From The Pulpit of Tabernacle

Oops, I Did It Again
A Sermon by Roosevelt Wright, Jr.
For the Tabernacle Baptist Church
Monroe, La.

October 8, 200

  SCRIPTURE: For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. Romans 7:18-20


Have you been disappointed with yourself? Most believers, while generally striving to live a positive productive life, reach a point at which they are disappointed with themselves in one respect or another. Although we are living an obviously blessed life, there is disappointment, not in a friend or co-worker that let you down, or in a situation that failed, but disappointment in ourselves. We experience self disappointment whenever we fail to do that which we think we should do in the way we should do it. Dealing with self disappointment is a private war, an internal struggle that is not seen by others but is felt by every believer, from time to time, as he or she measures where God what wants us to be and where we really are. 
    Unless we tell someone else, other than God himself, the only other person who knows about our self disappointment is the man or woman in the mirror. The man or woman in the mirror reminds us of what we promised ourselves that we will be and what are actually doing about that promise. The face that keeps changing in mirror, keeps pointing out the size of the gap between our ideals and reality, and that disappoints us. 
    John Ortberg, in his book "The Life You Always Wanted", describes how we often feel when he writes: "I look in on my children as they sleep at night, [and] I think of the kind of father I want to be. I want to create moments of magic, I want them to remember laughing until the tears flow ... I want to have slow, sweet talks with them as they're getting ready to close their eyes. I want to chase fireflies with them, teach them to play tennis, have food fights, and hold them and pray for them in a way that makes them feel cherished.  "I look in on them," he writes, "and I remember how the day really went. I remember how they were trapped in a fight over [a game] and I walked out of the room because I didn't want to spend the energy needed to teach them how to resolve conflict. I remember how my daughter spilled cherry punch at dinner and I yelled at her as if she'd revealed some deep character flaw; I yelled at her even though I spill things all the time and no one yells at me; I yelled at her - to tell the truth - because I'm big and she's little and I can get away with it. I remember how at nights I didn't have slow, sweet talks, but merely rushed the children off to bed so I could have more time to myself."
      Often we see life as a game. As such we get caught up in its thrill and excitement, to the point that we do that which we know that we shouldn' win, to conquer, to emerge victorious. In the aftermath, we disappoint ourselves because we have stooped to a level of life that embarrasses us and often hurts others. Britney Spears, a popular musical artist in the youth scene, has a very popular song that has made her rich. It  portrays a girl who enjoys toying with boys in a way that leads them on. She enjoys the game, without really wanting to do any harm, but realizes she does. When she breaks another heart she brushes it off by saying, "Ooops, I did it again!" 

       I think I did it again I made you believe,
       we're more than just friends
       Oh baby
       It might seem like a crush
      But it doesn't mean that I'm serious
      'Cause to lose all my defenses
      That is just typically me
      Oops!...I did it again I played with your heart
      Got lost in the game
      Oops!...You think I'm in love
      That I'm sent from above
      I'm not that innocent.

   Just like Britney Spears, most of us find ourselves trying to play off our disappointments by saying, "Ooops, I did it again!"
   We lied when we promised ourselves, we wouldn't lie...oops, we did it again!
   We lost our temper when we promised we would be in control...oops, we did it again!
   We cheated when we said we would be faithful..oops, we did it again!
   We lit up another cigarette after telling ourselves that the last one was the last one...oops, we did it again! 
    As Christians, we struggle daily with our self disappointment. Our only redeeming grace is the knowledge that, while the God we serve is not happy with our personal failures, he is forgiving and merciful. Despite our flaws and short comings, he blesses us continually. That's why we praise him continually. Even when we said we would keep our joy to ourselves, it comes out in the wave of our hand and the praise that falls from our lips. We said we wouldn't tell anybody but...oops, we did it again!


