The only way to defeat sin is through Jesus.

The Law and Sin (Romans 7:7-25)

The only way to defeat sin is through Jesus.

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Saturday, April 24 and Sunday, April 25, 2021

When I was a kid, I remember many times trying to get something done, but it did not work out. This was because I needed my dad’s help. Or, I needed an adult’s help. This is not unique to me. One day when Mercedes was about 18 months old I was awakened in the middle of the night to hear some loud noise and a cry. I came out and saw that Mercedes had woke up, went to the kitchen and stacked a chair on top of a play table in order to reach something in the refrigerator. She was fine, but she needed an adult’s help, AND AN ADULT’S PERMISSION!

Have you ever attempted something that you needed help with? This has happened to me many times when I have attempted automotive work; I am not very good at it and need help. Why do I share this? I share this because I believe the passage we are going to look at is showing that apart from Christ we cannot be good. Sure, we may be okay, we may do good things, but we will mess up. We mess up and struggle with sin knowing Christ, so apart from Christ we REALLY will have issues.

We are going to look at Romans 7:7-25 and I want to show that we need Jesus.

My theme is:

The only way to defeat sin is through Jesus.

  1. In verses 7-13 we see the law and sin contrasted.
    • Paul is picking up from verses 1-6. In verses 1-6, Paul had been writing about how we were released from the law. Paul compared it to being married and once your spouse dies you are free to remarry (verse 3). In verse 4, Paul says that we were meant to die to the Law through the body of Christ…
    • In verse 5, Paul had talked about being in the flesh and in the flesh the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work…
    • In verse 6, Paul says that we have been released from the Law… we serve in newness of the Spirit…
    • Notice that, we serve in newness of the Spirit. As we look at this passage you may think what is the point of talking about this? The point is that without Jesus, and without walking by the Holy Spirit, we are setup to fail. We cannot meet God’s standard, so Jesus did it for us, but even as a Christian we still need to walk with Jesus (John 15).  
    • This brings us to verses 7-13.
    • Verse 7: What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
    • Paul has been writing about the Law, and that would be the Old Testament Law. He has been writing about the Law of Moses, the Torah, the Pentateuch. Though some of the times when “the Law” is written, it is more principle, than “the Law of Moses.”
    • People could easily think that he is saying that the Law is sin.
    • Paul responds emphatically, “By no means!”
    • The law shows us that we are sinners.
    • Paul gives the example of coveting, that is, to desire something forbidden, to lust.
    • Paul gives a quotation from Exod 20:17 and Deut 5:21.[1]
    • That leads us to verse 8: But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.
    • Apart from the Law, sin lies dead.
    • What he is saying is that the Law exposes this sin.
    • The Law gives the written culpability.
    • I like what Dr. Ben Witherington shares. Dr. Witherington is a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary. He thinks in Rom 7:7-13 Paul is using the rhetorical device called impersonation. He speaks in the first person but not as himself. This is not biographical either. He is writing as Adam, like in Romans 5. They are present tense words, but he is writing as Adam.
    • He writes that he existed before the law. He writes about when he violated the commandment sin awoke. That would be Adam.
    • Remember in context, Rom 7:5-6, Paul says they used to be this way.
    • This is Paul viewing things from a Christian point of view.
    • I think Dr. Witherington makes some good points and we will come back to the idea of literature devices in the next section.
    • The Moody Bible Commentary builds on this: First, it is possible that Paul uses “I” to describe the experience of Adam, or, second, of Israel before receiving the law. Third, Paul may be saying that sin is so strong in the believer that Christians should expect moral failure and accept it as an inevitability.[2] The authors of the Moody Bible Commentary take the view that in chap. 7 Paul discusses primarily the experience of the Jewish unbeliever (7:1, I am speaking to those who know the law), but what he says is equally relevant for Gentile unbelievers who fail to keep their own moral standards.[3]
    • Skip to verse 13.
    • Verse 13 wraps up this section: Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.
    • Paul is writing in a question and answer style. Did that which is good bring death to him? He could still be writing as Adam.
    • This last verse makes very clear that the Law exposes the sin. Sin produced the death, through the Law exposing it. The tail end of this verse is complicated. The commandment might become sinful beyond measure??? This is just saying through the commandment the sin becomes more sinful. The NASB says, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. THE SIN BECOMES UTTERLY SINFUL, NOT THE COMMANDMENT.
    • Did the good law cause death? The correct understanding is that sin used something good to bring human death. God used the law to accomplish his purpose to fully expose sin and point the sinner to God’s only remedy for sin.[4]
  2. Overview of the different views on Romans 7:14-25.
    • I already shared different views on verses 7-13. I favor that Paul was writing as Adam. I could go along with him writing as a Jewish unbeliever.
    • I still do not believe this section is about Paul writing of himself as a Christian. There is the view that he is writing about himself before he was saved, and I could go along with that easier than I could believe that this is Paul as a believer.
    • One sources notes: The Holy Spirit is not mentioned in vv. 13–25 but is referred to 19 times in ch. 8; to say that Christians are “sold under sin” (7:14) and “captive to the law of sin” (v. 23) stands in tension with chs. 6 and 8, which trumpet the freedom of believers from slavery to sin[5]
