Skip to comments."God Wants to Kill You" (Sermon on Romans 7:1-13)
Posted on 06/25/2011 6:28:12 PM PDT by Charles Henrickson
God Wants to Kill You (Romans 7:1-13)
God wants to kill you. God wants you dead. Does that shock you, my friends? Well, let me put it this way: God has to kill you! God has to kill you, in order to make you alive. Thats the point of our Epistle reading today from Romans 7, and thus our theme this morning: God Wants to Kill You.
What in the world are you talking about, Henrickson? God wants to kill you? That doesnt sound very nice. Its not. In fact, in can be very painful. But its the most loving thing God can do for you. Kill the old you, enslaved to sin and bound for eternal death, and bring forth a new you, alive in the Spirit, bearing fruit for God, and heading for eternal life. Thats what God does, and you need it.
Youve got to change masters, you need a new lord from the one you had before Christ and apart from Christ. At that time, before you came to life in Christ, your old master, the slave master that was driving you, was sin. Thats all you could do. The old fleshly nature, the sinful nature--the Old Adam, we call it--you could rise no higher than that. Flesh gives birth to flesh, and thats that. You and I, like all the fallen sons of Adam, were born into slavery, slavery to sin.
Now you cannot reform the Old Adam, you can only make him a better sinner. The Old Adam can dress himself up, can make himself look like a respectable person, a moral person, a religious person even, but his basic nature doesnt change. He just does more respectable sins. Or maybe he gets better at hiding the disreputable ones. But hes still a sinner, still hates God and wants to disobey him. Thats who we are, each one of us, according to our old sinful nature.
Look, you can refine your sins, you can make them not look so bad or so obvious. You can try to suppress your sins, try to keep them down, keep them from popping up in unsightly, embarrassing ways. You can make yourself look better than those bad people, the really gross sinners. Thats whats called being a Pharisee. The Pharisees were pretty good at that. But you cannot change your essential sinful nature. It will just show up in different ways. Pride, lust, gossip, and greed, for instance--the more secret or respectable sins--instead of, oh, outright adultery or stealing, like the bad people do. But pride, lust, gossip, and greed are just as surely the product of a sinful nature as are the showier sins.
No, you cannot reform the Old Adam, you can only kill him. Or should I say, God has to kill him, put him to death and start over with a new you. The Old Adam has to die, and a new person, clean and forgiven for Christs sake, made alive and energized by the Holy Spirit--a new creation, really--thats whats got to happen if youre going to live, really live, I mean.
So how does God do this? The killing, the putting to death of the old sinful you? Heres where the law comes in. God kills us with his law? Yes, he does. So is the law something bad? No, as we just sang, The Law of God is good and wise. His law is good and wise, but were not. Thats the problem. And we need Gods law to show us that, and then to put us to death, so that a new man may arise.
Paul writes in our text: What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. You see, you need the law to let you know what sin is and that you are that sinner. Otherwise, you might delude yourself into thinking everything is alright. Im OK, youre OK--Im not so sure about that guy down the street, and sometimes I wonder about you--but at least I know that Im OK. Im a pretty good person, and I dont need any outside help. Thats how the natural man thinks.
But here comes Gods law. It tells us that anything short of loving the Lord God with everything that is in you, or anything short of loving your neighbor as much as you love yourself--the law tells us that that is sin. Gods law tells us that it is not just the final, outward act that is sin, such as murder, adultery, stealing, for example--the law tells us that anything that falls under those broad umbrellas, whether in thought, word, or deed--that all of it is sin in Gods sight. The lustful thought, the unkind word, the lack of love for God and his word and his house--these all reveal our nature as sinners just as much as if we were a homosexual or a murderer. Sin starts on the inside and works it way out, in a thousand different ways.
Gods law tells us that, so that we would know we need help, that we cannot rescue ourselves or justify ourselves. Through the law comes the knowledge of sin, Paul wrote earlier in Romans, and now he repeats the thought: If it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. Gods law acts like a mirror, to show us what we really look like as sinners, and it is not a pretty sight.
But, just so we dont miss the point, the law does even more. It even accelerates our sin, arouses it, makes it even more obvious. Paul continues: For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, You shall not covet. But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. You see, our screwed-up sinful nature is so screwed up that it wants to sin against God! When it finds out God wants us to live a certain way, it will do the exact opposite! Its like a rebellious kid, is our Old Adam. God tells me Im not supposed to covet? Well, Ill show him! Im gonna covet a whole lot more! So there! Sin--the sin in you and me--sin hears Gods law, his commandments, and says, No, I dont want to serve God. Id rather serve me, my desires, my pleasures! And in so doing, we end up serving ourselves into death. Our sinful passions, aroused by the law, Paul says, bear fruit for death. For the penalty for breaking Gods law, any of it, is death.
