When Don’t Becomes Do
By Bobby Blakey on March 12, 2023
When Don’t Becomes Do
By Bobby Blakey on March 12, 2023
We have many different testimonies here at the church tonight. Some of us, who've gotten saved on the Good Friday or Easter services, some people here got saved coming up out of rehab. Right? So, anybody want to say Amen to that? You know, some people lived a life that involves drugs or drinking or sexual immorality, and Jesus has done an amazing work in your life to turn you around. Some of us, our testimony begins, I grew up going to church, that's how our testimony begins. And there was a lot of self-righteousness, a lot of judging other people, a lot of perhaps, hypocrisy, and then Jesus, we could see him for who he really was. And he saved our soul. See, if we were going to the church in the first century, if we were going to the church in Rome that the book of Romans is written to, and you walked around the room and you were like, hey, how did God save you? What's your testimony? What did you get saved out of a lot of people would say, well, I got saved out of the law, that's what they would say, I got saved out of trying to keep the law. The Hebrews would be telling you, well, I had to repent of my dead words, and I had to turn to serve the true and living God. So, a lot of people, they thought that the law was a way that they could live their life to be right with God. And then God had to use the law, even to lead them to Christ and save them out of the law. That's what we're going to see in the book of Romans. And I want to invite you to open your Bible and turn there with me. And hopefully we can understand the law, and how the right ways to think about it together here tonight. Actually, wants you to turn to Romans chapter 3, verses 19 and 20. I don't know what you hear, or what you think when you hear the phrase, the law. I don't know if you think of like, I fought the law and the law one, if you think about getting pulled over by a police officer, if you think about the law of the land, or if we're opening up the Bible, maybe you think about the law, you think of the 10 commandments, the two tablets of stone; or maybe you're thinking of the Law of Moses, the Torah, the five scrolls, God's standard of righteousness. So, I'm not sure what comes to your mind. I mean, a lot of Christians, going to church these days, they're like, ah, the law, who needs that anymore, we've got the gospel of Jesus, and they don't really give a lot of time to thinking about it. Well, the book of Romans has this concept of the law throughout the entire book, because the church in Rome that it's written to, this was a major thought in their mind. And in fact, Romans 3:19-20, we already looked at before, and it led us away from legalism. It led us away from the false teaching, that you can be righteous based on the works that you do. And it says here, Romans 3:19. “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being[a] will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes” … what does it say there, everybody? Knowledge “of sin.” So, when you're under the law, you are guilty, you are condemned. If you were standing before God under the law, you wouldn't be able to defend yourself, you won't be able to give excuses, your mouth would be stopped. In fact, the law is what teaches you, shows you, so that you can know, wow, I am a sinner. I don't measure up to God's righteous standard. Now just go to the next chapter, Romans 4:15, and let's just trace this thought through here. It's talking about Abraham's faith as an example for our faith. And Abraham believed and he was declared righteous. We are saved by faith, we are declared righteous by faith, not by what we do. But it says here, Romans 4:15, “for the law brings wrath.” Okay, we understand that the law is going to condemn, it's going to bring God's judgment because you haven't fulfilled the law. And then it says, this interesting phrase, where there is no law, there is no transgression. Where the line hasn't been drawn, you can't know that you're crossing the line. So, we'll get into this concept, but he's not saying there's no sin. He's saying, you're not aware that the sin is there, because you don't know the law. Therefore, you don't see how you're breaking it. Turn over to Romans 5:13. And there's more verses we could look at. We're just going to look at a few of them here. Romans 5:13. It says, “for sin was in the world before the law was good.” So, there has been sin before the law, but sin is not counted where there is no law. See this idea that the law is what gives us the knowledge of sin. If there's no law? Well, how do we really know? Go to Romans 5:20. Now the law, not only does the law bring knowledge of sin, and Romans 5:20 says, “the law came to increase the trespass, where sin increased, Grace abounded all the more.” So, through the law, you can come to know your sin. But now there's this twisted thing that we're here to talk about. The Law tells you, don't do this. And when the law tells you don't do this, you somehow want to do it. The don't becomes do because the law is giving you God's standard, and it's saying, thou shalt not, and you're reading thou shalt not, and you're somehow thinking, I would like to do that sin. And so, sin actually increases. We're going to talk about the law here tonight. People might be tempted to sin here at church tonight. Because when we talk about the law, not only does it let you know what sin is, it says there's a response to the law where sin increased increases. Look at chapter seven. Now, Romans 7 is where we really get into the law. And it said this in Romans 7:5… this is where we left off last week, Romans chapter 7, verse 5, for while we were living in the flesh, okay, so he's saying, we have been rescued out of our sin; we're now dead to sin. We have a new life in Jesus. But let's go back and talk about while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, were aroused by the law and these passions that the law brings out in us, or that we have this response to the law, that right, this temptation rises up, this desire rises up within us. So, while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions aroused by the law, we were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. So that idea of how the law of God is good, and it's his righteous standard, but your response to the law is messed up. And when you find out what God's telling you not to do, you want to do it. That's what we're here to talk about tonight. Our text tonight is Romans chapter 7, verses 7 to 12. And I'm going to ask if we'd all stand up again because this is our text. We want to give it our full and undivided attention. If you're home sick, I'd invite you to stand up if you're able to at least open your Bible and look with us at these words. These are not my words; this isn't some message that I came up with. This is the Word of God that we're here to understand here together tonight. Romans 7:7-12.
