Category Archives: Sin

1 Timothy 1.1-3

*Note: the audio begins late… for the full audio version, you can visit our church’s Facebook page and view the service.

Title: 1 Timothy: An Introduction

Text: 1 Timothy 1.1-3

Introduction: Erin Brockovich is now famous for her legal work against a giant company. She herself was not a lawyer, but rather a legal clerk who worked for a small law firm. Her story inspires most because she represents many of us – at least that is the way we see it.

She didn’t look the part. She wasn’t educated. She had made many mistakes when she was young. She was judged on her appearance and not on her work. The snobs with the money judged her incompetent because she didn’t dress like they did. She didn’t have the law degree they had. It was a modern day David and Goliath story. Pacific Gas and Electric Company had been poisoning the land around Hinkley, California. Their reckless behavior made the people the people of Hinkley and the surrounding area sick – many even died.

Her story inspires because she stood up to the mammoth of a company that had money and lawyers to fight. But she never backed down. She spent countless hours learning the ins and outs of that company. She met and got to know the people of Hinkley. She knew the sick by name. She knew their spouses and what their spouse did for a living; she knew who their kids were and what grades they were in. She knew where they lived. She knew where they shopped; who their doctors were; the most intimate details about their lives. She knew the company was dumping hexavalent chromium and contaminating the water sources the people of Hinkley were drinking.

Her story inspires because she spoke out and defended the ones who could not stand up for themselves and won.

For me, the Pastoral Epistles inspire like that. Paul writes to these young men who are serving as pastors in their local churches and encourages them to speak out against those who are killing the people around them. He writes to Titus in Crete and to Timothy in Ephesus. Our focus this morning is on Ephesus and this letter to Timothy. The Letter is entitled 1 Timothy. If you’re using a pew Bible, you’ll find the letter on page ???

Paul states his purpose quite clearly in 3.14-15; rd 3.14f; you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. Sound Doctrine is vital to a church’s existence. Unhealthy doctrine destroys a church. Sound Doctrine teaches a church 1) how to behave, 2) it represents God, and 3) is a pillar and buttress of the Truth!

Over the next 4 months, our church will be looking at 1st Timothy. I have invited 8 men to walk this journey with me, 6 of whom will preach to you at one time or another. I did not choose the sermons for the guys, nor their texts. It was all very random. The only part to this that I did know were the dates that needed to be filed. In some ways, I feel like Paul – and these men are like Titus, Timothy, Tychicus, Apollos, Zenas, etc.

Our basic goal this morning is to look at the introduction. We find the introduction in 1 Timothy 1.1-3 or on page ??? if you’re using a pew Bible.

Basic Outline: First, we will look at the writer (who the letter is from), then the recipient (who the letter is to), and his purpose, which he alludes to in v 3;

  • From: Paul
  • To: Timothy (and the church at Ephesus)
  • Purpose: you may charge…

Transition: that outline looks short, but the truth is, there is so much here, so let’s get to it.

  1. From: Paul

exp.: Paul wrote this letter somewhere around the years 62-66 AD. Consider the following

  • Paul was martyred by Nero in Rome. That is the historical tradition and has strong backing.
  • Nero died in 68 AD, so, we’ll start with that date.
  • Paul was near his death when he wrote 2 Timothy, his last book or letter that we have. If Nero put Paul to death, then Paul died before Nero. Make sense?
  • So, let’s put Paul’s death around 67 AD – that means 2 Timothy was written near that time.
  • There are at least two winters recorded in the Pastoral Epistles (Titus 3.12 and 2 Timothy 4.21).

Titus 3.12: When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, do your best to come to me at Nicopolis, for I have decided to spend the winter there.

2 Tim 4.21: 21 Do your best to come before winter. Another winter is fast approaching. Each reference is a different context. So: at least two different winters. They could be one year apart or more; winter of ’67; the winter of ‘65. So, that would put 1 Timothy somewhere around 62-64 AD. These are rough guesses, of course – give or take a few years on each side the largest span would be 62-66. You probably have a good guess at the introduction in your Study Bible at 1 Timothy.

Next, Paul is imprisoned in 2 Timothy, but in 1 Timothy, he appears to be writing after his imprisonment as mentioned in Acts 28. I tried to locate times and places mentioned in 1 Timothy with Acts and I can’t reconcile them. Allow me to show you what I mean:

1 & 2 Timothy place Timothy in Ephesus. I jokingly say that he is the pastor of the 1st Baptist Church in Ephesus. 1 Timothy has Paul going to Macedonia (1.3). In the book of Acts, Paul does travel to Macedonia from Ephesus (Acts 20.1), but Timothy has not been left behind in Ephesus. Instead, he is sent ahead to Macedonia (Acts 19.22). Added to this, Timothy accompanies Paul on his journey to Jerusalem (Acts 20.4). It is possible that Paul left at Timothy in Miletus when he was meeting with the Ephesian elders; however, Paul’s journey was toward Jerusalem in the opposite direction of Macedonia.

So, I can only conclude that Paul was released from prison after Acts 28. He ministered and wrote his letters (1 Timothy and Titus) between the dates of 62-66 AD. Then, at some point after those letters, he is thrown into prison again. According to 2 Timothy, he must have gone eastward after his Roman Imprisonment and not on to Spain, because he left his cloak and books at Troas. From his prison cell, during this 2nd Roman Imprisonment, he wrote his last letter, 2 Timothy.

app.: Paul has a sense about him that the end is near. Verse 1 tells us about his calling: apostle. That means he is a missionary, a church planter. His authority is from God, who has called him and commissioned him. But, as the years have gone by, he finds himself unable to keep up with his previous pace of planting churches and discipling new believers. Jail time has put a toll on his body. Long hours, long travel, persecution, stress, these all have aged him.

So, he has strategically placed younger men in places of service. 1.3: Timothy at Ephesus; Titus at Crete (1.5); He sends their replacements. 2 Tim 4.12: Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. Before that, in Titus, Paul sent Tychicus to Crete – evidently to carry that particular letter. Paul mentions that Zenas, the Lawyer, and Apollos have been there with Titus and that Titus should send them on their way to Paul. Crescens is in Galatia; Titus served in Dalmatia, as well as in Crete. Mark is serving somewhere along the way between Ephesus and Rome. It would be a hard, but fun study to locate all of the names of these young men and see where Paul had located them for service – with both locations and dates.

Now, added to their placement as overseers in their respective churches, Paul has given them instructions about how a church should look and act. Now, this is so important! Don’t miss that! That is what these letters, 1 Timothy and Titus, are all about; more on that in a moment.

t.s.: For now, let’s turn our attention to Timothy

  1. To: Timothy

exp.: rd v 2; he uses the same language with Titus; my true child in the faith. The Gk word here is legitimate. I think this means that Paul had a hand in their conversion to Christ and their foundation in discipleship. My guess is that Timothy was converted to Christ on Paul’s 1st MJ. We first meet Timothy in the book of Acts (16.1). Paul and Barnabas had finished their 1st MJ and had returned to Antioch to report their mission work. After some days and some disagreement about how they should handle things, Paul and Silas take off on Paul’s 2nd MJ. Their first stop is in Galatia, at Derbe and on to a small town called Lystra. This is where they meet a young Timothy, who has impressed the people of Lystra and Iconium – and Paul, too. Paul immediately recognizes his potential and wants Timothy to accompany them on their journey. And so begins a mentoring relationship between the two men that will last for the next 15 years or more. So great is this relationship, greater even than any other relationship Paul will have with many men, that Timothy appears in all but three of Paul’s letters. Galatians, Ephesians, and Titus. An interesting side note about that: Timothy was from Galatia and he was the pastor at Ephesus.

The rest of v 2 is a typical salutation – if there is such a thing. Paul has worked at refining his introduction through the years to reflect a high Christology. And, built upon that Christology is the authority given to Paul. It is typical in nature to other letters, but of course, reflects the change and growth in his faith. Listen to Gordon Knight:

This form of salutation reflects three factors: first, the teachings of the Christian faith have molded Paul’s adaptation of the standard form. Second, there is a great uniformity in this molding, especially in the grading section, which reflects a certain crystallization of his manner of expression of the essential Christian truths in these salutations. Third, there are certain variations that either reflect the recipients’ situation and need or anticipate and emphasize that which will be presented in the letter proper.

In all of his letters except the letter to the churches in Galatia, Paul refers to the recipients’ relationship to Christ (i.e.: to all the saints in Christ Jesus, as here – my true child in the faith, etc).

ill.: but here is where we can’t see the bond and what has forged it. As you read through acts you see Timothy right there with Silas and others, learning how to stand for Christ, learning that persecution will come. He is watching Paul as he suffers: in Philippi, in Thessalonica, in Berea as he watched Paul sail away alone – alone for his own safety; he is there in Corinth when the city erupted and wanted Paul’s head. Timothy was at Ephesus the first time Paul spoke there. He probably heard Paul’s promise to return if the Lord willed it. And the Lord did and Paul returned and stayed for two years. He watched as the people jumped up and down, screaming and yelling at the top of their lungs, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” He watched as Paul begged to address the thousands of people who wanted him dead. Paul saw a crowd where he could preach Christ. I’m sure Timothy was one of the men who begged him not to do that. The crowd yelled for two hours, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

We have a bunch of material from Acts where Timothy watched and learned from Paul. But what about the “so much more” that we don’t have. What was it like in those prison cells as they had time for some one-on-one discipleship? What was it like for Timothy to listen to this brilliant man who knew the Scriptures and how to apply them? What was it like to watch as the man went from reading the Scriptures to quoting them because his eyes were failing him? What was it like to hear the story of Paul’s conversion and calling – to hear him tell it – the story we read about in Acts Chapter 9 without the inflection, without the emotion of Paul’s voice?

app.: As a pastor, I’m in awe of this relationship. Paul loves the people of Ephesus. He detests false teachers coming and leading people astray. He trusts Timothy to serve those folks – to teach sound doctrine and protect them from the foolishness that others try to bring into a church.

t.s.: which brings us to this last section… it deals with what I touched on at the end of the 1st section… the purpose of these letters, and this one in particular.

  1. Purpose: charge certain men not to teach a different doctrine

exp.: rd v 3; Paul gets straight to the point. This is why I left you there in Ephesus. This is why I’m writing to you! Paul deals with false teaching repeated through his ministry. We see it in just about every letter. We’ll see it in this letter, so you’re going to see it again and again (1.3-11; 13-20; 4.1-7; 6.3-10; 20-21).

