counting cell phone towers and noticed how the hills looped around the city. They are indeed impressive. I imagine a king making this statement and being encouraged and enthused, as he would see these mountains tops that God created. This same Yahweh, who created these massive, impressive features, is the same God who will rescue the king in his time of need. And it would be the same for the Israelite pilgrims as they made their way to Jerusalem. It would be a tremendous visual aid.

app.: This first, opening statement then wouldn’t be a question of concern, but rather a Confession of Faith.

t.s.: Based upon this confession, the priest would now declare his confidence in God. And this confidence is based upon God’s Character. Let’s look at that now:

II.   A Declaration of Confidence in the Character of God’s (3-8)

exp.: rd 3a; He will not let your foot be moved; this definitely fits with the journey motif of the pilgrims. For the king, the idea was that the king might be assassinated if his human guard failed him; rd 3b; He might ‘slip’ into Sheol or tumble into Sheol if his human guard fails him. But, as a reminder, The Creator God we serve is not like the ‘gods’ of the people or the human guards of the king. God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the one who keeps Israel, he will neither slumber nor sleep. Rd v4; So, here is our first characteristic as presented in Psalm 121:

  1. He is Steadfast. He will not be moved. So then, neither will you be moved.
  2. He is Protection. Rd v 5-6; The Lord stands to your right hand. Therefore, you are covered in the shade created by such a great God. Modern-day statements similar to this one: He hides you in the shadow of the Cross. Now, take yourself to the desert areas of the Holy Land. Try to walk from Jericho to Jerusalem in the heat of the day. The Sun would eat your lunch. I’m guessing that none of us could make that journey. First, we’d probably get lost. 2nd, we would become dehydrated and overheat. We would die out there in the barren land. The night wouldn’t be any better for us. It gets cold at night.

I see two different spheres of influence here. One is that of people. God protects his king in the one instance, and God protects his people in the 2nd instance. The 2nd sphere deals with nature. The elements can bring destruction, but God protects his king or his people from nature, too.

This isn’t the only time we see characteristics of God. The Bible is filled with “the Lord is” statements:

Today we read that the Lord is your keeper. I thought of some other verses that describe what the Lord is to me, to us and I decided to search my Bible for statements about the Lord. This is what I found: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. The Lord is my strength and my song. The Lord is my refuge. The Lord is my banner. The Lord is holy. The Lord is with us. The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in love. The Lord is our inheritance. The Lord is mighty. The Lord is among us (in our midst). The Lord is Peace. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer. The Lord is righteous. The Lord is able. The Lord is a stronghold. The Lord is king. The Lord is my cup and my portion. The Lord is my light. The Lord is my shield. The Lord is powerful. The Lord is upright. The Lord is good. The Lord is near. The Lord is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. The Lord is robed in majesty and glory. The Lord is merciful and gracious. The Lord is at your right hand. The Lord is high above all nations and his glory above the heavens. The Lord is on my side. The Lord is faithful. The Lord is a fountain of life. The Lord is the Maker of all. The Lord is safe for all who trust him. The Lord is justice. The Lord is exalted. The Lord is the judge. The Lord is the lawgiver. The Lord is our righteousness. The Lord is Awesome. The Lord is God. The Lord is the everlasting God. The Lord is the true God.

And I didn’t even type up all of them! I wonder how many there are? Someone could take each of those statements and create a devotional book expounding upon all of the declarations of who God is!

3. He is Eternal. In this 3rd declaration, the Psalmist moves from images and metaphors to generalizations with the purpose of expressing God’s steadfastness and his protection, not just for this moment, but forevermore. Rd v7-8;

  • For the king – this would be a statement that God would be with the king as he went out to battle and as he returned home.
  • For the Israelites – it would be a statement that God would go with them in their going out to the field to work and when they returned in the evening to their home.
  • For those in exile – it would be a declaration that God was indeed with them as they were sent away and that he would be with them as they returned.
  • For the pilgrims – it would be a declaration that God was with them as they traveled from their homes to festival or feast and that He would be with them as they returned home – until the next festival time. I think the context would be closer to say that he was with them as they left the festival or feast and be with them until they returned for the next festival or feast.

Conclusion: Consider the vivid imagery of the Psalm for a moment. If you were watching this Psalm on a TV screen, you might see the opening verses from outer space. God, the Creator God, Created all things. You could stay in outer space for some time observing the vast universe and slowly move in toward the earth as you take in the vastness of God’s creation. You might move in beyond the oceans to the land. You would see the mountains and lakes. You might move in closer and see the animals that dwell there: all the birds of the skies and the beasts of the fields and all that passes through the sea. You might move in even closer to the people, zooming in past all of the people to where you are. And, zooming in even closer to your foot you would see that this Creator God, who created all of that, he will not let your foot to stumble.

What a great picture of God. He is so great and grand, tremendous and magnificent. You can fly to the farthest, most remote part of our Universe and not escape his eye. Indeed, so close is he that he can move beyond all of those created things to see you right where you are. He knows your needs, your pains, your fears.

Ill.: You need a little perspective. Chuck Swindoll tells the story of a new member of the British Parliament took his 8-year-old daughter on a brief tour of his beloved London. They came to Westminster Abby and the awesomeness of it struck that little girl. She stood looking way up at those columns and studying the beauty and grandeur of the Gothic church building. Her father was struck at her concentration. He looked down and said, “Sweetheart, what are you thinking about?” She said, “Daddy, I was thinking how big you seem at home and how small you look in here.”

Psalm 121 gives us some perspective – of who we are and who we are to God.

Application: So, what are some take-a-ways from all of this?

  1. The Lord is your *helper. And I mean that in the Hebrew sense of the word: without him, you would not make it. You would surely fail. When I say ‘help’, I don’t mean to assist you. He’s not Onstar! He is your salvation, your rescue, your redemption.
  2. The Lord is your keeper. He is your guard. He is your eternal, steadfast, immovable protector. He guards your going out and your coming back in. In him, we live and move and breathe and find our very existence.
  3. But The Lord is only this to you if you’re His. If you’ve never surrendered your life to Him, you’re just out there on your own. Would you surrender your life to him today if you never have before?

Here’s how we do things at Calvary. I want to call you to surrender your life to Christ. I’m not going to ask you to come forward in front of everyone, but I am going to ask you to come to talk to me. If you want to know what it means to be a Christian, come to visit with me. If I’m talking with someone, be patient. I really want to visit with you.

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Psalm 120

Title: Longing for Home

Text: Psalm 120

Introduction: We’re in Psalm 120 this morning. We’ll also turn to Nehemiah and look at a couple of verse in chapters 2 and 4. Go ahead and mark those two places now.

A longing for Home; (my freshman year). 2nd story, night fire while in the army.

Let me ask you this morning: Have you ever been homesick?

