Sinful Beyond Measure
Manage episode 331435156 series 3038820
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Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gift of life. And we remember your holy scriptures that say that children are a blessing from you, they're a heritage from the Lord. And we thank you for baby Audrey. We thank you for her life. And we pray a special prayer of anointing and blessing upon her. And we pray that you strengthen Joyce and Pastor Andy in the season. We pray for Clara and Drew as well. Bless their family. We thank you for a beautiful, beautiful little girl. And we also pray Lord that you bless our time, the holy scriptures. We thank you for the scriptures. We thank you, Lord that despite our law breaking, our rebellion against you, you didn't leave us in our sins. And while we were still sinners, you sent your son, Jesus Christ. Jesus, we thank you that you lived a life that was wholly motivated by love toward God and people, love for God and people.
And Lord, we thank you that you fulfilled the law perfectly. You never coveted once. We thank you for that. Not just example, but we thank you for your substitutionary atonement on the cross for us, bearing the penalty for our law breaking, the curse for our law breaking. And we thank you, Jesus, that you didn't stay dead, but you rose on the third day. You ascended and you're seated the right hand of God, interceding for us even now. And we pray, Jesus, send us the Holy Spirit. We pray, Holy Spirit, take these words from the holy scriptures and reveal them to us, illuminate them to us, enlighten them to us and use them to convict us of sin and draw us to righteousness.
We pray for justification for those who are not yet Christians, we pray that you convert them, regenerate them, draw them to yourself, make them your children. And I pray for those of us who are Christians, convict us of sin as well and show us where we need to progress in sanctification, in pursuing obedience of faith. We pray that you bless our time, the holy scriptures, and we thank you for them. We pray all this in Christ's name. Amen.
We're continuing our sermon series through Romans today. We're in chapter seven verses seven through 13. The title of the sermon is Sinful Beyond Measure. And what St. Paul said in the very beginning, he said, look, God entrusted me with the gospel. And the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, for whomever would believe. But we don't really understand our need for the gospel until we understand the law, until we understand our condemnation under the law, how much we've broken the law. And he's made clear that the law of God, the moral code, the 10 Commandments is neither the problem nor really the solution to the ultimate problem that plagues all of us. And that ultimate problem is the sin within our hearts.
There are two tremendously naive perspectives on the world. These are two world views that are espoused all around. Every single one of us, we know there's something wrong with humanity. We know there's something wrong with us. And one of the views is, hey, let's just get rid of God's law because God's law isn't making us feel good. There's intuitive goodness, that people are basically good. And what's really in the way is the prohibitions of the Bible, the prohibitions of the church. We can figure out what's good and evil on our own. We can be good without God. We can figure out our own morality. Let's get rid of the law in scripture that makes us not feel so good about ourselves. Let's get rid of it completely.
The second worldview is that we can recreate our own law. We don't need God's law. We can have our own law. We can figure out how to progress. We can figure out how to get rid of all the problems of humanity through education. But not one of these ultimately wrestles with the heinous power of sin. If we get rid of God's law, we still don't get rid of sin because God's law is written on our hearts. We have developed a reputation in the city that we are a church that talks about sin a lot. We talk about sin all the time. I basically preach the same sermon every Sunday. I get up and I tell you, you are all wicked sinners and so am I. We're all sinners. We are all under condemnation and we need to repent of our sin. And a lot of people say, let's not talk about sin. Let's just talk about love.
But St. Paul talks about sin because understanding our sin, how sinful we are, gets us to still point where we beg for God's grace and mercy. And once we receive God's grace and mercy, then we experience love like we've never experienced. So if you get rid of talking about sin, you're actually getting rid of talking about love. St. Paul talks about sin all the time, seven chapters in sin, sin, sin, and grace, sin, sin, sin. Why? Because he views his job as a soul doctor. He diagnoses the problem. And he's honest about the problem of our condition, he's so honest about it because there is medicine available. He needs to convince us to understand how much we need the medicine. Then he says, yes, there is medicine. And that's called grace.
