Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sin and the Christian! - Romans 7:14-25
by Pastor Lee Hemen
December 31, 2006

When I was younger there were times when I was caught doing things I really did not want to do, but I went a head and did them anyway. Oh I could have blamed others, the dog, or circumstances for my proclivity to do these things, but I knew better. A good example was when I knew without a doubt my brother loved peanut butter. In fact, he loved it so much that if he saw me with a peanut butter sandwich, he would often just take it from me. Well, one afternoon I purposefully made a couple of slices of peanut butter on bread. I spread it real thick, slowly waiting for Ed to come into the kitchen. And sure enough, there he was. “Whatcha doin’, Scrawny?” (This was his endearing term he often used for me.) “What’s-it-look-like?” I replied. “Hey!” he declared, “Give me those slices of peanut butter and bread!” “You want em,?” I retorted. “Let me have them!” (Notice the intellectual conversation?) That was all I needed to hear. It was like fate had handed me the perfect moment in time. So I did what any red-blooded American boy, who could run real fast, would do, I let him “have” them. There was peanut butter in his eyes, in his nose, in his ears, and in his hair. It was a thing of beauty.

I knew better than to do what I did. Believe it or not, I even struggled with the fact that if I did it I would deliberately be involved in doing something mean. Paul would understand what I went through during this precise moment of time. In fact, he describes it quite well in the verses we will study this morning concerning “Sin and the Christian.” However, while Paul describes the battle that goes on within the human heart concerning sin, he also gives us the answer and the cure of it as well. So let’s discover for ourselves what Paul teaches us.

READ: Romans 7:14-25

My Dad used to tell us that “Knowing and doing are to different things.” I never understood that until I read this passage in Romans. You can know something is wrong, but not do it, or, you can know something is wrong and then do it anyway. In fact, you can know something is wrong and fight the urge not to do it but it seems as if you are in a heated battle not to do the very thing you know is WRONG! Right? We have all been there and done that. Paul is no exception and in fact in teaching us about “Sin and the Christian”…

I. Paul Relates Two Concrete Spiritual Truths (vv. 14-20)!

1. The law is spiritual. The law teaches us about sin and just how bad it truly is. In fact, understanding how sin affects us is the first step in being the holy man of God He desires us to be. We know that the Law comes from God who is Spirit (John 4:24) and expresses God’s will for human living. There is nothing wrong with the law. It teaches us what sin is and we become aware of sin because of the law. In fact, just trying to be good without realizing why you should be “good” is not logical. Why do the right thing, even when doing the evil thing would perhaps get you ahead faster, easier, and without so much hassle? We only know that something is evil in of itself because we know what real “goodness” is. Goodness is always measured by holiness. And holiness is spiritual. Therefore the law is spiritual. It comes from the One who is completely holy – God. The law is therefore spiritual.

2. Paul is not spiritual. In fact, none of us are! This is the dichotomy of the human condition. Paul would say, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Paul may want to do right, but he does the sin instead. Why? Because we are all unspiritual, sold as slaves to sin! Sin lives (cohabitates) within our human hearts. In who we are. The law proves it is good by making us aware of our sin. This is why Paul and all Christians have the similar conflict: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it!” Paul was not very spiritual and neither are any of us!

EXAMPLE: It takes very little self-examination for the Christian to see that our life and conduct fall short of God’s divine expectation. Even though we have acquired a new nature by spiritual rebirth, the old nature continues to exert its evil influence. Paul was not trying to escape the responsibility of his actions, but rather he was trying to explain just how deeply lodged within the human being is our corrupt nature. Every parent has heard their child respond to the question, “Why did you do that?” with, “I don’t know.” When we fail to live for the Lord, we are slaves again to sin! David would sing, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2) This is the way of a godly man who controls his life. Paul is not making an excuse for his sin and neither should we ever do so. For sin and the Christian we learned two spiritual truths: God’s law is spiritual, and we are not.

