WHO WILL DELIVER ME FROM THIS BODY OF DEATH?

 

This sermon, cast in the form of a role-play, was presented by Pastor Ken Hauge July 6, 2008, and is based on Romans 7:15-25, Second Reading for the 8th Sunday after Pentecost.

There are four ďcharactersĒ: the visible SELF which shows itself to the world, and its two invisible parts, the SPIRIT which seeks to please God and the FLESH which seeks to please itself, and, finally, GOD.

 

SELF:†††††††††††††† Good morning. You recognize me as Pr. Ken.But this morning Iím also St. Paul of New Testament fame.And Iím Adam.And Iím Eve. Iím everyman Ö. everywoman. I may even be you if you find something familiar in what youíre about to hear.You may think you know me. But, for all that Iím willing to reveal about myself, there are some things I generally donít let anyone know about me.Iím afraid you wouldnít like me, you see.But this morning Iím going to let you peek into the inner parts of my self.Remember now: Iím everyman Ö. everywoman.I may even be you.

††††††††††††††††††††††† First let me introduce you to what St. Paul calls my Spirit, the inner part of me that loves God, and delights in His Law and His will for my life. Iím happy to reveal this inner part of me to anyone.Listen to the voice of my Spirit.

 

SPIRIT:†††††††††††† Iím a baptized child of God.I was marked with the cross of Christ forever and sealed with the Holy Spirit.God said, ďI have brought you out of the house of bondageÖ. You are mine.ĒThat feels so good!ďYou are mine.ĒHe loves me. He made me, and gave me safe limits in which to live my life.I like that.Iím happy with God.I love the relationship that we share.In baptism God is not only my Creator, and I His creature Ė He becomes my Father, and I His child!

††††††††††††††††††††††† I also love the fact that God gives me the great privilege of loving Him by prayer, praise, and obedience.And He gives me the rich privilege of witnessing to others, of being His ambassador on earth.I truly want to love others with His love, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to visit the prisoners, and care for the orphans, as He has commanded.I want to do these good things.

 

SELF:†††††††††††††† Iím happy to let you know that part of me.But thereís another voice Iím not too happy about revealing.It comes from that self-serving part of myself that St. Paul calls the Flesh.It pays no attention to Godís Word.It keeps popping up now and then.Listen to my Flesh.

 

FLESH:†††††††††††† Life isnít fair.I work hard.I do more than my share.I deserved that promotion that went to someone else.Iím much more qualified than that joker ever will be.Iím angry.Iíve denied myself lots of fun and good times, and what has it gotten me?Everyone else is getting away with murder while Iím trying to be goodie-goodie-two-shoes.Well, Iíve had enough.Iím going to get mine. Itís every man for himself. I donít care what God says.What does He care about me, anyway?

 

SELF:†††††††††††††† I feel guilty for having such thoughts.I try not to pay much attention to my Flesh voice, but itís pretty insistent and hard to ignore.I remind myself that God does care; that He does love me.But sometimes circumstances make that hard to see.So I try to concentrate more on my Spirit voice.

 

SPIRIT:†††††††††††† God never promised that life would be fair.He warned us that we would have to endure a bit of suffering in this fallen world.Not everyone will appreciate our good efforts, our faithfulness.But then again, Iím not the only one who will suffer for my faith.Other followers of Christ suffer much worse persecution than Iíll probably ever experience.And Iíll never have to suffer what Jesus suffered for me.

 

SELF:†††††††††††††† So I try to be forgiving of those who take advantage of me, who get ahead of me, who get more attention and praise, who cut me off in traffic, who gossip about me, often spreading malicious lies.I try, but itís hard.I know others suffer and endure pain, but my pain is the pain I feel.Itís more real to me than someone elseís pain.My flesh has something more to say.Listen.