“What then shall 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. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, 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 holy and righteous and good.”
That's the reading of God's word, please go ahead and have your seat. So that he has connected throughout the reading of Romans. And this passage right here is a great example of why here at Compass HB, we just preach through books of the Bible. And if you were here last week, we did the first six verses of Romans 7. You're here today, we're going to do the next six verses of Romans 7. Come back next week, we'll do even more of Romans seven. In fact, next week, you should be praying for the sermon next week, because that's a part of Romans 7 that people talk about all the time. And so, we are going to dive into that next week. So, we just go through and that way, we're not deciding what we want to study. We're not just going to our go-to passages. We're not just going to our favorite Scriptures. We're going through all the Scripture and God's deciding what we're learning, and he's the one speaking to us. And so that sin and the law have been connected throughout Romans so that perhaps someone would make an objection and they would act like Paul, you're saying that the law is evil, you're saying that the law increases sin. You're saying that the law arouses sin. It sounds to me, Paul, like you're connecting sin and the law. It sounds like you're saying the law is sin. And so that's what he's clarifying here in Romans 7:7. He's answering an objection that would have been probably a common objection that Paul experienced from Jewish people who were keeping the law. Hey, it sounds like you're making the law out to be a bad thing. And so, he asked the question, shall we say that the law is sin? And we get to this strong negative statement that we've seen him using to break it into different sections to teach us here, as he's giving his masterclass on the gospel in the book of Romans. The answer, “By no means,” okay? The law. And you can see that at Romans 7:12, the law is set apart, the law, the commandment that God gives us, it's holy, it's righteous, it's good. We should all love the law. This is God's law. And he is the one who has given it to us, his people.
So, the problem is not with the law. The problem is, we are some twisted people. And if that offends you, let me just let me just take you through it, please stick with me. And he gives a very specific example here of how this works, that when you are told the following program is full of inappropriate things, it's rated R, it's TV mature, it's got violence in it, bad language in it. It's got inappropriate situations, no one should be watching this. And it warns people, and then people think I really want to watch this program. Okay. So, this is what he's saying here. Look right after he says, by no means yet. Look what the law does. The law, first of all, we've seen by reading through Romans, the law brings the knowledge of sin. But he's not just saying I can see sin for what it is because the law instructs me, or tells me so, no, look what he's saying here, I would not have known what it is to cover it. If the law had not said, you shall not covet, but sin. And he's talking about our sin, my sin, your sin, his sin, sin, when he hears the standard, it seizes an opportunity through the commandment. And now when I hear, thou shall not covet, I got all kinds of covetousness in my own flesh, in my own self, in my sinful passions. Like you tell me what I shouldn't do, and there's this twist, it’s not the law. It's holy, but me. No. And so he's saying back when he was in his flesh at one time here, let me tell you how this really worked. You hear the law, and there's this twisted response, God's telling you don't, and somehow don't becomes do in your thinking.
And so, he uses this example of coveting. He uses the 10th commandment, as his specific example, like covetousness is his case study. Let me just give you the command. Don't covet. And just thinking through that command will make you start lusting, start desiring, start wanting things. So, if we're going to talk about the law, we got to go back to the law. Let's go to Exodus chapter 20. Let's go back to the ten commandments. And let's just see how this works. Here in Exodus chapter 20, the ten commandments are given to us two times in the Scripture. Exodus, chapter 20 and also Deuteronomy, chapter 5. Deuteronomy is the second telling of the law. The law was so nice, we get it twice in the five scrolls of Moses. Okay, so the original law is given as God establishes what we know as the old covenant between him and the people of Israel at Mount Sinai. Here in Exodus 19, is the setting and now God starts speaking in Exodus 20. And maybe you remember the ten commandments, right? And, and you can see there in Exodus 20:3, number one, no other gods before me. And number two, no images, no carved images, no idols. Number three, you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Number four, honor your father and mother, number five, it says here you can see it right there in verse 13. You shall not murder, number six, you shall not commit adultery. Number seven, you shall not steal. Did I mess up my number somewhere in here? I missed the Sabbath. Here's what I did. No. See, I already said, look what the law does. They are right there, right? Just going through this I might be causing people to stumble here tonight. That's how twisted we really are. And then it says here in Exodus 20:17, getting down to what he's quoting in Romans 7, notice how we got some quick ones there, murder, adultery, steal, false witness.
