Summary: Protect Yourself from Sin’s Charge and Sin’s Control 1) Inside Christ 2) With Christ inside
Some time ago when we were cleaning out our laundry room we found a number of iron rods like this. I don’t know where they came from or what they were used for but how do you think we could use them now? We could use them to bar our windows if we had a problem with robbers, or if I wanted to swim in an area known for sharks, I could use the rods to make myself a shark cage that would keep me safe from shark attacks. Do you think these rods could help me if I ate them? That may sound funny but did you know that when you eat food like broccoli, you’re eating iron? Iron is good for you. It helps your red blood cells carry and store oxygen. If you don’t get enough iron in your diet, you’ll feel tired and lethargic. It’s interesting isn’t it how iron can help us whether we’re inside it as in a shark cage, or whether it’s inside us helping oxygen move around our body.
The Apostle Paul tells this morning that Jesus is a lot like iron. He’s helpful to us whether we’re inside him or he is inside us. When we are inside Christ, Jesus protects us from sin’s charge. And when Christ is inside us, he protects us from sin’s control.
Let’s begin by finding out why we need protection from sin anyway. Paul said in our text: “6 The mind of sinful man is death…7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God” (Romans 8:6a, 7, 8). We need protection from sin because it brings death. It does that by directing us to always do the opposite of what God wants us to do. Have you ever been around a preschooler who has decided that it’s “opposite” day? When you ask him to stand, he sits. And when you ask him to sit, he stands. From the moment we are conceived that’s the way we act towards God. We don’t do what he wants because we are controlled by our sinful nature which is allied with the devil.
But just as “opposite” day doesn’t last very long with preschoolers because their parents won’t put up with it, so we, who are controlled by the sinful nature, can’t escape God’s wrath forever. God can’t stand those who disobey him and will punish them with death and then an eternity in hell.
But are things really that bad in our lives? Are we always irritating God by doing what he doesn’t want us to do? I suppose the disciples didn’t think that they were such bad people either but do you remember what they were doing in our Gospel lesson this morning that upset Jesus? They were arguing among themselves as to which one was the most important (Matthew 20). This argument didn’t happen soon after Jesus had called them to be his disciples. If it had, the disciples could have at least used the excuse that they didn’t know any better. No, this exchange took place at the end of Jesus’ ministry. The disciples had watched and listened to Jesus for three years and should have known that if they wanted to be great in the Kingdom of God, they were to do that by becoming the least, that is serve and not demand to be served.