    • I know that it is encouraging for us to think that Paul had these struggles, but I do not think that is what this passage is teaching. That is NOT to say that Paul did not have struggles, I am sure that he definitely did. This passage needs read and studied in light of Romans 8:1-2 that says Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
    • Respectable Christians hold differing views. You can read the different views in a good study Bible. Some say that Paul uses present tense pronouns referring to himself and that means this is about his current state, but I still think it is noteworthy that the Holy Spirit is NOT mentioned at all. Further, it is important that he continues to talk about the Law, and the flesh, which usually refers to the carnal state. Also, in the context of Romans, Paul is telling people that they cannot keep the Law and they need a Savior. Context is key and notice the striking contrast in Romans 8:1, which I already mentioned.  
    • So, this passage could be 1) talking about his pre-saved life, though Phil 3 says that he kept the law blamelessly. 2) He could be objectively talking about trying to keep the Law. The point would be that we cannot keep the Law. 3) This could be the Christians struggle.
    • Again, Dr. Witherington shares: Remember in context, Rom 7:5-6, Paul says they used to be this way. Then Romans 8:1-2 the Spirit has set us free. Romans 7 is the before and Romans 8 the after. That is probably where I fall.
  3. The conflict of the two natures (verses 14-25).
    • Verse 14: For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.
    • A Christian is NOT sold under sin, not anymore and that makes the case that this is about Paul’s pre-Christian state, or he is talking about a non-believing Jewish person trying to keep the Law.
    • 2 Cor. 5:21: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
    • See also Galatians 2:20.
    • Verse 15 is where it really gets interesting: For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
    • Some may think that he is talking about us and as Christians we definitely have struggles. I still think he is saying that we cannot keep the Law. Or, put differently, this is life without the Holy Spirit. The next chapter is all about the Holy Spirit.
    • Verse 16-18: Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
    • He is still saying that sin is ultimately the cause. He says that nothing good dwells within him, but he is talking about his flesh. Paul used sarx [the Greek word translated as flesh] to emphasize the ineffectiveness of human effort in spiritual matters (Rm 2:28; 6:19; 8:3).[6]
    • Why would Paul not be able to carry out his desire to do what is right (verse 18)? This would be because he is talking about an unsaved person without the Holy Spirit.
    • Verse 19: For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
    • Again, he is tirelessly trying to keep the Law.
    • Verses 19-23: Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
    • Notice in verse 19 Paul still says that it is sin that causes him to do sins. It is not the Law.
    • He is captive to the Law of sin.
    • Verses 24-25: Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
    • Who will deliver him? Jesus, only Jesus. He is talking about an unsaved person. As verse 25 says, “thanks be to God…” the end of verse 25 seems to make it look like he is talking about himself in the present, but I still think the case is clear that he is talking about an unbeliever. He could be using impersonation. Or, maybe his pre-Christians state. I probably favor that he is talking about those in Adam outside of Christ.
    • Who will set me free (or “rescue” me) cannot be the words of a believer who knows who his Deliverer is, nor is the future tense appropriate for one who is already freed in Christ.[7]
  4. Applications:
    • We must recognize that if we try on our own we won’t defeat sin.
    • We must be grateful for the Law as it was a teacher to expose our sinfulness and point to our need for Christ (Romans 7:7).
    • We must not blame the Law on our problem, but repent (Romans 7:11-12).
    • We must recognize that the Law is holy (Romans 7:13).
    • We must recognize that apart from Jesus we cannot keep the Law, nor do what is right (Romans 7:14-25).
    • Without Jesus’ help we will do the things we do not want to do and won’t do the things we want to do (Romans 7:15). With Jesus’ help we will still struggle, but as an unregenerate non-believer it is a losing battle.
    • We must understand that Jesus is the power to carry out what is right (Romans 7:18).
    • Only Jesus can deliver us (Romans 7:24).
    • We must walk by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16).
    • We are set free from this by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:2).
    • If we are saved we have the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9).  
    • As Christians we will struggle, but we must lean on the Holy Spirit to help us. We must also allow the Holy Spirit to help us through the Word of God and the people of God (Psalm 119:9-11; Proverbs 27:17; Ecc. 4:12).

So, sometimes we need help, right?

As Christians we are never alone. We walk with Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit within us.


[1] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2005).

[2] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1754.

chap. chapter

[3] Ibid. 1754–1755.

[4] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1792.

[5] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2169.

[6] Paige Patterson, “Salvation in the Old Testament,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1792.

[7] Michael G. Vanlaningham, “Romans,” in The Moody Bible Commentary, ed. Michael A. Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014), 1755–1756.

The triumph of grace over the power of the law (Romans 7:1-6)

The triumph of grace over the power of the law (Romans 7:1-6)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Saturday, April 17 and Sunday, April 18, 2021

John Ortburg writes:

My friend, Jimmy, and his son, Davey, were playing in the ocean down in Mexico, while his family—his wife, daughters, parents, and a cousin—were on the beach. Suddenly, a rogue riptide swept Davey out to the sea. Immediately Jimmy started to do whatever he could to help Davey get back to the shore, but he, too, was soon swept away in the tide. He knew that in a few minutes, both he and Davey would drown. He tried to scream, but his family couldn’t hear him.