But now let me talk to you about coveting. Coveting is when you want something that's not yours, let's talk about it for a second. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. Anybody got a neighbor who's got an awesome house around here? You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. See, I mean that now we're talking about inappropriate sexual kinds of thoughts going on. Or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's. Just when it starts making a breakdown, hey, what about your neighbor's house? What about your neighbor's wife? What about even, I mean, we might not really relate today, right now to servants, or oxen, or donkeys? Right? We might be thought of like, hey, what about your neighbor's business? What about your neighbor's portfolio? What about your neighbor's car? See, just by thinking through how you shouldn't want what somebody else has, you should be content. And thank God for what he's given to you. I mean, God's given you so many good things, you should just be grateful. But see, just by saying, thou shalt not covet, it can stir up within you a reminder of desires, lust, that you have, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of your possessions, it can start. I mean, this is what the scripture is saying. It’s that you are the problem that you have evil desires within you. And when you learn what the righteous thing is, you don't want the righteous thing. You actually want to break the commandment, that commandment is the occasion for your sinful self to think I do want that. I do want something that's not mine. I am not happy with what I have. I want more I want there's I want, I want, I want. Thou shalt not covet, but we do, see, that's the problem. And it's even through the righteous telling of the law that the evil desires within us arise. Jesus made this very clear, this was one of Jesus's go-tos. Hey, it's not that you do this. It's not that you do that. You want to know what your biggest problem is? You're looking at it in the mirror every morning. All that evil, all that murder, adultery, theft, deceit, covetousness, which is idolatry, all of that you want to know where it comes from? It comes from you.
Let's get this down for point number one, if you want to take some notes with us. Here, there's a handout in your bulletin, Romans 7:7-8 are teaching us, don't blame the law for your problem. Don't blame the law for your problem. And people do this. People go so far as they're blaming God for holding people to his standard. They're blaming the law like why? Why does it have to condemn me like that? Why does it have to say that's not okay. But what Romans 7 is teaching us, and what we can see even from the giving of the law to God's people in Israel, is that where you will see the law, you will see a twisted response, where what God says, don't, we go and do, and that's what happens here even in this original telling of the law. Like we should know this by the track record of the history of Israel, how we're God's people, the people who got to hear God speak to them on the mount of the holy place of Mount Sinai. They're the people who got to see God's miracles in Egypt. And God was there with his presence among them like a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. Surely, if you heard God speak to you with his powerful voice, surely, if God told you exactly what he wanted you to do, surely if you had an encounter like that with God, you would go and do what God tells you to do. Right? Not if you know Israel. That's not the way the story goes.
Look at look at Exodus 24. I don't know how far you've read past the ten commandments before. But look what happens there. I mean, the law is not just ten commandments, it keeps going for chapters of different things that God's telling them. And so then, God he says, some things to him in those chapters, and then he's going to bring them up the mountains, particularly Moses is going to go up on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights. And so, they take a little break here. And look at Exodus 24:3, where Moses now came and he told the people all the words of the Lord, that he had said so far, and so all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice, and said, all the words that the Lord has spoken, we will want, everybody. Oh, God tells us what to do, we're going to go do it. What we're here to learn together tonight, that's not the way it's ever worked. Didn't work for them, hasn't worked that way for you, won't work that way for anybody else. That's not how it works. That's not who we are. Problem is not with God, problem is not with the law. But when God tells us what to do, we actually don't go and do it. And when God tells us what not to do, we actually go and do what God told us not to do. In fact, Moses here, he writes down all the words. Look at Exodus 24:4, he wrote down all the words of the Lord. So, he leaves them with the Word of God, then he rises up early in the morning, they're doing all these preparations. And he and Aaron and Nadab, by who the 70 elders, they go up, they see the God of Israel. And now there's even more instruction. So, flip through the pages with me, we got Exodus 25, 26, 27, 28, hey, we're going to build a tabernacle, God's going to dwell among his people, there's going to be priest. Exodus 29, we're going to have some different things going on here. In Exodus 30, I got some guys set apart to build it for me. In Exodus 31, all these plans. God has given his people plans, here's how he's going to dwell among them, he's going to be their God, they're going to be his people. And then you get to maybe a story you've heard before, if you're one of those testimonies “grew up going to church,” Exodus 32, the golden calf. Didn't take long, my friends. When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, he's up there forty days and forty nights that didn't even last that long. And that's usually about how long the trying really hard to keep the law can last in somebody's life. When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron, and said, make us gods who shall go before us? Are you kidding me right now? Right? That was the first one. There shall be no other gods. Do you see how this works? They're told, hey, I mean, God had already proven to, I mean, what an amazing display that God had not just the ten plagues, not just the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire, how about parting the Red Sea and bringing all of you across the Red Sea, and then closing the Red Sea on your enemies? And a victory of military power, and like the world is never No, just crashing your enemies under the weight of the sea, drowning them. And people were singing and dancing, singing to the Lord. He has triumphed gloriously; the horse and the rider fell into the sea. I mean, they were just worshiping God, just a short few chapters ago, it seems. And now they're like, hey, Aaron, why don't you make us some other gods? This is how it works. This is who we are. It's not just we're not here to be like, what's the problem with the Israelites? We're here to ask ourselves, what's the problem with me? I mean, I want to ask you to ask God to search your heart.
