Thursday, July 16, 2020

The Bethany Bullet Sermon Message - Week of June 21, 2020

Link to Worship Video for 6/21/20 – HERE
*If unable to open link copy/paste this into your browser:
*Direct link to Vimeo:

Link for printing Sunday’s Bulletin for 6/21/20 – HERE
*If unable to open link copy/paste this into your browser:

Link to Bible Discovery Resources for 6/21/20 – HERE
*If unable to open link copy/paste this into your browser:


Message from Romans 6:12-23

This summer we will be spending time in the book of Romans.  As we heard last week, Martin Luther said, “This epistle is really the chief part of the New Testament, and is truly the purest gospel.  It is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but also that he should occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul.  We can never read it or ponder over it too much; for the more we deal with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes.”

This Summer we pray that you will occupy yourself with this book, not just in worship, but in study, that you will ponder over it and deal with the truths found in it.

Last week, as we looked at Romans chapter five, Pastor Kritzer gave us a big $2 word—Justification.  He said that Justification is “A legal declaration, and it declares our new status before God because of the decision and action of God, in and through Jesus Christ.” 

In the first five chapters of Romans, Paul has argued the case of humanity.  His main points include:

·         The depravity of the flesh- we are fallen creatures who’s inherent nature is sinful, we crave our own desires.
·         The reality of sin- our imperfection is fatal… we deserve death!
·         The centrality of grace- we did nothing to earn or merit the love of God.  We do not deserve to be in relationship with the God of heaven, but Jesus takes the punishment meant for us.

In exchange for the death we deserved and the guilt we have earned, through faith, He has granted us His own holiness and perfection.  Now God sees us as the righteousness of Christ.  But even in the midst of this good news our sinful minds start asking questions, “What now?”  “How do we respond to this good news?”  “If God has done it all, where do I fit in?”  “What is my part in all of this?”

Today we ponder the words in Romans 6 where Paul starts to answer these questions.  Paul gives us a good, before and after picture of our lives.  Before- our lives in sin… after- our lives in Christ. 

Let's start at verse 16, 16 Don’t you know that if you offer to be someone’s slave, you must obey that master?  Either your master is sin, or your master is obedience.  Letting sin be your master leads to death.  Letting obedience be your master leads to God’s approval.  17 You were slaves to sin.  But I thank God that you have become wholeheartedly obedient to the teachings which you were given.  18 Freed from sin, you were made slaves who do what God approves of.”  (Romans 6:16-18)

I know that the word “slave” holds a lot of cultural baggage.  Some of this is bubbling up in our society and culture today. 

Let me be perfectly clear, slavery and discrimination are abhorrent sinful acts.  The practice of superiority and inferiority in humanity is not in line with God’s love.  Remember what we heard last week, there is no one whom God does not love and no one for whom God has not died for. 

The effects of centuries of slavery in our own country has created vast divides and still effects our culture.  But I believe we are embarking on a time of deep introspection as a country and as citizens of the world as we ponder and deal with systemic sin.  I pray that the greater understanding of all lives matter to God will become the norm.

I also pray that we can come to an understanding that repentance and reconciliation are powerful ways to heal the deep divisions we see and that God’s justification is freely given to everyone, even those whom you may disagree with. 

That same deep introspection is also needed because Paul rightly describes all humanity as slaves to sin.  When sin is in control, there is only death. 
You see, there is a deep divide between a holy God and sinful humanity.  That’s why Jesus came.  That is what Paul has building to in the first five chapters of Romans.

While it might be grating to our ears to hear the language Paul uses, he does so to make a point.  He uses the status of a slave to describe our connection to sin, and as you read more of Paul’s letters you will find him describe himself as a slave of the gospel as well. 

This radical change comes as Christ dies and rises again to defeat the power of sin and to show the radical change that has been made in us.  Notice the tense Paul uses in verse 17.  “17 You were slaves to sin.”  (Romans 6:17)

Our slavery to sin is in the past!  In Christ we are made new!  It is the most amazing before and after story the world has ever known. 

I am sure you have all read or heard before and after stories.  You know the ones where an event has changed someone’s life, a diet, a surgery, a major life event.  In many ways we are living in the middle of a massive before and after event.

It’s almost hard to remember time before Corona virus.  Those days almost seem like another lifetime.  Before the pandemic I wouldn’t think twice about attending a sporting event, walking down the street, going to the store or even grabbing the door handle.  But it seems that everything has changed.  I see images of large crowds and I get a little butterfly in my stomach,  I find myself crossing to the other side of the street when I go for a walk and someone is coming the other way.  I think twice before I grab that door handle or use the buttons at the ATM or grocery store or in an elevator.  I’m not sure we truly know all of the ramifications that will be a result of all of this.  While we are able to gather in socially distanced groups, it’s not what it once was and I’m not sure it will ever be.  Part of me pines for the good old days, pre-pandemic, but the other part of me knows that things will forever be different. 

We are also in the middle of a cultural before and after in regards to how we has humans treat each other.  The sin of racism and discrimination based on culture or language or political views has held a tight grip on some and is deplorable.  What will be the result of all of this?  I’m not sure, but I do hope that the emerging normal will be one filled with love and not divisiveness and hate.  Something needs to change.

