Romans #14 – Good Gifts New Power (Romans 7:1-13)

Romans #14 – Good Gifts New Power (Romans 7:1-13)

– Well, I know it’s the Christmas season and I’m supposed to stop and do a little Christmas series. But I just think 2020 has had enough change, amen? I think we do something consistent and normal. We’re in the book of Romans, we’re just gonna continue. We’re in Romans 7, and he’s gonna use this analogy of marriage. So how many of you are married? How many of you are married? This is a good time to hold hands. And if you’re single, there’s hot cocoa in the back afterward, good luck, okay. Now let me show you my wife Grace and I, literally today’s sermon is, are you married to the law or married to grace? I already made my pick, you can make yours. So this is when Grace and I got married. I’m on the right. I’m on the right. I know it’s hard we look alike. People say as you get married and are together, you start to look alike, I just wanna thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for that not being true. And I always like to say that men and women age differently, women age like wine I always say men age like milk. And this is how it’s going for us. So we were married, we were 21 years of age, and when we got married, we didn’t really understand marriage, how many of you, you’re married, and you can testify to that, right? And marriage is hard, you know why? You’re both in it, that’s why it’s hard, okay. And what he’s gonna do, he’s gonna use an analogy of marriage, and he’s gonna compare and contrast the Christian life. So let me tell you a little bit about marriage, and then we’re gonna get into relationship with Jesus. Marriage is supposed to be covenantal, the two of you in a very exclusive, very unique, very loving relationship unlike any other. All of our other relationships are contractual, marriage is covenantal. Number two, it’s supposed to be mutual. The decisions we make impact and affect one another, you’re not two independent people, you become one person together. And it’s total, marriage includes all of your life, your money, your time, your energy, your relationships, your employment, all of you is involved and invested. It is in addition supposed to be sacrificial, you’re supposed to serve each other, give up some of your freedoms, give up some of your preferences, so that you can enjoy love and unity in consideration for the other. It’s also supposed to be fruitful, the Bible says it’s not good to be alone, you’re better together, you can get more done and be more effective in life and ministry together. And it’s also supposed to be, a good marriage is flexible, meaning there are tools for the marriage, not rules for the marriage. So different couples, different people are gonna need to figure out their methods in how they do life together flexibly. So let me ask you a question, is marriage a good experience or a bad experience? We have a little difference of opinion in the room. And here’s why, it all depends on who’s in the relationship. If he is a decent guy, and she is a decent girl, they may have a decent relationship. If he is a situation and she is a situation, they’re gonna have quite a situation. What I always do when I’m officiating a wedding, I have the husband and wife, I have them face one another, and I tell everyone, there are only two possible things that could go wrong in this relationship. This man or this woman, those are the only two real variables. Marriage can be awesome, or it can be awful, it all depends who you are and who you’re married to. This is the basic analogy that the Apostle Paul is going to give us. And he’s gonna say that we’re either married to the law or married to grace that we’re living under law, or we’re living under grace. So here he begins, Romans 7:1-3. And you guys enjoying Romans?

– [Congregation] Yes.

– It’s been fun, right? It’s been good, it’s been really good. This is our 14th week in Romans, so we’re gonna be halfway through next week. “Or do you not know brothers, “for I am speaking to those who know the law.” These are people that grew up in church and knew some of the Bible. “That the law is binding on a person “only as long as he lives? “For,” he uses this analogy, “a married woman is bound by law to her husband “while he lives, but if her husband dies, “she is released from the law of marriage.” Let me just say this, and she can’t kill him, okay, that’s important, okay. So she’s obligated to her husband as long as he’s alive. A lot of women are being like, oh, we can fix this. No, that’s murder, that’s back in the Old Testament, you can’t do that either. They once asked Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth Graham, have you ever considered divorce to Billy Graham? She said, no, I have never once considered divorcing Billy Graham, but many times I have considered murdering him. Welcome to marriage, okay. So what Paul is saying is, the relationship as long as you’re both alive. “Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress “if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. “But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, “and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress.” So an example would be Grace and I, we’re married, and we’re committed to one another until death do you part, that’s what we say in our vows. If I should die, she is released and freed, vice versa would be true. If I had another wife, or she had another husband, that would be the violation of the law, and I would be doing prison ministry from the inside once I found that guy. So the way all of this works, is he’s using this analogy of marriage, and that is a couple of things I wanna make note of, number one, God often in the Bible, when He talks to the church, He uses language of family, God does this a lot. There are lots of images in the Bible for the church, but one of my favorites is church family. And this is where He says, now brothers, meaning spiritually we’re brothers because Jesus is our big brother and God is our father. And He talks about husbands and wives and marriage. And the point is this, that sometimes, you have multiple families that you’re involved in. So for example, Grace has got her family, so that’s her extended family, I’ve got my family, that’s my extended family, we’ve got our immediate family, and then in addition, we have our church family. And so you guys are church family. And what I always like to say is, my job is to love you like a dad, her job is to love you like a mom, and we wanna treat you like extended family, that’s how we see ministry. Now, that being said, when people hear this, if they don’t know Jesus, they don’t understand the new family. And what is really curious is in the New Testament, when it uses this language of brothers and sisters, in the ancient Roman Empire to which this was written, it was actually illegal. Because inheritance, estate and property was tied to family. So you weren’t allowed to declare anyone family unless they had legally become a member of the family, because it confused the legal distribution of wealth from generation to generation. But what happened was, once you meet God and once you’re part of the family of God, you love each other so much that sometimes you feel even closer to fellow Christians who are family by new birth and the blood of Jesus, than old birth and biological family, blood relative. How many of you, if you’re here with your parents, don’t raise your hand. But how many of you, some of you are like, yeah, that’s how I feel, and now your mom’s crying, don’t do that. So how many of you though, people who love Jesus, you feel closer to them than you do people with your last name?

– [Woman] Yeah.