In preparing for this series, I was moved by different authors and commentaries on the Psalms. Dr. Leslie Allen, a professor at Fuller said that he experienced a ‘trauma’ in his family, which led him to serve as a hospital chaplain for a few hours each week. I suppose it was a sort of therapy for him. I don’t know what the trauma was nor the experience of his life. But what he said about the Psalms in connection to that time in his life has stayed with me. He said: My own experience of trauma, and the consequent addition to my life of a few hours per week working as a hospital chaplain, have underlined for me the ongoing value of the Psalter in relating believers to their God. What an accurate description of God’s Word as found in the Psalter and how fitting it is at various times to each believer in his or her trials.

All of us have felt betrayal, anger, vengeance, the searing pain of losing a loved one, worry, doubt, confusion, hurt, and the like. These Psalms hit every believer at some point on the life spectrum. You may read a Psalm today that you’ve read a hundred times, but, because of where you are at the moment, it could really speak to your heart.

There is something interesting going on here in Psalm 120 that I found no help within my many books on the Psalms. I’m sure I’m not the first to notice it, but I want to point out to you something very interesting about this form of poetry… Lord (1), Lord (2), deceitful tongue (2), deceitful tongue (3); Verse 4 would then be the middle of the climax if this were seen as some chiastic structure; dwell (5), dwell (6), peace (6), peace (7):

  1. Lord: Yahweh, the focus of his prayer.
  2. Deceitful tongue: The conflict or difficulty he is facing.
  3. Dwelling: The struggle with living in a foreign land because he has been exiled from his homeland.
  4. Peace: Shalom, his desire, his request.

That will make 4 different areas of focus in this Psalm if this is significant. A fifth area would be verse 4, the climax of the Chiasm: 4A warrior’s sharp arrows, with glowing coals of the broom tree!

There is another focus here that I’d like to bring out and I think this is the teaching point of the Psalm: Speech. Words. It flows through the Psalm. Words. What we say. Words represent emotion, feeling, anger and what lies inside of us. Jesus said that what comes out of the mouth is an overflow of the heart.

  1. He calls to Yahweh (v1). His words are directed at Yahweh.
  2. His request is deliverance from speech, or more specifically, ‘hate speech’, ‘smear campaign’ (i.e., lying lips and a deceitful tongue in v2.)
  3. Verse 3 represents speech as presented in a vow or perhaps a curse. Rd v 3; it is a formula we see in the O.T. You read often times in the form of “may God do so to me if I don’t…
    1. 1 Kings 19.2: Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.”
    2. Probably the most popular verse where you’ll remember this is found in Ruth 1.17: 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”
  4. Arrows are sometimes used as a metaphor for words or speech. The picture here is that these words are wounding the psalmist and setting his world on fire – in a bad way. In a real battle, warriors would light their arrows with fire because the arrows that didn’t pierce an enemy would land on a roof and start a fire, a fire that would burn down the house and probably those other homes and businesses within close proximity, causing major destruction. Thus are the words of the psalmist’s enemy. Some of his words are landing and wounding him and others are bringing destruction to his home and his community.
  5. In verse 7, the Psalmist speaks for peace. In Psalm 35.20, David uses deceit in contrast to peace: 20 For they do not speak peace, but against those who are quiet in the land they devise words of deceit. In Psalm 27.3, David uses an army and war as metaphors for someone who rises up against him. That’s the picture we see in v 7.

If you take these pictures, illustrations or metaphors from Ps 120, you can see that this Psalm might just be all about the harmful words someone is using against him. It is at this point we might ask who is the speaker? The Thompson Chain Reference Bible attributes this Psalm to David, when Doeg, the Edomite, on behalf of King Saul, was harassing David. That might just be the context, but the compilers of this collection of psalms want this Psalm to be sung with the exile in mind because they have endured much of the same difficulty. Those who hate them have maligned them time and time again. I think Haman in the book of Esther illustrates this perfectly for us.

So, what? Are these people just disgruntled because someone is saying something nasty about them? Well, yes, but it is so much more than that. These folks have sojourned in a foreign land for decades. Do you see that in v5? Rd v 5; Meshech is to the North and west of Jerusalem in what we would consider modern day Turkey. Kedar is to the East and South of Jerusalem. This can’t possibly be the same person speaking of being exiled in two different places. There is no way they were exiled to these two locations so very far apart and in different directions. So, while it is true that the Jews were scattered in the dispersion, what is the writer telling us?

John Goldingay references Michael Goulder’s work in his article in the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (1998) at this point. He connects these locations in v5 with Sanballat, the Horonite, and Geshem, the Arabian found in Nehemiah (2.10, 19). We don’t know very much about either man and a lot of speculation goes into this. But, there is some powerful archeological evidence to strengthen Goulder’s hypothesis.

  • Sanballat, the Horonite: His name is Babylonian and translated as – Sin, the moon god, and ballat means he gives life. Haran, was the seat of worship of Sin, the moon god. History teaches us that Sanballat had power from the Northwestern areas of Samaria and beyond. We know that he was governor over Samaria at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, even though he would have been very old at that time. His sons would have done most of the work for him. So, Sanballat’s power would have been North and west, maybe even as far as Modern Day Turkey.
  • Geshem, the Arab: We know nothing of him except through extra-biblical material. Inscriptions have been discovered in archeological finds from Arabia to Egypt. He must have wielded great power. One inscription mentions him as “King of Kedar”.

Look what they say; rd Neh 4.1-4; Now, Nehemiah knows this isn’t the first time the people of the land have tried to stop God’s work. They did it a few years back when Ezra was rebuilding the Temple. And, evidently, it worked for a while, because in Ezra, we read that the rebuilding of the Temple ceased for a period of time until Haggai and Zechariah (the minor prophets) intervened.

So here is the theory: maybe, just maybe, these two towns (Meshech and Kedar) are meant to represent the very people who are disseminating venomous lies with their deceitful tongues. Ezra had suffered in his mission from men who were like Sanballat and Geshem because of their lies to the king and to the people who would rise up against Ezra and the Jews. Maybe, just maybe, those men saw the success of their predecessors and now they figured they would lie and jeer and taunt Nehemiah, too.

You know the story. The wall was rebuilt and in record time. But it doesn’t mean that it wasn’t difficult for Nehemiah and the families who worked. If you read the book of Nehemiah, you know it was very difficult.

So, keeping this bit of information in mind, I want to get you to feel what the psalmist is doing here. And I plan to do this by pointing out a few principles from the text that applied to those people and to the people of God today. In this Psalm’s complexity, in its beauty, in the genius of its composition, I want you to feel what they felt. So, the first principle I see here is:

I.     The prayers of the people of God are born out of the faithfulness of God. (1-2)

exp.: note that verse 1 is in the past tense. He had been in distress and he is in distress again; this is simply a cry for help that comes from the confidence that God has acted before and he will surely come to the rescue of his people again.

ill.: Ps. 37.25: I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. My faith is stronger now that I am older. I wish I could have been more faithful when I was younger. However, as the years have passed, I have seen God remain faithful time and time again. Older believers, if you hear me and you agree, say “Amen.”

app.: Oh, young people, Trust the Lord with all your heart. Do not lean on your own understanding. I know that’s hard, but that is the way to go. In all of your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Let your prayers be strong and specific. Most of all, pray God’s Words back to him. Repent where you rebelled.

