Trinity Seventeen, Sunday October 13, 2019
Sermon for Trinity Seventeen – Sunday October 13, 2019
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Romans 7:13-18, 24-25 (ESV)
13 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. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
In the Name of Jesus Christ,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in Him –
On April 20th 1999, two senior students entered Columbine High School near Denver, Colorado and opened fire on teachers and students. After they had killed a dozen students and a teacher and injured 21 others, the two young men killed themselves. It was – at the time -- the 4th deadliest school massacre in US History.
When tragic events like this happen, very often people ask: “Why did this happen?” “How could this happen?”
Answers offered by the media and others are predictable.
- Some blame society in general, and say that we aren’t doing enough to reach out to those who need help.
- Some blame parents, claiming that this happened because the individual was spanked as a child.
- Some blame an environment of television and violent movies and video games.
- Some blame drugs.
BUT… no one blames the murderer for acting on sinful impulses.
Now I don’t doubt that environment and violence and drugs can have an effect on behavior, but they are not the root cause of the problem.
For all of society’s combined wisdom and science, precious few see that the real problem is to be found in a corrupt, sinful human nature.
The Lord Jesus stated the problem simply in the Gospel of Mark (Mark 7:21-23 ESV):
21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
This morning we meditate upon what the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions say about Original Sin, about Human Nature. We will learn the blunt truth about our human natures and it’s not pretty. In the process we will consider two often repeated lies of Satan that would deny what our Creator says about our Fallen Human Natures.
- We are not by nature good – but evil, and God’s Law reveals the depth of our depravity and sin.
- We can’t blame someone else for our evil actions – for sinful actions spring from our own sinful nature.
May God the Holy Spirit take our hearts and minds captive that we may hear, comprehend and grow from the Word of the Living God. Therefore ask God’s intervention in this matter and pray: “Sanctify us by the Truth, O Lord, Your Word is Truth.” Amen.
It’s a philosophy that has been championed by humanists for generations. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that most secular counselors, whether grief, marriage or otherwise, can be heard telling their clients: “You can beat this because you are a good person.”
This is the simple philosophy championed in our society today: “Human Beings are by nature good, but influences and environment can lead them to make poor decisions.”
The Bible, which is God’s inspired Word without error, says something quite different. It teaches that the corrupt nature of Adam is passed on to each one of his descendants (cf. Romans 5:12). It teaches us that human beings are conceived and born in sin (Psalm 51:5).
The Word of God, specifically the Law of God, reveals the true culprit, the real problem in all of us – a sinful nature. God’s Law serves to show us our sin, as the Apostle Paul was moved to write earlier in Romans (3:19-20):
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
In fact, the Spirit of God indicates here in Romans that God’s Law serves to draw out the sinful nature lurking in each one of us. God’s Law demands with the authority of God: “You shall not!” But our sinful natures don’t like to be told what to do, and rise up and say: “I can, and I will!”
So God’s Law has the effect of enflaming our corrupt sinful natures and sinful desires come to the surface. The Apostle Paul said it like this earlier in this 7th Chapter (Romans 7:7-8):
“For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.”
God’s Law reveals the Truth about our Human Nature.
Satan would have us believe that we are by nature good, and that influences and environment corrupt us. The Law of God serves its holy purpose in revealing the true culprit…even if it may appear to be the problem.
13 Did that which is good [God’s Law], 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. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.
Let me illustrate:
If a freshly painted park bench has a wet paint sign on it…do you think people will be tempted to touch the bench and see if it’s really wet? Sure, human curiosity is strong. Now if people do touch the bench and come away with green fingers and hands, is the problem the sign? Does the fault lie with the sign…or with the curiosity and desire of those who pass by?
I think we’d all agree that the problem isn’t the sign; it’s the inborn desire to touch despite the warning.
In a similar way, God’s Law offers many signs that warn us. God’s Law tells us not to thoughtlessly use or misuse His Name. He tells us that it’s sin to look upon another with lust. He tells us that it’s sinful to hurt our neighbor’s good name and reputation. He declares that those who do such things are worthy of death.
So if we disobey and are condemned as worthy of death, is it the fault of God’s Law? The problem isn’t God’s Law; it’s our inborn desire to disobey God’s Law. Our guilty consciences may offer up excuses..
- Why it’s not so bad -- “Everyone is doing it.”
- Why it’s somehow not our fault -- “God made me this way. I’m only human.”
