Unashamedly, I am a Christian who will not hesitate to defend The Lord and His Word. I believe that the LORD is God, and that He is faithful to His Word. I believe that the Bible is the Word of God and that THE WORD of GOD [Jesus] is the fulfilled covenant promise and the one and only way to the Father, by grace through faith... not through works I've done or not done. I am thankful for everyday He gives me and for having been given a taste of heaven right here on earth right now. He has proven faithful and true in all things time and time again. I have nothing to prove. I have nothing to hide. I only have The LORD to serve and Jesus to Love. I am a Dad to 4 wonderful children, and a husband to the most amazing mid-westerly charming woman I could ever imagine--it is a pleasure to serve her. All this (and then some) makes up who I am.
There are so many different ways to see the same person, aren’t there? So many different ways to see the same person, but what we’re most interested in around here at Kirkmont is making sure that we are seeing people the way that God sees them.
So let me just ask you, “What type of person or what group of people are the most difficult for you to see, to look at, and to see them the way that you at least imagine God sees them?”
I suspect for some of you it’s when you’re out in public and there’s that kid that’s throwing some kind of a tantrum of some kind and you’re looking at that child when they’re complaining and whining and screaming, and you are having a really hard time seeing that child the way that God probably sees that child.
Or maybe for some of you it’s not the child that you have a problem seeing the way that God sees them, but it’s the parents of that child; and you think to yourself, “If only that parent was more responsible, if they were a better parent if only they would listen to some of the advice I have their child wouldn’t act that way.”
Or maybe it’s when you’re driving around and you see someone’s bumper sticker and it reveals to you who they voted for, or what they stand for, and you just have a hard time, based on that alone, seeing that person as God probably sees them.
Maybe it’s when you see someone’s car or their clothing or the condition of the home they live in and you perceive them to be someone who’s economically poor and from there your mind just goes to a place where you say, “Well they would have just made better life choices and decisions then they wouldn’t be in this circumstance.”
Or maybe you’re the opposite here and it’s when you see someone who drives a car of a certain kind, or clothing of a certain brand, or lives in a certain neighborhood, you have a hard time after that point seeing that person perhaps the way that God sees them.
Maybe it’s when a woman who’s dressed provocatively walks into the room and you don’t have the maturity to see past perhaps the attention she was seeking or not seeking. You don’t have the maturity to see them the way that God sees them.
Some of you ladies might have the same problem when a woman walks in wearing attractive clothing. Your mind goes to other places but you still have a hard time seeing that person the way God sees them.
Or maybe it’s the way some guys dress, the color of his clothing or the holes in his clothing or the style of his clothing or whatever it might be and just whatever it is, it’s the trigger for you, it’s like a block that keeps you from really seeing them the way that God sees them.
Maybe for some of you, it’s like a whole age… like you just you just find yourself saying “Young people these days!” Or some of you just need to be reminded or hear perhaps for the very first time that old people are people. You have a whole problem with an entire generation of people.
Or maybe for some of us, it’s race or ethnicity. You watch the news and someone of a certain race or ethnicity does something, commits a certain crime, and in your heart of hearts you find yourself saying, “That figures”.
What is it about a certain person that keeps you from seeing them the way that God sees them?
I think if we’re honest here this morning that all of us would have to say that we can identify with probably one of those groups if not multiple ones, or maybe one that I haven’t mentioned, all of us can identify in some way. We have these trigger people who are just really hard for us to get past something externally, and see them the way that God sees them.
There are so many different ways to see the same person, but what we are most interested in here at Kirkmont is seeing people the way that God sees them. In fact our Big Idea for you this morning is that,
We are supposed to see all people the way that God sees them.
And there is perhaps no better Scripture in all the Bible to remind us of the fact that sometimes religious people don’t see other people the way that God sees them better than a Luke chapter fifteen.
Luke 15, starting in the first verse we’re going to turn this passage of Scripture in your Bible, or put it up on the screen if you don’t have a Bible with you, and we’re going to look at this and see how often and how easy it is for religious people to not see people the way that God sees them.
In Luke chapter fifteen starting in the first verse, the Scripture tells us this.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
15:1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.
So Jesus is speaking to a group of people who are there and they’re referenced as tax collectors and sinners, neither of whom had a good reputation. What’s the Bible mean when it says sinners?Because elsewhere in the Bible it’s very clear that all of us are sinners.
So when the Bible says ‘sinners’ what it’s speaking about is a particular group of people whose sin is so pervasive and so public, it’s so external in its nature, so commonly known, that people are unable to see past that sin and they merely classify them by that sin that is known. and they call them “sinners“.
