Sermon for the Eighth Sunday After Trinity
10 August 2014
Holy Apostles Anglican Church, Pewaukee, WI
Mr. Zachary Braddock, Seminarian
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.- Rom 8:13
+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holt Ghost. Amen.
Our Epistle reading this morning comes from the eighth chapter of Romans, wherein Paul is writing on our living our life in the Spirit. This takes place within a larger discourse on Sin, Righteousness, and Faith. Last Sunday we read from chapter six, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free Gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We skip over chapter seven and these poignant words in verses 18-20,” I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh . I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what i do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.” In this morning’s reading, St. Paul says, “So then Brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh- for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.”
The verse that always gets me is 7:19. “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” St. Augustine put it this way: “Non posse non peccarae.” “You are not able not to sin.” This is what we call original sin: Our very nature has been corrupted. Our very nature no longer wants that which we should want, communion with God. Rather, we turn to the world, the flesh, and the devil. We know we should not sin. We know that Pride, Anger, Lust, Envy, Greed, Avarice, and Sloth are wrong, and yet we do them. Pride is not just puffing up one’s chest and saying, “Look at me.” Pride us also deliberately putting one’s self into an occasion of sin and thinking one can beat the devil. Anger is not merely being upset over something- it is the feeding of one’s control of oneself to one’s passions. Lust is not only something sexual- one can lust just as easily after pizza, beer, or coffee.
This is why we have the discipline of fasting, the discipline of mortification; why we place such an emphasis on virtue; why God has given us, through the Church, the sacraments. Most of us were baptized as children. The Prayer Book says that in Baptism, sin is washed away and that we die to sin, and are raised to new life. That which has separated us from God and cut us off from communion with Him can be overcome through life in Christ- not by our own merits, but His merits and by His grace.
Paul says in the verse immediately preceding this morning’s reading that “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
So, we have a choice to make. Yes, we are fallen and affected by sin, but the choice to accept Christ is our own. How we live is up to us. In many ways, it is the little choices we make which have some of the greatest impacts on our spiritual lives. Quite often, people view sin as “those evil things which other people do”; things involving only marriages and money. Pride, Anger, Envy, and so forth can manifest themselves in so called, “little sins,” and yet they can build up, one on top of each other, and like dust on a mirror, eventually prevent us from seeing God.
Through Jesus, St. Paul says, we have received the “spirit of sonship.” He is not denigrating daughters here, but making a point- we have not only been adopted by God, but we have been made heirs. We have been made heirs of the Kingdom, and fellow heirs with Jesus, that we may come into His Kingdom. For us to receive our inheritance, we must accept that which has been freely offered: Grace. God is working to redeem us, and he has offered this to us, but we must accept it. Just as we are free to sin, we are free to reject sin and to embrace Our Lord.
The Evil One will do everything he can to entice you. He will come and whisper in your ear and tell you that things are ok, and that if you sin just this once, it will be ok. In this, he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as our Lord describes. Reject the Evil One. When he pursues us, we must cling to the Cross, in order that we may come into our inheritance, that we may produce good fruit.
Fortify yourselves. Make good use of the sacraments; train yourselves and those dear to you in the practice and in the habit of the virtues. In a few minutes you will come forward to receive our Lord in the Sacrament. Before you do this, you will be asked to confess your sins to almighty God, with the intent of living in charity with your neighbor, following God’s commandments, and walking in God’s ways. We will confess that we have sinned, and we will ask God to forgive us our offenses, and we will ask for help “to walk in newness of life”.
It is this walking “in newness of life” that we are to work out in our lives, that we may bear good fruit, and do the will of Almighty God, not only in the big things, the things involving marriage and money, but also in the mundane, ordinary, every-day things. If we allow ourselves to be faithful in the small things, it will make being faithful in the extraordinary things so much easier, and it will help us to see that to which all the saints, the martyrs, the prophets, and the patriarchs have pointed: the Vision Glorious. May we come to sing with Blessed John Keble:
Hail, gladdening Light, of His pure glory poured
Who is the immortal Father, heavenly, blest,
Holiest of Holies – Jesus Christ our Lord!
Now we are come to the sun’s hour of rest;
The lights of evening round us shine;
We hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit divine!
Worthiest art thou at all times to be sung
With undefiled tongue,
Son of our God, giver of life, alone:
Therefore in all the world thy glories, Lord, they own.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.