Religion Is Death

If life is throwing you some
uppercuts that just knock you on your tail, if you continue to worship in
that season, it is only possible because the Spirit of God is living inside of
you. Well y’all, today we are landing the plane on the letter to the Romans–on the
book of Romans. We’ve been in this book for a couple of months now. It’s been a
really interesting journey; one of the most challenging series to prepare for,
but today we’re going to sort of land the plane. At the end I wanted to end
this series by having a time where you could come and receive prayer. So many
members of our leadership and prayer team, they’ll be along the front here.
Please feel no pressure, but today I wanted to give you an opportunity to
receive some encouragement because today’s altar time, ministry time will be
for those that: one- if you’re just not sure you know the Lord or you know
you don’t know the Lord, I want to–I’m praying that God will open the eyes of
your heart today and that you just start relationship with Him. And the other one,
if I were sitting where you are, I would be like first in line. This is one of
those alter responses that I’m always like, “Yep!” I want to pray that God would
just breathe fresh encouragement on you and if any of you are just in a dry
place in life or spiritually or you just feel fatigued or burdened and you just
in a dry place, today is for you. And so we’re just kind of
worship together at the end and have time to receive prayer, but let me just
kind of do a quick little here’s where we are. There are two ways to approach
God. One of them works and one of them doesn’t. The one that doesn’t work is the one
that a lot of people try and is the most tempting to try and that is to get to
God through religion; it doesn’t work. Religion is all about rules, it’s all
about to-do’s, and it’s all about, “If you do this–.” Religion says, “If you do this
then God will love and accept you.” Unfortunately that will never work.
A relationship with with Christ says because of what He has already done we
can have relationship with God. Religion is the emphasis on your works, but our
faith is emphasis on Christ’s work on the cross, and so those that try to get
to God through religion, their works are their crutch and one of
two things will happen. You will either spend your days living in
condemnation because you’ll try to measure up to a standard that you’ll
never obtain and you walk in failure and condemnation and shame or if by some
miracle you think you do measure up, well then you’ll look at everyone else in
your life in judgment because they don’t measure up to the standard you were
living in. So it’s death either way. Religion leads to death. Today I want to
talk about the thing that breathes life to us and it is the key to a
relationship with God and that is the Holy Spirit and that is His presence in
our life. I’ve just seen through the years the things that God gives us to
bring us intimacy with Him and each other are the very things that cause the
most division. You start talking about the Holy Spirit, all of a sudden
people start getting nervous- “Well, I just don’t know; I don’t know.” Listen, I want to
set you at ease. God’s given us the celebration of baptism to
unite us with the body of Christ for generations and baptism is one of those
things that has divided the body of Christ. I don’t know if you know there’s
one place in scripture they baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit. In another place they baptized in the name of Jesus and you have church
splits because people feel differently– “Oh! You have to say in the name of the
Father, Son, Holy Spirit.” And others- “No, you have to say in the name of Jesus or it
doesn’t count.” We have tens of thousands of denominations literally because
churches split over ridiculous stuff like that. You may notice when I baptize, I baptize in the name of the Father, His
Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit so Communion is one of those things that God has given us as a way to always
remember and celebrate what He has done and to look forward to what is coming. It brings together, brings unity to the body of Christ. Communion is another
one of those things that has just caused so much division in the church. So many
opinions as to how to do communion, how often to do communion, the right spirit
you do communion, what you have to say and do before you take part of–
and churches split over this stuff. The Holy Spirit is one of those things
where the devil just gets in there and caused so much division in the body
of Christ. So I just want to– my best friend is the Holy Spirit.