  • Myths (1.4; 4.7)
  • Genealogies (1.4)
  • A concern with the Jewish Law and its application (1.7)
  • Empty sounds and contradictions referred to as ‘knowledge’ (6.20)
  • Deception (4.1-3)
  • Immorality (1.19-20)
  • Financial Gain (6.5)
  • Harsh Asceticism (4.1-5) through denying the self what God has blessed us with; rd; 4.1-5

ill.: false teaching is alive and well in the church today. Consider the following for us:

  • For the first 1500 years of the Church’s existence – teaching came only through hearing the Word. Very few people could read it and very few people had access to it. The Word of God was spread through copies and often times, those copies were chained to the altar at the church. Regular people did not have their own copies. The only time they got God’s Word was through the preaching.
  • Along come Guttenberg and his printing press, making it possible to have a copy of God’s Word. So, for the next few hundred years, the word of God could only be spread reading it and the public preaching of it. As the Word of God became more and more prevalent, it was outlawed in certain countries. The Church didn’t want it in the hands of normal people because they might teach falsely. I think it was more about control.
  • The Advent of Radio and Recording makes it much easier to access the preaching part. But today, with the internet and TV, with its 557 channels and nothing on, you can hear multiple preachers in any given hour. False teaching can be pumped into your homes and into your head anytime you want to listen to anyone who tickles your ears.

app.: For me, it is a scary time.

  • Consider Mayor Pete Buttigieg: the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, IN. He’s the next big thing for liberals because he is gay and he is married to a man. And, he is a very nice young man. He’s intelligent and articulate. He went to Notre Dame, Harvard, and Oxford. Ok, so far not too very different from most liberals. But, here’s the thing: he spouts his faith and declares his Christianity unashamedly. And this is where I think Sound Doctrine is of great importance to us. Just look at our text, down in v 8-11. Now, there are some, probably more on the internet than here in this room, who would say it is wrong from me to ‘judge’ him and his faith. I think to some degree that would be true. But this is where we need to be very careful. Scripture is clear on this issue. He may be sincere, but he is sincerely wrong according to Scripture. What is scary for me is that there is a group of young, progressive Christians who are pushing and supporting his rise through the Democratic party.
  • Al Mohler recently shared an article which came out in the New York Times questioning the foundational doctrines of our faith: the Trinity, The Virgin birth, The Resurrection of Christ. I’m guessing it was Easter and all – and that’s the perfect time to attack Christians. Nicholas Kristoph interviewed a Seminary president: Serene Jones. She is the president of Union Theological Seminary. And the article basically boils down to throwing out the main tenets of our faith. Serene Jones doesn’t believe in a resurrection. She says the empty tomb illustrates that “the ultimate love in our lives cannot be crucified and killed.” She says there isn’t a resurrection in Mark – only an empty tomb. Kristoph challenges her, not really, but just so she can expand on her thoughts: But without a resurrection, aren’t we left with just the crucifixion? She answers: “Crucifixion is not something that God is orchestrating from upstairs. The pervasive idea of an abusive God-father who sends his own kid to the cross so God could forgive people is nuts. For me,” she said, “the cross is an enactment of our human hatred. But what happens on Easter is the triumph of love in the midst of suffering. Isn’t that reason for hope? Well, according to Paul – No! If all we have is the crucifixion, if Christ is not raised, then we are to be pitied above all men. If Christ is not raised, then we are hopeless and our faith is futile.
  • Joel Osteen is a motivational speaker who masquerades around as a preacher. I’ve chosen not to slam other preachers, but I don’t think Osteen lands in this category: a preacher. Joel Osteen’s teaching revolves around the self. There is no guilt and shame – those things don’t belong at his church. He will not talk about sin – that is so degrading. What he focuses on is making you feel better about yourself when you walk out those doors.
  • The following is from CBSNews.com this morning:

Rachel Held Evans, a popular, progressive Christian writer who challenged the traditional evangelical views, died Saturday, her husband confirmed in a blog post. She was 37.

Evans was hospitalized in April for what she described in a tweet as “a flu + UTI combo and a severe allergic reaction to the antibiotics they gave me.” Her husband, Daniel Evans, had been updating on her blog about her health, writing that she had been placed in a medically-induced coma.

On Saturday, he wrote that she had been weaned from coma medication, but seizures had continued and severe swelling of her brain had been found, which he wrote caused severe damage that “ultimately was not survivable.”

“This entire experience is surreal,” Daniel Evans wrote. “I keep hoping it’s a nightmare from which I’ll awake. I feel like I’m telling someone else’s story.”

Evans was the author of several books, including “Faith Unraveled,” “The Year of Biblical Womanhood,” “Searching for Sunday” and “Inspired.” She spent more than a decade writing about what she described as “faith, doubt, and life in the Bible Belt” on her blog. 

Her popular writing and views on Christianity often enraged traditional evangelicals. In 2015, The Washington Post called her the “most polarizing woman in evangelicalism.” She was an advocate for LGBT membership in the church, urged fellow pro-life Christians to vote for Hillary Clinton and wrestled with the role of the patriarchy in the church. She served on former President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. 

She eventually left the evangelical church, writing in 2016 that “church universal is so much bigger than white American evangelicalism, and that’s going to become ever more apparent in the months and years to come.” 

I’m sad that this young woman died.

But the saddest part of her story is that so much of her ‘ministry’ was much like Hymenaeus and Philetus. She rejected the hard parts of the Bible and followed how she felt. Many have been led astray. She had a great point. I too have been sickened at the organized church; the power plays of individuals; the segregation that is most evident on Sunday mornings.

t.s.: So, how do we handle this? Well, a guilty man should feel guilty. Sin is what separates us from a holy God and we have to deal with our sin. Most people just don’t want to change. But God loves us too much to leave us the way we are.

Conclusion: We must act and respond like Paul, who is being very clear that Sound, Healthy Doctrine is vital. It is what should guide the church. It isn’t enough to just babble on and place your focus on things outside of Scripture, like how you feel. We must be clear about what is in Scripture. And that is the whole purpose behind 1 Timothy.

Application:

  1. The Charge: someone has to confront those who are teaching something other than sound doctrine. Someone has to cry out that the water has been poisoned. Don’t drink that water, but rather, come to the life-giving water. Here at Calvary, that is the elders’ responsibility.
  2. The Word of God is our Standard: It has to be the standard. Culture changes; laws change; emotions change; The Word of God is unchanging! For Timothy, he had the letter to the Ephesians, and he had this letter. This letter closes with a plural “you” – that is ‘the church’, so it appears that Paul had the intention for this letter to go to the church, too.
  3. The goal of this charge is love… v. 5; it isn’t to win arguments, but people. I’ll expound on this next week, but how can we say we love someone, but don’t love them enough to tell them the Truth.

As I think about Ms. Rachel Evans, I’m reminded that her passion was for those who were being rejected by the church. Something has got to change! But what must not change, is the Word of God on which we stand. What must change – is us. Love must drive us to understand God’s Word and use it as the standard for our faith.

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Filed under 1 Timothy, Christian Living, Doctrine, Ephesians, Evangelism, Gay Marriage, Homosexuality, Judgment, Scripture, Sermon, Sin

Romans 8.22-28

Title: The Work of the Spirit in the Spirit-filled Life!

Text: Romans 8.22-28

Introduction: Thank you, Joshua, for reading our text.

Tough days. We all have them. Some are worse than others. Like the one, the hard-hat employee reported when he tried to be helpful. Maybe you heard about it too; the account actually appeared on a company accident form. Bruised and bandaged, the workman related this experience:

When I got to the building I found that the hurricane had knocked off some bricks around the top. So I rigged up a beam with a pulley at the top of the building and hoisted up a couple barrels full of bricks. When I had fixed the damaged area, there were a lot of bricks left over. Then I went to the bottom and began releasing the line. Unfortunately, the barrel of bricks was much heavier than I was—and before I knew what was happening the barrel started coming down, jerking me up.

I decided to hang on since I was too far off the ground by then to jump, and halfway up I met the barrel of bricks coming down fast. I received a hard blow on my shoulder. I then continued to the top, banging my head against the beam and getting my fingers pinched and jammed in the pulley. When the barrel hit the ground hard, it burst its bottom, allowing the bricks to spill out.

I was now heavier than the barrel. So I started down again at high speed. Halfway down I met the barrel coming up fast and received severe injuries to my shins. When I hit the ground, I landed on the pile of spilled bricks, getting several painful cuts and deep bruises. At this point, I must have lost my presence of mind, because I let go of my grip on the line. The barrel came down fast—giving me another blow on my head and putting me in the hospital.

I respectfully request sick leave. (Chuck Swindoll quotes Michael Green in his book: The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart.)

Sounds like he needed some help! I think we all do, from time to time. Amen?

Our text this morning is all about the Spirit of God rendering aid to us in our time of need. We are not alone in this life. We are not alone in this struggle. And because of Him, we are not silent when we don’t know what to say or even how to say it.

Our text is sandwiched between the hope we have as believers and the knowledge of what we know about our current suffering: that God works all things together for good.

  • We know our hope is in heaven.
  • We know God works all things for good.

Or,

  • Our hope of the hereafter
  • Our hope of the here and now

Our hope is not in this life. Our hope is not in our possessions, our job, or prestige, our position, our home, or our accomplishments. Our hope is not in our parents or in our children. Our hope is the redemption of these frail bodies to a new body in a new heaven and a new earth. Paul says that The Creation has been groaning while in this present time – the time between the perfection of the garden and the perfection of heaven. And, he says, we, too, groan in this present time, as we wait eagerly for the redemption of these bodies. We suffer in hope because we know our future. So note the groaning going on here: The Creation, we (ourselves), and in our text the Spirit, who is acting on our behalf.

Transition: Let’s look at our text to see how the Spirit acts on our behalf. Rd v 26a:

I.     The Spirit helps us in our weakness:

Exp.: 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. I was sharing with someone earlier this week that a literal translation of this verse is: In a similar way the Spirit renders aid to our weakness. Think with me for a moment about our weakness. Back up in verse 3, we see this word weakness used: For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. The point is that our flesh is our weakness. Sin has weakened us. And yet, we have to live in these bodies. We live in this weakened state. Therefore, we are subject to all of the struggles that come with living in the flesh. They are unavoidable. We exist in this body and so it becomes our focus. That is why Paul says to set your mind on the things of the Spirit. But that is so hard.

Consider that most of our prayers are for the physical things of this body. Thank you for this food. Provide for my needs. Lord, I need a pay raise. Lord, my health is failing, my eyes are weak, my body is weak, I’m sick. God, help my friend who is sick, who is in financial straits, or open this door or open that door. Guide us as we travel. Most of our prayers are focused on this weakened state we’re in. Sometimes, this weakened state of ours is worse than others. Sometimes it is almost unbearable.

But not the Spirit of God, he intercedes for us in ways that are spiritual. He intercedes for us in ways that are in line with what God wants and wills for us.

Lit.: v 26 reads: In a similar fashion, the Spirit renders aid to our weakness. And then Paul tells us just what our weakness is in 26b: The Spirit helps us in our weakness:

A. Because we don’t know what to pray or how to pray it.

Ill.: Maybe that was the direction one of the disciples was going when he requested of Jesus: Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples (Mt 11.1). The text says there in Mt 11 that Jesus was praying in a certain place and when he had finished the disciple requested of him, “Lord, teach us to pray like John taught his disciples.” I love that he was watching the Master pray and wanted to know how to pray in a similar fashion: to be a pray-er like Jesus and to pray like Jesus. And then he taught them The Lord’s Prayer.

Maybe that is where the disciple was coming from: Lord, with all that is going on around us, I don’t know what to pray or how to pray it. I want to pray like you.

App.: We’re blessed to have the Spirit of the Living God rendering aid to our weakness, helping us overcome the weakness of our flesh, which is where our focus is when we suffer.

But this is where it gets really interesting for me. God is at work for us, and we didn’t even know we needed it. This parallels the Gospel so closely. You guys know the Gospel.

  1. God is holy and we’re not.
  2. Our sin separates us from God.
  3. There is nothing we could ever do to repair and recover this separation.
  4. So, God acted on our behalf and sent his Son Jesus to die for us. God in the Flesh. That’s what the beginning of this chapter states: For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. God punished sin through his son, Jesus.

In a similar fashion, I think this is what Paul is teaching now about the Spirit in v 26-27; God moves and acts on our behalf:

  1. You and I have no clue what to pray for or how to pray for it. And this is probably because we’re not like God. He is perfect and we’re not. He is holy and we’re not. We ask for things that are no good for us and we don’t even know that it is not good for us.
  2. So, God acted on our behalf and sent his Spirit to live in us and to commune with our spirit and to communicate for us in accordance with his will.

And we’ve seen this action of the Spirit multiple times here in Romans 8:

  1. In verse 2, The Spirit has set us free
  2. In verses 5-6, The Spirit helps us walk according to the Spirit
  3. In verses 9-11, The Spirit takes up residence in us and makes us alive when we become believers.
  4. In verses 12-17, The Spirit adopts us into the family of God
  5. In verses 16-17, The Spirit bears witness that we are his Children and heirs with Christ.
  6. In verses 26-27, The Spirit now groans for us when we don’t know how to pray or what to pray so that we pray according to God’s will.

26For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, and it continues but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

This is the 2nd way the Holy Spirit of God helps us in our weakness: The Spirit helps us in our weakness:

B.     By interceding for us with groanings that are too deep for words.

For me, this is what brings this passage back into the context of suffering. Yes, we know that our hope is heaven – our home. And yes, we know we’ll be there soon enough. But, in the meantime, when all hell breaks loose against us, when sin is victorious and we find ourselves speechless before our Master, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

I don’t necessarily want to go where I need to go for a moment, but I do feel it is necessary because this passage is sometimes confusing. Let me clarify a couple of questions that might pop up later in some discussion.

  1. Some people think this means ‘speaking in tongues’. But, I would disagree simply because the gift of tongues is only for certain believers – it is limited in scope. Tongues are used in a worship service and there is a translator. But, this particular act of the Holy Spirit in Romans 8 is for every Christian – especially in these times of suffering. Remember, that’s our context. Speaking in tongues is in the context of worship. So, don’t apply the gift of speaking in tongues
  2. Some people think that this means the person must groan. They would argue or teach you to moan and groan when you don’t have the words. I don’t doubt that groaning comes during suffering, but I don’t think that is what Paul is saying. The groaning is of the Holy Spirit, not the believer. Please hear me, I’m not saying you won’t hurt so bad that you groan. You just might. I hope you never do, but you could. But that isn’t what this verse is saying.

App.: Simply put, you don’t know what to pray or you don’t know how to pray and you don’t have the words to communicate what is going on in your spirit.

And when you’re in this place of suffering, something absolutely amazing happens in your spirit. Rd v 27; 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

As I mentioned before, God acts for us because we’re incapable of acting on our own behalf. So, he intercedes. He sends his Spirit to live in us. And he who searches hearts… he knows.

There are so many wonderful verses that declare the work of God in searching out our hearts.

  • 1 Sam. 16.7: … for God does not see man as man see man; for man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart.
  • 1 Chron. 28.9: … for the Lord searches all hearts
  • 17.10: 10 “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
  • Rev 2.23: … And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

This has always amazed me and keeps me on my guard. What are my motives in a matter? God knows. I can fool you. I can sometimes even fool myself, but I cannot fool God! I can tell you one thing and convince you that I’m too busy, I can’t make the time, I don’t have the money, and I have other obligations, that isn’t my ministry, I’ve been called to something else, I’ve got another engagement, no one else is available to help.

I think sometimes we fool ourselves when we pretend we are in a certain mode and can’t do something. We say this and it becomes an excuse – a valid excuse, but, in my heart I know I’m only lying. Sure, it looks good to you and I feel justified because you’re convinced. But God, who searches the heart and the mind, he knows!

Why don’t we just say – don’t come over because my house is a mess and I don’t want you to see. Why don’t we just say, I’m embarrassed because I didn’t prepare; I didn’t get that done.

  • Luke 9.47: … 47 But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts,
  • Luke 16.15: … “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts.
  • Acts 1.24: … “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all,
  • Acts 15.8: … And God, who knows the heart,
  • 1 John 3.19-20: … 19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

Rd 8.27: and he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit… He knows our hearts in those troubling times. He knows our needs in those times of suffering and he knows the mind of the Spirit. Aren’t you glad that God knows the mind of the Spirit! The Spirit only wants good things. He only wants God’s glory. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

This is the 3rd sub-point: The Spirit helps us in our weakness:

C.     By interceding for us according to the Will of God.

This is the hardest part of surrendering, isn’t it? The hardest part in surrendering is giving up our will – giving up what we want. We might not say it out loud; but deep down inside, that is the way we feel. Outwardly, as people look at us, we want them to think we are really good Christians. But, inwardly, we’re just as rebellious as Adam and Eve. So, on our own, it is really hard to pray that God would not do what we selfishly want and to do what he wants for us.

Ill.: As a believer, there has always been a prayer in the Bible that fascinates me. Jesus has acted and responded in Scripture multiple times, not because he had to, but for our benefit. These actions, these responses have always fascinated me. One, in particular, is Mk 14.36: 36 and he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

This is fascinating to me because Jesus has known his purpose: to suffer, to die, to be buried for three days and to rise again. He has told his disciples repeatedly that he is going to happen. He says it so much that Peter even rebukes Jesus for such negativity and Jesus said get behind me, Satan. The moment comes and what does Jesus pray? “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Jesus says this in Mk 14.36 when praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. He comes back to where Peter, James, and John are supposed to be praying with him and what does Jesus find them doing? Sleeping! And Jesus says something we often repeat, but I wonder if we truly understand the depth of their meaning: The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Doesn’t this apply to us in our suffering? The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. And guess what – The Spirit helps us in our weakness! because we don’t know what to pray or how to pray it. And, the Spirit does so with groanings that are too deep for words. And, the Spirit does so according to the will of God.

What is the will of God? The Spirit knows. It is up to us to trust.

But how? I’ve jotted down some thoughts as take-a-ways for today:

Review: the context is groaning, but rather still, the overarching context of suffering. As we suffer, just like creation with all of its storms and thorns, hurricanes and tsunamis and other types of natural disaster, we sometimes suffer in ways that create for us a situation in which we don’t even know how to pray. We don’t know what to ask. We can’t see God in this mess. We can’t hear God through the raging storm. We’re in an unnatural position and we’re clueless in what to do.

  1. First, Look at the next verse: 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Bear this in mind. We don’t know his will, well, he does and he is working all things for good – according to his purpose.
  2. God is with you in your suffering. Even if you can’t hear him, feel him, see him, or even sense him, He is there. And I think this next take-a-way follows closely…
  3. God hears our prayers – especially the prayers of ours produced by the Holy Spirit.
  4. God’s Will only needs to be known by him. You don’t have to know! It is enough to trust that God is working his will in your life. He is. Trust Him!
  5. God searches our hearts and knows the mind of the Spirit. Let that just wash over you for a moment. You’re weak. You’re imperfect. You’re speechless before him. You don’t understand what is happening. But you don’t have to know. He who searches out the heart, he knows the mind of the one who is interceding on your behalf.
  6. God’s work is not limited by your situation or circumstance. It may feel that way. It may feel that your pain, your suffering, your experience is going to hurt, limit or mar God. Don’t believe it. There is nothing you can do or have done that can limit the work of God. Nothing. If you think that, you’re thinking too highly of yourself!
  7. Prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind. It’s about changing us to align ourselves with God Will. God is already perfect. His will is perfect. Perfection doesn’t need change. What needs changing is imperfect us. But sometimes we just don’t know how to do that.

 

One great way to experience that this morning is to give your life to him. Repent of your sins – that means changing your mind about you and acknowledging that God is right about you. Come to Christ this morning. As always, the decisions and commitments we make are unlimited as God works in each of us. I’d love to visit with you about that. The way we do this is we dismiss for a time of fellowship in the back of the church. Grab a donut or a cup of coffee and let’s visit.

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Filed under Christian Living, Romans, Romans 8, Scripture, Sermon, Sin

Romans 8.1-4

Sermon Series: The Spirit-Filled Life

Title: The Spirit of Life Brings Freedom!

Text: Romans 8.1-4

Big Idea: We no longer stand condemned, because have been set free by the Spirit of God.

 

Introduction: The Focus of Romans 8 is on the believer’s Spirit-filled life. For the next few months, as we push toward Easter, I would like to focus on this chapter. I will present a series of sermons in repeated ‘two parts’. Let me show you what I mean:

# Sermon Series: The Spirit-filled Life Text:
1. Introduction: No Condemnation Romans 8.1
2. The Spirit-filled Life brings Freedom! Romans 8.1-4
3. The Spirit-filled Life brings Focus! Romans 8.5-8
4. Alive by the Spirit! Romans 8.9-11
5. Adopted by the Spirit! Romans 8.12-17
6. The Temporary State of Suffering Romans 8.18-21
7. This Permanent State of Hope Romans 8.22-25
8. The Work of the Spirit in the Spirit-filled Life Romans 8.26-27
9. The Work of the Spirit Step by Step Romans 8.28-30
10. Who can stand against us? Romans 8.31-32
11. Case dismissed! Romans 8.33-36
12. Conclusion: Nothing Can Separate Us! Romans 8.37-39

There is the intro, which I brought to you a couple of weeks ago. You see #10 and #11 have a ‘trial’ feel to them. I’m still working on a title to go with those two messages. And of course, #12, is our Conclusion.

Romans 8 isn’t how on ‘how’ to be saved – that really is all presented in Romans 1-7, as we covered Introduction. Romans 8 is about your life in Christ Jesus. You’ll see it as the top and the tail to the chapter; rd 8.1-2; 39.

