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The Law of God is Good and Wise June 29, 2014

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Romans 7:1-13

Third Sunday after Pentecost

June 29, 2014

 

Focus: God’s will for His children is good.

Function: That the hearers serve God as part of His family.

Structure: Here is a prevailing view…but here is the claim of the gospel.

 

The Law of God is Good and Wise

 

Jesus died for your sins.  You’re free.  You can do whatever you want.  Jesus’ death did away with the law.  You now live in the gospel.  That’s all you need.  Go ahead, sin boldly!

Do those words sound familiar?  If you’ve never heard someone say them, I’d be surprised.  There is a wide-sweeping movement in Christianity that sees the law as something bad, that God only gave it to us to condemn us.  And now that we have Christ, the law is obsolete.  Just give us the gospel.  In the church, we call that antinomianism.  That’s basically Greek for lawless.  It’s the political equivalent of anarchy.

It’s amazing if we just stop and look at what the Apostle Paul dealt with in his day.  It’s amazing because the church has a terrible habit of simply repeating its own history.  We have entire denominations of Christianity running around today doing whatever they want.  But it’s not new.  Paul saw it, too, with his brothers and sisters in Rome.  And today, we come in in the middle of that discussion.  The law is one of dominant themes of his letter to the Romans:

Romans 3:31 – “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.”

Romans 6:1-2a “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!”

Romans 7 “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means!” and “Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means!”

There we have just a couple of examples among many.  Paul is consistent in driving this home.  In redefining the value of the law, it’s not the problem.  Sin is.  Instead, the law is best described as God’s will for His people.

Think about this for just a moment.  How would your relationship be doing with your neighbor if you didn’t follow the Ten Commandments?  If you slept with his wife, stole things from his garage, talked trash about him to your other neighbors, and killed his dog?  How do thing that’s going?  It’s not.  He’d hate you and take up some form of legal action against you.

God’s law is His perfect will for His people.  It’s what He desires for us in our lives.  And He knows that by following it, our lives will be blessed.  Now I’m not saying you’ll be rich.  I’m saying your neighbors won’t be putting your face on a wanted poster.  It’s meant to make your life better.

The easy comparison here is the rules parents establish for their children.  Kids, you might feel like you’re being bullied sometimes, but your parents are simply looking out for you.  They know that if you stay up until two in the morning, you won’t be able to stay awake in school.  They know that if you can’t swim, you need to stay out of the pool when they’re not around, or you’ll drown.  They don’t just come up with silly rules, usually.  The rules are there so that you grow up to be the best person you can be.

Paul goes on to give us his own analogy of what this looks like.  He describes for us the law of marriage.  According to God’s law, marriage lasts for life.  No matter what you might think, once you’re married, you’re married.  “What God has put together, let no man put asunder.”  If you’re found sleeping or living with someone who is not your spouse, that’s adultery.  That’s sin.  But if your spouse has died, you are no longer bound in marriage.  It lasted a lifetime, and that lifetime is now over.  The death freed you from the law of marriage that bound you with your spouse.  You are free to remarry and then live with someone again if you choose.

It’s easy to see how this would be God’s will for His people.  It’s easy to look around and see all the children without a mom or without a dad in their lives.  It’s easy to see the men and the women hurting from a spouse who cheated on them.  It’s easy to see the men and women who grieve because they’ve been abandoned and left to fend for themselves.  This isn’t God’s design.  It’s not His will for His people.

And that’s the way the law is, too.  It was and is God’s good and perfect design for His creation.  It was His will for us so that our lives would be peaceful and we could live them to the fullest.  But because of sin, life’s a mess.  We fell short.  And as the Scriptures like to use the metaphor of God being married to His people, we’ve committed adultery against Him.

But, according to Paul, we’ve died.  When did that happen?  Let’s go back a chapter in the discussion:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.  We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  For one who has died has been set free from sin.  Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him.  For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God.  So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

 

You are no longer bound or enslaved to sin.  Christ has freed you. This is the beauty of baptism.  This is why Hannah and I brought Talia to the font this weekend.  It happened in your baptism, it happened when the Holy Spirit created faith in you that Jesus Christ is your Savior.  Sin no longer has a hold on you.  Death no longer has a hold on you.  You are free!

But, this is where we look to Paul’s metaphor again.  In a sense, you’ve been remarried.  You were bound to one spouse, but now to another.  You were enslaved to sin, but now you are bound to Christ.

This is what we see in our gospel reading today.  This is what Christ is talking about when He says “whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.”  The New Testament speaks like this regularly.  To be a follower of Christ, we actually have to follow Christ.  We serve others like He served others.

Historically, one of the Lutheran church’s favorite Scripture passages comes from the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians, chapter two, verses eight and nine.  “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  The lawless chirp in here, “see, we don’t do anything!”  But if we would just read the next verse, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

We don’t earn salvation.  That much is certainly true.  God did that for us.  He did the work because we couldn’t.  But, He does have things for us to do.  He does have a will for us, a will that would see us live the life He gave us to its fullest.  He created you for a reason.  He has a desire to see you grow into the person that He created you to be.

There’s a reason God likes family metaphors.  We’re His family.  He claimed us as His own.  We’re together, we’re a community.  When we brought Talia to the font, you made a promise.  You gave your word that you would help raise her in the faith in this community.  You’ll do the same again next weekend for another little girl named Emi.  You will do the same on August 17th for a pair of twin boys, Lucas and Dylan.  You’ve done it many times.  You’ve also given your word to each other, that you’ll hold one another accountable, that you’ll help build each other up in this walk.

We are bound to Christ.  Because He died to defeat sin, our sin is defeated.  Because God raised Him from the dead, we too will live a new life.  And we do so together.  We walk this new life together.  That’s why we can sing a hymn called “The Law of God is Good and Wise.”  That’s God’s perfect and holy will for us.

 

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