Set Free In Christ Jesus
Delivered By
Rev. Nathaniel Schwartz
Delivered On
April 6, 2014
Central Passage
Romans 8:1-11

LENT 5                                             APRIL 6, 2014                                         ROMANS 8:1-11



If I were to sneak over to your home some evening around 6 p.m. and peak in your windows, what would I see?  Would I discover you and your spouse effectively communicating, sharing encouraging words, and working together in harmony to manage your home?  Would it appear that for the two of you marriage is like constantly running through fields of daisies?  And concerning your children, would I discover that they are very compliant and well mannered?  Would I find that the siblings never argue or fight?  Would I discover that your kids cheerfully clean their rooms or do their homework immediately after you ask them to do so?

Well, from your reaction, it would seem that your home is a bit different than I have described.  Apparently, things aren’t so perfect where you live.  Apparently you don’t always communicate well with your spouse.  Apparently your children aren’t always well mannered and don’t always obey you.

If that’s the case – if you don’t live in a perfect home – than you are just like everyone else here today.  My friends, we are sinners.  Our spiritual parents turned their backs on God and plunged our world into sin.  Now each and every one of us is born in sin.  We have a sinful human nature.  We daily sin against God and against each other.  As a result, our marriages are often marked by conflict and anger.  Our children often disobey us and disappoint us.  Our lives, our relationships, and are homes are often quite messy and very broken.

We wish it wouldn’t be this way.  We wish that our lives were marked by peace rather than conflict.  But sin constantly plagues us.  Yes, such sins as selfishness and greed; jealousy and lust, defiance and anger, bitterness and hate plague us.  And these sins bring great sorrow and suffering, problems and pain, turbulence and trouble to our lives.  What wretched people we are.  What troubled lives we often live.

My friends, St. Paul understands our struggle and our pain.  Indeed, he captured our situation well when he wrote in Romans 7, “I do not understand my own actions….For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but the sin that dwells within me….Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

People of God, all this happens because we have a sinful flesh.  Yes, our sinful flesh is both hostile to God and is weak.  Our sinful flesh often yields to Satan’s temptations and crafty schemes.  So we head down a path of sin that includes:  hate and anger, bitterness and revenge, jealousy and greed, lust and adultery, and the like.  

Sin controls our lives.   And this is a serious problem.  Especially when we realize that since God would have us love him and love our neighbor, serving our own flesh makes this impossible!  Yes, seeking to satisfy our sinful flesh means it is impossible for us to please God and to follow His holy will and holy ways.  So with St. Paul we cry out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

So is there any hope?  Absolutely.  When we cry out, “God, be merciful to me, sinner that I am,” He hears us.  And He cleanses us in the blood that was shed on Calvary’s Cross by Jesus Christ our Savior!  It is as the hymn writer declares, “Glory be to Jesus, who in bitter pains, poured for me the lifeblood from his sacred veins!  Abel’s blood for vengeance pleaded to the skies, but the blood of Jesus, for our pardon cries.”

What’s more, perhaps this story will help.  A Dutch family got into trouble with the Nazi’s during World War II.  They had been hiding Jews from the Nazis, and when their crime was discovered, the Nazi’s came and arrested them at gunpoint.  The family was placed in a cattle car of a train to be taken to one of the death camps.  They rode all night and spent the time fearful of what lay ahead.  Finally, as daylight was breaking, the train stopped.  The door of the cattle car was opened, and they were told to get out.  Fearing the worst, they looked around…and they saw they were not at a death camp.  In fact, they weren’t even i9n Germany.  They were in Switzerland!  During the night, some courageous and daring person had tripped a switch and sent the train to Switzerland and freedom.  Instead of being sent to certain death, they were welcomed to new life..

My friends, that is the message God has for us today.  Our text declares, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).  This means that the Holy Spirit – who we received as a gift in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism – has set us free.  He has set us free from slavery to our sinful flesh.  He has set us free – working through God’s Holy Word and life-giving sacraments that we might live new lives.  New lives in which we no longer seek to gratify the desires of our sinful flesh but instead seek to glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through God-pleasing words and actions!

Yes, we still live in the flesh.  We still struggle with temptations to sin.  But now as baptized children of God who have the Holy Spirit living in our hearts, we can live new and different lives.  We can regularly feed our faith on God’s Word and Sacraments and the Holy Spirit  will work to equip and empower us in order that we grow in our faith in Christ.  Yes, the Holy Spirit will enable us to grow in our commitment to Christ, our commitment to saying no to temptations to sin and yes to God’s call to live for Him by obeying His commandments and loving our neighbors as ourselves!

This changes everything!  Forgiven by Christ’s blood and gifted with the Holy Spirit, our marriages, our homes, our lives, and our church can be completely different.  Now they can be marked by love and compassion, reconciliation and forgiveness, affection and joy.  Our lives and relationships can be marked by the fruits of the Spirit, including:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

What’s more, because there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” this means that we no longer need fear death.  That’s right, we have been set free in Christ Jesus!  We need not worry about that day when we will take our last breath.  For at that moment, we – who are robed in Christ righteousness in baptism – will close our eyes only to open them again in the Lord’s arms in heaven. 

May this bring us peace, hope, and joy throughout Lent and always.  Amen and Amen.