Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Romans 7:15 – 8:6
Frustration and Grace

I. Ths Christian life can be frustrating because there is a difference between ideal and reality.

A. Our idea is to be like Jesus.

1. The Bible tells us to imitate Jesus.

“Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” [1 John 2:6]

2. The reality is we have reduced this to a list of “does” and “don’ts.”

3. Lists tend to be corrupted by unhealthy and unbiblical ideas.

B. The reality of life is found in verse 15.

“I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” (NLT SE)

1. “The Law,” reduced to a list and supplemented by “application,” is powerless.

a. It does not restrain.

b. It “guilts” us in unhealthy ways (that does not change us).

“The sinner is condemned by the law, the law-keeper can’t live up to it, and the person with the “new nature” finds his or her obedience to the law sabotaged by the effects of the old nature.” [LAB]

2. Struggling to succeed by your own strength is self-defeating.

a. In fact, it is the same problem you had BEFORE you accepted the mercy Jesus offered to you through His death on the cross.

b. Failure to succeed breeds contempt. Contempt for yourself, for church, for right religious exercise, and for God.

3. There are few “instant” solutions.

a. Years of spiritual neglect (and abuse) are not solved instantly (unless God has a purpose for that instant solution).

b. Romans 12:2 describes transformation as a process.

c. In other words, we are saved instantly but the Christian life is a life long process.

II. The Christian life can be frustrating because there is a power at work against us.

A. [v 17] “It is sin living in me.”

1. Sin is a power (principle) that continually sabotages and pulls us back.

a. When we fail, we get hurt (and we can hurt others).

b. When we get hurt, we want to give up.

2. [v 18] “I want to do what is right, but I can’t.”

a. Wishing or willing is for fairy tales and theology classes.

b. Not all addicts or people with messed up lives want to destroy themselves and those they love. (In fact, many hate themselves and their sinful/unhealthy behavior patterns.)

B. [v 19] “It is sin living in me.”

1. “Sin” sounds like a good excuse.

a. Paul is not using it as an excuse. He’s pointing out how helpless we are against it.

b. CAUTION: this does not allow us to evade personal responsibility for our actoins.

2. [v 21] “I have discovered this principle of life...”

a. It seems to be “inevitable.”

b. We can love God AND be more loyal to our selfishness and sin. [LAB]

***** This creates conflict inside us. We are driven to solve this conflict. *****

III. This frustration makes us miserable.

A. The spiritual reality is that in our own strength, we are powerless against a life dominated by sin and death.

1. If we hare powerless than we are hopeless.

2. OR WE NEED HELP.

a. There are almost no good things we can do alone.

b. Those that we can do alone are multiplied with others.

B. The counter-reality is that God has given us power.

1. [v 25] “The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

a. Jesus was the only one to never give in to sin.

b. Jesus broke the power of sin when He rose from the dead.

2. Here’s the picture:

a. The cross saves us from sin.

b. The resurrection saves us from ourselves [Dr. Jeff Johnson]
At the cross the power of sin is broken, at the empty tomb the power of a new life is given.

IV. The Christian life can be glorious in victory.

A. [8:1] “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

1. [8:2] “the power of the life-giving spirit has freed you.”

a. While sin can hassle us. God has given us a powerful ally and resource.

b. We do not struggle alone!

2. Who has God given us?

a. Jesus [8:3]

b. The Holy Spirit [8:2]

B. While we cannot “wish or will” we can chose. [8:6]

1. We can allow the sinful nature (sin in us) to control the battle ground and pile up more frustration.

2. We can choose to allow the Spirit to control the battle ground (and have life and peace).

C. How?

1. When we fail, we are driven to the cross and God’s kindness and mercy.

2. As we yield to the control of the Holy Spirit, we let God do the struggling for us.

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