Pentecost 4 “Killing the Law”
June 28th, 2020 – Romans 7:7
May you receive from God the good you have not deserved, not get the bad you have, and may you have peace with God through the payment of our Master, Jesus Christ.
Advantages of Faking Your Own Death
When things in life have really gotten you down, have you ever considered taking a play out of a Hollywood’s movie’s playbook, and considered the advantages of faking your own death?
While people still think you are alive there are many things that bind you: paying taxes, having debts, responsibilities of family, financial pressure, social responsibilities, even responsibilities to you boss. While people still think you are alive, you are expected to attend church every Sunday and do devotions to God every day of the week!
Imagine with me the advantages of faking your own death: You wouldn’t have to pay taxes, you would not longer have any debts, you would not have any responsibilities. Those bratty kids wouldn’t depend on you for any more handouts, you wouldn’t have to listen to those young kids always whining and complaining. You wouldn’t have any pressure to work extra hard or get a promotion because you would no longer have to provide for yourself or your family. You wouldn’t have to work at keeping up with friends (they would think you’re a saint anyway since you “died”) and church? No one would every expect you to be there anymore (other than being on heaven’s side while partaking in Holy Communion).
No more pressures! No more responsibilities! Just Freedom.
While there are all of these responsibilities and pressures in life, there would be something missing if you were to do away with all of these things.
You wouldn’t be contributing, along side all citizens, to having schools for children to learn, police & firefighters to keep people safe, hospitals to care for the sick or infrastructure in the place you live.
You would not have the opportunity to pay off a debt to someone else who lent you money or goods to enjoy before you the money to be able to enjoy them.
You would not be able to love your child by selflessly helping them out or watching them grow. You wouldn’t be able to take care of aging parents who, at one time, took care of you. You would not be able to love and care for your family.
You would not have the ability to love and support your friends as they go through life. You would not be able to cry with them or celebrate with them.
You would not be worshipping God in His house with all His children. You would not be loving the one who loved you and gave you everything good.
You would not have the satisfaction of a job well done or of goals achieved. Would you have freedom? Sure, in a way. Would you have purpose and love?
Kill the Law
Our readings talk about a woman being bound by law to her husband when they are married (and likewise the man being bound to his wife). When the man dies, the woman is free from the law of marriage. Death releases us from those things which we are bound to by law.
As the Romans text discusses, if there were to be no Law, there would be no sin – we would be free! This is something we can find ourselves doing often. Instead of dying and being released from the law, we try to kill the law instead. Without the law, there is no sin and not much causing division between families – or so it would seem.
For example, Jesus says he’s not bringing peace, but bringing a sword. Jesus said he has come to set a man against his father. How can Jesus do this? Setting family against family seems such a bad thing better left to Satan than to Jesus? Jesus brings God’s Word. Jesus brings the perfect Law of the universe established by God before time.
Let’s say there is a father and son in a family and there is no law known. The father sleeps around a lot and the son is gay. With no law, the son might say to his father, “Good on you, dad. You’re going out and making yourself happy. If you’re happy I’m happy.” The father might say to the son, “You’re perfect the way you are, son! I wouldn’t change a thing about you. If you’re happy, I’m happy – and we don’t even have to compete over women!”
What happens in this scenario as you bring in Jesus? The son accuses the father based on Jesus’ words. The Father says to the son “How dare you accuse me of being an unfaithful adulterer!” The father accuses the son based on Jesus’ words. The son says “What do you mean God says my sexuality is wrong! How dare you!”
Each person is confronted with a hard decision. “God or accepting my dad.” “God or accepting my son.” This is why Jesus says “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). If you love someone more than God this is what happens.
This goes for all sin. I pick on these two sins because we seem to have forgotten that God’s Law on these issues has not changed – we have.
Just because hatred and division – sin- can result, does not mean this perfect Law from God that reflects who our Creator is- is bad. It means that we are bad. It means that as a son who disobeys his parents and lives in constant sin rips his parents hearts out, we too who are constantly in sin are always ripping our Heavenly Father’s heart out. The temptation is always there. The temptation to kill the law and live at peace with those we love and reject God. The temptation to call evil good and good evil.
Our Heavenly Father’s perfect response to our situation of sin? It is not to kill the law (antinomianism) as we are so tempted to do. His response is the death and resurrection of His perfect son on our behalf. So that we may follow Him into death and be brought back to life. It is so that our sinful nature may die in baptism and we become free from the sting of the Law. Free from the eternal death that would come as our just punishment from breaking this good and eternal law. Instead, we live free and forgiven in Christ with the demand to then follow the good and perfect Law of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We live with all the responsibilities, and pressures, and being sad at the evil in the world – all that comes from the Law of God; still knowing that the Law is good and loving and that we are all failing and are always needing Christ’s forgiveness. To look back to it, to hear, to taste it. But we never call evil good and good evil. We call God alone good. We call His forgiveness for all sins the highest good. And we call the Holy Spirit our only guide and help as we strive to live as freed slaves bound to Christ and His kingdom.
Do you need to fake your own death to be free from the Law? No. Jesus has already died to sin for you. He has rescued you so you are not a slave to sin, but alive to God with purpose: to love and forgive, and follow His good Law.
May that peace from God which surpasses all understanding, may it guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.