SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 20 September 2020
Sermon Text: Romans 7:1-6
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I. Believers are completely and eternally separated from sin
II. Believers are in a new and eternal relationship with Christ
Among many human relationships, there are two great and important ones. They are the relationships of parent and child and of husband and wife. These relationships are the foundation of all relationships. It is evident in the word of God spoken in the very beginning of the world’s history. God said to the first man and woman He created, “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
When either of these relationships is broken, the minds of those involved are overcast with pain and hardship. Broken relationship between parent and child or husband and wife is the most sensitive life-issue for not only the parties involved but also their families and friends. It’s sad and hard to bear. Studies on relationships say that divorce is one of the top-ranked stresses, if not the heaviest stress to bear. Bereavement of a spouse brings a different kind of weight to the surviving one. Having buried the loved one in the heart, the bereaving spouse hates death which caused such a painful separation.
I begin today, mentioning the pain and sadness caused by a broken relationship and especially by a severed relationship between husband and wife. This is not to bring you down but to cheer up as that is the message of the word of God we’ve just read. This passage in Rom. 7 talks about the marriage relationship severed and terminated by death. However, this detachment brings no sadness but the opposite – that is, full joy, a joy that makes one leap and dance. This severance becomes the foundation of never-ceasing delight.
Why is the termination of this relationship a great joy? Being inspired by the Spirit of God, the Apostle Paul gives us God’s answer to this question in two parts. Firstly, because ‘this separation is a complete and eternal break of Christians from sin’ and, secondly, because ‘Christians are now in another eternal relationship with Christ.’ So, let us think together about these reasons for Christian’s joy.
I. BELIEVERS ARE COMPLETELY AND ETERNALLY SEPARATED FROM SIN
The marriage analogy the apostle uses here is simple and straightforward. It hits the bull’s eye and gives us a clear understanding of Christian’s severed relationship with sin. We no longer are related to sin; sin no longer has dominion over us, Christians!
A married couple are bound to each other – husband to wife and wife to husband. It is one of the common laws universally recognised. No matter how primitive or sophisticated a society may be, this is universally recognised and practised.
But especially for Christians, marriage is special and holy before God. We uphold marriage and commitment between married spouses as God’s blessed relationship. So the questions asked to the bride and the groom in wedding services are like these – to the groom first, ‘Will you have (such and such) to be your wife, to live together in marriage? Will you love her, comfort her, honour and support her, in sickness and in health, as long as you both live?’ The same question is asked to the bride. Answering, ‘I will,’ to this question, each one is asked to say their commitment to each other in these words, ‘I, (such and such), take you, (such and such), to be my wife (or husband); I commit myself to love and to serve you to the utmost of my ability as God enables me; and this commitment I will keep no matter what circumstances may arise, until we’re separated by death.’ As you’ve heard in these two vows made by the bride and the groom, the legal aspect of marriage is up until the moment of being ‘separated by death.’
The Apostle Paul points out this legal aspect of marriage relationship and says that believer’s bondage to sin is broken through death. Your marriage vow made to sin is no longer in effect; it is nullified by death and cancelled through death. It is a complete and eternal break away. This is the message of the apostle in our text passage.
Hearing this, someone might say, ‘Wait a minute – when did I marry to sin? I don’t think I did.’ Well, that’s the typical question every sinner says, denying his unbreakable bondage to sin unless helped by the Saviour of the world. As you remember the truth of the universal sinfulness Paul proved in the first three chapters of Romans, there’s none righteous, none seeks God, and all alike have fallen in sin. Moreover, every unregenerate soul is a slave of sin as we heard last week from Rom. 6. That bonded relationship with sin is exactly like that of marriage with sin.
But, through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour and Lord, sinners can be released from that bondage to sin. Through faith in Christ, we were crucified and died to sin. Because we died in Christ to sin, our bondage to sin was broken. So, now, like the way the legal binding of marriage vow ends when a spouse dies, you and I are freed from our bondage to sin. That bondage has become a history!
I want you to take a moment and think about the change that has happened in you since the moment you repented of your sins and believed in Jesus. You might not remember when you started believing in Jesus, that’s not a problem; you can easily compare your former way of life to your present life in Jesus. You’ll be able to notice that your attitude toward sin and its temptation has been changed dramatically. Your response to sin is hatred and enmity instead of indulgence. When you’re tempted, you’d respond and say to yourself, ‘No, do not take it; it’s a sin against God. I’m Christian, a child of God, so don’t even think about it!’
Even though you might occasionally fail in resisting, such a voice that arises from within proves that you no longer indulge in sin but hate sin through the grace of Jesus. You might fail once or twice, but that will not be a persisting pattern; you will one day find yourself overcome a specific sin as you’ve overcome many other sins since your conversion. The fact is that you’re free from sin’s power and bondage! Christ made this possible in you through removing sin and its power from you!
Unfortunately, however, some Christians question the nature of their separation from sin. They doubt whether it is a complete and permanent severance. They doubt because they hear the same familiar voice they used to hear before trusting Jesus which encourages them to go the sinful way, accept and indulge in sin’s temptations. The more they try to reject that offer, the louder the voice becomes and the more attractive the temptation becomes to their eyes.
So they doubt whether their faith has made them die together with Jesus in the first place. Their doubt bothers them and it becomes a heavy and unresolved burden. Then, they wonder and ask themselves, ‘Why am I troubled? The Bible says that sin no longer has dominion over me because I believe in Jesus. I believe that Jesus is my Saviour and Lord who came to die for me and rose from the dead to make me His forever. But, I see sin still powerful in me, causing me to sin yesterday and today, and I know that it will cause me to stumble tomorrow! Am I in Jesus?’ Every Christian who has this doubt, this question, cannot fully enjoy the Lord, cannot always rejoice.
