Pastor Dan Borgelt
“Great job choir, great job to the praise team, thank you guys so much.
I suspect on a normal day you would have seen more of us raising our hands in worship, but for obvious reasons some of us are self-conscious about raising our hands this morning here in this room [Transcriber Note:: With AC not working, it was a hot and stuffy].
Just want you to know that I’ve been here in the sanctuary since like 6:45 this morning, so you can endure. I told you I’d cut right to the point and make this as direct and concise as I’m capable of doing. So be in a prayer for me this morning and we’ll see how that goes.
I’ve got no notes which is designed to make things shorter, but sometimes has the opposite effect. Anyways, here’s right to the point…
At Kirkmont during our ministry of the Word, we’re going through the book of Romans. The last several weeks through the book of Romans we’ve been discovering that God is trying to communicate to us, that our hope in order to get right with Him, our hope to get into heaven someday, ought not to be in ourselves, and in our ability to obey the law and be a good enough person, but rather our hope ought to be in His character dependent upon the idea that he will treat us better than we deserve. And we’ve been using that word grace.
But that message, has caused this sort of question to shoot back in response. One for us; one at the time that the Book of Romans was being written as well. And the question is simply this,
“Well, wait a second, if you’re telling me that my personal life style, my personal holiness isn’t actually a factor in whether I get into heaven or not, then are you telling me that I get I have a license to just live whatever kind of life that I want”?
In fact we saw this question being raised by the Bible last week in Romans Chapter six verse fifteen. The Scripture told us this (the Apostle Paul speaking),
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?
In other words, if it’s not about being a good enough person, by being under the law, and it really is about God just treating us better than we deserve, the question remains, do we get to just sin do we get to just do whatever we want to do?
His response is
By no means!
Last week he gave us an illustration, we said it wasn’t a perfect illustration, but it was an illustration from the world of slavery. And he essentially said this to us last week, he said,
“Look, you’ve got a couple options, and there’s no in between. Every single person in this world is either a slave to the law, which ultimately makes you a slave to sin because you’re never going to be a perfect law abider… or every single person is a slave to righteousness through being a slave to God and His Son Jesus Christ.”
And he said, “Look, a slave is someone who pledges their allegiance to someone, they obey them… and you are either fully after one or fully after the other.
Now this week, he introduces to us another… a follow up illustration. Moving from the world of slavery, yet trying to make a very similar point as last week, he gives us another illustration. And it’s an illustration from a world that I think you’ll find far more personal and intimate–maybe far more relatable this week than last week, and that is the world of marriage.
Inn fact our BIG IDEA for you this morning is this.
Christianity is about a life changing marriage relationship to Jesus.
Christianity is about a life changing marriage relationship to Jesus.
Now, if you’re here this morning, and you are kind of on the outside of the fringe of being a regular church person it may come as a surprise to you for the very first time to hear this idea that Christianity is actually not about being a slave to the law and trying to be a good enough person, but rather Christianity is actually about being in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Now others of you have heard the whole idea that you’re supposed to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ. but you’ve maybe perhaps held the wrong relationship in view; you’ve held a relationship that is perhaps something short of what the Bible actually invites you into–Jesus as your friend, as your neighbor, as a coworker, as a pilot, as a captain, or a copilot… and all the different expressions that are out there, all the bumper sticker options that exist out there.
But today’s passage takes us beyond even all of those relationships, it invites us to see the God of the universe saying not just I want a relationship with you but I want to have a relationship with you that’s so personal and so intimate I’m going to describe it as a marriage relationship. And further, we’re going to suggest you that it is a life changing relationship.
Others of you will need to be challenged this morning and ask yourself, “Wait a second, I thought I was in a relationship with Jesus Christ, but is it the real thing because it’s not actually that life changing.
Let me tell you something, if your relationship with Jesus Christ hasn’t been life changing at all, it’s a good indication that you may not have a relationship with Jesus Christ–at least not a marriage relationship with him. Because marriage, is a life changing experience. Isn’t it? Can we all just say that today.
Marriage to one another changes our lives.
If you’re if you’re single, and you’re thinking about getting married, maybe just need to hear us on this little journey. You need to hear the “Amens” or see that head nod shaking as I tell you that marriage will shape and change every_part of your life.
Marriage will change:
- where you go on vacation; it will change
- how much money you spend on vacation; it will change
- the way you drive to that location; it will change
- the car you drive; it will change
- the music you listen to; it will change
- the television programming you watch at home; it will change
- what time you go to bed; it will change
- what you do on a Saturday; it will change
- how long you get to take a shower; it will change
- how you go to the bathroom…
It changes everything about your life. Marriage by definition is a life changing experience. And so we are invited into a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.