However, there is hope on the horizon! We have been rescued from the storm-tossed seas of human self-effort and spiritual insecurities! We know that “sin shall not be (our) master!” (Romans 6:14) Why? Because Paul earlier taught us that the Christian is “under grace.” The Christian has a victory over death and sin! We live under the cover of grace not the letter of the law! We dare not, however, use our propensity to sin as an excuse. To do so would make God out a liar. Either we are changed or we are not. So it is with excitement we discover within this text that for “Sin and the Christian”…

II. Paul Understands Two Surprising Spiritual Facts (vv. 21-25)!

1. Sin is always waging war against us! Paul was a person who tried to learn from his experiences, so now he concluded, “I find this law at work.” Paul desires to do good, but evil is right there with him. Why? We live in a sin-fallen universe! We might, like Paul, “delight in God’s law,” but we “see another law at work in the members of (our) body, waging war against the law of (our) mind and making (us) a prisoner of the law of sin at work within (our) members.” Paul is showing the contrast of who he was and who we are as well. He is not saying that God cannot save us completely in Christ. He is saying that while outwardly he delights in the law of God, inwardly he still fights the battle. If he were not saved, he would not care. So to you, dear fellow Christian! While you may think, as Paul declared, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” And while sin will always wage its war in a sin-stricken sickened world, there is glorious good news, hope, and strength!

2. Jesus is always right there with us! Paul knew that we do not need to lose heart. “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day!” (2 Corinthians 4:16) How? “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Paul recognized that as long as he was in this mortal body he would face the continual conflict with sin and would definitely have defeat if he depended upon his own human strength! However, the Christian does not have to! Christians can have an inner triumph now as they look forward to the final victory when sin will not have any influence whatsoever! We will one day be free from the presence and persistence of sin forever! Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God has provided for the power to live in the freedom of the Spirit of God! It has set us free from the power of sin and death. Jesus is always right there with us!

EXAMPLE: I am surprised when people are upset with the War in Iraq lasting so long. The President reminded us over and over that this would be the case, but we must stay the course. His reasoning is because he knows that this is not a war against political ideals, but it is a spiritual one as well. At its core it is a war against an infectious evil. Some call it Islamofacism. It will not be won by merely winning a battle or by occupying a nation. It will only be won when we are willing to go the distance and are willing to eradicate this evil wherever it exists -- spiritually. Sadly, I do not think it will ever be won until either the Lord returns or the people, who justify the murdering and slaughter of millions of people to Jihad, change inwardly. Paul would understand what I mean. He understood two surprising spiritual facts: Sin is always waging war against the believer, and Jesus is always right there with us! While we may have the influence of sin all around us, we also have a victory in Christ.

Conclusion:
Today we learned several important lessons from Paul concerning sin and the Christian. We learned about two spiritual truths: The law is spiritual and we are not. We also learned two surprising spiritual facts: Sin always wages war against the believer, and Jesus is always right there with us! Now, what will you do with what you have learned?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Father’s Tale
By Pastor Lee Hemen
December 17, 2006

The Bible does not tell us anything about Mary’s family. Her mother and father, or any of her siblings, if she had any at all. However, I believe that Mary’s life exemplified a godly one. After all, she was chosen to be the mother of the Savior of the world! And we learn from the angel Gabriel that she was highly favored of God. We also know that her life was a reflection of her upbringing and so it is with this assurance, we find a father worried about his young Hebrew daughter “Miriam...”
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I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter His courts with praise! I will say this is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice for He has made me glad! This is both the happiest day and the saddest day of my life! But as you can see, I think I will focus on the happier part! Oh Lord, my God thank You for being the God You are. Thank You for my daughter Miriam!

A father knows this day will come but he never realizes just how fast it does come. Your daughter is one day playing with your beard, learning to walk, learning the Psalms and singing them sweetly around the house, and the next… she has growing into a fine young woman! Can it be that she is fourteen now? They grow up so fast! This last year she has learned to cook, sew, keep a household, and to manage affairs well like a good Jewish woman should.

