Summary: Part 1 of 5 in a series on our identity in Christ based on the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 8.
INTRODUCTION: Who are you? The dilemma of an unclear sense of personal identity is well illustrated by an incident in the life of probably the most famous person you’ve never heard of, German philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) who did much to shape the progress of modern theological thought. One day as an old man he was sitting alone on a bench in a city park. A policeman thinking that he was a vagrant came over and shook him and asked, "Who are you?" Schleiermacher replied sadly, "I wish I knew." Truth be told we all struggle with identity issues, especially our identity in Christ, which is more spiritual than physical. Over the next five weeks we’re going to look at who we are in Christ, taking our text from Romans chapter 8.
BACKGROUND: The Apostle Paul, the former religionist, Pharisee, and uber-legalist is an unquestioned expert in the Law. In the first seven chapters of Romans he presents the case against us, in that we are guilty under the law and imprisoned by the law, and under it, no one could ever, or would ever be made righteous (Romans 3:20) The law shows us what sin is, but cannot keep us from sin, and cannot take away sin – it is only thorough Christ that our sin issue is resolved, it is only through Christ that we can be “freed!” (Romans 8:1-4)
THE APPEALING NATURE OF THE LAW
• The Law offers a method of measurement so we can “know” how we’re doing
• We love keeping checklists, to-do lists, charts and graphs of our progress towards our goals
• There’s an entire industry for such things… and we love it! (A Slobbering Love Affair)
• The Law provides a sense of “superiority” that we can have with others who aren’t following it as meticulously as we are
• This is one of the places where the Jews (decedents of Abraham) got themselves into so much trouble – they lived under the presumption of “we have the Law so we’re better than you”
• Then the Pharisees and Sadducees took it one step further and looked at their own brothers and lived under the presumption “we keep the Law the best so we’re better than you”
• The Law provides a “false” sense of security through the religious “check-list” that we keep
• We go to church, go to youth group, go to men’s events, women’s events, anything and everything connected to being “the church” and when we do we check them off our list
• The law is “me” focused, it’s about what “we” do how “we” do it, and how “we” fix “our” problems
• The Law is loved, the Law is embraced, the Law is twisted and shaped by us, to meet our own ends, and the Law is totally insufficient to address our problems
THE ABYSMAL FAILURE OF THE LAW
• The Law was never intended to be the answer, it was simply part of the equation of God’s grand “scheme of redemption”