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Grace Under Fire; Part II – The Law

Notes & Transcripts

Grace Under Fire; Part II – The Law

Romans 6:15-7:6          October 14, 2001

 

Scripture Reading: Responsive Reading # 673, pew Bible

 

Introduction:

ILLUS: Terrorists and Legalism (Can the Muslims ever expect to win anyone over to their side by terrorism? It is ineffective in its destructiveness. Osama bin Laden is enslaved to the law.)

Today we will be discussing the destructive ineffectiveness of Christian legalism.

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Roman church had written them because he planned to prepare them for his coming.

Rome was the capitol of the world at the time, and the church there was internally divided by various issues between Jews and Gentiles.

A divided church is an ineffective church, and Paul knew that his ultimate call by God to go to Rome would have every opportunity to reach the world for Christ through the church – if he could just get them all going the same direction.

The direction they needed was a serious reminder of what the gospel means.

Hoping to forge them into a unified body, Paul impresses upon them the overwhelming truth of the gospel that seems so easy to forget in practice.

That highest truth of the gospel is grace – God's favor, or blessing of eternal life, to all who have faith for the forgiveness of sins through the work of Christ.

You see, if we can just begin to understand grace, and our common need for it because of our sinfulness, and its only source by faith in Christ and not on our own merit, then we will all be going in the same direction for the kingdom of God.

For instance, a church given to a culture of complaint is not a church of overwhelming grace because they have not understood it at all – they are woefully divided against each other and against God.

So now in Romans 6, Paul elaborates on two general threats to the gift of God's grace.

The first threat, in Romans 6:1-14, was to think anyone could continue in willful sin since God's grace covers it all.

But we were reminded to overcome sin by gaining a new perspective on death, life, God, and ourselves.

We were reminded of what grace cost God in the death of Christ for sin and how to gain this new perspective by becoming like him in death unto a new life.

We saw our willful sin as a terrorist attack on God's gift of grace – basically abusing his grace.

But there is also another abuse of God's grace, and that is the law itself.

By this we mean the OT law that was intended by God to reveal or expose sin so that we would understand our need for a Savior to meet the requirements of the law for us.

The Jews calculated 613 various requirements of the OT law – impossible for any person to keep.

All this to show us that God's plan for salvation has always been by grace through faith – it is the only thing that works.

And so it is an abuse of that grace if we continue to rely upon the ineffectiveness of the law to make ourselves righteous after God has graciously shown us the way in Christ.

Another word for this self-reliance upon the law is legalism.

To give a preview then of the problem Romans 6 is revealing is to say that we either tend to violate God's grace by willful sin, or we tend to set grace aside and try to accomplish it ourselves.

We either abuse grace with sin or nullify it with legalism.

So today we will learn how grace supercedes the law – or legalism.

Big Question:

How does the effect of grace supercede law?

I.       Cycle One

          A.      Narrative (vv. 16-18)

          B.      Implication

Grace supercedes law by giving us a new enablement toward obedience.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

Grace offers us a better choice of slavemasters – a new enablement.

The law put us in slavery to the very thing we hoped to escape.

No matter how hard a person tries to escape the weakness of the flesh in the flesh, he will always fail.

It is like a person trying to jump over the moon – the nature of gravity will always defeat him.

There is nothing to set him free.

No person can serve two masters (Luke 6:13).

We are either slaves to sin or to obedience – and each have their own consequences.

The one leads to death – the other leads to righteousness.

The requirements of the law can only be met by obeying them – and we cannot – except by the grace of God that gives us a new master to follow.

The head of sin is Satan, the head of obedience is Christ.

And we are led into the next principle, that in obedience we have righteousness.

Obedience becomes possible by what we were taught about grace through the gospel – it is this form of teaching we are committed to, the freedom of the gospel as opposed to (Jewish) legalism.

If we shall be enslaved to something, then let us be enslaved to the gospel – enslaved to freedom.

It is like the matter of which military force you would rather be enslaved to – America or the Taliban.

II.      Cycle Two

          A.      Narrative (v. 19)

          B.      Implication

Grace supercedes law by giving us a new understanding toward righteousness.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

The definition of righteousness then is to obey God.

And just as this is not possible within ourselves without his help, so also it must be explained in human terms.

That is the meaning of this language about slavery.

Paul assumes that we can all identify with that, especially our enslavement to sin.

Has any one of you ever escaped the ravages of your own sin you have committed?

It is only possible, it only begins to be possible, as any of us who are in Christ can testify, when you come under the authority of the gospel.

And we are led into the next principle, that in righteousness we have holiness.

If you have a heart for God then you know he is holy.

