Romans 11:33-12:2 How we Should Respond To God

 

Romans 11:33-12:2

Our Reaction to God

Good Morning. Go ahead and turn in your Bibles with me to Romans chapter 11. As always, if you do not have a Bible, if you do not own one, please grab one from the table in the back as our gift to you. If you forgot yours at home or in the car, you can grab one as well, to follow along, though we do ask that you leave it here for us to gift to those who do not have one.

We will be looking at the last couple of verses of Romans chapter 11 this morning and the first two verses of Chapter 12. We started touching on these verses last week and I wanted to expand on that as we start off this morning.

We talked last week, and many other weeks as well, that these letters we have in the bible were not written with verse numbers nor were they written with chapter breaks. They were written as a continuing flow of thoughts, connected and meant to be in context. However, we also know that, as when you or I write a letter, do any of us still write letters?, we touch on numerous subjects and we wrap up one line of thought and start another one. Thats what is happening here.

Paul does this often in his letters. Often he talks and writes about theology in the first part of a letter and then changes directions, which is a poor way of wording it because they are necessarily related, but he changes directions and talks about application and how to live a christian life in the second part of the letter. Thats what Paul does here in Romans.

The first 11 chapters have been called a systematic theology by Paul, and there are many things to focus on and take away from it. Often people think of Romans and what they see and read is conviction and repentance. And thats in there for sure. Some read Romans and what they see and read is God sovereignty, and praise, God, thats is there too. There is sin, total depravity, hope for the future, the work of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. There is justification, sanctification and salvation. All of that is in there, so what are we supposed to pull out all that? Thats what pull uses to transition to his practical instructions going from Chapter 12 on through the end of the letter.

SO thats why we are looking at the last few verses of chapter 11 and the first two verses of chapter 12 this morning. So lets see what Paul has to say, reading from chapter 11, verse 33 through chapter 12, verse 2. I’ll be reading out of the English Standard Version.

Paul writes:

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
    or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
    that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Heres the important thing. This is Paul’s response to all he has written in the previous 11 chapters. Praise and Awe of God, worship and joy. These are the marks of understanding who God is. because when we see God for who he truly is, it shines off us in a way that is impossible to not see.

The Bible shows us the darkest sides of our selves. It does so, not only because it is true, the heart is deceitful above all things, as Jeremiah says (17:9) but also to show us how great God is. Lets break both of those things down for a quick moment.

God is God. As such he is holy and perfect. His standard is the same. He created us to commune with him in perfect paradise. But we sinned, now we cannot meet that standard. God cannot abide any unholiness and so our communion, our perfect fellowship with him is broken.

Tell that to people today on the street. Their response would be to talk about how incredibly unfair that is. Why would God take issue with the occasional sin? Or our sin isn’t really that bad. Or any other myriad of thoughts that don’t allow them to realize how serious their sin is.

And so the Bible has to make clear just how serious it is. Because our eternal souls literally depend on it. We die without having made atonement for our sins, no matter how small WE think they are, and we get to spend eternity in Hell, Gods perfect and holy wrath being poured out onto ou for all of eternity. However, we deal with our sins before we die, and we get to spend eternity with God in perfect paradise, sinless, perfect bodies, worshipping and serving Christ our King, just as we were created to do. No more death, no more sickness, no more tears, no more hurt.

But here once again, the Bible has to be crystal clear because our human assumptions, thoughts and beliefs are not accurate and will lead us astray. We can’t atone for our sins. We, despite what our friends and family will say, we are not good enough. God does take sin seriously and we cannot not sin. We cannot pay the cost to make up for our sin and wipe our slate clean.

And so the Bible shows us our darkest sides so that we can see and appreciate what God did. In a plan from before time, God the Father sent his son, His only begotten son, God the Son, Jesus. God became man. He was born a human being. He didn’t stop being God, but made himself man. And he lived the life we couldn’t live, died the death we should have died, to pay the price for sin, and through the grace of God, through our faith in Jesus Christ, we become are no longer seen as unholy or unrighteous by God, but we are seen through the lens that we are clothed in Christs righteousness and no longer seen as unholy or as sinner, but seen as a saint, and our relationship with Him is restored.

So the Bible shows us our bad, to show us how in need of His good we are. And then we get to see the good of God and we get to marvel at it. How big, how great, how loving is God! He chose to do those things, to save us from our sins. He chose to love us, while we were unlovable. He chose to redeem his people, to bring them out of this broken, sin nature and change us from sinner to saint. To change us from goats to sheep. We cant chose Him without him first choosing us.

Paul is looking back at the grand picture of Gods entire plan. He is looking back at the entirety of what he has written in Romans. And he is looking above some of the details and specifics, which, as we looked at last week, are not always the clearest and most important parts. But he is looking at gods entire character, his entire redemptive plan, the entirety of his love and goodness and he looks back and is just amazed by God.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever.