St. Paul, he understood the dire condition because he himself was a sinner, so he talked about his own sin all the time. He actually called himself a chief of sinners. He's like number one, sinner. And the reason why he felt fine doing that, and wasn't downtrodden about it was because if you understand, you're the chief of sinners, you can also say, I am the chief of being loved by God. And when you're the chief of being loved by God, your heart erupts with love for God and love for people because scripture teaches the one who understands, he's forgiven much. The one who understands that she is forgiven much loves much. And that's to set up our time in Roman 7:7 through 13.
Would you look at the text with me? 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. 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. 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. This is the reading of God's holy, inerrant, infallible, authoritative word. May he write these eternal truths upon our hearts.
We'll look at three devastating effects of the law in relation to sin from the text, three points to frame up our time. First, the law reveals sin. The law provokes sin, and the law condemns sin. First, the law reveals sin. Verse seven. He asked the question, what then shall we say that the law is sinful by no means? Why is he asking this question? Because in the earlier text, he did say that the law comes and the law arouses our sin. When something happens in human nature, we're so rebellious. When God says, don't do this or do this, we're like, who are you to tell me what to do or we're not to do. And we actually want to commit that sin even more in our unregenerated state. So he's like, but the problem's not in the law, he says. Certainly not, the law isn't sinful. If desires to sin are aroused by the law, and if the law actually fosters and promotes sin in a sense, then yes, the goodness of the law is called into question.
The opponents of Paul were mostly Jewish opponents who grew up there nourished and nurtured in the law of God. And when Paul says, we're not under the law, but we're under grace. All of a sudden, there's red flags in their hearts. And they say, if you tell people we're not under law, we're actually telling them that they were free to sin and Saint Paul says, no. When you understand that you're under grace, you understand that you're free to obey God, not free to sin. There's no problem with the law. The problem is with our own sin. And just because the law stirs up our sin, it stirs up our sinful passions, it stirs up hostile feelings toward God, that doesn't mean there's a problem with the law. That means there's a problem with us. The law isn't evil or sinful. Our hearts are.
The law isn't corrupt. Our sinful hearts are. The law is righteous, even if our response to it is sin. And he says, yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. He says, in a sense, God reveals his character through the law. And also, the law is a mirror that reveals our character. The law on the one hand flows from God's perfect radiance and perfection and his glory. On the other hand, Samira, that reveals just how sinful we are. The law isn't sinful, but it does reveal our sin. And it does take the Holy Spirit, when we hear how sinful we are. When we hear of the commandments that we've transgressed and when the Holy Spirit takes that message and applies it to our heart, that's what changes us. That's what regenerates our heart. That's the power of the gospel. This is why we have to talk about sin, because talking about sin gets people to a place where they can actually hear, okay, what's next.
The Holy Spirit takes that convicted heart, melts it, pours the Holy Spirit and grace and transforms the person. The less you know about God, the less you're burdened about his law. The less you're aware of your sin and the more you know about God, the more you know about his law, the more acutely conscious you are of just how much you've sinned and the severity of your sin. Paul here brings in an illustration. We're talking about moral law. We're talking about commandments. Can you give us a specific one? And he says, okay, I'll tell you how the law reveals my sin. "If it wasn't for the law revealing my sin, I wouldn't know just how sinful I am." He says, "For I would not have known what it is to covet, if the law had not said, you shall not covet." Well, what's wrong with coveting? What's wrong with seeing something that someone else has and wanting the same thing? Is it okay to aspire to that? Is it okay to have ambition to have something similar?
