“Chaos” is one of the results of “sin – the uneasiness, out of balance, the guilt, the internal and external tension. The goal of the life of a Christian is peace, peace with God, peace with others, peace with yourself, I believe a strong argument can be made that the key idea in the entire book of Romans is PEACE. Rom. 5:1. chaos vs. peace. The search for peace. Peace in family relationships. Peace in the community. Peace in your heart. If there is one gift this I want to see this church pass on to others, it is the peace of God.
When you are torn, pulled in two directions…chaos is on one side, the drama of a life of sin, and on the other, the peace of Christ. As long as we are on this earth, sin will always be a major factor of life, yet we are invited to start walking towards peace – which direction are you headed? Go away from sin, and towards Christ.
In Romans 7:7-13 four great truths about sin – must be honest about the nature of sin. If you can’t understand the reason for all the chaos, you are not going to find peace. I know a lot of struggling people in this community; I don’t know a single struggling person that doesn’t want to find peace. The confusion comes not in the desire, but in the reasons for the chaos. The reason is sin. Four great truths about sin:
1. Sin is a fact! God’s standards help us recognize sin. In our world it is strange to have to prove sin is real. There is a reason God wants us to see sin. God wants us to have a real choice of giving our heart to him, and in order to do that it means personal responsibility to see the reason for the chaos in our world. Rom. 7:7.
God wants us to know what is right and what is wrong. If you don’t like the expression “law”, think of the Ten Commandments. I remember my father telling the story of meeting a man decades ago in Sumas that explained he didn’t need to go to church because he followed the ten commandments. My father said that maybe he should not have done this, but he decided to test the man, so he asked him, “What’s the first commandment.” The man looked at my father, a bit embarrassed, and said, “Well, you got me on that one.” The reason I bring up the ten commandments is because the last commandment is “Do not covet.” It’s just one example: show me somebody who at some point does not covet something, a thing, a situation in life. Coveting simply means uncontrolled desire. Either wanting something you shouldn’t have or wanting more than you have or wanting what rightfully belongs to someone else. What Paul is saying is this: the law catches us all. God wants us to know what sin is, so he has standards.
The law of God reveals the fact that you are a sinner. A wonderful hymn contains this telling line: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.” Something within us makes us prone to leave the God we love. When the law of God is rightly understood it forces you to face the fact and the reality of your sinful condition. That’s number one, the law reveals the fact of sin.
2. Sin is powerful! The law reveals the power of sin. Rom. 7:8-10
Notice two key phrases. Verse 8 says “sin seizing the opportunity” and at the end of verse 9 “sin sprang to life.” Those are military terms. They’re terms for waiting in ambush. The Delta Force waits in ambush, finding the moment, springs into life and without warning captures the enemy. Paul says, “When I saw the law and when I realized what it said, suddenly sin, which was already within me, sprang to life and ambushed me. Suddenly the law says ’Don’t covet’ and that’s all I wanted to do! The law said ’Don’t’ and that’s all I wanted to do! The law said don’t and I did.” Last week we said there is something about the law that if the law says don’t, we want to “do.” And if it says, “Do” we want to “not do.”
If the sign says “wet paint,” what is it we do? See the new sound booth, Charlie painted it a couple weeks ago, I came into the building when it was wet, I knew it was wet – guess what I did. I looked at the paint on my finger, knew I had done wrong, and I could not explain it.
Sin has power in us. Waiting to ambush us. Causing the chaos of life to lead to our ruin. It’s us. It’s sin in us. Chaos in our lives cannot be fully explained away because others don’t cooperate, or I’m a victim, or it’s my circumstances that are too hard. The power of sin is nothing new. Augustine wrote about this tendency to disobey 1500 years ago.
“There was a pear tree near our vineyard, laden with fruit. One stormy night we rascally youths set out to rob it and carry our spoils away. We took off a huge load of pears … not to feast on ourselves, but to throw them to the pigs, though we ate just enough to have the pleasure of forbidden fruit. They were nice pears, but it was not the pears that my wretched soul coveted, for I had plenty better at home. I picked them simply in order to become a thief… . The desire to steal was awakened simply by the prohibition of stealing.” (Quoted in Kent Hughes, Romans, p. 140)
Things haven’t changed much in 1500 years! You pick the pears not to eat but to throw away. Not because you need pears but because you just want to show that you don’t have to follow that dumb rule! That’s the power of sin. The more it says don’t, the more you want to do.