Paul puts it this way: For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.
Dear friend, do you recognize yourself in the mirror of Gods law? That sinner staring back at you? Good! Thats what you need to see. A dead man, with no hope of saving himself. The law is doing its job.
Now God has another word for you, a life-giving word. It is the word of the gospel, which makes alive, which gives life. New life. Eternal life. Life in Christ. Life in the Spirit. You need a whole new you, if youre going to live as Gods child. And God makes it happen. It happens only through the gospel, the good news of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. His death is the death of death. His blood, shed on the cross, covers all of your sins. Gods own Son bore the brunt of our sins on his own back, a back whipped and striped, a body nailed to the cross. By his stripes, we are healed. Christ our Savior fulfilled Gods law for us, kept its intent perfectly as a man. And then, even though he is sinless, he took the full force of the judgment that the law pronounces upon sinners, dying in our place.
He did all this for you and for every other sinner who has ever lived, the not-so-bad ones and the really bad ones, it makes no difference. If youre a sinner, you qualify. Come and get some forgiveness! Its right here for you! Theres more than enough to go around. And its all free, pure gift.
So this is how God makes a new you. He kills you and makes you alive. It happened in your baptism, when you were joined to Jesus in his death and resurrection. Dead man goes in and under. New man comes up and out. New life in Christ, for you, the baptized child of God. This is how we live now, as new people in Christ. Weve been set free from the old slavery to sin, and we rise now, new every day, empowered and energized by the Holy Spirit, to live as Gods children--which, it just so happens, coincides with the way that Gods law says we ought to live! Only now were doing it by the power of the Spirit, not on our own feeble strength, which will never cut it. We serve in the new way of the Spirit, our text says.
My brothers, Paul writes, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. This is our new life now. We belong to Christ our Lord, who has been raised from the dead. His resurrection life feeds our life as Christians. Now we bear fruit for God, good fruit, things like faith and worship and love, which may sound like abstract words, but they take shape in very real form in our daily lives. The new life shows up in how we forgive one another, when one Christian sins against another. We forgive, rather than take revenge. It shows up in our love for God, that we want to come to church as often as we can, we want to praise his name. It shows up when we discover we really do have the power to resist temptation and not go along with the wrongheaded ways of the world. This is the life the Spirit produces in us, as we are nurtured on Word and Sacrament, the means of grace.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: God wants to kill you! Yes, that may sound shocking, but its the best thing for you. God needs to kill you, in order to make you alive in Christ. Youve been set free from your old slavery to sin and death, and now you are alive to serve God in the newness of the Spirit. Oh, your struggle with sin will continue your whole life long, but one day that struggle will come to end, when we rest from our labors, secure in the faith. And then, at Christs return, God will raise us up new and whole, with no more sin to beset us. It will be glorious!
Dear friends: God wants to make you alive! He wants to give you life! New life now, eternal life forever, life in Christ, and he does it through the gospel. Believe his promise and receive his gifts!
Do you not know, brothers--for I am speaking to those who know the law--that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, You shall not covet. But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.
Excellent. Steve and I were talking just the other night about the seeming conflict between considering the lilies of the field, taking no thought for the morrow, and the parable of the wise & foolish virgins about being prepared, and neither one of us is theologian enough to reconcile the two. Do you by chance have a homily prepared on that?
“It happened in your baptism, when you were joined to Jesus in his death and resurrection. Dead man goes in and under. New man comes up and out.”
God doesn’t want to kill you.
IF you are a Christian, you have died by being included in the crucifixion with Christ when you exercised saving faith.
Here is a sermon I did on the lilies of the field:
And here's one on the wise and foolish virgins:
I don't remember if either sermon gets into the question of reconciling taking no thought for the morrow and being prepared.
St. Paul has just said, in Romans 6, that you died when you were baptized: "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:3-4)
I'm just following his thought.
blessings to you.
Someone will hear it in the context of their experiences and not get out of it what you wish for them to.
If I may?
The Lilies of the Field passage is a sort of allusion to the Father and Creation, the sense of the “my Father has made everything as it is down to the very flowers you see it is all His handiwork”.
