Summary: Beginning sermon in my Romans 8 - What a Way to Live! series - what Christ came to do in relation to the law and sin, and what that means for Christians.
Romans 8:1-4 – Fly Like an Eagle
There is an old Native American story about an Indian brave who found an eagle’s egg and put it into the nest of a prairie chicken. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life, the changeling eagle, thinking he was a prairie chicken, did what the prairie chickens did. He scratched in the dirt for seeds and insects to eat. He clucked and cackled. And he flew in a brief thrashing of wings and flurry of feathers no more than a few feet off the ground. After all, that’s how prairie chickens were supposed to fly.
Years passed. And the changeling eagle grew very old. One day, he saw a magnificent bird far above him in the cloudless sky. Hanging with graceful majesty on the powerful wind currents, it soared with scarcely a beat of its strong golden wings.
“What a beautiful bird!” said the changeling eagle to his neighbor. “What is it?”
“That’s an eagle—the chief of the birds,” the neighbor clucked. “But don’t give it a second thought. You could never be like him.” So the changeling eagle never gave it another thought. And it died thinking it was a prairie chicken.
Folks, I stand before you here today convinced that God has more in store for us than we could possibly know. I believe there are heights of joy and depths of knowledge that we have not begun to live. I believe that not one of us is living up to all that God has made possible for us to live. Today we are beginning a series called What a Way to Live, from Romans 8. My hope and prayer is that by the end of the chapter, at the end of November, we will have a better grasp of what it means to be walking in grace, walking in love, walking in confidence, walking with God’s Spirit. Let’s read Romans 8:1-4.
Now, I have to admit: this is deep stuff. Heavy theological issues that could bog a person down. But in this is the heart of the gospel, the very message Christ came to preach. So we need to wade through issues where angels fear to tread. On the plus side, it’s worth hearing.
V1 tells us we are not condemned. That’s wonderful. But what would be condemning us? What are we free from? V2 tells us that we are free from the law of sin and death. Now, which law is that? Whose law is that? Why would a law possibly cause us to sin or die?
Well, that law is God’s law. Which of course sounds ridiculous. God, who is all-good, can only make things that are good. And His law, the Bible tells us, is perfect. It is completely good. The commandments of the OT were perfect. The rules and commands were perfect and good.
But the problem was, they didn’t actually improve a person. They themselves were good, but they could not make anyone else good. The rules set the standard of how a person should act, but the law couldn’t provide the strength to do it. The law did great with morals, but not with conscience. They said, “Here is how you should live. Here is the height you should reach. Now, good luck with that.”
Because simply knowing what is right doesn’t actually mean a person wants to do it. Speed limit signs: “That says what I should do, but I might just push it a little.” Wet paint sign: “That sign says I shouldn’t touch it, but I really want to check for myself.” No swimming sign: “I wonder if the undertow is really as strong as they say.” Rules tell us what we should do, but we by nature don’t want to follow them. We learn to pay attention over the years for fear of the consequences, but the desire never really changes. We want to break the laws set before us. We can see it in little kids. If we tell them what not to do, that becomes the thing they most want to do.
So the law of the OT in essence aroused that rebellion, that self-will, that independent spirit, and each one of us broke it. Knowingly breaking God’s law is called sin. Deliberately going against what you know is right is sin. So, even though the law itself is good, it brings about sin. And the Bible says that sin leads to death. Death is the natural result of disobedience. All the way back to Adam and Eve, even up to the present day, every person who sins deserves to die. That includes you and me. That’s why the OT rules are called the law of sin and death.