Through God we have love, through Jesus we have salvation, and the Holy Spirit is
His presence in our life. Listen, if you have peace it is because of the Holy
Spirit. If you have hope it is because of the Holy Spirit. If you’re gonna get
through a storm of life-impossible without the Holy Spirit and so that’s
what I want to speak on for a minute today. Let me just do a quick little
broad stroke recap of the letter; Paul’s letter to the Romans. They’ll put
it on the the jumbotron back here. There’s a lot of different ways to sort
of read the letter Paul’s letter to the Romans, but here’s one way I want to give
you. You can look at it in five different sections, you have the first section-
chapters one through three and this is where Paul describes the problem and
that problem is sin. The key verse in these first three chapters I would say
is Romans 3:23. If you remember, if you’ve been here for this series, this is a very
unique letter where Paul is writing to a church that he hasn’t visited, to people
he hasn’t met and it is the Romans versus the Jews. It is church split
time. The Romans are like, “This is how you know God and serve God and do
church.” And the Jews are like, “Look, you wouldn’t even have church without us. We
have the prophets and the law and the traditions and the celebrations.” They
are at war with each other and Paul comes in and says, “Listen everybody,
children, don’t make me come back there. It doesn’t matter if you are Roman or
Jew, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Can I get a little
witness to the truth of that today? [Applause] Anybody ever fallen short of the glory
of God? I don’t know if “amen” is necessarily the right thing to say. They’re like, “Oh yeah!” No, I’m just messing with you. Absolutely we’ve all fallen short. We’ve all, at some
point or another, we’ve lied, we’ve stolen, we’ve lusted which Jesus calls adultery, we’ve hated one another which Jesus calls murder because when you hate your
brother or sister you are killing that relationship. We’ve all sinned and fallen
short of the glory of God. So Paul says, “Listen, Romans. Listen, Jews. Cut it out because you’re getting off track and division is coming into the
body of Christ. You need to remember that all of you have sinned and fallen short
of the glory of God.” But there’s hope and then the next section of Romans in
chapters 4 to 6, he gives the answer, the provision, the hope and the key passage
there it is speaking to Jesus Romans 5:9. It says, ‘For through the blood of Jesus
we have heard the powerful declaration–‘ this is God saying, ‘”You are now righteous
in My sight.” And because of the sacrifice of Jesus, you will never experience My
wrath.’ Now that right there is worth a little worship in the church today.
Listen, I have people say, “You gotta–. I just need–. I need you to–. I need–.I need
some deep teachings. I need you. I need–. I need a deeper word.” Listen, that’s as deep
as it gets right there. All have sinned and that’s you, but because of Jesus, God
now looks at you and says, “You are righteous in My sight and you’ll never
have to walk in My wrath.” That’s enough right there for us. Every week we could
just look at those two verses and spend an hour and worship. That’s as deep as it gets. Live in that, walk in that, worship in
that-“Yes, I’m a sinner that falls short for the glory of God, but because of
Jesus, God says, ‘Now you’re righteous in My sight
and you’ll never experience My wrath.'” Thank you, God. I worship You, I love You. So
Paul says, “Romans and Jews, you’ve all fallen short but because of Jesus you
can escape God’s wrath and He sees you as righteous.” Now I’m gonna skip over the
middle section because those are the passages I want to share with you today.
So the fourth section-chapters 9 through 11. That’s where it gets a little
complicated. If you read that, can get a little confusing because that is
when Paul is addressing primarily the Jews specifically and some of their–the
lens through which they see faith and God. Paul’s a masterful writer at
both honoring their heritage and the laws of God, but also removing the crutch
of serving God and knowing God through works. He’s basically letting the
Jews know, “Yes, God’s given you the prophets, He’s given you the law and
it’s a beautiful thing, but don’t you dare think that gives you an advantage
or don’t use that as a crutch to God.” In fact, here’s what he says in Romans
chapter 9. He says, ‘So what does this mean? Here’s the irony–‘ I’m using a translation
today that Bonnie Edwards and John and Chrissie Forehand just introduced me to; it’s a new translation-the Passion Translation and I’m giving you a
couple verses just because it kind of brings some passages maybe you’ve heard
many times, gives you some fresh ears for it. It says–here’s what he says, ‘What does this mean? Here’s the irony: the
non-Jewish people, the Romans who weren’t even pursuing righteousness, were the
ones who seized it–perfect righteousness that is transferred by
faith. Yet Israel, even though pursuing a legal righteousness, did not attain to it.
Why was that?’ Here’s what he’s saying: “Jews, you’re criticizing the Romans
because they don’t have your heritage. Well guess what? Those dogs, those Romans,
those ungodly ones, they’ve actually grabbed hold of it and you Jews are
missing it. It says, ‘Because they did not, the Jews did not pursue the path of
faith, but insisted on pursuing righteousness by works,
as if it could be seized another way. They were offended by the means of
attaining it and stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written: “Be careful!–“‘ and this is God’s Word to us, ‘”Be careful! I am setting in Zion a
stone that will cause people to stumble, a rock of offense that will make them
fall, but believers in Him will not experience shame.”‘ Every professional
athlete out there can give glory to God, but the minute you start using the J
word-Jesus, people start taking offense. Imagine as a kid going to the mall and
your parents just loading up your buggy with a new TV and clothes and appliances.
