A typical Friday night during my childhood in the early 1980s was what my mother would label as “family night.” Our eyes were glued to the television from 6-10 p.m. as CBS was the only station we would watch on Friday evenings. Mom made us watch the news at 6 p.m., and as a reward we would watch the Pink Panther at 6:30 p.m. The Dukes of Hazzard came on at 7 p.m., and Dallas at 9 p.m.
Yes, I intentionally skipped a time frame as beginning this sermon to validate my subject. At 8 p.m., my favorite television show, “The Incredible Hulk,” came on. There was one phrase that always arrested my attention during the opening of the show, “Mr. McGee, don’t make me angry; you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” I even thought I was David Banner during that time because when he would experience the metamorphic change of becoming the green monster that we know as the Hulk; I too would act as if I would rip my clothing from intense anger. Some would think when David Banner would transform into the Hulk that he was a villain, but with all due respect he was really a hero. He became that hero due to transformation. However, after the enzymes in the Hulk’s body began to decrease, he would become David Banner again, but not having any recollection of what transpired when he was the Hulk.
Just as a monster was inside of David Banner to make him be a person he didn’t want to become, there is also a monster on the inside of the person who accepts Jesus as Lord. Notice in the first seven chapters of Romans, Paul has gone to extensive lengths to describe the nature and the penalty of sin. He has insisted that secret sins will be revealed, and for those who persist he has suggested as well that the wages of sin is death. In this, the seventh chapter, Paul the preacher becomes Paul the patient. The yardstick Paul used to measure others is now used against himself. Here is a preacher who had discovered the changing of singing, “Shine on me as the light from the lighthouse” has illuminated those areas of his life that were previously hidden and protected from the inspection of public scrutiny and review.
Paul says in this text: “I have discovered something in myself; I have discovered that I am not what I thought I was; I thought I had it together; I thought I was emotionally secure; I thought I was on firm psychological soil, but now I have discovered that there is a new me and an old me; every time I think I have the new me lined up, the old me shows up”. Not only that—there is a war going on. “My mind is at odds with my members; my carnality is at conflict with my spirituality; my flesh and my faith don’t seem to get along. It’s as though there were a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on the inside, and it’s gotten so bad that, “the good that I would do I do not, and the evil which I would not; that I do. Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” (Romans 7:19, 21) One of my favorite Pauline scriptures is, “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” (1 Corinthians 5:17)
However, we face a daily struggle in taming the new us who lives in a new house with the old us. One of my preaching mentors, Dr. Earl Jackson, Pastor of the King Star Baptist Church in Kingsville shared with me years ago, “Tarver, the reason we must be born again is because since we are born in sin and shaped in iniquity, we do not experience life until we experience it in Christ.” Being born again changes our status and our destination since there is a Heaven and a Hell. Those in Christ may have a change in their status, yet they face a struggle. The struggle is what Paul dealt with concerning living by a law he couldn’t keep, and that is why God sent Jesus to die for us.
As sinners we are without power to offer satisfaction for our sins, but righteousness is provided by Jesus Christ, the representative of mankind who met all the righteous demands of the law and paid the price of sin in our place so that, trusting only in Christ’s righteousness we are justified by God. The greatest news of God’s love is how He never allows a struggle without a solution. Judgment is never God’s last word to those who believe in Jesus Christ. Whenever the monster of the old us wants to come out of the new us we must remember Jesus will deliver. He holds back justice—what we deserve—and extends His grace and mercy. Mercy – holding back what is deserved, and Grace – giving what isn’t deserved. Dottie Rambo couldn’t have been more correct when she penned the words, “Amazing grace shall always be my song of praise, for it was grace that brought my liberty; I do not know why Christ came to love me so. He looked beyond my fault saw my need.”