I said this last week too, but I think it bears repeating, If we are reading the Bible and it doesn’t not lead us into worship and awe of God, we are reading it wrong. Yes, it should convict us, yes, it should teach us, yes it should inspire us, yes it should do all those things and more. But if it isn’t leading us into worship, we have completely missed the point. We have lost the forest for the tress. And Paul is reminding us of that here, as we finish up the systematic theology of the letter and we move into application. One commentary say this about Paul, “From a mountain height the apostle surveys the sublime plan of God, and his soul breaks out in a transport of delight.”

When you look at Gods plan, at his Word, does your soul break out in a transport of delight? Meaning, is it well with your soul? Do you have joy, joy, joy down deep in your heart? Do you Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

We talked last month about giving thanks in all circumstances to God. And the benefits of a joyful, a thankful heart. And what that does for us. And one of the things that Paul is showing here is that this joyful heart, this praise and worship of God in all things is what allows us to live for God. Joy is one of the fruit of the Spirit that Paul mentions in Galatians 5. These are the evidences that the Holy Spirit is working through you, that Jesus Christ has justified you and you are being sanctified.

Of course, Joy does not always mean happiness. It certainly does not mean “Grin and Bear it.” But it means that through the various trials that we experience, as James puts it, that we can consider it joy. That when we have Christ, he gives us peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.

And it is that peace, that joy and the rest of the fruit of the spirit that allows us to lead the lives that God has set before us. We can’t do it on our own. We cant have true, lasting peace or joy, we cant have true, meaningful worship without the work of the Holy spirit inside of us.

Paul shows us what a true understanding of God is. He ends what we have as Chapter 11 with  For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

All Glory, all Honor, all praise and worship, all things are to be given to God. He is great and worthy to be praised. To God be the glory, great things he has done. Paul also writes at the end of Ephesians 3, verses 20 & 21:  Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

When we look at God and the more we look at Him, the true Him, the more we learn about Him, the more we see him all around us and learn from his Word, his revelation to us, the more we should praise him. Paul said back in Romans 8 that one of Gods purposes for us is to conform us to the image of his Son Jesus Christ.

And to do that, he gives us rules, principles, advice and laws to live by. True worship is loving God. Jesus says if you love me you will keep my commandments. John writes that we show love by keeping his commandments. Paul says that obedience is not for obedience sake, but for worship sake, to show love to God. He says in 1 Corinthians 10:31:  So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

And Paul is going to get into the practical nitty-gritty of that starting in Chapter 12. I want to say one more thing before we move on. We come together on Sunday morning here, the purpose of the church, the purpose of our gathering, the number 1 main thing is to worship God. This is a worship service. There are other reasons as well, to edify and build each other up. To learn more about the Bible and what God says. Even too much lesser extents, for fellowship and to be fed. I’m not going to say those things are not important. But the reason God calls us to gather together is to gather in worship of him.

This is a part of that unity thing that has been coming up lately. We have differences in a number of things. Backgrounds, ethnicity, gifting, musical preferences, order of service preferences, minor, secondary doctrinal issues, as we saw last week, we can disagree on a great many things. But when we gather together as a church body, we come together united in the Gospel to lift us glory and praise to the One True God. For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

And so, one of the main ways we worship God is how we grow in him and how we live according to him, and so turns his attention from theology, or more specifically, why we need salvation, what salvation is, who provides salvation and how we receive salvation. The application part of this letter is Paul explaining what do we do AFTER we salvation.

Romans 12:1&2:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Therefore. You know what comes next. When you read in the text, the word therefore, you should ask, whats it there for? It’s a connective phrase. Paul changes direction, changes his line of thought, but he doesn’t change subjects completely. What he starts writing here in Chapter 12 is directly connected with what he has already written. “Because of what I have just written, because of that, I say to you…”

Therefore, because of Chapters 1-11. Because you are sinners who have been saved by the mercy and grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, because he is conforming you to His image, we praise him and glorify him above all things. Because of all that, present your bodies as a living sacrifice.

Live your life for him. Do all things for him and through him. Theres a meme going around Facebook right now, I picture with a caption. It’s a person holding up their heart to God and saying, “Its all I have.” Gods response in this picture is “Its all I ever wanted.”

And if he truly has our heart, if we have truly given it to Him, that is true. But so many people think that this is all they have to do. They just have to profess faith. They can say I love God, while using the American word love, not the biblical word love. They can redefine who God is, who Jesus is and what love means and they can say that God has their heart and they dont have to change a thing.

And yet, that is the very thing we see happen in the bible. We are changed. WE go from people who have an inherent sin nature, who cannot not sin, and we are made into new creations in Christ. We have been changed by the Holy Spirit from the inside out.

And that change requires action. If all there is, are words, then there has been no heart change. How many of us who have kids can attest to this? Your kid does something wrong, maybe they hit one of their siblings. You do whatever correction or discipline is required and then what do you say to them? Go say your sorry. How do they say it. Most of the time, you can tell they don’t mean it. They say the words, but there is not a heart change. And that means that often, only moments later, they do the same thing again.

