05.03.2009 Never Waste a Good Crisis - The Crisis of Sin (Romans 7-8)
5th May 2009
Your love, O Lord, is better than life. Your love never changes – it is always the same and is the only thing that can be known for sure. We thank You and come into Your presence wanting to know and love You more. Teach us from Your word that we might know and understand You more. In Your name we pray.
Romans I don’t understand my self at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate. 16 I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 But I can’t help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things. 18 I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can’t make myself do right. I wan tot, but I can’t. 19 When I want to do good, I don’t and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway.
20 But if I am doing what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing it, the sin within me is doing it. 21 It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This laawa wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?
When I read that – sometimes – it sounds just like my life – I can really relate to this. Paul is describing the nature of Man – what we are all like.
Larry Crabb is a favorite author of mine and he writes:
Since graduate school days, and probably before, I’ve viewed myself as a shiny red apple sitting in a fruit bowl positioned on the center of a dining-room table. Look at me from a distance and you’ll be drawn. The apple is big, there are no visible bruises, and it’s well shaped.
Come a little closer-read a book I’ve written, attend a seminar I’m leading, listen to me teach the Bible—and your impression that the apple is good fruit might be strengthened. You may want to pick it up and take a bite.
If you do, you’ll likely enjoy the taste. Have a conversation with me, come to me for spiritual direction, join a small group with me, combine your gifts with mine to develop a ministry—and you might conclude that indeed I’m the juicy, substantial, sweet-tasting apple I appear to be.
But I know. I know what you don’t know and what I’m determined to never let you discover. There’s a worm in the center. A few more bites, and you’ll spit me out. I must keep you from moving too close. To know me much is to like me. To know me fully will reveal how disgusting I really am.
I’ve been speaking publicly for thirty years. I’m a good speaker. God has gifted me and used me to bless many from behind a pulpit or podium. After I speak, I often hear, “You’re so vulnerable, so honest. You let me see that you struggle too, that you don’t have it all together.”
Those words are said admiringly. I chuckle with a wry inward smile. When I let you see a little of the worm, you’re even more drawn to me. But if I let you see it all, you’d never listen to me again. I choose my level of vulnerability. I know what I’m doing. I’m no fool. I know how to survive in the Christian world.
We all have this worm in us – the old nature – the sinfulness we were born with – and even after we come to Christ, it wants to rear its ugly head. We get good at hiding it – so no one else sees it.
How to not waste a good crisis - The Crisis of Sin.
It is that which we do and struggle with.
I like how he ends this
“Oh what a miserable person I am – who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?” – Rom
It may be a sinful habit – and we’ll be doing well for months – and then it catches us – I thought I was doing better – We can feel dominated by this. How can I get over this?
Some argue that Paul is referring to his pre-conversion days. Others think it refers to after. I would propose that it is both! This can be true of a person before he comes to Christ and it can be true after he comes to Christ. I think he is talking about a person who lives his life focused on what he ought to do. When we focus our attention on what we are supposed to do – God’s moral code – and live our life based on – am I doing the right thing? That is whom Paul is talking to – the person who is trying to live the life based on DUTY – You can’t do that, can you?! That is the basis of faith – it is not obligation – it is faith. So many come to church because they ought to – they read because they are supposed to. We think that is the way it is supposed to be. But Paul says, when you try to live the Christian life that way – you find yourself falling short.
There are five points in this passage for the person who tries to live as he OUGHT.
Paul is saying –
First - This moral code is right. They are holy – it is the right way to live. We know that inside of us – we shouldn’t lie, we shouldn’t steal – we know that. This is a picture of God’s character – that is who He is and who He wants us to be.
v. 15 – I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it; instead, I do the very thing I hate.
Second – Yes, this is good – and in his heart, he really longs to do what the moral code tells him to do. That is how we are. We want to live according to the moral code. It is almost like he hates himself for it. So it is with us - Our desire is to be obedient to God – but when we find ourselves failing, we think, why did I do that again – we can hate ourselves for it.
When I want to do good, I don’t and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway…
Paul’s third point: The harder he tried the more he failed.
We think, Oh, if you are struggling with something – you are not trying hard enough. That may be true at school or on your job – but it is not true in your spiritual life.
