“Will the real you please stand up?”
What do you think is the most difficult word in the English language? Would it be words that we seldom use, like (slide 1)"lachrymose" ˈlakrəˌmōs (tearful) or (2)"contumacious" con·tu·ma·cious (rebellious). Would it be a word that is tricky to spell like (3)"hemocytometer" He-mo-si- tom- et-er (instrument for counting blood cells) or "(4) esquamulose " es kwam u lose (not covered with scales)? Or would it be (5) this word …” Asseocarnisanguineoviscericartilaginonervomedullary"… which I will not even try to pronounce because it is the longest word in the English language? (It refers to a structure of the human body, by the way)
I think that, if forced to choose, I'd take a different route, suggesting that the most difficult word in the English language is also one of the shortest, easiest to spell, and most common: (6)"no."
You know how it is.
· (7)"No, you can't run into the street."
· “No, you can’t drive 110 MPH.”
· “No, you can’t buy that with your credit rating.”
· No admittance,
· no cell phones,
· no talking,
· no climbing,
· no walking on the grass,
· No, no, no, no, no.
To me, “no” is the hardest word in the English language
That is what Paul is saying in this passage. My brain says “no, no”; but the rest of me says “Yes, Yes.” He is talking about how being a Christian puts us (8) between a rock and a hard place, and none of us is exempt from that.
(9) JESUS PUT IT THIS WAY. THE SPIRIT IS WILLING BUT THE FLESH IS WEAK. (Matthew 26:41)
(10)Being tempted is part of human nature to which not even Jesus was immune once he was born into humanity. If Jesus didn’t struggle with the word “no” then the temptation in the wilderness story means nothing.
(11) Paul is saying, “I am a screw-up.” He says I know what is right. I know what God wants. I know what the law says. I know how to live the Christian life. I want to do what is right, but I keep screwing up. He says, “I keep making the wrong decisions. I end up doing the exact thing I know that I should not do.” He writes, “I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand.”
(12) Can you relate to that? I sure can. I would like to think differently, but realistically I am afraid that I will be dealing with sin, both others, and mine until the day I die. Even if I could manage my behavior, I would have to deal with the reality that my sin is bigger than just my choices. Sin is a force within me with which I have to reckon. It is a power with which I must do battle daily. It is a weakness in the human heart that I cannot escape.
There is a war raging inside of me. It is not a war with a foreign power, or an invading force. It is a civil war between what I want to do and what I actually do. A civil war between my will and my action. A civil war between my heart and my hands.
Honest… I want to be more spiritual. Maybe you do too. But the temptations are strong, the excuses are easy and before you know it, we have pushed God out of our daily routine.
Honest… I want to be faithful to my wife. You probably do too. But our culture is so over sexualized and fidelity so undervalued it is hard to keep our minds focused where they should be.
Honest… I want to treat others with love and respect. You probably do too. But when we are treated badly, and we are tired, and worn down, it is easy to place ourselves at the center of the world, and put others down or disrespect them.
Honest… I want to rid the world of racism and sexism and every other kind of ism. I hope you do too. But sometimes the problems of our world are just overwhelming and I feel so powerless that I want to throw up my hands and walk away.
Honest… I want to be a beacon of hope to the world, taking Jesus to the world and bringing my friends, neighbors and relatives to him, but you know, you try so many times and get turned down, you pray so long, you fail so many times it is tempting to just sit down and give up.
So what do we do?
· We could say, “If you can’t beat em join em,” but that runs absolutely counter to everything we believe as Christians.
· We could say, “It isn’t my fault. You know the devil made me do it.” But that is just an easy excuse. There are always plenty of people to blame for our problems.
· We could say, “I don’t want anything to do with this sinful world,” pack our belongings and go live on a mountain in Tibet in order to separate ourselves from the temptation. But the sin is within us and we can’t run far enough to get away from that.
· We could establish ourselves as the judge, jury, and executioner, standing in judgment over others and pointing out their sins, but that doesn’t eliminate our own shortcomings, it just distracts from them.
· We could just feel sorry for ourselves; pull the blanket over our heads, and say, “Woe is me.” And with Paul, we say “24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? “But how would that make us better?
God, however, provides another way. Paul points us to another way saying “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
· Thanks be to God that he has provided a way through Jesus Christ our Lord.
· Thanks be to God who, through Jesus Christ our Lord, has become our example and paradigm for what it means to live faithfully and righteously.
· Thanks be to God that he came, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to face and conquering temptation once and for all.
· Thanks be to God that Jesus Christ our lord died on the cross and rose from the grave to conquer sin and death.
· Thanks be to God who, through Jesus Christ our lord, is our savior, our messiah, our life and our hope.
· Thanks be to God that, through Jesus Christ our lord, we may be sinners by birth, but by love, we are adopted as children of the most high God.
· Thanks be to God that we may be tempted to sin, but though Jesus Christ our Lord, we are protected-- and by faith given over to righteousness.
· Thanks be to God who, though we may fall to sin, through Jesus Christ our Lord we are saved from condemnation, and our feet are set upon the rock of faith.
· Thanks be to God that the sinner in me is not the real me and the sinner in you is not the real you. That the real us is righteous and redeemed by the blood of the one who, by his death and resurrection, overcame both sin and judgment now and forever.
Brothers and sisters, would the real you- the forgiven you- the redeemed you- the you that is first and foremost a child of the one true God. Would the real you please stand up?