And so, if God has a hold of our heart, we will worship him and one of our methods of spiritual worship, as Paul says is to present our bodies as a living sacrifice. That is that all we do, we do to the glory of God.

And that should cause us to ask some pretty tough questions to ourselves. Are we presenting ourselves to him? Or are we living life as functional atheists? Are we living a life of sacrifice? Or are we taking, looking for what makes us comfortable and what makes us feel good? Are we living a life that is holy and acceptable to God? Or are we living a life, doing what is good and right in our own eyes. And I want to add another question that the scriptures are clear on; If we answer yes to those questions, that’s good, but, then the hardest question to answer, Are you trusting in those answers to save you? Because we can fake our actions, outwardly, for a while.

And Paul is saying that we cannot continue our old ways, we cannot remain unchanged as followers of Christ. Henry Blackaby says “It is impossible to worship and remain unchanged.” Worship changes us. And so, when Paul says that our lives are to our spiritual worship, he then tells us this same thing.

Do not be conformed to this world. We do not do what is right in the eyes of the world. We do not do what is right in our own eyes. We do the will of God. Proverbs writes, Lean not on our own understanding. Do not be conformed to the world. If the public at large, if society as a whole is on our side, then we are conformed to the world. Remember that Paul says that the gospel, the cross is foolish to those who don’t believe. It doesn’t and it wont make sense until and unless God reveals the truth to them.

Do not be conformed, but be transformed. Be changed by God. Change your life to live according to what you know God is saying. Do not call yourself a Christian and continue to live the same way you were before. Do not call yourself a christian and continue to live the same lifestyle. Transform. Repent. Grow.

C S Lewis says We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; Martin Luther says that The life of a Christian is one of repentance.”

Now, brand new Christians, or those who have not been taught, those who are still feeding on milk, may not know what God is calling them to change in their life. How will they know? The Word of God. The Bible is Gods word to us. It is not only inerrant, but all-sufficient. If you want to know what God says, read your Bible. If you want to know what God wants, read your Bible. If you want to know what God expects, read your Bible. And if you want to know Gods will, read your Bible.

That is the biggest, most important, and really the only advice to give a new believer who is looking to learn about God. Books are good. Solid theological books are great. We are giving some away both this morning and tonight. But I go back to one of the first pastors that I listened to after coming to church.

He was sharing his mentors advice, and after this pastor came to Christ, he asked his mentor, what should I do now? He said read your bible.

Ok, Did that. What should I read next?

Read your Bible again.

Ok, read the Bible again, there’s all these awesome looking books in the library and in the book store, what do you recommend I read next?

Read your bible again.

He read through the Bible more than six times before his mentor told him he could read something else. This book is foundational and is the only foundation we have to our faith, to know what is right and what is wrong. To know what the bible and therefore, what God says. That way, if a book says something else, or a friend or loved one says something else. Or if, heaven forbid, a human pastor says something wrong, we have a foundation to look back and knowing the truth.

But this is not just for new believers. This is for all believers. It’s easy to think we know what God says and what god wants. It’s easy to think that we know what the Bible says. Here’s the problem. James makes it clear that even the demons believe. Luke’s Gospel shows us during his recounting of Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness that Satan knows the scriptures as well as anyone. I guarantee you that he knows the scripture better than you and I.

We have to keep reading, keep learning, keep seeking and chasing after God. Otherwise we will become reconformed to the world. We will not be able to discern Gods Will, what is good and acceptable. We are going to talk more specifically about gods will coming up, not next week which is our Christmas service, but likely the week after, when we continue through Romans 12.

But right now, we need to see that is through the reading of the Bible that allows us to know God better. The more we know him, the closer we get to him, the easier it is to discern his will. The easier it is to discern between God and the world. There is no substitute. It’s the only way to grow closer and to stay closer.

And only by reading the bible and growing closer to God that we can see how he expects us to act and live. And it is only through the heart changing gospel and the work of the Holy Spirit that gives us the ability to see it in the Bible and gives us the want and the heart to actually act and live that way.

Lets Pray.

Romans 8:18-25 Waiting with a Purpose

Romans 8:18-25

Our hope is our Assurance

Good Morning! Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to Romans chapter 8. As you hear every week here, If you do not own a Bible, please let us gift one to you from the table in the back. Please take one if you do not have one.

So, we are continuing through Romans chapter 8 this week. Paul is establishing our identity, who we are in Christ, who the Holy Spirit is and what His ministry is. He is establishing what God has promised and assured us of and what we can expect to see coming up in our Christian walk.

Last week, we established that those who know Christ, those that have been changed by the Holy Spirt, Christians have been given the right to be called children of God. And with that, God is our father. And with that, as our Father, and as Perfect and true in all forms and senses, once were are in Gods arms, he will never let us go. Romans 8:16 & 17, the end of what we looked at last week, Paul tells us: The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

We are given a promise, an inheritance now, that we will receive in the future, at the right and proper time. But, in the mean time, for a variety of reasons, some of which we touched on last week, we will endure suffering. That suffering, those trials, the things that we are dealing with every day, Paul is going to tell us later in this chapter that it will all work together for Gods glory and that it will help conform us to Jesus’ image. But that doesn’t always help us in the moment as much as it is supposed to. Paul is going to remind us that our focus is not to be on this world, but on God and his Glory in eternity.