Yes, of course. But coveting is desiring that which is forbidden. It's someone else's and you want what belongs to someone else, what doesn't belong to you. Coveting. And scripture says that coveting is a sin. Did you know that? See, apart from the law, we do have a subjective understanding that, yeah, it probably isn't good to be covetous or envious of someone or jealous of some. We know that's not a positive thing, but no one in our culture says, that is sin. That is wickedness. The closest I think we get, there's no one in the media telling us this. There's no politicians telling us that covetousness is actually a root of many of your problems and dissatisfaction in life. No one in business tells you this. They tell you that you got to get the new iPhone. You got to get the new iPhone. You'll never be happy unless you get the new iPhone. That business is made on that.
So we're not taught that. The closest we get to people saying don't covet it is teaching kids to share in school. That's the closest it gets. But St. Paul says it is, it's a commandment. Thou shall not covet. And the sin of covetousness, a particularly apt illustration, because it gets to the heart of the issue. It gets to the heart of sin, the inner root of sin, the inner root of man's rebellion and sinfulness because it addresses desire before behavior.
A lot of people think that the commandments are just about don't do bad things. It's about conditioning our behavior, regulating our behavior. No, Jesus said, look, before you talk about behavior, you got to talk about heart because the heart of the matter is the heart. It was far easier in the first century for the Jews of Paul's time to say, I can imagine that I haven't broken most of the commands. I haven't committed adultery. I haven't stolen. But the honest man knows, the honest person knows that every single one of us has coveted. Exodus 20 verse 17. This is commandment number 10. You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that is your neighbor's, your neighbor's. That's what the emphasis is. You want someone else's life. There's a deep dissatisfaction with your own life and then you see someone else's life, and you're like, I want that. Envy is wanting someone else's life.
In the movie, the Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. So Robert Ford wants to kill Jesse James, because he is jealous of his fame. Finally, Robert Ford finds Jesse James, sneaks up on him, and then they have a conversation. And then Jesse James says, look, I can't figure out. He says, "Do you want to be like me or do you want to be me?" That's what he's talking about. This is covetousness, coveting that which does not belong to you. And the law is written on our hearts, so we know deep inside when we do something wrong, but then the preaching of the law comes or the reading of the law comes and you're like, oh, this is what God's law is. And then it takes the subjective experience in the heart and it codifies it, it makes it objective. And you say, oh, this is wrong. God says that this is evil.
Have you ever thought about that? Have you ever thought that coveting someone else's lot in life is actually sin, transgressing God's law? And we do this all the time. Look at someone else's life. By the way, if you live in Brookline, if you live in this area and you know real estate, how expensive it is, coveting someone else's house. That's the thing. And you know why God knew. God knew that you would live in Brookline, Massachusetts, or in this area. And God knew the real estate markets. And they like do not hunt, do not covet your neighbor. And it comes before anything else. Don't covet your neighbors house. That's the first one that's mentioned. By the way, I've stopped watching HGTV. I can't do it anymore, too much sin. Look at all those parking spots, multiple parking spots. They just come with the, I can't do it.
The phrase, must be nice. Anytime you use the phrase, must be nice. Must be nice to live in that neighborhood. Must be nice to have that house. Must be nice to have that much money, that vehicle. Must be nice to have that spouse. Must be nice to be single. Must be nice to have kids. Must be nice not to have kids. Must be nice to be a man. Must be nice to be a woman. Must be nice to have a fast metabolism. Must be nice to be beautiful, tall, short, athletic, smart. Must be nice to be someone else. We all feel that dissatisfaction. The great famous quote from Augustine, "Our hearts are restless until they find it rests you." Our hearts are restless. And this restless, this dissatisfaction with our lot in life, with what God has given us or what God has not given us. It's toxic. It stems from pride because you feel entitled. You should have something better than what God has given you.
And ultimately it is idolatry because what you're saying is, God, you're not a good God. You're not doing your job well. I could do your job better than you. I'd rather worship a different God. And ultimately, it's not loving toward God or toward people, because if you're questioning God's doing of his job, you're not loving him. And then also you're not loving your neighbor when you can't rejoice for the blessings that they've been given. Scripture tells us, rejoice with those who rejoice. First Corinthians 13:4 says, love is patient and kind. Love does not envy.
