The Terrible Twins
THE TERRIBLE TWINS (Rom 7:7-25)
new HOPE FOR TODAY
We are looking at Rom 5-8 the section in Romans which explains the fruit or result of our justification. The hope, the confidence that we have as a result of our justification. What is immediately apparent is that the gospel gives us a new hope which is not just for the future, but for today. The gospel transforms our standing or status before God, but it also transforms our daily walk with God and we can never go back and live the same way again.
· Rom 6 – we can never go back and live for sin, serving sin. Our lives can never come under the dominion and control of sin again because we have been united to Christ and so have died to sin and raised to a new life.
· Rom 7 – we can never go back and live under law again where our lives are controlled and dominated by serving the Law
· Rom 8 – we are led by the Spirit to serve God in a whole new way, which Paul contrast to serving sin and serving the law.
We died to sin (Rom 7:1-6)
Rom 7:1-6 introduces us to the reality that we have (past tense) died to the law and explains why we had to die to the law. Read Rom 7:1-6
· Why would we have to be freed from the Law? We can understand why we need to be free from the controlling power and influence of sin, but why do we need to be redeemed from the controlling power and influence of the law?
· 5: We had to be widowed to the Law in order to be married to Christ. We had to be freed from our obligations to the law so that we could enjoy a love relationship with Jesus Christ. 1-4 explains that death is all that could free us from those obligations.
· The Law didn’t sanctify us, it didn’t make us holy or lead us to live righteous, abundant lives. In fact, it partnered with indwelling sin to produce death.
· Vs 5 is a shocking reality – the law didn’t provide a fence which keeps me back from sin, it aroused sin, ignited sin – it provided railway tracks that my sin could speed along unto death.
So why did God give the Law? If this is the effect that the Law has on people, then why did God give it in the first place?
· Paul is going to spend the rest of the chapter explaining that the Law is good, the Law is not itself is not the problem, its indwelling sin that is the problem. The problem is not with the content of the Law per say, the problem is not with the standards of the Law, the problem is that the Law doesn’t deal with indwelling sin, it doesn’t transform us or enable us, or offer us any help to meet the standards it sets.
· So the Law was designed by God to show us our need of grace. To show us that we need God to give us what we do not have = perfect righteousness, and to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves = put sin to death and lead us in practical righteousness.
· The Gospel is the good news that in Jesus Christ God gives us and does for us what we could not do by ourselves, for ourselves.
Read Rom 7:24 - 8:4
· So this is where Paul is heading in chapter 7 to show us our wretchedness, our weakness, our inability. To show us the powerlessness of the law to deal with sin, so that we could appreciate God’s grace, God’s gift in Jesus Christ.
o Freedom from the condemnation of the law – 8:1 no condemnation!
o But note also, a new way of living. The righteousness standards of the law, not abandoned, but fulfilled by the gift of Christ’s Spirit at work in us, leading us to walk or live in a new way.
· So Rom 7 is meant to help us appreciate Rom 8 and that is in fact why God gave the Law. That’s the argument of Rom 7. The Law was never intended by God to be the means for us to attain righteousness, it was never meant to lead us to righteousness, it was meant to lead us to Christ and in Christ to be given what we could not attain to.
1:The Law is powerful to condemn (7-12)
2: The Law is powerless to change (13-23)
Therefore Christ must free us from the condemnation of the Law and lead us to live changed lives by grace.
3: The Law points us to Christ (24-25)
Read Rom 7:7-25
THE LAW IS POWERFUL TO CONDEMN (7:7-14)
Law incites sin (7:5)
• 7:5 – Made almost shocking statement - sin aroused through the Law. Law was instrument that brought us into death.
• This section is an expansion and explanation of that statement.
• Problem not the law itself, but sinful nature, this propensity to sin that we are born with and continue to be plagued by.
Notice the emphasis in the text
· 8: Sin seizing an opportunity, produced covetousness
· 9: sin came alive
· 11: Sin, seizing an opportunity, deceived me and killed me
Who, or what is the main subject of the actions in this paragraph? Sin. Sin is the main problem, not law.
But then there are these prepositional phrases which tell us how sin operated.
· 8: Through the commandment
· 9: When the commandment came
· 11: through the commandment
I’ve called this message “The terrible twins” because we see here how indwelling sin partnered up with the law to produce destruction and death.