Your dad says, “Oh by the way son, by the way my daughter, if you walk through
those doors, you got cops waiting on the other side. They’re gonna haul you to
jail, but guess what? I’ve already paid for it. Just show them the receipt.” Can you imagine that? Son’s like, “That’s all right, Dad. I
got this.” And that’s what we do. God says to us, “Now listen my son, my
daughter, you owe a debt that you can’t possibly pay. All have sinned and fallen
short of the glory of God, but the good news is I’ve already paid for it.” Why in
the world do people get offended by that? They say, “No, thank you. No, thank You, Jesus. I’d rather rely on my own good works, on my own understanding, on my own emotions,
on my own look, on my own way of doing things.” I don’t understand why this is
such a stumbling block to people. It is the good news that yes, you’ve fallen
short, but God proves His love for us in this that while you were still sinning,
Jesus went to the cross in your place and so now you can stand before God
righteous with no blame or shame. And yet, the Jews here, they were holding on. They
were holding on to their good works and their knowledge and their traditions as
a crutch. Paul says, “No, no, no. It’s all by Jesus.” And so 9 through 11, he really gets
into that predicament. Leave it to a preacher to have a lot of alliteration;
there’s going to lot of p’s in these explanations, but
12 through 16–my favorite chapters in the book of Romans we won’t get to them,
but this is the practice, this is living it out. Beautiful passages of Scripture
where Paul is then introducing the Roman church and explaining them about this
thing called koinonia or the way that we as a member of the family of the body of
Christ. How many families out there? Just raise your hand. That should be
everybody by the way. You’re part of a family. If I come to your house, there’s
certain ways of doing things at your house that I need to pick up on. How many
of you are shoes off as you walk in families? Any shoes off as you’re walking
families out there? Okay, just few. Rest of you-filthy animals. [Laughter] No, we’re not a
shoes off family. We’re “I guess we gonna sweep the floor every day of our
life family;” that’s who we are. How many of you got to make your bed in the
morning before you leave? How many bed makers are there? My goodness . We just
need some just general hygiene teaching up in here. How many brush your teeth
people out there? Any brush? Okay, thank you. I was getting a little woo get
a little nervous well if you were to adopt me guess what I got to learn how
you do family and if I want to be a active participant in your family I got
to learn about your well this is Paul he said you are now part of the family of
God let me explain what that looks like and it’s just beautiful chapters
describing how we are to love one another for instance he says God’s
giving you spiritual gifts with a purpose God wants you to use those gifts
to serve and benefit the body of Christ says that he’s given you the gift of
authorities in your life and he you need to submit to those authorities and serve
them and pray for them he has some of you are more mature than others and he
says now if you are more mature if you’ve been following the Lord and
you’re gifted in and and and maturity then he says don’t look down
on those that are weaker in judgment or condemnation in fact cover their sins
call them serve them and he says you know what I think it’s okay to eat
anything I think it’s okay but you know if if I do anything that causes someone
who’s less mature to stumble I’m gonna lay down my rights because I will do
anything to help my younger brothers and sisters grow in their faith
he’s just teaching them a brand new way to love each other we’re gonna smash
this conflict we’re gonna get rid of all this division in the body we’re gonna
honor one another above ourselves so that’s Romans 12 through 16 where he’s
just teaching us we’ll get to visit those sometime but today I just want to
spend a second on the middle section and this is when it all comes together so if
you’ll go back to the jumbotron right here in the middle this is what makes it
all work this is the missing ingredient that we all need this is what separates
the Christian faith from just any other religion out there and it is the very
presence of God comes into our being and changes us from the inside out and gives
us the power to live this life and he is our encourage err and our comfort
without the Holy Spirit it doesn’t matter what translation of the Bible you
read it’s not gonna speak a life to you it is the Holy Spirit that anoints our
walk in our actions and our words and our deeds it is what fills us with hope
it is the peace through the storm he is our comforter it is the presence of God
that we must have to live this Christian life and to know him and so look at what
he says in Chapter 7 and 8 I’m just gonna hit some of the highlights and let
me know if any of you can relate to what Paul now I just want to set you at ease
I just want to encourage you here this is Paul this is the one who wrote a good
chunk of the New Testament this is the missionary who was stoned and flogged
and shipwrecked and beaten and imprisoned and ultimately killed for the
good news of Jesus Christ he was bad to the bone he was the man and yet
Paul is saying something that I think you can relate to he says although I
want to do good evil is right here with me anybody for in my intervene I delight
in God’s law but I see another law at work in me waging war against the law of
my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me what a
wretched man I am I’ve preached this before and I’ve walked out with a big
old skeleton on my back to represent our sin nature our death nature that loves
to wisp now before Christ it owns you you are attached intimately it is your
nature there’s no escape from it but the moment Jesus comes into your life it
doesn’t own you anymore it has no claim over you anymore
now it’s still gonna hang around whispering to you and that’s what Paul’s