And when you see the work of God in your life, that will move you to come back time and again to the faithfulness of God. That’s what the Psalmist does here…

t.s.: Now, he turns from his distress and his plea for God to deliver him, to confront his enemies. We see this in verse 3&4;

II.    The battles of the people of God are fought through the faithfulness of God. (3-4)

exp.: rd v 3; the verbs in v. 3 are passive. That means this author isn’t the one who brings about the action. God is the one who brings about the action. He will turn back upon them the very plot they have against him. rd v 4; that’s what shall be done to you!

I don’t think this is an imprecatory psalm. Yes, the psalmist is hoping for God to defend him. One could easily make the first two points of this message be: deliver me and defend me.

ill.: Recently we saw the movie: Paul, Apostle of Christ. I loved the many storylines flowing through the movie. There was the dilemma of staying or going. Persecution was rampant and severe. Pricilla wanted to stay and minister in the face of this persecution. Aquilla wanted to leave – his reasons were good. Some believers got weapons and stormed the prison where Paul was. Others were passive, praying their lives would influence and persuade their persecutors.

app.: you and I are faced with this same dilemma when we face persecution – that is, persecution on a different level. Someone may not like your ideas or be jealous of you and say things about you that aren’t true. How do you defend yourself? One thing you don’t do is behave in that same manner! You don’t tell lies about others just to get back at them. It is God who avenges. And, man, oh man, how fearful to fall into the hands of an angry God.

ill.: I was reading up on the coals of a broom tree and evidently, these coals burned very hot and very slowly. There is a Jewish story about these coals, obviously presented with hyperbolic language. The story is that these two men where camping and they kept warm through the cold night with the coals from a broom tree. The next morning the men continued on their journey home. According to the story, they returned a year later and the coals were still hot enough to start a fire!

app.: Well, like I said, that’s hyperbole for effect. But, the point is that the coals of a broom tree were hot! And, they burned for a long time. In effect, the writer here is saying that Yahweh is going to deal with these enemies, because of their deceit – because of what they wanted to do to the Jews.

exp.: let me remind you of what Paul said: For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. Paul also said: 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

t.s.: The Prayers of the people of God are born out of the faithfulness of God and The battles of the people of God are fought through the faithfulness of God. Finally, the third principle:

III.   The hope of the people of God is not in where we are now, but where we shall be one day. (5-7)

exp.: And that is with God. This is not our home. We’re not designed to live here and we’ll never truly be happy here. rd v 5-6; the psalmist isn’t on Mt. Zion… yet! The psalmist is a wanderer and he dwells in a land that is not his own and he dwells among a people who are at home where they are. He dwells among a people who don’t like him and his God.

ill.: When he ‘sings’ this psalm, he elicits an emotion… let me demonstrate…

Beulah Land

I’m kind of homesick for a country

To where I’ve never been before

No sad goodbyes will there be spoken

For time won’t matter anymore

 

Beulah land I’m longing for you

And someday on thee I’ll stand

Where are my home shall be eternal

Beulah land, sweet Beulah land

 

I’m looking now across the river

Where my faith will end in sight

Just a few more days to labor

Then I’ll take my heavenly flight

 

app.: The purpose here isn’t to sing a song, but to elicit a response.

t.s.: Let me ask you: Have you ever been homesick?

Conclusion: One day this life will end for each of us. For some, it will be sooner than later. Are you absolutely positively sure where you’ll spend eternity? If you’ve never given your life to Christ, I’d like to give you a chance to do so this morning.

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Introduction to the Psalms of Ascent

Title: Psalms of Ascent

Text: Psalm 120-134

Introduction: Ezra (and Nehemiah)

When you read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah you get an understanding of the intense passion these two men had. Their desire was for their heritage. Their passion was for their God and the city he gave them – Jerusalem, Mt. Zion, the Temple. Ezra was responsible for leading the rebuilding of the Temple. Nehemiah was responsible for leading the rebuilding of the wall around the city.

The journey these men took began in Persia. It is believed by some that this is where the small collection of Psalms that we know as the Psalms of Ascent originated. We don’t know this for sure, but it is a very good theory. The idea behind this theory is that the Psalms of Ascent were compiled by Ezra (or priests working with him). The same word is used in Ezra 2.1 (7.9) as in this title telling of how the people “went up”. So, Ezra then compiled these Psalms and the priests then taught them to the people as they journeyed to Jerusalem. At least that’s one theory. I like it. It would have been inspirational and motivational. And so after the people returned from exile, they kept the tradition alive and would sing the Psalms of Ascent whenever they would journey from their homes in Israel to the Temple in Jerusalem for their seasons of feasts and festivals. This is how their children and their children’s children would learn.

There is a 2nd theory and this is the one I learned as a young man. The theory is that the priests would make their way to the Temple and as they ascended the 15 steps to the Temple, they would stop and recite one Psalm for each step. The 1st step would be Psalm 120. The 2nd step would be Psalm 121, and on up we go.

Let me show you some pictures.

I would propose to you that both of these happened: the priests reciting the Psalms as they climbed the stairs to the Temple and the People singing them as they journeyed to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple. Theory probably isn’t the right word. There is evidence both happened, it is just that neither one became a prominent tradition practiced through the years.

This leads to a question you might have: Why are we working through them? Why the Psalms of Ascent? Why did we leave Romans? Well, it is hard! Romans 8-11 are probably some of my favorite passages in Romans. Two Reasons: 1. I calendared it this way months ago. But really, the simple answer is Worship; I want to focus on worship for a season – that is the reason I put it on the calendar. Consider our three areas of focus as a church:

  • Worship: One Passion
  • Discipleship: One Mission – the Great Commission
  • Mission/Ministry: One Body serving in ministry and mission.

So, for this season, we’ll keep an eye on this task of worship.

Let’s approach it from the same standpoint as Ezra and Nehemiah. Consider their lives; where they were and what they were going through:

  1. Israel has been in exile for the past 70 years or so. So, these guys were born in exile. They’ve never known a Temple. All they know is what they’ve been told. There is much of their past they don’t know about or they don’t understand.
  2. They are in exile because of their sin and their rebellion; Daniel 9.3-19; Wow, what a prayer, an acknowledgment of why they were where they were. Consider this: God’s actions were so real, so evident and so very effective, that the Israelites never again had trouble with worshipping idols.

Let me ask you as you consider the prayer of Daniel: Do you want God’s blessing on Calvary? Do you desire for God to pour out his blessing on this Body of Believers? Do we deserve for God to bless us? No, and we must remember that we cannot appeal to God because of our righteousness, but only because of his mercy. Let us keep this in mind and ask God to draw us closer to him in the coming weeks as we focus on him, as we experience his mercy and forgiveness, and as we are moved to worship.

