A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on February 17, 2008 by Pastor Dale Raether Visit our Synod’s website at www.wels.net We Can Win the Victory Over Sin Romans 8:1-10Children’s messageThis past week, how many of you got yelled at for something? When parents yell at you, do they say things like, “Why did you do that after I had told you not to?” Do you ever answer, “I don’t know”? Yeah, sometimes we say and do things so fast, we don’t know why we do it, we just do it. There are other times when we do know something is wrong, but we want to do it so badly, that we’ll do it anyway and hope we don’t get caught. Now, after we sin like that, we might feel bad, we might tell ourselves, “I’m never going to do that again.” But sadly, sometimes we do, and then we really feel bad. God’s Word this morning is about how we can change and truly feel good. Please listen carefully, because what I’m about to tell you really does work. We Can Win the Victory Over Sin. You can go back to your moms and dads now.As you look at those words, “We Can Win the Victory Over Sin”, are any of you thinking to yourself, “Yeah, right”? “I can stop wasting time. Or, I can control my anger. Or, I can keep those nasty 4 letter words from going through my head. No problem!” Did you hear my sarcasm? The more we struggle against those “little” sins, the more we have to confess with Paul, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-- this I keep on doing.”So, what do we do when we don’t do what suppose to and in stead do what we shouldn’t? Well, we can pray, “Jesus, forgive me!” However, after we’ve repeated the same dumb sins day after day after day, going back to Jesus again and again and telling Him we’re sorry seems kind of insincere. Unfortunately, when our repentance seems insincere even to us, we run the risk of just plain giving up and then giving into more sin. Or, maybe instead of caring whether or not our repentance is sincere, we’ll just tell ourselves that “little” sins don’t count if we didn’t mean to do them. Except, then, gradually those little sins will keep turning into bigger sins. Nevertheless, in spite of everything I said so far, we can win the victory over sin. Now, there are two things we need to do to win the victory. 1. Remember what God did for us in Christ. 2. Remember what we’re fighting against. We read in our text, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The word condemnation means judgment. There is no judgment of any kind against us, who are in Christ. This includes no judgment in the life to come and no judgment even in this life. For example, have you ever been hit with an illness or a tragedy of some kind, and then thought to yourself, “God is punishing me”? No, God isn’t punishing us. Our text tells us why. “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.” God will never change His mind about His Law. It must be kept – all of it, all the time, no excuses. However, as I described earlier, we don’t and we can’t, because we have a sinful nature. Yet for that very reason, God sent His Son in the likeness of a sinful man. Now, I’m not saying Jesus ever sinned. But He looked no different any sinful man. God sent His Son in this way, so that He could nail all of our sins unto His Son. As a result God has fully met the righteous requirement of the Law, and that says that every sin must be punished. Since every sin has already been punish in Christ, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. However, what does that mean to be in Christ? To be in Christ is to believe that we are by nature sinful and have sinned against God in thought word and action, but that God’s Son died in our place and rose again. Or, let me put it another way. We are in Christ if we truly believe what we said as we confessed our sins earlier or as we spoke the words of the Nicene Creed. On the other hand, if someone doesn’t believe these things, he is not in Christ, and then God’s judgment is still hanging over his head, and it’s not going to be pretty when it falls on him. However, how can we be sure that we truly believe and aren’t just going through the motions? We read, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”We can tell whether or not we believe by what we desire. For example, when our life is all about money and things and pleasure, and especially if we get angry with anyone who tells us that we need to be content and put our trust in God alone; or if get upset when we’re told that we need to love and forgive jerky people, these are all signs that our minds are on what our sinful nature desires. On the other hand, when we hear how God met all the requirements of the Law for us in Christ, and when that that good news makes us go, “Phew, I’m not going to hell!”, and finally, when our sense of relief compels us to love, to be patient, to be forgiving, to be kind and helpful – that’s the Spirit of God living in us, so that we’re desiring what He desires, and that means we belong to Christ. So, then, here is the first important part of winning the victory against sin. Remember daily, through reading and meditating on the Word, what God accomplished for us in Christ. As we continue to do this, His strong Word will work in us true repentance and a stronger faith. Then, whenever we’re hit with another temptation, we can tell ourselves, “I can win this victory. Or in the words of St. Paul, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” In fact let’s practice saying these words right now so we have for the next time we’re tempted. Let’s say this together!Yes, we can win the victory over sin, because Christ has taken away all our condemnation and this Good News strengthens us. However, our sinful nature isn’t done yet and will try to regain control of us. And so the second important part of part of winning the victory is to remember what we’re fighting against. We read, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.” Our sinful nature in us cannot be reform. It can only die, when we die. Anyway, our sinful nature always assumes that God is keeping us from having fun, that His ways won’t work, and that His standards are too high. Speaking of high standards, is it a sin not to have joy in our hearts as we serve the Lord by serving others? We might say “No”, as long as we serve. Nevertheless, here is God’s standard on this, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.” In our Gospel reading this morning the two disciples were not loving God with all their heart and when they asked Jesus to make everyone else in the world serve them. Now, fortunately for them their sin didn’t turn Jesus away from serving them. We can face the same temptation as the disciples. If someone is mean and demanding of us, our sinful nature will hate it, when God’s Word urges us to keep on being forgiving and to keep on doing what’s truly best for that person and then to do this all with joy. Our sinful nature would rather that we serve ourselves first and always and only. Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t turn away from us either because of our sins. Anyway, it’s good for us to be aware of our sinful nature’s mindset, because as we see or feel this at work in us, may it make us afraid. May it make us despair of our ever being good enough not to have God’s condemnation hanging over us, so that we’ll flee to Christ for mercy! On the other hand, if we ever forget what we’re up against, if we ever start thinking we got our sinful nature under control, we may start going where angels fear to tread, that is, we might start surrounding ourselves with sin. We might also start neglecting God’s Word in our daily life. And then pretty soon we’re neglecting God’s Word in our weekly and our monthly life, all because we think we’re strong enough. Watch out for these things. Pride goes before the fall! Yet if we have fallen, if we have let ourselves be controlled by our sinful mindset and done that which is evil, thank God it’s not too late for us! Rather, at such times, look again at the promise from today’s Verse of the Day. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life – John 3:16.” Are you part of the world? Sure you are! Then God gave His Son for you. And so, from now on be at peace with God and let the Holy Spirit lead you to serve Him with joy. This makes you are a “whoever”, which means there is no condemnation hanging over you. Also because you are a “whoever”, you can do something this world can’t. You can avoid the mountains of pride, which keep people from seeing the truth about themselves. You can also avoid the pits of despair, which causes people to give up on themselves. However you can only do these things by taking today’s message to heart. Put it into practice. Remember that you are fighting against your sinful nature. Remember what God has accomplished for you in Christ. Then you WILL victory over sin! God grant it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Back to Sermons by Topic