Sermon at Kinmundy and Wesley United Methodist Church on 10/06/19. Title: What’s Eating You? Text: Romans 6-7. Audio link – Right-click, open in new tab to play: Kinmundy. Wesley. Right-click, open in new tab to view slides as a PDF: Slides. Series: Postcards from the Roman Road.
I’d like to ask you to take a good look at this road because, you see, it’s a test that will help you to know something about yourself.
Now see the sign that says turn left at 20 mile an hour speed? Some of you when you see that sign, and you see what used to be a road straight ahead, some of you when you see what used to be a road straight ahead want to crank it up to 100 miles an hour and hit that as hard as you can. I’m not going to ask you to tell me which one you are.
Some of you when you see that sign that says slow down to 20, pretty sharp corner on a gravel road– you want to see if you can do it at 80. I’m not going to ask you to tell me if you’ve ever tried that or if it worked out. And of course, some of you have four-wheel buggies with roll bars and maybe you can do that. I know I can’t.
It’s good to have rules.
Last week we talked about the reality that you and I are saved by grace. We can’t earn it. No matter how good we are, we cannot be good enough to receive God’s forgiveness as if we deserved it. It’s a present. Well, that’s true.
But now the apostle Paul needs to say to us what we need to do about these rules, what do we need to do about these laws? Because we’re not saved by doing what the law says. But what role should rules have in our lives?
There was once a time when there were no rules. And there are people in our society today who think that the way to make the world better is to take away all the rules. Because we all know that if you do away with all of the speed limits, everyone will drive at a safe speed.
You know what happened when there were no rules? Genesis 6, Chapter 5, God told Noah to build an ark. Because it all had to go. And why, just before that you see these words, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of human beings was great upon the Earth.” To this point that every imagination of the thoughts of a person’s heart was only evil continually.
Now, we’ve been bad. But thank God we’re not that bad. But that’s the problem when there’s no rules.
That’s the problem when there’s no rules. You see, all of us have a sin problem. And it’s on the inside of all of us. And all of us struggle with it. The background you’re going to see over the next several slides are all various forms of cancer.
Because the sin problem inside of human beings is almost like cancer. If we let it grow, it can take over everything. Some of us are survivors of cancer. Some of us, it runs in our families and we’re aware of it. But I want to give you an understanding of what cancer is like. Cancer is not powerful. Cancer is weak. Cancer is like cells in the body that decide, “I’m not going to do what I’m supposed to do. I’m going to only do what I feel like.” Cancer cells in your body are a little bit like juvenile delinquents going 100 miles an hour through the school zone. They don’t follow the rules for how the body is created. But it’s not because they’re powerful, it’s because they’re lazy. It’s because they’re selfish. It’s because all they think about is what– who knows what a cancer cell thinks about. But all cancer cells do is act in a selfish way that destroys everything around it. They are cells that have ceased to cooperate.
But we all have this sort of thing, a sin problem, a decision not to cooperate, not to do what God desires. We all have that within us. And God can help us with it.
But the worse thing that we could possibly do is imagine that we have no sin problem. Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then?” “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” If grace has healed us from sin and will continue to do so, why do we even need to worry about what we do?
If medicine is healed us from cancer, why not just keep smoking? Here’s the point that Paul makes verse two. “By no means, how can we who died to sin still live in it?” “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ were baptized into his death?” We are connected with the death of Christ because, consider this, whatever you put on a cross dies. And the sin that is within our bodies should die.
But looks what comes next. Verse four, “We were buried there for with him by baptism in the death so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father we too might walk in newness of life.”
You see that little bag off to the side there? It says chemo on it. Chemo is medicine that is drawn to cancer cells and it kills them. You just lifted a cup to your lips that as we prayed, we said, “Lord, let this be just as it was when you said, “This is my blood which is shed for the forgiveness of sin.”
You know when you drink from that cup it goes down here, it comes into your bloodstream and just like a drop of ink in a glass of water it diffuses to touch every single cell in your body … and that’s the way chemo works too. It goes everywhere in the body seeking to destroy cancer cells so that we might walk in newness of life.
You see that bell? Some of you rung that bell. You know what that bell is? That’s the bell that people ring when they’re done with radiation. I’m done. I’m ready to live. I want to live. And we can ring that same bell every time we ask God to help us with our sin problem.
But you’re always going to need to wash your hands, and you’re always going to need to ask for forgiveness because you have, if you’re a human being, you have a sin problem. A rock does not have a sin problem. But if you live and breathe and make choices, you have a sin problem. It is inevitable.
So in Romans 7, Paul says this, “Likewise, my brethren, you have died to the law through the body of Christ so that you may belong to another. You may belong to another.
Who do we belong to? Now, we belong to Jesus. Don’t forget who you belong to. You belong to the one who’s been raised from the dead. You belong to the one who’s been raised from the dead in order that you can bear fruit for God. You belong to the one who, while you were living in the flesh, submitting to sinful passions and desires, aroused by the law — I’ll explain what that is in just a minute. You belong to the one who is going to help you with this final problem: “were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.”
The sin problem reduces the hardest of things that are not good for us. They lead to death. But now under grace, we’re discharged from the law, Paul writes. We’re dead to that which held us captive so that we serve not under the old written code, what was there before Jesus died upon the cross.
Now, because we belong to Jesus, we live a life that is one of serving in a new life of the spirit. It’s different. But we still have a sin problem. “What then shall we say?” Paul says. “That the law is sin? By no means.”
“Yet if it’d not been for the law, I should not have known sin. I should not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.'” Go now on the list of the ten commandments. I’ll bet you’re good at ten of them. But all of a sudden, one comes up and that’s the one that tells you that you have a sin problem. That’s the one that shows you what you need to work on. The law is like a diagnostic test. You can’t read somebody else’s test because their situation is different.
