6/29/14- Serrmon “Perfect Law Unperfect Humans”
?Perfect Law, Imperfect Humans? Romans 6;1-4, 23 One of the things that touched off the Declaration of Independence were silly laws-like the Stamp Act, The Tea Act, and the Coercive Acts- laws that benefited Britain but oppressed America. There are some interesting laws still on the books of SC: ?When approaching a four way or blind intersection in a non-horse driven vehicle you must stop 100 ft from the intersection and discharge a firearm into the air to warn horse traffic.??? Every adult male must bring a rifle to church on Sunday in order to ward off Indian attacks. Horses may not be kept in bathtubs.?????? Eating watermelons in the Magnolia Street cemetery is forbidden. We are getting new hymnbooks today- did you know in NC it is against the law to sing off key? In Florida it is illegal to sing in a public place in a swimsuit. Don?t ask me why.
I. SILLY LAW- If we look in the Bible and see a verse that says you cannot eat an animal that chews its cud or has a split hoof? we think- why? We can forget hygienic rationale. We can easily forget that Jesus said it is not what goes into a person that makes them unclean (Mark 7) and that Peter had a vision of a sheet let down from heaven and the Lord told peter it was okay. We always interpret the Old Testament in light of the New- and the New Testament is good until Jesus comes. We may look at a passage that speaks of how you wear your hair and we say, well, I have to cover my head or keep it long or short. But we forget that tattoos were part of Canaanite worship, and long male hair was part of a sign of being a male prostitute in those days. It is hard work to interpret the Law. We may think we can leave it up to the so-called ?experts? or ?scholars of the law?- but Jesus rebuked the scholars of the Law in His day. We may just say- I can?t handle this- I?m just going to give up. My friends- first do not give up on life, do not give up on knowing God, and do not give up on studying and interpreting scripture.?? Paul says in our passage- should I give up on trying to obey God by listening to scripture so that God?s grace may abound all the more? By no means. Today- we need to hear ?by no means? loud and clear.
II. SILLY INTERPRETATIONS OF THE LAW-Paul was dealing with how people were handling or not handling the Law of the scriptures.
A. TOO WOODEN- little grace- So there are some who say the Sabbath Day was on a Saturday and they still try to keep to the dietary laws of the Old Testament. In my grandparents generation you did not wash dishes on Sunday or go to the movies- they had a very strict interpretation. They have not learned to see the Law through the eyes of grace and the New Testament.
B. TOO SOFT- not listening- Today- we just throw the Law out entirely- especially the ones about the Sabbath- but we could add new ones about coveting, or honoring parents, or other things. This was what was happening in Jesus? day. The Pharisees claimed to be so law-abiding- but they said if you don?t want to honor your father and mother you just give a gift to the church. So the law says not to lie- and we limit lying and forget the heart of being a person who keeps their word.?? We should not trust ourselves to make judgment on scripture so easily.?? So there are those who just because they want to- discount and disregard large portions of scripture because it doesn?t suit their moral conscience. Scriptures tell us our conscience can be seared- or hardened. Jesus was constantly telling his disciples- ?He who has ears to hear, let them hear.? When I am around guys they often joke about not being able to hear. Some speak of having selective hearing- they only hear what they want to hear from their wives. But it is sad when we have selective hearing to the scripture.
III. SILLY WITHOUT THE LAW- The scriptures are not just poetry or narrative. There is an imperative there too. There is a call in scripture to leave our selfishness behind. There is a call to be true to God to each other. It is a call that resonates deep inside of us. We know we are not made to live simply by our instincts or by our feelings. We also know deep down that there is a God to whom we must give account and holds a law found in the nature of reality- for He created reality. ?? Christians have found that when we purposefully disobey God he seems distant. Jesus said, ?If you love me you will keep my commands.? Love and listening go together. The best way to quench the Spirit is by not listening to what the Spirit has said through the Law and the Prophets. We know this. If I want to please my spouse- I listen to her- I listen for her- I seek her presence. If I want to displease my spouse- I don?t care what she says and just do my own thing. The barriers and walls go up between Kay and me when we are not willing to listen to each other. It is a little different with God. It is different in that He knows better all the time- when I can sometimes reason with others that my way is better. It makes sense that the Maker of all things knows better and cares for us. ???? One of the fastest growing religion is the New Age Movement in America. It is a shallow kind of spirituality that believes that god made no rules but that the real god is us- god is within us. It borrows a lot from Christian language and twists the message of hope so that hope and truth are not found anywhere but inside of you. That sounds great- that you are somehow god. But there are Christians who are dabbling in the same basic idea. This idea is that we can pick and choose by our own feelings and experience what we believe in the scripture. We in effect become god and God?s revelation in Christ becomes secondary to us. ???? We live in an interesting time. We are dealing with things that haven?t been dealt with since the 1700s, but they have been dealt with by many in the centuries before us. While the world is constantly changing- that is the definition of living- only the dying do not change or move; it is also true that we want to change in the right direction, and that means not giving up on God or His Word. For while the world changes, it is especially evident that human nature has not. While the world roars and foams- God sits above it all and is not surprised. A week ago when I was in Detroit Lexington County?s sheriff was arrested, the local Chapin mayor and the city council and employees continued to sue or punish each other, the speaker of the SC House was being accused of doing wrong, and some were saying the executive branch was bypassing the legislative branch illegally in order to get things accomplished. There is a rising tide to legalize all drugs and to legalize all wrongs with the assumption that if we do that we will have less problems. In Paul?s day some in the church were saying the same thing. Paul said, ?By no means.?