Who Shall Deliver Me? Pt 2
24 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.
“who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
This question holds the key to present and everlasting happiness.
Within this question is found the very source of life, it may not appear so on the surface, but we will see as we go through this study today, that the very question posed by Paul is the single most important question of all.
Its context provides understanding to the Desperation of the Cry. (Humility)
Its subject provides knowledge as to the limitation of the answer. (Who not what)
Its witness provides comprehension as to the status of the crier. (Condemnation)
Its answer provides the key to both present and eternal happiness. (Jesus Christ)
You have heard it said that the reason you cannot find the answer is because you are asking the wrong question. It’s the question that leads the person to find the right answer. Today many people ask the wrong questions.
Embedded within the Declaration of Independence of the United States is this phrase;
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
It is that last clause that virtually all people in the world believe is their ultimate pursuit.
Sadly, the question What will make me happy? Seems like the most logical question to ask if happiness is my ultimate goal, but it is very definitely the wrong question and generally leads to the opposite result, both now and forever.
It might not seem to be the obvious question that people ask, you might think it is a bigger question, like the meaning of life or something, and yet this question is the reason behind every decision that people make.
Blaise Pascal, one of the great mathematicians, scientist and philosopher in the 17thcentury, said “All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end.” “The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man…”
What career path do I choose?
Who should I marry?
What town or City should I live in?
So we can see the desire.
The great problem however is that the question “What will make me happy?” is proven to be the wrong question. Within that question is presumed what Thomas Aquinas said when he wrote “Happy is the man who has all his desires, or whose every wish is fulfilled”
This is how most people live and in living this way they have made a perfect mess of their lives because they do not realise that the attainment of all their desires, and the fulfillment of every worldly wish, CAN Never be achieved to BRING HAPPINESS. We see this play out practically in the lives of those we thought had it all and yet lived in misery and even died by their own hand.
Benedict Spinoza, a philosopher from the 17th Century, gave a hint of the difficulty in finding happiness, in his book “Ethics”. He too holds that happiness as the highest ideal of man, but he finds it necessary to say that the way to happiness “must indeed be difficult since it is so seldom discovered”
But it was Mortimer Adler, Chief Editor of the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Great Books Edition, who logically laid down the problem of the ultimate attainment of happiness, through the fulfilment of all our desires and wishes;
Mortimer Adler “man can only come to the possession of all good things only in the succession of his days, not simultaneously; and so happiness is never actually achievedbut is always in the process of being achieved. When that process is completed, the man is dead, his life is done”.
So, while the question “What will make me happy?” has its natural focus on that which is the desire of man, thinking that our personal desires are the guides that leads to the answer, is both logically and practically false. “So, what’s the question?”
I am hoping that this sermon will help bring understanding to the answer of the question that titles this sermon and is confirmed in the scriptures.
Who Shall Deliver Me?
How is it possible that this question can be the key to both present and eternal happiness?
1. The Understanding of the Cry. (Humility)
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Both in the Christian and in the world, sin is the underlying source of all our misery.
It is sin that brings with it the guilt that burdens our hearts.
It is sin that brings with it the troubles of our lives
It is sin that brings with it the troubles of our relationships, and finally;
It is sin that brings with it the condemnation of our souls
And when I say ‘sin’ I don’t mean the sin of others against us, when I say ‘sin’ I am referring to our own personal sin.
What is Sin?
Sin is the life lived contrary to Gods commandments.
Sin’s are the individual acts and desires contrary to Gods commandments.
(Its not that easy to define sin, but that is the best I can do in short order)
Paul’s cry was one that identified him doing that which he did not desire to do, and not doing that which he did desired to do. In other words, what he did was not according to his will;
“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” (Rom 7:15)
As stated last week, this is the state of the person who has been transformed by the Gospel. This describes the state of the Christian and not of the lost person. This describes a life COMPLETELY CONTRARY to the life he had before. It is the Christian, the one who has had a miraculous transformation of the heart that cries this way. It is he or she that sins and is so openly grieved by it. It is the believer that desires to do good but finds himself doing the opposite, “19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” says Paul.
The lost person is NOT so inclined.