The plan is to sing the Psalms, study the Psalms and hopefully be moved in our worship.

A Word about the whole book: The Book of Psalms used to be understood as a random collection of Songs. But, today, more and more scholars are seeing the organization of these Songs.

  1. Outline of Psalms – 5 books
    1. Book 1: 1-41 tell of David’s reign
    2. Book 2: 42-72 is more of David’s reign and the transition to Solomon’s reign.
    3. Book 3: 73-89 is about the divided kingdom and the eventual conquering of the Northern Kingdom by Assyria and the Southern Kingdom by Babylon and being carried into exile.
    4. Book 4: 90-106 covers the years Israel was in exile.
    5. Book 5: 107-150 is post-exilic in nature.
  2. You could break that down even further with an Introduction (1-2) and a conclusion (146-150)
    1. Psalm 1 is about the torah and Psalm 2 is about the King of Israel. So the idea is of delighting oneself in the Law of God and following God as their King.

Speaking of organization, there are even smaller segments with different types of focus. Let me show you some famous segments.

  1. Segments
    1. Hallel (113-118)
    2. The Law (Psalm 119, Psalm 19)
    3. Psalms of Ascent (120-134)
    4. 103-107

Let’s talk about this particular segment, the Psalms of Ascent, for just a moment, as we prepare to study them in the coming weeks. I want you to see there is flow here, too. There are smaller segments that demonstrate cohesion.

  1. It appears that these songs were selected with their theme of the Temple:
    1. 7 of the 15 Psalms mention Zion. 125, 126, 128, 129, 132, 133, 134
    2. Psalm 122 mentions Jerusalem.
    3. Psalm 121, 123, 124 use formulations related to Zion.
    4. Psalm 127 mentions the ‘city’ and 130 and 131 mention the faith community of Israel gathered in the Temple complex.
    5. Only the 1st Psalm (120) doesn’t mention the Temple in any fashion. So, what does that mean?
  2. From the Jewish viewpoint, the Psalms of Ascent begin with the Jews at war and ends with the priest’s blessing them in the Temple. So, the flow appears to be a journey. The people are in a foreign land (120.5), Meshech and Kedar as the Psalms of ascent begin in 120 and they are in the Temple worshipping in Psalm 134. Read those passages.
  3. The high points: popularity and familiarity
    1. Psalm 121: 1-2
    2. Psalm 122:1
    3. Psalm 127:1, 3-5a
    4. Psalm 130: 1-4
    5. Psalm 133: 1

Conclusion: So, what am I hoping to accomplish here?

Well, I mentioned earlier the purpose of this study is worship. But where does worship come from? How does it well up within and boil over? I mentioned earlier that the introduction to the book of Psalms in Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 are about delighting in the Law of God and following God as their king. But, I think it is deeper than that. I think that both of these two themes are all about Jesus and He’s the one I want us to see as we make our way through the Psalms of Ascent.

Look at Psalm 1 with me. rd v 1; Blessed is the man who… rd 2. …Blessed are all who take refuge in him. So, you see these already go together with these bookends. Go back to Ps. 1: read v 1; Really, who is that? Anyone here do that perfectly? Anyone you know of? Only Jesus. Look at v 5-6; who is the only one who can stand on his own in the judgment? Only Jesus, the perfect man.

Look at Psalm 2 with me. rd Ps 2.1-9; This is about the King – The Lord’s King, who according to v 7 is – His Son. Blessed is everyone who takes refuge in Jesus.

I propose to you that the Psalms of Ascent, as with all of the Psalms, point us to Jesus – God’s Anointed One. He is the theme, the purpose, the reason for those songs. It is Him we will see and it is Him we will be inspired to worship. In the Psalms of Ascent, you’ll see themes of:

  • Peace
  • Unity
  • Mercy
  • Protection
  • Rest and Restoration
  • Family and Community and how they impact each other
  • Discipline
  • Redemption
  • Faithfulness
  • Blessing

Application:

  1. Read through the POA
    1. You can read through them in one easy sitting.
    2. Read half on one day and the other half on the manãna.
  2. See how they go together. Is there a familiar theme in the previous Psalm or in the next Psalm? Is there a flow here? See if there are bookends to different Psalms, like I showed you in Psalm 1 and 2.
  3. Be praying about your worship.
    1. As an individual
    2. As a family
    3. As a community

Ask: Do I come in here Sunday after Sunday without having prepared my heart for worship? What is your Sunday morning routine like? Does it include yelling? Scrambling to get here in a fashionable time? Be praying about your worship and how you contribute to this time on Sunday. Also, pray about what God might be doing in your life concerning worship. Where does he want to take you? What does he want you to see? Is there anything about your worship he doesn’t like – that he wants to refine?

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Filed under Bible Reading, Christian Living, Psalms, Psalms of Ascent, Scripture, Sermon, Worship

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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Filed under Christian Living, Luke, Romans, Sanctification, Scripture, Sermon

Romans 6.15-22

Title: What does sanctification look like in people?

Text: Romans 6.15-22

Introduction: His name was Johnny and he didn’t like me. I was the young pastor with a head full of ideas, dreams, and goals of what the church could be. He was the old guard. Back in 1948, he helped build the building in which we worshipped. He and his young wife were married there and raised their children there. I didn’t use an organ or have a choir – the very things he liked about the church. I used a guitar and a microphone. I frustrated him and he frustrated me.

Johnny was hard of hearing. He blamed it on a lifetime of driving a tractor without hearing protection. He said they didn’t know back then what we know now about that sort of stuff. Every Sunday, he and his wife sat in the same spot: on the back row of the front section next to the soundboard. He sat there every Sunday because he wore special headphones that allowed him to hear the worship and the message.

Johnny was a part of a group of men who met on Tuesday mornings at McDonald’s for coffee. At 10 am, the men would take a break from wherever they were and whatever they were doing and gather to visit. It was there that things changed for Johnny and me. I was sharing my experiences in Europe. I told them I lived on the German border near Luxemburg.

Johnny was really surprised. “Luxemburg…” he said reflectively. I said, “Yes, sir. Do you know where it is?” He nodded yes and then began to unbutton his shirt. He unbuttoned his shirt down to just below his heart and he showed me a scar. He touched it and said, “It was in Luxemburg that I was shot.” The scar was about an inch from his heart. It almost killed him. There were others with him who didn’t make it; men who died right there where his blood was spilled.

As a kid, I used to play in those very trenches. We played war and found lots of machine gun shells and clips. I used to have two sashes I could wear across both shoulders. At that time, I never thought about the men who died there.

Memorial Day was created as a time to remember. It is usually filled with markers of a new season. Summer is officially here! There are picnics and flags and parades.

