CHOICE

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Who Shall Deliver Me Pt 5

05-07-2020

Pr Edi Giudetti

 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 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. (Rom 7:24-25)

When we began to go through this series in the beginning, an impression seems to be given in the passage that gives the potential to both rationalize and excuse sin in the Christian life.

I know that I have addressed this in part and possibly in the clearest way when I preached on the Body of Death in part three of this five-part series.

But its this last portion of this last verse in the chapter that I have not dealt with, and largely because we had not yet come up to it, having spent our time mostly in the earlier portions. 

But now it is time to deal with it and we again will give some consideration to the passage in what seems to present on first glance, but when we consider it in the light of other clear passages in the Bible, we come to know that it presents a message somewhat different.

There is something in man that seems inherently evil. It’s an evil that seems to be a part of his natural state since his fall in the garden. 

  • Only when it is recognized in you with all clarity, will it ever be consciously dealt with.
  • It’s in us all.
  • We too often take heed of it without realizing it.
  • It starts arguments, and
  • If it’s retained in us without our recognition of it, will continue our arguments well beyond where it should have concluded.
  • It would not be an exaggeration to say that, when this evil within us is recognized and dealt with earnestly, it will transform every relationship we ever have.
  • It can be understood in one word…
  • It begins with the letter I
  • Ends with “responsibility”, can anyone guess?

Irresponsibility

When first reading this verse it gives the impression that to “serve sin” is inevitable. We read from Paul’s writing of his experiential struggle that it also seems ‘inevitable’. But there are two great problems with this idea;

  1. It removes from us responsibility and therefore the idea of accountability
  2. It denies scripture.

From the very beginning of the fall, man did not want to take responsibility for his or her actions. 

As the child of pride, irresponsibility is one of the greatest evil’s in man and man goes to extraordinary means to preserve his Irresponsibility. 

If you have been a part of the ‘Chances Are’ series I have been undertaking in the evenings, you can see the levels to which man attends in order to hope against hope that there is no God.

Tonight, you will hear from both philosophers and scientists, from their own mouths (or pens), how far they will go to deny personal responsibility and accountability for their actions. Be sure to join me tonight, and be sure to bring someone who needs to hear the Gospel.

There is the Good and there is The Flesh

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: (Rom 7:18)

I love the wonderful clarity and simplicity of the scriptures, I love how the bible refers to itself as “Pure Words”, Holy Words. God takes tremendous care to ensure that his words simply cannot run the risk of contradiction, especially not in matters of such importance as that which indwells a man.

We touched on this before, I know, but lets do it again for the sake of clarity.

Notice of great importance that what is seen in the parenthesis is not required for the general flow of the sentence. You can take out the bracketed text and the sentence will read just fine;

For I know that in me …dwelleth no good thing: (Rom 7:18)

But as the Bible is vitally careful to ensure it presents all truth, and this matter of indwelling is vital to Paul’s argument, to what purpose serves the words in the parenthesis? 

The spirit of God dwells in Paul.

Well done, but also understand something else on the other side of the equation. Many “Scholars” and even some pastors, make the claim that this entire passage Paul was referring to his life before he was saved.

Clearly, they understood he was referring to sin when he said, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”

Well what would be the logical inconsistency in the text with that argument?

That’s right, if Paul was NOT saved, why is he making the distinction of the flesh in the parenthesis?

See how wonderfully simple all error can be set aside if and when we take the Bible seriously?

Paul understood that THERE IS THE GOOD, AND THERE IS THE FLESH!

What is the Good?

The spirit of the living God is “the good”.

Turn forward one chapter to Romans 8:8-9

So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 

In John 14:23 Jesus promised “…If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

We are “the temple of the living God (2 Cor 6:16);

There is a GOOD in those who belong to Christ, and that GOOD is the Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost.

It must be therefore that if abiding in you is the God the father, God the Son and God the holy Spirit, there is the most wonderful good of all dwelling in you.

You are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, created in his image, preserved to works that have an eternal purpose, and redeemed in glory even though your tabernacle still has its abode here.

Far too many of those who have been purchased with the blood of Christ forget the good that abides in them

It is one thing to chastise yourself for some of the sin you do, it is quite another to say of yourself that nothing good dwells. It is quite another for you to hate yourself if the creator of the universe loves you enough to abide with you forever.

But in the “flesh dwelleth no good thing

I’m sure that there is little I need to do to convince you of this present truth. 

An expression given by another preacher long ago sees him carrying about with him the carcass of a dead man.