These types of people — they’re what some today might call the worst of society, who are listening to Jesus teach.
Now they’re not eavesdropping, it’s not like He’s teaching other people and they just kind of snuck in and they’re eavesdropping… you gather from the context that Jesus is there to teach them. He’s intentionally spending time with these people… (shown in verse 2)…
2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
LARRY – MEDITATE ON THIS then uncolor before publishing
So apparently the religious people of the time have a problem with the fact that Jesus is in this setting, that he’s in this context. They see the people that Jesus is eating with differently than Jesus sees them… I think it’s fair to say.
This passage of Scripture that Jesus walks them through, is simply going to invite us to be challenged by whether or not we see the people around us the way that the Pharisees in the passage of Scripture sees Him, or whether we see them the way Jesus them.
Jesus tells them this story meant to teach a lesson…
3-7 Then Jesus told them this parable:“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shouldersand goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
So Jesus speaks this parable to them about a sheep, and this guy who’s got one hundred sheep and he loses one of them.
Now what really ought to jump out at us in this opening parable that Jesus teaches, is the nature of how the man who lost the sheep feels towards the lost sheep; and I think the passage is meant to teach us that the man who has lost the sheep has a genuine concern, and care, and compassion for the lost sheep. The sheep is a value to him; he likes the sheep; he wants the sheep to come back into his fold.
He doesn’t say to himself, “That sheep. I told that sheep like five times not to leave the sheep pen. That sheep is going to get what it deserves tonight. I’m telling you it’s going to be cold out there; he’s not going to have food; some predator might attack it… he doesn’t treat those people outside of the folds that way. Instead, he responds to the sheep with genuine compassion and care.
One sheep out of a hundred.
The Parable of the Lost Coin
Jesus ups the ante and he goes on and He says,
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins…
Some of you’ve heard me say this before, that the passage is intensifying — it goes from a sheep to currency now, genuine real hard money; He goes from one out of one hundred to one out of ten.
8-10“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
We get a very similar parable here. But again, we said it intensifies. Again we walk away with the understanding that this person has lost a coin and their attitude towards it is such that they want to find it.
They see it of value… it’s something they want to bring back into their midst.
The Parable of the Lost Son
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons.
‘~Okay Pharisees, just in case you hadn’t made the connection yet, we’re not actually teaching you about how to value sheep and coins, we’re talking about people.”
It wasn’t sheep that Jesus was accused of eating with… although that would have been… maybe, I don’t know, more likely to be accused of that in my eyes. It wasn’t his currency — relationship with money that he was being accused of, its what people he was eating with.
So Jesus now intensifies it from a sheep, to coin, to a son. From one out of a hundred to one out of ten to one out of two.
“There was a man who had two sons.
We’re talking about people, we’re talking about seeing people the way that God sees them. And you guessed it one of them is going to become lost.
12-22 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’So he divided his property between them.
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
And so Jesus finally teaches the Pharisees that he’s not talking to them about how God sees sheep, or how God sees coins. but he is talking to them about how God sees people.
And not just people, but people whom the Bible calls “lost people” — people who are currently outside of a relationship with God, and some of you identify with that. You should know you’re welcome here, you should hear what God is saying to you this morning.
Some of you identify more with the lost sheep that is found, than the ninety-nine; more with the lost coin found than the other nine, and more with the lost son than the one that we’re going to read about who is found.
He speaking to us about people outside of the community of God — people who don’t have a relationship with God — the very people who often — those of us who consider ourselves to be followers of Jesus Christ— have a hard time seeing the way that God sees them.
And we discover the heart of God as if someone found something of incredible value and has brought it back into their presence… with rejoicing, God sees someone who doesn’t have a relationship with him, the prospect of them coming into relationship with Him.
You see this is important because if we’re ever going to see people the way that God sees people we’re going to have to have the heart for people that God has for people, and here we see the heart of God… rejoicing, genuine care, concern.
But we discover that he’s teaching us not only about the heart of God, but he’s addressing the heart of the Pharisees — a heart that maybe some of us are willing to identify and confess this morning.
25-29 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field (the Pharisees). When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.
Isn’t this kind of thing we as Christians can do as we start to live our Christian life long enough? Eventually, we start to get some of the law that God has for us down pat by God’s grace and mercy. We forget that it’s by His grace and mercy and soon we’re bragging about the righteousness of our own life, we’re looking down on the unrighteousness of other people’s lives and it was all because of the character of God to begin with.
Here’s the older son the Pharisee saying, “But I’ve never done this!” He’s comparing his moral right,his resume to those around him. He says,
30-32 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
We discover in this passage not only the heart of God But we also discover the heart that God’s people should have as well.