– It happens, right? That’s what he’s talking about. So that’s what he’s talking about, but it doesn’t mean we hate our family, but it means that sometimes the family of God feels even more like family. And we can learn a lot about our relationship with God, as we look at this motif of family. And so what he’s basically saying is, in regards to family, when you’re married, you’re obligated to your spouse, as long as you’re both alive. As soon as one of you dies, the obligations of the relationship have come to an end. He’s using this analogy, and he’s saying that we all start married to the law, that we live under the law. And that ultimately, when Jesus died, we died, He died fulfilling our obligations to the law, and we are freed from the law, and now we are free to be married to God, not married to the law, to live under grace, not to live under law. In some regards, he’s talking about it being kind of like a remarriage. And what he’s saying that, living under law is like a bad marriage. And then he’s gonna say that living under grace is like a great marriage. And what he’s talking about here, is that ultimately, law often shows up in our marriage. A lot of commentators struggle with this analogy, and they’ll say, well, Paul’s analogy falls short, and here are the reasons, I think that they over complicate it. I think what he is in fact saying is that, we live under law and one of the reasons I think he uses the analogy of marriage, who is the person that we tend to drop the hammer on the most? All the wives said spouse, it’s interesting, the husbands were checking the score of the game. Okay, so ultimately, if the Bible says to love your neighbor, who’s your nearest neighbor? Your spouse. So the love and the grace is supposed to start there, but that’s where the law often starts, okay? When Grace and I were first married, her name was grace, my name was law. I was more law-based. I’d read the Bible, look at all the things that should be done and then hand out the job descriptions.

– [Woman] Oh, oh. And for her, it created. Yeah. One honest wife said, oh, oh, yeah, I know. I know. I know, it’s amazing we’re still here, I know, I know, I know. We’re only here because her name is Grace, okay. So she brought the grace. And so ultimately what happens in marriage oftentimes is, one of you is law-based, one of you is grace-based. And the one who is law-based tends to be very inflexible, the grace-based one has to flex. The law-based one, tends to create a real difficult environment and the grace-based one is struggling to flourish under that environment. And what he’s saying is that ultimately living under law is like living under a bad marriage, and it creates an environment or an atmosphere or a culture, this can be in a home or in a relationship or in a family or in a business, or in a ministry, control, rules, fear, punishment, threats, impossible expectations, demands for perfection, no help or assistant, very non-relational, and it’s very discouraging, and it is killing of those who are living under it, it just literally robs them of the joy of life. How many of you have been in or under a law-based environment? How many of you have been in or under a law-based relationship? In those environments, there are only two categories, perfect and failure. And even if you were perfect, it’s only a matter of time before you’re a failure, so it’s inevitable. And it’s this treadmill of performance. And it’s always talking about what you didn’t do, not what you did do, or how far you’ve fallen short, and not the progress you’ve made. I’ll give you an analogy, an illustration. As I was studying this text this week, God brought to mind a family I haven’t thought of in some years. But when I think of law, this man comes to mind, I won’t say his name or show his face. But he was a very law-based man, he grew up with a law-based dad, non-relational, punitive, high control, threat, punishment, rules about the rules about the rules about the rules, didn’t help, always was telling you what to do, was never going to help you do it. He grew up under a law-based dad, and he grew up to be a law-based man, very law-based. His wife was grace-based. She was loving, tender, kind, relational, forgiving. So in the dating years, she was always working around him, but she didn’t realize it because she was so grace-based. He was never accommodating her, and she was always accommodating him. Well, then they start having kids. Now we have division. Jesus says a house divided can’t stand. Division is two visions, and if one is law and one is grace, there’s now division in the home. So he’s dropping the hammer, and she’s comforting the kids, and he’s giving them lots of expectations and chores and demands, and she’s trying to help the kids live up to his demands and expectations. Eventually, what happens is, his law-based environment, non-relational, punitive, high control, lots of rules, it broke his wife, it broke her spirit. She just became very discouraged, very sad. She tried hard, but she never measured up. What it created in the children was total rebellion. To this day, these kids, if you say, I’d like to talk to you about God, I’d like to quote a verse or invite you to church, it’s like a trauma trigger. As soon as they hear a verse, they hear their dad’s voice. As soon as they think about God, they think about their dad and his erroneous view of God. And anytime you’re inviting them to church, they immediately have a very demonstrative response. Because for them it is a dangerous environment. And then, I was thinking about it, these kids have utterly and totally rebelled. They want nothing to do with God, and they want nothing to do with their dad. And the sad cold hard truth is, they put their father and God the Father together, and they see them as identical and they’re not. The Father’s heart is not like their father, and God is not like their dad. Now, the basic idea that Paul is saying here, is that if we live under law, it breaks us. It’s too much to bear. The Jewish people had a, they had a word for this, a yoke. I think it’s in Acts 15:10. They talked about living under the yoke of the law. If you’ve ever seen a beast carrying a yoke, it’s a really heavy burden. Living under law is living under yoke. It’s heavy, it’s burdensome, it breaks you. It seems very unfair and unjust. Now, let me say some of you asked, what does this have to do with everything? This has to do everything with everything. This has been a year of law.

– [Woman] Yeah, that’s right.

– And it’s a yoke. And people are dying and broken and others are rebelling. Because that’s what happens in an environment of law. In our nation, we have laws. And this year, we added a bunch more, mandates, rules and laws. And then we have people who have deputized themselves, in the Bible they’re called the Pharisees. That’s the Greek word for Karen and today. Okay, today. Today, they are going to make sure that the rules are enforced, and they have additional rules about the rules, okay? How many of us are not flourishing under this law based-environment? Right? People aren’t doing well. And some of you say, but Pastor Mark, let’s argue, let’s argue, let’s not, okay let’s not. Because we can argue whether or not all the rules and laws and mandates and demands and commands and expectations are helpful or harmful, but I am telling you this, that it is breaking people’s emotional, spiritual and mental well being. Because law doesn’t create life. Grace produces life, law only kills. The Gospel of Jesus is that, ultimately, we are judged by the law and killed, and then we are brought into newness of life by the grace of God. So the law shows us that we are dying, and the grace gives us new life. The problem in our world today, our culture today, our nation today, all law no grace, people are struggling and suffering. And I was curious, because we tend not to think of law in terms of these kinds of contexts, we tend to think of it just in terms of religious law or spiritual law, but there’s legal law, there’s moral law, there’s relational law, there’s all kinds of law. And there was a Gallup poll that came out this week, every category, and Gallup’s you know is not a particularly Christian, pro Jesus Bible verse group, okay? They just do the data analysis. Every single group in America reports having worse mental health in 2020 than 2019. How many of you that doesn’t shock you? Okay? Except for one category of people, those who attend church every week.

