5th Sunday after Pentecost (Prop 8 – A)
Romans 7:1-13
July 2, 2023

Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The text that I have chosen for this morning’s sermon is the Epistle, which was read a few minutes ago.

They say that a little self-confidence is a good thing.  On the other hand, to be overly self-confident isn’t always a good thing.  Saint Paul, the author of this epistle, was a man who wasn’t short on self-confidence.  Once he wrote, If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more.  [I] was circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless (Phil. 3:4-6) Paul here brags about his lineage.  He’s a perfect Jew, one who meet God’s demands and lived a flawless life.  He even loved God so much He put a bunch of Christians in jail and approved of their death sentences.  That all changed on the day that Paul met Jesus face to face on his way to Damascus.  Paul learned in the days that followed that good works or lineage, don’t save.  The Law doesn’t save.  Paul learned that it is only by grace that we are saved.

Paul realized that no one could hold up their works and please God.  Now, good works do please God when they’re done through faith, but to do them to earn salvation doesn’t work. Keeping the commandments doesn’t earn anyone salvation.  Paul now saw his works down outside of faith as garbage when compared to the grace of God in Christ Jesus.  God’s grace means that you’re declared righteous and holy, not by your obedience but by Christ.  How could you earn righteousness by obedience when you’re so often disobedient?   As Paul says a couple chapters earlier than today’s text: “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” This was the kind of righteousness that Saul had sought with all his might but never attained because he didn’t pursue it by faith but by works.  In the same way, you will never attain heaven because of your good works.

While the Law doesn’t save, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a purpose.  The Law helps us live God pleasing lives.  It tells us what we’re to do and because we’re created in the image of God, we have the joyful obligation of obeying the moral law for the benefit of others and to God’s praise.

The Law makes us conscious of sin as Paul says, For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’”  The Law also condemns our sin and reminds us that sin means that we will all die one day. You see, the Law of God for the sinner is a Law of Death!  It does not give you life.  It is, however, part of your life, but it’s a part that condemns us and accuses us that we want to be free of.

For any deliverance from the Law to occur, a death must precede occur.  In Romans 7, Paul uses the analogy of marriage: For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.”  For any partner to be set free from the marriage covenant, a death must have occurred.  So then, a death had to occur for you to be set free from the demands of the Law.  You though can’t do it.  You’re not perfect so your death doesn’t save you one bit.  Only Jesus Christ—fully God and fully man was perfect enough to set you free from the Law through death.

By this one man’s obedience, we are considered obedient.  Jesus Christ, who was without sin, did not deserve to die.  Yet He allowed Himself to be subjected to our humanness, to be identified with our sinfulness.  He placed himself under the Law that He gave to Moses and was punished as the Law demands.  He did all this by taking the place of all sinners and, by so doing, set you free from the Law’s demands and accusations forever!  The Law no longer condemns those who are in Christ, because in Him the Law has been fulfilled!  The Law can’t tell you that because you’ve stolen, God no longer loves you.  The Law can’t tell you that because you covet or lusted or cursed that you’re not forgiven.  This is the Good News of your salvation, that by one man’s obedience, you have been made right with God once and for all.

How can you be part of this incredible news?  Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and for your children (Acts 2:38–39).  You partake of the saving work of Christ by repenting; that is, the Holy Spirit moving you away from sin to the cross of Christ.   When asked if you’re sure you’re saved, just reply: “I am baptized!”  When doubting your own salvation, when thinking you haven’t been good enough to be saved, just think: “I am baptized!”  In Baptism, a death occurs that frees you from the lordship of Law, sin, and death.

Now, as a baptized Christian, the Law can no longer accuse you of failing, because you’ve died with Christ and been raised again to the newness of life.  So do we, as baptized believers, still need the Law?  Of course!  We still need the Law, to reminds us of who we are apart from Christ.  The Law actually makes us appreciate grace even more as we see how much we are indebted to Christ.  It amazing that Christ seeks the unworthy, those who can offer no merit of their own but only and always need Him in every aspect of their lives.  You’re a redeemed sinners and yet you’re still entirely dependent on him.  The old Adam still clings to us and daily needs to be washed away in repentance.  Our daily lives are nothing but dying to sin and rising to newness of life in Christ as we are freed from the power of the Law once and for all.

As Independence Day is right around the corner, we celebrate our freedom as Americans.  We are free and yet not entirely free.  You can speak as you wish, but don’t yell fire in a crowded theater.  You can own a weapon, but there are certain places you can’t take it.  Under Christ, you are completely and totally free.  You are free from thinking that you’ve saved yourself because you’re a good person. You’re free from the accusations of the Law telling you that you’re not good enough to be saved because you’re not perfect.  You’re free from Satan’s condemnation as a sinful Christian.  You’re free from God’s wrath and punishment!  He loves you and He freed you by His precious blood, and this freedom can never be taken away.


Now the peace which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  Amen