We believe this passage invites you into a life changing relationship with Jesus. Here’s what the Scripture tells us… in Romans chapter seven, verse one–just two slides for you this morning; this slide in the next slide. Yes, I crammed a lot of words on each slide, but nonetheless encouraging.
The first slide is the illustration; the next slide is going to be the application of the illustration. Here’s the illustration.
Now let me just warn you, as we walk through it, there are some things that are going to potentially distract you… some of you will find yourself fighting against what it has to say here. And I hope we can walk back through and smooth over those waters and get focused on the heart of the passage.
Here’s what the Scripture says,
Romans 7:1a Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—
So he had a Jewish and Gentile audience in the early church in Rome, and he seems to be shifting his focus on the Jewish people who knew the Old Testament law.
7:1a that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives?
So he’s sort of stating the obvious… if you die you are no longer obligated to obey the law,
2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. 3 So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.
Alright, lets walk back through those things and eliminate a couple of the distractors.
One of the one of the potential distractions is the fact that it’s focusing on the woman as the person having the relationship with two different people… where are the guys wrapped up in this law?
Let me say a couple things about that. Yes, actually men had some of the similar moral laws that were applied to them, but also we must concede that in this society the laws were biased towards women.
OK so we’re going to put that out there.
But I think the primary reason why Paul uses a female as the person who can either be married or remarried, is because he’s going to draw an illustration between that and us marrying Jesus Christ. And we are considered to be the “bride of Christ”.
So he uses this example of a woman being married and here’s essentially what he says…
And of course the other distracting part is the law itself in what he’s saying. For many people in this room and across our churches in America, have been married, divorced, and remarried, not always under these circumstances. And so you may be wondering, “Well, what are you trying to say about me?”
Let me just be clear. I’m not trying to say anything about that. Nor is this passage trying to say anything about that.
Some day at Kirkmont, it would be appropriate for us to have a series on marriage, divorce, and remarriage… and when we do we’ll look at the Scripture comprehensively on that subject. And I think you’ll find that I have some things to say that are gracious and freeing on that subject; and I think you’ll also find I have some things to say that are challenging and convicting on that subject as well.
But that is not the point of this passage. The point of this passage is to use a common law that these people understood to make a parallel spiritual point that he’s about to make.
And here’s the common law just in case you missed the basic understanding of it… he’s saying that a woman, when married to a man, they are obligated to remain faithful and married to that person until that person dies. It’s only death that releases them from that contract, or that covenant, that commitment to that person, which them frees them to go marry another.
It’s key to remember that death is required to release one from the other. Because Paul is going to give us a spiritual application which is inviting us to see that we were once married to one thing, and now we’re being freed to marry something else, but death has to be required to release us from that bond.
So that’s why when he goes to apply it, the very first thing he says in verse four is this,
4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law
OK… death was required to release someone from something and now he says, “you also died to the law.”
Now here you start to see it’s not actually a perfect parallel, because in the illustration the woman stays alive, the husband dies and allows her to remarry. In the application of it, we are actually the ones who get to remarry but the way we get to remarry is because we die to the first thing that we were married to, and that is the law.
So he’s saying we were once married to the law we were born married to the law. Some of you grew up in environments where you were married to the law. Some of you showed up here this morning married to the law.
He says, “that’s how we used to be, but we died from that.”
And the way it happened, wasn’t because we became a good enough person, it wasn’t because we finally defeated the law by obeying it at every single point. The way that it happened was through the body of Christ.
When we enter into relationship with Jesus Christ, as the Scripture told us a couple weeks ago, we died with him through Baptism… we died with him. And in that sense we died to the law, it no longer has any contract over us in that sense.
But notice, we are not just released into spiritual singleness. We didn’t die from the law so that we can just start living the way we want to live. Just like we said last week, we weren’t released from being slaves to righteousness so that we could just start living however we wanted, we were released from being a slave to sin so that we could become a slave to righteousness.
And notice what it says,
you died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another,
So we have two options here… we can either be married to the law, or enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and be married to him, and belong to Him.
There is no such thing as spiritual singleness…
Each and every person is either married to the law and bound to it, or through a relationship with Jesus Christ they become released from that and become married to him.
Now listen, the question was, “Well wait a second… if I get married to Christ, and Christ is all about forgiveness and grace and he died on the Cross for my sins, and that’s the Gospel, the good news you’re sharing about Jesus, then remember our original question, “Doesn’t that then free me? Doesn’t that give me the license to live the life that I want to live? Aren’t I now married to Christ? Doesn’t that allow me to just sin and do whatever it is I want?
No, look at what the Scripture says, it says
through the body of Christ, that we might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear_fruit_for_God.