 

FLESH:†††††††††††† I feel hemmed in -- frustrated.Thereís so much more Iíd like to have, there are so many things I hunger for, relationships Iíd like to enjoy, experiences I see others having.God is too restrictive.Why shouldnít I have it all, like everybody else?Iím hungry.Iím itchy.God must understand how I feel -- itís not my fault -- He made me the way I am.My body is my own.Nobody has any business telling me what I can do or not do with it.Itís nobodyís business what I ingest, what I smoke.As a woman, itís not anyoneís business if I get an abortion to avoid a terrible inconvenience.

†††††††††††

SELF:†††††††††††††† This is a very strong and convincing voice, especially when Iím hurt or angry or tired.At such times I feel very weak.I feel a hunger in my bodily members to lash out, to grab what doesnít belong to me, to join with someone else in taking what I want.Itís almost as though thereís another force, or law, working in my own bodily members drawing me into sinful pleasures.Sometimes I cave in to those desires.Iím so weak.WaitÖ. Thatís not exactly true.Iím weak in my spirit that wants to go Godís way, but powerful in my flesh that wants to have my own way.Iím strong in my flesh.Iím not weak at all.Iím rebellious.Iím disobedient.And that takes a lot of power!

††††††††††††††††††††††† Although I sometimes give in to temptations, satisfying the lust in my body, I hear a small, still voice in my Spirit, which says this about my body:

 

SPIRIT:†††††††††††† Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, who you have received from God?You are not your own; you were bought with a great price.Honor God with your body.I donít want to offer my bodily members to sinful pleasures as instruments of wickedness, but really want to offer my body to God as an instrument of righteousness.I donít want sin to be my master.I want to resist temptation and serve God.This is the good that I desire.

 

SELF:†††††††††††††† So I struggle between these two voices.And sometimes in my wavering I go with my Flesh.I hear my Spirit calling me to do good, but my Flesh screams out its desire. I feel so hypocritical, putting on my ďholy faceĒ for everyone to see, while I feel so drawn to the evil that I hate.The good that I desire I do not do, but the evil that I hate, that I do.What is it with me?Iím ridden with guilt and this inner struggle.Who will rescue me from this body of death?Will you?Can you?O GodÖ.

 

GOD:††††††††††††††† So you finally called my name!Great!I know your struggle.I know your good intentions, but I also see your wavering, your weakness and your strength.Weakness in doing the good, but strength in serving your own selfish desires.The law condemns you for your disobedience, your moral failures, your sin.But I love you, and care for you more than you know.I died for you to take your sin-guilt upon myself, paying the price for you.I will rescue you from your body of death.My Holy Spirit will stand with you, strengthening your spirit against the power of your flesh, as much as you open yourself to me.I will be your ally, your advocate, your counselor, leading you into Truth, helping you to gain victories over temptations and sin that you cannot achieve by your own efforts.

††††††††††††††††††††††† I have overcome the curse of sin and death by the sacrificial blood of Jesus, shed on the cross of Calvary for you.There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Him the law of the Spirit of life sets you free from the law of sin and death.Jesus is your sin offering.Put your faith and hope in nothing less than His sacrificial blood.

††††††††††††††††††††††† I take your Self into my loving embrace, together with your Spirit and your Flesh.For you will have your Fleshly inclination with you as long as you live, but it need not enslave you.I will rescue you, giving you the strength to live not according to your sinful nature, but according to the Spirit.I love you, my Child.

 

SELF:†††††††††††††† As we celebrate our nationís independence over this Fourth of July weekend, we are again reminded that freedom is not free.As we honor those who shed their blood in the defense of our precious freedom, we recognize that only in the shedding of Jesusí blood can we hope for that ultimate freedom from the curse of sin and death.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††† What can wash away your sin?Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

††††††††††††††††††††††† What can make you whole again?Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Join me in this prayer:Jesus, wash me in your blood.

††††††††††††††††††††††† This is all my hope and peace, Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

††††††††††††††††††††††† This is all my righteousness, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Amen!