STRAIGHT FROM ROMANS 8 - Set Free
July 7, 2019
Romans 8:1-4 (p. 786)
In the middle of Oreos is a delicious creme filling…in the middle of the Super Bowl is an extravagance known as “the half-time show”…In the middle of a hurricane is the “eye.”
A time of calm before the brick wall hits.
By the way…I like Oreos more than hurricanes!
But, in the middle of the NT is a book called “Romans.” It’s sixteen chapters long…and right square in the middle of the letter to the Romans is Chapter 8.
This letter was written by Paul, the apostle in about AD 56 or 57 as he was finishing up his 3rd missionary journey…the theme of the entire letter is “righteousness!”
The Apostle Paul introduces himself as a servant of Jesus…deacon of Jesus, set apart for the gospel of God, and then he gets right down to business. The first 3 chapters shout…“No one…not one person is righteous”…whether you are a Jew with Israel’s heritage or a gentile who’s never heard of the 10 Commandments, you have sinned, you have dirtied up your life…and the only way you can become a righteous man or woman is through faith…
Martin Luther, the great reformer of the church, the one who nailed his 95 thesis’ on the door of the Cathedral in Wittenberg…each of the thesis’ dealing with just this subject in rejection of “working or paying your way to heaven” took his theme from these early chapters.
“The righteous shall live by faith!”
The Apostle Paul shouts this theme as he gives a history lesson of man’s deteriorations, God’s faithfulness…The example set by Abraham, the father of the faithful, how the law teaches us what is wrong…but cannot do anything about its consequences.
He says the only answer for each of us who live with Adam’s sinful heart is a Savior, a perfect Savior named Jesus…There is an absolute truth for every human being. We live in a body that desires to be pleased…it lusts, it hungers, it desires. It is selfish and self-centered…and each of us, through God’s law, can understand what is right and what is good…and a part of us longs to be right…to be good. It’s like 2 hungry wolves wanting to be fed inside us. Which one gets stronger…“the one we feed.”
So Paul shoots straight as he introduces Romans 8 with these words:
ROMANS 7:21-25 (p. 786)
How does Romans 8 introduce us to our new life in Christ? Well, it begins with this truth:
I. IN CHRIST WE ARE SET FREE!
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
The law (the Mosaic law) was given by God to the Israelites…it was a written code concerning what God required…It made clear what God viewed as sin. We all know the 10 commandments…but it went even deeper…A Holy God was telling His people what He expected from a Holy people. The problem was…they broke His laws…accidentally…on purpose…and continually.
The word Paul uses in the Greek for condemnation is the word “katakrino” and it means “to pass judgment,” like a judge who sentences a convicted criminal.
Living under the law made you feel like a convicted criminal continually…God was always passing judgment…you felt condemned…you felt like a slave.
[I swore I’d never tell this story, but I believe I have to here…it fits too well…
Very early one morning during deer season I was hunting with George Powell and Ralph Pickering. I’d already got two deer, and I had an extra doe tag, but it wasn’t really all that important to me to get another deer, so I decided to go to a place I’d never been to in the dark…at 5am…and it’s dark I promise…I’d been to this stand in the daytime, there were some tacks to follow…but I’d never been there in the dark of the morning…so I followed the trail…thought I turned left at the correct tack on the tree, walked about 30 yards and then ended up squarely in the middle of a thorn thicket….thorns behind me, each side, and in front of me…and I fell…I was caught in every way possible by the head, my arms, my legs…I could just lay there until the sun came up and scream for help, but I could not imagine how hard George and Ralph would laugh when they found me…
I believe that’s exactly how Paul viewed trying to live a righteous life by the law…every time he tried to do it on his own and in his own power he just kept getting caught deeper and deeper in the thorns of his own sins…I eventually cut myself out…it was light by then, and when Paul begins Romans 8…for the first time in his life he’s been cut free by the knife of God’s Holy Spirit.]
At one time in his life the Apostle Paul (then called Saul) stood in the role of a condemner…He was a Pharisee…a self appointed protector of the Mosaic law…He took this role very seriously as “he breathed out hatred and accusations against followers of Jesus.” Do you know what a Pharisee’s handshake looks like…(Shake your finger in condemnation).
And if you let that go far enough, condemnation follows. Listen:
ACTS 8:1-3 (p. 764)
Who did Saul approve of them killing…a man named Stephen…the first Christian martyr…Saul gave full approval of them stoning Stephen to death…He held their coats while it happened…and then he used it as a catalyst to go after other Jesus followers with gusto…He began to destroy the church…He went from home to home hunting them down…He drug them off to prison. Under the law there is no grace…only condemnation.
But it not only makes you want to put others in jail…it puts you in one too.
Condemners usually believe your sin needs to be dealt with harshly, while their sin isn’t really very bad…It’s this heart I believe Jesus is dealing with in Matt. 7 where he says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matt. 7:1-2)
This doesn’t mean that sin is ignored…it doesn’t mean that within the church we don’t gently go to a brother or sister who is “caught in sin” and try to restore them…with humility…but…
Only one person has the right to pass judgment and sentence someone to punishment…
Jesus Christ…He alone has the right to condemn…if we’ve broken God’s laws…it’s the laws He’s designed for our good and our protection. It wasn’t the sinful and dirty who caught his wrath while here on earth, it was the legalistic condemners who he had his strongest words for…it was the older brother, not the prodigal that brought the most pain to his heart…He would sacrifice himself for both sins, but the one who believes he needs no Savior is hardest to reach…Jesus said, “Everything they do is done for men to see. (Matt. 23:5) You hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self indulgence. Blind Pharisees! First clean the inside of the cup and dish and then the outside will be clean also.” (v. 25-26)
The reason you only clean the outside up is because you do everything for others to think you’re amazing.