And we’re meant to pause and let the Scripture sort of marinate and speak to the condition of our hearts and say… as we read this passage, as we look at people in the world, do we see them more like Jesus would have seen them, or do we see them more like the Pharisees would have seen them?
The Pharisees saw them very differently.
And if you’re like me it’s like one of those things that some days you do better than others at. Some groups of people, you do better at others than.
The Scripture elsewhere goes on to tell us that not only then is this something that we’re supposed to long for a desire to see people come into a right relationship with God, but that we are actually active agents in this whole process — that because we see people with the heart of God, we then participate in the reconciling Ministry of the heart of God.
In Second Corinthians, chapter five the Scripture tells us this.
11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord,
In other words, we know what it is to see the world through the lens and the eyes and the perspective of God; to see people through the lens and the eyes and the perspective of God, and to desire to align our lives with the character of God.
we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to [then] persuadeothers.
… what an interesting word… we participate in the process of persuading others towards Jesus Christ.
This is not a popular thing in our culture and our society it’s considered to be unkind or judgmental to try to persuade someone into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
But the Scripture’s not inviting us to do this in some sort of harsh way, it’s not inviting us to do this from someplace that is unethical, or ungenuine, or unreal, but what it is inviting us to do is to come alongside relationally those people who are broken so that when they wake up and realize that they’re actually feeding pigs or eating off of pigs’ food and living in the pit of miry pigs, that we then encourage them and point them to The Heavenly Father.
We remind them or tell them for the very first time of a Father who will rejoice over their presence over them coming into his presence. We point them in the right direction and if need be we walk them all the way to the father’s doorstep.
That’s what it means to persuade men to see ourselves, in the story of Luke fifteen, coming alongside people who have turned their back on God, have walked away from him, and when the hit rock bottom were there with them, because we care about them and we’re pointing them then back to The Heavenly Father.
Paul the Apostle Paul who wrote this made his life about persuading people to go back into a relationship with a loving heavenly Father.
11b-14a What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.For Christ’s love compels us,
For Christ’s love compels us… this is the what drives us and motivates us to be in relationship with those as Jesus was in relationship — that the world calls sinners — what drives us and compels us to be in relationship with them, and to point them to God, is not that we might receive God’s love–that somehow he’ll love you more if you are the friend of sinners and pointing sinners in his direction, you’re not going to get applauded by the church, we’re not going to honor you or recognize you in that way.
What drives us and motivates us is not in order to earn God’s love, but it’s his love that compels us and pushes us in the first place.
It’s out of genuine, honest sincerity; and I think the world has had too many people who call themselves religious, try to persuade them from some other place than Christ’s love. And we’re clear we’re talking about being compelled by Christ’s love because…
…because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
Now hear this because this verse sixteen is really why I brought this passage in–it’s perfect for our whole message this morning, this idea of seeing people the way that God sees them. Paul says,
16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.
What better passage to remind us of the idea of seeing people the way that God sees them. From now on we’re not going to regard anyone from a worldly point of view.
“To look at someone from a worldly point of view” means: – to see their socioeconomicstatus and not be able to look past that; – to see their attractivenessor their lack of attractiveness in your eyes and not be able to look past that; – to see their racial ethnicity and not be able to look past that; – to see their obvious sinin their lifestyle and to not be able to look past that.
All these types of things that are sort of roadblocks, stumbling blocks from us seeing people the way that God sees them, is what it means to regard someone from a worldly point of view.
And Paul, in this,confesses that he used to do that…
from now on…
From now on, right? From now on… it’s like we don’t do it anymore!
And in fact, he even confesses specifically that they once regarded Christ in this way… and he’s not going to do it any longer. He regarded Christ from a worldly point of view; he didn’t even see God the way that God was supposed to be seen, let alone other people the way that God saw them.
And so it is in our hearts, it was in Paul’s heart, it is in our nature to only see people and look at them naturally and not to see the incredible thing that they can become by God’s power Spiritually, for it’s the Scripture that says,
17 …if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone,
‘Man’, when we’ve refused to see people the way God sees people and deny that in Christ they can become a new creation we alternately show our lack of faith in the power of God.
We show our lack of faith in the power of God and what He can do in someone’s life. And we could fill this room with testimony after testimony of those of you who have had your life radically changed because of the power of God to remind us that no matter who we’re seeing in the world no matter what we’re perceiving, in Christ that person can become a new creation; God can do an amazing work in their life.