– [Woman] Amen.

– Those people. Those people actually improved better mental health this year than last year. Okay. Now, the question is, why is that? Because the church is supposed to be a grace-based environment. And as there’s more law out there, there’s more gratitude for grace in here. If your whole life is law, you really need a dose of grace. And so what it shows is the key to mental health is going to an open church . Okay, so all you pagans, just come on in, we’d love to have you. And ultimately, what we have seen this year, is that as the culture has more law, God upon His people pours out more grace, so that His people can be healthy, even if the environment around them is unhealthy, because the environment in them is healthy. I’ll be honest, this is not one of the five hardest years of my life. I’ll be honest with you, I have seen more of God’s grace this year than any time in my whole life. All year, me and my family, not perfect, but we’ve been living under grace, supernatural provision from God that is inexplicable, and quite frankly just wonderful. And I’ll share it with you. So we started Romans 14 weeks ago. We’re talking about law versus grace. Law versus grace. Since we started Romans 14 weeks ago, the average church in America is running 36%. One in five churches is at risk of dying and closing. Statistically, 30% of pastors are considering quitting and resigning. We’re running 186% as an average, since we opened the book of Romans. Last weekend, we were running 217%. Okay. And I got pastors all around the country calling like, what’s the secret? It’s not a secret, if you have grace, people find you. If you have God pouring out grace, people will find the place of grace. Because right now there’s a shortage of supplies, but the greatest shortage is a shortage of grace. There is no shortage of law. In addition, during the time that we have been in Romans, and Romans is a book about grace, and when I started, I was like, Lord, really, now’s the time to go into Romans. I pray about these things, I fast, I seek the Lord and I listen. He’s like, son, preach Romans. Okay, dad, that’s what I’m doing. I didn’t know that we need grace this desperately and I didn’t know that the book would be so filled with grace this immeasurably. So during that time, our average attendance is 186%, we’ve added 630 little kids to our children’s ministry. Okay. We baptized just since we started Romans 117 new Christians. Okay. Because people are walking around going, la la la la la, they walk in, like, we have grace, they’re like, I’m in, where’s the tank? Get me wet. I’m in. In addition, just online as things have been closed, and Bible teaching is going on, we’re seeing a great appetite for people living under law who wanna live under grace. Just my social media is up to about 6 million a month. And we’ve started the real faith live show, where we do interviews and worship videos and the sermon, we send it out, that is now reaching saturation total reach of 1.5 million people a month, all around the world. Okay. So many of you are joining us online. And let me say this, for many of you that are joining us online and at home, everything’s closed, you can’t go out, you know what people are doing? They’re sitting home and they’re looking for grace, anywhere they can find it, they’re looking for hope, and meaning and purpose and joy, and ultimately, whether they know it or not, they’re all looking for Jesus, because that’s where all the grace comes down from. So let me just tell you what we’re gonna do, we’re gonna keep going forward in grace, that’s what we’re gonna do. That’s what we’re gonna do. So let me just give you a little bit of vision, as your year end, and I know some of you, you’re trying to figure out your taxes before we swap. People, okay, so I had a few words and the Holy Spirit’s like, not that one, not that one, not that one, not that one. Okay, so . Thank You Lord. I mean, when I started, He wouldn’t show up until after the service, and then it’s like ah. So. So here’s what we’re gonna do, we need to add another classroom space in the back, for children, for students, for women’s, we need to add a six o’clock to Saturday night, we need to add a race park out front, we need to make a water slide park in the back. And we’re just gonna throw parties and we’re gonna have fun and we’re gonna invite people, and we’re gonna build relationships. And if people are asking, why would you do that? We believe that our God is a God of grace, we believe that heaven is a fun place, that God is an awesome person, and nobody who’s with Jesus in heaven is bummed to be there, and Karen will have repented of all of her ways, and it’s gonna be amazing, okay. So we wanna still have joy, we still wanna have fun, we still wanna have generosity. We got our big Christmas party coming, the number one question we’re getting from people is, how much does it cost? What’s the answer? It’s 399. Because ultimately, our God is a God of grace, and our people are people of grace, and one way that grace shows up is generosity. So I’m gonna ask you to be generous through the year and I’m gonna give you some numbers to finish the campus and add more capacity. Because I think that there is the greatest opportunity next year of any year of my 25 years as a senior pastor, because I believe as people are living under law, they more desperately than ever are open to grace, okay? And who gives grace? Jesus does. Hey, I’ll let you in in a little secret, grace is His thing, grace is our thing, yay, that’s everything, amen? So he’s gonna talk about living under law versus living under grace. If living under law is like a bad marriage, and it is, then living under grace is like a great marriage. “Likewise, my brothers, you have also died to the law.” So you’re married until you die, or they die and then you’re released. You were married to the law until Jesus died for your sins, and then you met Jesus, so you’re dead to the law now you can live under grace. “You’ve died to the law through the body of Christ,” Jesus died to set you free, “So that you may belong to another.” You don’t belong to the law, you belong to the Lord. “To him who has been raised from the dead, “in order that we might bear fruit to God. “For while we were still living in our flesh,” that’s our physical, rebellious, old nature, “our sinful passions,” passion isn’t bad, but sinful passions are bad, you could be passionate for marriage or adultery. You could be passionate for the fruits of the Spirit or you could be passionate for getting drunk on spirits. Passion isn’t bad, but it can direct you to or from God quickly. “Aroused by the law, “were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. “But now we are released from the law,” we don’t live under the law anymore, we live under grace, we live under Jesus. “Having died to that which held us captive, “so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit “and not the old way of the written code.” He’s juxtaposing living under law, living under grace. And let me talk about law in the Word, and then law in the world. Law in the Word, sometimes it refers to all of God’s laws, the first five books have over 600 laws, sometimes it refers to the 10 commandments. Here, I believe he is referring to just right and wrong. That God is law giver, that God is over everyone and everything, that God says these things are right, and these things are wrong, and it doesn’t matter where you live or who you are, or what you think, there is right and wrong. Paul’s gonna use this word nómos in the original Greek not to get too nerdy, about 121 times in all of his letters. In Romans, this concept of law is this universality of right and wrong. And number one, it reflects something of God’s character, laws reflect the lawgiver. So when we open the Word of God, God says no adultery, so God likes faithful relationships, no stealing, okay, God likes us to only have what He has given us and not take something that He’s given to someone else. When God says to forgive, He likes forgiveness and grace in relationships. That’s His thing. The laws of God, tell us about God the law giver. Number two, one of the things that the law does, it restrains some evil. In Romans 2, he said that we have this internal witness of a conscience, you’re like, that’s just wrong, there are certain things that we don’t do because God wrote His law on our heart, and our conscience tells us now that’s wrong. In addition, we’re gonna get into it in Romans 13, God gives the government and the government has laws to restrain some evil. So law tells us about God’s character, law restrains some human evil. And then number three, it also reveals our sin, okay. It gives category to our sin. So you’re reading it, how many of you, when you were a brand new Christian, there were sins you were committing that you didn’t even know.