Lets go ahead and read this mornings text. Ill be reading Romans chapter 8, verses 18-25, and Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. Romans 8:18-25, Paul writes:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Pauls first point here is that, yes, there are sufferings, there is pain in this present world. Some of the things we have touched on over the last couple of weeks that manifest this pain and suffering include, but are not limited to spiritual warfare between the enemy and his forces and God and his forces. It includes times when God disciplines us, either punishing us for things done wrong, or, and I think more often than that, growing us in discipline, disciplining our bodies to be conform onto the image of his Son, to grow in holiness and sanctification. It includes the evil of people and things around us having an effect on us, due to nothing that we have done. It includes the consequences to good and bad decisions, results of our sin and persecution and mockery for our holiness. All of those and more fall into the fact that we do indeed experience pain, suffering and troubles in this world.

But Paul says its not all bad news…And he is certainly not dismissing the pain and the struggles. What he is saying is that whatever it is that each one of us is going through, no matter how bad it is, no matter how tough things seem to be, how infinitely greater it will be when we get to eternity future and get to spend it reigning and ruling along side our co-heir, Christ Jesus, the King of Kings, the LORD of Lords.

Humanity got a glimpse of this, to what extent, we honestly dont know, but we got a glimpse of this in the Garden of Eden. God created, God spoke creation into perfect existence. Scripture records that after God created different aspects, It was good. When God created Adam and Eve, they were made perfectly in his image and likeness. Creation, including mankind, was made to perfectly reflect his glory and his majesty.

But, as we know, from the Bible of course, but also, just by opening our eyes and looking around us, humanity and creation do not stay in this perfect, glorified state. Sin came and brought death, corruption, entropy, decay, imperfection.

We became sinful and we fell from Gods favor. We lost all righteousness. We spent the past 7 plus chapters looking at the results of the moment in Genesis 3 that Adam and Eve sin in their lack of faith in God and his Word. And people go back and forth. People try to have both sides. They want to believe that people are generally and naturally good. That left to their own devices, people will do the right thing. The Bible says thats wrong. Paul has pointed out numerous times in this letter that this is wrong. Read chapters1 & 3, its crystal clear. The heart is deceitful above all things.

And so, for 6000 plus years, creation and mankind have failed to fully and rightfully reflect Gods glory and power and have failed to give Him the full honor that He is deserved. And yet, something in creation remembers. Psalm 19:1, David observes and points out, 19 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Something inside of us knows. It is deep down and sometimes just beyond the edge of our mental awareness, but something in us remembers. We just don’t do anything with it. Way back in Romans 1, Paul writes in verse 18, that by our unrighteousness we suppress the truth.

But the truth is there. And it is known, remembered even. We have a desire to get back to that, though our heart and our mind lie to us about how to get back to that. And so, when we attempt to fix the ails of this world, while listening to our hearts and our mind, we are desiring to build heaven. We are desiring to return to Eden, the perfect utopia that we were created to inhabit. We intrinsically know that this world is wrong, that it is broken and we either try to take advantage of that, the “every man for themselves,” mindset, the survival of the fittest idea of evolution. Do unto others before they do unto you. That’s the broken part of the world. Some people give in to that and give in to the desires of the flesh. That’s how the enemy helps to keep them from examining the brokenness of the world and trying to do something about it.

Others go a different route. Many genuinely see the brokenness of this world, they see inequity, they see injustices, they see systems and processes that are designed to protect those who take advantage of this broken world and its vulnerability. They see these things that are not right and they want to fix them and they fight for those whom they think are being oppressed, where they think they see injustice. This means things like racial inequality, this means businesses and owners oppressing the workers. This means equal rights for all, unless you disagree with these “rights.” This means righting wrongs, whether real or perceived. This stems from a desire to fix the world of its brokenness and recreate the Garden of Eden. The desire that this stems from is there as a remembrance for Genesis 1 & 2. But without God, the one, true God, with the Gospel, with out the redemptive power of Jesus Christ, without the truth being “un suppressed,” by the Holy Spirit, without those things, it is nothing. It is a failure, before it ever gets started. Often, its perceptions of what is right, what is being fought for, and its perception of what is wrong, what is being fought against, those perceptions are just plain wrong. But the desires to remake, to recreate, to bring us back to Eden are there.

CS Lewis wrote, If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

And that’s true. We are made for a different world than this. Partly. I want us to be careful with this. As with many things in the scriptures, if its is misunderstood or misconstrued, it can sound like permission to be unbiblical. We are not here by accident. We are not here simply to wait for Christ to come back. We are not here to wait until we die and then go to Heaven. We are here, right here, right now, to glorify and honor Jesus Christ as LORD and to do the will of the Father.