Jimmy’s a strong guy—an Olympic Decathlete—but he was powerless in this situation. As he was carried along by the water, he had a single, chilling thought: My wife and my daughters are going to have to have a double funeral.

Meanwhile, his cousin, who understood something about the ocean, saw what was happening. He walked out into the water where he knew there was a sandbar. He had learned that if you try to fight a riptide, you will die. So, he walked to the sandbar, stood as close as he could get to Jimmy and Davey, and then he just lifted his hand up and said, “You come to me. You come to me.”

If you try to go the way your gut tells you to go—the shortest distance into shore—you will die. If you think for yourself, you will die. God says, “If you come to me, you will live.” That’s it—death or life.[1]

The Bible talks about this in Romans. We are now in Romans 7 and this small passage is a continuation of chapter 6. Chapter 6 was about how our sin nature died with Christ. Chapter 7 now illustrates how we died to the law and we are free to live by the Spirit.


We are released from the law, bound to Christ

Application: Walk in Jesus (Col. 2:6)

Read with me Romans 7:6:

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

Let’s also read Col. 2:6:

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him…

  • Look at verse 6. We are released from the law.
    • The Bible says that we are dying to what once bound us.
    • We were bound to the law, but not anymore.
    • Do you think the law helps us to live for Jesus?
    • Do you think the law makes us righteous?

Experiment Shows How the Law Leads to Sin

Robert Cialdini, a researcher and an expert on the theory of persuasion, conducted an experiment at the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. The park had a problem, as it made clear on a warning sign:


The sign plainly appealed to the visitors’ sense of moral outrage. Cialdini wanted to know if this appeal was effective. So he and some colleagues ran an experiment. They seeded various trails throughout the forest with loose pieces of petrified wood, ready for the stealing. On some trails, they posted a sign warning not to steal; other trails got no sign. The result? The trails with the warning sign had nearly three times more theft than the trails with no signs.

How could this be? Cialdini concluded that the park’s warning sign, designed to send a moral message, perhaps sent a different message as well. Something like: Wow, the petrified wood is going fast—I’d better get mine now! Or: Fourteen tons a year!? Surely it won’t matter if I take a few pieces[2].

  • That is a humorous example and psychologist could get into how some people are natural law keepers and others are natural law breakers. I remember being taught about that in college.
    • For example: some of you are driving down a country road in the middle of the night and you come to a red light and you will stop and wait, and, wait, and wait. No one is coming, but you wait, and wait, and wait. Is that you?
    • Others come to the red light in the middle of the night, and you wait a second and think, “no one is coming, I am going.”
    • A better example is when the sign says “No right on red.” Isn’t it easy to say, “Come on it is 2:00 am?” But others would not dare disobey that law.
    • The law does not make us righteous.
    • This passage is not meaning the law is bad.
    • Just turn to Psalm 19 or Psalm 119. The law is good, but we could not keep it.
  • So, we are to serve in the Spirit.
    • With children it is said to make sure you replace things if you take something away.
    • In that manner we are released from the bondage to the law and instead we have the Spirit.
    • The point is that our first husband was the law and he died, so we are free to marry our new husband Jesus.
    • Paul writes about that in verses 2-5.
    • The law side died with our sin nature when we committed to Christ. The law was good, but we could not keep the law.
    • This goes along with Romans 6:3-4: By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
    • We are free to walk in the Spirit or live by Christ. Look at Col. 2:6: Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him…
  • Let’s apply this:
    • We now serve Christ out of grace, not because of a law.
    • We are not “in the flesh” (verse 5), we are no longer bound by our sin nature and the sinful passions. We are in the Spirit. We must live in the Spirit, being an imitator of God (Ephesians 5:1-2, 8 and 15; Col. 1:10 and 2:6).
    • Now, in the newness of the Spirit we produce fruit, spiritual fruit.
    • We must live in Christ victoriously, not as if we are defeated and stuck in sin.
    • Our old sin nature, flesh nature, died with Christ (Romans 6:3). So, we are “pre-resurrected” with Christ as well. We must live this way (Romans 6:4).

God gave us grace and mercy.

Max Lucado shares:

The bank sent me an overdraft notice on the checking account of one of my daughters. I encourage my college-age girls to monitor their accounts. Even so, they sometimes overspend.

What should I do? Send her an angry letter? Admonition might help her later, but it won’t satisfy the bank. Phone and tell her to make a deposit? Might as well tell a fish to fly. I know her liquidity. Zero. Transfer the money from my account to hers? Seemed to be the best option. After all, I had $25.37. I could replenish her account and pay the overdraft fee as well. Since she calls me Dad, I did what dads do. I covered my daughter’s mistake.

When I told her she was overdrawn, she said she was sorry. Still, she offered no deposit. She was broke. She had one option, “Dad, could you…” “Honey,” I interrupted, “I already have.” I met her need before she knew she had one.

