Sermon delivered on Trinity 4A, Sunday, July 5, 2020 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.
If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, usually somewhat different from the text below, click here.
Lectionary texts: Genesis 24:34–38, 42–49, 58–67; Psalm 45.10-17; Romans 7.15-25; Matthew 11.16-19, 25-30.
Let us Pray: Dear Lord, be with me when I am in doubt and drive away my fear. Refresh my mind and affirm my faith that you are with me and I am in your promises. Amen.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus,
How are you all!
Even today, Number of cases of Covid 19 is going on increasing along with the deaths all over the world. This Virus caused lot of mental issues like fear, scared, depressed, don’t know what to do & how to deal with it, domestic violence, looting the stores, some people went back to addictions. In this situation we gathered here as a St. Augustines’s family to shout along with Joshua
24:15 “ As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”. ( Could you repeat after me please!)
We gathered together to celebrate the life in Christ Jesus. God in His graciousness blessed us to be safe from this deadly Virus. Isn’t it? Yes.
The word of God speaking to us directly during this situation
Jesus says “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. “
Fear not, Abram. (Genesis 15:1)
When you find yourself in a place where you feel as though your only companion is fear, change Abram’s name to your name, and receive this promise of God – Fear Not- as part of your spiritual inheritance. Whether you are aware of this or not, you are always held in the hands of God’s promises. Are you afraid? Remember the One who is your shield. Your name is always being called as you are invited into deeper faith. Faith is the guardian angel overshadowing you at all times. Much is invisible at first glance. Look deeply.
How difficult it must have been for our father, Abraham, to believe the promise of God. Likewise, it is not easy for us to believe there is a rich future awaiting us. It is not easy to see a Divine plan for our lives and for St. Augustine’s Church. So let us hold hands with our ancient father in faith and with faith itself. And today’s first reading is about God Yahweh promise to Abraham is being fulfilled through Isaac the son of Abraham. And Isaac got married to Rebekah and had two sons Esau and Jacob. So let us be strong in faith and hope in Jesus Christ.
Now let us reflect on letter to Romans chapter 7
St. Paul is dealing with the Law, Sin and the Flesh.
This passage in Romans 7:15-20 gives us the first-hand account of the battle between the new nature and the sinful flesh within the apostle Paul. He writes these verses as a mature believer in Christ. Paul’s own life demonstrates that this struggle with our sinful flesh never goes away while we are on the earth. Paul is in a fight for holiness, just as you and I are. We must take action to buffet our body and make it our slave. We must resist temptation and fight the good fight. We must resist temptation and flee immorality. The Christian life is a fight for holiness. This battle within us is real, intense, ongoing, internal, spiritual, and found within all true believers. Romans 7:15-20 These verses are like looking into a mirror and seeing the struggle with sin that resides within each one of us.
If you do feel the intensity of this internal strife, it is because you are converted to Christ Jesus.
John Calvin wrote in chapter one, section one of his Institutes of the Christian Religion that with the knowledge of God comes the knowledge of self. Everything in your Christian life begins with knowing who God is and, in turn, knowing who you are. Until you know who God is, you will never know who you are. And until you know who you are, you will never advance in spirituality. Paul is being completely honest with us. This is a private thought that is now made known publically in order to help us to learn about our struggle with sin. If when you sin, you are thinking, “What is wrong with me?,” the reality is that this is what is wrong with all of us. The reality is that even as a believer, we still struggle with sin.
Sin is a Legal Offense (7:16)
Sin is a legal offense against God and His word. Paul writes, “But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good” (verse 16). Paul is obviously talking about the sin that he does not want to do. We know he is a true believer because no believer wants to sin. But Paul confesses that he does the very thing that he does not wish to do. This man, who authored fourteen books in the New Testament, yet even as a mature believer in Christ, Paul is still entrenched in this war against the sinful flesh within him. This is the same struggle we all face in day to day lives.
let us answer some questions in this regard:
can the law save us? No. only the grace of God can save us.
Paul shows that even though the law is glorious and good, it can’t save us – and we need a Savior. Paul never found any peace, until he looked outside of himself and beyond the law to his Savior, Jesus Christ.
How the law help the humanity? The law help us to respect every human. And every human life is matter, not just black or white but everyone, born in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, and North America, and to bring harmony in the society, and for the welfare of every human being.
We must know that the Law Reveals Our Sin.