In chapters 1-7 we find the Gospel: God is Holy; Mankind is sinful; Our Sin separates us from God and brings about God’s Just Wrath toward us; In our helpless estate, Christ paid that penalty for us; That payment was totally sufficient to cover every sin of every person who ever lived; There is the Personal Response of the individual by faith in Christ; That individual is then immediately justified and continually being sanctified. And then we come to Romans 8: the Spirit-filled life of the believer. Romans 9-11 deal with The Freedom of Man and the Sovereignty of God. Romans 12-16 will be all about the practical side of the New Believer’s Life in Christ (i.e., loving your brother, serving each other, how we are to now perceive the governmental authorities over us, etc.). But Romans 8, this all about this Christian Life now lived out by the Spirit of God in Christ.

Let me show you the overwhelming emphasis on the Spirit in chapter 8: 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 23, 26, 27 (Romans 7, starting in v 7 has an overwhelming emphasis on I, me, my!).

When you are saved you ask Jesus to come into your life, forgive you of your sin and to take up residence in your heart. Have you ever heard that before? There have been so many foolish debates about this: do you ask Jesus into your heart or do you ask God to live in you or do you ask for the Holy Spirit? The answer is basically yes. The Holy Spirit then comes and takes up residence there – in you.

The Holy Spirit has different terms or names here in chapter 8: Mostly, he is called The Spirit; rd v 9; The Spirit of God; The Spirit of Jesus;

Now, at this point, in my sermon preparation, I paused. You might have already hit the pause button yourself. All of this is – is theology. Teaching, Teaching, Teaching. Doctrine, Doctrine, Doctrine. You might find yourself drifting away… doctrine, doctrine, doctrine, snooze…

But this doctrine is so important. It is vital to the Christian Life. Here’s the way this text breaks down:

  • Declaration: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
  • Why? Because… (NIV: Because, for; HCSB: Because, and then just explains in v 4) the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Answer: You’ve been set free! But then he answers another question that arises.
  • How? Because… For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. In other words, Obedience to the Law was not possible. Indeed, it is insufficient. He continues: By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. So, where the Law was lacking, Christ fulfilled that righteous requirement as set by God. And, so now will live differently. We live by the Spirit, not by the flesh.

That difference can sometimes look the same. What I mean is this: Some folks actually think that the Christian life is following rules and regulations. These same people, well-meaning as they are, say to the new believer, you can’t do this and you must do that. But what happens to the new believer is that they begin to feel pretty good about their ‘doing’. They’re acting like their mentor tells them to act. They’re behaving like their mentor tells them to behave. And so they begin to think that by ‘doing’ they’re demonstrating their salvation. The problem with this is that no one can live that out perfect. Failure comes eventually, and when it does, so do doubts about their salvation. They think, if I were saved I wouldn’t behave this way. Go back to chapter 7: the things I want to do, I don’t. The things I don’t want to do, I do. That’s legalism gone amuck.

Paul says, huh-uh. That’s not how it works. Legalism is a vicious cycle. Go back a few verses to 7.24 and read through. 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 then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. And then he makes this declaration:

Declaration: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Transition: Paul then explains the process…

Why is that? And how can it be? Let’s answer that first question: why?

Why? The Spirit of Life has set us free from the Law and from its curse of death (2)

exp.: V 1 is a declaration of Justification. Boom! Immediately, your sins are forgiven. But, v2 then explains why this happens. It happens because (rd v 2) …the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. This is the principle being taught: the law brings sin and death. But, the Spirit brings life.

Paul is giving us some facts about the Law here.

  1. The Law defines Sin for us. It communicates to us what it means to be sinners. Perfection is the outline. You can’t be perfect, so you sin. You and I would have no idea what sin is if the Law had never said: Thou Shalt not covet. And, once we learn what sin is, something interesting happens. And that is #2
  2. The Law produces sin in us. It communicates the boundaries and we automatically want to cross those boundaries. You hear “don’t covet” and you learn what it means to desire the things of other people. What do you do? You start wanting what other people have. Your neighbor gets a new truck and what do you want? A new truck! And more than that – you want his new truck!
  3. The Law brings death. It can never bring life. Here is the Law. One infraction against it and you’re done. The penalty for breaking this one time? Death. Therefore, the law brings death.

app.: Why? By accomplishing all three as it processes itself through the life of people. We learn what sin is and it produces in us this desire from which we cannot break free on our own. The Law then kills us; it destroys us. But then we come to Jesus. And for those who are in Christ Jesus, there is now no condemnation. We’ve been set free from the Law. The Law loses its power over us and we’ve been given new life in Christ.

t.s.: So here is the review: We come to Christ confessing our sin. Immediately, we’re justified. There is therefore now no condemnation. Why? Because God has given us his Spirit of Life, setting us free from the law of sin and death. But that brings up another question: How? How does all of this happen? How is it put into motion? And that’s our next question: How? The answer is in v.3; rd v 3; Answer:

How:

  • God did for us what the Law could never do. (3a)

exp.: The Law is perfect, but we can’t live out that perfection. And one infraction against the Law condemns us. The Law is holy, but it can’t make us holy because we can never live it out perfectly. Instead, it produces sin in us. The Law shows us, teaches us what holiness is and demonstrates for us our great failure and our great need. There is a recognition at this point that we can never ‘do’ the law in such a way as to save ourselves. Never. We are helpless and left to die because we justly deserve that punishment of death as required by the law because we are lawbreakers!

app.: And since we were helpless, God acted on our behalf.

t.s.: which brings us to more explaining in that answer:

  • God did for us what we could never do for ourselves. (3b)

exp.: rd 3b; God sent His Son in the flesh. There is more theology here, more doctrine. Two very important teachings for us! God sent his own son in the flesh. Here’s the principle: God’s Son equates to his perfection. Alistair Begg says it this way: Paul is safeguarding for us two important truths: His Divinity and His Humanity. His Divinity demonstrates for us his perfection and sinlessness and, his humanity demonstrates for us that he became flesh.

By sending his own Son (His Divinity) in the likeness of sinful flesh (His Humanity) and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us,

  1. The Reality of Christ’s Humanity. Jesus is real. He isn’t a legend. He isn’t some fable. His story isn’t told to teach us how we should live – you know, be like him. He was loving. He was kind. Be like him! Yes, but that isn’t the point. The point is that God sent his son in Human form – taking on flesh and bone. And then, there is this 2nd Truth:
  2. The Fact of Christ’s Sinlessness. Jesus, by living a perfect life, became the only one who could do for us what we could never do for ourselves. Listen to 2 Corinthians 5.21: 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

ill.: This is why we sang this morning:

Jesus Paid It All

I hear the Savior say, Thy strength indeed is small

Child of weakness watch and pray, Find in Me thine all in all

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow

Lord now indeed I find, Thy pow’r and Thine alone

Can change the leper’s spots, And melt the heart of stone

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow

And when before the throne, I stand in Him complete

Jesus died my soul to save, My lips shall still repeat

Jesus paid it all, All to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow

Oh praise the One Who paid my debt

And raised this life up from the dead

exp.: the rest of that verse reads: he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. If you make your way back to Romans 3.21ff, you’ll find that God put Jesus forth as a propitiation for our sin.

app.: When I hear the word propitiation, I think of God’s Wrath. The Wrath of God was satisfied in the death of Christ on the Cross. Jesus was that righteous requirement of the law.

Conclusion: So, how does this apply in the world?

There is a recent story posted by FoxNews:

It reads:

A young Manhattan dietitian hanged herself in her West Village apartment after posting a suicide note online in which she apologized to her mom and said she “felt absolutely nothing during what should have been the happiest and darkest times in my life,” police sources said Thursday.

San Francisco native Tara Condell, 27, was found dead with a cloth around her neck inside the bedroom of her home on West 10th Street around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday after police were called to the residence for a wellness check, sources said.

Worried co-workers called the cops after Condell did not show up for work at the Midtown office of Top Balance Nutrition on Wednesday — and saw that Condell posted the note to her website, according to sources.

One of Condell’s co-workers was waiting outside the woman’s home by the time cops arrived.

In addition to the note left on her website, Condell left another suicide note in a folder in her living room, sources said.

Condell — who, according to her website, is a registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in general nutrition, weight management, gastrointestinal disease and diabetes care — apologized to her mother at the end of the note posted to her site, saying, “I’m really sorry mama.”

The young woman began the note — which was titled, “I Hate The Word ‘Bye,’ But See You Later Maybe?” — writing, “I have written this note several times in my head for over a decade, and this one finally feels right. No edits, no overthinking. I have accepted hope is nothing more than delayed disappointment, and I am just plain old-fashioned tired of feeling tired.”

“I realize I am undeserving of thinking this way because I truly have a great life on paper. I’m fortunate to eat meals most only imagine. I often travel freely without restriction. I live alone in the second greatest American city (San Francisco, you’ll always have my heart). However, all these facets seem trivial to me,” Condell wrote.

She continued: “It’s the ultimate first world problem, I get it. I often felt detached while in a room full of my favorite people; I also felt absolutely nothing during what should have been the happiest and darkest times in my life. No single conversation or situation has led me to make this decision, so at what point do you metaphorically pull the trigger?”

 

You see her picture there: A beautiful young woman who just missed this message. I have accepted hope is nothing more than delayed disappointment. Can I tell you that is true if you do all you can to find your happiness here on this earth? You will be disappointed.

But please, hear the message Paul is giving us. We’re sinful people. Our sin separates us from God. There is nothing on this earth that will satisfy the longing you have inside. Nothing. If you search this young woman’s blog posts, you’ll see she had an incredible life. She was gifted. Beautiful. Intelligent. She loved science. She had many friends. But she couldn’t find happiness here in what earth offers.

And neither will you. Hope can only be found in Christ. As our text here says, he alone can set you free. And if the Son sets you free, you are truly free indeed.

 

In a moment we’ll be dismissed. We’ll have a moment of silence and then someone will lead us in a closing prayer. If you’ve never given your life to Christ, won’t you do that this morning? Maybe there is another decision on your heart: church membership, surrendering to ministry. Whatever it might be, I’d love to visit with you about that. Maybe you’re visiting with us this morning. Please, come introduce yourself. I’d love to visit with you some. We’ll have coffee, donuts, and cookies back in the back. Let’s fellowship together for a while.

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Filed under Christian Living, Evangelism, Romans, Romans 8, Salvation, Scripture, Sermon, Sin, The Gospel

Psalm 126

Title: From where does prayer come?

Text: Psalm 126

Introduction: I sat on the edge of my bed and cried. I was 34 years old and had worked toward this moment for 13 years. And, I felt like such a failure.

Why had God called me and not blessed? What was I doing wrong? Why didn’t God let me pursue a different vocation that interested me so many years ago? There were many! Lisa can tell you I changed my mind about what I wanted to do and be a dozen times.

But that wasn’t the case. I was pastoring a church, as had been my dream, and felt I was wasting everyone’s time. So I just sat there and cried.