The hard truth is that we are to blame. We have (ourselves) disobeyed. We are by nature captives of sin, and God’s Law shows the depth of our guilt and the utter hopelessness of our situation.
God’s Law is of Divine Heavenly origin…we are earthly, fleshly, and corrupt.
We are NOT by nature good…in God’s sight. We are born with original sin, which is called in Scripture: a sinful nature, a sinful flesh, and an old Adam.
As a result, we are unable (by nature) to have a true fear of God and truly godly desires. What Paul said of himself should be the honest confession of one and all:
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
There is nothing good in my sinful flesh.
- There is no spark of good.
- There is no positive desire.
- There is no impetus for truly godly morality, because the heart is corrupt and the mind rotten.
Therefore it is impossible for natural man to please God.
This is our hopeless natural condition, spiritually dead in trespasses and sins until and unless we are born again by water and the Spirit. Again Jesus expresses it plainly (John 3:3-6):
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Now let’s briefly consider the second lie often promoted by our sinful natures: “The Devil made me do it.”
We are quick to pass the buck. Sin is a hot-potato that no one really wants to hold on to. It happened for the first time in the Garden of Eden when Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the Serpent.
Neither of them wanted to accept responsibility for their actions, for their sin. Each of them, both the man and the woman willfully took and ate and disobeyed God. The fact that they were tempted doesn’t change the fact that they (unlike us) had a choice.
It is true -- we are tempted to sin by the world around us. We are also tempted to sin from within.
BUT the desire to act upon temptation and sin comes from within us. James says in His epistle (James 1:14-15):
14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
We are truly complex beings. We are not only two parts – body and soul; we are two people as it were, saint and sinner, new man and old. Our new man is led by the Spirit of God; the old man by the sinful flesh…and they both want to be in charge, in control. There is a ‘tug of war’ going on within us every day.
In Galatians 5:17 it’s described like this:
17 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.
On the one hand part of us (the New Man) is GOD-CENTERED and agrees with God’s Will and earnestly desires to do what pleases Him. On the other hand the other part of us (the Old Man) is SELF-CENTERED and seeks after sin to fulfill its own selfish desires.
It is, for the conscientious Christian, a frustrating daily battle. The Apostle Paul expressed his own sanctified frustration like this:
15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
We understand what’s going on within us. In truth, only those who have been brought to faith, understand the problem and strive with the help of the spirit to put down the old man by daily contrition and repentance. It’s not easy this side of heaven.
We are in a way like the drug addict, who wants to quit, who knows the danger, but who still finds a part of himself wanting a fix. The fact is we cannot deliver ourselves from sin. No matter how sincere we are we need to look beyond ourselves.
The Apostle Paul knew it and cried out: 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
We are conceived and born in sin. We are corrupt to the core and therefore cannot deliver ourselves from sin and death.
But there is one who can deliver us…and both Paul and we join to thank God for Him, that through His death we have been set free from sin. There is one who can, no, who has delivered us from sin and its consequences and He is plainly named and thanked here:
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Jesus Christ has delivered us from sin and death through His sinless life and all sufficient death…and the proof is in His Resurrection from the dead. God accepts us by faith in Him, because through faith Jesus’ perfect life is credited our account. When God looks at us He sees His Children, washed clean by the blood of His Son.
So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
We have been delivered from slavery to sin…but this side of heaven we will still at times stumble and fall into sin. We are still infected by sin. But…we confess that we are by nature sinful. We believe that we have been delivered from sin and death through Jesus Christ.
- We are forgiven sinners, who daily fall at the foot of the cross and are comforted with the message of sins forgiven.
- We come to His Altar and receiving His body and blood – are assured that our sins are indeed forgiven.
- We will one day be forever separated from these sinful bodies and corrupt natures that would lead us astray.
Why do tragedies like Columbine happen? The answer is complex and yet simple. The impetus for evil deeds comes from the sinful hearts and minds of corrupt human beings. We can also say that the solution to sin’s infection and death comes from a gracious God through Jesus’ blood.
All mankind fell in Adam’s fall, one common sin infects us all; From sire to son the bane descends, and over all the curse impends.
But Christ, the second Adam, came To bear our sin and woe and shame, To be our Life, our Light, our Way, Our only Hope, our only Stay.
We thank Thee, Christ; new life is ours, New light, new hope, new strength, new powers: This grace our every way attend until we reach our journey’s end! Amen.