This is the great paradox of the Christian life. Are we free? Yes! We’re free from sin’s dominion and free to worship God, but we’re also trapped in this flesh which will never be free from sin until death. That’s why Paul cries out “who will free me from this body of death?” at the end of the chapter.
As much as we hate it, we’re in a battle, not just with Satan and demonic forces, but with our flesh which desires to heed to sin. How does a believer know that there is still sin within him? The answer, according to verse 16, is that the Law reveals it to us. One of the necessary ministries of the Law of God is to expose sin in our lives, even as a believer. Paul writes, “But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good” (verse 16). What is it that the Law testifies to Paul, to which he is in agreement? It is that the Law reveals to us our sin.
Anyone who has tried to do good is aware of this struggle. We never know how hard it is to stop sinning until we try. “No man knows how bad he is until he has tried to be good.” (C.S. Lewis)
For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man says Paul: Paul knows that his real inward man has a delight in the law of God. He understands that the impulse towards sin comes from another law in my members. Paul knows that the “real self” is the one who does delight in the law of God.
Jesus was born under the law, but in his death and resurrection, he reformed the law, and he did so on behalf of all humanity. The risen Christ does not have to keep the Sabbath or any other laws of Moses. Yet he did it to fulfill Father’s Will and to be our Master and Model.
We cannot adopt a defeatist attitude, because greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. Because of the all-sufficient grace of God, we will grow in personal holiness. We will experience ever-increasing victories over sin in our lives. There is still sin within us as believers, but we are, nevertheless, making progress and moving forward into greater conformity to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29).
What role does the Law play in an unbeliever’s life? It defines sin. The Law condemns an unbeliever. It can be the ‘tutor’ that shows an unbeliever that he/she needs a Savior
24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.. (Gal 3:24).
Can obeying the Law save anyone? Why or why not? The Law cannot save anyone. No one can keep it perfectly….except Jesus!
Paul described the process of how our flesh can be aroused by the Law in vv8-10.
8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.
I would like to give my own example as I apply this text to my life. Few times in my work place, I did my personal works and I used company material . The rule is every employee has to dedicate their time fully towards the job and never to use the material of the company. So If I keep the rule I am free from mistake and fault but If I do not keep, the same rule points out my mistakes.
We can apply this for the sins and failures. The commandments help us to obey God and respect other human beings. And the same Commandments points out our sins when we do not follow.
Let us read the text:
17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
In Rom 7:17-20 Is Paul giving believers an excuse to sin? No
Is he removing any hope of walking in godliness? NO
Paul speaks of two persons in himself. We can understand this way, Saul of Tarsus and Paul the Apostle. The old Saul has the nature of sin with the Law and new Paul has the nature of spirit of Jesus to do good with love of Jesus Christ.
Paul is making a clear difference with the desires or works of flesh Vs the desires of the Spirit in the believers.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[a] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
What is the conflict in these verses? What do you learn about the Law in these verses? What do you learn about believers and their flesh?
There is always conflict between Spirit Vs Flesh;
The Law points out the restrictions, boundaries, requirements and sin
The Believers have to live by the new spirit and new heart rather than worldly and fleshly desires.
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
Dear friends in Jesus
The Law related to Marriage is to guide the married people to be faithful, to have mutual love and respect and to have the family instituted by God. God in His graciousness instituted the family. Wife, husband and children living together in love.
Therefore let us love the family life and be bound by the law that guides and directs the family.
There is a law and order in the universe that brings harmony. Therefore the law is so important for human society for common good.
Throughout the history of the church, people have debated who Paul was describing in vv14-25. Here are some common interpretations:
1. Paul is describing himself before he was saved. (unbelievers)
2. Paul is describing his personal experience as a believer. (believers)
3. Paul is describing himself before salvation, when he was under conviction.
4. Paul is describing the struggle of anyone who is trying to live ‘under the law’…believer or unbeliever.
I personally believe when we are motivated by Love we do not need the law. And we may overcome all evil and sin with the grace of Jesus Christ.
The freedom in Christ is new creation yet we need to deal with all the issues of the world. Because we have the symptoms of this flesh virus ( Eg: Bad habits drinking , smoking, lustful Thoughts, anger, violence etc) . We struggle very hard to fight against all these sins.
We have the good news: Rev 3:20-21
20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
WILLIAM HOLMAN HUNT painted the picture of Jesus knocking the door ( England)
I would like to conclude my reflection with the Image of Jesus Knocking your door- The door of your heart, only you can open it from inside. would you open it for Jesus to enter into your life!
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit .Amen.