Those who are not forgiven of sin, still have a heart and desire and will for sin. They are servants of sin and live by the motto that “if it feels good do it”, or, “if it feels good it must begood”.
These have no desire nor outward motivation to do anything other than what they feel like doing. All manner of sin is excused by them and no depravity of sin is withheld from them if they are so inclined!
The born-again heart is the changed heart, it knows that serving sin brings misery, but the lost heart thinks it brings happiness and health, at least in the short term. But there is an inherent problem with sin, it stops satisfying the lusts and desires. Like a fire that does not say “enough”, the lusts of the flesh become unquenchable as Romans 1 tells us.
Psychology has a “Law” for it, it is called ‘The law of diminishing returns’.
A bigger dose of sin is required to achieve the same results as before, more and more, deeper and deeper into sin to get the “same fix”, until in the end, it no longer satisfies at all.
A famous line in the Pirates of the Caribbean series lays it out well. It was said by Captain Barbossa to his captive Elizabeth Turner with regard to the curse laid upon him for the Gold he had stolen;
“The more we gave the gold away, the more we came to realize the drink would not satisfy, food turned to ash in our mouths, and all the pleasurable company in the world could not slake our lust. We are cursed men, Miss Turner!”
It is ONLY when the cursed of this world, those who are this very day “dead in trespass and sins” (Eph 2:1), realise what Romans 6:3 tells us that, “The wages of sin is death” that perhaps many will come to the same question as Paul did; who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
There is a desperation in the cry.
- The cursed in the world think highly of themselves, the Christian knows himself as Wretched.
- The lost in the world, believe their works are mostly good, the Christian sees all his efforts as part of a body of this death.
- The unbelievers think they shall escape the Judgement of God by delivering themselves, but the Christian desires The Saviour.
It is THIS HUMILITY that brings the only question that can provide an answer of both present and everlasting happiness. It’s what saves the lost and keeps the saved. As converted people who once perfectly identified with the lost today, we know where the source of true joy, peace and happiness is, and we also know where it is not. The question Who Shall Deliver ME? Is the key to present and eternal happiness.
But if the question is never asked by the sinner; as confident as I am of happiness for those delivered from sin, I am equally confident to the eternal misery of the sinner who won’t be delivered from sin. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Heb 9:27)
What is behind the cry, for a deliverer? A soul made fully aware of their nature and a knowledge they themselves can do nothing about it but cry…Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
2. The Limits of The Answer. (Who, not what)
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
In the first point we had seen that the recognition of the need for a deliverer inspired the question. This is not new in the Bible. When men were made convincingly aware of their sin, they cried out in similar tones.
In Acts 2:37, Peter was preaching and bringing the witness of Christ to a multitude of people and after he presented the Gospel and made them all aware of the condemnation of their sin, the passage says “37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
This is a version of “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
When the prison guard had seen that none of the Christian men escaped the prison cell after the earthquake had opened the bars and loosed the shackles of the prisoners, the text says “29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:29)
Here is yet another version of the same question with the answer given them. Notice the subject of the answer is not a what, but a WHO! Paul was aware of this because he had already trusted in Christ, but none of these did until they did.
When John the Baptist was making a way in the wilderness for God, many came to him and heard him preach the Gospel and the same questions was asked of him;
10And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?
12 Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?
14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do?
But the answer is not in a what, but a who. The Limit in the question asked by Paul is for WHO, not what. “Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
Promised from the most ancient of days, since even the immediate time after the fall of man, would be a Saviour. One who would come to save the world from the consequence of their sin. Through the Hebrew people he would come. Of the line of David, the king, of the royal line of Solomon, the king. He would come and save man from their sin.
He would come as a lamb, “the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world”. He would be innocent himself of any transgression, there were none that “convinseth him of sin”. He was, as the ancient sacrificial system would symbolize, without spot or blemish. Yet he would be a man, born of a woman.
Turn to Isaiah 9:6
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
A child born, a son given, a name “Wonderful, Councellor, The Mighty God, The everlasting father, The prince of peace”.
In chapter 53 of this incredible book of the Hebrew people, is the telling of a man who would take upon himself the sin of the world. It tells that he would be “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”.