The problem is…pride, self indulgence, greed…are horribly dirty sins…sins straight from Lucifer’s heart. You can cover them with good deeds, civic duty, nice appearances…but the inside is rotten and decaying…to make sure no one notices the smell, you find someone to gossip about, to pick on, to scrutinize…and you look great compared to them…to everyone, but Jesus.
When the Apostle Paul looks back at his life as Saul the Pharisee, deceived by his own legalistic righteousness he says:
1 TIMOTHY 1:12-16 (p. 829)
Saul the Pharisee would have been one of the movers and shakers in Jerusalem…A leader of the Pharisees…He would have been respected, toasted, celebrated in this world…given access to the who’s who’s…How does Paul look back at that person… I am the worst sinner of all time…a blasphemous, violent, aggressive, hateful man…who didn’t know God…He knew about God, but had no relationship of faith…The cup and dish sparkled on the outside…it housed death on the inside.
What this does to a man or woman is enslave them to a lie…a lie that presents to the world someone whose got it all together, all pressed and starched…but underneath is insecurity and sin…but the lie has become so important, pride will not let that sin be dealt with by grace…in this person’s life there isn’t much room for grace…for the Spirit of life.
There is only one key that can unlock this prison of death…
II. THE KEY TO LIFE IS THE HOLY SPIRIT
Listen once again to Romans 8:2-4…
ROMANS 8:2-4 (p. 786)
The Spirit of Life (The Holy Spirit) set me free from the law of sin and death.
“Thou shalt not steal” teaches me it’s wrong to steal. “Thou shalt not kill” teaches me it’s wrong to murder… “Thou shalt not covet” teaches me it’s wrong to covet… and “Thou shalt not bear false witness” teaches me it’s wrong to lie…all of God’s laws teach me what He wants me to know is right and what is wrong…
But knowing it’s wrong to lie doesn’t fix it after I’ve lied…knowing it’s wrong to covet doesn’t offer a solution after I’ve coveted…in fact the law is sometimes like wet paint (which makes you want to touch it).
Look at these pictures…
SHOW PICS OF CALAPARI BIKE
Coveting is wrong…I know it…but it doesn’t fix what happens in my heart when I see this bike…if I let sin have it’s way…I mortgage my house…sell my wife’s car…purchase the bike and live alone in a box…The fact that I’ve thought that out in my head might be coveting.
God’s law identifies sin…that’s good…they are designed to keep us in His will…in fact
1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who sins breaks the law, in fact sin is lawlessness.”
The real problem is everyone has sinned, all of us have broken God’s law…we all end up in the same prison, condemned to the same fate…death. God is perfect…He cannot just say, “Well, sin doesn’t matter I’ll just look the other way…” He’s perfect…sin requires the punishment of death…your sin, my sin, every sin ever committed requires that payment.
But the law was powerless to do anything about our sentence of death…weakened by our sinful nature; no one lived a perfect life until…
“God sent His only son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering…” and so He condemned sinful man in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us.
Here’s the key to salvation and eternal life…The law tells us what is sinful…the Holy Spirit convicts us that we are sinners. Jesus tells us this in no uncertain terms:
JOHN 16:7-14 (p. 753)
But the Holy Spirit does this convicting for a purpose…The reason He convicts us of our sin is to point us toward a Savior. The Mosaic law can tell me coveting is wrong…Jesus died on the cross to pay for the consequences of my coveting.
When Jesus tells Nicodemus…“To see the Kingdom of God and to enter the Kingdom of God,” Jesus is describing what the Holy Spirit does and our response to Him. (Jn. 3)
Our response to the Holy Spirit’s conviction is repentance…turning from sin to God…our baptism into Christ is for the forgiveness of our sin and to receive the Holy Spirit.
(Acts 2:38) The result…A resurrection into new life…
Mercy means “not receiving the punishment you deserve”…we received mercy…but Grace is much much more…Grace is receiving that which you do not deserve.
It’s as if you stand before a judge…guilty of a capital crime…and the judge commutes your sentence, but then that judge takes you home to live as his son or daughter…the first is mercy…the 2nd is grace.
Grace is the key for our salvation.
Someone had to pay the penalty for a broken law…that’s what a perfectly just God demands.
So God became a man and lived a sinless life so He could pay the penalty demanded for that broken law…that’s GRACE.
What is our requirement for salvation? FAITH!
We do not live according to the sinful nature, but according to the Spirit.
Eph. 2:9 says, “We are saved by grace through faith, and that is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” Faith is an action word…faith responds to the call of God’s Spirit when He convicts us of our sin with obedience, we confess our sin, we repent (turn from our old lives to a new life in Christ), we are baptized…for the forgiveness of our sins and to receive the Holy Spirit, and we rise to live a resurrection life…a new life, until we die or He returns…
I’m going to say something really important in conclusion…Jesus, His Spirit, are the key to our freedom…the Spirit of life sets us free from the law of sin and death…
When we are born again, by the Holy Spirit, he takes up residence in our body…
1 Cor. 6:19-20 lets us know we are no longer our own, we have been bought with a price, our body is a temple of God’s Holy Spirit…we should honor God with this body.
When the Holy Spirit moves in, He does what no law can…He changes our minds…He changes our thoughts…He changes our attitudes and because of that our actions in life become “NEW.”
Our sin, our guilt, our punishment…is defeated by a Spirit of life…we are no longer “Dead People Walking” toward the electric chair. We are live people walking toward Heaven and eternity.