So this commandment is a commandment that every single one of us is broken. By the way, this is a tremendous way of sharing gospel with anybody. No matter what age, no matter where they come from, everyone knows this part of human experience. This is how I teach my daughters. I have four daughters. My youngest is four. And when they can't share their stuff and they're like, ah, she's got that dress. I want that dress. Or her room's bigger than mine. I'm like you are coveting. You're a little sinner. You're all sinners. You need to repent of your sin. We all covet. We all sin. And this is where St. Paul starts. Level playing field. He said, I coveted. The great apostle, the second most influential person that ever lived after Jesus Christ. He said, if it wasn't for the law, I wouldn't have even known how covetous my heart is. So the law, no, it's not sinful. It's the sin inside that actually takes the law and does sinful things with it.
Like what? Well, this is point 2. The law provokes sin. He talked about this in the earlier paragraph that the law arouses our sins, sin within, hears the law thou shall not. And all our sinful heart wants to do is the exact opposite of what God tells us. So verse eight, but sin seizing an opportunity through the commandment produced in me all kinds of covetousness for apart from the law, sin lies dead. He says, apart from the law coming, I didn't understand just how sinful my heart is, but when I heard thou shall not covet, all my sinful heart wants to do is covet even more. And he says, sin, seizing an opportunity, the Greek term is used of a military base.
It's a starting point or a base of operation for an expedition. It's a springboard for advance, further advance. And he says, sin establishes within us this base camp. And St. Paul uses this picturesque term to depict this ongoing military conflict in our soul. And he says, it happens when the law is preached to us. When we hear it, sin springs to life, kindles in us a desire to do the opposite of what the law compels us to do. It exacerbates our sin. It provokes us.
Ever since Adam and Eve, human beings have always been enticed by that which is forbidden. The forbidden fruit. God says, don't do this, and that's all they could think about. So instead of restraining my sin, the law arouses my sin. Our sin response to God's law is stirred up and the sin somehow exploits the law. First Corinthians 15:56 says, the sting of death is sin. And the power of sin is the law. The power of sin is the law. The law comes and sin within us, wants to rebel against the law as hard as we possibly can. Indicates a dormant sinfulness that springs into life whenever we hear what God's will is. The serpent doesn't tempt Adam and Eve until after God gives the commandment in Genesis 2:17. Thou shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan comes in in chapter three. It was only once the commandment had been given that Satan had a specific objective to attack. It produced in me all kinds of covetousness, he says.
The word covetousness just means desire for that which isn't yours, which is forbidden. Forbidden by whom? Forbidden by God. And it's an evil desire that gives birth to evil action. So in a sense, desires are as damnable before God as our deeds. Desires are as damnable as our deeds if the desires contradict God's will. So we're not just sinners because we sin. We sin because we're sinners. And James 1:14 through 15, but each person is tempted when he's lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin. And sin, when is fully grown, brings forth death. Where, apart from the law, sin lies dead. The law comes, sin is awakened in the presence of the law and the law exposes and magnifies this.
What do I mean that sin, that the law provokes our sin? Well, I can give many examples, but because we're in Boston, Massachusetts in the month of June, I'll have a very specific example. So last week, I did mention that I'm not a fan of the pride flag being flown in my four-year old daughter's preschool room. I don't want them even knowing about sexuality for years to come. And then I come home and I get email that someone gave us a Google maps review, and it was a one-star review. And the person didn't like that comment. Like, oh, the church should be welcoming to absolutely everybody. Well, we are. We're welcoming to everybody. We welcome everybody and we're equal opportunity offenders of everybody. Doesn't matter what your sin, you're welcome here. Come with your sin. And we're going to tell you, you're all wicked sinners. You are all not wicked in the good sense, but you are all wicked, wicked sinners. You need to repent. Everybody's welcome to come hear that message.