And once we become convinced of this, and we start realizing the heart of God towards those who are outside of a relationship with God, and we start trying to persuade them, no longer viewing them from a worldly perspective but starting to try to persuade them to be in right relationship with God, it’s going to change how we spend our time, and more specifically perhaps, who we spend our time with.
In Matthew chapter five as we wrap up our time together this morning, we are reminded not only about how we spend our time but also who we spend our time with.
There’s this constant tension in the life of the follower of Jesus Christ, that we often wrestle with and that is, on one hand we’re hearing that:
we should go to church,
we should go to Sunday School,
we should be in a Bible study,
we’ve got all these other church functions that we should go to,
there’s value in being around each other and building each other up and stuff,
But how do we balance that with our real-world relationships around us with people who don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ? How do we wrestle with that tension?
Matthew chapter five is just a great reminder as we wrap up together this morning that this whole subject of seeing people how God sees them is going to have to change who we spend our time with and how we spend it. Jesus says to disciples,
14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.In the same way, let_your_light_shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us who are followers of Jesus Christ, our Light that is shining has only been brought into the presence of other people who have the same Light shining for a long time now.
And the Scripture’s inviting us to go ahead, to be the light of the world, and what good does it do to be the light of the world and not to be willing to enter into the darkness of the world? …to not enter into relationship with people, and in settings with people who are already not walking in right relationship with Jesus Christ.
I know people wrestle with the tension of like, “Yeah, but I mean if I do that, what about my own personal holiness and my own character?”
Those of you who are in a small group doing the Treasure series, you are going to watch a video where one of the guys deals with that tension. He’s a young, single man who’s a Christian, and a coworker invites him to have drinks after work. This other guy says all the waitresses there are really good-looking or something like that, and that’s why he’s going to that bar.
And the Christian man is torn… and first essentially he says, “No,”he doesn’t think he should go because of a desire to guard his own righteousness. But he also has this whole Jesus is a friend of sinners kind of thing going on, and eventually he shows up — spoiler alert, sorry. [LAUGHTER]
And here’s the thing you know when they talk about rescuing people the first thing they always say is something like, “You’ve got to anchor yourself in… put on your own oxygen mask first…” those types of things.
If you can imagine someone who’s fallen over the edge of a cliff and who needs to be rescued before they fall all the way down… and you’re only going to be willing to go as far into that danger zone as you are confident that you’ve been secured and anchored.
There are so many churches that teach such a wimpy, weak version of salvation that their people are unwilling to go into the darkness at all because their own salvation is constantly under threat.
But here we believe that Jesus has secured our salvation through this very incarnational ministry that we’re talking about, leaving the heights of heaven and all of the angels around him, coming, being dependent upon the conditions of humanity, obedience to the law, mocked by those whom will someday kneel and worship Him, crucified, dead, and buried in a tomb three days.
He went to that great length to rescue that which was lost.
Our salvation is secure in him; and he is not only giving us permission, he’s urging us out of a place of that security of salvation to go step into the darkness, to step over the edge, take hold of a brother or sister who does not have a relationship with Christ… and be used by God to point them back to a loving_heavenly_Father.
Lord we thank you for these passages of Scripture. We thank you for this main topic of today, this challenging topic… at least for me, probably for others in the room as well. We confess to you that we’re really far away from being in a place where we really see everyone at least the way that you see them.
So I don’t know maybe our parents taught it, maybe the culture taught it, maybe just in our own sinfulness… whatever it is, we ask Your Spirit which lives inside of us to drive that away; that it would soften our hearts in that area.
We pray that we are the type of people who are not concerned about what other religious people might think — how they might criticize us, or who we hang out with, but we are the type of people who we spend time with and how we spend our time with them is shaped by the heart of God.
Some of us have people in our life right now who You are bringing to mind.
We talk about being used by you to help rescue them, help point them back to a loving Father, and maybe some people in this room are just immediately thinking of a friend, a classmate, a coworker, a spouse or some other family member. Maybe they just want to pray for that person right now….
Thank you Lord for rescuing us, and then we ask these things in Christ’s name. Amen.
“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 everythingabout 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 7:1aDo 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.
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.
“Thank you Christa, that was called, as you can see in your bulletin, “Love Medley”.
And I had this whole vibe of atmosphere going on up here in the front row, we’ve got our doors propped because we have AC problems, and I could hear the birds chirping, and there’s that pretty picture on the background there, and I was kinda like looking for my hammock, you know, like when I want to chill (laughter).
Is that a compliment or not? I don’t know. I mean when people tell me they listen to my sermons to fall sleep at night I usually don’t take it as a compliment. But I meant that as a compliment though. (LAUGHTER) Anyways, thank you.
