Sermon for June 5, 2022

 A Marriage Made in Heaven

Romans 7:1-8

7 Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only during that person’s lifetime? 2 Thus a married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress.

4 In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

7 What then should 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. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law sin lies dead.

This portion of Romans has a lot of information in it.  For instance, there were those in Rome who were pushing back on the teachings of Paul relating to Jesus being the Messiah.  Romans 7:1 identifies that he is talking to the Jews in Rome.  Since this is the case, I have found where this precedence was set in the Old Testament as well and Paul is pointing us towards something deep!

Judges 17:1–13 (NRSV): 17 There was a man in the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Micah. 2 He said to his mother, “The eleven hundred pieces of silver that were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse, and even spoke it in my hearing,—that silver is in my possession; I took it; but now I will return it to you.” And his mother said, “May my son be blessed by the LORD!” 3 Then he returned the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother; and his mother said, “I consecrate the silver to the LORD from my hand for my son, to make an idol of cast metal.” 4 So when he returned the money to his mother, his mother took two hundred pieces of silver, and gave it to the silversmith, who made it into an idol of cast metal; and it was in the house of Micah. 5 This man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and teraphim, and installed one of his sons, who became his priest. 6 In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes.

7 Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the clan of Judah. He was a Levite residing there. 8 This man left the town of Bethlehem in Judah, to live wherever he could find a place. He came to the house of Micah in the hill country of Ephraim to carry on his work. 9 Micah said to him, “From where do you come?” He replied, “I am a Levite of Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to live wherever I can find a place.” 10 Then Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, a set of clothes, and your living.” 11 The Levite agreed to stay with the man; and the young man became to him like one of his sons. 12 So Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. 13 Then Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because the Levite has become my priest.”

The comparison in Romans 7 and Judges 17 are too similar to ignore.  In Judges, the author hits on the main issue with a person named Micah.  It is found in verse 6.  Everyone did whatever seemed right in their own eyes, and it seems that Micah has some issues when compared to the Law of Moses…

Interestingly, and worth paying attention to, is that Micah meets a Levite from Bethlehem (soon to be the birthplace of Kings (David and Jesus) in Judah.  That Levite became Micah’s priest.  But Micah took silver from his mother without her knowing it and only returned it because his mother cursed the silver.  So, he confessed and gave it back so that his mother could bless him.  To take it further, knowing that the silver was cursed, he tried to consecrate it by making it into an idol, an idol that was made to look identical to the one that was carved in his mother’s house.  This adds to problems later that we are not going to get into about the results of Micah’s behavior.  But Micah was dishonest, practiced idolatry, had false gods, and he decided who his priests would be, his own child and a Levite.  Now the Levite gave validation that Micah was doing what was right although the Levite didn’t exactly want to be there, he was forced to stay there. 

There was the Law of Moses and the work of several judges in the land of Israel that tried to guide the people on the proper path, but that path was muddied by life and personal opinion.  Micah’s choices led to his downfall and also the city of Laish, a peaceful city that was taken by force using Micah’s confiscated possessions.  By this time, the traveling tabernacle made by Moses and the Israelites traveled no more and remained at Shiloh (Judges 18:31).  This is north of where Jerusalem would eventually be by 31 kilometers and just half days walk from Bethel.  Because of what Micah did because it seemed right in his own eyes, it led to the downfall of a peaceful village, his neighbors. 

Micah had to of known that what he was doing was wrong, right?  The location of the Tabernacle in Judges tells you that the Law of Moses was on hand.  But Micah lived however he wanted, making idols, and coveting someone else’s money and being dishonest towards his neighbors.  However, Micah ignored the Law and his eyes, what he was doing was not sin, but blessed by God.  Now look at Romans 7:

  1. The Law still points towards what is sinful within us.
  2. Jesus did not remove the law but showed us how to apply it.
  3. Therefore, the Law and Jesus were married together.
  4. Jesus brings on the Law of Grace in addition to the Law of Moses
  5. As the Law of Moses reminds us of our sinful tendencies, the Law of Grace is we are actively paying attention and screw up.
  6. But Grace is not to be abused to do whatever you want, whatever is right in your own eyes.
  7. Jesus came to abolish, eradicate sin and death, BUT NOT THE LAW!  The Law of Moses was to point out our sinful tendencies.  The Law of Grace does not change what sin is.  So, the Law of Grace does NOT GIVE US THE AUTHORITY TO DO WHATEVER IS RIGHT IN OUR OWN EYES.  The LAW is perfect in pointing out our fallenness.  It still was in Micah’s day, and it still is today!
  8. Jesus himself said that he did not come to abolish the Law but fulfil it.
    1.  Matthew 5: 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven
  9. Jesus’ fulfillment gives eternal life.  The 10 Commandments are known at the 10 WORDS OF GOD.  Jesus is the WORD in FLESH.  Jesus is the Law and WE killed Him.  We did what was right in our own eyes.
  10.  When Paul says in Galatians that Christ followers are not under Mosaic Law, but rather, the Law of Christ (Gal. 6:2), what he is truly saying is that the Mosaic promise is accomplished, we are now under a new promise, a New Covenant.  To say that the Law of Moses is dead would be saying that Jesus still lies in the grave and is not resurrected.  The WORD is alive and with a better promise…eternal life.

SO, PAUL IS TELLING THE ROMANS, YOU CAN’T JUST DO WHAT YOU WANT AND DO WHAT IS RIGHT IN YOUR OWN EYES.  THERE ARE STILL “WORDS” THAT SHOULD GUIDE US.  NOT ONLY THAT, BUT WE ALSO NOW HAVE A HELPER, THE HOLY SPIRIT, TO ERRADICATE THE SINFUL DESIRES. THEY WERE INSTEAD CLAIMING GRACE AND FREEDOM TO DO WHATEVER THEY WANTED.  PAUL STATED THAT THIS WAS AN INCORRECT CELEBRATION OF FAITH, JUST LIKE MICAH’S.  THEY HAD CREATED THEIR OWN GOD TO FIT THEIR SOCIETY.

If you know the Law, you should know Jesus and Paul states that it goes both ways.  Knowing Jesus will reveal the Law.

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