We take time to remember because we know that we are free. Remembering is good.

We have this wonderful freedom purchased by those who fought and died for our country.

Our topic today in Romans is about Freedom. I want to remind you of this spiritual freedom that was purchased for us when Christ’s blood was spilled for our sins.

We begin this morning where we left off last week, in 6.15. Paul is in the process of answering a question posed to him in v 1: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? Paul answers with two questions in v 2-3 and two more in 15-16.

His answer is simply no and the reason is that God is sanctifying us. Sanctification is a big word.

This weekend I traveled down to see my Aunt Betty. She took care of me when I was a little boy and didn’t have a momma. I think she came down in the summer. Anyway, as we sat there, cousins, uncles, and aunts – a mini family reunion, one of my cousins asked me what I was preaching on. I said sanctification. And immediately, I could tell she didn’t like me using that word. She said it was too big. I’d have to explain it. Well, she’s right. It is a big word and it often times does need explaining. Paul uses the big word to teach his students in Rome what God is doing in their lives:

  • In v19&22 he focuses in on the main purpose of his teaching: Sanctification. 19c – …so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. And 22b – the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. So note first the place he is going to land is Your Sanctification!
  • 2ndly, I want you to see how that sanctification comes about: rd v 16-17; through obedience.

So here is my thesis: Sanctification is demonstrated through your obedience.

Now, let’s dig deeper. What specific ways does Paul call for obedience? Well, I find three in this passage. Let me give them to you.

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience in three ways:

  1. In rejecting a sinful lifestyle.
  2. In living out the standard of God’s Word.
  3. In the fruit you produce in your life.

Let’s pick up in v15 with the 2nd two questions: 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Hold on now Pastor Fred! Didn’t you already say that we’re saved by Grace, through Faith in Christ? Well, yes, I did. We are saved that way. There isn’t anything we have to do or accomplish to gain our salvation. Paul has been clear on that. But now, he is clear in communicating to us that in this new life in Christ, we are to work out that salvation.

Remember what Paul wrote the Philippians (2.12-13): 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Paul is saying that God is at work in us sanctifying us to be more like him. And, at the very same time, we are to be working out our salvation. Just how does he work in us as we work out our salvation, too? Well, Paul gives us three parts to the sanctifying process in this passage. I’m not in anyway suggesting that this is exhaustive, but rather just what the church at Rome needed to hear.

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience in three ways:

  1. In rejecting a sinful life. (15-16)
  2. In living out the standard of God’s Word. (17-18)
  3. In the fruit you produce in your life. (19-22)

Note how all three points have something to do with your life. (repeat all three) Let’s begin with this first demonstration of obedience – rejecting a sinful lifestyle.

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience:

I.     In rejecting a sinful lifestyle (16)

exp.: rd v 16: 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?; Now, truth be told, this statement is a lot easier to make than it is to accomplish; But, it does get easier in many respects, as the years pass by.

ill.: Shawn and I were talking about this very thing earlier this week. There is something that changes inside of you when you become a new believer. And, that ‘something’ inside of you finds that sinful behaviors don’t bring the satisfaction it once did.

You’re just as tempted, but when you submit to that temptation, then you find there is no satisfaction in that behavior. There is guilt; there is shame. You ask yourself why did you ever let yourself do that again. You knew it wouldn’t make you happy, but you did it anyway. And then, you commit yourself to never doing that again. And, as you get older in the Lord, when you’re tempted in that manner, you say to yourself, “Nah, been there, done that, and all it brought me was misery.”

app.: As you surrender yourselves more and more to righteousness, and as you surrender yourselves less and less to sinful behavior, you see God sanctifying you and making you more like him.

The natural thing to do now would be to list a bunch of sins and say, don’t do them. But, something I don’t want to do is begin listing sinful behavior. Paul has already been preaching that this new life in Christ is not based on a bunch of do’s and don’ts. It’s about a relationship with God in Christ.

t.s.: So how do you know what is right and what is wrong? How do you know what is sinful? Well, he tells us next…

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience:

II.    In living the standard of God’s Word (17-18)

exp.: rd with me v17-18; 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

We’re now set on a different course. We have a new standard. It isn’t the NY Times or Fox news. It isn’t The American Medical Journal or American Journal of Psychology. It is the Bible – God’s Holy Word. I was inspired by a statement by Al Mohler this past week and copied it down. This isn’t a quote, but it is definitely from him.

The Bible is the inerrant and infallible verbally inspired Word of God. It is where we find the pattern of God’s pleasure and design for the family and his church. Families and churches flourish when they live it out. In it, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is found. It is the Good News that any sinner who puts their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved. The Word of God is where we find our theology and other doctrines that are rooted unapologetically in Scripture and are the only sure foundation for the home, the church, and the Christian life.

I love to hear stories of people who were raised to have a great understanding of the Word of God. And, then, maybe even years later, they came to salvation in Christ. The Word of God then becomes so clear. They already have this knowledge and this newfound faith brings clarity. Old stories, parables, and teachings all have a greater meaning.

Paul is just such a person. Timothy is, too. Paul wrote to Timothy in his 2nd letter to him: 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

t.s.: Sanctification is demonstrated through obedience in rejecting a sinful lifestyle, in living out the standard of God’s Word and finally,

Sanctification is demonstrated through Obedience:

III.   In the fruit you produce in your life (19-22)

exp.: a righteous life bears good fruit. As you take point #2 further, living out the standard of God’s Word, you begin to bear fruit in keeping with such a life.

Rd v 19-22; Two types of fruit

1.  Shame and ultimately, death (21); remember that life? Aren’t you ashamed sometimes when you look back over that life?

Ill.: This weekend, one of my cousins shared how she went off into the world when she left her momma and daddy. It was interesting to hear her story and just how far she was out in the world wandering. But she said in 2006, she came to the end of herself and found the Lord. Her life isn’t perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but, where she came from and the pain it caused her, the shame it brought her are all testimonies of God grace in her life today. But now… rd v 22;

2.  Sanctification and ultimately, eternal life. (22)

She is a changed woman, and I’m so glad to know her now. You see, I found out that 30 years ago, we lived close to each other. I was like: Man, I wish I would have known! We could have been hanging out together. She said, “You wouldn’t have wanted to know me then.” v 21: 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed?

The fruit of the Spirit is manifested in a life lived by the standard of God’s Word. In God’s Word we find it isn’t so much about do’s and don’ts anymore, but rather about producing the fruit of the Spirit. God’s Word teaches us that the fruit of the Spirit “is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). We don’t produce the fruit of the law… but of the Spirit.