– [Man] Yep.

– You started reading the Bible, you were like, oh, I didn’t know that. The laws are naming your behavior. They’re naming your behavior. Is the law, is God’s law bad? No, but we are. And so the law shows us who we are. The law shows us two things, who God is and who we are. Okay, God’s good, I’m bad, God’s right, I’m wrong, God says no, I keep saying yes. There’s a problem. The law shows us our sin, our problem, our faults, failures and flaws. It’s not bad, but it’s not complete. Because the law can’t change us or help us, it only diagnoses us, it doesn’t treat us. In the same way, how many of you have ever had an MRI? Ever had an MRI? What an MRI does, it shows what’s wrong, but it doesn’t fix it. You go in, they’re like you got a broken bone here and you got a tumor there. You’re like, okay, I appreciate that. Now, what is the MRI machine going to do to fix me? Answer, nothing. That’s all it does is just shows the problem, not the solution. God’s law is good, we are bad, it literally is like an MRI on our life. Here’s all your problems, you’re like, okay, well, what are you gonna do? Well, that’s not the law’s job. It diagnoses the problem, it doesn’t heal or solve it. That’s the law in the Word. Now some of you are not Christians and we love you, and it’s a tremendous honor to have you. And for those of you who are joining us online, that includes you as well. There is also a concept of law, not just in the Word, but out in the world. And people acknowledge God’s universal law, whether they believe in it or not. I’ll give you some ways that this manifests itself. Anytime we get a law, if we don’t have a new nature, what’s our first instinct? Break the law, rebel against the law. Because what we want is to be sovereign, highest authority in our life, and as soon as a law shows up, we don’t like that because it’s over us, we don’t want anything over us. Another way that the law shows up in the world, we feel guilty. How many of you have done something and you feel guilty? You’re like, that was wrong. If you’ve never felt that, you’re a sociopath. Okay, just to tell you. They’re like I’ve never felt that, what am I? Sociopath, that’s what you are. That’s not good. We know because there are laws and whether we recognize them or not, certain things are right or wrong when we violate them, you’re like, I feel guilty, I shouldn’t have said that, I shouldn’t have done that. I shouldn’t have said that, I shouldn’t have done that. Hey, I experienced this quite frankly, just a little while ago in my office. I snapped at my wife. Yeah, her name is Grace, so you know it wasn’t her fault. Okay. So I tend to be more law. How many of you tend to be more law? And when you violate the law, you feel guilty. Sometimes those of us who are law-based a lot of our violation of the law is relational. We keep the letter but not the spirit of the law, okay. If I decide to tell my wife, I’m sorry, I’m gonna go preach a sermon on grace, and I’m snapping at Grace, okay, this is apparently what a hypocrite does. So when you violate the law, we feel, feel guilty, feel bad. And I’ve had people come up and it’s like, I’m reading the Bible, it’s not working. Why, I feel bad. It’s working. Cause you’re bad . What happens is, well, we appeal to law, when we feel that someone else has violated it.

– [Woman] Yeah.

– We criticize them or judge them. What I think is really cute, is our current move toward social justice, it’s adorable. There are no laws and you violated it. Okay, well, which is it? I mean, why are you angry if laws were violated, if laws don’t exist? You wanna judge others by the law, but you don’t wanna be judged by the law. This is the old hypocrites, law for you, grace for me. We appeal to the law, that’s wrong, when we feel like they did wrong. We also appeal to the law when we feel that we did right. If you feel like there’s right and wrong, and I did right, I’m going to appeal to the standard to talk about the good thing that I did, and what a good person I am. In addition, when we fail to live up to right and wrong, the law, we hide it, we hope we don’t get caught, we get real sneaky, or we deny it, or we blame shift it, but we don’t own it. Because the law judges us, and we don’t wanna be judged by the law, we just wanna use the law to judge them, we don’t want them or God to use the law to judge us. And then when we are caught, and we violated the law, and we did something wrong, we feel defeated, we feel depressed. Because we’re living under the law. I blew it, see ’cause law beats you down, grace builds you up. Law shows you what you’ve not done, grace shows you what Jesus has done to make up for what you’ve done, okay? And ultimately, we all engage the law, we all deal with the law. Now, here’s the good part of the law, it shows us who God is and who we are, and it shows us that we need God, okay? It’s like, I don’t do what I’m supposed to do. I am not the person that God says I’m supposed to be. I need a savior. I need a savior. And you know what I need a savior, who number one, lives up to the law. Did Jesus Christ live up to the law? Yeah, He never sinned in thought, word or deed. We live under the law and it breaks us. Jesus lives under the law and He breaks the law, He fulfills it, no sin of any sort or kind. So it shows us that we need a savior who number one, fulfills the law, defeats the law, satisfies the law, and then has grace for us who have not lived up to the law. And this is why we love Jesus so much. I’m not gonna stand before Jesus and tell God what I did, I’m gonna stand before Jesus, God rather, and I’m gonna celebrate what Jesus has done. And I’m not gonna feel any condemnation under the law, because Jesus already satisfied the demands of the law for me. See, some of you, you’ve got a very tender conscience, and you’re very dear people, Satan’s gonna remind you of all the ways you’ve fallen short, and you need to remind yourself of all the ways that God’s grace through Jesus Christ makes up the difference, okay? And so, what happens is, we die to the law, and then we get this new relationship, this marriage type relationship with Jesus Christ through grace. And this is where the Bible uses the language of marriage a lot to talk about the relationship between Jesus’ people and the church. So the church is referred to like a bride, Jesus is a groom, and what it’s doing here in the Scriptures, Ephesians 5 and elsewhere. It is saying that we were married to the law, is that a fun marriage?