· Sin is the powerful arm that kills and destroys– the Law is the sword in sins hand.
· Sin is the mouth that bites and devours – the Law gives that mouth teeth
· The law is a powerful weapon to preserve and protect life, but sin picks that gun up and uses it to kill and destroy.
So why did God give the Law? Did God make a mistake?
Would not have known sin (7:7)
Sin used the law to deceive and devour and produce death. But even while sin was doing all that with the Law, God was using the Law in an even more powerful way, to bring condemnation.
· 7 The law showed me sin. I would not have known sin or recognized sin if it had not been for the law.
· 8 apart from the law, sin lies dead or dormant. The law brings sin to life. It was there all along, but the Law exposes it, brings it out, brings it into the light. Sin is like a cancer which is silently killing me until the Law brings it out so that I can see it.
· 12 The law is good, it accomplishes exactly what God intends, it exposes and reveals sin, it brings sin out and shows it for what it is. VS 13 the law doesn’t produce sin, but it does provide the occasion for sin to reveal its true colors.
The death of self-righteousness
In the hands of sin the law produces one kind of death, for sure. But in the hands of God it produces another kind of death, the death of self-righteousness. The law powerfully condemns, it show you and I that we are sinners and rightly condemned, guilty as charged, deserving of wrath.
Which leads us recognize our need for Christ.
Gal 3:21-26. The law was our guardian or tutor or mentor – guiding us toward Christ, showing us our need of Grace. Now that grace has come, no longer under that guardian.
• The condemning function of the Law is good to lead us to salvation, but it is not good to lead us to sanctification.
• 8:1-2. In order that we might be sanctified in our inner being, by the Spirit – have to be freed from condemning influence of the law.
• Condemnation by the Law is a hindrance to sanctification by the Spirit! This is so important that you understand this!.... guilt leads us to Christ – guilt does not lead us to holiness of life, in fact it hinders it....
So important you understand this, because we can hinder the Spirits work in sanctification because we fail to grasp this important truth.
1. God's standard of righteousness: how we should love Him, love others, sacrifice ourselves, give our money, care for the poor, use our mouths....
2. We look at that standard and it is so incredibly high, so impossible to attain. Then we are faced with a few choices:
◦ Hide myself: Run from the standard. Don't want to face it, don't want to know what God says about this, don't want to face it, just pretend God does not demand this
◦ Justify myself: Lower the standard, change the standard into something I could attain to, something I am meeting. Become obsessed with defining the standard then that I can justify myself by.
◦ Or compare myself: to others say, well, doing better than them, compared to them I am not too bad. Constantly competing with other people as to righteousness. If they seem to be doing better, avoid them because they make me feel too guilty or look for faults in other areas so that overall I am still doing o.k compared to them.
◦ These are all a response to feeling condemned under the Law, Hide myself, justify myself, compare myself – they don't promote true righteousness of heart – they promote self-righteousness so that at the end of the day we don't feel too bad about ourselves.
Grace allows us to see sin for what it is. It allows us to be able to see how impossibly high God’s standards of righteousness are and how hopelessly far we fall short. It gives us a place to go with that Gap….to the cross.
How does God want us to respond to this gap, this great gulf between who we are and what we do and who God is and what He requires? By clinging to the cross, by running to the cross, by throwing ourselves on the mercy and grace of God in Christ.
• God, again, I must confess how wretched and vial and filthy I am – thank you for the cross, thank you for the cross! Thank you for who I am in Christ and what you have done for me in Christ.
• Clinging to the cross we can pursue righteousness without fear, guilt and shame.
Christian life is characterized by confession, by brokenness over sin, rather than self-justification, self-confidence, self-promotion
· Call it sin
· Call it forgiven
· Call on God to change you.
Go to Christ with your sin and leave it at the cross where it is paid for in full. Go to Christ with your desire to change, with your powerlessness to change.
Law is powerful to condemn – should constantly be driving us to the cross
The Law is powerless to change (14-25)
We all relate to this next section of text don't we.
What does this text teach us about the Law and sanctification? Law is powerless to sanctify, powerless to cause me ,or move me, or enable me to live a more godly life – that is the major point of this text.