I don’t know if my kids know about that moment. I know Lisa knows, not because she was there. She wasn’t. She was busy in the kitchen getting lunch ready. But I know she knows I was down. Those moments over the past 35 years have never escaped her notice.

So, I sat alone in the bedroom, on the end of the bed and just cried.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever felt despair or struggle and just laid your soul bare before the Lord with tears and petitions?

Transition: That is where the Psalmist describes these people, but with one added flare: God delivered them. The context appears to be agricultural in nature. So, I think we can assume the Psalm itself is about a drought or famine in the past and God blessed them and restored their fortunes with abundant harvests and crops. So keep that in mind as we make our way through Psalm 126.

The Psalm has one natural division between verse 3 and 4. You might note that your text in whatever version you’re using. I think there is a good argument to say that there is even a third section by dividing up the 2nd section, between verses 4&5. Here’s how I see it (One long sentence into three parts):

  1. Remembering God’s Faithfulness in the past (1-3)
  2. Leads us to Powerful Petitions through Prayer (4)
  3. And makes us laborers who water our work with tears of passion and expectation (5-6).

Let’s look first at God’s faithfulness.

I.     Remembering God’s Faithfulness in the past (1-3)

exp.: if you notice in these first three verses, the writer calls for the hearers to remember when God acted ‘before’ and what joy it brought them. Furthermore, the nations saw what God had done and God was glorified in all of that. Rd v 1; a memory of God’s faithfulness; there was a time in the past when Israel had lost its ‘fortunes’ and then God ‘restored’ them; the truth is we don’t know what he’s talking about. It could have been a reference to the exile, but if you go back to Judges, when they first settled the land and read all the way through up to this point, you’ll see that happen repeatedly. Maybe that’s the point. Then, he uses this simile: we were like those who dream. Sometimes, God moves in such miraculous ways, that life just seems to be dreamlike – like it just can’t be real.

ill.: Consider Peter chained between two guards, with two sets of chains. Peter was fast asleep when an angel of the Lord ‘struck’ him on the side. That is to say, he nudged Peter awake. Now, Peter was not quite sure that what was happening to him was real. He thought he was having a vision. That is until the angel left him and he stood alone in the street. That is when he came to himself. I love that phrase. We see it also of the prodigal son who was suffering and finally came to himself. That means he came to his senses – the predicament he found himself in was real.

exp.: you’ll note the writer uses a simile in both verse one and verse four: like those who dream, like streams in the Negeb… The Negeb is a desert area in the southern part of Israel. Man, oh, Man, to the streams flow when it rains.

Now, there are more similarities in these two verses (1-4): Yahweh is used in both, restore is used in both and fortunes is used in both. And, as I already mentioned, you see the word like. When that happens it should cause you to ask yourself if there is some sort of repetition here. It is fitting to see if there is a chiastic structure going on. It looks like there just might be: there is repetition in v 2 in the tongue and the mouth. And there is another repetition at the end of 2 and v3 in The Lord has done great things. If that is the case, then the phrase then they said among the nations is being magnified or is the emphasis of this section. Let that sink in for a moment. The whole focus then would be that God is glorified through us in those moments.

app.: it makes me wonder about what that looks like. I wonder if sometimes we glory in the blessings of God and don’t point others to Him during those times. Just wondering…

Let’s stick with the simile for now and move away from form and structure. It is used for effect. Remember when the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, it was like…

A dreamlike anticipation is what Leslie Allen suggests in his commentary. Now, dreamers get this. You stable, realistic, “in-the-moment” people probably don’t get this imagery. Dreamers – we get it.

Ill.: One of my favorite illustrations about dreaming is in the book The Disney Way. Walt Disney was a dreamer. After Disney World was completed there was a special ceremony to cut the ribbon. Many who had worked on the project gathered for that special celebration near the front. As they were getting ready to cut the ribbon, one lady commented that it saddened her to think that Walt Disney wasn’t there to see this grand opening. A man standing near her said: He did see it. That’s why its here! That’s vision and that’s dreaming.

app.: Allen is suggesting that there was a ‘time’ before God’s blessings. Israel had experienced God’s blessings before, but now, for whatever reason, that wasn’t the experience. It could have been famine or drought. Who knows, but God? It doesn’t matter so much of what or when it was for us, but that it did happen at some time.

There was a time when the leadership saw people in the fields gathering more fruit and vegetables than they could possibly eat. The leadership saw the rivers flowing at their banks capacity, markets full, people laughing and enjoying the bounty of God’s blessing. And in that moment the leadership remembered when there had been drought or famine or pestilence or something horrible and they remember petitioning God for his blessings. They had been in a tough situation and wha-la! Now, what they had prayed about and asked God for – God’s answer was happening before their eyes. One day, after toil, struggle, prayer, and patience, God restored their fortune. He blessed them in the very manner their leadership had envisioned while praying.

And what did that cause them to do? rd v 2a: Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; Isn’t that what happens when God answers prayer? Aren’t you just amazed and filled with worship that has to spill out?

Look at the rest of v2; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” And indeed, they testify in v 3: The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.

t.s.: So, now the writer moves to prayer – a prayer born out of remembrance. And that’s our 2nd point this morning… Remembering God’s faithfulness in the past…

II.    Leads us to Powerful Petitions through Prayer (4)

exp.: rd v 4; Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negeb! ; A simple prayer, really; this is a prayer grounded in the faithfulness of God.

ill.: Can I just stop and be straight-forward with you right now? I’m there. I look at Calvary and recognize that she is a shadow of her former self. Lisa found a brochure of Calvary from the year 1999. There is a picture on the front of 20 people (really 21, but you can make out who it is). Of those 20 people whose pictures grace the cover of that brochure, only one person is still at Calvary 20 years later.

app.: God has blessed Calvary in the past. If I could show you pictures of her in her former glory (to use a worldly term), then that would be a great picture of v1 for us. To those who are older, I could say, Remember when the Lord restored the fortunes of Calvary? We were like those who dream. Can you use your imagination and see these hallways filled with people? Can you see us moving back into the south wing and needing one room per age group: one room for the 1st graders and one room for the 2nd graders and…. Can you see the worship center filled to capacity? Can you see this Fellowship Hall filled with every table and every chair? If you’re someone who has been here for at least the last 20 years, you can imagine it. And if you’ve been here since the 1940’s you can remember the former days when Calvary had 100’s and 100’s and 100’s of people – maybe 1,000 or more.

t.s.: that’s where those prayers are born… in memories of God’s faithfulness in the past. But the Psalmist is clear now. He tells just how those prayers flow –

III.   And makes us laborers who water our work with tears of passion and expectation (5-6)

exp.: rd v 5; Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! Then there is this repeat of v 5 and a doubling up with emphasis: He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

ill.: What a picture! It isn’t the rain that comes which waters the seed that has been sown. It’s the tears of the laborers! Notice that these people don’t just get on their knees to pray. These people go to work.

app.: I think there will be times when a person will stop in and say they stopped in because they saw the church and they heard a voice that said: you should visit there. But really, that isn’t the Great Commission. Is it?

ill.: Matthew 28.18 – All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. That’s a lot of authority Y’all. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, pray. … no… that isn’t what he said. He said… ? Go! Make disciples. Baptizing. Teaching.

Just curious, when you think of times when Jesus taught about prayer, what did he say? Does this sound familiar: And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Listen, sometimes, all you can do is pray. But, often times, there is work to be done.

Conclusion: Do you remember my story from the beginning of this message of me sitting down on the end of my bed and just weeping before God.

Well, God answered my prayer. Some months later an evangelist came to town. I church joined in the effort and it was a nice week. Afterward, I got cards representing some six different families. As I recall, all six of those families began coming to Calvary. I baptized at least one person from each of those families. Our church began reaching lost people and our church grew. God heard my prayers, he saw my tears, he restored our fortune…

Application: So what does this mean for us today? Well, a couple of thoughts:

  1. Repentance: Most Psalms that deal with this topic of prayer for restoring Israel’s fortunes have something about repentance, too. When taken as a whole, we must remember that God will not bless us in our sin. Where sin abounds, repentance must come first.
  2. When the church is blessed, God is glorified. I wonder if too many churches touch that glory and forget that the blessings of God are for the glory of God.
  3. Don’t confuse your idea of blessings and restoring of fortunes with God’s idea of the same.
  4. The younger generation doesn’t know what we know. My morning Scripture reading is in Deuteronomy and just this week Moses told the adults in 11.1: And consider today (since I am not speaking to your children who have not known or seen it), consider the discipline of the Lord your God, his greatness, his mighty hand and his outstretched arm, and he continues on… I was reminded that those who are younger don’t understand what it means. They don’t remember the former glory, the times of fortune. Do you remember in Ezra where the young people wept for joy at the Temple and the older people wept with sorrow because they remembered the former glory of the Temple? The younger generation doesn’t know what we know. Keep that in mind. Maybe the younger generation can comprehend, but only on a small scale. But, for those of us who’ve endured, we must communicate with this younger generation: We’ve been through worse and God has always been faithful to His Church.
  5. Let me ask you: Do you recognize our need? Have you been moved to tears over Calvary? Have you been moved to labor? Do you realize that our church will not simply grow because we are here or even that we pray? Do you realize that we must get out of our seats and go beyond these walls to the ones who are lost and hurting? There is a man who has his 8th 1st-day chip from AA in two years. There is the wife who is hurting because her husband is addicted to porn. There is the mom who doesn’t know how to reach her hurting teenager. There is the daughter who has to make the hard decision to move her momma into a nursing home where she can get the around-the-clock attention she needs. There is the young couple who has been trying to have a baby for 5 long years. There are people all around us who are suffering in silence and you and I have been given the Great Commission to go to them.

Let’s start now. Let’s take our prayers and our tears to God and plead with him to save us, to deliver us, to send us to the hurting and the lost and the ones in need. Lord, send us out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing. And bring us back home with shouts of joy, bringing in the sheaves!

In a moment we’re going to call for a moment of silence. I’d like for you to reflect, honestly, on your heart for our church and our community. If you’ve never asked Christ to forgive you of your sin, I want to talk with you about that. If you have a decision or a commitment you’d like to talk with me about… (like you’re interested in joining our church or believe God might be calling you into the ministry or on to the mission field) please, come and talk with me about it. I’d love to visit with you about whatever is on your mind.

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Filed under Christian Living, Psalms, Psalms of Ascent, Scripture, Sermon, Sin

Romans 6.15-22

**/for the audio portion of this message, click here: www.soundcloud.com

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 6.1-12

Title: Don’t live like you are dying!

Text: Romans 6.1-11

Introduction: We begin a new section of Romans this morning. I don’t know that I’ve ever enjoyed going through a book more than this, but it does seem that I say this same thing every time I go through a new book.

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

  • Romans 1-2: Sin
  • Romans 3-5: Salvation
  • Romans 6-8: Sanctification (How now do we 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?