saying is like my goodness I still hear this whisper in my ear I want to please
God I wanna worship God he’s given me a heart to serve him but I still see this
evil whispering to me and he cries out who will rescue me from this body that
is subject to death thanks be to God who delivers me through Jesus Christ our
Lord he says therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ
Jesus any of you walking in condemnation today
you are either away from Christ you don’t know Christ and condemnation is
justified or if you are in Christ you should never walk in condemnation again
now that sin nature is going to whisper condemnation to you but if you are in
Christ I want you to know you are now set free from judgment and condemnation
and wrath there’s never a reason again for to listen to that whisper why
because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit gives life and has set you
free from the law of sin and death those who are in the realm of the flesh they
cannot please God if you don’t know Christ it doesn’t matter how many times
you go to church read your Bible try to pray serve give what
if you do not know the Lord there’s nothing you can do to please God you
however he’s speaking to those who are in Christ you however are not in the
realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit if indeed the Spirit of
God lives in you and if anyone does not have the Spirit of God they do not
belong to Christ this is what separates the Christian faith from everything else
the spirit and presence of God comes to dwell within you Emmanuel God with us
but if Christ is in you then even though your body is subject to death because of
sin anybody testified to the fact that this
body is dying anybody got a body that’s dying out there
that’s everybody my goodness I remember as a youngster this some older wiser
people you slay all right Brad you need to slow down you just wait till you hit
40 it’s gonna start falling apart I’d be like please get out my face old
man you don’t know what you’re talking about ain’t gonna happen to me you know what I
was right it didn’t happen to me at 40 happen at 35 actually it I just all just
started you start breaking down it’s like 35 my body was like yep I’m good
I’m doing my goodness so yeah we’ve got because of sin that we’ve released in
the world causes all right the curse is that body that she’ll you’re weird now
is going it’s gonna wear out but that’s why I breathe life and do you breathe a
spirit into you that will live eternal and we’ll take care of that body problem
later we’ll get you a new one one that will never end one that won’t break it
won’t be subject to cancer or death or sickness or illness or depression who
the spirit gives life because of righteousness and then look at this you
used to be owned by that skeleton but the spirit you received when you say yes
to G when you receive his gift of forgiveness
you’re set free and you are no longer a slave the spirit you receive does not
make you slave so that you live in fear again rather the spirit you received
brought about your adoption to sonship and now you have intimacy with the
father and you can cry Abba Father which means daddy daddy daddy that’s what the
spirit does he brings us intimacy with God religion is always going to pull you
away religion is trying to get the God through your good works and your good
actions and it will always lead you away from God but the spirit breathes life
into you and leads to intimacy with your father what we need is the Spirit of God
just to kind of contrast the two a little bit here’s the difference between
living life by the flesh or trying to get the God through religion versus
living life by the spirit filled by the spirit led by the spirit the flesh
always leads to death the spirit to life the the flesh to condemnation the spirit
to freedom the flesh to regret the spirit piece the flesh hopelessness the
spirit hope the flesh aimless the spirit full of purpose the flesh powerless the
spirit full of power listen there are things that are only possible if the
Spirit of God lives inside of you listen if you are at work and you’ve been
fighting for a promotion and your boss decides to give it to someone else let
me tell you what you need in your life if you’re going to go to that person say
congratulations I’m so excited for you that is only possible if the Spirit of
God is inside of you if your children is what my sons my son’s call it back-sass
I don’t know where they got that it I don’t you back-sass me if you’re if
you’re if your children back-sass you for the 18th million time if you don’t
just lock them up Oh only the Spirit of God can I get a
witness and your spouse tells you one more time are you gonna take out the
trash if you say why yes baby I’d love to that’s the Spirit of God and work in
your life there are things that are only possible if you have the Holy Spirit if
you walk through a season where the doctor doesn’t give you the report you
want if your children are wondering as prodigal far from God if life is stolen
you some some some uppercuts that just knock you on your tail oh if you
continue to worship in that season it is only possible because the Spirit of God
is living inside of you that’s what we need we don’t need more teaching we
don’t need more preaching we don’t need more Bible studies we don’t need we need
the Spirit of God filling us flowing through us and that’s my press that’s
probably the prayer pray the most in my life God fill me with your spirit lead
me by your spirit show me where your spirit is the Bible word for spirit is
actually breath it means God breathing his life on us and the Bible says that
winds gonna blow where it wants to blow and his ways are not like our way so to
be led by the Spirit of God it’s just to let go said God whatever you want you
lead me when it doesn’t make sense but unfortunately this is when we mess up
and we we get a touch from God and he gives us victory and power and freedom
and too often that’s those are the times that we then look back in judgment on
others I see a time and time again you’re battling with saying you’re