As we talk about this tonight, I want you to ask God to pray that prayer of David in Psalm 139, verses 23 and 24. “Search me God, show me what evil way there is in me.” When in your life did you hear something straight from God? Maybe you heard it at church, maybe you read it in the Bible, maybe somebody who cared about you shared it with you. And when you heard God's righteous standard in his law, there was a desire that rose up within you where you wanted to do the opposite of what God said. When have you broken the law of God, because of your problem with sin? This is what we see here. And you can look at it in many different ways. Look at what happened with Israel. Look at what happens just by the idea of not coveting, I mean, that command. It's like it's showing you material possessions. It's showing you the idea of inappropriate thoughts. It's showing you greedy things that maybe you don't have that you might want. I mean, all the different kinds of lusts and the pride of life. They're all represented there with that command, you shall not covet. But do we covet? See, we cover it, we break the law, we sin because that is who we are.
If you want to turn with me back to Romans chapter 7, this is perhaps one of the great passages proving the sinfulness of human beings, that even if we we’re to get that all of our children, like they're in kids ministry right now, and even if we were able to somehow, like, get kids away from all modern technology, all internet access, all outside influence, let's just protect the children completely. Let's just start building rooms here at the church, and the kids can grow up here, you know. Every day Bible teaching, every day we’ll teach these kids the ten commandments, we’ll teach these kids, we’ll put God back in their schooling, we’ll teach these kids everything the law says, and you know, what will happen with this beautiful group of children is they will grow up to be vile sinners. Because even as we're here, trying to be set apart, and trying to teach them the law from within them. How do you protect your kids from themselves? How do you protect yourself from yourself? How do you protect the people you love from you? We are the problem. And even if all we did was talk about the good impure things of God, we would start thinking, impure, and not good thoughts. We don't even have to do the actions already. It starts with that lust in your heart, that hatred in your soul, that anger rising up within you. You see the opportunity for temptation, that desire rises up, and if you give into it, you are already there in sin. I mean, read, read these verses again here in Romans 7 now that we hopefully have this concept, I'm going to hear the good news or the good truths of the law. But I'm going to want to see because of it. That's what it's saying. If it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin, For I would not have known what it is to covet. But the law drew the line for me. It showed me that's a transgression. When you cross that line, you shall not covet, but sin and it's this. It says it here in Romans 7:8, and it says it in Romans 7:11. It's translated seizing an opportunity. It's this Greek word aphormé. It's the idea of an occasion. Hearing the law is an occasion for sin in your life. That's what it's saying. Even someone telling you what God says, your response could be twisted, and wicked, and evil.
Go over to Romans 8. Here's a preview of what we're going to get to in Romans 8:7-8. Look at how plain it says it here in Romans 8:7-8, “the mind that is set on the flesh.” So this is that that fleshly mindset of someone who is under the law, still in their flesh, someone who has not been saved by Jesus and still in their sin, that mindset when you are set on the flesh like that, that mindset is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law. Indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Have you gotten down to the depths of your own soul? Do you agree with what the Bible just said to you? Confess that even if I was told all the right things to go and not do and all the right things to go and do I within me the way that I am from birth, I am against God, I am in a state of rebellion. And I want to do what I want to do, and I don't care what God tells me to do. That's who we are. That's what the Scripture is saying. It's leaving us no other option to say the problem is not the law, you guys, which means we’ve got to look around and we’ve got to be like, well, what is the problem then? I guess the problem is me. We are living in a culture of blame shifters. We are living in a country of excuses, where everyone can do what is right in their own eyes and no one can tell them it's wrong. But the truth is that God has said that it's wrong. And we are wrong for doing it. And we need to agree with God. Can I get an Amen from anybody on this?