– [Congregation] No.

– No. And let me just say this, I love you, but if you’re law-based, it’s no fun being married to you. And some of you say, but I got a lot of verses, that’s what lawyers do. They quote a lot of verses, but they don’t give a lot of grace. So they win a lot of arguments, but they lose a lot of relationships, okay. Being married to the law, living under the law, it’s a bad marriage. Being married to Jesus, living under grace, great marriage. He makes up for what you have failed to do. He forgives you for all your shortcomings, and He helps you to change. He comes alongside you. Law is just over you telling you what to do. Jesus is alongside of you, helping you to do it. Because He’s relational, and He’s loving, and He’s gracious, and He’s kind and He’s patient, and all that comes with that disposition of grace. Now, let me say this. When you get married, a couple of things happen. First of all, there’s a sacred moment where you exchange vows. How many of you remember that on your wedding day? And then what happens is your legal status changes, you’re now together, new legal status. And then number three, ladies, you get a new last.

– [Ladies] Name.

– You get a new name. So to be a Christian is, first of all that you and Jesus have gotta have that sacred moment, where you enter into a special covenant relationship. And Jesus will be like, I Jesus, take thee sinner. And I sinner take thee Savior, okay. And then what happens is your legal status changes. You’re no longer married to the law, you’re now married to Jesus. Your legal status changes and Jesus is your inheritance. His kingdom is your kingdom, His eternity is your eternity, His generosity is your generosity. Just like when Grace and I got married, all that is mine is legally hers. When you get married to Jesus, I’m using the analogy of marriage for this covenant relationship, you get the inheritance and then your name changes, so now we’re called what? Christians, we take Jesus’ name. We take Jesus’ name. So my question to you would be this, have you entered into this relationship with Jesus. Some of you may not know it, but you’re married to the law, you’re living under the law. You know what that means? All of your sin is being accounted by God, that the law is keeping a record. See, love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs, but the law does. That ultimately, the law is like an attorney that is just keeping record of all of your wrongs, and then when you die, you will stand before God and you will be judged by the law. And you will not only in this life live under the law, in all eternity, you will live under the law, and you will suffer to pay the debt that you have gathered to the law. We call that hell. Hell is a debtors prison for the guilty, who live and die under the law. What I want you to do today, is I want you to die to the law, and I want you to start living under the grace of Jesus Christ, okay? And everyone who has done this would tell you, it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to them. I’ve never met anyone who’s like, I’m living under the grace, but I really miss the law. I’ve never met that person. So how do you go from living under the law to living under grace? It’s that sacred moment where you enter into this special covenantal relationship with Jesus Christ. And you know what? You can do that right now. I just told you, 117 people have been baptized in the last two months. A lot of people are saying, I don’t like living under the law. Well, good news, you can live under the grace. You can live under the grace of God through Jesus Christ. So my encouragement, my exhortation, my admonition to you at this moment would be, right now would you give your sin to Jesus, let His death satisfy the demands of the law, so that you could die to the law, and would you receive Jesus and start to live under the grace? Father God, I pray that right now that the Holy Spirit would come and would awaken hearts and change minds, change desires and change natures. God as we’re living in a world that just keeps adding law after law after law, we’re feeling that pressure. We’re feeling those burdens. We’re feeling those frustrations. And Lord God as it seems like the laws are only increasing, would we use this as an opportunity to remind ourselves, that apart from the grace of God through Jesus Christ, all we have is law, and more law, and less freedom and more restriction, and more condemnation and more control, and more fear and less life and less joy. And Jesus, thank You so much that You satisfied the demands of the law, that You never sinned in any way, that You perfectly fulfilled the demands of the law, and that You died to pay our debt to the law for the wage of sin is death. And that Lord Jesus, You rose from death, and You conquered Satan, sin, death held the wrath of God, and You satisfied the demands of the law. And Jesus, thank You that You’re ruling and reigning from Your throne in heaven right now that You are alive and well. And the Bible says that we can approach Your throne of grace boldly, in our times of need, and God, it’s a time of need. And we thank You that our Lord and Savior rules over everyone and everything. And all that flows from His throne is a never ending provision of grace. So Holy Spirit, we ask You to bring that grace down on people right now. God, would You please bring salvation to those who would here. Would You open up their hearts, to love Jesus, to receive Jesus, to trust Jesus, to follow Jesus, and to start to experience living under grace. And we ask that they would make this incredible decision, right now in Jesus’ good name. Amen.

– [Congregation] Amen.