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. This is a great personal study if you’re interested. You can line up Acts 15 with Leviticus 17-18- and 19. (Give a brief history).

But that isn’t our purpose this morning. Today, we want to focus in on this question someone might have given Paul during one of his times of teaching: Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?

Let me show how Paul develops his answer:

  • 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.

So, if you’ll allow me, I’d like to give a basic overview of this first section by outlining it for us. Then, I’d like to make a few points from the outline.

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 won’t get the full answer this morning, but let’s begin with v 1 and follow his logic…

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?

The answer is in the question. The first question demands a negative response: He can’t. She can’t. The 2nd question has the answer in its presentation. You have been baptized into Jesus and into his death.

ill.: And then he explains in 4-11; for brevity’s sake, let me show you the flow of his argument.

  • Therefore (His answer) – v4
    • For (Because) – v5
      • We know (Reason) – v6
    • For (Because) – v7
      • We Know (Reason) – v9
    • For (Because) – v10
  • So (His Answer) – v11

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.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

app.: Paul asks if we should continue in Sin so that Grace may abound. His answer: No, we have died to sin and it’s lordship over us. The person who was that way has died – he or she is no longer alive. The new person is alive in Christ and has surrendered to his Lordship.

Here then are the Four parts to beginning your walk with God. These are actions you take:

Note: Some of you have been doing this already for decades; others of you have only been living this new life for a few days. But, in each instance, whether decades or days, the new life is the same:

  1. Death of Old Life

Death is in every verse: 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.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Paul’s point is clear: we must die to sin and self!

  1. Burial (comes to nothing); 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.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Ill.: The old self is put to death and buried. It must come to nothing. We can’t feed it. I think this is an important part of our new walk. Young believers, listen up! You must not give the old self any breathing room.

I wish that sanctification was a one and done scenario, but it isn’t. While it is true that your sins are forgiven – all of your sins – it is also true that the old self must be crucified each and every day. Crucify it and bury it. Third, …

  1. Resurrection: 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.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Once the old life is dead and buried, we are raised to a new life.

  1. New Life: rd v 4

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.

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. *This new life is a life that is liberated – no longer held captive!

For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.

11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

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

Ill.: Some people think this is just too harsh of Paul to say. But, I don’t think he’s being hyperbolic in his teaching.

Too many of us as new Christians don’t kill the old self, but in truth, are held captive to sin. This year marks three years ago my sister died of an overdose. I’ve not talked about it publicly. I don’t want to today, either. There is a real problem in America today, an epidemic, a plague. There is a pharmaceutical conspiracy that is killing thousands upon thousands of people in the US. Did you know that as many people die from overdoses to Opioid Addiction every 10 months as died in the Vietnam War?

My sister was one of those people. Her friends tried to help her, but she chose drugs over them. She went from working for the Governor in Austin to living in a bedroom in my mother’s house, selling drugs through her window. She had a little slit in the screen where transactions could be made. She stole my mother’s life savings and spent it all on drugs. She pawned anything worth any value, jewelry, antiques, you name it.

She went to rehab so many times. Let me stop there… Someday, I want to talk about it, but not today. Today I just want to mention it and say..

app.: Satan comes to kill, to steal and to destroy. But Jesus has come that we might have life. If you don’t destroy your old self, it will dominate you. If you open the door for something, it will take over your life. Whether it is drugs or pornography or food. You have to say no to the world and what it offers and say yes to Jesus, every single day of your life.

Luke 9.23-25: And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

We’ve run out of time this week, we’ll pick up here next week and continue our study on Romans 6.1-14

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Romans 5.12-14

Title: The Doctrine of Original Sin

Text: Romans 5.12-14

CIT: Sin entered the world through Adam’s rebellion and has infected every human being so that all have sin and none is without sin.

CIS: Where Adam brought both sin and death to all humans, Jesus has conquered both in his redeeming work on the Cross.

Introduction: Is there any doubt that sin exists?

Story: I love the children’s message today because it really brings home the teaching of God’s Word and the author.

Ill.: Story of the elk who licked the hunter…

Some stories are hard to believe. But, everything changes when you consider the one who tells it.

That is the way it is with Scripture. When our story comes straight from the mouth of God, then it is easy to believe. We’ll look at just such a story this morning as Paul presents the Doctrine of Original Sin to the Romans.

I’d like to present a series of questions, which I believe this passage answers:

  1. How did sin enter into the world?
  2. What are the consequences of that action?
  3. Was it that way before the Law was given?
  4. This is all so very bleak! What hope is there, then?

Let’s begin with this first question:

  1. How did sin get here? (12a)

exp.: The answer is: Sin and Death Entered the World through Adam’s Rebellion. Rd 12a; I think it is important that we not separate these two – sin and death, because they are really inseperabl. Let’s look at the actual text where Paul’s teaching comes from: Gen. 2.25-3.7; you’ll notice the bookends of 2.25-3.7 concerning their nakedness. In one, they were not ashamed in their nakedness. In the other, there is great shame in their nakedness.

ill.: In the Simeon Trust Preach Workshops, this passage is often used as an example of Deuteronomy 4.2: You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you. You see the idea in preaching is to present God’s Word – unadulterated, pure and simple. Read with me 3.1; I wonder if Satan spoke with a hiss: Did God really sssssay? Look how Eve responds:

  • She minimizes the freedom that God gave them. read v 2; God originally told them they could eat from every tree except one. Next,
  • She added a strictness to his command – not to even touch it. rd v 3; (2.17)
  • She softened his word in regard to their certain death. God said She said lest.

Let me ask you this morning: what importance do you place upon handling the Word of God. Is every word important? You bet, because when we don’t know God’s Word, it is so easy for someone to lead us astray. Rd v 4-7;

I say it is. Furthermore, what we’re seeing here is that a breakdown in properly handling God’s Word leads to sinful behavior. It leads to rebellion.

app.: I wish Eve would have said: you know what, let me get back to you on this. I need to consult God on this first!

Well, we see here how sin entered the world: through the disobedience of Adam and Eve. Their rebellion brings about the curse at the end of the chapter and it ends with the assurance that God’s Word was true all along. He said: in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. And the curse concludes with: for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Furthermore, you can read to chapter 5, verse 5 and read: Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died.

Ill.: This past week a woman I encountered at the bank asked me a question about the temptation in the Garden: Pastor, was Adam even there. Well, I needed to do some research for that one. I had always assumed he was. I mention this because, at some point, we must address the issue of roles and responsibilities. Why wasn’t it Eve who suffered the brunt of the punishment? As you finish up chapter three, you read about the submissive role Eve was to take, the contrary nature she would have against her husband, and the authority and responsibility Adam was given.

I wish we had more time to spend here, but I’m sure many of you are probably asking: Why did Adam take the brunt and the sin was passed through him to all people? Simply put: Because, he had a responsibility and he remained passive in the event. Two items to note:

  1. The word you is plural throughout Genesis 3.1-5;
  2. Rd v 6; So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

app.: He failed in the responsibility and the role God had given to him.

t.s.: How did sin get here? Sin and Death Entered the World through Adam’s Rebellion: 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, we continue… and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— which brings us to our second question:

  1. What are the consequences of that action? (12b)

exp.: And the answer is quite simple: Sin and Death have affected every human since that time. And since, or because) Adam was the 1st human, sin was passed on to all other humans. It is interesting the verbs you find in these verses: First, Sin came into; 2nd, Death came through; the picture is that Death spread throughout all of humanity like a sickness to all humans; So the scripture reads…and so death spread to all men. That word men, of course means, mankind. And then we read this little phrase: because all sinned.

ill.: I’m thinking of the movie, The Prince’s Bride, and the scene when indigo Montoya says: I don’t think that word means what you think it means. Well, because all sinned, doesn’t mean that everyone is a sinner because everyone has sinned – like, if they had never sinned, then they’d be sinless. To be sure, this is had to understand from the Gk to the English. Literally, it is a prepositional phrase. Often times, context will determine how you translate something into English. Certain words have different meaning in context. Husbands, you wife comes home with groceries. She gets to the door and you open it for her. She says: Carry this. You know to take the bag from her arm and carry it. If She then says: Can you carry me to the doctor tomorrow – you don’t think that she means to pick her up like a sack of potatoes and throw her over your shoulder, do you? No, you know she needs a ride.

The preposition is on or upon, when in reference to location or proximity you would translate it near or at. And, sometimes in reference to authority it can be translated over. When concerning legal terms, it would be translated before (before authority). But at times this word can be translated on the basis of… cf.: 1 Tim 5.19: 19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. And that’s probably closer to the meaning here: you might translate this: and so death spread to all men based on the fact that all sinned. You know that sin has infected every human because we see that every human sins.

app.: Tom Shreiner brings out the understanding of this phrase in the simple explanation: we sin because we’re spiritually dead.

t.s.: What are the consequences of that action? Sin and Death have affected every human since that time. Well, that raises a really good question then:

 

  • What about before the Law was given? (13-14a)

exp.: I don’t know if you’ve ever even considered this, but it really is a good question. If the law brings a knowledge of sin (3.20), then how do people know what sin is if there is no law? And, at one time, before Moses, there was no law. We see the question raised in v 13 and answered in v 14; So, if there was no law, was there then no sin? Paul says: No. There has always been sin, ever since Adam sinned. Answer: Sin and Death have reigned over all humanity, even those who lived before the law was given.

t.s.: Wow… if this is the case, it appears that all is hopeless. That is our last question…

  1. So, what hope is there? (25-32)

exp.: It would have been, except for one small – or rather large detail: God had a plan… and we read about it in the rest of v. 14b: who was a type of the one who was to come.

ill.: Let’s say you and I are having a conversation – and we’re talking about Joshua Webb. Did you know the Webb’s have a dog? What’s her name? Let’s say I then describe her to you… she’s black, has black eyes, has four legs, a tail that is always wagging when you speak to her and just loves to be loved on. And that’s about it, right? But let’s say that you come over to my house and you meet Suzy, my dog. And I ask you to describe her. Well, she looks nothing like Joshua’s dog, but you’d say all the same things. But how is my dog different? Well, she’s a lot shorter. Appears a lot younger, can jump and move a lot faster, can accept commands in three different languages. You see the differences when you see them side-by-side. That’s what a ‘type’ is. It allows you to see something similar, but notice the difference.

app.: Adam was a ‘type’ of Christ. His action affected us all. Jesus, well, his action would affect us all, too – but in a different way. Where death came by the 1st Adam, life comes by the 2nd Adam.

Ill.: Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley wrote Hark! The Herald Angels Sing:

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
Oh, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.

Conclusion: Well, that is what we’ll be looking at next week. For now, what should we do with what we’ve learned?

Application: So, what do we do in light of this information?

