Scandalous Grace, Part 6 - Will the REAL Christian Please Stand Up

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Scandalous Grace, Part 6 Will the Real Christian Please Stand Up? (Romans 7:13-25) Preached on Sunday Morning July 11, 2010 Church in the Boro Rob Wilkerson
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  Scandalous Grace, Part 6: Will the Real Christian Please Stand Up?    July 10,2010 Scandalous Grace, Part 6Will the Real Christian Please StandUp! Romans 7:13-25 and Selected Scriptures Sunday Morning July 11, 2010Church in the BoroRob Wilkerson Introduction How many of you have been quoted out of context before? If youhave, you know what I’m talking about. You answered a question ormade a statement. But someone else who’s got an issue with you tookbits and pieces of what you said, or else took an entire paragraph yousaid, but did it out of context. And they did it to make you look like anidiot, or to beef up their story so others would believe what they weresaying.I recall this happening to me many times. One of them was when I wascalled to the witness stand one day in a lawsuit. I was deposed by alawyer earlier, and he asked me questions just like the ones he askedme when he deposed me. But when the other lawyer got up and cross-examined me, he just made me flippin’ angry.He would ask me questions which quoted various snippets of what Isaid. The question would generally either be, “Did you say this, Mr.Wilkerson?” or else he would just assume it by treating like it was incontext and he was being honest and all, and go on with his question.In both scenarios I wasn’t allowed to explain myself. I was simplyordered by the judge to answer “yes” or “no.” So the whole stinkin’thing was a trap. I was misquoted and taken out of context in bothcases in order to be made out to be an idiot. And it was so not fair!Pastors and theologians and commentators…and all studiousChristians for that matter…do this. And we do it all the time to theBible. We have this preconceived idea or conclusion we are shootingfor. And we go into the Bible asking questions shaped by ourpreconception or presupposition. Yet we never even ask if ourpreconception or presupposition is true! We just assume it is andoperate our Bible study from there. Church in the Boro Page 1 Rob Wilkerson  Scandalous Grace, Part 6: Will the Real Christian Please Stand Up?    July 10,2010  The problem, however, is that as we move along the path of Biblestudy we end up coming to conclusions about what the author issaying that aren’t really consistent with what the author was reallytrying to say. In other words, we form conclusions that take the authorout of context because inwardly, whether we recognize it or not, weare often trying to make him say something that supports what wehave presupposed. Sometimes we don’t even know it’s going on.Many times we do and aren’t willing to be honest about it and admit itand deal with it.I believe Romans 7:13-25 is one of those passages. I believe that longago, for many years while I struggled incessantly with lust, that what Iread in Romans 7 must have been describing what I was going throughas a Christian. I was going insane inside, and therefore assumed Paulmust have been going insane also. I was completely NOT victoriousover my lust, but inwardly really, really wanted to follow after God. Atleast I thought I did. In reality, though I really, really just wanted tolust…because that’s what I did much of the time. Years later, however, when I studied it afresh once more, Irediscovered the srcinally intended meaning of Romans 7. But first letme raise and deal with some important foundational issues before I getinto that. Foundational Issues to Romans 7  The book of Romans is presented in typical legal fashion, making anopening statement, and then making arguments that build one up onthe other toward a conclusion. Romans 7 is in a sectional unit of Romans 5-8, coming just after the first sectional unit in 1-4, andimmediately followed by two other sectional units in 9-11, and 12-16.Each sectional unit is a separate argument Paul is making for thegospel. His whole effort in Romans is to explain to the RomanChristians the gospel he preaches so that they will see that he’s ontheir team, and support him in his missionary journey to Spain bybecoming a launching pad. Any argument is built on sub-arguments,all of which build on one another. It’s no different here in Romans. If we look at the first sectional unit of Romans, chapters 1-4, we see that Paul is trying to prove that all humanity is condemned insin under God’s justice so that the only remedy or solution anybodycan turn to is the only one that actually works! If you wanna be justified by your own efforts then Paul wants you to know that ends indeath. But if you wanna be justified by God’s efforts in mChrist for Church in the Boro Page 2 Rob Wilkerson  Scandalous Grace, Part 6: Will the Real Christian Please Stand Up?    