OT: Jer. 16:10-21
NT: Rom. 7:1-12
Gospel: John 6:1-15
The sign read, “Do not throw rocks into the water.” So what do we do? We pick up a rock and throw it into the water. If there was a severe punishment attached to it, we might look around first and then throw a rock in the water. Why do we do that? Is the rule a bad rule? Did the rule make us do this or is there something within us that demands to break the rule?
Paul wrestled with this question in Romans 7 when he wrote,
What then shall 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. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. (Romans 7:7-12,ESV)
The law is holy and the command is righteous and good. But there is something that lives inside each one of us that tricks us. This thing that lives in us is sin. “When the commandment came, sin came alive.”
We would probably never have thought about throwing a rock into that water apart from the sign that said not. Why? Because we have inside us a sin nature that deceives. We are tricked into thinking that good things are bad and bad things are good. Truth is suppressed by our broken humanity.
The commandments are righteous and good because they direct us toward life. If we would but follow them we would have life and have it abundantly. Yet, we do not. We read them and think, “I will do the opposite.”
This is sin living in us.
This is why Paul repeatedly tells us to put off the old man and on put on the new. We must actively resist the sin nature that rages in us. We seek to follow the law of God because it will ultimately lead to life. We cannot in and of ourselves do so. We must trust something else, no, someone else.
Paul writes this just before our passage, “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code (Romans 7:6, ESV).” The old way of the written code was to try really hard to obey. The new way of the Spirit is to trust the Spirit to help us follow God’s commands.
We must ask ourselves, will we trust the Spirit and rest in grace or will we trust ourselves and work in shame?