Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I don't know if it gets any easier

Romans 6:12-23
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and Our Lord Jesus Christ.
You are all forgiven, you have been set free from the wages of sin, Jesus died in your place, taking what you deserve and giving you what he deserves. Jesus died for you and gave you life. He died on the cross to set you free from the burdens and guilt that come from trying and failing to keep the ten commandments.
You are a sanctified people set free from slavery to sin so that you can do whatever you like.... actually no, that last part is wrong, but it is what the Romans were thinking and Paul had to put a stop to it.
The letter of Romans, was written to Jews living in Rome, they had heard the good news that Jesus had died for their sins and set them free from the Law, they were no longer under law but under grace. Unfortunately, they had seen this as a reason to stop living by the Law and start using their freedom from the law to disregard it, living by their passions instead.
Now, it makes sense, if we are free from the Law then we can live in opposition to it. If I am freed from those laws that bind me from doing what I want, and what I think will make me feel good; those are the things that I am going to start doing. I have jesus's words of freedom, and the key passage that I am judged by no man but God alone; so whatever I do is acceptable in God's eyes.
That is a place called antinomianism-no Law. it is where you can get when you say that Jesus abolished the law, instead of what he said; that he had fulfilled it. God's children forget this every now and again, sometimes it is a teaching that comes strongly into the church as it was for Rome and other times in history. But other times it comes into our own lives for brief little flairs, times when we despair of our constant stumbling and in our weakness we harden the sin, we say to ourselves, God made me like this and he loves me so he must love even this, and the deceiver gets a foot in the door.
In those times of uncertainty and hardening God speaks to us from Romans,
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
You have been set completely free from sin and the guilt and eternal punishment that it brings, And I'm willing to say that God restricts quite a lot of the temporal punishment that our sins merit, but that it no reason to live in your sin. It's a struggle, it's hard, but we must keep suffering with our failure to keep God's commands, this side of heaven there will be no proper rest. There will be no day when we look back and say, "you know what, I actually kept all of God's commands, for the entirety of this day, praise God, If heaven could be entered on the basis of one day, this would be it." That is wrong thinkning, you cannot be good enough to earn heaven even with God's grace, but that is not licence to just live by the worlds passions because you will be saved by grace anyway.
15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
Paul says that though the roman Jews were slaves to sin they are no longer and neither are we.
Living by your passions leads to death, Adam and Eve wanted a nice tasting fruit which would give them godlike knowledge, they were kicked out of Eden and died. Cain was jealous of his brother, Abel died, then Cain. Moses got angry with God's people and struck a rock when God had commanded him to speak to it, and he was buried by God outside of the Promised land." What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!"

Don't wallow in your sin, and when you do strive to get out of it, seek God's forgiveness, seek the foot of the cross, go to your fellow Christians and share your burdens, come to me as your pastor and seek confession and absolution. Gather here, like you are, to be comforted and comfort others, receive regularly the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, given for you, given for baptised Christians who believe that Holy communion gives the faith that it requires.
As baptised Christians you are now slaves to righteousness, slaves to doing God's will, but this is not a burdensome task, God gives you your daily bread, he gives you what you need to do the work he calls you for, there is joy and happiness in keeping God's commands, joy for you and for your neighbour.
now that, through your baptism, you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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