But the reason I bring that up is because the command, thou shall not commit adultery, that's where that commandment comes from. And what that commandment says, it regulates sexuality. That sex is only allowed between a man and a woman that are in a covenant relationship of marriage and that covenant relationship for all of life. So what our culture has done is taking that, oh, that shall not come in adultery. Oh, that's the only place that God allows for sexual relations. We're going to do everything else. And we're just going to keep adding. There's a new updated flag every year, every year there's an update and they add letters. And it's just every single way imaginable to do the opposite of what God says. That's what our rebellious culture does. And we are called as a people to celebrate the sin, which we do not. And because if we celebrate the sin, then you never get to a place where you actually get grace and where you actually experience the love of God.
So the law reveals our sin. It provokes our sin and it does condemn our sin. Verse nine. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. So there was a sense where Paul was apart from the law. When was that? Most likely it was before he turned 13 because in Jewish culture, you become a man at 13. You become a woman at 12, which is actually tremendous. My oldest is 13, I've been telling her since she was 12. I was like, you're a woman. You are a woman. And she's like, what does that mean? I was like, you know that babysitting job you got, yeah, you made money. You're a woman, but you're going to have to pay rent. No, we didn't get there. But you are responsible under God's law, you are responsible as a 12-year old girl, as a 13-year old boy, you're under the law. You are responsible for your own soul.
Is that what he's talking about? I think that's part of what he's talking about. But he says when the commandment came, so for Paul, yes, he was responsible under the law at 13, but he was also conditioned in this culture of the fair sect he was part of. He was conditioned to fulfill the law from the letter, not the spirit. So for example, in Philippians 3:5 through six, he's got a spiritual autobiography. And he says, "I was circumcised on the eighth day of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin and Hebrew of Hebrews as to the law of Pharisee, as the zeal persecutor of the church, as the righteousness, under the law, blameless.
What's he saying? He's saying, I thought I had fulfilled the law. I thought I hadn't broken one commandment. I thought I was absolutely blameless. So did the commandment come to him yet? No, because he didn't understand the fullness of the commandment, that God demands a love from the heart toward God, toward people, that God doesn't want you to just fulfill the letter of law. But the intent of the law, the spirit of the law when the commandment came, when the law came home to me. When I finally realized what was required of me, I was made to face the fact that far from being a law keeper, I was inveterate law breaker.
And this is what happens to every person that becomes a Christian. Like, yeah, you hear about the commandments. Yeah, you hear that you sinned against God. Yeah, you hear that. God is holy and that we're sinful and there's an eternal gulf between us, a chasm between us. Yeah, we're separated from it. We hear it. And then you hear it, and all of a sudden it comes home. The commandment comes home and you realize, I have transgressed against the holy God. At any moment that I die, I will spend eternity apart from God. It comes home. It wasn't just someone sinful out there, it's theoretical. When you realize I have sinned against the holy God, I am in need of grace. I am in need of mercy. And that's what brings you to repentance. That's what Paul is talking about. He tried to fulfill the law apart from faith, and obviously anything done apart from faith is sin.
So in Galatians 3:23, he says, now before faith came. So there was a time when he was trying to fulfill the law, but he didn't have faith, so he wasn't pursuing obedience of faith. He wasn't pursuing loving God from the heart and obedience to the commandments. Now, before the faith came, we were held captive under law, in prison until the coming faith would be revealed. He says, when the commandment came, the subjective experiences, conscience was ratified by the objective law that was spoken. So he realized he was guilty before the law. Apart from the work of the holy spirit to convict us of sin. Using law, people think they're fine before God. And then the Holy Spirit comes when the law is proclaimed and quickens our conscious and makes us alive to the law. And we feel for the first time, the weight of our guilt. That's what he's saying.