  1. Understand the Doctrine is so very important to our Christian Faith.
    1. If you remove the doctrine of original sin, you remove a vital component to the gospel. It is at this moment in Scripture we first learn of God’s plan for redemption.
    2. Consider religions where people attempt to balance their sin and their good deeds.
  2. Respond to this message! Where Adam brought both sin and death to all humans, Jesus has conquered both in his redeeming work on the Cross. If you find that you’re a sinner because sin was passed to you through Adam and you’ve never done anything about it – well, respond to Jesus.
    1. He came to die for your sin.
    2. Trust him as your Lord and Savior.
  3. Tell someone! Tell someone about the death that comes through Adam and the hope eternal life through Jesus. Don’t keep it to yourself!
    1. CWT: knocking on doors, introducing ourselves and seeking opportunities to share the story of Christ.
    2. Begin a prayer strategy:
      1. Target individuals
      2. Become intentional about sharing
        1. At work
        2. Invite them over for dinner or some activity

We’re going to have a moment of silence for you to consider these things. Then, after a moment of silence, we’ll be dismissed with a benedictory prayer. Then, we’ll gather in the back for a time of fellowship. I’d like to talk with you about these things. Come visit with me over some coffee and a snack.

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The Inexcusable Guilt of All Mankind

Title: The Inexcusable Guilt of All Mankind

Text: Romans 3.19-20

Introduction: This morning we’re in Romans 3. The only other text I’m planning to go to is Romans 7.

I watched the movie: The Case for Christ. It was a good movie, I recommend it. Highly. There is a lot of information given in the movie about Jesus. Historical, scientific, archeological, and the list goes on. Lee Strobel is an Award winning American Journalist whose wife comes to Christ. Both he and his wife were atheists before her life shattering decision to follow Christ. And so to bring her back to her senses, he decides to appeal to her intellect. After all of his research, he is drawn to this conclusion that everything he has studied about Christ points to the fact that he was a real man who died on the cross, was buried and resurrected on the third day.

At the absolute climax of the movie, the musical orchestration is at it height and Strobel has been working through all of the answers he’s found, he asks the big question: why? Why did he die? Why did he endure all that he did – all of the suffering, the cat of 9 tails, the beating with the rod, the dying on the cross – why did he endure it all if he was God? Why didn’t he use his power and stop it all – save himself?

I know you know the answer and so I don’t feel like this is a movie spoiler alert at all – but, at the moment this movie, this really good movie presents the answer, I felt like it just flopped. For me, anyway, it just flopped because the movie missed something vital to the gospel message.

The answer the movie gave – one word: love. And Lee was overcome. That is probably why it played out that way, because it was his experience. But what the movie failed to present was the fact that the sacrifice of Jesus was and is our payment for our sin. Why did Jesus die? Yes, God did it all because he loves us. But, his demonstration of that love was to pay the penalty that our sin has demanded of us: death.

For the wages of sin is death. That’s a sad story. That’s an offensive story. No one wants to hear that they’re sinners. Everyone wants to talk about love.

We come to the conclusion of this section 1.18-3.20 where Paul will make a final summary statement before presenting the hope of this desperate situation we all find ourselves in.

Here is his summary statement and I’m reading Romans 3.19-20:

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

An outline can be broken down as follows:

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law,

so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight,

since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Transition: What we’ll do this morning is walk through each of these steps as they build on each other. This is what we know: the law speaks; in order that; because; because. Let’s look at Paul’s first statement – what we know.

I.     The Conclusion of the Matter: The Law speaks to those under the law (19a)

exp.: 19a Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law… How are we to understand this? Well, if we break it down, we understand it to be saying that after three chapters so far in Romans, we’re coming to a conclusion. And, that conclusion is that we now know something for sure. We know that the law speaks to those under the law. So, this is important, the first and primary people to hear from God were the Jews. They were given this great advantage of hearing and being given responsibility for the Oracles of God (3.1). The Gentiles follow in that there is an innate understanding of God’s law. But for the Jews, they were special people with a very special experience. And that experience with the law communicates to the rest of the world that no one, not even those who are special because they were chosen by God to be his people, no one is righteous of their own accord. Even if you have the very law of God communicated to you personally and being presented with the advantage over all the rest of the world to follow God according to his requirements, you still will fall short of that perfection. You can’t.

app.: And if the Jews, who have every advantage over the Gentiles can’t, then the summary is this: No is righteous. No one does right when left to his own ability. Not one! And the law speaks that to us very clearly.

t.s.: And just why does the law speak to us all?

II.    It does so to shut people up as they stand before god: there is no excuse before God (19b)

exp.: 19b so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. “So that” shows purpose; Gk is ἵνα; This is called a ἵνα clause; Which is totally different than a Santa Claus! A ἵνα clause show the reason for the statement. This sounds very mean to say it this way, but the reason is to shut the mouths of everyone who would stand and give a defense. There is nothing to say. You stand there with the knowledge that you’re guilty.

Not only will everyone close their mouths, but then there will be accountability. The purpose of giving the law to one people (the Jews) was to silence everyone and hold everyone accountable to God. 1.20: So they are without excuse. 2.1: Therefore you have no excuse. And then there is this key word: and. Not only will every mouth be silenced before God, but then there is this issue of accountability. You will be held accountable because you have the knowledge of your sin.

Ill.: You might be thinking to yourself that everyone being held accountable to God is unfair. Some people have never heard the Gospel. Some have never heard of the Law. Paul has told them already in the previous couple of chapters that they are without excuse because God has made himself known to them in three ways: these three texts declare man’s guilt before God and that we are inexcusable before him. God has shown us three areas where he has communicated this to us:

  • Romans 1: in nature;
  • Romans 2: in conscience;
  • Romans 3: in the Law.

Therefore, everyone is without excuse. You’ve known about me through nature, through your conscience and through the law. And because of that, all excuses are taken away and everyone is left standing before God with nothing to say. And then we will all be held accountable.

t.s.: But Paul doesn’t end here, he offers more… if 19b offers the purpose – so that every mouth will be stopped and everyone held accountable, then v 20 offers the reason…

III.   Because no human being will be justified by works of the law (20a)

exp.: I love that Paul includes this last phrase… in his sight. Maybe in their own eyes they might consider themselves justified. Maybe in our own eyes we feel justified by our works! 20a For (because) by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight… “every mouth will be stopped and everyone held accountable because no human being will be justified by works of the law.” What is Paul saying exactly? He is saying the Jews are the example for the rest of the world that no human being can be justified through the works of the law. They failed miserably. Therefore, everyone who tries will also fail miserably. They may have been justified in their own eyes, but not in God’s eyes.

ill.: I’m always amazed at how people offer excuses and try to justify their actions. Tyler H. posted a Yelp review of the restaurant Sweet Dixie Chicken on October 9th. Located in Long Beach, California, Tyler said he saw an employee entering the back of the restaurant with a big bag of chicken from Popeye’s Chicken and he wondered if they actually served it. So he ordered the chicken for $13.95 and asked the waiter how they cooked their chicken. After checking in the back, he told them they order their chicken from Popeye’s. The owner of the restaurant said she was proud to serve Popeye’s chicken that she bought her gumbo from the local farmer’s market and doesn’t mill her own flour.

app.: You’re probably thinking what I’m thinking: yes, we never imagined you’d mill your own flour or make your own sugar, but we sure thought you mixed all of those things up to create your own meals! She actually feels justified in her answers.

app.: But it won’t be that way on that final day when we all stand before the Lord. Not one word will be spoken. No excuses given. No one can say that they are justified in their actions. You might be thinking to yourself: And, why not? I mean, why would God give the Law if no one could actually be justified by keeping? Isn’t it possible to say that if anyone actually kept the law perfectly, wouldn’t he or she be justified before God? Was God lying when he gave the law?

t.s.: No! Paul explains this in his last phrase…

IV.    The only thing the law does is teach us what sin is because no one can actually keep it (20b)

exp.: But this is an important juncture. You see, it isn’t simply about information of sin, but it is an awareness that one cannot avoid sinning. That’s a deep cut! We know this because of the word in 19a: οἶδα; it is a more intimate knowledge from experience than the other common word for know: γνῶσις. 20b since through the law comes knowledge of sin. This is the heart of the matter: the law brings a knowledge of sin, but it is more than just information. This information is meant to lead us to repentance. God shows the law and we become knowledgeable about sin.

ill.: This past week my students in Venture had to read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. In the story a lawyer named Utterson is responsible for a letter given to him by a doctor who is a common friend between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Utterson. It is sealed and the instructions are to not open the letter until this Dr. friend has passed away. At first Utterson didn’t know the letter existed. So, no temptation. Knowing its existence was one thing, but once he found out that he couldn’t open it until… Oh, man. I was screaming at the book: just open the letter! Information about something piques one’s curiosity.

Listen to Romans 7: 7-12: What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

app.: When we become aware of something, that’s when we’re tempted to fall into it.

t.s.: And that’s just what Paul has been saying: No human being will be justified by works of the law because the Jews have demonstrated for us that it is impossible to perfectly keep the law. And because of this, every human being will be silenced before God and held accountable.

Conclusion: That is scary in itself. Standing before God to be held accountable for every careless word, every thoughtless deed. And, if that were the end of the story, you and I would have no hope. But it isn’t. You see v 21 is coming and with it, hope: But now…a righteousness of God has been revealed. What? You can be righteous without the law?

That’s why I was so disappointed with Stobel’s film. It’s a good movie and you should definitely pop some popcorn and watch it. But, if you invite a lost friend over to watch it with you, which you should definitely do, you should add this part, because its not in the movie: Jesus demonstrated his love for us by dying on the cross, but the reason he did it was to pay the penalty for our sins. He did what we could never do. He was the only one who fit the requirement as established by the law.

Application:

  1. Everyone is guilty before God.
  2. No one will be able to say a word before him.
  3. Everyone will be held accountable for what has been revealed to the world.
    1. Whether in nature
    2. Or through conscience
    3. Or through the law
  4. Remember, there is hope – and his name is Jesus. He’s the reason for this season of celebration. We give gifts because he is the greatest gift giver. We sing songs because he has put a song in our hearts. We celebrate because he has given us hope.

In a moment we’ll break for fellowship and have some cookies and coffee. I want to invite you back to the cornerstone area to visit with either me or a staff member or an elder. If you’ve never invited Christ into your life and found the forgiveness of sins, let us share with you how you can do that. Maybe you’re looking for a church home or you just have some questions: come visit with us.

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

The Universality of Sin

Text: Romans 3.9-18

Introduction: We’re in Romans 3 this morning; Ephesians 2; Psalm 14; Isaiah 59; Psalm 5

I have a friend. Some of you know her and might even call her your friend. In the past year she went to the doctor for a routine visit. As many of you know, when we get older, we’re scheduled for routine, timely exams. It was time for her. She wasn’t having any problems per se, except that which are common to women who are getting older. In the course of her examination, the doctor asked her how her treatments were going.