He said that we must be holy as he is.

We are not made holy by the law but by obeying the law which leads to righteousness which leads to holiness which is only possible by the grace of God and not ourselves as we come under the authority of the gospel.

Our enslavement increases from obedience to righteousness to holiness.

III.    Cycle Three

          A.      Narrative (vv. 20-22)

          B.      Implication

Grace supercedes law by giving us a new purpose toward holiness.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

When we were slaves to sin we were out of control.

There is a principle here, and that is that enslavement naturally increases.

Rarely will you see anyone caught in a sin habit that doesn't sink deeper and deeper until they are destroyed (and destroy much around them).

They cannot help themselves – only God can.

But also we see that anyone enslaved to obedience/righteousness/holiness will increase in that slavery – a good slavery.

Once you taste the goodness of God, can you go back?

We are on course for heaven.

And we are led into the next principle, that in holiness we have eternal life.

Our text calls this a benefit.

If you are just working toward an earthly retirement you will never see a benefit like this one.

IV.    Cycle Four

 

          A.      Narrative (v. 23)

          B.      Implication

Grace supercedes law by giving us a new calling toward eternal life.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

So you see the progression of our new enslavement as it takes further upward and not downward.

Only what is holy can be in heaven with God.

It takes us toward heaven and not toward hell.

You see, we have what we call wages in the sense of what we reap by our actions.

If you are working here for the things that burn up and spoil you will be left destitute in death – that is the wages of sin.

But notice that our text does not use the term 'wages' in reference to eternal life.

That is the gift of God.

Works righteousness spurns that gift of God and says, "I'll do it myself."

And so to yourself you will be left – with the hell you have earned by your insolence.

You have insulted God and committed the unpardonable sin in not receiving God's gift of grace to you in Christ.

And so we come to the grace of God that is found in Christ and Christ alone.

V.      Cycle Five

 

          A.      Narrative

          B.      Implication

Grace supercedes law by giving us a new Master in Christ.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

Here we have the crux of it all.

Over all these things is the gift to us of our new Master.

God gives us himself in grace.

This should bring an overwhelming response from us to serve him and not the law.

Even as far back as Abraham we see that the "Father of the Jewish nation" obeyed the law even before it was given (Gen. 26:5).

Gen. 26:5  because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws."

He did that because it was always by faith (Gen. 15:6).

Gen. 15:6  Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

So is Jesus your Lord?

Is he your Master?

Are you enslaved to him?

The next few verses give us an understandable way to look at that.

VI.    Cycle Six

 

          A.      Narrative (vv. 1-3)

          B.      Implication

We find the means of our enablement in an example of death.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

VII.   Cycle Seven

 

          A.      Narrative (vv. 4-6)

          B.      Implication

We find the means of our death in the example of Christ.

          C.      Illustration

          D.      Application

Conclusion:

Big Answer:

How does the effect of grace supercede law?

Grace supercedes law by giving us a new enablement toward obedience.

Grace supercedes law by giving us a new understanding toward righteousness.

Grace supercedes law by giving us a new purpose toward holiness.

Grace supercedes law by giving us a new calling toward eternal life.

Grace supercedes law by giving us a new Master in Christ.

We find the means of our enablement in an example of death.

We find the means of our death in the example of Christ.

Timeless Truth:

Grace supercedes the law by allowing us to become a living sacrifice. (Rom. 12:1)

ILLUS: OT sacrifice – Isaac (Gen. 22) At the beginning of our religion, God took action to separate law from grace, and we have been trying to learn this ever since.

And as our baby dedication service points out to us today, each of us must be a living offering or sacrifice devoted/dedicated to God – for God has provided the Lamb.

This is not like the terrorist suicide bombers that, in serving legalism, become dead sacrifices because they followed an illegitimate higher power.

This is not the requirement of the true God of heaven and earth who sacrificed himself for us.

Take note of our "Bible Verse of the Week" on the back of the bulletin (Heb. 9:12).

Let us now commemorate what we have learned by singing a worship chorus.

Sing the worship chorus, "Holiness":

Obedience, obedience, is what I long for;

Obedience, obedience, is what I need;

Obedience, obedience, is what You want from me.

Righteousness, righteousness, is what I long for;

Righteousness, righteousness, is what I need;

Righteousness, righteousness, is what You want from me.

Holiness, holiness, is what I long for;

Holiness, holiness, is what I need;

Holiness, holiness, is what You want from me.

Eternal life, eternal life, is what I long for;

Eternal life, eternal life, is what I need;

Eternal life, eternal life, is what I have in You.

Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, is who I long for;

Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, is who I need;

Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, is who You give to me.

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