The whole reason we become married to Jesus Christ is not so that we can go on sinning, but rather that we might begin being fruit bearers for God.
And let me tell you something, just as I said last week, that, “grace will always produce more righteousness in us than the law”. I’ll say this week that, “a marriage relationship with Jesus Christ will always produce more spiritual fruit than a marriage relationship to the law.:
I think we should say that one more time.
A marriage relationship with Jesus Christ will always produce more spiritual fruit than a marriage relationship with the law.
But here’s the incredibly mysterious thing… the Gospel, ever since it was introduced, and all the way until this day, has always been under attack for this very reason… people have always tried to water down the Gospel of Jesus Christ because they were afraid that the true Gospel would give people a license to be lawbreakers. So they watered it down, they cheapened God’s grace, they’ve cheapened his forgiveness, and they have unintentionally sent the message to people that they are still married to the law.
Some of your parents raised you in a (quote unquote) “Christian environment” but they unintentionally gave you the message that you were married to the law… unwilling to really proclaim the Gospel, trusting that the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a marriage to Jesus, would produce more spiritual fruit in you than the law would.
Do we trust God enough to give the Gospel to our kids, the whole thing in all of its beauty, trusting that their marriage relationship with Jesus will produce more spiritual fruit than keeping them married to the law.
Some of you grew up in churches that made that mistake. Oh they might have had your best intentions in mind… they they wanted you to to honor God with your life, but the way they thought they would do that was to keep you married to the law somehow, and they misunderstood that by releasing you into a marriage relationship with Jesus Christ you would actually bear more spiritual fruit than if you were born married to the law.
He says in verse five and six
5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
This incredible transformation… “We used to bear fruit for death and now we’re bearing fruit for Kingdom purposes,” in a way that honors God. It’s a life changing experience to go from being married to the law, to being married to Jesus.
Earlier I said that the marriage relationship was a life changing relationship, the earthly marriage relationship was a life changing relationship. I want you just to think in all seriousness about the ways that a marriage relationship with Jesus Christ is life changing as well.
Earlier we joked about music, and money, and free time, and shower, and all that kind of stuff… but in all seriousness,
What’s required to have a good, strong, healthy, lasting, marriage relationship with another person?
- Enjoying time with one another.
- Reliance upon.
- Providing for…
The whole list could go on and on. What does that say about the character of God, and how he feels about you… that he is trying to express through those same terms… I want to have that relationship with you.
I mean are you in that type of relationship with Jesus Christ… one that brings out the full intimacy of the marriage parallel?
Some of you, as I said earlier, have been divorced and remarried. I want to speak through the lens particularly of those of you who have been divorced and remarried with your spouse still living.
In all likelihood that means you intentionally left that relationship, you didn’t want to be in that relationship anymore. And hopefully, by God’s grace, you’re in a marriage relationship that is bringing you a far greater sense of contentment and joy.
And in the same way you see what God is inviting us to this morning—to leave this marriage relationship with the law, and enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, and be married to him. And the exchange is powerful, far more dramatic than any one person to another person could possibly provide.
Some of you in your previous marriage relationships were treated really terrible, and it left you incredibly broken. Some of you were abused in your previous marriage relationship, but guess what, being being married to the law does the same thing to us… it beats us down.
Some of you were left feeling in despair or hopelessness feeling bitter about life. Being married to the law does just that as well, and God is inviting you to leave that broken unhealthy, undesirable marriage relationship with the law, and to enter into a beautiful life changing marriage relationship with Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father we thank you for this passage of Scripture as always we take the time just to pray in response to your Word. For those of us who are here this morning who perhaps have not really thought about the idea of being in a relationship with you like this passage has talked to us about this morning… perhaps someone in this room wants to just kind of sort of acknowledge that like, “Hey… if you’re proposing to me God then the answer is YES, that’s what I want.” Just something honest and simple as saying that to you., we pray that by your grace that would suffice and get that wonderful relationship started.
For others of us in this room we perhaps are feeling convicted, maybe even rebuked by this passage of Scripture because we claim to be in relationship with you; we would even like and celebrate the idea that we’re in an intimate marriage-like relationship with you… and yet you brought us into that relationship for the purpose of bearing spiritual fruit, and we acknowledge that hasn’t been the case for us.
Lord, we invite you to draw us deeper in our walk with you. That as a result the Holy Spirit would indeed kill off the sinful nature, and produce greater spiritual fruit in our lives.
So as we kind of move away from this whole question that Paul’s been asking us, we embrace grace and we reject the idea of cheapening grace by intentionally sinning, knowing that grace will cover that sin. And we invite you to help us to move and carry forward in that path, that we might be fruit bearers for the Kingdom of God.
We ask these things and Jesus’ name. Amen.
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