July 18-20, 2020
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Romans 7:15-25a (EHV)
“BLESSED WITH REST!”
1. There is no rest without work.
2. There is no rest without Christ.
Romans 7:15-25a (EHV) “For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not keep doing what I want. Instead, I do what I hate. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17But now it is no longer I who am doing it, but it is sin living in me. 18Indeed, I know that good does not live in me, that is, in my sinful flesh. The desire to do good is present with me, but I am not able to carry it out. 19So I fail to do the good I want to do. Instead, the evil I do not want to do, that is what I keep doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who am doing it, but it is sin living in me. 21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is present with me. 22I certainly delight in God’s law according to my inner self, 23but I see a different law at work in my members, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me captive to the law of sin, which is present in my members. 24What a miserable wretch I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Rest is something all people long for. You can only go so long in a day until your body grows tired. It wants rest. You can only push your mind so far in learning before it gets tired. It wants rest. Emotionally there is only so much stress or heartache you can deal with before you need rest. There is a reason people long for rest. It is a need that God built into us. If you want to right now or at home use a Bible search program and you will find over 500 times where God talks about rest. It is a need all people have. Now, you know God. When people have a need, a legitimate need, what is He going to do? Provide it! He wants His people Blessed with Rest!
Certainly we see the Apostle Paul proclaim that truth as he wrote to the Christians in Rome. Although at first hearing or reading Romans 7:15-25 does not sound like Paul was getting a lot of rest, does it? He describes a great, spiritually painful, ongoing struggle. It’s a struggle against sin. His frustration is evident. “For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not keep doing what I want. Instead, I do what I hate.” His angst is clear. “Indeed, I know that good does not live in me, that is, in my sinful flesh. The desire to do good is present with me, but I am not able to carry it out. 19So I fail to do the good I want to do. Instead, the evil I do not want to do, that is what I keep doing.” You can tell how tired he felt. “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is present with me. 22I certainly delight in God’s law according to my inner self, 23but I see a different law at work in my members, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me captive to the law of sin, which is present in my members. 24What a miserable wretch I am!”
What he needed was rest. And first of all let’s acknowledge a truth. There is no rest without work. You know how that goes. When you are working all the time, when the day is one meeting after another, one patient after another, one service call after another, you long to be done. You want rest. After a long hard day of sitting around at home and doing nothing it is not rest you want but something to do! Only the work points out the need for rest. Now here is where it is really important that we understand the kind of work Paul was doing, that you and I must do and why it is important. First make sure you understand that the struggle against sin that is vital for every believers is not the struggle to get to heaven. It is not a struggle to please God enough so that you are worthy of heaven. To do that you would have to be perfect and Paul plainly spelled out in the first part of his letter to the Romans that we are righteous apart from the law, apart from what we do.
So why do all the work of fighting against sin? Since Jesus’ death paid off the debt of my sin what does it matter if I sin or not? And since God’s free forgiveness in Jesus shows how kind and gracious He is why not make Him look even kinder and more gracious by sinning as much as I can? Why do the hard work of struggling against sin. Working to resist temptation first of all is evidence of faith. Faith takes God at His word. When God says something is wrong and we are to detest or hate it only when faith is present will sin be detestable. Secondly working to resist temptation shows love for Jesus.” If you love me obey my commandments,” Jesus said. Not, “in order to get to heaven,” not “to earn blessings,” but “if you love me.” Only with faith in Jesus will we love Him. Thirdly, it shows you value Jesus’ sacrifice. When people say sins don’t matter they are in effect saying Jesus’ sacrifice was a waste. When believers fight against sin in their lives we are saying we understand the great debt each of our sins incurred.
This is why we work to fight sin. And it is work. To be alone with your computer and the temptation to look at porn comes, to resist is work. To hold your tongue in an emotional discussion takes work. To respond to angry words with kindness is not easy. It’s hard work. To prioritize God’s word and worship when our society has so many things to easily distract us takes work. To keep up a daily habit of prayer and devotion—you got it. Work! To speak up and defend someone getting defamed, work. Work. Work. Work. It’s all work. And then you fail. You resist for so long and you give in. You don’t do the good you wanted to do, no the evil thing you were fighting so hard to resist, that’s what you do!
Failure. Loser. Paul’s words. “What a miserable wretch I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Rest! That’s what you long for. Not rest from seeking to please Jesus. That’s what you live for. Rest from the guilt of failure. Rest from disappointing your Lord and yourself. Rest from the Devil’s voice accusing you, reminding you what a miserable wretch you are. “And you call yourself a Christian!”
Rest is what you need. And rest is what God provides! “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Such simple words. They take the sinners eyes back where they belong, on to Jesus. There is no rest without Christ. God said that before. While many Christians have teased others physically tired Christians by quoting the passage, “There is no rest for the wicked, you sure must be wicked,” the Bible’s definition of a wicked person is someone who rejects their Savior, someone who tries to get right with God apart from Jesus. God speaks clearly on this. To be righteous on your own by what you do you must be perfect. That is impossible. God found another way. He sent Jesus who lived perfectly and everyone who believes in Jesus is counted by God as righteous, holy, perfect. Everyone who rejects Jesus stays imperfect. There is no rest without Christ.
But there is such beautiful rest with Him! You heard His invitation, “Come to me. I will give you rest.” Let’s take that struggle with sin. When you were a child say 3 or 4 years old did you ever help Dad with a chore, maybe moving a heavy piece of furniture or something like that? You did it because you loved Dad and wanted to be like Dad and desired his approval. Maybe he groaned and huffed and then when you helped all of the sudden the heavy box lifted. You know now Dad did all the real work. Jesus has done all the real work in defeating sin. Your work to fight sin isn’t taking care of it all. It has that different purpose: you love Jesus and want His approval. He’s made you perfect in God’s eyes. And there is more rest. Your guilt, your shame, your feeling like a failure when you fall? Jesus has forgiven you already. You may be fighting the same temptation your whole life. Jesus will be with you your whole life. With God’s help you may kick a certain sin. Awesome! Give God the glory! Another sin will try to take its place. Jesus’ forgiveness covers that too. Rest in Christ comes when we look at what He has done, not what we have done.
And one day that rest that is so temporary here on earth will change into the Sabbath rest of heaven, the kind pictured by God on the 7th Day when He rested, not because He was tired, but because of a job well done. Keep working, keep struggling, but most importantly, keep your eyes on Jesus who has blessed you with rest for your earthly life and one day will welcome you home with the phrase we all can’t wait to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and enjoy your Master’s happiness. Blessed with Rest! Amen.