There is a burden that we seem to bare, a hunger and a thirsting for righteousness that continues with in us. The feeling of hunger is incessive, the feeling of thirst continues, we are parched for the righteousness of Christ and so we gain joy when we read his own words to us;

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matt 5:6)

What a joy to know that this is true, what a hope we have to know that the body of this death will indeed no longer be a part of us. 

It’s interesting to see what David wrote in the Psalms, take a look with me at Psalm 17:15;

As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. (Ps 17:15)

It was John who wrote in his epistle;

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is (1 Jn 3:2)

 

Yes, there is the Good, and yes also there is the flesh. But a time will come when the flesh is done away, and we all long for that time. In the meanwhile however, we have a moment by moment choice to make respecting how we live our lives.

We have choices that we are free to make. Paul wrote, 

1All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (1 Cor 6:12) 

 

When our text says So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. You must understand that there is also a choice to make when serving the flesh, and that choice is moment by moment.

I am hoping that will be made clear by the end of this sermon.

There is The Body of Death and There is Life In Christ

We note the body of death when Paul writes, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

We note also that Paul responds answer to himself that he would only have life in Christ

 2I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:23 says;

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ Our Lord (Rom 6:23)

One end is to death, while the other is to life.

One is the body of death, the other is life in Christ.

There is indeed a consequence to sin that leads to physical as well as spiritual death

Those who have never had their sins atoned by the Lord, those who are not saved by the blood of Christ, will be affected by both. There is indeed both the first and the second death.

Four scriptures speak of it;

Revelation 2:11, 20:6, 20:14 and 21:8

Let’s look at Revelation 20:14 and take the text from verse 12

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:12-15)

Those who do not know the Lord have the full extent of that Romans 6 passage applied to them. It is the most frightening prospect and it grieves me so terribly to know that there is indeed a “broad way that leadeth to destruction” (Mat 7:13)

Now, to the Christian and the challenging truth that scripture also teaches;

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ Our Lord (Rom 6:23)

It might be a bother to some that this passage is found in chapter 6 and not found in chapters 1, 2, 3, 4 or even perhaps chapter 5…Why? Because if the passage was found in any of those chapters we might feel somewhat justified in thinking that it only applies to the Lost due to the context in which it is found.

But finding it in chapter six, knowing that the progress of Romans indicates that application is made to the Christian from chapter five, tells us at the very least that the Christian is well and truly implicated by the verse.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ Our Lord (Rom 6:23)

Sin can indeed lead to the physical death of a Christian. There can indeed be a level of unrepentant sin that may very well cost him his life.

Turn in your bibles to 1 Corinthians 5:3-6

For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

No doubt this was a difficult letter for Paul to write to these Christians, but he understood that sin has an end, wages that are to be recompensed against unrepentant and ongoing sin in the Christian.

John writes of a sin that is unto death saying; If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.” (1 John 5:16)

What is that sin unto death? I have no idea.

Nevertheless, you must also understand that this is only the death represented in the body.

If you are still in 1st Corinthians, go back to chapter 3:13-15

Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

But beloved, this is by far the exception and not the norm. I know I personally felt many times that the Lord should have taken me home for my sin. Yet his grace abounds, his mercy abounds, and he chastises those he loves.

You have life in Christ, and as such you shall be saved through his life.

Turn to Romans 5:8-10

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

If you know your eternity is secure in the Lord, why remain in sin when forgiveness is always there for you? 

let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. (Heb 12:1-3)

We are called to patiently endure.

There is The Law of God and There is The Law of Sin

So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

There is the law of God and there is the law of sin, the passage that is laid before us however is not one that is to be read as if we are to give service to both, nor is it to be read as if it is inevitable that we are to serve both

            THERE IS A CHOICE TO BE MADE

It is when trusting that scripture cannot contradict itself that we learn this cannot be the case with this verse. 

How can it be right that we can be justified in serving the law of sin, when a chapter earlier the scripture tells us explicitly that we are not to?

Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (Rom 6:6)

Consider verse 12

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members asinstruments of righteousness unto God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Rom 6:12)

Can you see it beloved? Let no man ever say that he is tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he ANY man (James 1:13)

If that is all true, then it is impossible to make the claim that this passage in Romans 7:25 teaches an inevitability for us to continue in sin.

So what are we to do?

Pastor, how do I live my life with so many desperate struggles with sin? I often feel as if the Lord should take me home any moment, I feel as if I am crucifying him again on the cross, how should I live?

Well, those questions seem a little too close to home for me, thank you for asking them.

