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Sovereign King Church

Declaration of (in) Dependence Part 13

Over the past few weeks, in our study of Romans, Paul has talked a lot about how the Law of God is binding on every human conscience.  Now there is profound truth and application in those comments, but discussing the effects of God’s law on every human being is not something that folks talk about a whole lot. 

  • But every Jewish person in Paul’s day had a distinct understanding of the binding effect of the law on their lives. 
  • Now you may say, “Well that is great, but I’m not Jewish.”  But Paul has already said that the Gentiles, non Jewish born people (most of you), when they do what the law requires by nature, they show that they to are also under the law.
  • Romans 2:14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them
  • So according to scripture, every person is under the law.  Now you may not agree with that, or in a fiercely American kind of way say, “I’m not under any law that I don’t agree to be under, but theologian Ray C. Stedman lays out a wonderful case to support Paul’s argument that everyone is under the law.  Let me give you an example:
    • Have you ever been proud of an achievement?
      • Why?  There must be a law in place for you to feel proud of yourself.  The pride comes from achieving something that is lofty, high, or of some value.  Pride is evidence that everyone lives under the law.
  • Have you ever been critical of others?
    • How could you be critical of someone if there wasn’t a law?  When you criticize someone, you are saying they have violated some common law.  Even if they just break an agreement with you, you are saying that is inherently wrong to do that.  Criticism is evidence that everyone lives under the law.
  • Have you ever been reluctant to admit your own failures?
    • No one and I mean no one wants to admit that they failed.  Why is that?  Well, the reason is that we all believe that there is a standard to which we are held, and when we don’t meet that standard, our pride gets in the way.  Failure to admit your failures is evidence that everyone is under the law.
  • Have you ever suffered with discouragement or defeat?
    • Now I know that just among this congregation, you struggle with feelings of defeat and discouragement.  Why is that?  Do you feel like you should achieve more?  Do you feel like you’ve made too many mistakes?  Do you feel like others are earning what you wish you could earn?  Struggling with discouragement and defeat are evidence that everyone is under the law.
    • So, hearing that, you might wonder what the big deal is. 
      • The point Paul is making is that every human being, whether religious or not, is trying to measure their self-worth and their value by how well they perform.  Though some folks seem to be pretty successful at it, we already know from just last week in Romans 6:23 that everyone’s effort only earns death because all efforts apart from God are tinged, influenced, and shaped by sin and not righteousness. 
      • Now, wouldn’t you like to work hard, strive, and put all your energies into efforts that produced good fruit, hope for you and your family, joy, and peace?  Wouldn’t you like to be free from pride, criticism, discouragement and defeat?  Wouldn’t you like to please God and give glory to God as opposed to accruing His wrath? 
        • Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, all of that is not only possible but is secure for you.
        • In light of that, let’s ask this big picture question this week: 

 

Big Picture Question:  How does Christ’s work enable you to live a fruitful, hopeful, and Spirit filled life?

 

7:1 Or do you not know, brothers —for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

 

  • Paul states this obviously and matter of factly:  the law of God is binding to a person while they are alive.  If you live and breathe, then the binding truths and consequences of God’s law are upon each person.  For example:
    • If you are alive, you should not lie.  If you do, you break the law and are subject to the penalties of the law.
    • If you are alive, you should worship God and God alone.  If you worship anyone or any thing else, then you break the law, and are subject to the penalties of the law.
    • Paul makes a slightly difficult analogy here to prove this point.  Let’s walk through it as simply we can, and what I encourage you to consider as we start is this:  this is not a treaty on divorce or justification about divorce.  It is not even teaching on divorce.  In fact, it is an analogy about two people being married.  That’s very important to keep in mind.
    • The analogy goes something like this:
      • As long as a woman is married to man, she will stay married to that man until death.  Again, remember, this is not a treatise on divorce, and the couple in the analogy are clearly not divorced.
      • So if this woman is married to this man unless this man dies.  Then of course, she is no longer married to him.
      • If while married to her husband, she begins to live with another man, she will be committing adultery. 
      • But again, if the husband dies, she is free from being married to that man and is free to marry another if she so chooses.
      • The principle of Paul’s analogy is that the law of God has a binding effect on you while you are living.  Death is the only thing that separates you from that law.
      • Since all are guilty by the Law of God, either you need to die or someone or something else does.  Look at verse 4

 

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.