Long before you knew you needed grace, your Father did the same. He made an ample deposit. Before you knew you needed a Savior, you had one. And when you ask him for mercy, he answers, “Dear child. I’ve already given it.”[3]


[1] John Ortberg, in the sermon The Way of Wisdom,

[2] Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, Think Like a Freak(William Morrow, 2014), pp 115-116

[3] Max Lucado, Cure for the Common Life (Thomas Nelson, 2008), pp. 69-70

We are dead to sin, alive to God (Romans 6:1-23)

We are dead to sin, alive to God (Romans 6:1-23)


Live for Jesus, we no longer have to be slaves to sin.

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, April 10 and Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Kumbh Mela is the largest gathering on earth. During its last celebration in 2013, it was conservatively estimated that around ten million people would gather in the city of Allahabad in Northern India. Some even quoted a seemingly exaggerated figure of one hundred million pilgrims to this religious gathering! The Kumbh Mela (etymologically, “pitcher fair”) takes place every four years in Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain, and Nasik by rotation. In 2013, the festival was called the Maha (meaning “Super”) Kumbh Mela, which happens only once every 144 years. It is estimated that this Kumbh cost around 210 million dollars (US), but thankfully also generated approximately ten times that amount, as calculated by India’s Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Even people from far-flung places came to make this event a success. Andrew Turner from Australia along with his wife and children built an 18 by 6 feet boat to ferry devotees from one side of the river to the other—free of charge. “I am living a dream at the moment,” he said. “When I heard that this Kumbh was happening after 144 years, I thought, I will never get a second chance…. I joined the locals and landed in Prayag and walked several kilometers with devotees… The zealous faith snapped my ties with logic and reason. It was mesmerizing.”

Hindu tradition says that there was a war between the gods and the demons over divine nectar, and in the process, four drops of nectar fell from the pitcher. These fell on four different locations, which overlap the cities where the Kumbh is held. One of those drops fell at Haridwar where the river Ganges flows, while another fell at the Sangam. The Sangam is the confluence of three rivers—the Ganga, Yamuna, and the mythological river Saraswati in Prayag. The other two drops fell at Kshipra in Ujjain and Godawari in Nasik. A dip in these rivers on auspicious dates during the Kumbh is said to rid pilgrims of their sins.

The reality of sin is clearly expressed in the Christian Bible. The universality of sin has also been declared in Romans as “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Anyone who reads the newspaper and honestly reflects on it is hard-pressed to deny the reality and universality of sin. Through the ages, humans have tried to rid themselves of sin and its consequences. Religious rituals, idols, journeys, and sacrifices have all tried to assuage and comfort the sinner’s heart, but have been found wanting.

Robert Lowry wrestles with this question in the lyrics of a hymn and arrives at a significantly different answer:

What can wash away my sins,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh precious is the flow,
that makes me white as snow,
No other fount I know
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.[1]

Let’s read Romans 6:23:

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Please keep your Bibles opened I want to apply this passage and this chapter. I will point out key passages in order to show how we got to this place.

My theme:

We are dead to sin, alive to God


Live for Jesus, we no longer have to be slaves to sin.

In this sermon I will walk through applications from the passage.

  1. First, in this passage I see that we died with Christ to the old self; therefore, we no longer have to live in sin (verses 2-3).
    • Look at verses 1-3: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
    • Swindoll shares: Verse 1 is a different question than verse 15. Verse 1 is a question addressing those failing to claim their liberty.
    • Verses 1-14 are about those who fail to claim their liberty.
    • Verse 15 is about those who take grace too far. Verse 15: What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
    • How many of us have been baptized?
    • This means that we are baptized into Jesus.
    • Paul gives this analogy of dying with Christ in baptism.
    • Think with me about the cross. On the cross Jesus died for our sins. He died for all of our sins. If He did not take care of all of our sins, then we would still have a problem.
    • So, in that manner, Jesus died for all of our sins, they are dead. He died for them. In this way when we are baptized into Christ Jesus the sins are dead. Our old slavery is dead.
    • Would a slave want to go back to slavery? Do you think Frederick Douglas ever wanted to go back to slavery? NO! So why do we go back to our sin slavery?
  2. We have risen with Christ (Verses 2-3)
    • Jesus died but we know that He is not dead anymore.
    • Also, we have been risen with Him.
      • We have been risen with Christ and Christ is not living in sin, so we must live for Christ. (Verses 4-5) Look at the next few verses: We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
      • For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.
      • We are joined with Christ, Christ does not sin.
      • We are joined with Christ, Christ can help us conquer sin.
  3. In verses 16-17 I read we will serve someone or something, it must be Jesus. Look at verses 16-17: Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed…
  4. Verse 23: sin has a wage and it is death, but God freely gives us eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord. We can trust in Jesus freely and receive the eternal wage. This is a summary of this section: The outcome of sin is death, but the FREE gift of God is eternal life.

The guinea worm is a parasite found in certain areas of central Africa. It begins its life as a larvae and often hitches a ride in a millimeter-long crustacean called cyclops.

