Sunday, February 06, 2005


Intro: I want to try an experiment. I want you all to close your eyes. Close them tight.

  1. While your eyes were closed, did you see the light?
  2. Here it is – bright, clear, distinct.
  3. Yet when your eyes were closed you did not see it.
  4. I would like to suggest that this is a helpful illustration of what our lives were like before we let Jesus Christ take control.
  5. God was there, light was present. Through His church, through His people, He made himself known.
  6. But we had our eyes shut – we refused to see what He was doing.
  7. Just because we did not see Him, did not mean He was not there.
  8. But, as Christians, your eyes are open. You see God in so many ways – you see Him in nature, you see him in the people around you, you have developed a sense of His presence wherever you may be.
  9. And something else happens, as you become more aware of God's presence, you also become more aware of His expectations of you. You have a growing understanding of how your behavior impacts your spiritual life.
  10. Paul had a similar experience. Turn with me to Romans 7:14-25 to see how he responded his own growing knowledge of God's expectations.

Read Romans 7:14-25


Tran. This passages presents us with two approaches toward our growing understanding of God's expectations.

    I. Man's delimma
    II. Man's solution
  1. Man's Dilemma

      1. I don't think Paul was much different from you and me.

      2. At times he hurt, at times he was passionate. I expect that he could enjoy a good joke as well as the next person (a fact that Russ will surely appreciate). And at times he found his behavior and thought out of line with his faith.

      3. For Paul, this would have been particularly difficult. He had a wonderful sense of God's holiness. Here was a God who perfectly loves His creation, a God who knew us better than we know ourselves.

(Ill.) Thomas A. Edison once said, “We do not know one-millionth part of one percent about anything. We do not know what water is. We don’t know what light is. We do not know what electricity is. We do not know what gravity is. We don’t know anything about magnetism. We have a lot of hypotheses, but that is all.” I think Thomas Edison had it right – we only know one millionth part – but he missed the other side of it. What we don't know, God does know. We barely understand ourselves – but God does.

      1. Paul may not know it all, but he does understand that a holy God can have nothing to do with a unholy man.

      2. And then he looks at himself - “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

(Appl.) Paul is not unique. Have you ever asked yourself, “Why did I yell at my wife?”, “Why did I watch that movie – it wasn't very helpful in my Christian life?”, “Why can't I trust God more?” And I bet you can think of other questions that seem to haunt you as you seek to live out your Christian life.

      1. Paul was in conflict. He knew what God expected, he knew what God wanted from him. But there were times in his life when he did just the opposite.

        1. Imagine the emotional turmoil that he felt

        2. He knew the holy God

        3. He knew his life fell short

      2. There are times in each or our lives that we feel very distant from God. That our lives seems out of sync with what God wants. This was what Paul was experiencing.

  1. Man's Solution

    1. It might be pretty sore state of affairs if we stopped there. St. John of the Cross called this state a “Dark Night of the Soul.”

(Ill.) Augustine Baker describes that time as “The soul sees nothing but clouds and darkness. She seeks God, and cannot find the least marks or footsteps of His Presence.”

    1. But Paul ends the chapter with a different tone - “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

    2. Even as he lived in the middle of conflict Paul found hope in Jesus.

    3. There will be times when we find ourselves living contrary to how we know we out to be living. But we too can trust that Jesus Christ will see us through the tough times.

    4. Let me suggest four lessons that Paul give us here

        1. Sin exists – there are right and wrong behaviors
        2. Sin is never to be a desired life style
        3. None the less, as Christians, we will sin
        4. When we do sin, there is forgiveness

(Ill.) Francis Marian was one of the founders of this country. His grandfather came to the America's for religious freedom in 1690. Francis Marian also served in the North Carolina legislature before and after the formation of our country. And he was a believer. Though he wrote 230 years ago, Francis Marian's words still ring true today. “Who can doubt that God created us to be happy, and thereto made us to love one another? It is plainly written as the Gospel. The heart is sometimes so embittered that nothing but Divine love can sweeten it, so enraged that devotion can only becalm it, and so broken down that it takes all the forces of heavenly hope to raise it. In short, the religion of Jesus Christ is the only sure and controlling power over sin.”

No comments: