2020 - Romans
Throughout this year, we have been studying Paul’s letter to the Romans. We began by doing it backwards. We began in chapter 16 working our way backwards through chapter 12, observing the Rubber meets the Road section. Then, we skipped to the front of the book and have been working our way forward towards chapter 12. I hope to bring this all together in the next several weeks. You do realize we are approaching November, then December. Time flies when you’re having fun, or in the case of this year…not.
Throughout Romans, I have observed a teaching technique of Paul. Paul uses contrast to make his biggest points. In Paul’s letter, there are some major contrasts which we have, already, studied.
--In Romans 15 Paul instructs the Jews and the Romans in the church to live together in harmony to bring glory to God. Do you realize that in just a few years, after Romans is written, the Jews rebelled against Rome? It was ugly. 6,000 Roman soldiers were killed in an ambush. In response, Jerusalem was destroyed to the ground. There was enormous hostility between the Jews and the Romans. Contrast… Jews and Romans speak with one voice.
--In Romans 12 Paul instructs us to be living sacrifices. Contrast… living sacrifices! It is hard to be a living sacrifice. We have to stay on the altar. We continually choose to bring him glory by living lives of sacrifice.
--In Romans 3, all have sinned, falling short of the glory… and are made right by His blood shed on the mercy seat! Contrast… we are all short of glory but God makes us right to be his glory!
--In Romans 5, there is a contrast between Adam, who brought death to all humans, and Jesus, who brings life to all humans! Contrast… the beauty of grace seen against the background of the Adam’s ugly act of death.
Paul is a master at using contrast as a teaching tool…
This morning we get the next powerful contrast in Romans. the end of Romans 7 laid alongside the beginning of Romans 8… is another amazing contrast!
Listen to the contrasting… phrases…
--evil lies close at hand…
--I see my members waging war against my mind…
--I am a captive to the law of sin…
--Sin dwells in my members.
--Wretched man that I am!
--Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Contrast… Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
--There is therefore now no condemnation…
--The Spirit of life has set you free...
--For God has done what the law could not do…
--The Son condemned sin…
Evil; war; captivity, wretchedness; death IN CONTRAST TO – no condemnation; life; freedom; being made right!
There is power in contrast! Lately, Owen and I have been making pens. We buy the kits with all the metal pieces parts. Then, we mix the resin to make a blank. Then we lathe the blank into a pen. Notice this pen we made last week… the contrast in the pearl white of the colors makes it fun. By the way, if you need a Christmas present… Owen is putting himself through Elementary school by selling pens. Check with him after church… Contrast… a commercial in the middle of a serious sermon.
Back to the point… There is power in comparison! This morning we are going to look at four contrasts in Romans 8:1-4. Four contrasts in four verses!
Contrast 1 – Wretchedness or No Condemnation
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Picture a group of men with their ankles shackled together by lengths of chain. They stand together in a rock quarry each swinging a sledge hammer. The sun beats down on them and the bugs swarm, untouched because they can’t let go of their hammer. Their sweat quickly turns to mud as the cloud of dust they produce just kind of hangs around them. They are a hopeless lot. They can’t quit. They never get finished. This long line of similarly dressed men are making big rocks into little rocks. They are condemned to hard labor.
That is the picture suggested by the word condemnation. The Greek word katakrima is not so much, being found guilty, or experiencing the shame of sin. Katakrima is serving the sentence; being on the chain gang of sin. Katakrima is being found guilty and then doing the punishment!
At the end of Romans 7, Paul describes the one who attempts to justify himself by following all the law as a miserable person; wretched is the word. The legalist cannot make himself not guilty… The legalist is on the chain gang of sin.
Contrast… for those in Christ there is no punishment. For those in Christ there is no katakrima. There is no making big rocks of sin into little rocks of sin.
Here is fascinating part… There is a “now” and “then” component to no condemnation.
--Now, in this life, there is no wretchedness of always being guilty of not living up to every rule and regulation. Those in Christ are free to bring him glory with their lives, in the now!
--But there is also a “then” component. In the Age to come, there will be no sentence; there will be no katakrima! There will be no punishment for sin in the next life! There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus!
Contrast 1… chain gang of sin or freedom of glory!
Contrast 2 – Law of Sin and death or Law of the Spirit
Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Here is another contrasting picture…
These people are being sworn in as citizens of the United States. They have changed allegiance. They have changed citizenship. They have changed countries. They have changed laws. They were no longer under the old laws of their former countries. Now, they are under the new law of this country. It is a change of law.
This is what happens when we are baptized. We move citizenship. We move from the country of “Sin and Death” to the country of the “Spirit”. The laws are different. The laws of Sin and Death are different that the Laws of the Spirit.
The laws of Sin and Death state that because of sin you end up living a life of death. Sin slowly leaches the life out of a person. They serve themselves… they end up dead in the old country. But the laws of the country of the Spirit leads to life. They lead to glory. They lead to diplomatic immunity. While we are in this age, we live in the country of the Spirit with the grace of forgiveness… We live under the laws of the Spirit!
Contrast… Living under the oppressive laws of legalism OR living under the freedom of the Spirit… to bring Him glory!
Contrast 3 – Sin Condemns or Sin is Condemned
Romans 8:3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
When we were first married, Tanya and I watched Perry Mason. For all you, millennials, in every episode of Perry Mason someone would be on trial. Perry mason, the best lawyer ever, would be defending an innocent person. At some point during the trial, Perry Mason would put someone on the stand. In the process of the questioning, Perry Mason, the best lawyer ever, would reveal that person on the stand actually committed the crime; not his defendant. Perry Mason… would get that person to confess! His defendant would be set free the guilty person would be arrested. That is the contrast here.
We are on trial for sin. The District Attorney would be laying out all the evidence against us. It looks bad because we are guilty. But then, just like Perry Mason, God’s son calls sin to the stand. Jesus shows that sin is the guilty one. Sin is convicted and we are acquitted! What? It’s not a perfect analogy. But instead of us being convicted by law, we are acquitted by the cross. The cross does a Perry Mason on sin! Instead of sin convicting us, sin is condemned!
Jesus came to the earth as one of us. In his death, on the cross, Jesus condemns sin, instead of us.
Contrast… Sin is condemned - instead of us!
Contrast 4 – Law Fails or Grace Succeeds
Romans 8:4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
The law requires us to be right… all the time… without fail… constantly… never making a mistake… always hitting the mark. For the law to make us right we have to be right. That leads to wretchedness. We can never be made right by the law.
In the Spirit, by the cross, we are made right. In Christ we live right lives. Our sin, our mistakes, our missing the mark of glory… is constantly being made right.
It’s like… a bug zapper. Any sin, we do commit, is instantly zapped into small particles. We meet the righteous requirements of the law because we are made right… constantly by the death of Jesus!
Contrast… Law fails or the Spirit continually makes us right.
Contrast is a powerful way to understand the grace of God. In contrast to attempting to live under the law… having to always be right; which turns us into hateful legalists. We live in Christ, by the Spirit, under grace always bring Him glory; which turns us into graceful glory givers!
Next week, we will explore another contrast. The contrast of walking by the Spirit compared with walking by the flesh. We will see that walking by the Spirit leads to being Sons of God while walking by the flesh leads to death.
This morning, lets read all four verses together.
Romans 8:1-4 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
There is beauty in these four contrasts. We live our lives in contrast.
--We live in the freedom of no condemnation.
--We live in the diplomatic immunity of the Spirit.
--We live in acquittal of sin being condemned.
--We live in the success of grace which keeps us right!
We live in the contrasts of Spirit!
October 25, 2020
Los Alamos Church of Christ
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