We are here for a reason. We are to be in the world, not of it, but we are to be in it. God is in control of everything in the world, in the universe and beyond and in control of time and everything else you can think of. He put you right here, right now for a very specific reason. We may or may not know what that very specific reason is, but we can rest assured that it exists. We have a God given purpose, as does creation. So we are created for this world.

But we have also been created for a different world. Not “out there,” or “up there,” but this world, only different. Revelations tells us that in the end, this world will be cleansed by fire, whether thats literal or metaphorical is for a different day, but out of that, God will recreate the world, we will have New Heavens and the New Earth, there will be a New Jerusalem. This world, creation itself, that has been broken and fallen, will be recreated into what it was always, and originally created to be.

But we are not there yet. Creation recognizes it better than we do at times and Paul says, it eagerly waits, it cries out, it groans with labor pains for that moment when we, as adopted children of God, get to redeem our bodies and take hold of our inheritance.

We have talked about that, Already and Not Yet. The tension that this creates. The tendency of us to forget about today, to ignore it and just focus on getting to heave. Or the tendency to forget about eternity and simply focus on living our best lives now.

But one of the terms that Paul uses to describe our longings and waiting and crying out is the pains of childbirth. Having, of course, not experienced this physically, my self, but having been with Hope for 5 births so far, having talked to her about this phrasing, having heard her and other moms, especially among themselves, talking about their experiences, some things about this make more sense than they used to or otherwise would.

One of the things that was explained, maybe expressed would be a better word, hopefully accurately out into my own words, is that labor has a similar tension of the already and the not yet. There is the intense focus on what is going on right there at the moment. There is the inability, and I don’t say that as a bad thing, but the inability to see past that purpose and that moment and reason why God put you in that spot. And there is pain, there is tiredness, there can be frustration. It can, at times, feel like it will never end. I can feel like all the work, all the pushing, is for nothing and its not working. It can feel like there is no progress being made. It can feel that way, In That Moment.

But, God designed this all for a reason, for a purpose. And God has given that purpose to mothers along with the knowledge that, in just a little while, all of it will be over and the mom will be in a euphoric state holding their newborn and, Moms, testify to this, in that moment, holding your baby, the pain that you felt while in labor, and while you were pushing, the pain is completely forgotten. Now, alter as the kid is growing up, terrible twos, not napping, waking up at 4 AM EVERY MORNING, or in their teenage years, hormone riddle, sure, you remember, in your mind, the pain, and you make sure that the kids know what you went through to bring them into this world, but when you are holding your baby, feeding that newborn, seeing their perfect little faces, their perfect little fingers holding onto ours, none of that pain, exhaustion, struggle, none of it exists.  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

There was a Christian pop rock band when I first became a Christian called Reliant K. In one of their songs, that has stuck with me since I heard it, they are in a conversation with God and their lyrics here could have been inspired by this passage of scripture. Listen to this:

And you said I know that this will hurt
But if I don’t break your heart
Then things will just get worse
If the burden seems too much to bear
Remember the end will justify
The pain it took to get us there

Read more: Relient K – Let It All Out Lyrics | MetroLyrics
https://youtu.be/9rUtyfB6gVU

I love that. God has a purpose for everything that we are going through. Careful, that doesnt mean that everything we are going through is good. We go back to last week. Sometimes is God doing things to discipline or get our attention. But, sometimes, sometimes it is an attack from the enemy. Sometimes, its a result of others sinning against you. Sometimes its a result of our own sin. Not everything we go through is good.

It hurts. Its painful. It breaks us down. It stinks. Out of that all, John Piper sums up this passage with three words; Its Worth It. All that stuff, when we get to see the glory of God that will be revealed to us, It will be forgotten and it will be worth it. We will be redeemed and glorified to the glory of God and not only us, but ALL of creation will also be freed from the corruption and bondage that is here and now because of sin.

Thats what creation is waiting for and thats why we are going through this life. We are in this life for a reason and purpose. We are to make sure that we are focusing on why and where God has placed us. We have jobs to do here in this world, and that job is not to bunker down, with our admission ticket to heaven and wait for Christ to return. Our job is to do the will of God in the community, on the family, in the job or the school where God has placed us.

That might seem like a natural stopping point, but we still have a couple of verses that we haven’t touch on. Lets reread these verses, starting in the second half on verse 23:

we groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

We finish up this passage with Hope. And our Hope is in the promises that God has made to us, that we are the adoptive sons of God and that, as the sons of God, we will receive the redemption of our bodies. Again, our hope is in the promises of God. Which means that our hope is in the character of God, because if God makes a promise, he will keep it. Our Hope is in what God has done, not what he have or will do. Our hope is in Jesus Christ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. For in this hope, we are saved.

Now, Paul uses the word hope very purposefully. Because Hope that is seen is not hope. We are looking forward, we are longing, desiring the promise of God to be fulfilled. We know it will be, it already has, but we are not there yet. We have it already, but not yet. Hope is not a wish. Hope, as used in the Bible, is not used as, I hope this thing happens,” when it might not. Instead hope is the knowledge that it will happen, it just hasn’t yet.