– If you made that decision, you came with a Christian, tell them, they’ll be excited about it. Or stop by and let us know, we’d love to give you your first Bible, we’d like to pray with you. We love you, we wanna help you and serve you. And you may have come in living under law, we want you to live under grace. And that is a life that never ends and only gets better. So then he’s gonna juxtapose these two things in his grand summation. We’re either living under law or living in the Spirit. The law is over us, but the Spirit is in us. The law tells us what to do, the Spirit comes to help us to do it, highly relational. “What then shall we say? “That the law is sin?” Is it a sin to have laws and rules? No. “By no means. “Yet, if it had not been for the law, “I would have not known sin.” It named my behavior. “For I would not have known what it is,” and he uses this example personally, “to covet, if the law had said, “had not said rather, ‘You shall not covet’. “But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, “produced in me all kinds of covetousness.” He’s like, I heard, don’t covet, next thing, that’s all I’m doing. “For apart from the law, sin lies dead. “I was once alive apart from the law,” just living my life. “But when the commandment came,” the more Bible I heard, the more rebellion I had, “sin came alive and I died. “The very commandment that promised life “proved to be death to me. “For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, “deceived me and through it killed me. “So the law is holy, and the commandment is good, “and righteous and good. “Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? “By no means. “It was sin, producing 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.” Let me explain this and we’ll finish it next week in the remainder of Romans 7, and then he’s gonna drive Romans 8 right into the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He says that the law has two primary purposes. Number one, it names our sin. And what he says is coveting, is his example, he’s like, I didn’t even know what coveting was. And then somebody’s, reading the 10 commandments are like, don’t covet, you’re like, what’s coveting? It’s where you want stuff that belongs to other people. Well, what kind of stuff do other people have? I want that. Boom, you’re guilty. Was the commandment bad? No, you’re bad, okay? Parents know this. Parents know this, so they’ve created something called reverse psychology. Which is, I know if I tell you to do something you’re gonna do, don’t eat your vegetables, do not eat your vegetables, do not, do not go to bed on time, do not, do not be nice to your sister and you’re wanting them to rebel, eat their vegetables, go to bed and be nice to their sister. What that means is not only is the child evil, so are you, that’s what that means. My wife testified in the front row. She said, yes, okay. It names our sin, that’s what the law does. Now here’s what we’ve done in our day, we decriminalize and defund. Okay. Decriminalize, well, we made laws and then everybody broke them, so let’s just get rid of the laws. That’ll fix it. Does it?

– [Congregation] No.

– No. Because unless you’re filled with the Spirit, nothing changes. So what we’ve done in our world, we’re like, well, there’s all these laws and everybody breaks the laws and everybody’s guilt, and oh, the prisons are full and it’s really expensive, so let’s just decriminalize it. I mean, certain cities have decriminalized most misdemeanors, including assault, public urination, drug use, so you can be high taking a leak and punching someone, and it’s okay. And you may feel like that’s good until you’re that person getting peed on by someone smoking a cigarette and slapping you in the face. That’s where it bothers you. Some of you are like, no, I believe in the law, hi, I believe in universal. Hey, pants on, needle out, hands to yourself. We all know that there’s a law when it’s been violated to our demise. And then it’s defund. Well, you know the problem is, we have laws and then the police enforce them. Well, that’s a problem. I bet, right? I mean, this is what legal drugs in public school, this is the end, this is where the logic goes, okay you’re like, okay, so you know what we’ll do, I know I shouldn’t say this but I don’t care. I don’t care. I live under grace, if you live under law, send your email, I’ll feel free to delete it. So the answer is, you know what, we need to decriminalize it and defund those who enforce the law. No. Because either the law changes or we change, it’s called repentance. And a lot of people say, well, let’s just change the law. And God’s like, actually, the law doesn’t change. The law exists to tell you that you need to change. And if we expect the law to change, we’re pulling hell up, if we change, then we’re inviting heaven down.

– [Woman] Amen.

– Okay. The other thing that sin does and not only, the law does rather, not only names our sin, it aggravates it. Because we’re bad, we’re rebellious, until we get a new nature. So let’s use the language of coveting, Paul deals with that. How many of you, you don’t even think that coveting is a sin, we call it social media, we call it marketing, we call it advertising, we call it impulse buying. Our whole economy is built on coveting, just so you know that. It’s all jealousy. We’re all on social media, oh, look at them, oh, they’re skinny. I hate them. Oh, look at their kids, their kids are nice, my kids are terrible. I hate them. They got a new car I got a old car. Their husband he’s got a six pack. My husband has a cooler, I hate them, okay. I’m just telling you what I’m thinking. But this is why the longer you’re on social media, the more miserable you are, because you start comparing your life to other people’s lives, you start coveting their life, and that is the death of contentment. All the law does, the law is good, we are bad, but the more law we get, the more rebellion we have. How many of you know for a fact if you want to get a bunch of people on grass, the best thing to do is put up a sign that says, keep off the grass. That’s how you get all the people on the grass. The best way to make sure that somebody throws a rock through a window is to put a big sign in the window that says, do not throw a rock through the window, one guy is like, I’m for sure doing that right now. Another guy is like not so fast, you’re cutting in line I get to throw it first. As soon as we make laws, we elicit and incite rebellion. And lawbreakers think, well, the problem is the law. No, no, no, the law is good, we’re bad. It diagnoses our problem it doesn’t fix our solution. How many of you, the more laws you’ve gotten, the more rebellion you’ve had? Okay. I’ll give you an example from my own life. Paul uses an example from his life, he’s gonna speak very personally, just in Romans 7, he’s gonna say the word, I, almost 30 times, so he’s gonna use a personal, let me use a personal. So as a little boy, I grew up next to an airport. Okay, so our house is here and the planes land and take off right over our house. I love playing baseball. Some of you are like, Mark, are you any good? No, that’s why I’m preaching. But I love playing baseball. And my dad, so dad’s probably watching, thanks dad, he put a batting cage up in the backyard, posts in the ground, net, pitching machine, bat, helmet, balls. Me and my brother, we could take batting practice anytime we wanted, good? Thank you, dad. My dad makes one law. Son, this is not a weapon. I hadn’t actually thought of that until that moment. Wow, actually, it could be, oh, I hadn’t even thought of that. I’m a little boy, my dad says, Marky, he still calls me Marky. I said, dad, when we’re in church, you gotta be respectful, call me Pastor Marky, so that’s what he does when he visits. So, I said, what do you mean dad? He’s like, you can only use it for batting, don’t take it out of the cage, and aim it at anyone or anything. That’s all I’m thinking about. That’s it, my dad goes to work or something. What do I do? What do you think I do? I’m like, well, we gotta get that out of the cage, as soon as possible. And then I look at it, it has two knobs because there’s two wheels, you can crank it to 100 miles an hour. Whoa, I’m gonna start shooting things, that’s what I’m gonna do. I’m a little boy. So my dad gave me one law, was it a good law or a bad law? It’s a good law. He has a, had a son, that’s what he’s got. All of a sudden, Satan sends an airplane right over me. It wasn’t the Lord, I’ll tell you that. And I’m like. I’m gonna shoot a plane. So I pop the wheels on the pitching machine, true north to what Paul calls the third heaven. I crank the knobs to 100 miles an hour. I’m waiting for a plane to land and I’m trying to sequence it as a little boy. But here it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comes. I start loading the pitching machine with baseballs, poo poo poo poo. I am sending all of our baseballs at the plane, I am a terrorist. I’m gonna take down a plane, okay. I never think, number one, what if I succeed? That never crosses my mind. Number two, if I miss what happens to all these baseballs going 100 miles an hour at people’s homes and cars and heads? Problem was not the law, it was in me. Okay, it was in me. This is what Paul is saying.

