Sunday, July 6, 2008

Pentecost 8

Readings: Zechariah 9:9-12, Psalm 145, Romans 7:14-25a (tough Scripture; sermon text), and Matthew 11:25-30.
Paul: I want to do God's will but fail miserably. I don't want to do evil but I do plenty anyway. But he is NOT talking about the life of a non-Christian! On the contrary, there's no such thing as a "victorious Christian life" except in heaven. Don't expect perfection from working on "bad habits" on your own.

On the flip side, don't fall into despair, fatalism, a life of "sin so that grace may abound." Take the chapter as neither of these extremes; Paul talks to sinners who are also saved. God's will is good - we delight in it in our inner, new self. Our old self rears its head at the same time. Sin is more than isolated bad deeds (as Islam teaches). It's anything contrary to God's will - our whole life spend under the old Adam - "we are by nature sinful and unclean."

So what are we to do? See the text! Salvation through Jesus Christ alone. Good deeds are necessary in our lives, but they do not make or increase salvation. Rather, they flow from faith given by God. When we sin, we cling more tightly to Christ's cross. There is a war in our two selves - but we have a valiant Warrior who promises to "deliver me from this body of death." God will guard and keep us from unbelief. Pray to overcome it through our Savior. We fail; Christ avails.
We have freedom to reject this gift. Why wouldn't we rather be enslaved to God?

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