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Kampar Chinese Methodist Church 29Mar03
" . . . a sermon based on spiritual lessons which took me more than two decades to learn, mostly the hard way. Of all the sermon notes which I have uploaded to this vertex, this one appears to be nearest to my heart. My yearning is for all who read this sermon to be waken up by the same epiphany which I experienced, i.e. no longer to wait passively for some mystical, spectacular or unexplainable "indwelling" power to help them overcome the insurmountable power of sin working in the flesh, but instead, to work actively by the enablement of God's Spirit, to put to death the works of our flesh, to refuse to give in to "what we want" (Gal 5: 17) and to present every member of our body as instruments of righteousness to God. "
7:25 "I thank God - through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin."
In the 70s, many Christians explained the Gospel of Christ using the Four Spiritual Laws. After believing in Christ, I came across another set of Laws. These laws were not composed or invented by a human author like the 4SL. Instead, they are real laws. They exist in our everyday lives. They control the way we live. They are spiritual laws which cannot be changed by man. Tonight, we can read about these spiritual laws in the letter of the Apostle Paul to the church at Rome, in Romans 7 and 8. In these two chapters of the New Testament, the Apostle explains to us three spiritual laws that govern our lives.
The law given through Moses in the O.T. It consists of moral laws, ceremonial laws and civil laws. Altogether there are about 615 commandments, given to the nation of Israel while they were wandering in the desert after the Lord brought them up out of Egypt. Today, they are recorded for us in the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. Many of these laws are repeated again in the book of Deuteronomy , just before Moses died.
In the NT, The apostle Paul says many good things about the law:
7:7 helps us recognise sin.
7:12 holy, just and good.
7:14 the Law is spiritual
7:16 the Law is good
7:22 I delight in the law of God with the inward man
7:25 I serve the law of God with the mind (note myself i.e. on my own)
However, there is one problem with the law of God. Nobody can obey it perfectly, all the time. Nobody can become righteous in the sight of God by trying to keep the law. Earlier, in Romans chapter 3, Paul quoted Psalm 14: 1 - 3, "there is none righteous, no not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God . . . ." When expounding on this passage, Paul wrote (Rom 3:20) that by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
The apostle James also explained similarly about the law: James 2: 10 - (read) - for whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. Why is this so? Why is it impossible for anyone in this world to become righteous before God by keeping the Law? The answer lies in the next Law - the Law of sin.
7:15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; for what I hate, that I do.
. . .
7:18 For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
7:19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil that I will not to do, that I practice.
. . .
7:21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.
7:22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
7:24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
The apostle Paul tells us that while our minds delight in the law of God, and while our minds try to obey the law, another law is controlling our flesh. In verse 7:25, this law is called the law of sin. In 8:2 this law is called the law of sin and death. This law of sin works in our flesh. It prevents us from practising the law of God in our lives. It makes us disobey the law of God. In verse 18 and 19 of Romans 7, Paul explains that his mind wants to do good but his flesh does not know how to carry it out. On the other hand his mind does not want to do evil but his flesh keeps practising evil. These two laws control everyone in this world. These laws tonight also control you and me. We agree with the holy and perfect law of God in our minds, but the law of sin controls us in our flesh. We have to say together with the Apostle Paul, "For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) nothing good dwells…"
And, together with Paul, we also express our despair - 7:24 "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?"
Praise the Lord! tonight we do not need to remain under the law of sin and death. We do not have to continue as wretched men and women. We do not have to remain prisoners to our flesh. This is because the Lord God has shown his abounding love to us - by giving us a third law - the law of the Spirit of Life.
1. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
3. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,
4. that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
5. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
6. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
8:2 says the law of the Spirit of life is found in Christ. This law sets us free from the law of sin and death.
Let me tell you a secret: God has started preparing this law for His people very long ago in the O.T., long before the law of God was given to Moses in the wilderness. In Genesis chapters 12 - 15 god promised at least three times that He would give the land of Canaan to Abram and to His descendants forever. God promised that through Abraham all other nations on earth shall be blessed. And God told Abram that His descendants will be like the stars in the sky. In Genesis 15: 6, the Bible tells us that Abram believed God, and because of his belief, . . . because of his faith in God's promises, God accepted Abraham as a righteous man. On that same day, God made a covenant with Abraham to give to his descendants the Promised Land.
There is something strange about this incident. Abraham was made righteous by God just by believing what God promised. He did not have to obey any of the 615 commandments given in the Law of God through Moses. In fact, the law of God was only given to Moses 430 years later in the Book of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers!
Another strange thing about God's promise to Abraham is that the word 'descendants' used in Genesis chapters 12 through15 does not refer to many descendants of Abraham. In the Hebrew Old Testament, the word descendants actually mean 'Seed' - one person!
Explain the following teachings of Paul briefly . . .
The Law of God (in our minds) - show us the holiness of God, the perfect righteousness of God and the severe judgement of God. The Law of Sin and Death (in our flesh) - shows us the sinfulness of all mankind, the wretchedness of our condition and the powerlessness of our own efforts to fulfil the Law of God. The Law of the Spirit of Life (in Christ) - shows us how to escape from the law of sin.
Like Abraham, We need to believe in the gospel of Christ, by faith. We need to set our minds (change our world-view) on the things of the Spirit. We need to stop setting our minds on the things of the flesh. (Read 8:5) Brothers and Sisters, I ask you to consider your lives seriously - have you believed in Christ? If so, the Spirit of God dwells in you. The Law of the Spirit of Life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Read Romans 8: 12, 13
"So then, brothers and sisters, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh (for if you live according to the flesh, you will die), but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live."
Compare with Galatians 5: 17 NET
"For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want."
NKJV "for the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish."
Let us make each day of our pilgrimage in this world a day of putting to death the (mis)deeds of our fleshly desires . . .