 

  • Paul says, “You have died.  In Jesus Christ, through His death and your union with His death by faith, you have died to the law.  You now belong to another.  Who do you belong to now?
    • If you have faith in Christ, you now belong to Him who was raised from the dead. 
    • And to what purpose have you been raised?  Look at the end of verse 4.
      • You have been raised from death so that you may now bear fruit for God.
      • Now, don’t let the expression pass you by without giving it its proper consideration.  One of the intentions of Jesus’ work is of course to pay your penalty of sin and forgive you, but the other intention is of course to enable you work hard in righteousness and actually bear fruit pleasing to God.        
        • As verse 5 says, prior to knowing and being known by Jesus, you worked in the power of yourself or in the flesh as Paul says. 
        • The law of God did nothing more than cause you to rebel and sin more and the only fruit you could bear was the fruit of death.
        • Let me give you an example:
          • Right now, amid this congregation, there are a few of you that are experiencing this.
            • In fact just this past week, I have spoken with two different people who walking in their relationships in brand new ways.  They realize that they have worked and strived and been frustrated in trying to be a good spouse or a good parent, and the end result of those efforts have been futility, anger, and frustration. 
            • But now, they realize they are striving to be a good spouse or parent or student or human being with the power of Christ helping them.  No longer are they doing these things apart from God or even against God.  They are doing it in the power of God…and seeing real results.
  • Now some of you have either forgotten or never experienced this.
    • Maybe you have had times in your life when you earnestly sought to obey and live your life by the power of God
      • You can remember honestly confessing sin and walking in obedience.
      • You can remember struggling with difficult circumstances and reading your Bible and praying and finding real hope.
      • You can remember trying to make every relationship you have glorifying to God by His power.
      • But somewhere along the line, you have forgotten these things and you are back to struggling under your own effort.
  • Some of you have no idea what I’m talking bout.
    • You have no hope that your life could be better.
    • You have no hope of your relationships improving.
    • You have no hope.           
    • For all 3 of you that I just described, hear, verse 6.

 

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. 

 

