Summary: A sermon about dealing with the sin of hate and revenge.

Romans 7:14-19; Romans 8:5-17

“The Battle Within”

Begins with Clips from the movie: Spider-Man 3 and then the Scripture is read.

By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, Soddy Daisy, TN

“Spider-Man doesn’t kill people. What happened?”

Immediately after learning that Flint Marko killed his uncle Ben, Peter wants justice, but wants it on his own terms, in his way, and by his own hand.

Ultimately his desire is not for mere justice, but it is a lust for revenge, which Aunt May describes this way: “It’s like a poison it can—it can take you over before you know it—turn us into something ugly.”

All sin, revenge included, is transformative: it corrupts us from within…

…working its way out through our words, actions, and even inaction.

When caught or snared in sin, even mature Christians can have a difficult time doing what is right.

The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 7:18-19: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”

Raise your hand if you can relate to this in your own Christian journey.

The Bible clearly teaches us that the greatest battle is not what is going on around us—our greatest battle is raging within us!

I was speaking with Rev. David Tabor over lunch this past week, and we had a most excellent time together.

But we both agreed that the thing which holds the church back from doing what God is willing us to do—what God’s great plans are for this God’s Churches is that we need to love one another unconditionally.

Whether we agree with one another on every issue is not THE ISSUE—it’s how we handle our differences of opinion.

Do we fight among ourselves, and thus cause division, hatred, discord and the like?

Or, when we have a problem or misunderstanding amongst ourselves are we able to trust one another enough not to talk behind one another’s back…

…but come and speak to the person in love—but not without conviction—seeking to come to a peaceful compromise?

When we speak bad about our pastor or anyone else in our community of faith—in their absence we are doing the greatest damage possible to the church we love!

We should be so ashamed of the very idea of talking behind one’s back—that this alone should stop us from doing it.

Anyone who has worked in the world or gone to school or interacted with other human beings have been witness to one person stabbing the other in the back.

This happened in the news business all the time.

People were constantly at one another’s throats—of course they seldom had the guts to say the things to the other person’s face that they said behind their backs.

I remember one female anchor in particular.

When a person would leave the newsroom, she would automatically start putting that person down.

When they returned, she’d be sweet as pie to their face.

I would think to myself…

….gee, I wonder what horrible things she says about me when I’m not present.

She was nice to my face…

…but I kept my distance.

In a sermon by the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, entitled Upon Our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount: Discourse 2 Wesley writes:

“Love bears [or protects] all things…

…Those who love others are so far from making their faults and failings the subject of conversation that they never speak at all about an absent person, except to speak favorably. A busy-body, slanderer, gossip, or evil speaker is the same as a murderer.

One would just as well cut a neighbor’s throat as to destroy his or her reputation.”

I don’t want to be a murderer.

How about you?

We can get ripped apart by the world…but this is the place where we should be confident that we are being loved…not murdered!!!

If someone makes you mad; please either keep it to yourself or talk to them about it in love.

Our business is about the kingdom of God…

…the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, and the call of the church to make followers of Jesus Christ in order to change the world!!!

And we can’t do that and devour one another at the same time.

For some reason, church folks expend a lot of time being mad at their pastor.

What a drag that must be, but just about every pastor I’ve ever known has dealt with angry Christians…some of them their entire careers.

When we are mad at others, do we ever stop to think that the problem we have may just sometimes partly be our own?

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