It says we would hide our faces from him, despise him and not esteem him (v3). An incredible picture of how the world today feel about Jesus Christ. For no reason they hate him. He had done no harm, yet if Jesus were here today, I have no doubt in my mind the world would put him back on the Cross. Yet the passage tells that “he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (4). “Wounded for our transgressions…bruised for our iniquities” and yet most incredibly, most unbelievably, the passages says “with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (v5,6).
The single most incredible gift ever given to mankind. The single source of the happiness, both present and everlasting is not a ‘what’, but a ‘who’! Jesus Christ came to deliver the lost soul from his sin, and preserve the saved soul through his sin. Did you hear that?
Jesus Christ came to deliver the lost soul from his sin, and preserve the saved soul through his sin.
If you understand that, you are well on the way to present happiness and everlasting happiness!
- Paul cried the words of deliverance for the sin for which he could not deliver himself,
- the sinner cries the words of deliverance for the salvation of his soul.
- Paul, having eternal happiness, cries out for the rest available for his present happiness.
- The sinner, having eternal condemnation, cries out for the salvation of his soul.
The source of both present and eternal happiness, for the saved and the sinner, is Jesus Christ.
He is “the just for the unjust”.
He was made an offering for sin, Jesus said he came “to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28 & Mrk 10:45)
Will you take it?
Will you accept it as a gift?
Your sin, exchanged for his righteousness?
Present and everlasting happiness, FREE…A GIFT…?
AN EXCHANGE, your misery and torment, for his peace and joy and rest?
“9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. (Heb 4:9-10)
3. The Comprehension Of Our Status. (Condemnation)
But to cry out as Paul did, there must also be a comprehension of the status of the crier.
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
No person ever cries for help that are not aware they need it! There is, within this text, a true and full comprehension of the current status of the crier. Acutely aware of sin are we as Christians. No longer do we love it and ignore it as we use to, we hate it with a passion, there is a change that has occurred within and we are deeply grieved by our sin. So much so that we so often even question if we are saved or not.
It amazes me that I have met so many people who profess to be Christians in which I see no fruit of a living faith at all, and they never question their salvation. But so often I see the fruit of the spirit of God in struggling Christians and they question their salvation time and again, until they are finally settled that Jesus saved them and not they themselves.
THEY ARE AWARE, THEIR CRY IS A WITNESS OF THE COMPREHENSION OF THEIR STATUS. They have nothing to give, they have nothing to offer the Lord to return the favour. We would offer silver and gold, but that was tried by Simon the sorcerer, and he received a quick rebuke by Peter;
“Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money” (Acts 8:20).
Money is an offence and we dare not offer money. Goodness, surely goodness is a suitable payment for the free gift given us???
No, Isaiah 64:6 says “ But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags:”
We think to follow the Law, that is our desire, is it not our obligation? Yes, it is beloved, but not for salvation! Certain we are obligated to follow the law, besides which it is the very desire of our hearts, we don’t want to do anything other, but if we claim to be perfected for salvation in that manner, we are disputed against the Bible itself;
Romans 8:3 says “3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:”
Hebrews 7:18-19 “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. 19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God”
Galatians 5:3-4 “3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace”
Galatians 2:21 “21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
Got it? Living by the law can’t save you, and nor can it keep you! How then shall we live you now ask? To those that are lost, I will come to you in a moment: To those of you who are saved, you see that living by the Law of God did not save you, nor is it able to keep you.
Nevertheless you are commanded to flee from sin, to mortify the deeds of the body, to be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect, and if you justify or excuse your sin, I am afraid for you, you are at best a heretic and at worst still in your sin;
But, the most blessed state of these three books that I just quoted from, share between them an ancient text. They speak so clearly of salvation by faith and all teach of the freedom from the condemnation of the law…do you recall the text all three share that teach us how we should now live?
“The Just Shall Live By Faith”
Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Galatians 2:20-21 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
For those of you who are yet to turn to Christ and believe his death for you. To you now I bring a hard word and if you should believe the Gospel, you also will have that happiness you are searching for and the freedom of hell you long to escape.