Is anybody ready to say here tonight, God's not the problem, his law is not the problem. Is anybody ready to say that? That's where Romans 7 is taking us. In fact, look what he says now at the end of Romans 7:8. Okay, look at this. See, it says “for apart from the law, sin lies dead.” Now I want you to, if you got the handout here in Romans 8:9, I want you to circle this where it says, “I was once,” okay? Because what Paul's about to say here, some of the things that Paul says in Romans 7 are confusing, or people are confused, maybe not what Paul's saying is confusing. But there is a lot of confusion about what Paul is saying. And I'm not even just saying some people are confused, even among Bible scholars and interpreters and commentators on scripture, or even among men that we might respect as Bible teachers. There is sometimes confusion about what Paul says. Paul is going to say a lot of things, and he's going to say them in a tone that feels autobiographical. He's going to use the Greek word “ego,” which is “I,” and he's going to talk about himself and what he's going to give us right here at the end of verse 8, going into verse 9, and verse 10, and 11, is he's going to give us now “I was once.” So he's going to give us a flashback. And sometimes people can get confused about this flashback. So, let's try to really think it through here together. Are you guys with me? Are you ready? Are you ready for this? Okay? Because if you don't pay attention, you're definitely going to be confused, because even people who pay attention might be confused at this part of the sermon. So, if you're checking out right now, hey, we'll see you baby. Go catch up on that hour. All right? Because you’ve got to really listen to this. All right. So, he's going to say, now, let's go to maybe back in another time, before the law, or apart from the law, “I was once alive apart from the law. But then the commandment came. And then sin came alive, and I died.
Now he's already been talking about being dead and alive. And we've already got this in our mind that we're dead to sin. And we're alive to God in Christ Jesus, our Lord. But let's go back before that now. I want to take you back. I was once apart from the law. Now, that's a real head scratcher that gets a lot of people thinking, wait a minute, what was before the law? And so, I've even read people who are trying to make the case here. Oh, so he's taken us all the way back to Adam. Now, because Adams, the only guy who was alive before he was told to do anything. And Adam and Eve, they had commands from God there. So maybe he's going back to Adam, or some people I read, they think he's going back to Israel here, because there was Israel that got led out of Egypt before they got the law. So maybe he's taken us back to Exodus 19. They're back into their sandals. They're out on a mountain, Mount Sinai. So, people start to think, what does this mean that Paul was living a life apart from the law? And when you look at it, look at the end of Romans 7:8, “for apart from the law, sin lies dead.” What do you mean sin lies dead? You've just described sin as this vicious evil that the law not only gives us knowledge of but our response to the law is warped and twisted. You have said over and over that when sin increases, that means we're going to bear the fruit of death.
So, see, now he's kind of changing his analogy here. And some people get confused. But let's try to figure it out. I don't think he's referring to Adam or Israel. And I think that will be very clear if you come back next week, as we keep going through the rest of Romans 7. I think, Paul, when he says “I” he's referring to himself. And he's clearly here when it says, “I was once,” he's referring to his previous self. Hey, I was once in a place where the law didn't really give me a knowledge of sin. The law didn't really reveal my sin. I think what Paul is saying to you here, that there was a time in his life where his eyes weren't really opened up to the law. And he would have told you he wasn't the problem. He would have told you, he was a pretty good person. In fact, we actually have quotes from Paul saying he wasn't a pretty good person. He was pretty much the best person you ever would meet. That's who he was. He in fact, there were many people trying to be the best, but they weren't as good as him, right?
Okay, go over to Philippians chapter 3, look at some of the things that Paul says about himself before he really saw himself for who he was. That's what I think he's getting at here in Romans chapter 7. Before he really saw, the law brought this knowledge of sin, when he was apart from the law before he could really see his messed-up response to the law, that he wanted to do things that God said, don't do. Before all of that he describes himself, he kind of gives his resume here. This is Philippians chapter 3, starting in verse 4, though, and he's talking about putting confidence in the flesh, “though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh.” Also, “if anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more.” So, I'm not exaggerating when I was describing him earlier. You think you've got it right? Let me tell you about myself. Philippians 3:5, “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, as to the law, Pharisee, as to zeal, a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law.” What does he say right there, everybody? The guy doesn't think he's the problem. The guy actually thinks he's doing everything the law tells him to do. This is what I think he's referring to, when he says, hey, I used to live apart from the law, I used to think I could keep the law, I used to think I was keeping it as good or better than anybody else.