There is another before and after experience that is a part of the human experience.  Those who are in Christ have been brought from death to life, from slavery to sin to slavery of obedience.  Because of our depraved flesh, because sin is a reality, we know full well our “before” status.  In fact, many of us like our “before” status.  
·         But in our sin we are enemies of God. 
·         In our sin we cannot please God. 
·         And if we ever have a hope of a continued relationship with Him, something needs to change. 

We are in need of a before and after story or our own.  The results of such a story cannot come from our own actions, for we are incapable of making the necessary changes.

You see it was one day, many years ago God decided to do something different.  Up to that point God had been struggling with the weight of sin, a definite problem.  For his creation had been yo-yoing between doing the right thing and sin, eventually tipping the scales in the way of sin. 

But God’s love never fluctuated.  His creation had tried everything, including doing good works and just about every fad program that had guaranteed success, and they all failed miserably.  Ultimately humanity became more and more sinful. 

Nothing seemed to work right.  Many tried to say that humanity was not that bad and we don’t need to do anything about the evil in the world.  Sin and loneliness became humanities best friends.  During stressful times humanity seemed forget God and many strove to become perfect in all aspects in life except where sin was concerned.  That was the one thing that could be controlled. 

But eventually the weight of sin came crashing down.  Humanity suffered attacks from the devil himself.  It was subtle at first but became intense.  Humanity refused to see that anything was wrong, but the pain and suffering continued. 

But one day everything changed.  In a stable, in a small village God came to earth in Jesus Christ, who went to the cross where the weight of sin came crashing down on him so that we can look into the mirror and not hate what we see. 

It was a change that we could not make for everything we had done up to that point was wrong.  Our way of living would only lead to death.  Our course had to be reversed and Jesus flip-flopped with us to change our lives. 

And this is not simply a feel good story, it is the truth that is founded on the centrality of grace and the action of a loving father.  On this Father’s Day, we see the ultimate love of our Heavenly Father For in Him we have been changed.  He moves us from before to after.

Most before and after stories revolve around health, and this one is no different.  Before we were sick, we had a fatal disease that we were slaves to.  Our sin has captured us, but those who are in Christ have been healed.  We now are healthy and can as Paul tells us to produce fruit.  And that is the “after” part of the story.  We are called to bear fruit. 

From Romans 6 starting in the second half of verse 19, “Clearly, you once offered all the parts of your body as slaves to sexual perversion and disobedience.  This led you to live disobedient lives. Now, in the same way, offer all the parts of your body as slaves that do what God approves of. This leads you to live holy lives.  20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from doing what God approves of.
21 What did you gain by doing those things?  You’re ashamed of what you used to do because it ended in death.  22 Now you have been freed from sin and have become God’s slaves.  This results in a holy life and, finally, in everlasting life.  23 The payment for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 6:19-23)

Last week the big two dollar word was Justification.  Today the big two dollar word is, “sanctification.”  This is the what’s next part of what Paul has been leading to. 

This is our daily “after” reality.  After repentance, contrition and forgiveness, we seek to live, freed from sin and slaves to doing what God approves.  It is time for the rubber to meet the road so to speak.  And I want to share three things from the text today:

#1- We are all slaves.  We are no longer slaves to sin, but because of Jesus we are now slaves to righteousness.  We can live righteous lives because of the grace freely given to us.  We still feel the effects of sin because of our fallen nature but one day this will all pass away and we won’t have to worry anymore.

#2- Slaves inherit reward.  Slaves to sin inherit death but slaves to righteousness inherit eternal life.  It is not the type of thinking we are used to.  One who is in slavery often is mistreated, they do not receive many benefits but because we are now slaves to righteousness we are given the ultimate reward, eternal life!

#3- We are called to bear fruit.  As we live our lives in Christ, as we live out our faith and produce fruits that bring blessings to our neighbors.  Jesus himself tells us of this calling when he said, “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit” (Luke. 6:43-44).
The fruit that we should be known by is the fruit of grace.  The fruit that has the power to change, the fruit of forgiveness, compassion, mercy and love.   This is what can change our world and make our new emerging reality a place of acceptance for all. 
Paul was getting to this in the first part of Chapter 6 where he writes, 12 Therefore, never let sin rule your physical body so that you obey its desires.  13 Never offer any part of your body to sin’s power.  No part of your body should ever be used to do any ungodly thing.  Instead, offer yourselves to God as people who have come back from death and are now alive.  Offer all the parts of your body to God.  Use them to do everything that God approves of.  14 Certainly, sin shouldn’t have power over you because you’re not controlled by God’s laws, but by God’s favor.” (Romans 6:12:14)
As we conclude let me pose some questions for us to occupy our minds with this week to ponder and to deal with our text from Romans and to let it become sweet to us.  I ask you to occupy your thoughts and ponder the following:

1.      How does our sinful past still find ways of impacting our current and future reality?
2.      When this happens what can be done?
3.      What are some of the things that need to be confessed from your past as you move into the reality of bearing fruit?

As you ponder this remember what Jesus has already done for you.  He has moved you from before to after and has placed you to make today and tomorrow a better place until he brings you to his place in heaven.    

- Pr. Seth Moorman


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counter