- Sermon Notes
VICTORY OVER HELPLESSNESS
August 23, 2020
In Romans Chapters 1-8; the subject is justification by Faith – the process whereby God takes a sinner and pronounces them not guilty before a Holy God because of the sinner’s willingness to trust Jesus Christ to pay for his sin.
Chapters 6-7 are like a break in the flow – Sin in c6 & the OT law in c7 and how it all fits in with the Jewish people.
Christians asking why did God do all of that? God stops to talk about this in c7. In Chapter 8 Paul completes his discussion about justification and salvation.
1) c7; 1-6 – – we are told we are dead to the law, free from the law, married to a new husband, Jesus Christ, with a new purpose in living & power.
2) c7; 7-13 – – The Spirit of God tells us about the true purpose of the law – the purpose of the law was like a holy straight edge or level to compare lives to and realize how sinful we really are and unholy we are.
3) c7; 14-25 – – helplessness cured by Jesus alone.
I. We Are Helpless To Keep The Law
The text is all about man’s inability to keep the OT law –
- Even someone dedicated like Paul – remember he’s an unsaved Jewish Rabbi committed to following/obeying OT law with zeal. There is no one else like Paul.
Acts 22:3; “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.
Galatians 1:14-16; I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.
End of Romans c7; Paul shows us how much he tried but was helpless to keep the Law. Why would God put Paul’s experience in the Bible?
Truth is – any of us who try and obey the OT law in human strength and desire will discover what Paul found – they cannot do it!
Reason God recorded Paul’s experience is it represents a timeless, culture-less example of anyone who has tried in the flesh – to earn their way into heaven – all failed like Paul.
A. Weakness draws us to Jesus
End of c7 is about Paul’s unsaved struggle to keep the law and he failed. Over time the law showed him how weak he was. Nobody needed to convince him he needed Jesus Christ.
Paul basically cried out, I can’t do this – then he was ready for Romans c8; for Jesus Christ, because he felt helpless.
Romans 8:1; Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
Romans 8:26; In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
The Spirit of God cures our weakness. Paul was ready to confess and ready to submit to Jesus, but he wasn’t ready until he tried it himself – throughout Romans c7.
An interesting discovery for us in Chapters 7 & 8. “I” appears multiple times at the end of c7. “Spirit of God” appears multiple times in c8. Yet in reverse, they are mentioned zero times.
Some say c7 is a chronicle where human effort is supreme until c8 and the Spirit of God takes over. There is also debate among many teachers about Romans c7 and whether it’s about an unsaved man or about a believer who is struggling to live for Jesus – an old nature vs a new nature. The same principles apply to believer or unbeliever – whether living for God in your own strength or not has the same result;
- one cannot successfully keep the Law.
B. Earning Heaven won’t work
Paul tried and his autobiography would say he worked hard, using his own effort, to earn his way into heaven. v16; Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law – – he consented to the law v19; For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. v22; For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, – – he agreed in his heart with law. v25; So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. – – he is anxious to serve the law. v14; For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
We are sinful, sold under sin – here an unsaved man – in sin’s grip
II. Only God Can Forgive Our Sin
Paul learned Jewish folks believe sin is a national issue – individually everyone else needs help from God almighty to have our sin forgiven.
Paul personally needed help from God almighty, not something taught in the Jewish community – He learned that from God Himself…
You can approach God a couple of ways
- Pharisees – Lord thank you that I’m not as bad as the other guy…
- Tax Collector – Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner…
Luke 18:13-14; But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other;
v15-18; For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. (16) But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. (17) So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. (18) For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
We can relate to this can’t we?
A. Be steadfast for victory over helplessness
You want the correct thing but you do the wrong thing – just like Paul.
You may feel helpless in making the right decisions when circumstances are difficult or temptation just seems to have its way with you. We know they are wrong but we do them anyway.
Parents; a classic example – small child…
Romans 7:16-17; But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
B. Don’t live like an unbeliever
v18; The Bible says sin dwells in us! It overpowers right behaviors.
- Issue is not sincerity – not knowledge – not education – it is power, the sin in me is so powerful –
- We attempt to handle it on our own – we don’t ask God for help – example – we don’t memorize verses to use as a weapon to help us – the armor of God.
- v19 – Evil is always present in us.
v23-24 – Paul tells us that the law in our body has propensity to sin & overcome us – it beats us up – Paul says no matter what I do the propensity for sin is powerful.
Paul really wanted to do what ’s right & keep the law – but unsaved have law of sin in their members stronger than they are and pushes them in wrong direction.
Illustration – Driving on the Highway
Paul was powerless even with best intensions because he was unsaved at the time – exhausted trying to do what’s right – crying out to the Lord; who is going to help me?
v24;… Wretched Paul, who’s going to help him?…
- More than who will but who CAN?
Answer – – v25; thank God for Jesus Christ
C. Eternal rest and victory in all things
Romans 8:3; For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
- The law could not do what God’s son, Jesus Christ, could do for Paul and for us –
- God’s willing to help. ….I will give you rest. Sent His son to help.
There is something for all of us in this text – both the unbeliever and the believer can have victory over helplessness.
- Unbeliever – you may still be trying in your own energy and strength & power to get to heaven.
- God’s message through Paul is you cannot do it.
- To be justified in God’s sight you cannot do it in your own works and strength, not through works but by His own mercy – He saves us….
- Must get to Romans 8 – no condemnation for those in Jesus. Are you willing to do something about it – You have to let God give you unearned righteousness – Free if you come to Him and confess your sins and cry out to Him for help.
As Christians the power of the flesh cannot be overcome on our own. We need a power greater – the Spirit of God overcomes indwelling sin – IF we let it, if we yield to it, rest in it, allow power to help us…
Galatians 2:20; I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and [a]the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Trusting every day – faith for victory over sin – over helplessness – That’s how we should live. Don’t try to do it yourself…
Application – Every morning
Psalm 27:13; I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
- God help me love supernaturally with patience.
- Lord, help me react in a Godly way to my kids.
- Lord, help me control my mouth or temper.
- Or my eyes – or my emotions, God help me.
- And yes, my feeling of helplessness; God help me to walk alongside you today – to accept your plan and your timing for me today.
This is walking by faith – it will work. Struggles yes, but with victory.
Matthew 11:28; “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold [a]into bondage to sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the [b]principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God [c]in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in [d]the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner [e]of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from [f]the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.