Summary: This series aims to narrow the gap between scriptural instruction and our day-to-day challenges.
The Monster Inside – Saying No To Yourself
Tuff Stuff Series - #3
Gages Lake Bible Church
Sunday Night, August 16th, 2009
Pastor Daniel Darling
Intro: I’d like to read you a letter from a prisoner:
"I know that all God's commands are spiritual, but I'm not. Isn't this also your experience?" Yes. I'm full of myself—after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison.
What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.
So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help!
I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do bad things anyway.
My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.
I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. Romans 7:14-24 (The Message)
Can you guess who that is? Would you believe these are the words of perhaps the greatest Christian ever to live? The words of the Apostle Paul.
They come from Romans 7:14-25. Now, I read from the Message paraphrase, so you wouldn’t immediately recognize the verses. Plus, even though I’m a fan of the King James, this is one passage that really gets choked up in the archaic language.
That Sounds Like Me!
You hear those words and you say to yourself, that sounds like me! That sounds like the inner struggle I have. But perhaps you’ve always thought that there was something wrong with you.
You look at super spiritual people you admire and wonder, “They must never sin. They must not have any struggle.” But the dirty little secret of the Christian life, one that most of us long-time professional Christians don’t want to admit is this.
We have a real struggle inside our hearts. A battle royal.
We all come to church and put masks on. We have our hair combed the right way. We tuck our King James Bible under our arms just so. We know how to smile and act Christian. We put masks on because we think we’re supposed to look spiritual. We hide our struggles because we want to appear put together.
But none of us are put together. If the Apostle Paul struggled, it’s okay for us to struggle. So tonight, we’re going to wade into the deep waters and discuss this ongoing, lifelong struggle with sin.
Is There Hope?
I want to reread Paul’s candid admission here:
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:24-25 (KJV)
If you study this word, “wretched” you’ll find that it means utter exhaustion. Utter physical and emotional turmoil. Paul is saying, I’m at the end of my rope, who can save me?
But then he says this: Who shall save me? Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus is the answer. How is Jesus the answer? How can we escape the power of sin over our flesh?
Now you know me and you know that I’m not a big fan of easy formulas and 12-step programs. Mainly because they don’t work. As we discussed last week, spiritual growth, victory over sin, is a lifelong journey. The Christian life is not a series of 100-yard sprints, but a long marathon. We run with patience as the writer of Hebrews encourages us.
That being said, I want to share 7 key truths you need to know about this ongoing war against that monster that lives inside of you. That monster we call the flesh.