3. Sin is deceitful. You have to know this if you re going to choose to walk towards the peace of Christ. READ Rom. 7:11.
Sin always deceives. Think of the Garden of Eden. You can see the deception of sin in the Garden of Eden from the very beginning. Sin deceives by promising what it can never deliver. Sin says “go ahead, it will be fun. Life will be better for you. Tell the lie. Use the dirty language. Go ahead and jump in bed with that person. Go ahead, you need this. It will bring you happiness.” What was it the serpent said to Eve? “Eat this fruit and you shall be like God.” Sin deceives us by promising what it can never deliver.
Sin deceives us by convincing us what happens to others will never happen to us. We think we are exempt from suffering the consequences we see other suffer, the effects of addictions, the bad choices… Sin says, “You’re going to get away with this!” And the serpent said to Eve, “You shall not die.” That’s the deceitfulness of sin.
4. Sin is destructive. Rom. 7:12-13
The law reveals the complete sinfulness of sin. Let’s be clear. Truth is not bad.
The Law of God is holy and righteous and good. But the law is like a mirror. When you stand before the mirror, you see yourself. You’ve heard the expression “the mirror doesn’t lie?” It’s like the person who doesn’t like what he sees in the mirror so he takes his shoe and throws it at the mirror. The problem isn’t in the mirror. The problem is in you. Or it’s like the person who’s sick and goes to the doctor for an x-ray. The x-ray shows cancer. So he begins to curse the x-ray machine. It’s not the fault of the x-ray machine. The machine didn’t cause the cancer. It just revealed what was already there. The law of God is a mirror to the soul. The law of God is the x-ray of the soul. It shows the deceit and sinfulness of sin.
I really like this story, -- a powerful prayer, dare to pray such a prayer. I read about a person that on one occasion, out of sincere concern over sin and desire to be what God wanted her to be, she prayed, "God, show me the sin in my life. Show me what I really am." In a couple of week her prayer changed: "Lord, I’ve seen enough! Please, Lord, don’t show me any more. I can’t stand myself!"
As difficult as it may be - this is exactly what we need to do today. “God, show me the sin in my life. Show me what I really am.” Ps. 139:23-24 says it this way: Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Lead me in the way, a way of life, a focus, a direction, the prayer is not for a perfect life, but rather a direction…heaven is coming when we’ll have eternity for perfection but on this life it is a direction.
Dare to pray such a prayer. How often when we are torn, our lives in chaos, we think the answer is for other people to change – we want to pray show others their sins…When you are torn, the answer is to look inward and ask the Lord to put a spotlight on you. "God, show me the sin in my life. Show me what I really am." If we are to have revival, if you are to find peace, we must ask the Lord to show us our own sins… no other way to find the peace of Christ…
Insight into the Church at Rome: this is important because it says who needs to hear the message about the reality of sin, the power of sin, the deception of sin, the destructive nature of sin… understanding God’s truth is like a mirror showing us who we truly are…
The Church of Rome has an arrogance problem. The church sees itself as better than others, the church of Rome is too exclusive, not wanting people who aren’t quite good enough. Here’s the point, we are only saved by grace, we can never be saved by obeying the law perfectly, keeping the ten commandments perfectly, but in order for grace to be given, we must see the need for it, because God wants our heart. God wants a relationship with us…
Think of our own court system. If somebody is guilty of a crime, how much easier it is to grant leniency when a person is truly repentant, but if the person is arrogant, or won’t admit guilt, or blames everybody else, we don’t want grace to be given, there is something fundamentally wrong about extending grace and leniency to a person that is defiant.
Grace is for the humble. Grace is for those who see themselves for who they truly are. Grace is for those who don’t see themselves as more deserving than others, for all of us are sinners; nobody is better than others. Grace is for those who know they can never earn salvation by their own efforts, but are driven to the cross of Christ, the only place where we can find complete forgiveness. The law of God is given to understand the standards… so we can see who we truly are, like in a mirror, and turn to the Lord in humble submission, accepting his offer of salvation through Jesus Christ.
We are torn in two directions – chaos and peace. The way of chaos is the way of sin, the power of sin, the deception of sin, the destruction of sin. The law of God, the standards of God, is like a mirror so that we can see with clarity the true nature of sin in us. Pray to the Lord for him to show you the sin in your life. “Show me what I really am God.” To see ourselves with clarity in our true nature is to be poised to receive grace so that when we are torn, we can be focused towards the way of peace with God. Amen.