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Trinity VII, July 15, 2018 - Romans 6:19-23

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Posted: Sunday, July 15th, 2018 by Pastor Westgate

Sanctification is a big word. You don’t use it every day, do you? You don’t ask your husband or wife or kids, let alone your friends or coworkers, each night: “Were you sanctified today?” It comes from the Latin word meaning “holy,” which is that word Sanctus – you see it in the hymnal for the great hymn we sing before the Lord’s Prayer. So sanctification has to do with your holiness. The word teaches us that the Holy Spirit, the one Who makes us holy, is working to make us holy, and we ought not get in the way.

The disciples weren’t having the most sanctified thoughts in today’s Gospel. Jesus asked them where they could find bread. He had to pry out of them that they did actually have some bread on hand and fish. They had more than they had a couple chapters before when He fed 5000, which is obviously more than 4000. They should have known exactly what Jesus was about to do. They should have been on the edge of their seats just waiting to see Him jump into action. Instead they moaned. St. Peter wants us to see just how unsanctified these men were, how they often served not God, but evil, even when they knew better.

St. Peter gave this story to St. Mark to be written for your sake. He wanted you to learn something from it. He wanted you to see that you aren’t all that different from those holy men of old. They weren’t holy, far from it. They were sinners just like you. They didn’t become 100% holy the second they met Jesus. No, they dealt with sin and even fell into sin every day of their lives, right up to the day they lost their lives for Christ. They were fighting sin. As often as they fought with the Spirit’s help, they won. Without His help, they sinned.

St. Paul teaches us about this in today’s Epistle. It picks up 8 verses after last Sunday’s left off. We heard St. Paul teach us that the Holy Spirit started your life of sanctification when He baptized you in the water connected to God’s Word, when He wrote God’s Triune Name on you and declared you to be a child of God and therefore an enemy of sin and the devil. He said you are joined to Jesus’ Death and Resurrection now.

In the verses between last week’s and this week’s Epistles, St. Paul says you should not let sin reign in your body. You shouldn’t obey its passions. Don’t go back to working unrighteous deeds on purpose, but act like you are righteous, like you are ruled by God, not by Satan. You can’t serve both God and mammon, and for the same reason you can’t serve both God and sin. You are baptized. You don’t want to be a slave of sin. You don’t want to do sin. You want to be a slave of righteousness. You want to do what’s good in God’s sight. You want to live according to His holy Ten Commands.

That brings us to what you heard today. He says that before you were baptized you presented yourself as a slave to uncleanness and lawlessness. That means before you were baptized you were a willing subject of sin. Sin is living apart from God’s Law, not caring one bit about it. Sin makes us disgustingly dirty in God’s sight, so much so that He wants nothing to do with us. He doesn’t want to see us, hear us, smell us, touch us. God cannot look in love at the sinner.

But God has worked a change, a great exchange! He sent His Son. He threw onto His Son all the sights, scents, sounds, feelings of sin. He nailed Him and them to The Cross. Then He turned His face. The Son was forsaken by His Father. He suffered hell itself for He suffered for your sin. He did this for you. Now you are freed from your eternal death in hell sentence. Now the bonds that chained you to desire to sin are cut and you are free to please God! For you are baptized.

You are baptized. That makes all the difference in the world. What Jesus did for you on The Cross He applied to you at the font. You belong to Him now. Dr. Luther has taught you to say that since He is our Lord we are to “serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from death, lives and reigns eternally.” He’s not just talking about the life after death. I think that’s how I thought of it when I first memorized the Catechism. But no, He’s talking about right now! We should serve Him in righteousness, innocence, and blessedness now!

God wants us to live like we belong to Him. He wants us to be holy just as He is holy – after all, He has declared it to be so. But our flesh is weak. So He also tells us another reason we should live a holy life. St. Paul asks us today what kind of fruits we get when we sin. Think about it. What kind of fruits do you get when you sin? When you sin on purpose, you think you’re going to feel great about it and won’t feel bad afterwards. The problem is you will get caught with your hand in the cookie jar. You eat or drink too much and then you feel sick. You hurt someone and you feel bad about it forever after. Think of the kid running around the house when she shouldn’t who slips and falls on something and cries in pain for a while. The fruits of sin are bad. Sin can only bring us nothing but wrath and woe. Sin is corruption, and corruption only makes corruption. You don’t want corruption in your life. If you want a good life, God says to you, avoid sin. Do what is good instead.

Do what is good. You know what happens when you do what is right. You feel good about it afterwards. You don’t feel good about your sins, do you? More than that, you get commended. You get the pat on the back, the love, the friendship you so dearly desire. Best of all, you are confessing with your deeds what you confess with your mouth: you belong to Jesus. He is yours. You are freed from sin. In that confession you find greatest blessing indeed, because that confession will be rewarded on the last day. You do not want to die caught in a sin. Die firm in the Faith and in doing what is good.

So how can you get this sanctification? You get it the same way He fed those 4000 men and their families. Jesus works. He changed that small bit of food into enough to feed them all and still fill 7 large baskets. His never-failing providence orders all things both in heaven and on earth. He alone can both put away from us all hurtful things and give us those things which are profitable for us. Only the gift of His Holy Spirit working in you can give you those good desires which the spirit of the Law requires. He works in you the faith which is known by its fruits of increasing love and hope. For: “Works serve thy neighbor and supply The proof that faith is living.” This is God’s gift to you, and He gives it through Word and Sacrament. That’s where the Holy Spirit works.

So be sanctified. Be holy. Show with your body, with what you say and do, even how you look, that you belong to Christ. Show it by focusing on God’s holy Word. Show it by receiving His Blessed Sacrament. Show it by how you treat others. Show it at home and at work or school. Show it here and far away. But first pray for the help of God’s Holy Spirit. Always pray for His help. Without it you will fail. But with His help you will succeed. For these words which we sing are most certainly true: “All depends on our possessing God’s abundant grace and blessing.” “Ye shall and must at last prevail; God’s own ye are, ye cannot fail.”

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

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