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Author:Pastor Dale VanDyke
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Congregation:Harvest Orthodox Presbyterian Church
 Wyoming, MI
Title:The Power of Righteousness
Text:Romans 8:1-2 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Our Salvation

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Dale VanDyke, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

This morning we are going to continue in our series on Romans 8. I'm excited about this series because Romans 8 is a vast mountain of gospel treasure where every wonderful truth is followed by another equally wonderful truth. The foundation of this mountain is established in verse 1 - "There is now No Condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus". Every thing else is built on that truth until we reach the ultimate point, the grand conclusion, that nothing, absolutely nothing at all can separate us from the Love of God which is ours in Jesus Christ. Between these two points there is a vast wealth of gospel treasure, and we are going to take our time examining it because these are core gospel truths. These are things that we must know and believe to be sincere and effective Christians. These are truths given by God and intended to rescue those in bondage to sin and to make former rebels into righteous servants of the Most High, displays of his splendor.

I want to start this mornings sermon by finishing last week's sermon. Last week we discussed the fact that every human has to deal with the simple fact that at our core we are morally corrupt. We do things we know we should not do and we do them because a part of us loves to do them.

We sin against God by loving and worshiping the things he has made and given to us instead of God Himself.

If that doesn't seem like a big deal, imagine purchasing a new car for your spouse for Christmas. You carefully selected it. You joyfully purchased it at great personal sacrifice, and delighted in giving it to your spouse. And then your spouse got in, drove away and never returned. Your gift became the means your spouse used to desert you and your marriage.

This is what sinners do to God every single day. We gladly take God's gifts of health, and life, and food and clothing and every other good thing in life and we use them to rebel against God, turn our backs on him and ignore him. This is what we are and do by nature! And there is no escaping the fact that we are all guilty and deserving of condemnation!

Last week we mentioned that our guilt is not just a feeling but a very real condition, a status before God in heaven. We all know what guilty feelings are for we have all done things we shouldn't have done and failed to do things we know we should have done. We know what guilty feelings are - but our plight isn't simply that we feel guilty but that before God we are guilty. And this is where the glory of the gospel is displayed - for Paul is able to say, that because God has sent His own Son, Jesus Christ into this world to die in our place - "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus". In other words - if you are not in Christ, if you are not related to Christ Jesus in a relationship of love and faith then you Are under condemnation. The guilt of your sins still rests upon you and you will be charged for them. But if you are "in Christ", if you truly love him and believe in him and are resti ng on his works for your righteousness - there is now no condemnation. God declares that you are no longer guilty, your sins are no longer laid to your account and you will never be judged for them!

Therefore Christians ought never, and need never feel like they are under condemnation. They never need feel like God is angry with them and is opposed to them. Not because we no longer sin - but because God no longer holds our sins against us. He has promised that he will never condemn us for our sin if we are in Christ Jesus.

Remember, we said that we need to get this straight because too often Christians live as if one day they are outside of condemnation and they experience the love of God for them and on other days they feel like they are once again under condemnation. Paul says - if you are in Christ there is no condemnation. Not now, not ever. If we could just get this!!!!

"What Paul is saying is that all of God's condemning wrath and all of his omnipotent opposition to us in our sin has been replaced by almighty mercy and omnipotent assistance. In other words, if you are in Christ Jesus, all of God's action toward you is almighty mercy and omnipotent assistance...In Christ Jesus God is always for you. Always!"

That's what Paul is saying - if you are in Christ God is forever and always for you in mercy and saving power. And as he writes in verse 31 "If God be for us who can be against us?" But we need to get this! This truth alone has the power to utterly transform your life!

So why is this so hard to believe? It's hard for us to dare to believe that grace could be so complete, so sufficient and free. But the greatest barrier I believe, is the ongoing reality of our own sin and the feelings of our guilt. How can I trust God's grace when I know all that I know about myself? How can I live in the joy and confidence of this great gospel truth when I find myself continually stumbling and falling into sin? We need to learn to fight guilt with faith!

Let me show you a great example of this. Please turn in your Bible to Micah chapter 7. Micah is a prophet of God sent to speak the Word of God to the people of God during a time of apostasy. God's people have sinned and in Micah's day God was punishing them for their sin in the person of Sennecharib, King of Assyria. Sennecharib had already taken the northern 10 tribes away in to captivity and they would never return. Judah is also overrun and Jerusalem itself was besieged. Micah and his contemporary Isaiah clearly point out that these things are the direct result of their sin. This is God in action punishing them for their disobedience. But notice here in chapter 7 a great lesson for sinners. The gospel is here in hidden form.

Micah 7:8-9 Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light. 9 Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the LORD's wrath, until he pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.

When God's people fall into sin - God's enemies, most noticeably the devil, uses our failing as a cause to gloat. Notice how people gloat when a well-known Christian leader falls into sin. But we have all experienced the gloating of the devil himself when we sin. He taunts us with our weakness and charges us with our guilt. Micah says - "do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen," - though I have sinned, - "I will rise." Though I sit in darkness - though God has left me for a time to experience the sinfulness of my sin - the LORD will be my light! God is for me, He will not abandoned me forever! "Because I have sinned against him, (my sin is real) I will bear the Lord's wrath until he pleads my cause and executes justice for me." I will experience his displeasure, but I will NOT experience his condemnation! He will execute justice not against me but FOR me! Now if Micah could say that in faith almost 800 years before Christ was born, how much more should we be able to say it now that we have seen God's mighty work of salvation in Christ death and resurrection? There God executed justice for our sin by placing our sins on Christ and then punishing Christ in our place. Justice was executed FOR us not Against us.