But you can look at your own because the law will point out to you what sin is doing in your life. And that’s how it works. The law says, “You shall not covet.” And all of a sudden, you become aware of all kinds of covetousness. Versee 8 – for sin finding opportunity in the commandment, wrought all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law, however, sin lays dead.
Or perhaps we could say it lays hidden and works in a hidden way. So remember you belong to Christ. Verse 14, “We know that the law is spiritual.” It is a good thing for us to be aware of what’s wrong. “But I am carnal, I have a–” I have a clumsy problem laughter. I almost dropped the– I made it go away. Thank you so much. See I have problems. Not all problems are sins, some of them are mistakes, but they all cause trouble.
But here’s the point that Paul makes. “By no means, yet if it had not been for the law, I should not have known sin.” You would be back where they were in the days of Noah. Since no one knew what was right or wrong, they all did what felt right, and they all did a lot of wrong. “I should not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, you shall not covet.”
And in fact, the reality is, whenever we’re told not to do certain things, guess what we find that we want to do? Whenever we’re told to do certain things, guess what we find that we want to avoid? Ask your doctor if that’s not true. Because that’s human nature.
And so, sin finds an opportunity– finds an opportunity into the bad places revealed by the commandment to work in us all kinds of things that are against the rules. All kinds of covetousness. And so it lives and grows within us.
But the law shows us what is wrong and where we need to do some work. “We know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal sold under sin.” Paul then complains, “I do not understand my own actions, for I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
Somebody’s going to say, “Pastor Dave, that’s not me today.” Somebody’s going to say, “Pastor Dave, this whole week, I haven’t had a day like that.” But friends, I’ll tell you, it won’t be long before you’ll find that you’re as helpless as Paul says you are, and this is what you need to turn to Christ. We do the very thing that I hate.
Now, what do we do when we turn to Christ? Look at verse 16, “Now, if I do what I do not want — I agree that the law is good.” What God says is wrong, is wrong. What God says is right, is right. That’s what it means to agree with God. Anyone who disagrees with God is not wise.
So then, verse 17, Paul says, “It’s no longer I that do it because I agree with God, it’s wrong.” “It’s no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me, working hard to disobey God.” But I’ve separated myself from what sin does and I’ve reminded myself of who I belong to, and I’ve agreed that God is right and I’ve asked God to forgive me, and I’ve asked God to help me, and now the power of God can flow to deal with the sin problem, wherever it might be.
As Paul says in verse 18, “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will, I can desire, I can want what is right, but I cannot do it. “For I do not do the good I want but the evil I do not want is what I do.” Verse 20. Now if I do what I do not want it’s no longer I to do it because I belong to Jesus. I agree with God that it’s wrong. I’ve separated myself from what sin does inside of me and in a sense, I’ve said to God, “Sic it. Take it off and make my life different. Forgive me and cleanse me from all my sin.” It’s no longer I that do it but “Sin which dwells within me.” “So I find it to be law,” Paul writes, “That what I want to do right evil lies close at hand. For I delight to do right. I delight in the law of God in my inmost self but I see in my members, in my physical body, another law at work– at war.” Excuse me. “With the law in my mind and making me captive, To the law of sin which dwells in my memories.”
Just like cancer is hidden away surrounded by a healthy cells. Verse 24, “Wretched man that I am,” Paul writes. “Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then I in myself serve the law of God with my mind, with all my heart, soul, with all my strength but I acknowledge that with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
I have a sin problem. I have a sin problem.
Now here’s the thing about when you have a sin problem. You need to remember that you belong to Jesus Christ. You need to remember that you’re saved by grace, not because you’re good. But you need good advice to tell you what not to do or your life will be more painful. You need good advice to tell you what to do or your life will be more painful.
You probably won’t have time to ask your doctor about this but if you research it on the internet, the number one– one of the greatest health problems we have in the United States is what is called noncompliance. And here’s a very simple definition of noncompliance. Your doctor says, “Take one of these pills in the morning and one in the evening,” and you just don’t bother.
You know the old country doctor thing. “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” What does the country doctor say? “Don’t do it.”
“Don’t do it.” But we do it anyway. This is why it’s good to have the law guide us. Our salvation is not dependent upon the law but it’s good to have the law guide us because if you make the same mistake over and over again it’s going to hurt. The law helps us learn the lesson.
To learn the lesson that we need to feed the good side of things and not feed the bad within us. You’ve heard the old story to where the little Indian boy says to his grandfather, “How do I know what’s right and what’s wrong?” And the grandfather tells the story about two wolves that are fighting inside. One wants to do wrong and one wants to do right. And the little boy says, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?” And the grandfather says to the little boy, “The one that you feed.”
Don’t feed the bad wolf. Don’t bring into your body things that cancer loves and help cancer to thrive. Don’t bring into your soul behaviors that cause sin to grow and bring you more pain. Don’t do it. But if you didn’t have the law to teach you right from wrong, you would not know the difference.
So believe in that sign that says, “Don’t turn till you slow down.” Believe in it but even more, understand that Jesus Christ loves you and you are saved by grace. But stay on the road. Pay attention. Do the right thing.
Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, sometimes we’re absolutely sure and we turn out to be absolutely wrong. Sometimes Lord, we kind of learn the wrong way when we’re a child. And when we’re an adult, we have to actually choose to be different because if we carry on doing the same old, some old or the same things our parents did, the same things our grandparents did, life just becomes worse. Sometimes, Lord, it’s going against the way we were raised because we’d rather fit in with people. We’d rather fit in with a crowd that takes us astray, that is not good for us, that lives by rules that will harm us. Help us Lord to listen to You because we belong to You. And with Your strength and with Your help, we can overcome the power of sin that is at work in our lives. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?
What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Raod, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.