A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on April 3, 2011 by Pastor Dale Raether Thanks Be to God ¬Ė He Gives Us the Victory Over Sin!Romans 8:1-10Romans 7:19 ¬Ė ¬ďWhat I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do, this I keep on doing.¬Ē¬† We¬íve all been there.¬† Maybe it¬ís over a big sin that would get us into a lot of trouble if anyone ever found out.¬† Or, maybe it¬ís over attitudes and desires we know are in our heart.¬† Anyway regardless of what sins we¬íre struggling with, the struggle itself is a test of our faith.¬† For example we often pray this prayer in our Lenten services, ¬ďLord God, all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works come from you.¬† Give to us, your servants, that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey your commandments.¬Ē¬† Does praying a prayer like this make a difference for you, or after you pray it, do you still struggle with the same sins and the same results?¬† And so, maybe we ask, ¬ďWhy isn¬ít God helping me?¬Ē¬† ¬†¬†Another test of faith comes after we give into a sin.¬† Maybe we can¬ít feel God¬ís peace or we fear He hasn¬ít fully forgiven us.¬† And so we try to convince ourselves that our sin isn¬ít that bad, or God¬ís okay with it now, because it¬ís the 21st Century.¬† But then when our excuses won¬ít calm our conscience, we may be tempted to tune God and His Word out, except in the long run just that makes us weaker and easier for our spiritual enemies to mess up our minds. ¬†Is there no escape from our struggle against sin?¬† Can we ever possibly win?¬† St. Paul answers that in the last verses of Romans chapter seven.¬† He writes, ¬ďThanks be to God ¬Ė He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.¬Ē¬† In our text this morning Paul explains how God does this.¬† I.¬† In Christ we have no condemnation.¬† 2.¬† Through the Holy Spirit we have new life.¬† ¬†Our text reads, ¬ďTherefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.¬Ē¬† Condemnation is a courtroom term.¬† It¬ís the sentence that¬ís handed down after due process has established guilt.¬† The reason there is no condemnation for us is God¬ís due process established Jesus¬í guilt.¬† In Isaiah 53 it says, ¬ďThe Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all.¬Ē¬† Jesus¬í guilt is our guilt, and then God carried out His sentence on Him.¬†¬† He was stricken, smitten by God and afflicted.¬† In fact His suffering was so severe that even Jesus¬í enemies sensed God was behind it.¬† However, because all condemnation fell on Jesus, it won¬ít fall on us.¬† It is finished. ¬†¬†And now let¬ís apply this to our struggle with temptation.¬† Perhaps you can think of a time when you promised yourself and God that you were never going to commit this or that sin again; and then you did.¬† Oh, the guilt, oh the fear; has God really forgiven me this time around?¬† Here is God¬ís answer.¬† There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.¬† Hold on to this truth and keep holding on to it, because Christ bearing our condemnation for us is WHY God is patient with us and wants to give us victory over our sin in our life.¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†We read on in our text, ¬ď¬Öbecause through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.¬Ē¬† The word law here is not the Commandments.¬† Rather, the word law means a principle or a force such as in the Law of Gravity.¬† There are two forces in us.¬† One is our new man, which was created in us by the Holy Spirit.¬† The other force is our sinful nature, which we inherited from Adam.¬† Now, because of our sinful nature sin has power.¬† For example, when somebody tells us not to do something, the power of sin makes us want to do just the opposite of what we¬íre told.¬† So, maybe we work at not thinking about a temptation, but that just ignites our sinful nature even more.¬† It¬ís a vicious cycle.¬† Death also has power.¬† The fear of it enslaves us to desperately trying to be right with God, except when is our best ever good enough?¬† And so eventually we burn out, and then when you add to burn-out, the power of sin, winning the victory over our sin in our life would seem impossible.¬†¬† ¬†¬†Praise God there¬ís another force within us.¬† It¬ís our new man.¬† Our new man is strengthened by the Holy Spirit as we listen to what Christ has done.¬† So, in your struggles against temptation, don¬ít focus on, I have to do this or I can¬ít do that.¬† That just stirs up your sinful nature.¬† Rather in your struggles, keep reminding yourself that we have no condemnation in Christ.¬† By remembering that, we have peace.¬† With peace, we have joy.¬† And with joy, God renews our strength, and in this way He gives us victory over our sins each day, a day at a time.¬† ¬†But someone might ask, ¬ďWhy do I need daily victories, since Jesus already paid for my sins?¬Ē¬† We read in our text, ¬ďThose who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; the mind of sinful man is death.¬† Everything the sinful nature desires results in death.¬†¬† For example a new anti-drug campaign is showing pictures of people before and after a few years of drugs.