– [Woman] What happened?

– What happened? All right come on up, . So my daughter has a question, come on up. Go ahead, this is my daughter, you just spoke very loudly.

– Well, you didn’t finish the story. We’re all wondering what happened. I don’t know, I just shot a plane, that’s all I know.

– That’s disappointing .

– All right, I feel very judged, that felt like a lot of law from my daughter. So thank you for illustrating my point. I don’t know what happened, I wish I had a better ending, I should have thought about it. But I shot a plane, that’s what I did. The big idea is this, that ultimately, law is good, we are?

– [Congregation] Bad.

– Bad. Law is good we’re bad. So he makes this very personal, and what he says is, his thing was coveting, my thing is shooting airplanes, what’s your thing? All right? What’s the thing in you that when you hear it, you just wanna rebel against it? So he’s talking here about the 10 commandments and he hits number 10 which is coveting. So let me hit the 10 commandments. Can you find your thing? “You shall have no other gods before me.” Have you ever been a part of another religion, worshiped another god, been just sort of pagan, spiritual, atheistic, whatever. “You shall not make idols.” What that is is worshiping anyone or anything other than God, have any of you lived for your job? Lived for your beauty? Lived for your health? Made sacrifices so that you could glorify someone or something other than God, including yourself. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” How many of you have done that? Some of you are like, don’t say it , but you’ve done it. “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” How many of you just keep working? “Honor your father and mother.” Gotcha. If you don’t believe me, ask either of them. We’ve all dishonored our father and mother, right? We’ve all done it. And what happens is when you’re a kid, you’re like that’s a stupid law, when you’re a parent you’re like, that’s a good law. “You shall not murder.” And Jesus says this includes hating someone from your heart. Like I didn’t murder him, I just talked trash. Jesus says you murdered their reputation, that counts too. “You shall not commit adultery.” Jesus says that adultery includes adultery of the heart. Oh, no. So when I looked at him? Yeah. Or what if it’s on the internet? Still counts. Oh, gosh. Adultery of the heart and adultery of the hands, both count in the sight of God, because it’s not just the letter of the law, it’s the spirit of the law. “You shall not steal.” “You shall not steal.” “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Is everything you’ve ever said about everyone true? How many of you are like, I’m gonna delete my social media posts right now? And then the 10th one is the one that Paul quotes, “You shall not covet,” your neighbor’s house. How many of us do that? How many of us, we literally, oh, Zillow, look at their house, oh my gosh, do you know what their house is worth? They have a garage in their garage, that’s a big house. It’s huge, oh my gosh. They got a brand new kitchen oh my gosh. Covet their house, Paradise Valley. See many of you. Many of you, if you wanna covet, if you usually go left, go right, when you leave our parking lot. Just go to Paradise Valley, it’s called Paradise. The houses are big, the lots are big, the pools are big. Coveting their house. How many of you, you walk into someone’s home and your first thought is, I’m sure in heaven they’re gonna be homeless and I’m gonna get this house. That’s your first thought. We covet people’s houses, right? All the fixer upper, you guys are in denial, okay. HGTV. All we do is we watch, we covet their house, and then we find a cheap way to make ours like that, that’s what we do. Covet their house, covet your neighbor’s wife.

– [Woman] Bad.

– Bad, says the wife. Husbands could go either way. Bad says the wife. How many of you the big problem in your marriage, is you compare your spouse to someone who’s not your spouse?

– [Lady] Bingo.

– Bingo, shots fired. Like why couldn’t you be more like Karen? Yeah. Don’t covet your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s wife or anything. Would that include their car?

– [Congregation] Yeah.

– Would that include their beautiful family on the Christmas card?

– [Congregation] Yes.

– Would that include their children performing so well in sports, and having such an amazing grade point average, and meeting with the teacher is really just a fun annual session? Yeah I met with the teacher they said, that my kids are angels. And you’re like, yeah I’ve met with, yeah, mine are demons. We can covet anyone and anything, amen?

– [Congregation] Yes.