We want to be patient with our kids or friends. You don’t want to get angry – but it comes out. Just push the right buttons. There are people who can bring out the worst in you – circumstances and stresses that bring those out. If you are honest – you know what they are. For some it is finances – for others, relationships you can’t abide by. Sometimes those people live in your house!
Fourth – – I can’t help myself – it is the sin inside me that makes me do these things – 18 –I know I am rotten through and through – so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. 19 When I want to do good, I don’t and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway.
Fourth - You are not able to do this in yourself. If you are trying to do this – you will fail.
This moral code reveals the worm inside of us. What you keep failing in – that is the worm living inside your shiny red apple!
Fifth – 24 Oh what a miserable person I am – Who will free me?
We need a solution – help – there is an answer – there is a solution. First – there are two outcomes to living a life based on what you are SUPPOSED to do – trying to live under the Law.
There are two possible outcomes
First – you become very successful compared to others at living the moral code. There are some who do a great job at it. The result is pride and arrogance. There is a group of people called the Pharisees. That is what you become. They had it down to a science – they wrote books about it!
Think of the older son in the Parable of the Prodigal. “I always did what you asked – I never disobeyed you, father.” But he became prideful and arrogant. The Pharisees kept the worm hidden – and never deal with the worm – the real problem!
The second outcome is failure – the result of that is guilt – and you decide – if I am failing, I am failing all the way – that would be the tax collectors and sinners. Like the younger son who spent all of his money on prostitutes and free living.
Those are the two outcomes – who can free us? Rom. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. We don’t have to have our lives be that way – thanks be to God. I am serving the law of God. The answer is Jesus Christ. It is because of the gospel. Christ came and gave His life for our sin – all of it – that is the answer. It is not trying harder, doing more, joining a small group – it is Jesus Christ and what He did for you on the cross. May we never boast in anything except the cross of Christ.
We all know the gospel – Christ died for our sins – but it doesn’t always change us. How do we appropriate what He did – and take possession of it in such a way that it transforms us? First – thanks be to God! A key – you must be grateful for what God did for you – to have an appreciation for what He did on the cross. Unless you are willing to look at the worm, you won’t be grateful for the blood He shed.
Remember the story about the dinner party? The prostitute comes in and washes Jesus’ feet with her hair…The Pharisee sees and says – If he knew what type of woman she is… And Jesus tells a story – two had debt, one large, one small – and they were both forgiven. Who would be more grateful? The one with the larger debt.
Romans 8 – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
We must first understand that we are forgiven – there is no condemnation – no guilt. Guilt is Satan’s primary tool to keep you addicted! The guilt keeps you within the slavery – it holds you and keeps you from breaking out. There is no condemnation – you are forgiven.
With forgiveness comes confession – acknowledge the failure – it is really hard to believe that understanding our forgiveness has transformational power. It has the most power to transform us.
Rom. 8: 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
I think what He says here – there is a new moral code. We are living by the old moral code – but there is a brand new code – it is of the spirit, not of the letter – freedom, not of slavery – of life, not of failure and death. We need to focus on that new law – living in the power of the spirit as opposed to an obligation to a moral code.
It is real – the reason we can do that – Jesus accomplished the moral code for you. It is done for you. Jesus paid it for you. In reality, this takes a long time to appropriate – but we can’t say we can do whatever we want – see 6:1 – can we do whatever we want? No.
You’ve got it all wrong.
The issue is that now, in understanding what Christ did on the cross for us, it makes it possible to have a different experience than what we had at the beginning. This doesn’t happen until we change our purpose.
Romans 8:5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;
Where is your focus? Are you focused on this life of freedom or these moral codes that you are trying to accomplish? Are you focused on the cross? Is this your north star? Your fixed point.
There is a parallel passage
Gal. 2: 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"
The focus is not on the moral code, but on the cross –
It is a whole different perspective – based on relationship – not on obligation. That is our focus – that is what we go back to. NOT – I blew it here and here. But He loved me and died for me – then we see transformation. That transforms us.
Gal. 5: 13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
So he is saying – we have this new focus – on the cross – what does it do? Causes us to know and love God and to know and love people. The solution to Paul’s dilemma – this crisis of sin – to focus on the cross that we might know and love God and people. That is how you overcome an addiction. This is how you get victory over sin.