  • Consider love: it is something you choose to do. You can choose to love someone, even when you don’t feel like it. That’s because love isn’t a feeling, as much as it is an action.
  • Consider joy: it isn’t so much about happiness. It is a state of being. There are many times when I’m not happy about something or with something, but the joy still abides. I think it also is a conscious decision to be joyful. Count it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter all sorts of trials.
  • Consider peace: peace is something you can have because of what you know. You can have peace anywhere and at any time. It’s like joy, a state of being. It’s like love, in how you are toward others.
  • Consider patience: patience is what you do or what you don’t do. It is something that rises up from inside and calms your fears and your doubts. Patience sometimes means waiting with an expectation.
  • Consider kindness: kindness is something that is in you, but is demonstrated outside of you. You’re kind in your heart and it comes out in your actions.
  • Consider goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. All of them are seen in the actions of a person, but all of them come from that place inside you where the Holy Spirit abides.

app.: Once, you were slaves of the sinful nature which always led you to lawlessness, doing the things of which now you are ashamed. But now, you’ve been set free from those things to live a new life. What an incredible freedom we now have – to live a sanctified life that produces life-giving fruit.

Conclusion: I love that this weekend is Memorial Day Weekend. We’re reminded of the great cost we have in our freedom as Americans. But, with this freedom comes responsibility. I think some people forget that.

Likewise, our freedom in Christ comes with responsibility, too. And, some people forget that… that we have:

  • A responsibility to reject the sinful lifestyle.
  • A responsibility to follow the standards of God’s Word in our lives.
  • A responsibility to produce in keeping with that standard: the fruit of the Spirit.

So, what are some take-a-ways from this message today?

Application:

  1. With freedom comes responsibility.
  2. I hope you enjoy the holiday by taking advantage of the opportunity to do something in light of your freedom.
    1. One way is to come to our picnic tonight.
    2. You might attend one of the ceremonies tomorrow.
    3. Visit one of our veterans. Ask him or her to tell you a story about someone who died while serving our country.
  3. Sit down and take an honest assessment of your life. This might involve a pencil and some paper. Ask yourself if you have rejected a sinful life and then work your way through your day:
    1. Open up your browser history. Maybe you’re not going to bad sites, but maybe you are being wasteful with your time and energy.
    2. Consider your TV time and energy. Are their shows that distract you from being a sanctified person?
    3. What does a godly person look like to you? Write down your thoughts and then compare your life to what you think it should be.
  4. List the fruit of the Spirit on a sheet of paper. Write out one action you can take to display that particular fruit of the Spirit. Just pick one and work on it.

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Filed under Romans, Salvation, Sanctification, Scripture, Sermon, Sin, The Gospel

Romans 6.14

Title: No longer under law, but under grace!

Text: Romans 6.15-23

Introduction: Galatians 3-5; Ephesians 2.11-12; Romans 6;

This life is filled with extreme differences. They are wonderful lessons for us:

  • Hot v. Cold
  • Darkness v. Light
  • North Pole v. South Pole
  • Marianas Trench v. Mt. Everest
  • Rich v. Poor
  • Republican v. Democrat

The list could go on.

What I love about our lives on this earth, is that God gives us so many physical ‘things’ to demonstrate his reality. The heavens do really declare the glory of God.

We’re in Romans 6 this morning. Verse 14.

Last week we looked at two verses v12-13: 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

We looked at the two Don’ts and the two Do’s.

  1. Don’t let sin reign in your body.
  2. Don’t present the members of your body as weapons for unrighteousness.
  3. (Do) Present yourself to God as those who were dead, but now are alive!
  4. (Do) Present your members (the parts of your body) as weapons for righteousness.

And this is where we left off last week: rd v 14… For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. I began my study this week with a question. I wanted to move on and cover verse 15-22, but in explaining how v 15 is set up, I realized I hadn’t addressed v 14. : For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. So, what was my question? What does it mean to be ‘under grace’? Well, from our verse we can surmise that the answer is as simple as: Sin has no dominion over you. So there is freedom. Here we see two extremes again: bondage v. freedom. If Sin has dominion in your life, then you are enslaved. I went outside of Romans to find the answer. Paul tells us in Galatians, that if sin has dominion over you, then you will find your life characterized by three results:

  1. You are separated from Christ.
  2. You are enemies with God.
  3. You are hopeless.
  4. You are separated from Christ. You would still be under law. So, therefore, you would be severed from Christ.
  5. You are enemies with God. Therefore you would incur his wrath.
  6. You are hopeless. I can’t add a therefore to that. I can’t think of anything to add to that.

Transition: Let’s begin with this 1st characteristic that we see of someone who is under the dominion of sin and under law:

  1. You are separated from Christ. (Gal 5)

exp.: If the law justifies you, then you are severed from Christ. I think there must be some innate motive we have built within us to earn the grace of God through good works. It just seems intuitive. There is something built in us that makes us think that way. I say that because every religion except Christianity is built upon a set of rules to keep. And even we Christians build a set of do’s and don’ts to live by. We sometimes even make up stuff that isn’t in Scripture and we measure ourselves against others who do or don’t do those same rules.

But Paul issues a stark warning here: Don’t let sin reign because you’re not under law, but under grace. Turn with me to Galatians 5.1-6; rd v 1-3

  • If you choose even one part of the law to justify you, say like circumcision, then you’re bound by the whole of it (5.3). You are obligated to keep the whole law. But, you already know, you can’t do that, right? So, if you choose to be justified by the whole law… well, keep reading; rd v 4;
  • If you choose even one part of the law to justify you, then you are cut off from Christ. The relationship is declared null and void.

Some would ask about going to church. If you’re a Christian, don’t you have to go to church? Well, no. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian. And, some people make church attendance a marker for salvation. That’s is wrong. If you’re a Christian, you’re already a part of the Universal Church. We simply erect these facilities to give us a place to meet. But we can meet anywhere! This has become such a turn off to many in the world that they’ve opted to simply create house churches. Who can blame them?

  • Look at the wording here, you have fallen away from grace. This doesn’t mean you lose your salvation.
    • Too many other Scriptures teach us that we can never do that.
    • The wording doesn’t mean you’ve lost your salvation.

Ill.: Let me ask you: have you ever heard of a young man who is lost dating a Christian girl? She won’t go out with him unless he’s a Christian? He says he is. And she takes him at his word. If he hasn’t been baptized, he gets baptized. So, he becomes a member of the church through baptism and begins dating this beautiful girl that he’s been pursing. They get married. He then stops going to church. Listen, young lady, guys are jerks and they’ll make up any lie you want to hear to go out with you. Guys have this innate drive to purse girls. The problem is that men haven’t taught boys how to treat girls. But that isn’t the lesson here. The lesson here is that many people enter into the church for many different reasons. However, they never truly surrender their lives to Christ. And as 1 John 2.19 says: they left us because they never really were one of us.

Paul isn’t teaching here that you can lose your salvation. He’s teaching here in Galatians and in Romans that those who choose to gain their salvation through their works will fail. Salvation doesn’t come through any one or thing, but through faith in Christ. It isn’t Christ plus something equals salvation. Salvation is in Christ alone.

