Sunday, June 29, 2008

Pentecost 7

Readings: Jeremiah 28:5-9, Romans 7:1-13 (sermon text), and Matthew 10:34-42.
Is walking with Jesus simple? Yes and no. Epistle: Paul raises questions about the law - when there's a line in the sand, we want to cross it. Paul speaks to the Roman church (mostly of converted Jews) as to law-knowers.

Example from marriage: would a marriage to a corpse be sensible and/or legal? What about the converse, adultery? Verse 4: the connection - spiritually speaking, we are married to either the Law (do, do, don't do - demands perfection, which is impossible) or Christ (with whom the law changes roles because Jesus laid down His life for us! His yoke is easy vs. Law's taskmasterism). In Romans 6, Paul reminds us that we have died to the law through Baptism; we are now legally married to Christ and serve Him in thankfulness.

Temporal husbands, imitate Christ's self-sacrifice. The Church's marriage is intimate: we receive His very body and blood! After all, we die to the law only "through the body of Christ." What do we do now? We bear fruit for God, for only in Christ do our good works count before God. Before, during our marriage to the law (v. 5), we bore fruit for death.

Two ways to serve God: (1) the law (must do, do, do) or (2) the Spirit (it's joy, not a burden, to serve God with His life in us). Good works apart from Christ send us to hell.

Verse 7: surprise! The Law isn't bad! Instead, the sinner in us is at fault. The Law shows us our sin (mirror, 2nd use). Sin must be confessed - only then comes Absolution. We are to go and sin no more. Paul: the law indirectly creates sin, oddly. When a command is given, the sinner in us becomes eager to transgress that command. Verse 10 - that sin is deadly, producing death through the good and holy law.
What a conundrum. But then again, Christianity may be said to be populated by paradoxes. And what wonderful paradoxes they are!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In 2nd Corinthians 3:7 Paul calls the Ten Commandments "the dispensation of death."

What!? How can that be?

Because the law always accusses and condemns...that's how. There is no law in it.

Is it necessary then? Of course it is. It is how we are to get along with one another and our God.

As creatures in this world it is an absolute necessity, more than is the law.

But,(here comes the paradox) for the children of God it is no longer. Now we (as believers, ones called and chosen by God) live by faith in the Spirit of Christ Jesus!

I think I just said exactly what you said, Hannah. But that's ok, for I needed to hear it again. And again. And again...