– Their income, their beauty, their spouse’s beauty, their car, their possessions and their success, their platform. Now the first nine of the commandments are primarily external, the 10th one coveting guess where it is? It’s in here. Because you can steal, you can lie, you can murder, people see that, coveting, who sees that? Just God. Only you and God know if you’re truly coveting. And coveting is the demonic counterfeit of contentment. God says, here’s your spouse, you’re like, I want a different one. Well, here’s your job, I want a different one. Well, here’s your body, I for sure want a different one. Here’s your car, I want a different one. Coveting is the demonic counterfeit of contentment. And only you and God really know when you’re coveting, because you can’t see it. You can smile and pretend and be totally coveting internally while faking it externally, okay. And what Paul is saying here is this, he says, I was a pretty good religious guy keeping the law. In Philippians he says, in regards to the law, I was blameless. What he’s saying is the first nine, externally not internally, nailed it, nailed it, nailed it, nailed it, nailed it, when it came just to the internal, I was guilty. Because man the Bible says looks at the outward, God looks at the heart. And where Paul is driving all of this, we either live under the law, or we live under grace. If we live under the law, we ultimately have to take the law and allow it to judge not just our external behavior, but our internal motivation. The things that only God sees, the motives that only God knows, the thoughts that only God is keenly aware of, we need to be honest about ourselves, and our internal condition, so that ultimately, we could give our sin to Jesus, and we could get a new nature under the reign of grace. And so what he’s saying ultimately is this, that his real problem isn’t just out there, his real problem is in here. And the good news of the law, it reveals all the problems in here, and then it drives me toward Jesus who fulfills the demands of the law. And here’s the really good news, three things that happen to those who live under grace, instead of the law. Number one, you get a new nature, you’re new, and you’re not perfect, but you’re new, and you’re in a process that will ultimately result in perfection. He calls it sanctification, he used it previously in Romans. And some will come to this text in Romans and they’re gonna argue, is he talking about a carnal Christian who’s met Jesus and never changed? Or is he talking about maybe a perfect Christian who no longer struggles with sin? The truth is, we’re all somewhere in the middle. We’re not who we were, we’re not who we’re going to be, we’re in the process, we’re in the struggle, we’re in the middle, we’re in the journey. He’s gonna say next week, I do some things I don’t wanna do, I don’t do some things that I do wanna do, what do I need? The Holy Spirit.

– [Man] Amen.

– So you get a new nature and the new nature comes with new desires, to where you hate living under the law, you love living under grace. And then thirdly, it comes with a new power, God gives you the power of the Holy Spirit, so that with a new nature, new creation, new person, with new desires, you don’t wanna rebel, you do want to obey, you now live by the new power of the Holy Spirit. And this is the Christian life. We’re gonna get into it next week, but let me just summarize it by saying this, law is about what you have to do, grace is about what you get to do, okay? Law is about tools, grace, excuse me law is about rules and grace is about tools. That ultimately, law demands and grace helps you to do what the law demands. That ultimately, let me just close with this. I believe as there is, more and more and more and more law in this world, we have to give more and more and more grace to each other. And I believe that God gives more and more grace to us. So let me just tell you the good news, your relationship with God, it’s under grace. You’re forgiven, oh, praise God. He loves you, He’s not gonna change His mind, He’s married to you, He’s not gonna give up. He’s committed to you, He’s devoted to you, He’ll never leave you nor forsake you, nor abandon, abuse or betray you. You’re under grace, as you live under that grace it makes you healthy, and then you and I have an opportunity, especially during the holiday season to what? To give grace. I don’t know what people have got on their list, but I tell you what God has on their list, grace.

– [Woman] Amen.

– That’s what they really need. How many people right now, they’re living under law and they’re dying. And maybe we can bring the grace that God gives us, that we could give some grace to them. I’ll just close with this illustration, I wasn’t planning on sharing it, but it comes to mind. I was at Target this week, long line. There’s a lady in front of me racks up a bunch of stuff. And then she goes to pay, she’s like, oh my gosh, I forgot my purse. She turns around, she feels really bad. Because you know what? The law says she’s just racked up a debt that she can’t pay. I’m so sorry, can you hold my stuff? I’ll go home, get my purse, I forgot it. I looked at her, I said, well, what happened? She starts crying at Target. She’s like, some about COVID, ex-husband, kid, job loss, through the tears it was just an avalanche of pain. I said I’m so sorry. She’s like, it has just been a horrible year, the year 2020, ah 2020, 2020, 20, ah, 2020, 2020, 2020, 20, 2020 is a four letter word you know it is and so. And I looked at her and I said, you know what? I’m gonna pay for all of this, you just go. And I looked at the cashier and I said, so take everything that’s hers and just add all that’s mine, and I’ll pay for it. The lady looks at me, she says, I’ll pay you back. I said, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, this is Jesus’ money.

– [Man] Amen.

– It’s not mine. And He put me here to give you some of His money. And I said, as Christians we call this grace, you have a debt you cannot pay, someone else pays it because they love you, and they want you to be free from the demands of the law. So I’m doing Romans 7 at Target. I’m doing Romans 7 at Target. So she looks at me, she says, no, I really wanna pay you back. No, that’s not how grace works. She says, just give me your name and address and your contact information and I’ll send it to you. Never. I don’t want you to Google me and see what’s said, and then talk to me, like I don’t want any of that. I just wanna give you grace. So I looked at her and I said, this is paid for by Jesus. I said, the God I worship is a God of grace. And I said, there’s more grace where this came from. I said, Jesus loves you. I said, and He just pays for things, and He blesses people, and He cares for people. She’s like, oh, thank you. She’s very sweet. She walks away. The teller looks at me, she’s like, wow, I said, yeah, I said, grace is astonishing, isn’t it? Grace is astonishing. The people in line, they were looking at me like I’m odd, I’m like, no, no, no, we live in a world right now where you just drop a little grace and it explodes. You just show a little grace, and it’s contrary. You just put a little grace on a situation, and all of a sudden the kingdom of God shows up. So my encouragement to you would be this holiday season, for those of you who are living under law, start living under grace, for those of you who have been making others live under law, allow them to start living under grace. And be looking for opportunities where people are living under law to bring them grace. I’m gonna bring Grace up and close our time in prayer, that seems like the right thing to do. And I just wanted to publicly apologize to you, early in our. I mean, for a lot, but just in particular. When we were first married, I was a law-based husband, not a grace-based husband. And I would encourage the men to be grace-based husbands, but I started as a law-based husband, and I put out a lot of expectations and demands and commands and burdens on you, and you were obviously grace-based, Grace. And so I just covenant with you that this holiday season, I’m gonna, by the grace of God, give a lot of grace from God.

– Thank you.

– So thank you, yeah.

– Thank You, Lord, for repentance, for forgiveness, for the grace that You give to each of us Lord. I pray that we would delight in that, that we would not reject that, but that we would receive that so that we can give that to others. Thank You that Paul has said this in such a clear way. Lord, You covenant with us as Christians, and then You covenant to give us grace until we see You in eternity. So Lord just help us to be receivers and givers of grace in Jesus name, amen.

– [Congregation] Amen.

Mark Driscoll
[email protected]

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