How to Beat the Devil: Try… Trust… Know! (Romans 8:31-39)

Sermon for the 1st Sunday of Lent (2/22/15)

Text: Romans 8:31-39

Theme: How to Beat the Devil:

Try… Trust… Know!

I don’t know if I could do it… I don’t know if I have it in me…

You see, my wife says I get “hangry.” If you feed me, I’ll work like the Energizer bunny, all day, every day. If you don’t feed me and expect me to work, I sometimes stop being the person I should be. Sometimes hunger leads to anger = hanger. I don’t always deal well with hunger, so 40 days (like Jesus in the desert) with nothing to eat at all, and the devil tempting me on top of that… if my track record gives any indication, after those 40 days the devil would say “jump,” and I’d say “how high?”

I don’t know if I could do it… I don’t know if I have it in me…

You see, one of the things I thank God for most is being a dad. I’ve always wanted to have kids of my own, and now that I have them it is even better than I could have possible imagined.

What I still can’t quite imagine is what it must have felt like to walk up that mountain. I can’t quite imagine what it must have felt like to have my curious son ask the obvious question, “The fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  I can’t quite imagine what Abraham must have been thinking and feeling as he tied his son up, put him on the altar, and looked down at the knife in his hand, knowing what he had to do next.

I don’t know how I would react, but I have to be honest… if my previous success rate with trials and temptations is any indicator, my chances of passing that test are not all that promising…

I don’t know if I could do it… I don’t know if I have it in me…

We are at war, friends. The Bible makes clear that public enemy #1 is the devil. The spoils of this war/what’s at stake is your heart. Ever since Genesis chapter 3, that slimy serpent has been there tempting and testing God’s people every step along the way. And God allows this because he didn’t create us to be robots. He created us to love and serve him of our own accord, and part of loving and serving him means hating what he hates and fighting what he fights– the devil. God allows us to be tempted and tested to give us opportunities to serve him, to show him how much we love him.

We are at war. Every day God calls us to get up and do battle against the devil – to try with everything we are and everything we have to beat the devil.

And I have to confess to you: I’m not doing very well… Continue reading

Article 4 of the Augsburg Confession

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Our churches teach that people cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works. People are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake. By his death, Christ made satisfaction for our sins. God counts this faith for righteousness in his sight. (Romans 3:21-26; 4:5)”

** I believe and the confess the truth of the Augsburg confession because it’s doctrines are the teachings of the Bible. For every point that is confessed in the article above, I have linked a Bible passage that clearly teaches what the Augsburg Confession states. **

This should be an easy one. This should be an article that anyone with a basic understanding of the Bible gets. This is after all, what Church Fathers for centuries have labeled as the article on which the church stands or falls. The Bible is clear, when it says, “It is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this NOT FROM YOURSELVES¸ it is the GIFT of God – NOT BY WORKS, so that no one can boast.”

There are some things in the Bible that require some thinking – some digging – because they make me scratch my head the first time I read them. This is not one of those areas. God could not have been any more direct and straight forward than he is on this one point: being saved – getting to heaven – has nothing to do with ME, and everything to do with HIM.

A gift is not a gift if I worked to earn it. Salvation is a gift, which means I did not earn it.

I did not DECIDE to let God love me; he just did and does love me.

I did not come half way, a quarter of the way, or even a millionth of the way. God came all the way, grabbed me by my shoulders, shook me, slapped me, raised me from spiritual death, and made me believe when there was no spark of faith in me.

God did not bring me to faith, and then leave it up to me to make the appropriate changes so that my salvation would be complete. God did it all – one sacrifice, by one Man, for all people and every sin I ever have committed, and ever will commit.

This should be an easy one. Continue reading