So here we are church, were in the time of our service where we go through part of Scripture, and look at God’s word together, and we are in a series where week after week we’re walking through the book of Romans, which is in the New Testament portion of your Bible, and we’ve come to Romans Chapter six.
Now up to this point, we’ve been diving into a lot of maybe what people consider like heavy theology. Romans, by its nature, people say, is a very theological book. Not that theology isn’t practical, but what happens is there’s a lot of people who really like the book of Romans because they love studying and learning, but sometimes it leaves some people sitting there wanting the little bit saying, “Hey I want some real practical advice about how to live my life.” And I think we’re making that shift.
Last week and this week the book of Romans makes a shift into some of some of the more obvious practical implications about how we ought to live our life. It will shift back into some more detailed theological discourse in a couple of chapters, but for today it’s very much at the practical level about how we ought to live our life.
In particular, it’s inviting us to consider the idea that in a relationship with Jesus Christ, He has given us some new labels, or a new status. He’s helped us to get rid of some old labels on the old status, and give us some new labels on the new status, and he’s inviting us to consider whether or not we are living our lives in a way that is consistent with the new status that we have in Jesus Christ.
Let’s rephrase that. The Scripture today is inviting us to consider whether or not we are living our lives in a way that is consistent with the new status that we have in Jesus Christ.
Our BIG IDEA for you this morning is this… coming out of Romans Chapter six… is that “Jesus“, we said this last week again, we’re not going to get this part wrong around here at Kirkmont, not your husband, not your wife, not your children, not your grandparents, not your coworkers… but “Jesus has set us free from sin“.
In fact our big idea last week was that the moment we enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, he frees us from the reign of sin in our lives. Not that we no longer struggle with sin, not that we no longer desire even to sin, but rather the reign of sin in our life is conquered by a relationship with Jesus Christ… meaning we are no longer powerless to choose that which is right and goodbecause of our relationship with Jesus Christ.
So, the Big Idea,Jesus has set us free from sin, so that.. now here’s the catchy part of this morning, many of us have been brought up and thought about the Scripture of the Christian life as being something along the lines of,
“Jesus has set me free from sin… OK great, now I can go live the life that I want to live… I’m no longer strapped by all these chains and struggles and addictions that maybe I used to once have now I can go do the things that I have all I always wanted to do.”
Well, here’s sort of the catch about all this… Jesus sets us free from sin so that we can become slaves... rather this time, so that we can become slaves to righteousness.
So there’s a transfer of status or title from ‘slaves to sin’, as the Bible was talking about last week, to ‘slaves to righteousness’. And that’s really what it all comes down to this morning, and is inviting us to see whether or not we are living our lives as slaves to righteousness.
All right well let’s look at a passage for this morning. In Romans Chapter six starting in the fifteenth verse. We did the first fourteen last week. I don’t know if we didn’t justice or not but we read him and talked about him for a little bit. And now here we are in Romans Chapter six verse fifteen.
That was an opportunity by the way, for you guys to say, “Yes, yes, you did, you did… OK thanks good OK(laughter)… that’s encouraging (he says with a smile in his voice).
All right, Romans 6:15, the Scripture says,
15 What then?
Just like last week we realize we’re picking up in the midst of a conversation, and so let’s look, just to catch people up to the last verse of last week. The last thing we said last week was this,
14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
“You are not under the law, but you are under grace”… those are two terms you’re going to really want to put to memory this morning. “You’re not under law, but you are under grace”.
So then he begins in verse fifteen by saying,
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?
So he’s introduced to us two frameworks of how we might approach a relationship with God. The first one is what is being referred to here is the law. And this whole framework about how we might relate to God goes something along the lines of this,
“You know God is the type of God who led sort of good people into heaven and he keeps bad people out, and he’s given us the law, and the people who obey the laws and do what they should do the most, are the people he will let in heaven.
At some point in time he will draw the line and say, “Hey, you people broke the law too many times and you don’t get to go into heaven.”
That’s one way to relate to God.
And I would suggest to you that almost every other religion that exists out there, that is essentially the framework in which they relate to God.
And I would also suggest to you that if you’re here this morning and you consider yourself not to be a very religious person, that’s probably also how you relate to God. Whatever impression you have about him is probably something along the lines of, “Hey, he lets good people in and keeps bad people out”.