Just yesterday she was my little girl. For me, she will always be my little “Ahyawlaw.” My fawn. But then we have found a good man for her. A carpenter, an established man who is well liked, and has a steady income. His name is Yoshep. He is very kind too, which suits me well and is never late for Synagogue and always observes the Sabbath. He is a godly man. He will make my little Miriam a fine husband, and who knows? Soon perhaps I will have more little ones crawling all over their “Abbie!”

Yes! Today is both a sad day and a fine day! A day the Lord has truly made! I think I will focus on the fine part! My little Miriam, married?
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Today is a miserable day! A bleak day! A day that no man should go through, not even Job! First, Yoseph comes to me and says he is not sure he desires to wed our Miriam. I am shocked, he is embarrassed. I can see it all over his face. He hardly can look at me.

“Yoseph,” I ask him, “what is wrong?” Why has my little Miriam displeased you so? Is she too lazy? Is she too small and not strong enough to bear you fine children? Is she a flighty woman, not thinking of her household? “No,” he says. “She is none of that.” In fact, she is perfect, but did I “know something about her that I had not told him before?” “What?” I demanded. What did he mean?

Then the horrible truth came from his lips. Miriam is with child! How could this be? At first I accused Yoseph of deception, then of being foul with his words. He rebutted that his actions with Miriam were always honorable. I ordered him to leave my house. How could he say such thing about my little Ahyawlaw? My Miriam? My little, beautiful, wonderful daughter?

Then she came into the room where I was inwardly weeping, and calmly took my hand. She looked into my eyes and confided in me that indeed it was true. She is with child. She had told Yoseph herself and being an honorable man, he was seeking to do this quietly as to not cause problems for her. I could not look at her. Who had done this foul thing to her? To us? To her mother and me? We would be seen in town as horrible parents! A laughing stock! They would think that some Roman soldier had seduced her! What would we do? What would she do?

She then said something so sad, yet so unbelievable to me that at first I could not understand her words. They came out of her mouth, but they seemed as gibberish to me. Calmly she confided that an angel of God, Gabriel, had come to her and related that she would be a mother of a special child. The Holy Spirit of God, he promised, would come upon her and she would conceive a male child. She was to make sure to call Him “Yeshua.” The angel told her that “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Yacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” He would be the Savior of His people Israel. The Messiah!

I did not want to believe her. I thought her mad. I asked her if God’s angels had a habit of introducing themselves to young Hebrew women on a first name basis. But then I saw her calmness. Her face radiated. No longer a little girl stood in front of her father, she was a blessed beautiful woman of God.

Then today, a message came from my brother Zachariah. His wife Elizabeth, is with child as well! Now, my brother is older than me! And his old barren wife Elizabeth to be pregnant is a miracle… right? So then I encouraged Miriam to get some of her things together to go and visit Elizabeth because not only would she know what to do, and she could help, but if Elizabeth was going to give birth, then what had occurred with Miriam was for a reason. But what exactly? And what will we do with a pregnant young unmarried woman in a Hebrew village?

Yes, today is a horrible day? Isn’t Lord? Surely You can understand a father’s hurt for his daughter? Now, I know why Yoseph was so hurt…
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Today is one of those days you cannot describe. Everything is a mess in my life, my wife’s life, and in the lives of Miriam and Yoseph. Yet it is a good day as well. Can you believe it? Yoseph came back to me last week to talk again about Miriam. Yes, they are going to be married! How you ask? Yoseph came to me within a few days to humbly, yes humbly, to ask permission to be the husband of Miriam again! I told him that we had sent her to Elizabeth and Zechariah. At first I was angry. I was hurt. I was the father of a daughter that something was happening to that I could not explain! He could not possibly know what I was going through!

Yes, yes, he knew all about it! Him? How could he know so much? Who made him aware of what God was supposedly doing in the life of my only daughter? Then he related to me that he too had been visited by the angel. He related that the angel visited him in a dream and told him, “Yoseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Miriam home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Yeshua, because he will save his people from their sins.” He hurried off to make arraignments to go and tell Miriam right away.

Now today, TODAY, they both come to me saying that because of this decree from Caesar they have to journey to Bethlehem! Now! At this time of the year! And she is with child and could give birth anytime! Yet Yoseph was adamant as was Miriam. I had to let them go, didn’t I? We could not defy the Romans.