battling with an addiction you’re battling with something finally God
gives you victory and immediately you look at people who are battling with the
same thing in contempt like oh my good can you believe them then division in
the body of Christ let me tell you something I heard this quote I love this
quote it says to be filled with the Holy Spirit doesn’t
make me better than you it makes me better than me then make me better than
you but without the spirit I can do nothing with the spirit he makes me a
brand new creation he softens my heart all of a sudden that anger I used to
struggle with it doesn’t have a grip on me like it used to
I got hope in my life now I’m able to have peace that passes understanding as
we walk through the storm it is only by the Spirit of God that is why today I
just want to bless you and pray that you receive just a breath of fresh air from
the Spirit of God today let’s just take let’s just take some time I want to go
ahead and ask our prayer team those that are gonna help us pray this morning just
go ahead and come on up here and marg y’all y’all are welcome to come on out we’re gonna we’re just gonna no pressure
for the rooms becoming an altar now and and this is this is for today is for two
people one if you don’t know the Lord you’re not sure if you know the Lord
you’re not sure if you’re walking in Christ or you know beyond the shadow of
a doubt no I am NOT living for the Lord today is for you
I pray that something has happened today where the eyes of your heart have been
open and the scales are beginning to fall and you just realize how great God
is how much he loves you he’s like that daddy that’s already paid the bill when
Jesus says it is finished the judgment of God was fully satisfied in your place
and so today Jesus says there’s nothing left for you to do Jesus has paid it all
so if you’ve been far from him I invite you today say yes to him receive his
gift so when we take time to pray for people this morning I invite you I
encourage you just step forward and go to someone and say you know what I need
Jesus in my life I need I need to say yes to Jesus and they’ll they’ll pray
with you and introduce and the other the other person this is
for today and like I say if I’m sitting where you are I’m first in line you just
you’ve been in a dry place and you need a fresh touch of the Holy Spirit you
just need him to breathe in you to breathe life and hope refreshment
today’s for you we’re gonna end this series and just asking God touch us
minister to us breathe on us I want to end by reading it reminds me of one of
my favorite passages out of Ezekiel where I believe this is a word of
prophecy for this time when God would breathe his Holy Spirit in all of us let
me just read this passage to you quickly this is Ezekiel where God he’s just
leading him and giving him a vision for what I believe he wants to do in the
church today and in your life today it says the hand of the Lord was upon me
and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and sent me in the middle of a
valley and it was full of bones and he led me back and forth among them and I
saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley bones that were very very dry
as I stand here today walking back and forth looking over the valley I see some
dry bones I see some Mamas whose hearts are broken daddies whose hearts are
troubled here’s how to know if you’re in a dry
place if you show up and you’re like I dare you to make me worship you’re in a
dry place if you can’t remember the last time you
were joyfully talking about the goodness of God you’re in a dry place if you
can’t remember have no desire to share what God has done for you you’re in a
dry place if you’re ruled by your emotions instead of the truth of who God
is you’re in a dry place if you’ve just been wandering through life without hope
without zeal without joy Romans 12:11 says never lag in zeal or in earnest
endeavor be aglow herding with the spirit serving the Lord if that’s not
you you’re in a dry place today I want you to leave here refreshed
then he said to me prophesied of these bones and say to them dry bones hear the
word of the Lord this is what the sovereign Lord says to these dry bones I
will make breath into you and you will come to life I will attach tendons to
you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin I will put breath in
you and you will come to life then you will know that I am the Lord
you don’t need more preaching more teaching you need an encounter with the
Spirit of God you need life to breathe into you then you can stand up and say
wow God is good you need the Spirit of God to bring
revelation to you then he said to me so he said so I prophesied as I was
commanded and as I was prophesied how good as there was a noise a rattling
sound and the bones began to come together bone to bone how looked and
tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them but there was no
breath in them yet but God right now is beginning to stir in some of you bones
are beginning to shake tendons are coming together balls coming but the
breast has not come yet then he said to me prophesy to the breath prophesized
Son of Man and say to it this is what the sovereign Lord says come from the
four winds o breath and breathe into these slain that they may live
so I prophesy and he commanded me and breath entered upon them they came to
life and stood up and all of a sudden they had purpose they had fire they had
seal they had hope they had freedom they had victory and they were ready to enter
into the world and the vast army of the Lord if you need that today today is for
you just come hungry those who sequel fight those who ask he will answer those
who search after him you will find him just come hungry today and just say God
I need your spirits to breathe life into me if that’s your desire if that you
pray we’re just gonna take a moment come find someone just had Sonny God to
breathe life into come on church let’s just have
time together

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