Nearly all the peculiar opinions of the Jews the apostle had overthrown in his previous argument. Here he gives the finishing stroke, and shows that the tendency of the law, as a practical matter, was everywhere the same. It was not, in fact, to produce peace, but agitation, conflict, distress. Yet this was not the fault of the law, which was in itself good, but of sin, Rom 7:6-24. I regard this chapter as not referring exclusively to Paul in a state of nature, or of grace. The discussion is conducted without particular reference to that point. It is rather designed to group together the actions of a man's life, whether in a state of conviction for sin or in a state of grace, and to show that the effect of the law is everywhere substantially the same. It equally fails everywhere in producing peace and sanctification. The argument of the Jew respecting the efficacy of the law; and its sufficiency for the condition of man, is thus overthrown by a succession of proofs relating to justification, to pardon, to peace, to the evils of sin, and to the agitated and conflicting moral elements in man's bosom. The effect is everywhere the same. The deficiency is apparent in regard to ALL, the great interests of man. And having shown this, the apostle and the reader are prepared for the language of triumph and gratitude, that deliverance from all these evils is to be traced to the gospel of Jesus Christ the Lord, Rom 7:25
The apostle had, in the preceding chapter, shown the converted Gentiles the obligations they were under to live a holy life, addresses himself here to the Jews who might hesitate to embrace the Gospel; lest, by this means, they should renounce the law, which might appear to them as a renunciation of their allegiance to God. As they rested in the law, as sufficient for justification and sanctification, it was necessary to convince them of their mistake. That the law was insufficient for their justification the apostle had proved, in chapters iii., iv., and v.; that it is insufficient for their sanctification he shows in this chapter; and introduces his discourse by showing that a believing Jew is discharged from his obligations to the law, and is at liberty to come under another and much happier constitution, viz. that of the Gospel of Christ, Rom 7:1-4. In Rom 7:5 he gives a general description of the state of a Jew, in servitude to sin, considered as under mere law. In Rom 7:6 he gives a summary account of the state of a Christian, or believing Jew, and the advantages he enjoys under the Gospel. Upon Rom 7:5 he comments from Rom 7:7-25, and upon Rom 7:6 he comments, Rom 8:1-11.
In explaining his position in Rom 7:5 he shows:
We were buried therefore with him by means of baptism unto death (sunetaphêmen oun autôi dia tou baptismatos eis ton thanaton) second aorist passive indicative of sunthaptô, old verb 'to bury together with' (only here and Col 2:12). With associative instrumental case (autôi) and "by means of baptism unto death" (from preceeding verse). In newness of life (en kainotêti zôês) The picture in baptism points two ways: backwards to Christ's death and burial and to our death to sin (cf. Rom 6:1), forwards to Christ's resurrection from the dead and to our new life pledged by the coming out of the watery grave to walk on the other side of the baptismal grave. There is the further picture of our own resurrection from the grave. It is a tragedy that Paul's majestic picture here has been so blurred by controversy that some refuse to see it. It should be said also that a symbol is not the reality, but the picture of the reality.
Obviously, you do not believe that baptism is a means of grace, that it is a sacrament. I do believe that it is and that my Lutheran theology agrees with St. Paul's.
BTW, "sacramentarian" historically was the term used to describe those who held to a non-sacramental view of the Lord's Supper, i.e., the Zwinglians and Calvinists, who denied the real presence of Christ's Body and Blood in the Sacrament.
Are you referring to the "God wants to kill you" line? I thought I made abundantly clear throughout the sermon what I meant by that. Do you think it is likely to be misunderstood?
Death is state of existence involving separation.
When we fail to hit the aiming point in God’s Plan for us, we miss the mark, or sin. Whenever we sin, we fallout of fellowship with perfect righteousness.
The death isn’t caused by righteousness, but by our volition choosing to miss His mark for us, i.e by sin.
"when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure."
Baptism is not, as some teach, essential to salvation. Paul reminds the Corinthians that they were saved through believing the gospel he preached: "How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures..." (1 Cor 15:3). Paul repeatedly declares that we are saved only by believing the gospel. For example: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth [it]" (Rom 1:16). It is the gospel that saves, not baptism. Salvation comes through believing the gospel, not by being baptized. In fact, Paul declared, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel" (1 Cor 1:17). Clearly baptism is no part of the gospel and thus has nothing to do with salvation and not one verse in the Bible can be found to support the notion! Admittedly, Mark 16:16 says, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved," intimates only that saved people get baptized (setting aside the order specified). The rest of the verse says, "but he that believeth not shall be damned." making it clear what place baptism has with respect to salvation. Nowhere does the Bible say, "He that is not baptized shall be damned," or "If you only believe but don't get baptized you are lost." There are scores of verses that say, "He that believeth is saved," but only one that says, "He that believeth and is baptized is saved." And scores of verses declare that if we don't believe the gospel we are lostbut not one says that if we are not baptized we are lost.
Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, yet as John 4:2 tells us, He never baptized anyone. If He didn't even baptize one then He obviously took care not to do so for a specific reason: If the Savior of the world who did all that was necessary for our salvation baptized no one, then baptism clearly has nothing to do with salvation! The thief on the cross was never baptized.
Then wouldn't it be best to baptize everyone as infants? No, that is a fraud. To the question, "What doth hinder me to be baptized?" Philip replied, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest" (Acts 8:36-37). Baptism is for believers, and no infant has made that choice. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized" (Acts 2:41); "When they believed...they were baptized" (8:12); "many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized" (18:8). Baptism is a public declaration of faith in Christ, an act of obedience to Christ's command, and thus required of every Christianbut is does not save the soul; it follows salvation.
Jesus said that we must be "Born again of water and of the Spirit"? to Nicodemus, not merely any old rabbi but member of the Sanhedrin; to the Jew baptism would be meaningless. That notwithstanding, Christ made no bones about Nicodemus' stupidity in not comprehending being born again. Israel had ordinances of "washing with water for cleansing" the priests or a leper or someone who had been defiled (cf. Exo 30,40; Lev 13,15, etc.). So Christ was saying that "cleansing from sin" and a special work of the Holy Spirit were essential to being born again. Ephesians 5:26 explains that the New Testament fulfillment of Old Testament water cleansing is "the washing of water by the word." Peter says we are "born again...by the word of God" (1 Pt 1:23). Paul calls it "the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Tit 3:5); i.e., "born of water and the Spirit."
It was to Israel that John the Baptist preached "the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" (Mar 1:4, etc.), which they understood in the context of Old Testament water cleansing. Baptism was also connected with the "remission of sins" when offered to Jews in the Book of Acts (whether preached by Peter on the Day of Pentecost (2:38), or to Saul (22:16). That this was associated with Israel's practice of water cleansing, and not an indication that the physical act of baptism saves anyone, is clear for the reasons already given and in the context of all of the scriptures.
The idea that baptism is essential to salvation comes from Roman Catholicism. Vatican II declares, "By baptism men and women are cleansed from original sin and from all personal sins, they are born again as children of God...." (Vatican Council II, Costello Publishing, Vol 2, p 561); "Baptism is also to be given to infants...[that] they may be reborn of water and the Holy Spirit to divine life in Christ Jesus" (Vol 2, p 391), "Baptism, which is necessary for salvation...frees us from original sin and communicates to us a share in divine life" (Vol 2, pp 111-12). Not true!
The Bible is very clear that the Old Testament sacrifices and other physical acts, such as circumcision, tithing or keeping the Sabbath, could not pay the debt demanded by God's justice for sin. They were symbolic of the coming sacrifice of Christ and the heart response of faith required for salvation. Judaism's great error was its sacramentalism and formalism: finding salvation in the mere act of prayer, ritual and other deeds rather than in repentance and faith. Matthew 15 and 23 give examples of Christ's scathing rebuke of Jewish religious leaders for this error that led millions astray.
Christ criticized the rabbis for giving God His "tithe" even from the herbs in their gardens, while neglecting "judgment, mercy and faith." He quoted God's rebuke of Israel through Isaiah: "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips: but their heart is far from me." To make a physical act/ritual efficacious for salvation makes it impossible to trust Christ for salvation. It must be either/or. It can't be both.
The church has only two ordinances (not sacraments): baptism and communion, or the Lord's supper. Neither is efficacious for forgiveness of sins or salvation. Both are symbolic of the believer's identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. To imagine that either has merit as a physical act repeats the error of Judaism. Yet such is the great heresy of Roman Catholicismit offers salvation through sacraments, which are physical rituals ministered by the priests.
Offering salvation through baptism or any other physical act is a serious heresy which we must stand against without compromise. The eternal destiny of souls is at stake. We dare not remain silent.
For the record, Calvinism is a doctrine straight from the pit of hell. Neither is there any "presence" in the bread or wine (real, imputed or otherwise).
If you want to post massive, long essays promoting non-sacramental theology, it might be better to start you own thread on that. I’m not going to debate you point by point here on this thread. I don’t have the time or the interest. Of course, as a Lutheran, I interpet those passages differently than you do.