Go over to Galatians chapter 1, just a few pages back to the left and Galatians chapter 1. And he says something similar about himself, and the way that he thought and who he really was in Galatians 1:13, “for you have heard of my former life.” So, we're talking about who he once was, “you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it.” I mean, what a statement, I heard about this new way of Jesus, and I wanted to get rid of the way of Jesus. “And I was advancing in Judaism,” Galatians 1:14, “beyond many of my own age among my people. So extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my father's, first in my class” is what he said, If you want it to find people who are my peers, or equals, you had to look at people older than me. So, here's a guy who, at one point, he thought he was the epitome of the law, the definition of the law, the poster person for the law. See, before he really got what the law was saying, and the knowledge of sin and the condemnation and conviction of his own sin, he was living a life apart from the law, and then the law really came and hit him. That's what I think he's saying in Romans 7. In fact, go back now to Romans chapter 7. It's just a few pages back to the left. Now that we have this idea, what does he mean when I was once apart from the law, and sin was like, dead? I didn't think about sin. I didn't think I had sin. I thought I was living a fine life. He is the idea here at the end of verse 8, apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law. But when the Commandment came, oh, now sin came alive. It's like, who, all of a sudden, I really heard what God was saying. And all of a sudden, I had that encounter with Jesus, maybe on the road to Damascus, or all of a sudden, I could see myself for who I really was. Here's God's righteous standard. I didn't measure up. Wow, look at look at this dynamic thing that happened to him. He says, “When the Commandment came, sin came alive and I died.” The very commandment that promises life proved to be death for me for sin. Once again, sin found this occasion, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, it deceived me and through it killed me.
So, you can see here that the law made sin come alive, like he, all of a sudden... So, this is a regular thing that's going to happen to a lot of people. A lot of people think they're good people. A lot of people think they're law-abiding citizens. A lot of people think they're on the right path. And then when they really have this encounter with God's law, they have the knowledge of sin, and even now, maybe their sin even gets worse in response to them seeing God's righteous standard. So, Paul, sharing how that once happened to him, and Paul's not the only the example of this, this is a regular example, where people are held up that they thought they were a good person. They thought they were right with God. As to the law, they would say, I am blameless. And here's somebody you can write down. Write down the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:20, this is the guy who comes to Jesus and says, “What should I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus, he refers to many of the commandments. And the guy literally says in Matthew 19:20, the young man said to him, “all these I have kept, what do I still lack?” See this guy, he can't really see that the law is giving him a knowledge of sin, and the law is revealing his own evil desires. He thinks he's kept the law, honored my father and mother, oh, no problem. No stealing, no lying, no coveting, no problem. All these I've kept.
Another person you could write down is in Luke chapter 18. In fact, let's all turn there. Because you can see the contrast here between these two people that Jesus uses to teach us. In Luke 18:9, here's Jesus trying to explain this idea to us, that some people, they don't really get the law, they actually think they can live up to the law, they actually think they are doing it. And other people, the law to them shows their sin in their life. And so here's an example of the two different somebody who's apart from the law and somebody who's now I'm seeing themselves through the law. This is Luke 18:9, he also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous. So, he's going after the goody two shoes, he's going after the better than, he's gone after the first among their peers here, and he's got a story for them, because they treated others with contempt. Two men went up into the temple to pray. one a Pharisee, the other a tax collector right there. You would think, good guy, bad guy. If you were thinking in the way of the day, the Pharisee standing by himself, prays, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men.” Let me just tell you, that is not how you want to start your prayer right there everybody. You are like other men. I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get. Aren't you lucky, I'm praying to you today, God, but the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
So yeah, I think this is what Paul is trying to explain to us. He's saying, hey, I used to live apart from the law. And it was like sin had died. And it was like I had this fine life. I thought I was doing fine. And then I met Jesus one day on the road to Damascus, and then I really saw who I really was. And who, I just got to ask you, which one are you in this prayer? Are you the good person? Or are you the one that begs God for mercy because you're a sinner? See, that's what the law is meant to show us. And Paul's saying that I was once thinking I was fine. And then the law came, and wow. It really showed me who I was. And if I go back to Romans chapter 7 now, and he says something very interesting in Romans 7:10. I want everybody to look at Romans 7:10 with me, because he says, “the very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.” So now we're back to this kind of conflict, that there's the main idea of our text. The main idea of our text is that the law is good. Our sin is the problem. But wait a minute, I thought the law promised life, I thought that when God gave the law, like if you go to Deuteronomy, the second telling of the law, Moses says to the nation of Israel, “choose this day whom you will serve.” Well, that's the idea like if you choose life, if you obey God's commands, and choose life, then you will be blessed. But if you disobey God's commands, then you're choosing death, and then the curses in this law will surely come upon you. So don't choose death. Choose life. Obey God's commands. I thought that the point of the law was human flourishing. I thought God gave us the law, because it's the best possible way to live as a human being. I thought if we obeyed the law, we would live. That's what he's referring to here in verse 10, the commandment that promises life, but it actually proved death. Well, how does that exactly work?
