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Richmond, VA 23225


To Know Christ and to Make Him Known



Chuck’s Homily: Do You Know Yourself?

Do you Know Yourself?

Chuck Coreth
The Church of the Good Shepherd
The Seventhth Sunday after Pentecost, July 8, 2018
Text:Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17

Good morning!

This morning the readings are self-exploratory; today the focus is on yourself. Do you know yourself? Do you know who you are?

Sure many of us can say “why I am the son or daughter of my parents, who are so and so, or I am the grandson or granddaughter of so-and so…………. seems we get a lot of that particularly here in Virginia. I, too, have been guilty of that although not here in Virginia. A few years ago Marcia and I traveled with our daughter, Alex, to northern Italy, way up in the mountains, to visit a distant cousin who still owns the old family home place. And there in the large dining room are dozens and dozens of portraits of very old family members. As we stood there and gazed at these ancients, I turned and said to Alex, this is where we come from. The trip was a nice history lesson and it was fun to meet relatives, both living and dead. Particularly, when they look like you!

However, this may be our history; but it is not necessarily who we are.

In Isaiah 6:5 we get right to the true question of who we are.

“Then said I, Woe is me! For I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts.”

In the presence of God Isaiah realizes who he is and how his life and the people he lives with are so unworthy in the presence of the Creator. But, despite Isaiah feeling insignificant – God sends the seraphim to cleanse him and then asks him to carry a message to the people.

Even though Isaiah recognizes his uncleanness before a Holy God, God reaches out and God provides the healing!

And then we have a snippet from what I call The Great Promise; in Romans 8 and in particular verses 12-17. If we had more time, I would love to explore the entire chapter; but, I encourage you to open the pew Bible to page 165 (NT section) and follow the text.

I believe there are three huge promises stated by Paul for us and through these promises we will know exactly who we are!

  1. We are rebellious, but God fully understands our rebellious nature.
  2. Jesus makes us right.
  3. The Holy Spirit joins with our spirit to enable us to receive the Spirit of Adoption as God’s Children.

 

So let’s dive in:

  1. Romans 8 follows on the heels of Romans 7 where Paul draws a clear distinction between God’s Law and God’s Grace. He begins by detailing how God’s Law defines for us how we separate ourselves from God; which we know as sin. The details of the Law shows us where and how we fall short even though we may not want to, but we do. Paul further points out that this separation from God that we create will lead to death. Yes, we are all humans and we all know that this body we inhabit will eventually die, but Paul is talking about something more eternal. By separating ourselves from God, who is the source of life, we are in fact removing ourselves from the source of life. If we don’t have life, then what we have left is ………death.

 

Remember the words of Genesis 2:7:

“ Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

And then verse 2:17:

“but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

So we see that we are created from “dust” and God’s breath of life quickens us in body, soul and spirit. The death in the second verse speaks not only of physical death but also the separating of our soul and spirit from God.

So Paul finishes Chapter 7 with very familiar words, verse 24:

 “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”

The answer lies in the beginning of Chapter 8:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

 

  1. Now, the second point is when we realize that Paul is telling us that we are incapable of living a life that is without sin. Therefore, the act of Jesus stepping into our sinful world in order that the just requirements of the Law might be fulfilled in us who have separated ourselves from God, is truly awesome!

 

For when we look around us, we see that this world is strangled by death. Everything around us will die and return to dust but yet Our Creator has stepped in. He has taken the “hit” for us so that we might be reconciled to Him by walking according to the Holy Spirit’s direction. Our spirit joins with God’s Spirit! We break free of the strangle hold when our focus is on things of the Spirit and not things of the flesh.

 

  1. This brings us to the best part of today’s reading: Verses 13 and 14.

“For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. “

We are presented with the solution to the dilemma Paul described earlier. The opportunity for us to put to death the deeds of the body which cannot meet the requirements of the Law and to grasp hold of the Holy Spirit who can lead us into life – the true life that God intends for us.

In verses 15 to 17 Paul gives us an excellent description of what this life means.

“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Note that Paul says we are not slaves; God does not want us to live in fear or to be forced to be in relationship with Him. No, God wants us as adopted children, so close to Him that we freely address Him as Abba or Poppa or Daddy. Paul describes this as the Holy Spirit and our spirit bearing witness to the fact that we are truly Children of God. And then if we are children then we are also heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Jesus.

Now do not be dismayed at the final ending of verse 17:

“…if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

The verses 18-24 that follow explain that this world is decaying but will be re-created in glory. Paul expresses the hope that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. God has given us His Holy Spirit to guide us that, though we may suffer now, all this will be wiped away because He is with us and we are His.

In practical terms Paul gives us a fair warning; if we separate ourselves from God, there is only sin and death. However, Paul also makes it abundantly clear that when we walk in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, there is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

So our take away for this morning are the three promises Paul gives us about who we are:

  1. We are rebellious but God fully understands our rebellious nature and He sent His Son, Jesus.
  2. Jesus makes us right. By accepting Him we receive the Holy Spirit.
  3. The Holy Spirit joins with our spirit to enable us to receive the Spirit of Adoption as God’s Children.

 

And that is who we are!

And all God’s Children say ……………… Amen.