Look around, we don’t hope right now that we are all getting together for worship this morning. We already are gathered together, as a part of Gods family. We hope that next week, we will get together again, for worship and fellowship. We don’t hope that we have the Word of God from which to learn Gods will. We hope that we will encounter and spend eternity with the Word, and the Word was God and the Word is God.

Paul finishes this passage if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. We hope for Jesus to come back. We hope for the new creation. We hope for the redemption of our bodies and of creation and we hope to be eternally in the presence of Gods glory. We don’t see that right now. We see our broken, disease riddled, decaying bodies. We see the broken, sin filled world around us, the injustice, the inequity, the attempts to fix it in our own power and the temptation to take advantage of the brokenness. We see problems in nature. Animals going extinct. Forests burning out of control. Pollution, droughts, smog, all sorts of things.

All of which will disappear when our hopes are realized. All of which will disappear when Christ comes back and this world, creation itself and each and every one of us who are sons of God will be redeemed and created anew. All of which will disappear when Gods promises are kept and fulfilled and he is glorified above all.

We do not yet see what we hope for, and Paul says that we are to eagerly wait for it with patience. Does that sound contradictory to you? On the surface it absolutely does. But to me, it fits. We are here and now, doing the will of God, and we can and should be excited and waiting eagerly for Christ to come back. But we should be waiting eagerly with patience.

One of the things that Hope and I tell the kids, when we are teaching them when they are young, is What is patience. Patience is waiting with a purpose. We can and should eagerly wait, but we do so with a purpose. We eagerly wait while focusing on why we are here. We eagerly wait while fulfilling our purpose. We eagerly wait while doing Gods will and living our lives for his glory. We eagerly wait, and we wait with a purpose. It will be worth it.

Lets Pray

Romans 7:14-25 The Struggle Is Real

Editors Note: I am having issues with my phone this afternoon. I have the sermon recorded, but due to technical difficulties, (i.e. children throwing phones on hard surfaces) I am not able to get the sermon from the phone to anywhere. If this gets resolves, I will upload the sermon and edit this post. Thank you for your understanding.

New edit: After all this time, my phone was fixed and I was able to the sermon audio  off the phone and onto the computer. Here it goes!

Romans 7:13-25

The Struggle is Real

Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and open them to Romans chapter 7. If you do not have a Bible with you there should be one under your seat or a seat nearby. If you do not own a Bible, we have a pile of black Bibles on the back table that we would be honored to have be our gift to you.

Now, if you are anything like me, Paul is an interesting writes. He has times of forceful, upfront bluntness. There is no mistaking, no misunderstanding, no confusing what he is saying. We saw many of those moments in the first few chapters of Romans. Other times, he waxes poetic, talking theology and philosophy and different things that can be hard to understand. For me, at times, trying to follow one of his sentences can give me a head ache at times.

I think we have a combination of those two things here this morning. Paul is clear about what he is saying in general, but to try and follow along his sentences, and it can get kind of confusing. But his overall point is clear and one that, I believe that hits each of us right in the gut. Then again, maybe your all just better Christians than I.

But before we jump into the text, lets put the passage in its proper context. Sin is bad. Sin is breaking Gods laws. We have all broken Gods laws. We have all sinned. Therefore, none of us deserve or have or can earn our way into eternal life with God. No so called good works we do can have any affect or our eternal standing before God. We stand before guilty. And God is a just God, so guilt must be dealt with. But God is also a God of Grace and mercy, so gives a gift of grace. By Grace alone have we been saved. Because God said so. And the vehicle he uses to deliver that grace is the gift of faith in Jesus Christ.

By Grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. The law has no effect on our salvation. Instead, if you have been saved, you were created to do good works that God had plans for you since before the beginning of the world. Jesus says if you love me, keep my commandments. SO, we have an obligation to live out the commands, the law of God.

And yet, we dont have the ability, especially on our own to fulfill the law. Thats why Jesus came, to fulfill the Law as he says in Matthew 5. He had the righteousness required to satisfy a Holy God. On the cross, that righteousness was imputed on to the aforementioned those who have received grace by faith. Now, our legal standing has changed from guilty, for All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, to now, God looks at us and as we stand before him, covered in Christs righteousness, he declares us innocent.

And that, my friends is the beginning of our walk with Jesus. It is the point of our transformation and our regeneration. It is the point where the Holy Spirit comes in and turns our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. And thats when we are freed from the bondage of sin and the weight of the law. Thats when we are free to live our lives the way that God intended and Christ allowed and the holy Spirit intended.

Thats the beginning of our journey. The hardest work, the work of salvation is done, and by no effort of ours. But there is hard work ahead of us. Living the life that Christ has freed us to live. To follow him and his commandments. And its both as easy as that and as hard as that. But before we get into that, lets go ahead and read our passage this morning, as Paul shows us from his personal example that we continue to struggle with our sin nature, even after we have been freed from its bondage.

