NOTE: While Pastor Charlie is on a trip out of the country through June 5, he has chosen some of his favorite blog posts from his weblog from 2020 to 2021 to share.
From July 3, 2020
7 What then should we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet, if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived 10 and I died, and the very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.
13 Did what is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.
14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.
Elaine shared a story with me about a time she went to visit her parents for a few days. This retired couple were set in their ways, and happy to live at home. Elaine was visiting to check up on them, because she lived some 10 hours from them, and didn’t get a chance to visit very often.
The first morning she was back in the home in which she was raised, Elaine was aroused by the sound of the smoke detector going off downstairs. She quickly jumped out of bed, fearing the worst. Had she arrived just in time to save her parents from a dangerous fire? Were Mom and Dad able to care for themselves in the old house, and this early morning warning was a sure sign that something needed to be done?
Elaine made her way downstairs toward the sound of the blaring alarm. It was coming from the kitchen.
As she entered, her dad was seated at the kitchen table reading the newspaper, oblivious to the alarm’s dire warning. Behind him she saw her mom waving a towel in the direction of the smoke detector. She greeted her daughter with a smile.
“Mom, what’s going on?” Elaine asked in a panic. “Is there a fire?”
“No,” her mother replied, “this happens every day. The toast in the toaster sets off the alarm, and I have to wave it off.”
Elaine noticed the toaster located directly below the smoke detector. She said, “This happens every morning? Why is the toaster right below the smoke detector? Why not move the toaster.”
Elaine’s dad put down the newspaper and looked over his reading glasses and said, “Elaine, how else will we know when the toast is done?”
St Paul says to the church in Rome, “I do the very things I know I should not do.”
I do something wrong, and I know the alarms are going off, and I know its not right, but I do it anyway.
I shouldn’t do it. I can change. I can stop it, but I do the very things I know I should not do.
Paul’s words are not to be seen as an “Oh well, I guess it doesn’t matter” get out of jail free card. Instead, it is a reminder of our sinful nature.
We confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.
Did you hear that? We cannot free ourselves.
It is only when we confess the reality that I cannot that we can free ourselves to hear God say, “I can.”
If we could save ourselves, we wouldn’t need a savior.
If sin and death didn’t have a hold on me, Jesus would need to take the sin of the world (including yours and mine) and put them to death on the cross.
In the very next chapter of Romans, Paul will share with the church some powerful news. Nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing.
Let us Pray: Almighty God, forgive us of the foolish things we do, and the excuses we give for them. Forgive us our sin, and save us from all that we do that harm ourselves, others and you. Thank you for your love and your forgiveness, that come to us in and through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.