The answer is always in the scriptures and the scriptures should always be trusted as good and true regardless of our experiences. 

Turn to  1 Cor 10:13

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

This passage both provides for a limitation to the extent of sin, There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: and also gives to us an understanding that we can limit the sin that is common to man, God will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

If we were to be honest with ourselves, we give up too quickly. 

And God knows it, that’s why he said in Hebrews 12:4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

In fact, turn back there with me, because it is worthwhile speaking about this.

Hebrews 12, we were already there earlier, but there was some wonderful things that I wanted to show you in the word of God that might continue to encourage you.

Recall that the author said we are to run with patience and that patience has a focal point of reference, and that focal point of reference is looking where? 

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 

4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

You see, this is why the word of God is so valuable for you as a Christian. This is why scripture, not devotions, not nice Christian stories, but scripture alone compels us to live our lives to the fullest extent, understanding what matters most to us and what our needs are.

It is the first question I will always ask if I am counselling people troubled in their relationship with the Lord or each other. 

How much time are you spending reading the infinite and eternal word of the living God?

How much time are you spending in prayer before the Holy of holies to which we are commanded to come boldly before his throne?

And lastly, are you sure to not forsake the assembly one with another?

“Well, yes pastor, I have done all these things and yet can find no peace”

Turn to 1 Peter 5:6-11

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 

10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Beloved, you will always have a choice. That is the wonderful thing about responsibility. There is never a time when you don’t have a choice. 

A Choice Presents Moment By Moment

Ever tried one of those super sour lollies?

They are sweet when the sour coating is dissolved…but you had to get through the sour first.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Gal 5:16)

Responsibility is the single most enslaving and liberating of all conundrums. What do I mean?

Our unwillingness to accept responsibility for our actions is motivated by our desire to be free from our actions…

BUT our unwillingness to accept responsibility for our actions practically ENSLAVES US TO OUR ACTIONS. 

We don’t, and we can’t change anything about what we do when we don’t take responsibility for what we do.

You see, we can’t ever escape the consequences of our actions, no matter how much we desire to deny them. 

It’s like throwing a baseball high into the air and never expecting it to come down, the further we try to throw the hard ball into the air hoping to put off the consequence of it coming down, the more likely it is to do damage when it returns on anything in its path. 

The harder we try to deny responsibility the worse it gets for us,

BUT: When you take responsibility for your actions, immediately freedom presents itself to you, how?

You then have a choice you are free to make, a choice that COUND NOT be made when you did not believe yourself responsible for your actions

The choice is to change.

We live in a world filled with victims. 

The victim mentality is the most enslaving mentality in the world. It is essentially the mentality of loss.

It has no positive end, it gains no good result. It blames everyone else for the state that you are in, and if it’s the fault of everyone else that you are in the state you are in, you cannot ever see yourself free from it and excuse yourself from being in it.

But when you take responsibility for the state that you are in, when you realise the role you played to get yourself into this mess, it is then that you come also to hope to get yourself out of it.

A bitter pill? Sure. But it is sweet when dissolved. 

When you take responsibility for the sin you yourself choose to indulge, it is then and then alone that you can begin to be free from it. 

You chose to indulge it, you can choose to stop it.

You chose to be the servant of sin, you can choose to serve another.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Gal 5:16)

When Joshua was handed the role as the man of God to lead the people Israel into the promised land, he also gave to the people that which Moses had previously given them, he gave them a choice to make.

It was at that moment in their history that I believe the people had in their hands the greatest power of all, the power to choose. 

They were not victims

They did not see themselves as “Under the circumstances”, they knew that they were given the opportunity for freedom that they never had before. Slaves were they, and afflicted four hundred years, but now they were free. 

Free to what? Free to choose.

1And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Josh 24:15)

When Elijah served the Lord against the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal, and he said to his people, the nation of Israel, and he put before them a choice that they had within their own power to make. He gave them there an opportunity to take responsibility and to choose;

2And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word (1 Kings 18:21)

A choice was set before them, but with that choice came the expectation of a consistent life.

A life that does not entertain evil because everyone else is doing it.

A life that does kneel to false gods

A life that does not excuse sin

It’s a life that chooses Christ as Lord moment by moment.

It’s a life that understands its tendancy to turn to sin, but fights will it is has to STOP IT.

WHO SHALL DELIVER ME?

HAVE YOU FOUND THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION?

REMEMBER, IT’S THE RIGHT QUESTION THAT NEEDS TO BE ASKED BEFORE THE RIGHT ANSWER COMES.

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