  • Paul describes the new life in Christ in 3 ways here:
    • You are released from the law
    • You have died to captivity.
    • You can serve in a new way by the Spirit.
    • Let’s look at each one of those in detail.
      • First, what does it mean to be released from the law?
        • Now Paul has been very clear that he upholds the law and that through Christ you are now empowered to obey and no longer be a slave to sin, so Paul is not getting rid of the law or the precepts of God there. 
        • What Paul is emphasizing is that you are released from the judgment that comes with violating God’s law and you are released from the slavery to sin that your inability to obey the law demonstrated.
        • Simply, your release is freedom from judgment and slavery.
  • Secondly, what does it mean that you are no longer held captive?
    • If you are wondering if Paul is being purposefully redundant, he is.  Paul over and over again wants to assure you and empower you to let you know that through Christ there is real power over sin.  Through Christ, you are no longer a slave to sin.  You are now a slave to righteousness.
    • Think about it in this way.
    • Paul has described the human heart before knowing Christ as enslaved to sin which means that apart from God’s help, no one can choose to obey or glorify God.  The heart chooses evil.
      • If through Christ you are enslaved to righteousness, then you have no choice but to obey.  That is how assured the change is in your life.
      • That’s why Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 - 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God,
      • Now when you hear that, you might ask, “Well Gordon, if I can’t help but obey and I’m a new creation, why then do things continue to go so poorly for me?  Why are there some sins that I just keep on doing?”  Let me answer that by applying it to the most practical of situations.
        • The most common place for sin to run rampant is in your home.  It is the place where you can fly to the heights or live in the slums.
        • For example, some of you are wondering why you and your spouse just can’t quit arguing. 
          • You wonder why everything is a battle.  
          • You wonder why you argue about same old things. 
          • You wonder if you’ll just get divorced once the kids go off to college. 
          • Some of you are wondering if you should just go ahead and get divorced now. 
          • Hit control, alt, delete, on your marriage.
  • Then you hear me say that as a slave to righteousness you can’t help but obey and think, “Yeah right, I don’t see it.” 
  • Well, some of us in this room are in the some pretty bad situations at home.  Yet, we don’t spend a ton of time praying that God would repair our marriages or cause things to change.  We just walk through same poop day in and day out.
  • We’re zombies but instead feeding on brains we feed on the rage that we cause in our spouse.
  • And you want know why you don’t pray, and I mean give yourself over to prayer, so much so that your kids ask, “Why are you praying so much?” – you want to know why you don’t pray and tap into this transformation that God has promised?
    • You don’t want to change.  You would rather be right or warm yourself with your bitterness than change
    • If you asked God to move in a mighty way and cause you to start acting like a new creation who is a slave to righteousness, you would have to change.
    • And you don’t want to so you don’t.
  • Yet there is so much power and enabling grace from God to help you.
  • Hear me:  you are not captive to sin any more.  So if you continue to choose to live in sin, I think you have some hard questions to answer because all the power in the world is available for you to change.
  • How does that change come about?  That is the third way in which you have a new life according to verse 6.  Through Christ, we now serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. 
  • Now this verse is not one that everyone agrees on the interpretation.  So let’s eliminate what this verse is NOT saying.
    • This verse is not saying that the Spirit is going to tell you things contrary to the Word of God. 
      • No, Ephesians 6 says that the Word of God IS the Word of the Spirit “and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
        • So the Spirit does not contradict the Word.
      • So if anyone ever tells you that Spirit has told them to do something that is contrary to the Word of God, then they are being deceived.  They are listening to a spirit alright, but it is not the Holy Spirit.
  • Secondly, this verse is not saying that encouragement from the Spirit or presumed words from the Spirit are more authoritative than the Word of God.
    • I John 4 says that the way to discern whether you are being influenced by the Holy Spirit or some other spirit is to test it.  What is that test?  The test of whether you are being influenced by the Spirit is that that Spirit agrees with the scriptural testimony of who Jesus is and therefore proves itself to be the Spirit of Truth.
  • So what then does it mean that we live by the Spirit and not the written code?
    • It means that now God has enabled you to obey.  Before you knew Christ you were enslaved to sin, but now the Spirit helps you to obey.
    • In fact what the Spirit does is remind you or help you remember the word and therefore fuel the word in your life.  For example:
      • Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
      • The Spirit fuels the word of God in your life.
      • You see the Spirit accompanies the Word of God in the life of the believer to make the law of God effective in your life and not destructive. 
        • Ephesians 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
        • The Holy Spirit seals those truths to your heart.
      • The Spirit brings joy in your life to the Word of God.
        • 1 Thessalonians 1:6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
        • The Spirits the Bible joyful to you.
      • You are enabled by the Spirit to truly worship God now.
        • John 4:23But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
        • The Spirit causes you to obey the word.
      • The Spirit gives you understanding of the Word of God.
        • John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
        • The Spirit of God doesn’t take away the law of the Word of God in you life.  The Spirit of God affirms to you that you are a Child of God, part of the family of God.  You are not enslaved to sin but joyfully a slave to God’s word and obedience to it.
          • You are now empowered to produce good, righteous fruit instead of stinky, smelly, dead fruit.
          • Folks in this day and age, deep introspection or objective thinking is a pretty rare commodity.  What I mean is that it pretty hard to make a fair assessment about yourself.  No matter how smart you are, you brain is hard wired for self-protection and sadly rationalization and justification most days.
            • What I mean is that day in and day out, your brain tells you to protect yourself, do what is most comfortable, and fight against anything that conflicts with that.
            • That is why when you get in a disagreement with someone, you are much more of an expert on what they have done wrong as opposed to owning what you have done wrong.
            • What makes it worse is most perceptions of yourself are skewed.
              • We all think more of ourselves than we should.
              • The Law of God, empowered by the Spirit of God
                • Enables you to see yourself honestly and others around you honestly.
                • The Law of God, empowered by the Spirit of God
                  • Enables you to ask for and walk in repentance when they show you your sin.
                  • The Law of God, empowered by the Spirit of God
                    • Doesn’t make you dread obeying.  They make you want to obey.
                  • The Law of God, empowered by the Spirit of God
                    • Doesn’t make the commands of God burdensome to you.  They make you love the commands of God because now they don’t condemn you, they lead you in righteousness, goodness, and joy.
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