But the power and the beauty of Christianity in the Bible is that it introduces to us a new framework for how we can relate to God, and summarizes it with the term…
‘Grace’, meaning this whole idea that we’re counting on God to treat us better than we deserve. So instead of in the first framework of the law where we’re saying, “Hey our trust is in ourself, I hope I can be a good enough person and outdo the rest of the people around me… the shift that changes, and goes towards not our character but God’scharacter if we move to the framework of grace, whereby we count on and rely on the idea of God treating us better than we deserve.
So those two frameworks exist and are being addressed here and you should know, if you’re just joining us, that all throughout the Bible and particularly in the first few chapters of The Book of Romans, the Scripture is emphatically trying to shout out at us and say,
“It’s about Grace not about the law!” — that’s the framework you should choose.
But now the question is being raised within the framework of Grace…
“How does the Christian then live?”
Let’s just presume then if you don’t mind, that you in this room have placed your faith in God’s grace in order to get right with him. The question still exists, “How should you live out your life?” How important is your personal righteousness, versus, “Let’s just sin a little, all right?”
And so he says,
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?By_no_means!
So just like last week he answers is own question which is. “That is a ridiculous idea, by no means is Grace meant to be a license for you and I to go ahead and sin and be slaves to sin”, and here’s his rationale. He says to us in verse sixteen,
16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—
It’s kind of stating the obvious isn’t it? … if you’re going to be a slave to thisthen you’ve got to be a slave to it, you’ve got to obey it. And if you’re to be a slave to thisyou got to be a slave to it and obey it, whatever it means, at whatever point, whatever corner, whatever turn in life… your total allegiance is sent to something if you are a slave to it.
So now he gives us two options, and some of you might not like the fact that the Bible only gives you two options. You may also not like the fact that there’s such polarizing choices. But I would suggest to you that these are the choices that the Scripture gives us. He says,
you are either slaves to sin (that’s one of the options), which leads to death, or you can be a slave to obedience, which leads to righteousness?
So there’s a couple of options: you can either be slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. And I would suggest that the Scripture’s trying to clarify thatall of us are one of those two and none of us are neither of them.
OK, we’re either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness which presents a good opportunity for us this morning just to say, “Well, which one am I? Like,
In status… which one am I… like, how does God view me–slave the sin or slave to righteousness?
And also in practice… am I a slave to sin or slave to righteousness?
And we’re going to discover, they could be different from one another. God may view you, as I suggest to many of us this morning, in a much higher way than your actual living your life.
But it invites us to look at that, and see that many people in the church across America are trying to live this life somewhere in between being a slave to sin and being a slave to righteousness. And we like the idea. We justify it by being like normal people.
“I’m just kind of a normal person and I fit in, and I get along with the church crowd I know how to do that thing. But I can also go out and hang out with my non-church friends, and I can sort of get along with them, and I can do a little bit of what they do, and a little bit of what these guys do…“and we kind of like the idea that we can sort of blend in between the two of them.
And I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t have friends in different realms of the world, but what I am suggesting is that we’re not actually not a slave to either of these. We might think that slaves to obedience are just these radical born again Christians who we really don’t identify with because they’re just doing things to crazy. Or we might think that slaves to sin is just what the really bad people do, not you.
But the Scripture tells us we’re not actually in the middle. You might be trying to be in the middle, it might be the most comfortable place to be, but you’re if either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness. And the question of course becomes how do I be one of these… one or the other?
The Scripture is clear that we all start off as slaves to sin, we don’t have to choose necessarily to be this way from the beginning, Scripture says we’re born this way… it’s how we start off life–as slaves to sin.
So the real question becomes, for those of you who are in this room, who are like, “You know what, I’m tired of being this… I not sure exactly how God views me, but I know that I’m tired of living this way, and all the feelings that are associated with living this way. I want to be a slave to obedience and to God’s righteousness. How do how do I get there?”
And we might be surprised to realize that it’s not just a mere human decision, and it’s not even just a mere human effort. In verse seventeen the Scripture tells us this… OK, here’s these couple of options, but in verse seventeen it begins by telling us,
17 But thanks be to God
So here’s a couple options laid out for you, “but thanks be to God”. Immediately we begin to realize that God’s a key player in whether or not we’re slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. He says,
that, though you used to be slaves to sin,
Again going back to what I said, he can say that confidently to a church that he’s never even met in person, because every single person has been a slave to sin before. So he’s able to say,
although you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.
I love that expression there in this translation… “you’ve come to obey in your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance”.
And what he’s talking about here is what some of us refer to as the Gospel, or the Good News about Jesus Christ–that by God’s grace he ensured that this group of people heard about Jesus, they heard that Jesus’ body was broken for them, that His blood has been shed for them…
…no I’m not about to wrap up (LAUGHTER because he was using the Communion Table as an illustration).