Let's go back to the law one more time to Leviticus chapter 18. I need everybody to, if you hopefully you've studied Leviticus 18 with us before, if you've never studied Leviticus 18, you need to turn there right now, because it's talking about the United States of America and the Law of Moses. It's talking about I don't know how I grew up going to church, always hearing that the law of Moses was only about Israel, when there are whole sections of the law devoted to all the nations of the earth. And Leviticus 18 is not just about Israel, Israel is just one of the nations. And these are God's thoughts to all of the nations here in Leviticus chapter 18. Starting in verse 1, “the Lord spoke to Moses saying, Speak to the people of Israel, and say to them, I am the Lord your God, you shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. Don't walk in their statutes. Okay? So, you guys can't be like Egypt, where you just came from, don't do what they do. And you can't be like the nations in the land of Canaan, where I'm going to take you, to the land of promise. Don't do what they do. Okay? And then he says in Leviticus 18:4, “you shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them, I am Yahweh your God. You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules. If a person does them, he shall…” what's the promise there, everybody? Shall “live by them. I am Yahweh, I am the Lord.” So I think that Romans 7:10, the commandment that promised life that could be a reference to that verse right there, Leviticus 18:5, there's a promise of life. If you keep the commands, don't go the way of that nation. And don't go the way of that nation. Now, what are the ways of the nations that get described here? Well, let's go through the law just for a moment. And let's see what happens when we just talk about the law, even here together right now. Look at Leviticus 18:6. “None of you shall approach any one of his close relatives to uncover nakedness. I am the Lord.” Verse 6, all the way down to verse 19, is all about you shall not uncover nakedness. Just a whole series of commands about that. Then it says in Leviticus 18:20, “you shall not lie sexually with your neighbor's wife, and so make yourself unclean with her.” Then verse 21, “you shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech,” this was child sacrifice, “and so profane the name of your God I am the Lord. You shall not lie with a male as with a woman, it is an abomination, and you shall not lie with any animal and make yourself unclean with it. Neither shall any woman give herself to any animal to lie with it, it is perversion. Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things. For by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, even the lands became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you got to keep my statutes, my rules and do none of these abominations, verse 27, “for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations so that the land became unclean. And lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you for everyone who does any of these abominations the person to do them shall be cut off from among their people. So, keep my charge, never to practice any of these abominable customs.”
Let's just think this through, everybody. This is what Egypt did. They did this kind of sexual sin, this kind of child sacrifice. Okay, this is what Canaan did. They did this. You know what God thinks about these abominations? Even the land wants to spit these nations out. How did Israel do with these commands? If we keep reading, we're going to find out that God sends other nations to judge his nation because they do the same abominations. Okay, now let's take the same abominations. Let's talk about the United States of America that you and I are living in right now. Man, I've grown up in the church where Leviticus is like the most slandered book in the Bible. I've grown up at church here and people make fun of Leviticus my entire life. Like, who wants to read Leviticus? Leviticus is where Bible reading plans go to die, right? We're probably right at the time where somebody's Bible reading plan is in Leviticus right now. And they stopped reading that. I tell you what, there was a day in my life, I started reading this chapter of Leviticus, and it felt like I was reading the New York Times, I felt like I was reading the Orange County Register, felt like I was reading exactly what's happening in this country today. That we are committing the abominations of the nations, we are going the way that every nation goes. Because no nation has lived up to this standard, not even one. That this law that promises life, all it's really doing is proving that nobody lives up to this. And I know we like to think of ourselves in the United States of America as a different kind of nation. We have an exceptional exceptionalism. We actually think we're better than the others. We're better than the rest. And I'm right here, I'm your fellow American, I love my country here in the United States, but I had to realize that my country was the same at breaking God's law as all the other countries because I'm the same at breaking God's law as all the other people. Can I get an Amen from anybody on that. Okay, so yes, the law does promise life, but what nation is doing this?
