Summary: This sermon is based upon Mike Yaconelli’s book "Messy Spirituality" and is designed to convince seekers that God wants their Nitty and Gritty lives.

June 15 & 16, 2002

Romans 8:1-4

“When Nitty Gritty Becomes Brother Nitty or Sister Gritty”

I believe that I have proven to you over the last four weeks that you don’t have to be some spiritual titan to be following God. I also believe that I have proven that all persons, regardless of their past and regardless of their problems in their today’s, are loved, respected by God and that he is wants us to walk with him in what ever stumbling or toddling gait that we can muster. However, there comes a time in every believers life when he or she says to themselves, “I think I am walking closer to God than I am walking to the things of this world. Or, at least, they recognize the desire to do so. That my friends is spiritual growth. That might be considered the day that your Nitty Gritty life becomes Brother Nitty or Sister Gritty. That means that you are on a path to spiritual growth that is discernable and recognizable.

There is a danger however when our Nitty Gritty becomes Brother Nitty and Sister Gritty. So often spiritual growth is reduced to a formula, (take two verses, wash it down with a couple of prayers and call me in the morning.) In fact, we have an entire industry devoted to spiritual growth. There are systems, sets of principles, formulas, training programs, sets of tapes, curriculum and a host of books that guarantee spiritual growth. The danger lies in the fact that when we reduce spiritual growth to mechanics, we lose sight of the wonderful ride that awaits every believer in the kind of spiritual growth that is really a wild search for God in the tangled jungle of our souls. It is a search and a process that involves a volatile mix of nitty gritty reality, wild freedom, frustrating stuckness, increasing slowness and a huge dollop of gratitude. After all as the sermon title would tell you, in your path to spiritual maturity you never shuck the Nitty and never really lay aside the Gritty. This spiritual growth is that which begins with desire and not guilt. This spiritual growth is fuelled by passion not principles. This type of spiritual growth is kept fresh by desperation not obligation.

Have you ever considered what your favorite chapter is in the Bible? If you were to make a judgment as to the greatest chapter of scripture, which would it be? Here might be a short list.

Psalm 23- The Lord is my shepherd… Isaiah 6- When he declares, “Here am I send me.” John 3- For God so loved the world… Acts 2- The whole Pentecost experience, Philippians 4- “Whatsoever things are true…”, “I can do all things…”, “Not that I speak in respect of want…”, 1 Corinthians 13- “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels and have not love…, James 3, or 1 John 1.

A couple of decades ago Dr. Donald Gray Barnhouse posed such a question to 20 individuals that he felt were the greatest biblical expositors of his time, preachers and teachers really. He made it a little easier by asking the question like this, “If you were shipwrecked on a deserted island and only one chapter of scripture could be washed ashore, which chapter would you want it to be? Of the twenty responses there was only one chapter that received more than one vote, that chapter was Romans chapter 8. What was more amazing was that this chapter appeared in the response of six (6) of the respondents. Romans chapter 8 may not have even been on your radar screen. Why would such a response come from men and women who have devoted their lives to biblical preaching and teaching? I think it is because that chapter 8 is where we realize what happens when our Nitty Gritty becomes Brother Nitty and Sister Gritty. You have to understand just a little bit of the prologue of chapter 8.

Just prior to chapter 8, in chapter 7 Paul calls himself “a wretched man, a slave to the law of sin and his sinful nature.” Paul is saying that in spite of his experience on the road to Damascus, in spite of his position as apostle to the Gentiles, in spite of his knowledge of scripture, Paul the Apostle has never escaped his Nitty nor his Gritty. Paul is Brother Nitty. Then he writes, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” When Romans chapter eight is birthed in you, when you lay hold of it and when you rest in it’s promise, you will experience assurance and joy that is unmatched by any other. Look what it says,

Even if you don’t measure up…there is no condemnation.

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