When a human drinks water from a stream, the cyclops enters the stomach where gastric juices make short work of the cyclops. The larvae of the guinea worm, however, are not destroyed. The worms poke holes in the human’s intestine and go for a swim.

After about three months, the male and female larvae get together. About one year later a full-grown guinea, the width of a paper clip wire and up to three feet long, begins to move through the body of its human host, causing tremendous pain. Finally, the worm pokes out of the host’s body—probably through the foot. If not removed, the parasite will eventually lead to its host’s death.

Once the worm exposes itself, it can only be removed a few centimeters a day. Otherwise the worm will pull apart and die, resulting in infection and possibly death for its host. Sometimes the painful process takes weeks or months.

The guinea worm is like sin in three important ways:

First, sin is easy to get involved in. Just like drinking the water from a stream seems simple and harmless, so often does sin.

Second, sin is difficult to get rid of once it has taken hold. When sin “pokes its head” out of our lives, and we recognize it has to be dealt with, we should act. Forgiveness comes quickly, but many times the process of getting free from its pull is slow and agonizing.

Finally, like the guinea worm, sin when left unchecked can kill you.[2]


In Decision, Karen R. Morerod writes:

I was in a store shopping for a sweater. The cost needed to be minimal, so I went to the clearance rack to start looking. As I flipped through the sweaters, one caught my eye. It was the right color and the right size, and best of all, the price tag was marked $8.00. Without much more thought, I made my purchase.

At home I slipped on the sweater. Its texture was like silk. I had made my purchase so quickly that I hadn’t noticed how smooth and elegant the sweater was. Then I saw the original price tag: $124.00!

I gasped. I had never owned any clothing of that value. I had come home with what I thought was a “cheap buy,” but the original price was quite high. I had been oblivious to its value.

Just as with my sweater, I have often treated the power of Jesus’ blood like a “cheap purchase.” His grace, though free to me, carried a high price tag the life of his very own Son.[3]

[1] Slice of Infinity through RZIM: Cyril Georgeson is a member of the speaking team with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Mumbai, India.

[2] Kevin Bidwell; source: Men’s Health (December 1999)

[3] Karen R. Morerod, writer, “Lesson Learned from a Sweater,” Decision (November 1999), p. 39

A Line-by-Line Walk Through Luke’s Resurrection Account (Luke 24:1-12)

A Line-by-Line Walk Through Luke’s Resurrection Account (Luke 24:1-12)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Saturday, April 3 and Sunday, April 4, 2021

Jesus lives and because He lives we will live again. Jesus lives and because He lives we can have true life now. Do we believe that?

Today, I want to walk through Luke’s account of the resurrection. My theme is obvious, Jesus lives.

My application: marvel at the great things God has done and be like these women, share this good news with others.

  • First, we see the anointing of the tomb (verse 1).
    • Verse 1 reads: But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.
    • This passage begins with “but.” This connects this passage with the previous section. This chapter flows from the previous chapter. In the previous chapter Jesus was crucified. In Luke 23:50-56 He is buried.
    • Jesus was buried and Luke 23:55 tells us that the women saw where Jesus was buried. This is important. They knew where the tomb was, but Luke 23:56 tells us that they rested on the sabbath because that was the commandment. They honored the sabbath as a day of rest. That bring us to Luke 24. The women are going to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. They are doing this because they could not do this on Saturday because it was the sabbath. Jesus was crucified and buried on Friday. They had to skip Saturday because it was the sabbath and now this brings us to Sunday.
    • Luke 24:9 will record who these women were. The women are heading to the tomb. These women had traveled with Jesus in Galilee, Luke 23:55 tells us this. Mark’s Gospel identifies this right now as Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome”[1]
    • John 19:39-40 tells us that Nicodemus had prepared about 75 pounds for Jesus’ body to be anointed with, but these women may not have known that.
    • They have prepared spices for Jesus’ body.
    • What are they thinking?
    • They traveled with Jesus for some time and they saw Him crucified, what was this like for them?
    • How would you be after someone that close to you has died?
    • They saw Jesus heal people, they experienced Jesus’ transformation in their lives. They listened to Jesus’ teaching, what was this like? Do you think they were filled with emotion?
    • They are going to anoint the body. The Jewish people anointed to cut down the odor, the Egyptians embalmed, Jewish people anointed.
  • Next, we see the arrival at the tomb (verses 2-3).