My little daughter, my new son-in-law, journeying over bandit infested highways. Such a long way. Well over sixty or seventy stradia. But You, Lord, You will watch over them and keep them safe? Help Miriam with her birth, dear Lord. Help Miriam find a safe comfortable place. Watch over Yoseph and help him to be a good husband and father. Find them someone who will help Miriam!

He hugged me. And Miriam, my little Miriam, my Ahyawlaw, she stood on her tip-toes, reached her little face to mine, and kissed me right here on my cheek. She whispered, “Abba, it will be okay. Do not worry. God is watching over us. I carry His child.” Children, what do they know? There are so many dangers in the world. So many things can happen.

Then they walked down the road and over the small hill over there and were gone to Bethlehem. My Miriam. My Ahyawlaw. Gone. A wife and soon to be a mother of a baby boy… Who would have believed such things?

Oh Lord God, please keep Ahyawlaw safe for her “Abba.”

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Law and Sin! – Romans 7:7-13
by Pastor Lee Hemen
December 10, 2006

There are always those who think they can disprove the Christian faith by regurgitating tired old arguments. You know what I mean. Things like, “Well if God is so powerful, can He make a rock bigger than He can lift?” or what some think is a new one: “If God is so good, why do bad things happen to good people?” Richard Dawkins, a leading atheist, who does not believe in evolution but angrily snipes at Christianity, touts much the same lame argument. He relates in his latest book, “The God Delusion,” that the God of the Old Testament “is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” In other words, how could a good God allow bad things to happen? He goes on to identify the central doctrine of the New Testament as atonement for original sin and characterizes this tenet as “vicious, sadomasochistic and repellent.” Basically, Dawkin’s latest book is a 400 page tirade against the belief of any divine being. What Dawkins and others like him fail to see is exactly what Paul wrote against in his letter to the Romans. If you fail to understand the basics of who God is and how He relates to the world, your view of God is messed up.

The Judaisers, those who adhered to Christianity by faith in Jesus yet wanted to retain the theology of works by observing the law, were at odds with what Paul taught: “By grace you are saved, not by works least anyone should boast.” So, like anyone who is resoundingly confronted with the truth, they begin to reason unreasonably. Just as Richard Dawkins and his brethren do, the Judaisers began to argue from a weak position. They ask Paul a stupid question: “Is the law therefore sin?” Paul relates exactly what the law is and what sin is in his answer. Let’s discover out what it means for us today…

READ: Romans 7:7-13

The law of God is commonly divided into three parts: the ceremonial laws, the social laws, and the moral laws. The Jews believed you had to keep all of those laws to become holy. By the time of Paul's ministry, the rabbis had summed up all of the Old Testament law into 613 commandments. But it was almost impossible to keep them all, especially since they had been embellished beyond the intention of God. However, here in these verses, Paul dramatically teaches us that…

I. The Law Reveals Sin (vv. 7-8)!

1. Can the law be sinful? Paul resoundingly retorts, “It can never be!” Some translate it out as “God forbid,” but the wording for this is not found here. For Paul, the law cannot be considered evil under any circumstance. That would be an utter absurdity! In verse 7 he goes on to say he would not have recognized his sin unless the law had revealed it. The Law is not the cause of the act of sin; the ruling nature of sin within an individual is. However, it makes us aware of when we sin by its very quality. Before the law anyone could have said, “Hey, God, You did not tell us that such and such was sin, therefore how can You hold us accountable?” (This argument by the way, would not hold theological water, but there are those who would argue this way anyway.) In fact, some legalists still do! It’s kind of like if there were no red lights telling us when to stop, we would just run intersections when we wanted to. (I know, I know, some do anyway.) Until we were killed or hurt dramatically, we would say, “Hey, no one told us it was dangerous, and besides, there are no signs that say it is!” While this is patently stupid, there are people like this. They think they can do whatever they want, when they want to. After all, God hasn’t told them not too, right? Paul says that oh yes God has. The law He gave, revealed sin for what it was: sin!