Verse 10, the very commandment that promised life, proved to be death to me, for sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through killed me. So commandment does promise life. God says, obey the commandments and you shall live. If you break the commandments, you shall die. He says it promised life, but proved to be death. Why? Because sin seizes this opportunity through the commandment, deceives me and through it killed me. Sin deceives. That's why we sin. In the moment of temptation, sin is promising us things. What does sin promise? Sin promises us the same thing that the serpent promised Eve. Sin promises us happiness apart from God. This deep soul satisfaction that we long for, sin says, you're going to find it when you follow me, when you act on the sin. That's why sin is so attractive.
Why would we be inclined to steal what belongs to another? Why would we bear false witness against our neighbor? Why would we lust? Why would we covet? Because the temptation comes with this promise of bliss. I want things to change. Sin has promised me happiness now. If I follow sin, maybe I'll be happy. And we begin to believe that the path to happiness is to act against the law, to act in accordance with our passions. That's why sin is attractive. It does bring pleasure, even if temporary, but pleasure doesn't automatically or necessarily bring happiness. If pleasure, equated to happiness, then drug addicts would be the most happy people alive. We know pleasure does not equate to happiness, but sin promises the same thing every time. Sin and you'll feel better. The pleasure will make you feel a little happier than you do now.
Genesis 3:4 through five. But the serpent said to the woman, you will not surely die, for God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. Hey, not only is this going to make you happy, not only is this going to satisfy you at the deepest level, this is the satisfaction you're longing for, but sin also deceives by saying that God will not bring about the promised consequences for the breaking of the law. You're not going to surely die. Well, did they die? Yeah, they died spiritually the day they sinned. And then they also ultimately died physically. Of course, they died. If God promises that there will be consequences for sin, there always are consequences for sin. Unless you taste the forbidden fruit, he's saying you won't be happy. Meaning God is withholding happiness from you. Meaning God is not good. God is not loving. His law is created to keep you from happiness. That's what Satan says. That's how he lies. That's how sin lies.
Verses six through seven of Genesis three. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes and that the tree was to be desired, to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate. And then the eyes of both were open and they knew that they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin clothes. It was a delight to the eyes. In the Hebrew, nehmad, which means beautiful or desirable. It's this desire that's internal, a drive, a lust that includes anything that is forbidden by God. And this is how sin deceives us. Have you been deceived by sin? Yeah. We all have been deceived by sin.
St. Paul says he has been deceived by sin, but it wasn't the law's problem. Verse 12, he says the law is holy. So the law is holy. The commandment is holy and righteous and good. He says the law is holy and just and good. So meaning when the law forbids something or the law commands something and says that this is the way to holiness, what God is actually saying, this is the best thing for you because, and not many people say this, but this is true. The way to happiness is holiness. The way to happiness is holiness. As you study church history, and as you talk to saints who've been in the faith for a long time, they'll tell you that the most satisfying moments in life are when you experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
Well, the Holy Spirit in the name, Holy Spirit is the word holy. You cannot experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit if you're not pursuing holiness. If you're pursuing sin, you are grieving the Holy Spirit and actually moving yourself away from where happiness is found. He says the law is holy. It's just, it's good. So Satan comes in and says, no, no, no, this law isn't good. It's not good to have your desires restrained. It's not good to deny yourself things that everyone else is doing. But he says, no, that's false. Those are lies. And you need to counter all those lies with the truth of God's word. The law was designed by God to bring life. And we in turn, turn that occasion for death. Verse 13. 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.
You're saying that the law of God was given to us so that we understand just how sinful we are. We need to recognize sin for what it is, just how heinous it is. And God's will is no longer hidden from us or tucked away in the recesses of our hearts. His will has been published for all to see. And any violation of his commandment is sin. The law reveals our sin. The law provokes our sin. It does condemn. The law says that we're all guilty as charged. We are under condemnation. And in that state, if you die, you spend eternity apart from God in hell. So it gets us to this place where you say, well, what hope is there for us? What hope is there? We have coveted.