And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 

  • The women find an opened tomb (verse 2).
    • Luke tells the story of the empty tomb with little drama. He simply notes that when they arrived the stone had been rolled away in a position where the tomb could be entered. This large stone was often placed in a channel so that it could be easily moved by rolling it aside. The other possibility is that it was merely placed over the opening in a position from which it had now been moved.[2]
    • They did not know who would roll away the stone (Mark 16:3 records their pondering of that), but maybe they thought the soldiers would do that.
    • Think about this, they were not expecting this. Matthew 28:2-4 records a great earthquake. The stone is rolled away and the Roman guards faint.
    • I find that humorous. Two days earlier the guards are crucifying Jesus and now they are fainting because of His resurrection.
    • The women find an empty tomb (verse 3).
    • The women enter the tomb, and the tomb is empty.
    • They do not see the “Lord” Jesus in the tomb. This is the ONLY time Jesus is called “the ‘Lord’ Jesus in Luke’s Gospel. It seems to be Luke’s normal designation for the Lord after his resurrection (note the many references to Christ in this manner in Acts, e.g., 1:21; 4:33; 7:59; 8:16; 11:17; 15:11; 16:31; 19:5; 20:21; 28:31).[3]
    • Have you ever gone through a situation and it did not play out as you expected?
    • Now is a good time for me to talk about literary spotlighting.
    • Many times, we see differences in the gospel accounts. People wonder why we see certain women listed by name in one passage and in another passage they are not listed. Why are the guards listed in Matthew’s gospel but not the other gospels? Lee Strobel was interviewing one scholar who talked about a technique modeled by the historian Plutarch, it is called “literary spotlighting.” This is like a theatrical performance where there are multiple actors onstage but the lights go out and a spotlight shines on only one of them.[4]
    • I like that idea. Basically, each gospel writer is aware of the other people and details but shining the spotlight on certain people and/or details.
  • Thirdly, we see the angels beside the tomb (24:4–8)

While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, 

  • We see angels, Luke is the only Gospel that mentions two angels. Remember, literary spotlighting.
    • We see their radiance (24:4): They are arrayed in dazzling robes. Notice Luke records that the women are perplexed about this. Or, “bewildered.” The term refers to a high state of confusion and anxiety.[5]
    • They are confused, bewildered, perplexed and then two men stood by them… These men are angels. These angels appear suddenly showing them to be angels. Angels are always identified with the male pronoun, though it does seem they do not have a gender (Matthew 23:30). These angels are in dazzling apparel.  They are in brilliant shining clothes.
    • The angels give reassurance (24:5): The women bow their faces to the ground. Such respect for angels is common: Dan 7:28; 10:9, 15.[6] They realize that these men are angels. The angels comfort the frightened women. Why do you seek the living among the dead?
    • Can you imagine the women’s reaction? Can you imagine them saying, “w-w-what do you mean, ‘living’? What do you mean, we saw Him buried.”
    • The angels give a reminder (24:6–8): The women are reminded of Jesus’ words:
      • The angels remind them of Jesus’ words concerning his crucifixion (24:6–7a): He would be betrayed and crucified.
      • The angels said remember he told you when He was in Galilee. Mentioning “Galilee” looks back to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. So the point is that this was announced long ago, and should come as no surprise.[7]
      • Further, the angels remind them of Jesus’ words concerning his resurrection (24:7b–8): He would rise again on the third day.[8]
      • In verse 8 Luke tells us they remembered His words.
  • Lastly, in this section we see the account concerning the tomb (24:9–12)

and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

  • Now we see the messengers (24:10): The women involved are Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and others.
    • They return to the 11, and the rest, the disciples minus Judas. There are others gathered as well.
    • The message (24:9, 11–12): They tell the disciples what they saw.
    • Most ignore their report (24:9, 11): The story sounds like nonsense. Back then the testimony of women would not be credible. This actually verifies the Gospel of Luke as accurate. If this was not true they would not record women as the first witnesses, but it was true.
    • One investigates their report (24:12): Peter goes to the tomb to see for himself.[9] John ran with Peter, but reached the tomb first (Jn 20:4).[10] Peter sees the linen wrapping, but Jesus is not in them.
    • Peter goes home marveling at what He saw.
    • Luke 24:13-35 records Jesus visiting the disciples and opening their minds to understanding (see verse 31).
  • Applications:
    • We can have hope because He lives, we too shall live again (1 Cor. 15).
    • 1 Corinthians 15 tells us that over 500 people at the same time saw Jesus resurrected (1 Cor. 15:6). We can have hope that this story is real. This is a real story.
    • The resurrection authenticates everything else about Jesus.
    • We can trust Jesus’ teaching because death could not contain Him.
    • We can trust Jesus’ teaching because He rose as He told them He would (Luke 24:5-8).
    • We can have a relationship with Jesus because He lives.
    • We serve a risen Savior.
    • Since Jesus lives we will live again, but we also live with Him now, remember John 15, He is the Vine, we are the branches.
    • We must trust Him.
    • We must have the faith of these women who did something, they went to the tomb (Luke 24:1).
    • We must be like Peter who marveled at the awesome things of God (Luke 24:12).
      • Do we marvel at the details that God works out in our lives?
      • Do we marvel at our awesome salvation?
      • Do we marvel at answered prayers?
      • Do we worship God?
      • Do we notice all the bad things that God PREVENTS from happening? Or, do we only notice the bad things that happen? Think about how many jets do not crash every day. Think about how many cars do not crash every day. Think about how many things work. Think about the way a baby develops in the womb and marvel about our great God and Savior.  

