Summary: Experience the victory that could only be obtained one way; a victory which we could not have won; a victory which must be accepted in order to free us from our bondage to sin.
“The Great Cover Up – Victory Once for All”
Last week we began a series on Breaking the Stronghold of Sin in our lives. I challenged you last week to uncover the lie that you’ve been living. We discovered that we often believe that we’re ok on our own, that we’re not that bad and that some how we’ll make it into heaven by the skin of our teeth. We discovered that we often lie to ourselves when we look at others and think “I’m better than they are.” We found out that everything is level at the foot of the cross, that every sin is equal in God’s eyes. And we discovered that many Christians lie to themselves and say that a little dirt won’t hurt and continue living their lives bound by the power of sin, not claiming the victory that they can have over it.
This morning I want us to spend some time together discovering how it is that we can receive freedom from the sin and the evil which are common to each of us. This morning I want each of us to leave this place having been afforded the opportunity to access the victory which has been won for us once and for all.
Will you pray with me…
The decision had been made. The troops had been deployed and the battleships were on their way. Nearly three million soldiers were preparing to slam against Hitler’s Atlantic wall in France. D-Day was set in motion. Responsibility for the invasion fell squarely on the four-starred shoulders of General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The general spent the night before the attack with the men of the 101st Airborne. They called themselves “The Screaming Eagles.” As his men prepared their planes and checked their equipment, Ike went from soldier to soldier offering words of encouragement. Many of the flyers were young enough to be his sons. He treated them like they were. A correspondent wrote that as he watched the c-47s take off and disappear, his hands were deep in his pockets and his eyes were full of tears.
The general then went to his quarters and sat at his desk. He took a pen and paper and wrote a message – a message which would be delivered to the White House in the event of a defeat.
It was as brief as it was courageous. “Our landings…have failed…the troops, the Air, and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches itself to the attempt it was mine alone.”
It could be argued that the greatest act of courage that day was not in a cockpit or a foxhole, but rather at that desk when the one at the top took responsibility for the ones below. When the one in charge took the blame – even before the blame needed to be taken.
He was a rare leader. This was an unusual display of courage. He modeled a quality seldom seen in our society. Most of us are willing to take credit for what we do good. Some are willing to take the rap for the bad we do. But few will assume responsibilities for the mistakes of others. Still fewer will shoulder the blame for mistakes yet uncommitted.
Eisenhower did. As a result, he became a hero.
Jesus did. As a result, he became our Savior.
Folks as we enter this sanctuary this morning we do so realizing the evil that exists in the human race. You need not look to Iraq to find it. You need not even search outside of your own home, rather simply look in the mirror. For within each of us evil resides. And when we are ready to uncover the lie that we perpetuate about our own goodness and our own ability to be righteous then and only then can we take the next step in the process of breaking the stronghold of sin in our lives. That next step is to claim the victory that was obtained on your behalf before your life began. To accept the work that only the blood of Christ can accomplish, the covering of your sins.
Today’s scripture lesson is a rather complex one. It is one which is not easily read and understood but which takes time and effort. Let me sum it up for you: Paul says that the law and grace are opposite pathways and that only one leads to salvation. He sets out to prove his point by sharing the story of Abraham and says that Abraham wasn’t justified by his obedience to the law because the law wasn’t in existence yet, therefore, Paul argues that the righteousness that the Bible attributes to Abraham could only have been based on faith. He goes on in the passage to further prove his argument and while I don’t want to get into a detailed explanation of these verses there is one recurring theme. Here’s what he’s trying to get across: obedience to the law alone is not enough. It’s the interior faith of any individual, not the exterior appearance that makes us right in God’s eyes.