Paul, you coveted. You are the chief of sinners. Paul, where did you find hope? Where did you find forgiveness, where do you find mercy? And he says, well, I'm glad you asked. That's the whole point. The whole point is to get us to a place where we realize just how sinful we are. And St. Paul would say, I thought I was fine apart from Jesus Christ. And then Jesus met me on the road to Damascus, and I saw his radiance and his glory and his holiness and his righteousness. And I realized just how far I am from him. And St. Paul, then for three days, didn't eat or drink. And all he did was repent. And he was repenting of a sin and his self-righteousness. Where can we find hope for forgiveness of our sins? Only in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came and he lived a perfect life. He never coveted once. He never lusted once. He never committed sin, not in deed or in heart or in desire.
And Jesus Christ fights sin all of his life though he was tempted over and over. He was tempted by Satan, we read in Matthew four. And then Jesus Christ goes to the Garden of Gethsemane, and it hits him that he is about to absorb the wrath of God for every single sin that was ever committed though he had never committed a sin. So the shame and the guilt that we feel the very first time that we commit a sin, all of that, he was experiencing on the cross as he's going through excruciating physical pain. But the worst of which was the spiritual anguish where you realize is the wrath of God being poured out on him. Jesus dies on the cross. He's buried, raised on the third day. He's ascended. And the gospel is that if we repent of our sin, whatever our sins are, if we repent of all our sins, Jesus Christ forgives us. We're united with him, buried with in baptism, raised with him in newness of life and Jesus's perfect law keeping is reckoned to us and his death pays for the guilt of our sins.
Now, what happens to the law for the Christian? So the law came to reveal our sin. Yes, we're sinners. It provokes our sin. We want to sin more. It condemns us. And then the grace comes in, covers all of that. Now we're no longer sinners, so what role does the commandments and the law of God play? Well now, the law is given to us as a rule for life, and we're filled with such gratitude for our forgiveness that we want to honor God in obedience of faith. And the more we realize that we've been forgiven, the more we're filled with love for God. And this is why I want to conclude with Luke 7:36 through 50, a wonderful story that communicates that the more you've been forgiven, the more you love.
This is Luke 7:36 through 50.
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment. And standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wipe them with the hair on her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now, when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, if this man were a prophet, he would've known who and what sort of woman this is who's touching him, for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." And he answered, "Say it, teacher." "A certain money lender had two debtors, one owed 500 denari and the other 50. When they could not pay, he canceled the debt of both. Now, which of them will love him more?"
Simon answered, "The one, I suppose, for whom he canceled the larger debt." And he said to him, "You've judged rightly." Then turning toward the woman. He said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house. You gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss. But from the time I came in, she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But he was forgiven little, loves little." But he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." Than those who are at table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this, who even forgives sins?" And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."
Friends, do you know how much you've been forgiving? Have you been forgiven a little or have you been forgiven much? If you are not yet a Christian, we today welcome you to repent of your sins and accept the forgiveness that God offers to each one of us, to be forgiven much so that we then in turn love God much. And Christians, meditate on this. Meditate on the fact that we have transgressed a great law, holy law, good and just law. There's been condemnation for us because of the law breaking, but because of Jesus Christ, there's no more condemnation for any of us. That's how much we've been forgiven an infinite debt. And in response, how are we to love? We're to love with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind.
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you for the gospel. And we thank you for the gift of grace. Yes, Lord, we have coveted. And yes, Lord, we've lusted. Yes, Lord, there's been anger and hatred in our hearts, both toward people and toward you. And we ask you to forgive us of our rebellion. And I pray that you make us a people that don't try to change your law, and don't try to jettison your law, but make us a people who love your law, delight in your law. Not because through it, we can earn salvation, no, but because Jesus Christ fulfilled it completely. And Jesus, through this law, you tell us how we can live a life of holiness. And when we do so, you fill our hearts with a satisfaction that nothing else in this world can provide. Lord, if anyone is not yet a Christian, I pray today, save them, regenerate them. And I pray right now, tune our hearts to worship you and sing praises to your holy name. And we pray all this in the beautiful name of Jesus Christ. Amen.