EXAMPLE: I can remember getting into a discussion with my father about being in someone else’s field. I declared rather self-righteously, “You never said we could not go into that particular field!” My Dad whacked in the back of the head and declared, “Now you know not to -- because I just told you not to!” I knew better than to argue with him about the injustice of the situation. How could I have known ahead of time? Actually I did, because I knew how my Dad would feel if he found out that we were taking a short cut across someone else’s property without permission. While I could have argued the delusional injustice of it all, I now knew the truth of the matter. It was revealed to me in a rather abrupt way. The same was true for Paul. He knew that the law wasn’t sinful, the law reveals sin!

In fact, after I knew I was not supposed to use that field as a short cut, I had this urge to do so anyway! Why would that happen? It must be the law’s fault, right? No way! This is why Paul related, “But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire.” (v. 8) The law identified the problem. Yet it also intensified my sinful self to want to do it anyway! Like Eve who knew better, we are drawn to the fruit of our own desire and we chose to ignore God’s law. And what happens next, according to Paul is devastating to us because…

II. The Law Kills the Sinner (vv. 9-11)!

1. Paul recognized this fact and wrote that “Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died!” (v. 9) What Paul means is that he was satisfied and self-sufficient before he knew he was in sin! He was content with his self-righteous life. But that was shattered when he realized that the law could never save him: “I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death!” No matter how good Paul thought he was, he could never be good enough to save himself. The law made that plain. He would continually have to offer up sacrifices. He would have to continually hope against hope that he was “good enough” for God to love him. The law was killing Paul spiritually. A person can only go around so long saying, “I’m a sinner! I’m a sinner!” after looking at the law of God. And, Paul relates that “sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death!” (v. 11) He had been lulled into thinking he was righteous as he went about persecuting Christians in his zeal for God. By today's standards, he had his “act together.” But then Paul was confronted with reality: God's holy law. When Paul looked inside of himself he saw the evil that existed there. He knew full well that all the religious things he had been doing could not make him holy, so he threw himself on the only thing that could: Jesus Christ. Paul knew he was dead because of the law. That’s what the law does. The law kills the sinner.

EXAMPLE: The world is full of people like Paul used to be. They think that by doing good things, then they must be good themselves. While outward random acts of kindness can be good in of themselves, the person doing them is not necessarily a good person! They are just acting “good” for the moment. Kind of like Molly our dog when she is caught doing something she should not be doing. She looks up at us like, “Me? You think that I was being bad? Not me! Look at how GOOD I am being right now!” In fact, this is the same faulty argument for those, who do not want to believe in God, use. They think that because people can do random acts of kindness, it inherently means people are good. I wonder how many of them have ever had children of their own? Babies immediately only have one thought in mind and that is themselves! In fact as they grow they will continually only think of themselves first unless adults help them to realize the error of their ways. Until they do, they are maladjusted. When they are made aware of their selfishness, then they either die to themselves or they sin by ignoring what they have learned. Either way, they are made aware and are accountable. This is what the law does. In fact, Paul tells us that the law kills the sinner.

My brother and I were always trying to skirt “the law of the parents.” Not that we were necessarily bad boys, but we could hold our own, so-to-speak. Often we would not even be aware we had done anything wrong, but my mother, knowing our true nature, would often confront us. Then, when we were made aware of our sin, we would be “dead meat.” You know, like when we would track dirty footprints across her newly waxed floor or be covered with raspberry stains from eating all the ripe berries off her vines. We might loudly protest our innocence but we knew we were “dead meat.” In fact, Pau related this final truth in a very graphic way by telling us that…