Jews high view of law
Jews had such a high view of the Law not only to justify (bring you into a right relationship with God) but also to sanctify (to cause you to live righteouslly). One Rabbinic writing
“Even so did the Holy One, blessed be He, speak unto Israel, 'My children, I created the evil desire but I [also] created the Torah as its antidote; if you occupy yourselves with the Torah, you will not be delivered into its hand.'” (Moo, pg 463)
This passage says never – the law doesn't help you deal with indwelling sin one bit.
• Vs 14-16: Law is good. The fact that I want to keep the law show that I know it’s good.
• Vs 17-20: But I am not good. The good I want to do, I don't do. The evil I don't want to do – that I keep on doing.
• Vs 21-24: The problem is not with the Law of God, the problem is with the Law of sin, this principle of sin that is at work in my body – that wages war against my mind and makes me a prisoner of the law of sin (23), that continually draws me toward sin.
• Vs 24: What a wretch I am because the law is good, but I am not, and the law doesn't help me deal with the power and influence of sin one bit.
We overcomplicate this passage so much by over analysing every phrase when the main point is clear - the law cannot and does not deal with the power and influence of sin. There is a big debate amongst those who interpret this passage – as to whether Paul is talking about himself before he became a Christian, or after he became a Christian. That misses the point. The main point of this passage is not about Paul or his conversion experience, but about the Law and its inability to move us toward godliness. He presents this truth dramatically and personally in a way we can all relate to – we have all experienced what he is talking about here. We can hardly deny the truth he is presenting here because we have all experienced it.
Who rescues us from this dillema? God through Jesus Christ. How does He rescued us? Read: 6:14; 7:6; 8:1-4. So, God has provided a solution to this dilemma through giving us His Spirit who transforms us inwardly to His righteousness. Will spend the next 2 weeks understanding how we co-operate with the Spirit, but want us to consider first, what we learn from this text.
An external, fixed code of conduct does not move us in any way toward holiness, toward inner transformation. Again, it merely shows us where we are falling short.
• Yet this is the essence of legalism, when we set fixed standards for conduct; rigid do's and don't and think that by following those, by adhering to those – we are being inwardly transformed – we are not!!!
• Before we quickly move on to Rom 8 and how we live by the Spirit, we need to stop for a moment and consider how a major milestone in our sanctification is for us to be set free from the Law, to be released from its power and dominion and control in our life.
• Our churches and our lives are full of legalism – and we need to see it for what it is. Legalism doesn’t move us toward godliness, it doesn’t help us serve Christ, in fact as we’ve seen here – it has the opposite effect.
• Example of child growing up in home under parents laws/ rules – then adopts their values and tidies room based on inner compulsion rather than external laws and punishments.
• Swearing: become a believer, swear like a trooper. Learn that is not acceptable, eventually learn to mutter those same words under your breath, or maybe some other, more acceptable words. Or maybe learn to only say them in your head. It that transformation into the image of Christ? No. Jesus said from the heart the mouth speaks, so those words are merely a reflection of what is going on in the heart. Until the heart has been transformed, so that from the heart, when someone is unkind you respond with forgiveness and compassion and you say things that reflect that attitude “Father forgive them, they know not what the do.” Merely not cursing, falls so far short of the kind of transformation God is wanting to produce.
• Devotions: Most often when people are telling me how their relationship with God is going, they tell me how their daily devotions are going. Believers should have a time set aside every day, preferably in the morning, to read the Bible and pray. Where does the Bible teach that?... It doesn't. But we set up this external, legalistic standard. We become obsessed with how often, for how long and if we don't get it right we live with so much condemnation and when we do get it right we live with so much self-righteousness. Our relationship with God becomes measured by whether or not we have had our morning devotions. Not saying devotions are bad, or that shouldn't have them – but what is God's standard? “My soul longs for you, my flesh faints for you” (ps 61) “As the deer pants for living water, so my soul longs for you” (Ps 63) “Day and night I mediate upon your Word” “My soul clings to you” - God wants to transform our inner desires so that we long for him and seek Him above all else and often we stop pursing this inner transformation because we become satisfied with the superficial, legalistic standard we have set for ourselves. The external standards we set as a measure of righteousness becomes a hindrance to the Spirits work in our lives. Again, is it bad to set aside a time in the morning to spend reading the Bible and praying – no, unless that is what we become satisfied with.