 In the year 1899, two famous men died in America. One was an unbeliever who had made a career of debunking the Bible and arguing against the Christian doctrines. The other was a Christian. Colonel Ingersoll, after whom the famous Ingersoll lectures on immortality at Harvard University are named, was the unbeliever. His death was sudden and came as an unmitigated shock to his family. His body was kept in the home for several days because Ingersoll’s wife could not bear to part with it; and it was finally removed only because the corpse was decaying and the health of the family required it. At length the remains were cremated, and the display at the crematorium was so dismal that some of the scene was even picked up by the newspapers and communicated to the nation at large. Ingersoll had used his great intellect to deny the resurrection. When death came there was no hope, and the departure was received by his friends and family as an uncompensated tragedy.

In the same year the evangelist Dwight L. Moody died, and his death was triumphant for himself and his family. Moody had been declining for some time, and his family had taken turns being with him. On the morning of his death his son, who was standing by the bedside, heard him exclaim, “Earth is receding; heaven is opening; God is calling.” “You are dreaming, Father,” his son said. Moody answered, “No, Will, this is no dream. I have been within the gates. I have seen the children’s faces.” For a while it seemed as if Moody was reviving, but he began to slip away again. He said, “Is this death? This is not bad; there is no valley. This is bliss. This is glorious.” By this time his daughter was present, and she began to pray for his recovery. He said, “No, no, Emma, don’t pray for that. God is calling. This is my coronation day. I have been looking forward to it.” Shortly after that Moody was received into heaven. At the funeral his family and friends joined in a joyful service. They spoke and sang hymns. They heard the words proclaimed, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55–57). Moody’s death was a part of that victory.

Jesus lives, and so shall I.

Death! thy sting is gone forever!

He who deigned for me to die,

Lives, the bands of death to sever.

He shall raise me from the dust.

Jesus is my Hope and Trust.

Jesus lives and death is now

But my entrance into glory.

Courage, then, my soul, for thou

Hast a crown of life before thee;

Thou shalt find thy hopes were just;

Jesus is the Christian’s Trust.[11]

We have hope, Jesus lives!

We have life, Jesus lives!


[1] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2012.

[2] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Lk 24:2.

[3] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Lk 24:3.

[4] Strobel, Lee. The Case for Miracles (p. 199). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

[5] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Lk 24:4.

[6] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Lk 24:5.

[7] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Lk 24:6.

[8] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Lk 24:4–8.

[9] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Lk 24:9–12.

[10] John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Lk 24:12.

[11] James Montgomery Boice, Philippians: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 223–224.

Maundy Thursday 2021

Maundy Thursday 2021

I read the following and I think it is helpful to begin this message:

Do you know where you are going?

The place? Dublin, Ireland. The time? Toward the end of the nineteenth century. The event? A series of blistering attacks on Christianity, especially the “alleged resurrection” of Jesus of Nazareth. The person? Thomas Henry Huxley.

You remember Huxley. Devoted disciple of Darwin. Famous biologist, teacher, and author. Defender of the theory of evolution. Bold, convincing self-avowed humanist. Traveling lecturer.

Having finished another series of public assaults against several truths Christians held sacred, Huxley was in a hurry the following morning to catch his train to the next city. He took one of Dublin’s famous horse-drawn taxis and settled back with his eyes closed to rest himself for a few minutes. He assumed the driver had been told the destination by the hotel doorman, so all he said as he got in was, “Hurry . . . I’m almost late. Drive fast!” The horses lurched forward and galloped across Dublin at a vigorous pace. Before long Huxley glanced out the window and frowned as he realized they were going west, away from the sun, not toward it.

Leaning forward, the scholar shouted, “Do you know where you are going?” Without looking back, the driver yelled a classic line, not meant to be humorous, “No, your honor! But I’m driving very fast!”[1]

Do you know where you are going?

Jesus knew where He was going. Jesus knew His mission.

Traditionally, Maundy Thursday (the English garbled form of the Latin), has been a day to remember the Last Supper, the prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, the betrayal with a kiss, the taking captive of Jesus, and his abandonment by the male disciples— betrayal, desertion, and a threefold denial are the coup d’grace. It is on any showing a somber season.

In Jesus’ life, on Maundy Thursday Jesus shared with the disciples what is called the upper room discourse which is recorded in John chapters 13-17. Included in this is the Last Supper which is the Passover meal. We also find this in the other Gospels. From there Jesus went to a time of prayer at Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46) prior to being betrayed and handed over to the authorities.