So, if you choose to obey the law for your salvation, Christ is of no value to you. And, if you choose the law over Christ, you’re severed from him. And 3rd,

  • If you choose even one part of the law to justify you, then you are excluded from righteousness. Rd v 5; For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. If you are trying to gain this righteousness through the law, you won’t. You can’t! Righteousness only comes through faith.

v6: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. Only faith working through love.

t.s.: If you are under law and not under grace, then the law is your lord, you are separated from Christ and excluded from righteousness. 2nd,

  1. You are enemies with God. (3.10)

exp.: If you are under law, you are under a curse. Remember first, if you choose to justify yourself by obeying even one of the laws, then you are obligated to the whole law. And, if you are under the law, then you are under a curse. You are an enemy of God. The curse remains because you are unrighteous. All of your work, that is, your obedience to the law, will culminate in your own righteousness. And our righteousness is as filthy rags before the Lord. The sum of our very best stinks to the high heavens. Look with me at Galatians 3.10f; 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”

Technically, that would be everyone! Who can keep the whole law? No one. No one that is, but Christ. Consider if someone kept the entire law perfectly and failed only at one law. Let’s say it was possible for discussion sake. Consider if someone kept the entire law perfectly and failed only at one law. Then that person would be guilty before God. He or she would forfeit their salvation – with just one infraction and be guilty of violating the whole law! That would make you an enemy of God and under the curse.

Paul explains: 11 now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” Since no one is justified before God by the law, then the one who chooses to keep the law and not put his faith in Christ is cursed. He is separated from Christ and He is cursed as an enemy of God.

t.s.: third,

  • If you are under law, then you are hopeless (Eph 2.11-12)

exp.: 11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

In this life, your life would be relegated to a bunch of do’s and don’ts. What a hopeless existence to wake up to a list to keep and then go throughout your day checking off all of the requirements demanded of you. And, no matter how good you were at the do’s, you would never be good enough to save yourself. Ever. Your life would be a constant list of do’s and don’ts. And, not only would your life on earth be hopeless, but you wouldn’t have the hope of heaven, either. You would be enslaved to the demands of the law, only to find failure and no way to redeem yourself.

t.s.: But what if someone chose not to be enslaved to sin and under the curse of the law?

Question: What if someone realized their hopeless situation and cast off the restraints of the law and found freedom in Christ?

The positive twist is just what Paul said: You are not under law, but under grace. So, you would be free!

  1. Instead of being separated from Christ, you would be united with Christ.
  2. Instead of providing your own stinking rags of righteousness, you would be provided with the Righteousness of Christ. You would no longer be an enmity with Christ – you would no longer be an enemy! You could sing: I am a friend of God, I am a friend of God, I am a friend of God, He calls me Fred.
  3. And, instead of a hopeless existence here on earth and a hopeless future, you would be filled with hope. Hope that each day you could walk with God. There would be no need to worry. Do you grasp that? There would be no need to worry. What would you need to worry about? Tell me, what in your life would you have to worry about with this newfound hope. You would have hope each and every day that you woke up. You would know that God was there to walk with you through that day. Nothing in that day coming before you would be unknown to God. Nothing in that day could take you out of his care. Nothing in that day could separate you from Him. Nothing.

Romans 8.31-39: this is where Paul is headed in his lesson on Sanctification: 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

                        “For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Conclusion:

  1. Free From Wander
  2. Free From Wrath
  3. Free From Worry

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

Application:

  1. Life without Christ is so … negative!
    1. No Hope
    2. No Peace
    3. No Certainty about anything.
  2. Life with Christ is so … positive! It really is.
  3. This doesn’t mean that life isn’t hard at times. The old nature still has to be crucified…everyday!
  4. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have troubles. Jesus said that you would. Jn 16.33
  5. You, as a believer, through faith, walk with God. You are no longer separated from Christ, but instead walk with him each day. (Remember 5 where Paul said that God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given to us?).

I want to share with you the life of someone who has found this new life in Christ. The difference in who he isSomeone who has been learning to walk with him in faith. I want you to meet Mr. Shawn Cook.

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Filed under Ephesians, Galatians, Romans, Sanctification, Scripture, Sermon, Sin, The Gospel

Romans 6.1-14

Title: Live Like You’re Dying!

Text: Romans 6.1-11

Introduction: We began a new section of Romans last Sunday. Romans 6-8.

In case you’ve missed it before, here is a rough Outline –

  • Romans 1-2: Sin
  • Romans 3-5: Salvation
  • Romans 6-8: Sanctification (basically answering the question: How do we now live?)

Paul ends chapter 5 with sin being so great and bringing so great a death, but God’s Grace is even greater and superabounds to cover sin. That final section starts with Adam’s trespass (5.15, 16, 17, 18, 20), his one sin and explodes onto humanity bringing death to all. But, the grace of God through his Son, Jesus super-abounds to an even greater degree, covering that sin and bringing life where sin once brought death.

Now, someone in Paul’s past must have argued or debated with him and asked the following question: rd 6.1; What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?

Paul was teaching what the church had already decided some years before as more and more Gentiles were being saved. The problem had been that Gentiles weren’t becoming Jews first. The early church decided that Gentiles didn’t have to convert to Judaism to become Christians. I referred you to Acts 15 and Leviticus 17-18 (19) for a personal Bible study.

But not all Jews felt that way. They were teaching that you must follow the Law. And, that is probably where this question popped up originally. You can imagine a debate. Paul declares the teaching of Acts 15 and someone begins to debate with 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?

I feel like I should stop for a moment and address something I said that I hope hasn’t confused some. This is what I said last week:

We probably think this is absurd, but that’s because we’ve been studying this for … well, our whole lives. But in that 1st century, when Jews would confront Paul about this new life in Christ, they were thinking of the law. The Law was everything to them. Paul was teaching what the church had already decided some years before as more and more Gentiles were being saved: we don’t have to follow the law anymore – we’ve been set free from those burdens. The church said, there are four areas of concern from the Law that Gentiles who have become Christians should follow.

I want to clarify: I’m not saying we throw out the OT! I’m not saying those promises are null and void. What I’m saying is that you don’t have to obey the Law to get saved. Salvation only comes through Jesus. What I’m saying is that we’ve been set free from the burden of the Law to live out the law as believers in Christ.

I said: we don’t have to follow the law anymore. We don’t have to… but, in a very real sense we do.

This was in our Bible Study lesson during the Bible Study hour last week. In Galatians 5 we read: 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Note: these are actions which are unlawful! The fruit of the Spirit, though, is different. This fruit isn’t an action or actions, but rather who you are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no … ? Law.

So, it isn’t that we’re bound by the law anymore. We’ve been set free from those burdens to live a life of faith in Christ. I encourage you to study Leviticus 17-18 (19) and compare it with Acts 15. For the whole context study Acts 8-15.