So Im going to read Romans chapter 7, verses 13 through the end of the chapter, verse 25. Ill be reading out if the English Standard Version. Romans 7:13-25.

Paul, starting by talking about the law, writes:

Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

So remember the context of Romans 7. The law is designed by God and it is good. It is there to be a mirror and reflect our inability to keep it. It is there to diagnose the disease of sin and point to the cure. The one who is able to keep the law, Jesus Christ. Paul has shared that we know about our sin because of the law. He has shown that we are inventors of evil. And that we actually look to the law, at times to find different ways to sin.

So, the law, which is good, must be bad, right? The law, which is good, must be the source of our sin and our death, right? No! The law is good. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy that the law is good, IF It is Used lawfully.

Death came from sin. Sin entered the world through Adam. Sin is so corrupting, so all encompassing that it corrupts even the good things of this world. Sin corrupts so completely that even the law, which is holy and divine and given to us by God, to show how all things are supposed to work together, even the law is corrupted and we use it for evil.

Remember the other thing the law is for, when there is no sin, or after we have been freed from the bondage of sin and we have been freed from the bondage of the law, that the law is there to guide us, to show us how God designed all things to work. The law is there tho show that God is not a God of chaos, or disorder, or everyone do what is right in their own minds. God is a God of order, of rhythm. He is a God who knows everything and is in all time. Tim Keller says, “If we knew what God knows, we would ask exactly for what he gives.”

So we know that if we live by and follow God in the way that he wants us to, things just work better. Now, dont worry, Im not going all prosperity gospel on you. Im not telling you that if you believe and pray that you will get your best life now or that God wants every one of us rich and in big houses, driving Ferrari’s. Because here is the thing. Its not just about us. We are not the only sinners in the world. The rhythm of this world that was broken when Adam brought sin into the world affect every person. And so, even if we were able to live by the law completely, others still dont and so there is still sin and brokeness in our lives and around us. But Gods laws, his rules, his Grand Design is there for a reason and it is for our best interest that we live according to them.

Heres the problem. We cant. I mentioned a second ago, the all consuming corrupting power of sin. We see that in our flesh still today. Before we are justified, before the Holy Spirit changes us, we do not have the ability to not sin. We are, as Paul mentions in Romans 1, inventors of evil. Monergism.com, a website with many commentaries and what not, summed his up better than I can when they wrote:

It is self-evident that if humanity, as a unit, decided to obey all of God’s laws then almost all social ills would disappear overnight: Greed and hunger, sexual perversion and related disease, adultery, rape, covetousness and theft, murder, racism and all forms of malice etc. These would be replaced with love, unselfishness and honoring the image of God in every person. The problem is, however, that obeying God’s law is wholly UNNATURAL to us. Our nature is repulsed at living this way even though we know with certainty that it would help resolve almost all social ills entirely. Being unnatural means not only are we unable to live according to God’s laws but also that we do not WANT to live according to His laws. This fact demonstrates that the solution to man’s ills are not to be found in himself or better education. In fact, history demonstrates that the better educated just seem to find more crafty ways of doing evil. No the “natural solution” to man’s ills is proven to be bankrupt and our only hope is a supernatural one, outside of ourselves. This testifies to the validity of the Bible as the solution to our ills because it so understands human nature as it really is and points to our only solution: Jesus Christ.

What was unnatural to us before, our desire and ability to follow Gods laws, now start to fade away. We are in the process of being changed from being of the flesh to being of the spirit. The change and the process has started, but in our daily, practical, physical lives, it is nowhere near complete. Our sin nature, our flesh is still in us, still working to fight against us, still corrupting us to sin.

But, if we are justified and regenerated, we will no longer have a taste for those sins. We wont want to do them any more. We will have a desire to Gods Will whatever it is. We will have a longing to follow him. We will hate our sins and work to eliminate them. This wont all happen at once, mind you. Somethings the scriptures are clear on. Dont do them. This is obvious. And when we are saved and we read our Bibles, we will see this and we need to stop.

One easy example. Say you arent a Christian, and you are living with and sleeping with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Then you become a Christian. Maybe you already know that the Bible says not to have sex outside of marriage. Then you need to stop. If you dont know the Bible says that when you become a Christian, very shortly afterwards, through reading your Bible, and listening to biblical teaching and through disciplship and all that, you will quickly learn that and then you need to stop.

You may still want to, but more than the desires of the flesh, as we grow in our walk and relationship with Jesus Christ, our desires for the spiritual, namely Gods law, which it says here is spiritual, will be stronger and more in the forefront.

But there are also things that the Bible is less overtly clear and specific. When I became a Christian, I was a smoker. And that was not something that changed immediately. I quickly became a volunteer with the youth group at my church and about a year into to that journey, I had a dream. Now, I very rarely remember my dreams, so the fact that I did this time is significant in its own right. But I had a dream that I came out of a store and one of the kids in my youth group was off to the side smoking. That image hit me like a punch in the gut and thats when I felt the Holy Spirit convicting me of my smoking and I knew it was time to stop.

