In the sermon on 11.24.13, we continued looking at Romans 7, now studying verses 7-13. We’ve just heard in chapter 6 that we need to do good. But then Paul comes along and tells us that grace reigns and that righteousness is a gift. Keeping the law to earn God is a wrong conclusion to “do good”. The law does not sanctify. Sanctification is not achieved -nor is our right position before God maintained- by being oriented toward the law. Are you ever disgusted with yourself because you cannot achieve “the standards”? Do you struggle with those in your heart who do not have the same conviction as you? Do you make others feel guilty by lording the law over them instead of encouraging through a relationship of respect and honor? These are clues that we are oriented toward the law and not toward Christ. We need to learn what mercy and righteousness really mean and be liberated from these types of legalism. The law does, however, serve several purposes and that is what Paul explains in these verses.
1) The law reveals a knowledge of sin. This a little different than knowing intellectually or internally that we’ve done something wrong because it feels that way. No, transgression of the law of God is SIN, whether we realize it or not. Lying is a personal affront to our Creator, not just a bad white-lie habit from middle school. Those little things you do are not just character flaws– they are sin and we will be judged for them eternally if we do not trust in the Lord. I don’t know about you, but every time I read the 10 commandments I am convicted and see another area of my life that needs grace.
2) The law revives the sin in the sinner. Remember– there is nothing wrong with the law– the problem is with us. Verse 8: “But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire.” He’s telling his personal testimony here, of knowing the law and having his sinful nature aroused. When we think we are doing OK, the law will come and remind us that we are sinners– and not just that– our natural flesh will rise up and want to sin more, simply because the law tells us not to. You’ve seen this in a two-year-old. Mom says, “don’t stick your finger in the butter” and next thing you know there are fingerprints in it. Jesus made it clear that we need to know the law and recognize our sin when He said, “I have not come to save the righteous, but sinners.” The sinner who knows we have to realize our sin.
We don’t like being told, “Obey me” because we are fallen. We justify rebellion and this shows the fabric of our souls. Oftentimes a directive derives exactly the opposite, because sin uses the law to energize disobedience in us.
3) Sin uses the law to deceive us. Verses 10-11: “And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.”
When we try to follow the commandments, we come up short again and again. The law is not the problem, but our own flesh. Sin produces death in me by taking an occasion for good and making it bad by trying to do it for my own reasons. Sanctification is not attained by the law. We have NOTHING to commend us to God. Our conservative applications of the Bible do not make us ANY more holy than someone who is less “conservative”. Because we are all deceived in our own flesh.
How are we to navigate these tricky waters? God reveals Himself to us because our relationship to the law, which was bringing death, has changed, and now we are being reoriented towards grace! Our orientation should be to the Father who is warm and loving. Bet your bottom dollar, our sinful flesh when poked will be shown to be living within us still, but the answer is not more law, but a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
This shirt I had been planning on wearing for Christmas Sunday ever since I ordered it, but when it arrived it was a little longer than I was expecting (#petitegirlprobz). Not having time to sew it, I just taped the hem up underneath with masking tape and no one was the wiser. 🙂