Summary: One of the benefits of being a Christian is that we are not condemned for the fact that we fall short of complete perfection.
Read Text: Romans 8:1-4
Michael Breissen was a new father, and he was not about to let his wife’s first Mother’s Day pass uncelebrated. But she was a nurse, and on that particular Sunday was working at the local hospital, and they weren’t able to celebrate together at home. So Michael plunked his new son, Jason, in the baby carrier, drove to the hospital, and in front of all the patients and co-workers he surprised Miriam with candy and flowers and balloons that said, "World’s Greatest Mom."
It was a great Mother’s Day. But after celebrating, it was time for Miriam to go back to work, and Jason and Michael to go back home. Michael gathered all the things that had been part of the celebration: the candy, flowers, and balloons. It wasn’t as much fun taking those things out to the car as it was taking them in to the hospital for the surprise. He begrudgingly tossed the candy on the front seat and got the flowers arranged on the floor where they wouldn’t tip over. He pulled the balloons in out of the wind and got everything arranged, and headed home.
On the way home, people began to honk their horns and flash their lights at him. He didn’t realize what was going on until he hit 55 miles per hour on the highway. He heard a long scraping noise go down the roof, followed by a loud thump. He watched in horror in the rearview mirror as the baby carrier bounced off the trunk onto the highway and began to slide along behind the car.
Michael screeched to a halt. He ran back down the highway to the baby carrier. Jason was okay. As the waves of guilt and fear and relief began to wash over him, Michael fell on the highway and began to sob, which did not stop a passing policeman from writing him up, nor the local newspaper from writing a story about it. A reporter interviewed Miriam, who showed amazing understanding. She said, "It’s so unlike him. He really is a good father."
While there’s a part of us that says, "How could he?" there’s another part of us that relates to Michael Breissen. We recog-nize all the mistakes we have made, the dumb things we have done born out of hurry or frustration or distraction. We know that there is enough Michael Breissen in us that we could be guilty of such things too. It’s all part of being human.
The eighth chapter of Romans begins with one of the greatest promises in all the Bible. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." And even standing by itself there is something in those words that makes your heart flutter. The significance of the fact that in spite of our sin, God doesn’t condemn us is overwhelming in and of itself. But the truth of the matter is, when you read that verse in light of chapter 7, the personal application of its truth is even more invigorating.
You see, chapter 7 is one of the most powerful statements about struggling with sin in the history of all literature. What makes it so powerful is, that it is Paul providing us a glimpse into his own struggle. For me that is encouraging.
Often when I think of the apostle Paul, I think of somebody who is bigger than life. I see him standing up and defending his faith in front of the Roman governors and even the emperor. I remember him on his great missionary journies all over the Roman empire. We have all listened to him as he instructs the churches to be faithful, and as he encourages Timothy and Titus to remain true to their calling. Probably most of us have put Paul on quite a pedestal.
But when we come to the 7th chapter of Romans, we get a peek behind eyes of the apostle, and he’s a lot more human than we might have first thought. Paul is a fellow struggler. (Read 7:14-15, 18-19) Did you notice what is going on here? Paul is honest enough to recognize within himself a tendency to get caught in to the stranglehold of sin. This is not Paul talking about the way he used to be sinful before he became a Christian. This is Paul saying, "Just this morning, I gave in again. It happens to us all. Earlier in his letter he has proclaimed "No one is righteous, not even one." Later he stated matter of factly "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." But now he states it even more personally. "I struggle with sin, and sometimes I lose." Finally, the frustration of losing seems to break through to the surface as Paul proclaims in 7:22-24 (Read).