¬† As you can imagine, the pictures of after drugs are not pretty.¬† Sin brings physical deterioration, but that¬ís only the start of a person¬ís problems.¬† What the sinful nature desires also brings spiritual death, because it numbs one¬ís conscience, and constantly increases his desire for more.¬† The final result is eternal death.¬† Paul writes, ¬ďDo not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God - I Corinthians 6:19.¬Ē ¬†Do we need any more reasons of why we need daily victories over sin?¬† But again these are reasons of fear that do not strengthen us.¬† At best they only make us cry out, ¬ďGod help me!¬Ē¬† We need reasons of joy if we are to fight sin, so that we will want to do what¬ís right from the heart.¬† We have two reasons of joy.¬† Our first is everything Christ has done for us.¬† Our second is the Holy Spirit has created new life in us.¬† We read on in our text.¬† ¬ďThose who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.¬† The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.¬Ē¬† The word Spirit in this verse can be translated Spirit, as in the Holy Spirit, and that¬ís why NIV capitalized it.¬† However in this context ¬ďspirit¬Ē could be better translated with a small s, as in our inner spirit or our new man.¬† So, here¬ís the verse again, but to bring the point of the verse out, I brought back in the first part of the verse and substituted the word spirit with new man.¬† ¬ďThose who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; the mind of sinful man is death. Those who live in accordance with the new man have their minds set on what the new man desires.¬† The mind controlled by the new man is life and peace.¬Ē¬† ¬†What does our new man desire?¬† It desires that we be rich in the fruits of the Spirit, which include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.¬† Our new man also seeks first that all may know God¬ís love and live according to His will.¬† The result is life and peace.¬† Relationships are made strong.¬† People are helped.¬† God is glorified.¬† And when we reach life¬ís end here, that¬ís just the start of really living!So, who¬ís in control of us?¬† Is it our sinful nature or our new man?¬† Our text reads, ¬ďYou, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the new man, if the Spirit of God lives in you.¬Ē¬† A powerful reason for fighting sin in our life is knowing that the Holy Spirit is living in us.¬† But how do we know that?¬† Well, are you baptized?¬† In the Bible, God promises to give us His Spirit through our baptism.¬† So, maybe we can¬ít always feel the Spirit in us.¬† But if you are baptized, know that you do have the Spirit in you, and that means your new man¬ís desire to do right is stronger than your sinful nature¬ís desire to do wrong.¬† Let me say that again and include myself.¬† Our new man¬ís desire to do right is stronger than our sinful nature¬ís desire to do wrong.¬† So, then we are not slaves to sin anymore.¬† In fact we can consider ourselves dead to all those things that would make us ashamed.¬† Furthermore even if we do fall, because we have no condemnation in Christ and because the Holy Spirit has given us new life, we don¬ít have to stay fallen.¬† We can get up again and back to living a life of love according to God¬ís will.¬† ¬†¬†¬†However, have said all this, we still struggle.¬† We still need daily victories.¬† I¬íd like to close by sharing insights Martin Luther had on what he calls grave temptations.¬† ¬†When facing a grave temptation¬Ö 1. A person must not rely on himself or his feelings.¬†¬† Rather, he must hold on to God¬ís promises and direct his mind toward them.¬† Luther said reading the Psalms or hymn verses helps a lot.¬† 2.¬† A person must not imagine he is the only one going through this.¬† Peter writes, ¬ďResist Satan, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of suffering.¬Ē¬† 3.¬† A person should not insist that God immediately take his trials away.¬† It is never God¬ís will that we give into a temptation, but sometimes it is God¬ís will to strengthen our faith through our struggle against temptation.¬† So when we pray, ¬ďLord, take this temptation away, also pray, ¬ďThy will be done.¬Ē¬† 4.¬† Don¬ít try to know what God hasn¬ít revealed.¬† We always want to ask why am I going through this.¬† But trust that God is going to bless you through your struggles.¬† 5.¬† Believe that God is hearing your prayers.¬† In the right way and at the right time, you will see His love.¬† And finally: 6. Know that when a temptation is the severest, it¬ís almost over.¬† Satan works the hardest on us, when he sees that God is giving us the victory and he¬ís about to be defeated.¬† ¬†So, no matter what our personal struggles are, let there be no more thinking that we¬íre no good, or God doesn¬ít care.¬† That¬ís wretchedness.¬† But since there is no condemnation for us and since the Holy Spirit has given us new life, let¬ís live each day a day at a time confident, courageous and at peace with Him, until we experience His victory fully in His Kingdom.¬† Amen.¬†

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