Because of the reality of what happened there on the cross, we can know that even in his Fatherly displeasure God is eternally FOR me! "He will bring me into the light! I will see his righteousness". How? Why? Because I have not sinned? No! I have sinned - but God is for me in Christ Jesus. God's discipline is the exercising of his almighty mercy and omnipotent assistance. The Lord disciplines those he loves! Therefore, because he loves me I will not lose hope even when I am suffering under my sin.

Isn't this the kind of Father you want God to be? I don't want a Father in heaven who winks at my sin. I can't respect a Father who loves me more than he loves righteousness and truth. But how can I not adore a Father who though he deals with me in my sin deeply loves me and promises that my sin shall not be the end of my story! How can I not worship and love a Father who would send his own Son to die the death my sins deserved?

This is experiencing guilt with faith! "No condemnation" doesn't mean you will never experience God's displeasure. There will be times when you sin against God and you feel his indignation. But it means that God is never against you! Even in discipline God is for you in Christ Jesus. In fact, the very one you have sinned against will plead your cause and before the throne of heaven. Though you have fallen you will rise. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

As wonderful as this truth is, it is only ½ of the gospel. The gospel fully answers our desperate need. In our sin we experience not only the guilt of sin but also the power of sin! The thing that frightens us the most about ourselves is not only that we sometimes do wrong, but that it seems as though we can't help but do wrong! We are tempted to sin and for awhile we resist it but that temptation rises up like a mighty dragon and it seems to drag us away into sin. Therefore, we need not only be pardoned for the guilt of our sin, we need to be rescued from it's power! And that is what the gospel does.

Romans 8:1-2 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

We will be dealing with this in much more detail next week as we look at verse 3 and 4. This morning I simply want to emphasize the reality of the liberty the gospel brings and next week we will look at how it brings that liberty.

A. The Problem

The problem with the human race is not simply that people do things they ought not do - like rape, murder, cheat, gossip and steal. The problem with the human race is that people consistently choose to do things they ought not do because they love to do them. No one holds a gun to our heads and tells us to think impure thoughts or commit sinful deeds or say hurtful words. The devil doesn't make us rebel against God and break his holy laws, we do it by our own choice. Why is that? Because by nature we are slaves to sin. In our unsaved state, sin controls us.

This is what Paul is speaking of when he speaks of the law of sin and death. By "law", Paul doesn't mean a precept, a rule, but a power, a principle that yields certain results. This is law like the law of gravity - if you drop something it will fall to the ground.

Isn't this what Paul is describing in Chapter 7?

Romans 7:21-24 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.

Sin is a power that captures us! It is a power that enslaves us. Sin is addicting! How else could you explain the human tendency to do things that destroy us! Everyone wants happiness and health and loving relationships. But everyone is at war with their own happiness, health and loving relationships! People do things entirely contrary to these desires. Why? Because they are addicted to sin, under the power of sin. And this addiction leads to everlasting death. 100% of the time.

Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die;

What is able to break this power? Paul tells us:

Rom 8:2 through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. You see, we have to fight power with power. That's true in regards to spiritual things or material things. We talked about gravity as a principle or power that yields certain results. If you throw a piece of metal into the air that piece of metal will drop back down to earth every single time. Unless you find another law that can overcome the law of gravity! How can it be that you can throw a hundred tons of metal with wings into the air in Chicago and it doesn't come back down into it get's to Amsterdam? You fight principle with principle, the law of aero-dynamics is able to overcome and conquer the law of gravity!

The same with spiritual things! How do you get a person to stop living for sin and start living for the glory of God when the law of sin and death is in control of that persons life? You fight power with power! You defeat the power of the law of sin by introducing the superior power of the law of the Spirit of life.

Christ sets people free from the law of death by bringing them under the influence of the law of life. That power is none other than the power of the Holy Spirit himself! God changes us by indwelling us! And since God is omnipotent, all powerful, he is able to overcome the devils temptations, he is able to overcome our hearts delight in evil, he is able to overcome every obstacle as he transforms us and makes us like his own Son, Jesus Christ.

Paul summarizes this wonderfully in:

Romans 6:20-22 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

God rescues us not only from the guilt of our sin but the power of sin! In the place of guilt he gives righteousness, in the place of sins power he gives the power of life. There is nothing lacking for those who are in Christ. This is the only salvation that answers our actual need. Many religions offer many ways to save yourself, the gospel is the only religion where God freely, lovingly saves those who can't save themselves. I don't know where you are today in your spiritual journey. but I know that no matter where you are - you need to hear this gospel truth. You need to understand that in Jesus Christ there is pardon for your guilt and power for your weakness.

Would you be free from the burden of sin, there's power in the blood

Would you over evil the victory win, there's wonderful power in the blood.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Pastor Dale VanDyke, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2001, Pastor Dale VanDyke

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