III. The Law Shows Sin’s Sinfulness (vv. 12-13)!

1. Paul tells us that the law displays three characteristics: It is holy, righteous, and good! Just as God is perfect, His law is as well. As God is holy, so too is His law. As He is righteous, so is His law. As He is good, so is the law of the Lord. But more than that, it is literally equitable, fair, or right. There's nothing wrong or unjust about the law in any way. And, Paul wanted his readers to know this truth. However, we also discover another wonderful truth, namely, that the law promotes blessing! How is it possible that the law, which has caused sin to flourish, could possibly promote good for mankind? Because where sin flourishes or abounds, grace abounds that much more (Romans 5:20)! The law reveals we are sinners in need of a Savior. When we run to Jesus, we find abundant grace. What Paul taught is reflected in David’s Psalm: “The law of the LORD is perfect… The precepts of the LORD are right… The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.” (Psalm 19:7-9) However Paul shows us that while it convicts us, it is not the law’s fault but our own responsibility. In fact, our willful sin causes our death! The wages of sin is death (6:23)! As Mac Arthur writes, “When the law unmasks our sin, it brings about death by showing us how far short we fall of God's perfect standards.” The law shows sin’s sinfulness.

EXAMPLE: Sometimes I think that I blow life by just waking up in the morning. Have you ever felt this way? You know what I mean? You wake up feeling like an old brown bear rousing from a winter’s hibernation, mean, hungry, and wanting to eat anyone or anything that comes near you. Kick the dog, growl at your spouse, and just walk around with a scowl on. What is a hard reality is the simple fact that God has given me someone that often helps me to see myself as I really am. No, not just my relationship with Jesus or the Holy Spirit living in me, but my wife, Denise, who has put up with me for 31 years! She is often a great barometer of just how mean and ornery I can be. I continually wonder why she allows me to wake up some mornings. I think she is tempered by grace. Whatever the reason, she can help me see just how irritable I can be. When she does, I am convicted to apologize, and to try and live differently. Paul realized that for him, it was the law of God. It showed him sin’s sinfulness. It pointed him to Jesus.

Conclusion:

The law for Paul revealed sin for what it was, how it utterly killed the sinner, and it’s sinfulness.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

We Live by Sanctification - Romans 7:1-6
by Pastor Lee Hemen
December 3, 2006

Humans love to bind themselves up with legalism. It is almost as if we are so insecure in ourselves that we just need someone to tell us what to do and when to do it just so we can feel safe about ourselves! There is a commercial on TV that sells what is called a BlackBerry ® for the communication company Sprint. Three people are walking in a downtown area and one of them is holding his BlackBerry ® and using it as a GPS (global positioning device). When one of his companions takes it out of his hands to take a closer look at it, he is immediately lost and looks confused, not knowing where to turn or which direction to go until it is placed firmly back in his grasp. Spiritually, we can be the exact same way when we begin to depend on legalism to guide our faith. Christians are to live by sanctification instead of legalism.

The place of legalism for Paul was a continual theological battleground because of his Jewish opponents. For them the law, their legalism, was a comfort and a gift from God, the mark of His guidance to His people. The problem was they studied it to even its minutest detail, picking it apart. Paul, now that he had trusted Jesus Christ, understood what the law had done and its true importance. Paul wants his readers to understand that while the law was important, legalism was not, and in fact grace was the outcome of faith in Jesus! He wanted them to learn that the Christian lives by sanctification, not by following a set of rules. Let’s see how Paul teaches us that we live by sanctification.

READ: Romans 7:1-6

My mother used to confuse me, when I was doing something she thought was dangerous, by solemnly declaring: “If you kill yourself, don’t come running to me!” I often wondered and wanted to ask her, but I never dared to, “Would I be then a zombie?” She would not have understood my confusion, nor my attempt at humor. There are those who are confused by what Paul relates here in these passages as well. However, we discover that…

I. Paul gives to us a great example (vv. 1-3)!

1. For some this example of Paul’s is kind of confusing, but it shouldn’t be. “The main difficulty,” as Leon Morris explains, “is that Paul’s illustration refers to a wife who is bound to her husband as long as he lives, but who is free to marry again when he dies as she could not before (his) death.” As an example we would have used the wife dying instead! (Now ladies do not get excited and say I or Paul are sexiest.) Why? Because Paul asks, “Do you not know, brothers —for I am speaking to MEN who know the law—that the law has authority over a MAN only as long as HE lives?” So wouldn’t it make more sense to have the wife die and the man remain unbound by the law regulations afterwards? However, Paul is not so much interested in the consistency of his statement, or marriage, as rather in the persistency of his threefold analogy: 1) The law was important prior to Jesus’ coming, 2) death changes things, even our relationship to the law, and 3) death to the law happens for a specific purpose, in order that we might live a sanctified life “so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code (v. 6)!” If you die, things change, right? When we die to self in Jesus, things change as well. The legalism of the law is no longer binding to our spiritual existence. In fact, we are “released” (literally, “free”) “from the law!” Now, we are to live a sanctified life in Jesus!