Treatments? She asked. What treatments?

The treatments for your stomach cancer… how are they going? Are you feeling well?

She thought for a moment he must have her mistaken for some other patient. She doesn’t have cancer. She could tell, though, by his response to her confusion that this wasn’t good. It had been 14 months since her last check up. It had been 14 months since she last any medical personnel had paid attention to her.

You guessed it: she has had stomach cancer for more than a year and no one told her. Somehow, someway, everyone thought it was someone else’s job to tell her. And someone else’s job becomes no one’s job. She went 14 months with this cancer growing in her body. Now, it is in the later stages. They’ve asked her family to begin working with Hospice and to help her bring her life to a close.

When I heard this, I was upset. She’s taking it so well. She isn’t bitter or angry toward those in charge of her care one bit. At least she hasn’t displayed that to me.

What if you had a cancer (that was treatable) growing in you and no one even told you about it? Would you be upset? Would you be bitter? Would you call your lawyer and get the paper work rolling. Maybe this won’t save your life, but at least your children or grandchildren will be set financially?

Today’s message is a little like this story. I have a great responsibility to tell you something. It is my job. I can’t rely on anyone else. It isn’t easy to tell you this, but it is very necessary. And, this thing I need to tell you – it’s harsh, but there is more hope in this dilemma than if I were to tell you that you have cancer!

Transition: Think about this: some doctor can tell you that you have cancer or Lou Gehrig’s disease or some other illness  – and, even with the best of hope, there will still be doubt… concerns, fear. The message I have for you today has even scarier news and yet the hope I have to offer is far greater and even guaranteed.

This morning in our text, Paul is preaching an old fashioned sermon. He’s making a statement and now backing it up with Scripture.

Would you stand with me this morning as we read the text? Our text this morning reads: What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:

       “None is righteous, no, not one;

11         no one understands;

no one seeks for God.

12     All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;

no one does good,

not even one.”

13     “Their throat is an open grave;

they use their tongues to deceive.”

       “The venom of asps is under their lips.”

14         “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”

15     “Their feet are swift to shed blood;

16         in their paths are ruin and misery,

17     and the way of peace they have not known.”

18         “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Transition: The first thing Paul does is re-present or restate this ‘charge’ against, not only the Jews, but against the whole world.

The Charge: (9-10)

Rd v 9a again; He’s rebuilding his argument from v1; it makes it pretty obvious that he is bringing this 1st section to a close. Rd v 9b; All are under sin. There is a power, as it were, called sin of which we are under its persuasion. But even that doesn’t sound strong enough: persuasion. For it is so much more powerful that just persuasion. It commands us. It is a weighty bond that enslaves us. It envelops us. It consumes us. So much so, that sin is a part of our very nature, leading us, commanding us to do its bidding. We are corrupted by sin. This is the charge he has presented since 1.18.

Listen to what Paul says about this lost, sinful state of each human in Eph 2.1-3: And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked (a dead man walking), following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— (a classification of every person: sons, daughters of disobedience) among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind – There is a natural enmity that we have with God. That means we are against him: enemies in this state of sinfulness.

So Paul says, here is the charge… let me illustrate this as we see it in Scripture, and then he quotes from multiple OT texts. If you have a reference column in your bible, you can see these citations from the OT in that reference column. At first, this seems really cool…until it isn’t.

If you take the time to read these verses and gain the context, you’ll find that it looks like Paul is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He says there is none righteous, but the OT text he quotes says God’s people, the people of Israel are righteous. The Gentiles are not. That doesn’t fit his charge!

Let me show you what I mean. Turn to Psalm 14; the citation by Paul is v1-3; v 5 tells us there are a righteous people. Well, who are the unrighteous then, if it isn’t everyone. V 7 tells us that the righteous people are the people of Israel. So, the unrighteous people are the Gentiles. Ok – that sounds like it doesn’t support his charge – that all are unrighteous and none is righteous, no not one.

To be sure, though, let’s keep going and see some more context. The next passage I want to look at is a quote from Isaiah 59. Turn there with me. Now, I know Isaiah 59. I love Isaiah 59. Rd v 1-2; Sin separates! Our quote is from v 7-8; He’s talking about the Jews. So, maybe he’s adding them in here.

Let’s test this theory. Let’s keep going: The next Scripture Paul uses is from Psalm 5.9. Turn to Psalm 5. This is a Psalm that David composes as he flees from Saul. Read Psalm 5.1-3: David’s Cry; 4-6: unrighteousness can’t abide in God’s presence; 7-8: because of God’s mercy (hesed), David can dwell in God’s presence through God’s righteousness; 9-10: here is our quote. So, in this text, it is the Jews who pursue evil and wickedness, who speak lies and are blood thirsty, deceitful men. Even David himself would be considered like them, but because of God’s (hesed) steadfast love – making him righteous – he can dwell in God’s presence.

When studying my commentaries this week for some help, I came across a scholar named Davies of which, other commentaries referred. Davies suggested that these verses do not condemn all people as sinners, but rather that some are sinners. That doesn’t sound Biblical to me…

Here’s my presumption: Paul isn’t using these verses in an individual sense, but rather as a collective group to make the charge that all are sinners. Taken, then, as a whole, these references make the statement that none is righteous, not even one. What these passages do say is that apart from the saving grace of God on his people, everyone is considered unrighteous.

But why would he pick and choose like this? What would be his motive or goal?

First of all, it appears Paul refers to the Gentiles in the text he uses and the Jews next. This follows his presentation in Chapters 1 and 2. But there is something else he does here.

With these Scriptural references, Paul says this charge against all of humanity is demonstrated in the following ways. Sin manifests itself in the life of an individual through:

  1. What one thinks
  2. What one does
  3. What one says
  4. The way one lives out his/her life.

Transition: Let’s take a moment to look at each of these within the context of their OT meanings.

  1. What One Thinks (10-11)

exp.: Paul says no one understands; in Ps 14.1a, 2, 4;  thinks, understands, knowledge; David says the fool thinks in his heart that there is no God. The reality of sinful behavior is that it is conceived in the mind, it is planned out or fantasized about in the mind and then, when opportunity presents itself, sin is birthed into action. It all starts on the inside. James 1 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

app.: that’s the reason we need someone to intercede for us, to interrupt this corruption in our minds.

t.s.:  And this is Paul’s next focus as he quotes in Psalm 14 about what the corrupt person does.

2. What One Does (11-12)

exp.: In Romans 3, we pick up in 11b: no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. From Ps 14.1 & 3;

…They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;

there is none who does good.

    The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,

to see if there are any who understand,

who seek after God.

    They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;

there is none who does good,

not even one.

exp.: Where no one knows the thoughts of man except God, our thoughts are soon made known through our actions. Consider this: when you’re younger and you do something stupid… you dad says to you, what were you thinking. Even those actions done in secret, the one’s we think no one knows.

ill.: We’ve seen different news stories over recent years of crimes committed 40 years ago where the culprit thought he got away with the crime. And yet, DNA evidence identified the criminal.

app.: our sinfulness makes its way out of our heads and hearts into the world through our behavior…what we do.

t.s.: But both David and Paul identify another way our sin manifests itself… and that is through our speech

3. What One Says (13-14)

exp.: you see this in v 13-14 of our text this morning in Romans 3: throat, tongue, lips, mouth. And note the imagery; grave, deception, venom, cursing and bitterness. Jesus said in Mt 12.34: For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. And in Mk 7: 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Maybe that is why David prayed: let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Oh, Lord.

ill.: It is amazing how the heart and the mouth go together. Sometime in the last few years someone made a comment in a Bible study time. I think it was in Paul’s class and I think I remember who said it, but I’m not sure. The comment was that this man writes in his bible the letters H&M everytime he comes across a verse that has a reference to both the heart and the mouth in it. ex.: Proverbs 4, 15, 16. I’ve marked in other places too and the man was right. There is an uncanny, mysterious, really incredible supernatural connection between the heart and the mouth – just as Jesus said.

app.: What you do is connected to what you think, say and do. There is this inter-connection to it all. The spirit thinks and the body does… or says… or acts.

t.s.: which is the connection here with this last section…

4. The Way One Lives (15-17)

exp.: rd 15-17; there is one word for way, path, road in the Gk; it is used twice here in this text. Note the presentation by Paul demonstrating one’s activities: feet, path, way; feet shedding blood is a way to describe a person’s life of bloodshed. Listen to Isaiah, whom Paul is quoting: Their feet run to evil, and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways. The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace.

app.: this really is a beautiful way to bring about his charge – and I mean beautiful in how much thought and preparation Paul puts into bringing this all together.

t.s.: You can see his brilliance and intellect pouring through his preaching and teaching and illustrating here.

Conclusion: The conclusion of this matter is that we’re all sinners. There is no fear of God before their eyes. I know that isn’t Good News: we’re all sinners. I know that is offensive, but for me to remain silent and not tell you is no better than a Dr. who won’t tell you that your sick and your sickness will lead to death.

You and I are corrupt in our nature and it comes out in all we do. We need someone to intercede for us. We need God’s grace to be poured out on us that we might be able to have a relationship with him. You see, in this story, that is the Good News. That’s why Jesus came. He came to earth as a little baby, born of a virgin. This season is why we celebrate as we do, because of what God has done through Christ. And this hope is so much greater than any doctor can give you as a remedy for whatever sickness may ail you.

So, what will you take home with you today?

Application:

  1. We are all under sin.
    1. There is no one righteous: not even one!
  2. Sin corrupts us.
    1. It damages us as individuals. It leads to depression and an unhealthy psyche.
    2. It hurts our relationships.
      1. 1st, with God. We cannot have a relationship with God in our sinful state. We need Christ to remove the barrier of sin and guilt.
      2. 2nd, with others. At the heart of every damaged relationship is sin. Divorce, separation, estrangement – you name it, sin is the culprit.
    3. Sin separates us from God.
      1. V 18 says that there is no fear of God before their eyes.
      2. You don’t have to stay separated… that is why Christ came. That is why we celebrate this time of year.
    4. And that’s the Good News! Your sickness of sin has a cure!

If you’ve never accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, I offer you him today. In a moment, we’ll be dismissed and I’d like to invite you to the Cornerstone Area to meet with me or maybe one of the elders or staff. We’ll have some coffee and cookies and can visit for a little while.

5. If you have, then don’t let someone who doesn’t know die without hearing the Good News… tell them.

Whatever is on your heart, let’s sit quietly before the Lord and reflect upon what God is doing: drawing you closer to him, calling you to repent and come to him for forgiveness, sending you to tell someone about him, maybe he’s calling you to join the church… whatever, let God have his way in your life today. I’m going to ask… ______ to pray for us after our moment of silence and then we’ll all move toward the Cornerstone area for some coffee, cookies and fellowship.

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Filed under Romans, Sermons, Sin