They heard those types of things happening, and they realize that this is who Jesus was, and further by God’s grace, he gave them the faith to believe.
Scripture tells us if we believe in Jesus, it’s only because God has given us the faith to believe.
thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance.
If you’re still wondering how active or passive we are in this whole process look what happens next in verse eighteen,
It’s happened to you! God has set you free from sin and you have become… what’s our big idea… not so that you can live your life however you want, you have become slaves to righteousness.
Let’s go back to the slide again if you don’t mind, sorry, so that you become set free from sin so that you have become slaves to righteousness and again as we saw our big idea is this…This is declared as a reality. So what the Scripture is telling us is, “Hey this is your status, you used to be in God’s eyes viewed as a slave to sin and you were over here.” And some of us embrace that character nature way more than others… and our different testimonies and faith stories would share that.
Some of us, we could actually say to the rest of the room the worst thing that we’ve ever done (smiling), but the rest of us would never do that, because at times in our past we have embraced the fact that we are slaves to sin.
And the Scripture tells us this wonderful promise, that our status has been changed–
18 You have been set free and you are now slaves to righteousness.
But notice how I contrasted that with our Big Idea… the Scripture we’re looking at says that it’s a reality, but our Big Idea says so that we can become slaves to righteousness.
And the reason why I brought both of those out is so that you can see the contrast between our reality and our status in God’s eyes, which is we are slaves to righteousness.
As soon as we enter into a relationship with Jesus we become slaves to righteousness in His eyes,but there’s still a life to be had, and we don’t always act according to our status.
And so we’re talking about the idea, and Paul is talking to the church in Rome about the idea of starting to act like_we_are_called_by_God. Because some of you, you can hear all day long, “Hey, you’re a slave to righteousness, God sees you that way.”But you don’t feel that way at all.
And so we’re inviting ourselves to see some of the difference.
So let me just ask you this morning… this is sort of the test to know whether or not you’re just a slave to righteousness in status, or whether or not or not you’re actually a slave to righteousness in practice.
Let me just ask you, if I was to pause, and give us a time of silent prayer of confession… and I just said, “OK God, so and so would like to confess and apologize for…. what comes to mind? Is it in an easy answer?
And if I asked you the week before would it have been the same one? And if I ask you next week would it be the same one, or two, or three things?
For many people in the room it would be… and it is because you may be declared as a slave to righteousness, but you still feel like a slave to obedience. You hear the Scripture saying, “Let’s live in this new status”.
What sin in our life is still there that is proving that we’re acting as slaves to sin and not slaves to obedience?
It would be good for us to hear the Scripture tell us, “You’ve been set free.”
“Hey, slaves to righteousness, you’ve been set free… so why are you still a slave to what you drink?
“Hey slaves to righteousness, you’ve been set free… so why are you still a slave to what you eat?
Slaves to righteousness, you’ve been set free… so why are you still a slave to what other people think of you?
Slaves to righteousness, you’ve been set free… so why are you still a slave to the anger or the judgment that your parents passed on to you?
Slaves of righteousness, you’ve been set free… so why are you still a slave to what your boyfriend or girlfriend wants you to do?
And we could go on and on and see how the Scripture declares us to be slaves of righteousness but how we’re still living out our life as slaves to sin.
The Scripture tells us in verse nineteen, this… it says,
19“I put this in human terms…”or, I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations.
Essentially what Paul is doing is he’s admitting that the whole slavery imagery of slaves to sin, and slaves to righteousness is not a perfect one, it breaks down at some point in time. But he goes on and says,
19bJust as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.
Do you see how we’ve transitioned from the part that God has done, thanks be to God, He has set us free to not Paul saying, “OK, that’s a reality, that’s a status, but here are some responsibilities about how you live out your life… you used to be someone who was following the pattern of ever increasing wickedness…” and now he’s inviting us to turn and move in the the opposite direction.
The thing that stood out to me the most about these two directions Paul gives us is that they’re momentum building… this idea that we can become slaves to impurity, and to “ever-increasing wickedness” 19b.
If I was to ask you what comes to mind when you think of something that you are ashamed of… and you think of that… I could go out on a limb and say my guess is that although you feel ashamed of it right now you’re not as ashamed as when you first did it.
Because what happens is when we start making bad decisions we start walking down patterns and creating patterns and habits and forming character traits in our lives that makes sin easier to walk down… ever increasing wickedness.
You see someone on the news and you think, “How could they ever do this?” Well they didn’t start there… they got there by ever increasing wickedness… these patterns of being a slave to sin, is a momentum building thing.
