Summary: Christ redeemed us from sin, death, and the devil. He redeemed us for service to God!
FREE TO SERVE (Romans 8:1-10)
INTRODUCTION by now we’ve all seen vivid pictures of how oppressive governments like the Taliban heartlessly enslaves its own people. But there is something even more oppressive that enslaves people right here in our own homeland!
I. Sin enslaves us.
Sin follows a similar pattern with each commandment of God’s law:
1) The first commandment: a man graduates from college with only one goal in mind: to establish a successful career and make lots of money. He achieves his goal and climbs the corporate ladder. Material success becomes so important to him that he is willing to sacrifice everything in pursuit of it: his family (which he ignores), his friends (whom he uses), his co-workers (whom he betrays), his health (which he neglects), and his integrity (which he destroys). Success has become his “god”; he worships the “almighty dollar”, and his career is the only thing that gives him identity, meaning, and purpose in life. Later in life, however, he wonders if there’s something that he’s missing—but he’s burned every bridge and thrown away every relationship and pursuit that could have brought him true fulfillment. On top of that, he finds that has locked himself into a certain kind of lifestyle, and he enjoys a standard of living that is expensive to maintain. It is difficult for him to change. In the end, he dies—a rich, but lonely and bitter old man.
2) The second commandment: a young girl finds that she can be more popular in school if she uses bad language, taking God’s name in vain. The pattern continues when she gets a job in which it’s common for the other workers to swear a lot. She rationalizes that if she swears too, her colleagues will be more likely to see her as “one of the guys”—and she doesn’t want to feel like an outcast. Eventually she leaves the job, gets married, and starts to raise a family. By that time, however, cussing has become such a bad habit that, in spite of her best efforts, a few choice words will usually tend to slip out—and her kids are right there to hear it. She hears them using the bad words themselves, and feels horrible. But what can she do?
3) The third commandment: a family has had a hard week and feels too tired to go to church. They think, “missing one Sunday won’t matter.” And they’re right! They go back to church the next week and feel much better. But a little while later, after another rough week, it’s a bit easier for them to sleep in. Gradually they miss more and more Sundays, until going to church is the exception, rather than the rule. Finally, they give up going altogether, thinking, “we’ll start going again when things slow down.” Eventually, things do slow down—but now they feel too guilty to start going again. They worry about what the membmers will say when they see them. Besides, there’s a new pastor that they don’t know, and the hymns and the liturgy seem unfamiliar and foreign. Other activities, like golfing, or fishing, have become more important to them in the meantime as well. They’ll tell you, “It’s not that we’re against going to church. We’ve just gotten out of the habit.” The next time the’ll darken the door of a church will be when someone has to literally carry them in—in their coffin.
The same principle carries over to the other commandments as well! Harmless little “white lies” grow into such dishonesty that you habitually lie even to yourself and lose your grasp of what is true. The tiniest little grudge, if properly nurtured, can become a life-long hatred of someone that hurts you far more than it ever hurts them. An appetite for sexually explicit movies and TV shows can become more serious perversions and damage a person’s very soul. A juicy tidbit of gossip shared here and there can eventually make you into someone that no one will ever trust with personal information. Stop and think—how many people end up in prisons because they intend to go there? Not many! Often, what begins as a situation someone thinks they can control ends up controlling them, until things eventually get out of control!
In Romans 8, we read about the kind of death-grip that sin can have on a person:
- “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”
- “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires…”
- “The mind of sinful man is death…”
- “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”
Galatians 6 compares the process planting crops: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction…”