There simply must be within you a comprehension of your status before a holy God. The comfort that you think you now enjoy in your sin needs to be changed into a recognition of your condemnation under it.
You ONLY have your life to come to this point, but you do not know how long that life is!
You think your sin is not that significant. You think that it is just a playful thing and should not endure eternal torment, but the only reason you think that is true is because you don’t see sin as God does.
You elevate yourself and don’t even see yourself as God does.
You see yourself as good, yet God refers to you as The Wicked.
“God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day” Ps 7:11 two people alone are the feature of the text, Righteous you are not, wicked is all that is left for you.
“Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.” Ps 9:5 The heathen are those who don’t believe in God at all, they are here identified as the wicked
“The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts” Ps 10:4 A passage that perfectly described me for twenty nine years. Proud and not seeking God, he was never even a blip on my radar. I was identified as The Wicked.
If God was to measure you according to the law, how would you stand?
If God was to measure you according to your own standards, HOW WOULD YOU STAND?
Jesus said, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” (Mat 7:2).
There is every indication that, not only are you unable to keep Gods standards, you cant even keep your own! You may be justly judged against the standards you judge against others, and you will come short of it…what excuse will you give then?
3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
O my friends, how will you do in that day?
Today you treasure up, you store up wrath against you. Like an account of you deposit into each and every day, and a day will come when the wrath you have stored up against the day of Wrath will be poured out on you….then who will deliver you? Who will you call on when all your life you rejected the only one who was willing to take that wrath upon himself for you?
When, and only when there is a willingness to comprehend your true status, your true and genuine state which is sad beyond knowledge, then and only then will you cry as Paul did, as I did, as all who are here did;
who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
4. The Key to Present and Everlasting Happiness. (Jesus Christ)
24 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.
Rest. What a wonderful word is the word “Rest”. There is a comfort expressed in it that brings a peace to the heart and joy to the spirit.
Rest respecting that there is no more work to be done, it has been done for us.
Rest respecting that the work of God is being done in us, and for us, but not by us.
Rest respecting that a place has been prepared for you. Jesus went there, he went back to the father, he said it;
“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (Jn 14:2-3)
How wonderful it is to know that the place being prepared for us is being prepared by someone else…no work I need to do. Just rest in Christ. Now, I am in construction and I could do at least some of the work. Only I’m not sure if I can do as good a job as GOD! Some Christians seem to think they can. They seem to think they can do just as good a job. But they have not yet asked the question, they have not yet understood that they can do nothing. Jesus said this, he said “5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (Jn 15:5)
The answer to Paul’s cry is Jesus. He is the answer to both our present and eternal happiness.
Do you know him?
Do you know the Saviour of the world? Do you?
Do you believe him?
Do you…do you trust him?
He said “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and my Father are one.” (Jn 10:27-30)
Do you believe him? Do you trust him?
He said he gives, as a gift “eternal life and they shall never perish”.
Do you believe him when he says this? Do you believe you shall never perish? Do you believe it was a gift..free?
It’s not me saying these words, its Jesus who says them.
Do you believe him?
This is the doctrine known as The Perseverance of the Saints.
Jesus made his boast to the father that all who he had given him he has lost none, except the son of perdition that the scripture might be fulfilled (John 17:12). If he would lose you, he could never make this boast.
Those of you who are saved, It’s not about you! It’s about Jesus!
It’s all about what he has done and your life now is one lived by faith with a desire to give your bodies as a living sacrifice to him. And what a joy that is!
To you who are saved, I have asked you, ‘do you believe Jesus’?
To you who are not yet saved, I want to ask you “will you believe Jesus?”
This is a question of the will.
None of us are doomed to live our life in unbelief. We are commanded to repent and to believe the Gospel. If the Gospel is a command, then it is not a question of osmosis, but a question of the will;
Will you believe Jesus died for you that you might live?
Ha…you really think you have life now? You have no idea what life is.
You think it’s a better life living under the devils desire?
The bible refers to him as a thief…not sure how good that is to live with!
Life is found, not with a thief but with Jesus…its why he came!
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (Jn 10:10)
Will you believe the Gospel? It all begins with the right question.
Who shall deliver me?
That question is the key to present and everlasting happiness.