• One more example: Watching t.v. Right wrong, how much is right and how much is wrong and what is right to watch and what is wrong? We are so obsessed with setting external legalistic standards of righteousness that we can aim for and attain to. Comparing, don't watch as much t'v as them or judging – how could they have watched that! …
• A few times now we have got an old movie that we had watched many years ago. It was an all age movie and we remember it being good, clean fun. We got ¼ way through and had to put it off because it was so repulsive. We didn't enjoy it at all, we were offended by it. God has obviously done something in our hearts that our response was so different. There was nobody telling us we shouldn't watch a movie like that, no standard we had set – all ages, so this is o.k. This was a heartfelt response that we didn't have 15 years ago. 15 years ago, as believers, we enjoyed and were entertained by that movie! Quite frankly, if some other believer had told us that we shouldn't be watching movies like that – we would have wondered what all the fuss was about. And we might even have stopped watching movies like that because it is not the “done thing” – but our hearts would not have been changed one bit – our hearts were still delighting in and being entertained by things that Jesus Christ died for. Now our hearts are still delighting in things Christ died for, hopefully not the same things and to the same degree.
• God doesn't just want us to not watch certain movies, He wants us to so transform our desires and values that we wouldn't want to. That we would see them as He sees them and have the same heartfelt reaction to them as He does whether good or bad.
• A church that has a list of approved movies whether it’s written or unwritten – is not helping its members be more like Christ – its hindering them! When we define rigid standards and impose them on others, standards for what they should wear, or how much they should give, or where and how they should be involved in church activities – we are not helping people grow in Christ-likeness, we are hindering them….Yet our churches and families and personal lives are full of laws like that.
• A church that is watching 2-18 movies is probably not holy – neither is the church who is not watching them because the pastor says so….
We knew a missionary couple who worked for a few years in Morocco where the women wore the Hijab, those dresses with the veils which cover you from head to toe and you can literally only see their eyes. They said, you wouldn’t believe how seductive some of the ladies could be with their eyes!... They’ve covered their whole body with the external law of modesty and propriety – but it does not change the heart of lust one bit.
1:The Law is powerful to condemn (7-12) – we need to be free from the condemnation of the law
2: The Law is powerless to change (13-23) – we need a greater power to change us from within
3: The Law points us to Christ (24-25)
3: The Law points us to Christ (24-25)
Vs 24 – this is a wretched position to be in. My greatest problem with sin lies deep within. Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Vs 25 – thanks be to God through Jesus Christ.
8:3 God has done for us and in us what the Law was powerless to do because it was unable to overcome sin in the flesh. Who has overcome sin in the flesh, who has overpowered these terrible twins? – God in Jesus Christ.
Sermon on the mount
That was Jesus’ point in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5. Just turn there for a moment - when he said
· 5:21-22You’ve heard it said of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever says “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire.
· 5:27-28 You’ve heard it said, ‘you shall not commit adultery’ But I say to you, whoever looks at a women with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
· 5:38-40 You’ve heard it said, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you Do not resist the one who is evil., but if someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also, if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well….”
· 5:43-45 You’ve heard it said ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your father who is in heaven.”
These external rigid codes of conduct do not fulfil God’s righteous requirements – we need a greater righteousness than that, a deeper righteousness than that….
How did Jesus start this whole section of teaching? Matt 5:17-20. Jesus hasn’t come to abolish the law, but to fulfil it.
How do we come to have a righteousness that exceeds that of the Pharisees, that goes beyond mere obligation to external laws and standards? Who is it that can remove the heart of stone and give us a heart of flesh, who can take these laws and rewrite them on our hearts so that we live over and above and beyond the external standards of the Law?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ out Lord. We had to be widowed from the Law so that we could be married to Christ. We had to be freed from the obligation of the Law so we could be devoted to Christ.
Before we even look at the details Romans 8 at how the Spirit leads us – what do you think the focus of the ministry of the Spirit will be? He is going to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ and all He is and all He has done and is doing for us.
2 Cor 3:4-9…..17-18
The ministry of the Spirit turns our eyes away from sin and away from Law to gave upon Jesus Christ and all we have been given in Him, all we are in Him.