And some of you have that compound interest working against you… and you feel the weight of years of bad decisions and patterns and habits; and also maybe you’re new to the idea of church; maybe you’re new to the idea of a relationship with Jesus Christ, and you want to turn; you want to have a different pattern of habit but you have all of this weight on you, and it’s very difficult to do.
Let me just encourage you by saying this, that as we aim towards righteousness, and being slaves to righteousness, the same momentum that took us down the pattern of being slaves to sin is working in our favor in being slaves to righteousness. It’s just not easy at first. But over time, as we make the right decisions that honor God and form new patterns and habits, it does become momentum building.
It’s like so many of us who did absolutely nothing physically in November, December, January, February, and March… and April. Anyone else just kind of get off the exercise wagon start eating whatever you want?
I have gout as a result of this!! (LAUGHTER)
That was last week by the way if you were here. I haven’t had Mountain Dew in a whole week… which is almost worse than having gout, quite frankly (laughter)… so I’m making decisions here.
So you don’t do anything for a few months and then you get out and try to go for a walk or go for a little jog, or maybe do some pushups, or lift some weights or something, and it’s very discouraging at first isn’t it. But it’s a momentum building thing, you get going. you get going… and I think the Scripture is telling us the same thing about patterns of ever increasing wickedness being slaves to sin, and also ever increasing righteousness… a righteousness that leads to holiness.
And so I want to encourage you church, that if you set your mind on being a slave to righteousness, it may not come easy at first. I’m not saying it’s ever going to be completely easy. Exercise and physically it’s never completely easy, but there is momentum building that happens in it.
The Scripture then tells us this… it invites us to look at our previous lifestyle; it says in verse twenty,
20-21When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? [The answer is “none at all”.] Those things result in death!
And so he pauses and invites us to consider our former life. Those of us who have a clear contrast in our former life, he invites us, in his wisdom, to think about that, as means in motivation to continue to aim towards being a slave to righteousness–in other words, “Hey you’ve done that, you tried that, you embraced all that, and it left you poor, broke, and lonely, and bitter… and you name it. It didn’t get you anywhere. So why would you go back to that… it provided absolutely nothing for you.
But in contrast to that, in verse twenty two he says,
22But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.
I love this contrast… it says, “OK, you tried it your way and that left you broke, it didn’t do anything for you, now lets become slaves to righteousness and try it God’s way and look at the wonderful promise that comes with it .”
You see, we say this a few times a year here at Kirkmont, but the Christian life requires that we trust,
1. That God knows what’s best for us, and,
2. That God actually wants what’s best for us.
And so when we become a slave to righteousness and live our lives according to His law we discover that he not only knows what’s best for us, but we begin to discover that he wants what’s best for us as well.
I think so many of us often get the mindset that God’s just sort of up there, and he senses, “Oh Dan would really enjoy doing that… I’m going to make sure that’s not allowed.” (laughter).
And we discover that knowing the true Christian life, God not only knows what’s best for us, but he wants what’s best for us. And so when we make the shift of being slaves to sin, and doing whatever our sinful nature wants to do, to being slaves to righteousness and following God’s law… then we discover that it is actually to our benefit.
Trust me… the grace of God will always be able to restrain you and bring you to a place of greater righteousness and holiness than the law ever could before.
The grace of God… it doesn’t release us to be unrighteous, but rather it moves us to a place of greater righteousness than the law would never have been able to do on its own.
And then finally the Scripture tells us this… it’s the famous verse of Romans Chapter three, twenty three that says,
Romans 3:23 all of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,
And then in Romans Chapter six, twenty three the Scripture then tells us, “OK, everyone has sinned, but let’s help you, make sure you see, that the wages of that sin–that which is earned as a result of our sin is death.
Romans 6: 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And we come to the table…. a table where we remember the one who died for us. – Why did Christ have to die?
– How has He set us free?
– Why is this thing all about Jesus? It’s because he is the one who has paid the penalty for our sin.
And notice that while it’s “the wages of sin is death”, it’s that which is earned… and in contrast to that there’s a gift that is available as well.
That gift ofsalvationis received, given to us by God, it’s a gift of eternal life–the opposite of death, that comes through Jesus Christ.
And we are all invitingthis morning, to this table,thoseof you who are here this morning with us who believe in Roman six, twenty three. You don’t have to be able to perfectly explain it, you don’t have to understand all of its steps, but if, in a nutshell, you can say, “Hey this is me… I’m someone who recognizes that I’m a sinner and that my sin deserves death, but that I believe in Jesus Christ, and through him I can have eternal life…” then this table is for you, and we welcome you to it here this morning.