EXAMPLE: In Sydney, Australia, according to a November 12, 2006 Associated Press article, more than 200 Australian motorists have avoided parking and speeding fines by blaming either a dead man in what police said Saturday may be a widespread fraud. Under New South Wales state law, if a car owner signs a sworn statement that they were not driving the vehicle when an offense was committed, they can avoid paying speed camera fines, which arrive by mail, and parking tickets left under windshield wipers. A recent government audit of the excuses given in those sworn statements revealed that 238 motorists had avoided paying outstanding tickets through fraud. Some 80,000 Australian dollars ($61,000) of fines have been avoided this way in the past three years! Forty-nine of those car owners have since been charged with swearing false statements and face up to five years' imprisonment. The others will be questioned as part of a police crackdown. You see, when you are dead you are no longer responsible for the law! Paul also gives us a great example so that we can live by sanctification instead of legalism!

I will never forget finally understanding the simple truth that anyone can come to Christ and thereby live a free life from legalism. God’s love for me was not based on what I did for Him, it was squarely based on Jesus Christ, and His life, death, and resurrection! There was nothing I could do to get God to love me more. This was liberating for me. It was like being released from shackles. Now, I understood why Baptists sang so much and were so irritatingly happy! As we look here in Romans we discover the same glorious reality! We discover that…

II. Paul relates to us a wonderful truth (vv. 4-6)!

1. “So,” continues Paul’s theological idea as to the consequences of the preceding verses. If the law has no power over someone who has died, Paul wants them to know that “you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him (Jesus) who was raised from the dead!” His reason is obvious because he wanted his readers to understand that this was “in order that we might bear fruit to God!” This “fruit” is the results of our sanctified life: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) In fact, Paul related that at one time “when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.” Remember what the “wages of sin” is? Death! “But now,” Paul teaches us that “by dying to what once bound us, we have been released (made free) from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” When you are dead to sin and dead to the law, neither can bind you anymore! This is a wonderful truth for us! Our salvation is not due to the law or following legalism. We are delivered from the law, legalism, and death! We are “released” (free)! The wonderful truth is we live by sanctification!

EXAMPLE: Have you ever seen a person whose life is bound up by legalism? They are never sure if they measure up and often they are defensive and prideful. They live kind of a spiritual schizophrenia whereby the person feels they are controlled by outside forces that they have to appease in order to be accepted by God. If they do certain things, then God will love them. It is kind of like training a young puppy. Dogs love to please their owners. They will watch and try to be submissive to the one in charge. Sometimes by showing displays of licking, soft biting, or wiggling their tails and holding themselves close to the ground. It is as if they are saying, “See, see, I am really obedient.” How sad to see this in the life of someone who is ensnared by legalism. They think that by doing good things, God will love them. When in fact, Scripture teaches us that God already loves us and has provided a means in which we are already made righteous in Him through Jesus Christ. When we die to ourselves, we then live for the Lord. Our outward acts then come not from trying to please God, but rather from the motivation of His love living through us. In this, Paul relates to us a wonderful truth! We live by sanctification. God has made us holy to live holy lives!

Conclusion:

Hans Christian Andersen wrote the tale of the Nightingale where a rather drab looking little song bird was supplanted by a beautiful jewel-encrusted mechanical one, but eventually sang so sweet it even charmed death, and was allowed its freedom to sing when it desired. When the Holy Spirit sings to us about the saving grace of Jesus Christ why would we want any other false mechanical melody? Paul gives us a great example and relates to us a wonderful truth, that we live by sanctification, not legalism.