July 10,2010 you, that’s the only way out of judgment. Paul labors to show the goodnews that God – the just judge – has provided a way out of His just judgment, and it’s the mercy of God in the death, burial, andresurrection of Jesus Christ. Next, Paul moves to his next point in Romans 5-8. He beginswith a “therefore,” a word Paul typically uses to lay the next layer of argument in order to continue building his case. And the nextargument is simple: if you chose to be justified by God in Christ thenyou’re now officially at peace with God through Jesus Christ. Paul thenlabors to make this fact clear, taking it to the next level by showinghow God did this. When we compare how sin entered the world andhow it enslaved and condemned everyone to death with how perfectrighteousness entered the world in Jesus Christ and how He conqueredsin and death, we see how awesome God’s grace really is. Justification, being made right with God, and having peace with Godare all ours in Jesus Christ. NO one can take these things away fromus. And the more God’s law is revealed, the more our sin is revealed,the more our sin is revealed, which all reveals even more the grace of God that saves us from the law and its just judgment on us. The end of Romans 5 is found in verses 20-21, and I believe it is the key to understanding Romans 6 and 7, and what Paul istrying to explain and argue for there. In Romans 5:20 we read that theLAW came in so that sin would increase. But where sin increased,grace increased all the more. In other words, God gave the Law forone express purpose: to show us how sinful we are and to show howawful sin really is.In reality, though, God ultimately  gave the Law to build a foundationfor grace. Wherever the Law revealed sin of any kind, grace wasrevealed in superabounding measure all the more. So in one versethen, we have Law and Grace introduced, both of which become thefoundation for dealing with grace in chapter 6 and law in chapter 7. You see, Paul makes this statement in 5:20, but then anticipates twoquestions which will come up out of sheer necessity. Question 1: If grace abounds where sin shows itself, should we carryon sinning? Won’t that just make grace abound all the more? Question 2: If the Law’s entrance into the world only makes sinincrease, then is the Law bad? Paul deals with question 1 in chapter 6, and he deals withquestion 2 in chapter 7. In each case he introduces the issue with Church in the Boro Page 3 Rob Wilkerson  Scandalous Grace, Part 6: Will the Real Christian Please Stand Up?    July 10,2010 the same question which shows us that his goal is to anticipate andanswer the questions: “what shall we say again?” (6:1 and 7:7). It ismissing the flow of the argument in Romans 5-8 that causes so manyto miss the point of chapter 7, which led me at one time tomisunderstand what Paul is saying there.In chapter 6, Paul is arguing that the fact that we’ve died with Christ Jesus means we are also dead to sin once and for all. “The old manwas crucified once and for all so that the body of sin would no longerdominate us. For someone who has died has been freed from sin”(6:6).His point here is that anything and everything that connected me tosin has been not just disconnected but completely severed. There’snothing whatsoever about sin that can control me or condemn me. The point of Romans 6 then is to teach me to live like this is just astrue as anything else in my life. And the way I go about living like thisis by NOT serving sin with the parts or members of my body. You see,the fact that sin’s power and penalty over me are severed doesn’tmean it is dead. Rather I am the one who is dead. And I’m supposedto live out of this fact . A Fresh Look at Romans 7 So if what Paul says in Romans 6 is true of me, then the way I read andunderstand Romans 7 is crucial. If I read it one way, then what itmeans completely contradicts what Paul just taught me about my newnature in Christ in chapter 6. But if I read it another way, it completelycompliments what Paul just taught in Romans 6. Let me read theportion of Romans 7 that is so often debated, and see if you feel thetension. 7 Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful?Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me mysin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if thelaw had not said, You must not covet. * 8 But sin usedthis command to arouse all kinds of covetous desireswithin me! If there were no law, sin would not have thatpower. 9 At one time I lived without understanding thelaw. But when I learned the command not to covet, forinstance, the power of sin came to life, 10 and I died. So Idiscovered that the law's commands, which were supposedto bring life, brought spiritual death instead. 11 Sin tookadvantage of those commands and deceived me; it usedthe commands to kill me. 12 But still, the law itself is holy, Church in the Boro Page 4 Rob Wilkerson
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