We have already read the passages this evening. Let’s review:

  1. In Matthew 26:20-25 Jesus announces His betrayer.
    • In Matthew 26:20: The Bible says that it was evening and Jesus reclined at the table with the disciples. Jesus announces that one of them will betray Him.
    • In verse 22 the disciples were grieved and each one denied it would be them.
    • In verses 23-24 Judas is named as the betrayer, though he says it would not be him.
    • In the history of Israel, Passover was celebrated both on Thursday and on Friday because the customs in Galilee differed from the customs in Judea. And so, the Lord on Thursday evening celebrates a Galilean Passover Day, and yet there is another Passover Day on Friday which means that Jesus can keep the Passover one day and die during the Passover as the Passover lamb the next day.  And God had arranged history and tradition and custom and circumstance to make that a reality.[2]
    • Remember now, it is after 6:00 on Thursday evening.  Christ will be captured later in the night, brought to a mock trial early in the morning, crucified and He will die at about 3:00 on Friday afternoon.  So, it’s only a matter of hours before His death and they’re eating the Passover meal.  It has to be eaten, you remember, that night.  It has to be eaten before midnight.  It can’t be that anything is left for the morrow.  And so, as we come to verse 20, He is at table with His disciples, preparing to eat the meal.
    • Now, why this final Passover?  
    • Passover was the oldest Jewish institution, older than any other Jewish institution except the Sabbath itself.  
    • For 1,500 years they had celebrated Passover, even before the Aaronic priesthood was instituted, even before all of the Levitical ritual and the giving of the Mosaic Law.  
    • The Passover was very old, very ancient.  
    • And it was ordained by God to be held every year and every devout Jew did it every year. 
    • But now, listen, this Passover, after 1,500-plus years of Passovers, was the last divinely sanctioned and authorized Passover ever held.[3]
  2. In Matthew 26:26-30 we see the Lord’s supper instituted.
    • This is a Passover meal with a lot of symbolism. We cannot get into all of it today. The Passover Meal goes back to Exodus 12:42ff when they left Egypt.
    • One source: The Passover meal was rich with symbolic meaning. Jews ate lamb to commemorate the lamb whose blood protected firstborn Israelites from the death plague before the exodus. Bitter herbs were reminiscent of their enslavement. Unleavened bread symbolized the haste of their departure from Egypt (Ex 12). Jesus invested the meal with new symbolism: the unleavened bread symbolized his own body, which would be torn by scourging and crucifixion. His sacrifice would begin a new exodus in which people were liberated from slavery to sin.[4]
    • Matzoh is unleavened bread and this is a symbol of sin.
    • Matzoh is pierced (in ancient times with an awl and now machine) to keep it from rising. Matzoh is done in stripes.
    • Third cup of wine is the cup of redemption and is red.
    • 4 total cups.
    • This is a metaphor, a symbol of His body, a memorial meal.
    • In verse 26 notice Jesus gives to them and says “take eat, this is My body…” ESV Study Bible: Jesus’ body will be the once-and-for-all fulfillment of the ceremonies surrounding the Passover lamb and other OT sacrifices, as he will become the sacrificial atonement for the sins of the people.[5]
    • In verse 27, He gives them the cup. ESV Study Bible: Most likely the third of four cups at the Passover—the cup of blessing, or the cup of redemption—corresponding to God’s third promise in Ex. 6:6: “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.[6]
    • One source: The making of a covenant was normally accompanied by an act of sacrifice. The slaughter of the animal signified the consequences that would befall anyone who broke the covenant. The old covenant was sealed by such a sacrifice (Ex 24:8). Now, Jesus’s sacrifice enacted the new covenant that had been promised in the OT (Jr 31:31–34). In this covenant God vowed to forgive and forget his people’s sins. He also promised to write his law on the hearts of his people so that they will fulfill his righteous demands.[7]
    • Verse 28 He says what the cup is for: for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.
    • Jesus’ death established the forgiveness promised in the new covenant of Jer 31:31. Jesus is reinterpreting the symbolism of the Passover meal, indicating the presence of a new era.[8]
    • Jesus is instituting the New Covenant.
    • In verse 29 Jesus says “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
    • This would be the 4th cup which Jesus did not take. He is talking about taking it with them in Rev 19:7ff at the millennial reign.
    • In verse 30 they sing a hymn and head to the Mount of Olives.
  3. In Matthew 26:30-35: Jesus talks about the disciples falling away.
  4. In Matthew 26:36-46 we have Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane.

Following those events Jesus is betrayed and arrested. This He did for us. This was His Maundy Thursday.

Jesus went through this suffering for our salvation. He did this for us.

Remember the story I began with about Huxley? Remember the story about how his driver was driving fast, but the wrong way? Do you know where you are going?

That true story is more than a story. It’s an apt summary not only of the spirit of Huxley and his followers in the nineteenth century but of many in our own day. Great speed, much motion, rapid movement, but an unknown destination. As Rollo May, the contemporary psychologist, once admitted:

It is an old and ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.

Are you trusting in Jesus’ blood to cover the guilt of your sins? One important distinctive of Christianity is that we do not earn our salvation. We cannot possibly do enough good to cancel out the bad. Instead, we marvel at the fact that Jesus paid the price for our sins. Thank Him today!

That is the institution of the Lord’s Supper, now let us take the Lord’s Supper together.

First, allow special music

Prayer for the bread

Prayer for the juice

Closing song


Taken from Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 1983, 1994, 2007 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan.


[3] Ibid.

[4] Mark E. Dever, “Church Discipline,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1547.

[5] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1881.

[6] Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1881.

OT Old Testament

[7] Mark E. Dever, “Church Discipline,” in CSB Study Bible: Notes, ed. Edwin A. Blum and Trevin Wax (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1547.

[8] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Mt 26:27–28.