Back to the message: Paul has been asked a question – probably from a Jewish Christian who has debated him and believes the Law should be obeyed. And I get it. Let me show how Paul develops his answer in Chapter 6:

  • Paul answers with 4 questions:
    • two in v 2-3 and
    • two more in v 15-16;
  • After these questions, which are really answers, he expounds to clarify for us what he means.

A basic overview serves as a guide through our first section:

If you skip to the end, you gain tremendous perspective of where Paul is headed. Let me show you what I mean:

  • He asks the question in v1: Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
  • He gives his answer in v 22: 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. The end is eternal life – the process is Hence, the 3rd part of our outline in Romans: Sin, Salvation, Sanctification.

So you have your answer: No, you don’t go on sinning, because God is sanctifying you, preparing you for eternal life. Now, how did Paul get there? We looked at the first part last week in v. 1-11…

Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? (1-3)

exp.: Should we then sin all the more that Grace may abound all the more? No; His answer is straight forward and to the point: μὴ γένοιτο; Lit.: not become; May it never become; Or May it never be.

Paul presents two questions to refute this line of thinking:

  • First, he asks: How can we who died to sin still live in it? Implying that we can’t. He will expound on this in a moment. For now he continues with his 2nd question,
  • Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

t.s.: I’d like to chase another rabbit for a moment, if I may. This passage is often quoted during baptismal celebrations. Let me ask this 2nd question:

Is this passage about the ordinance of baptism?

exp.: No, I don’t think this is about the ordinance of baptism, per se? Baptism is mentioned here. You can learn about baptism here. But the context isn’t about Baptism, but rather about the new life in Christ.

2ndly, and more important, Paul is not saying that the act of baptism completes this process of salvation. There are some Christians who believe that it does. Typically, and historically, Baptists understand the act of baptism is symbolic. It’s a physical picture of what has happened spiritually. I have a phrase I’ve coined: It is an external expression of an internal experience.

The word Baptize (βαπτίζω) means to immerse.

You ask, well then, why didn’t the guys who translated the Bible originally translate it that way?

Good question: let me give you a bit of history that I was taught when I was younger.

ill.: When King James ordered the Bible to be translated into the King’s English back on 1609, the translators had some problems. Not every word in one language translated over into the new language. Take names for example. David means “Beloved” or “Uncle”. It would be weird if they translated David “Beloved” every time his name popped up (Or, Vis versa). So, instead of translating the name, they transliterated it. There were other words that caused them problems and so they transliterated those words, too. Like places, cities, and areas. There are things that exist in one language and not in another. So, the translators transliterated.

Transliteration is the process of taking a letter in one language and putting down a corresponding letter in the other language. I’ll show you what I mean…

βαπτίζω = Baptize

This word wouldn’t offend anyone. That’s the word for what we do!

app.: So, with all of that being said: I don’t think we’re talking so much about the act of being immersed in water as we are about being immersed into Christ and spiritually experiencing a death, burial, resurrection and new way of life.

You see, those are the four components or parts used by Paul in this passage to describe what Christ has done and to describe our new life in Christ. We looked at them last week, so just let me mention them.

We’ll only take a moment to look at v 4, because v 4 has all 4 components:

  1. Death
  2. Burial
  3. Resurrection
  4. New Life

We were buried2 therefore with him by baptism into death1, in order that, just as Christ was raised3 from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life4.

This is his answer and he comes back to it in his final statement on this issue down in v 11: 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Transition: This is your new life in Christ. Now, Paul gives us 4 imperatives to obey and live out in order that we might do just that – walk in this new life in Christ. I present it this morning by asking a third question:

What we must do! (12-14)

exp.: v 11 is the answer: consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God. Verse 12 is the practical application. You’ll note he says therefore in v 12. Because of all this – and then we find three imperatives representing four commands. Paul leaves us with: 2 don’ts and two do’s. # 1 rd v 12;

  1. Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.
  2. Don’t present your members to sin as instruments (weapons) for unrighteousness.

You’re probably getting the idea that putting this sin to death thing isn’t going to be easy. Do you mean to tell me that sin is going to try and make me obey its passions? Are you trying to tell me that I’m going to struggle with letting sin dominate my life as an instrument (weapon) of unrighteousness?

Yeah. That is what Paul is telling us. Sanctification doesn’t come easy. It takes work. How?

We’ve mentioned them already: 1st, do what v 11 said, die to sin. 2nd, give it a good burial.

Ill.: have you ever heard of people being buried with their belongings? This week I read of one man who had his dead dog buried with him. One man asked to be buried in his recliner and a checkerboard in his lap – Oh, and the key to the Mausoleum just in case his undertaker was mistaken. That was back in 1899.

App.: That is that attitude we have to have. You can’t say you want to die to your sin and keep things around you that help you commit that sin. You’ve got to put it to rest! Let me give you some helps here:

  1. Spend some time in God’s Word everyday. And then spend some time praying.
  2. Get an accountability partner. Someone who can ask you the hard questions. Now, this person is only as good as you let them be. If you lie to them, then they’re no good to you. Plug: Men’s Ministry on Saturday.
  3. Set up boundaries.
    1. Don’t be alone with another person of the opposite sex without others being there, too. Don’t go to lunch with, don’t travel with, don’t spend time alone with someone of the opposite sex. Period.
    2. But up boundaries on your TV viewing, your browser on your computer, your phone, etc. Have your wife set up your TV with a code and not let you know what it is.
    3. Give your passwords to your wife/husband.

Paul gives us some practical steps in his third imperative in two more commands:

  1. Do present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life.
  2. Do present your members (that means every part of who you are, every part of your mortal body) to God as instruments (weapons) for righteousness.

app.: These last two are one in the same action. These commands tell us how we must consider ourselves now that we’re no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to Christ.

t.s.:

Conclusion: Did you notice I changed the title of my sermon? Take a pen and mark out the word not.

Tim McGraw had a hit with Live Like You Were Dyin’. If you know the song, you know the idea for the song is about a friend who found out he had cancer and was dying. When he found out he was dying, he really started living.

I’d say take that advice: Live like you’re dying to yourself every single day. Put the old self down, bury ‘im, so that he doesn’t have his way. And then, resurrect the new self and live like you’ve died to yourself. As Paul said: Consider yourselves dead to sin. Consider yourselves alive to God in Christ Jesus.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? No. That part of me has died. I now live a new life.

Invitation: if you’ve never surrendered your life to Christ, I’d like to present you a chance to do so. In a moment, we’re going to meet in the back for a time of fellowship over coffee and cookies and doughnuts. If you’d like to find the forgiveness of your sins and begin this new walk in life I’ve been talking about, come and see me. Or visit with one of the elders. We’d love to share with you how you can do that.

Or maybe there is another decision on your heart. You are feeling a call to ministry and mission; you are wanting to join the church; we’d like to visit with you about that.

Let’s have a moment of silence to reflect upon these decisions and pray.

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Filed under Evangelism, Romans, Sanctification, Scripture, Sermon, The Gospel