That didnt mean that I was able to put them down and stop immediately. It was a process. Many stops and starts. I knew what I was supposed to do, but I was not always able to do it. And As I had a cigarettes after that, I hated it even as I was smoking it. As Paul says, the things I do not want to do, I do. Things I do want to do, I do not do.

CS Lewis: THe natural life knows that if the spiritual life gets hold of it, all its self centeredness and self will are going to be killed and its ready to fight tooth and nail to avoid that.

Sin has corrupted our flesh so much that, until we are glorified into our heavenly, eternal bodies, we will not fully be able to resist sin and its temptations. Again, it does not come naturally to obey and desire Gods Will. Dieterich Bonhoeffer says, You can only learn what obedience is by obeying.

Now, it can be real easy to look at this passage, it can be easy to see that we will continue to struggle with sin and say, well, that means I dont have to try, because I wont succeed any way. No! It can be easy to look at this and say The Law brings death, or the Devil made me do it, or anything else that we can in order to shirk our own responsibility.

We have been trying to pass the buck, to shirk our responsibility and blame anyone and everything else for our sins since the fall in Genesis 3. After Adam and Eve gave into temptation and ate the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they now knew that they had done wrong. When God comes looking for them and talks to Adam, asking him what he had done, what is Adams response? Essentially, “It wasnt me, it was the woman that YOU gave me!”

Right there Adam shifts the blame off of himself and onto both Eve and God. But God makes it clear that we are responsible for our actions and that there is no one to blame but ourselves. We cant blame God, we cant blame the devil, we cant blame our friends, family and spouse, we cant blame Adam or Eve, we cant blame Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, this president or the last one. We cant blame anyone for our actions but us.

Now, Paul has already established, some may say, hammered home the point that we are all sinners and cannot contribute anything towards our salvation. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. But one of the things that he is establishing here and we will look at more in depth in a number of weeks, is that we do not have the ability to keep our salvation once we have been given it by God.

There are some that teach that we are saved by grace along with works, or saved by grace and kept by works. Both of these are fundamentally and biblically wrong. We are saved by grace and kept by the power, love and strength of God.

WE progress and sin lessens in our lives as we walk and grow with Christ, but it doesnt entirely leave until we stand before God in glory.

Remember what Justification is. It is God declaring us as innocent. Not us actually being innocent, but God declaring us innocent. It means that we now have a right legal standing before God. Our slate has been wiped clean and God sees us covered in Christs righteousness. But, if that was just to bring us current, if that is just to wipe clean our previous sins and not to wipe out all of our sins, then we still would not have salvation. Instead, minutes, moments, seconds, after that moment in time, we would already have sinned and been guilty before God.

Instead God saves us, and doesnt just bring us up to current, but wipes the slate clean for the past, the present and the future. God holds us and nothing can snatch is from his hands. God is the most powerful being in the universe. If he has hold if us, than there is not a thing in the verse that can undo what God has done.

So we cannot keep ourselves saved because of this eternal struggle between the flesh and the spirit. We trust, not in our own desires, our own feelings, our own abilities. We trust in God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God incarnate. We trust in God the Holy Spirit, who changes us from the inside, working on conforming us to the image of God. We trust in the bible, Gods revelation, his Word to us and what it tells us in regards to salvation, the revelation of God and who he is and what a Godly life and a God pleasing life looks like. We trust the Bible to show us, not only the law, but also, what the purpose of the law is.

John Piper writes about this:

This was the aim of the Law: that we might come to see the glory of Jesus Christ the Lord as the foundation and the focus of our justification and sanctification. And not only the foundation – providing a perfect righteousness and sacrifice – and not only the focus – providing an all-satisfying object of faith – but also the veil-lifting means of seeing and savoring himself – this is “from the Lord, the Spirit.” Seeing the Lord is from the Lord.

This is the aim of the Law and this is the aim and essence of the gospel and this is the aim of Education for Exultation: generations of children and youth and adults who study the Word not for its own sake, and not as the primary and decisive means of bearing fruit for God, but as a reflection of a living person, Jesus Christ, whom to know – not just know about, but know – is life eternal.

Paul, writes about this struggle and then cries out, Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  On our own, we are wretches. On our own we have this body of death. On our own, we are and have nothing. But Amazing grace! How sweet that sound! That saved a wretch like me.

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. 

If there is one thing to take away from Romans chapter 7, from all of Romans for that matter, its the first part of verse 25, Thanks be to God through jesus Christ our LORD. Its all about and from him, nothing about ourselves. I once was lost, but now Im found. Was blind, but now I see.

T’was Grace that taught…
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear…
the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares…
we have already come.
T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far…
and Grace will lead us home.

The Lord has promised good to me…
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be…
as long as life endures.

When we’ve been here ten thousand years…
bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise…
then when we’ve first begun.

Lets Pray