To all who doubt, the apostle gives the marriage analogy and explains how complete and eternal their severance from sin is. Clearing away any doubt from a believing heart, the apostle says, ‘Look! You know when a husband dies, his wife is released from the law of marriage. That’s exactly what you are because sin is dead to you as you’re dead to sin. Although the surviving spouse lives with her memory of her late husband, she is released from her marriage vow and her late husband has absolutely no voice over her. Likewise, you’re dead to sin through Jesus, and sin is dead to you!’
So, do not doubt, do not question whether your freedom from sin is complete and eternal, because IT IS complete and eternal!
II. BELIEVERS ARE IN A NEW AND ETERNAL RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST
This leads us to consider our next point, that is, ‘Believers are in a new and eternal relationship with Jesus Christ.’ I believe that by now you notice that this is a recurring theme in this letter to the Romans. It is recurring because it is the foundation of all truths of Christian faith. From ch. 3 up to ch. 7, Paul repeats this theme again and again, telling us that we’re in a new, perfect and eternal relationship with Jesus. I think I’ve preached on this topic enough so far in the current sermon series on Rom. 4-8, and I believe you’ve heard of it enough. So, I’ll not explain it again today, but I’d like to present to you an application of this truth in your daily life.
That is, as you and I must remember that we no longer are bound to sin, no longer should we listen to sin’s accusation or curse. In fact, ‘sin’s accusation’ or ‘sin’s curse’ is what Paul means when he tells us that we’re dead to ‘the law’ as in v. 4. We’re dead to the law which means, in other words, we’re released from ‘sin’s curse.’ So, you no longer need to listen to sin’s accusation.
Let me put it this way. Every Christian hears the voice of sin accusing him/her as a sinner. Every second of our life passes in sin and we know that. You open your eyes in the morning and that’s the beginning of your sinning in thought and word and deed. You close your eyes at night, but that’s not even the end of that day’s sinning; you dream and sin continues even in your dream. So, sin accuses you as a sinner every moment of your days.
Moreover, you remember many sins you’ve committed in the past. Everyone has at least a few sins hidden deep in one’s mind. Sin occasionally brings them up to the surface of your conscience; sin brings up some of your messy footprints left in your past, and accuses you with the curse the law of God states – that is, punishment and damnation. It troubles you; your mind is uneasy with this accusation associated with your former sins. Despite your confidence in your salvation through faith, your mind is concerned with those sins of yours. And you hate that thought!
But, you should not be concerned with your former sins; you shouldn’t be troubled or feel uneasy with the memory of your past sins, because you’re now freed from the curse of sin, because there’ll be no condemnation for Christians like you and me who trust in Jesus and commit our life to Him! Rom. 8:1 is so clear about this truth, and this truth of ‘no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ has been ringing God’s entire universe for over two millennia by now! At the very moment you put your faith in Jesus which is the moment the Holy Spirit baptised you in the name of Jesus Christ, all your former sins were cancelled and sin’s curse was removed from you! So, sin was dead to you as you became alive to Jesus!
This is the joy of the gospel. Your freedom in Jesus brings no sadness, nor anger nor despair, but constant and full joy, hope and love. A never-ending happiness springs up from your new, perfect and eternal relationship with Jesus. Listen to the Lord Jesus when He spoke about this joy in terms of ‘living water that wells up to eternal life’ by the well in Samaria; He spoke this to the Samaritan woman who was actually a representative of all sinners under the heavy burden of sin: “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” This well never draws bitter water but brings up sweet water of life to Christians. Gal. 5:22-23 also point out the fruit this living water bears in the believers, saying, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Not only the NT, but also the OT agrees with it wholeheartedly as in Ps. 5:11, for example, which says, “let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may exult in You.”
So, you should rejoice ‘always,’ as the apostle says in Phil. 4:4 and many other places in his letters. Even with your sins – I mean, whatever sins you have (both your former hidden sins and the sins you’ve committed yesterday and today, and even including the sins you’ll commit tomorrow and the days coming) – you should rejoice in Jesus because of your new, perfect and eternal relationship with Him. Your awful sins of not only the past, but also of the present and the future, are all cancelled and the curse has been removed from you. So, when a memory of your old, hidden sins comes up, rejoice in Jesus and thank Him for His atoning death because that fierce curse of sin is gone and you’re free indeed! Isn’t it a more than a good reason for you to leap for joy and dance? Moreover, the Holy Spirit will work in you and lead you to fight against sin and overcome it tomorrow which adds more reason for rejoicing today in Jesus!
Of course, when you face sin and fight against it – or sometimes fail to overcome it – you’re in pain and you despair. But you should remember the truth that sin has no dominion over you who trust and follow Christ, and you’ll surely overcome sin as Jesus your Saviour, our Saviour, has overcome it! Our gracious Lord trains you in righteousness, and our Heavenly Father disciplines you because He loves you as His own sons and daughters!
Let us remember, therefore, like death ends the legal bondage of marriage, sin is dead to us who trust in Jesus. Because of this truth, we shouldn’t listen to sin’s accusation; instead, we must rejoice always – even in a time of trial or difficulty – because of our new, perfect and eternal relationship with Jesus our Lord and Saviour! This is, in fact, ‘the new way of the Spirit’ as v. 6 of our text passage points out. Let me read that verse for you and this concludes our message for today: “now we are released from the law [that is, ‘sin’s curse’], having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code [again, the way of bondage to sin].”
So, let us encourage one another with this word and live ‘the new way of the Spirit’! ***