Summary: Who will rescue us from ourselves - from our lives of profound inconsistency.
(Part of this sermon was inspired by a message I read at "30 Minutes One Sunday" - but beyond the initial comments, the remainder of the sermon went in a completely different direction than that which I read!)
Many of us here today have had, or still have, many problems in our lives. We are under constant stress from one thing or another: perhaps we or someone we know and love is extremely ill; or our finances are a bit shaky; or a significant relationship is our life is in turmoil; or we find ourselves stuck in a behavior we know is wrong, but we just can’t seem to shake it; or we are dealing with some other mental, emotional, or spiritual crisis.
It could be any of a thousand and one things that afflict us, but the result is we feel tired; or we find ourselves being angry at other people for almost no reason at all or, even more commonly, we feel unable to think good thoughts or do what we believe are good things.
We are not at peace. Our life is mark by inconsistency. Something is eating away at us.
So what do we do about it?
A lot of people do nothing. They just live in their rut assuming that for some reason the misery they are feeling is somehow meant to be their lot in life.
Then there are those who take a more proactive approach. They believe that they should be more at ease with themselves and with the world around them, so they employ many different strategies in order to “fix” themselves as they address the problems in their life.
In some cases they look for solutions on the shelves of the local library or bookstore – as they read the latest self-help release from the new age gurus.
In other cases they feel that might be able to get a grip on their problems, and find a happier and more fulfilling life by acting on the advice outlined in 30 minutes by one of the pop psychologists on radio or television.
Or perhaps their search for a solution leads them to one of the many means of escapism: too much television, substance abuse, over-eating, or the total immersion of oneself in one’s job.
Yet, despite all their efforts – these same folks find themselves just as tired and unhappy as those who have done nothing. In fact, they typically find themselves even more miserable since the rules and regulations and principles and means of escapism that they employed to help themselves actually require a lot great deal of effort while providing nothing of lasting value in return.
Perhaps, as a last ditch effort, some folks turn toward religion! They turn to the values and principles taught by some pastor, preacher, or Sunday School teacher. They turn to the LAWS and COMMANDMENTS of some religion in an attempt to cope with the problems that beset them.
That’s what Paul did. In the later half of Romans 7 we discover that Paul turned toward RELIGION (with all its rules, rituals, regulations, and requirements), only to discover that religion didn’t work either. Paul discovered that the good that he would like to do he did not do and the bad that he did not want to do he ended up doing anyways.
Have you been their? Have you ever felt like there was some kind of war going on inside you. Have you ever found yourself saying with Paul: “What a wretched person I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?"
Who will rescue me?
Who will rescue me from the aimlessness of my life?
Who will rescue me from my pain and loneliness?
Who will rescue me from the negativity of the world?
Who will rescue me from myself?
We’ve tried everything. We’ve tried a dozen different self-help gurus. We’ve tried the pop-psychology we hear on the radio and watch on the TV. We’ve worked with several different plans and formulas, tested various philosophies and principles, and experimented with nearly every self-help guru available on TV and Radio, yet nothing seems to be working. We’ve even tried to make it under our own steam, but our own effort and energy, and we just can’t seem to make it. We feel tired and desperate and we look toward the heavens and cry: “Who will rescue me?”
You can’t hear Paul’s words and not sense his feeling of hopelessness. He is sharing a bit of his testimony. He speaks about how he felt tired and trapped. He tells us that all of his efforts to clean up his act only left him feeling frustrated. Even when turning to the LAW OF GOD to help set him on the straight and narrow, he only felt defeat and despair. He calls himself “wretched” as it is translated in some versions of the text: “miserable”; “pitiful”; “desolate”; “heartbroken”. His one plea was this: “Who will save me?” “Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?” “Who will rescue me?”