So, let's get this down for number two: Don't look to the law for your solution. Don't look to the law for your solution. The answer to our study of the law together here tonight, that the law shows you your sin, and actually your sin comes out in response to the law. And maybe there was a time in your life where you didn't really get this, you thought you were a good person. And then the law showed up and it showed you, there's no way you could be a good person, the response to this sermon is not to leave here and to try to go be a good person. You are not a good person living in a country of not good people. That's what the law says. If that's offensive, that is the law of God. And he has the authority, not just over Israel, but over all the nations. And God makes a decree that every nation, he's going to decide what land it has, and how long it's going to be there. And a lot of times, then reason nations throughout the history of the world stop being in their place. And their time is because the land vomits them out, because God has had enough of them not keeping his law. And so, we can't continue to go home and try harder, to be better, to do good. That's not what the law is teaching us. The law is not teaching you to keep the law, the law is teaching you, you cannot keep the law. I cannot keep the law. United States of America cannot keep the law, the people who had God's law, and God's presence couldn't keep the law. Nobody keeps the law. Nobody except for one and his name is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is who you need to look to go to. Go to Romans chapter 10. See, though this is the main chapter on the law in Romans 7, but it keeps going after Romans 7. The law is a theme woven throughout the fabric of the book of Romans. And when we get to Romans chapter 10, and he's praying for his fellow countrymen that didn't live up to the law for their own nation, his countrymen, that they didn't choose life. They chose the death, they disobeyed God's commandments. And he looked what he says about his fellow Jews here in Romans 10:2, he says, “For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge for being ignorant of the righteousness of God and seeking to establish their own. They did not submit to God's righteousness. See, that's the problem. That's what you can't leave here and do you cannot seek to establish your own righteousness. You can't be ignorant. You can't be the person who's thinking I'm blameless. I'm fine. I'm good. I'm better than most. It's not a comparison to other people. It's a comparison to God's commandment, his holy, pure and good standard, and all of us have fallen short of the glory of God. And so please, I'm asking, please do not seek to go and be righteous, you will never get there. Please leave here and seek the one who is righteous, and you will find him. That's what it says here in verse 4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes God's giving me a standard.” I'm realizing I'm a sinner, I can't even do the right things God is telling me to do, I can't even obey the law. I have this desire within me that when God says, don't, I want to do, yes, the end of all of that is not that you would stay in this place of torment, where you're always trying to do the right thing, and never getting there. The end of all of that is Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law of righteousness. And he is the end of the law. And you stop trying to do yourself, and you transfer your trust to Jesus. And this not only applies to those who are still trying to be good people here among us tonight, my brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, even we can go back and think a wrong way. And we can start thinking that if we just try hard enough, in and of ourselves, we'll go live right this week. Let me remind you that apart from remaining in Jesus this week, you will not do one good thing, not one. You have an utter incapacity for human goodness. But Jesus is your righteousness. And in Christ, you can do good works and bear much fruit for the glory of God forevermore.
So, we have to learn the lesson of the law. I can't blame the law because I am the problem. But I’ve got to make sure I don't make the law my solution. And if you feel like you're the person I'm talking about tonight, if you feel like you're the person that when you hear a sermon like this, and you get convicted about coveting, or some of the sins, we just read in Leviticus 18, and you start feeling like, yeah, I should really stop doing that thing. And this is going to be my week, and this is going to be my year. And I'm going to go, I'm just telling you, and if that's you, I would love to talk to you after this service. We’ve got people at the Compass Connect booth afterwards, they would love to talk to you, because some of us, we've been able to see based on God opening our eyes, through his Word, we've been able to see that not only do we fall short, not only do we sin, but we're never going to get there. And so, we have to turn our trust to Jesus, because Jesus said, It is finished upon that cross. See, I'm going to go live my life this week. And hopefully, as I remain in Christ, I'm going to do good things. And you know what I'm going to be singing all week long? Yet not I, but Christ in me. And I hope you can sing that song too. Let me pray for you.
Father in heaven. I just want to thank you for your word, and how it gives us such clarity. When we really go through it and study it together. We thank you for your Spirit, who opens our eyes to convict us of sin, who uses the law to show us the knowledge of sin, to show us our twisted evil desires, to show us there's no way we could ever live up to that standard. And so, I thank you for what you're teaching us here tonight. And I pray that we would have the right response. I pray for everybody here tonight that's believed in Jesus, that we would just admit, the vile sinner that we are, that we would admit the law is a standard, that the commandment is good, it's holy, it's pure, and I'm not ever going to live up to it. And so, I'm looking to Jesus, I'm looking to the one who said he didn't come to abolish the law, he came to fulfill the law. And now as I trust in Christ, I can see that I can be dead to the law, I can be dead to those desires of sin. And I can live out a new life by faith. I can now love the law, I can now obey the law, I can now do good works, not because of me, but because Christ is in me. And so, I pray that this would be pure worship now that we would be able to say as your people, your commandment is good. It's not the problem where the problem, but I'm not going to get to you, father, by keeping your commandments. I'm going to get to you because Jesus fulfilled all the commandments. And Jesus died in my place, and the pure blood of Jesus washes my sins away, and the righteousness of Jesus is given to me. Jesus is the end of the law for me. So let this be pure worship that as we go and live this week, as we do good works, as we have the obedience of faith. We could say not I, but it's Christ in me. Amen.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.