Sermon for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost
To watch instead of read this sermon, click on this link: https://youtu.be/NPtjvrAD3hs
Note: All Scripture quotations in the sermon are taken from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, ESV Text Edition: 2016. Copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
The Sermon text for the 6th Sunday after Pentecost is Romans 8:12-17.
Introduction: A few years back, my family went on a trip to the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY.This museum is next to the famous Corning Factory which has made American dinnerware and glassware for many decades.When you take a tour, one visitor favourite is a live flame working demonstration.When we went, a man took a rod of glass that came hot out of an oven and he started working on it: he’d turn it and pull on it and put a little more heat on it and he could then mold and shape it into wonderful shapes.As the minutes went by, the man kept making changes to the glass bringing out new features one by one, its length, its width, its base and rim.It was a fabulous demonstration by a master craftsman.
God made you and in Holy Baptism God has given you new life in Christ, life by His Holy Spirit. Day by day, God is shaping us, shaping our lives like a master craftsman: in our attitude, our actions and in the way we relate to Him. In the middle section of Romans chapter 8 we get a glimpse of God at work, what God is doing with us in our journey from Holy Baptism to glory. Today as we continue to consider St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans we hear two spiritual truths: (1) the Holy Spirit dwells in you and shapes your life, and, (2) the Holy Spirit gives you hope now and for the future.
(1) The Holy Spirit dwells in you and shapes your life
Those outside the kingdom of God set their mind on the flesh, doing whatever they want to do simply because it feels good, without care for others beyond what others will give back to them, all the while justifying their actions. This way of living, the way of the flesh, Paul says, leads to death. (Rom 8:13)
Your life, however, is led and shaped by God the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit within who leads us and shapes our lives in all that is good and right for God and neighbour, those fruits of the Spirit including: faith in Christ, forgiveness, humility, generosity, peace-making and service.
St. Paul reveals in Romans chapter eight, the Spirit is actively at work in us in order to put to death the deeds of the our sinful nature. The Spirit daily leads us in thought and desire into action to mortify our Old Adam and its desires, to keep us from living a life that is all about us and so to live in love for others. This mortification of the flesh is a continual, life-long work of the Spirit.
Our new life shaped by the Spirit is one of freedom, compared to the Jews who were always under threat of punishment found in the Mosaic Law.St. Paul writes in this regard, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear…” (Rom 8:15) The Spirit does not come in Baptism to impose a new slavery to a new Law, no, our new relationship with God created in baptism does not put us back under the guardianship of the Law but frees us from the Law to live in love.We may call God, “Abba! Father!” which is not like our word “Daddy,” but is a familial term to use for the Creator of the Universe!
A few verses earlier Paul says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin with the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8:1-4) The Lord Jesus has not only met the requirements of the Mosaic Law and covenant for the Jew, He has in his atoning death for us set us free from the law of sin, that is the power the sinful nature has to completely control those outside the Kingdom of God.We now have the Holy Spirit living in us who daily guides our hearts and minds to desire to do all that is good, right and admirable to God.
To be a Christian, then, is to be a pilgrim. Led by the Spirit received in baptism we are sons and daughters of God. Paul teaches that we are to use the freedom given to us in Christ to mortify the flesh and walk with God. As you walk with Christ you will suffer as you battle against sin and your sinful nature. It’s not an easy battle and we suffer in it, but we battle in hope because we are sons and daughters of God.
(2) The Holy Spirit gives us hope now and for the future
When we see non-Christians fighting against the practices and traditions and influence of the Church in society, and when we personally experience the variance between the good that we want to do and the sin that we often do in life we can be discouraged and in need of hope.
The second spiritual truth St. Paul teaches us in this reading is the Holy Spirit gives us hope now and for the future.
St. Paul writes, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:16-17)
When God is on your side, how can you not have hope? We can get depressed when it seems the world and non-Christians are prevailing against the Church. But the present reality is Christ sits in triumph now ascended to the right hand of the Father and reigning from heaven. The same Christ who has defeated sin, Satan and death in His blessed death and resurrection is the one who reigns now and gives us a share in His victory in giving us His Holy Spirit.
A reading of Romans may have you question if the Holy Spirit does in fact dwell in you. There is no need to fret, wondering if the Holy Spirit dwells in you. Just ask your parents, did I get baptized? And think over the last week, have you had conflict within you as you strive to do that which is good but see your sinful nature acting out and trying to get what it wants? This conflict between heart and actions are inward clues of the Holy Spirit’s presence and work within you, but the undeniable proof the Holy Spirit dwells in you is that you are baptized.
The Holy Spirit is the source of our hope for the future, no matter how difficult life is in the present, because as Paul describes, the same Spirit who dwells in you dwelt in Christ from His baptism. And if the same Spirit dwells in us as in our Lord and Saviour, then St. Paul shows us that logically that makes us children of God, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:16-17) The Holy Spirit’s indwelling is the guarantee that we are heirs with Christ our Lord in all that He will inherit on the Last Day: future glory, a bodily resurrection like His and eternal life with God.
Having the Holy Spirit within gives us the hope in our earthly pilgrimage that though we are constantly battling against the desires of our sinful nature, God reigns and is at work in us.
Conclusion: The hot glass demonstration at the Corning Museum was a fabulous demonstration.The man made a beautifully shaped, quality glass vase in a matter of minutes before our eyes.It was for sale and you wanted to buy it right away but he had to let it down to cool for over half a day before you could buy it in the gift shop!
Like a piece of glass under the hands of a master craftsman, God the Holy Spirit is continually shaping our lives: he is shaping our hearts and desires toward His desires, which affects our everyday actions, enabling us to follow Him. What triumphs here and now, is the life of Christ in us, God’s work in us through His Spirit. Having received the same Spirit as our Lord in Holy Baptism, we have received as a deposit, life and forgiveness from God and the hope which comes from God’s promise of the resurrection and glory in the life to come. In Christ’s Holy Name. Amen.