The Introduction

I think one of the most remarkable things that God, through his word, teaches us two things:

  • and/both
  • either/or

I noticed that so many debates on social media are people desperate to find a one side to contend for and be on the winning side.

Speaking about the Bible: lets talk about drinking alcohol. Some people’s conscience cannot bear to drink alcohol for themselves. That is called self-control. But sometimes they will take their conscience and place it on other people and weigh them down with it. Paul called that a sin. In Matthew 23, Christ says to you “Woe to you” and calls you a hypocrite, viper, whitewashed tomb, and a child of hell.

What if we applied the and/both to this debate?

I can choose to abstain from alcohol and all Christians born of God must abstain from being drunk.

That is doctrine teaching.

And yet, when it comes to salvation, there is no and/both. Expositing the teachings of Christ:

Matthew 6:24 (CSB) “No one can serve two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

(Which by the way was echo through out the entire Old Testament.) You cannot serve both Christ and an idol. You cannot worship God and something else you want.

Let me state the obvious: you cannot be a believer and a non-believer at the same time. You cannot be a Christian and an heathen at the same time. You cannot claim that the Lord is your God and King and you continue to slander, gossip, steal, kill, dabble in sexual immorality, or disclaim a sin not a sin and go on with little remorse.

You cannot be an unrepentant Christian.

If you think it is possible to continue in sin as a Christian, then you have no idea just how far sin takes you away from the presence of God.

The Text

Romans 7:7–13 (CSB)
7 What should we say then? Is the law sin? Absolutely not! But, I would not have known sin if it were not for the law. For example, I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, Do not covet.

8 And sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind. For apart from the law sin is dead.

9 Once I was alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life again

10 and I died. The commandment that was meant for life resulted in death for me.

11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me.

12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.

13 Therefore, did what is good become death to me? Absolutely not! But, sin, in order to be recognized as sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment, sin might become sinful beyond measure.

Where do you see God in the text? What does the text say about God?

God

God uses the law to diagnoses the sin in our hearts

7 What should we say then? Is the law sin? Absolutely not! But, I would not have known sin if it were not for the law. For example, I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, Do not covet.

8 And sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind. For apart from the law sin is dead.

In other words, God gave the law to expose to us to see what He sees.

Surely he loves us and his affections are for us as his people. But we are infected with sin, when we choose not to confess and repent of sin–when we shed a few tears in hopes that other people would get off your back so you can go back sinning some more, the law exposes what we should see in ourselves.

It is a mirror.

Is the law holy and good? Spoiler alert, the answer is yes. But is it all powerful? Yes and no. Yes because of the mere existence of the law, your sin is already called out. Yet, because you and I are not so quick to engage the word of God continuously, guess what? We cannot use the law to expose our hearts when we don’t read the law and know the law.

If we never use the mirror of God to see what the Spirit sees, we stray and wonder away from his presence.

9 Once I was alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life again

10 and I died. The commandment that was meant for life resulted in death for me.

God uses the law to cut away the sin in our hearts

How often have we quoted Ezekiel on this channel?

Ezekiel 36:26 (CSB) I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Is it instantaneously? Yes and no.

Yes, in that, in order for us to be saved by God, in his presence forever, he does have to change our hearts out. When he does that, we get to obey him and our heart’s affections are for him.

But in a way, it takes time. For the rest of our lives.

Luke 5:31-32 (CSB) Jesus replied to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a doctor, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

God goes to work on our hearts and sanctifies and grows us and disciples us from the inside out–not the outside in. And Christ the Good Doctor goes the work you trust him and obey him. The scalpel is the law of God.

Jeremiah 31:33 (CSB) “Instead, this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days”—the LORD’s declaration. “I will put my teaching within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

And

Psalms 119:9-11 (CSB) How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping your word. 10 I have sought you with all my heart; don’t let me wander from your commands. 11 I have treasured your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.

God uses the law to clearly expose the sin within our hearts

11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me.

You never knew you struggled with any sin until you became a Christian. And it is such a temptation for a new believer to go back into slavery, as a dog returns to its vomit, because it was so much easier when you didn’t know better.

Now that you have read the word, it is exposing all kinds of mess. And you don’t know how to sort it out. You might confess your sins to God but you don’t know what you are confessing and you are unsure about your heart behind it.

I get that. I have been there before.

But let me tell you what happens. That exposure of your sin by Scripture takes it out into the light. Do you know what Charles Spurgeon titled his sermon on this passage?

“Dragging the Monster into the Light”

Because that is what God is doing in you right now. And you confessing to the Lord drags it out into the light. And in the moment you might wonder, “Is that all?”

Let me assure you that monster, when exposed to the light of Christ, shrivels up and dies.

1 John 1:9 (CSB) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

But you are not left as a shell of a person with a gaping hole in your heart from where God pulled the cancer. No! God fills you with his Spirit; the Son and the Father make their home in you and dwell there all the days of your life. We just read in Jeremiah where he puts his word and law into our hearts forever.

The Gospel

You can trust the work of God on your heart

12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.

That is not to say the Bible, the law, the gospel, the prophets, the psalms are just something better than anything else. It is good. It is holy. God’s gospel commandments are just that: just and good and holy.

God is a good Father that only gives good gifts.

But you have to let go of the sin you are holding on to.

But you have to engage God and his word and in prayer to expose those little sin tumors that you can’t see because you never been trained to see.

And yes, I do believe you need to get therapy for our physical, mental, and emotional health–but find yourself a good therapist that will not just give you a bunch of diagnoses that sound close to the truth but points you to Christ and by the power of the Spirit to take the word of God and help you examine what is going on within you.

Our Responsibility

13 Therefore, did what is good become death to me? Absolutely not! But, sin, in order to be recognized as sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment, sin might become sinful beyond measure.

This is where we come back to the gospel and what God has called us and commanded us to do: trust in him. Trust his words. Walk this out in obedience.

This might not happen quickly but I promise you the more you do it, the quicker you will run towards God.

Pray

My Spotless Lamb
 

Do your work in us.

Amen.

Media

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