      This text focuses on Paul as he explains the nature of the believer's life in Christ as opposed to the law.
       Generally, Romans focuses upon the believer's sanctification. It is his personal struggle to perfect himself and come closer to the Godly ideal. Romans presents individual struggle from the perspective of one who is a believer. In other writings, the perspective is that of a sinner struggling against God, fighting him in every way. It is personified best in the life of Paul himself as he fought against the advancement of the church. However, wants a non-believer gives himself over to God, his battle shifts from a lift that is opposition to God's laws, to one that is struggling measure up to God's expectations as reflected in God's laws. 
      Non-believers reject God's laws and thus, God himself. Their fight is to do it their way, regardless of what God says. They reject him and the need to know him.
       Believers accept God's laws but fight a different fight. Our fight is not against God, but against the remnants of sin within us that prompt us to act in ways that are deviant to God's laws.
     Paul recognizes his fundamental agreement with the Law.  He concludes that the law is good (verse 16). The law shows that the source of the problem which is the strength of sin. Nothing good indwells Paul''s flesh, but sin is present in him. Paul''s flesh is naturally opposed to God, to His Law, and to anything righteous. Paul''s flesh is responsive to sin. Paul''s flesh (his fallen nature  all that he was before he came to faith in Christ) has become sin's sanctuary. 
      Deep within himself, Paul wishes to do that which God''s Law defines as good. The spirit man within him desires not to do that which the Law calls sin, but the carnal man rebels.  His desires conform to God''s Law. He is almost schizophrenic in his spiritual life. A spiritual Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.  What Paul is doing, he is doing against his own will! Paul has been taken prisoner by sin. Sin has taken advantage of the weakness of his flesh and has perverted the Law to entice men to sin, rather than to keep them from sin. 
      This inability to control that sin person within himself constantly caused him to do that which he did not want to do. again and again, making him a wretched man indeed.
      In the midst of his disappointment however, Paul found a reason for hope. In v.25 we read, "Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ!"  Though disappointed he saw an opportunity for victory in Christ. While the law condemns those who measure up to death. Christ forgives those who give life their best, but yet still fail to measure up to every letter of the law.
      It is best recognized in Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." It means, we may fall short of the high standard that God's law holds us to, but those who give life their best and trust God for the rest, will not be condemned in the end. It is not a license to excuse a sins, but it is a reprieve that is offered to ever believer by the grace of God.
      For that reason Paul said he praises God constantly and gives thanks! He has been merciful to the undeserving, which is a reason for praise. 

Again and Again

     Today, there are many believers who are frustrated over their inability to stay on the right path. The fact that it bothers us means that we are no longer at war with God. We accept his moral standard, we're simply angry and frustrated with ourselves.
THE LAW SHOWS WHAT WE SHOULD BE: The laws of God tell us what we should be. They set the high standard which we are to live and govern ourselves. The moral code, reflected in the 10 commandments teach us clearly that we should acknowledge God and him only, reverence our parents and live morally pure lives, void of cheating stealing, and murderous tendencies. The 10 commandment, thou shalt not covet, even deals with how we should maintain our thoughts and desires. When each of stands before the law, we fall short. We see our errors and know immediate how miserably we have to live the idea believer's life.
     The sets the standard for each of us. It is rigid and unchanging. It says life up to this standard or die. There is no room for compromise or compassion. The letter of the law must be carried out in every circumstance.
    THE HOLY SPIRIT PUSHES US TO BE ALL WE CAN BE: While the Law sets a standard for each of us and says live up to it or else. The Gospel of Christ shows us the standard, and motivates us to measure up in every way that we can, with the full knowledge the in the areas that we fail, that the Grace of Jesus Christ will make up the difference. Every waking minute of the day a believer is pushed by the Holy Spirit to reach higher, remove imperfections and strive to become better.
       Over and over again, we find ourselves messing up, saying, "oops, I did it again!" That's when we feel the Holy Spirit working on us. Hebrews 12:6-8 gives this insight. "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." The work of the gospel picks up every time we say, "ooops I did it again." It whips us and torments us until we correct ourselves. It's goal is to help us "be all that we can be." When we have done all, the grace makes up for the rest.
       CHRIST SHOWS US WHAT WE WILL BE: What Christ does for every believer is to look beyond what we once were. He even looks beyond how we measure up at the present moment. He looks to what we will be. A plastic surgeon knows how to alter a disfigured image. However, he needs to have before him a picture of what the image will be. He may have to cut, graft skin from one place to another, but the end result is always in mind. So it is with believers. Christ looks beyond our faults and short comings and sees what we will be. He has the final picture in his hand and is shaping us through the Holy Spirit go beyond being "all that we can be" to what we will ultimately be in Christ... a completely new, regenerated and saved man or woman who is worthy to stand before God, not because of his goodness but because of the grace of God.

Ooops I did it again!

     Finally, brothers and sisters, Paul says God's saving grace excites so much that he must give thanks. We know how he feels because believers get so excited about God's grace and mercy that we have to keep praising him again and again!
     When it refers to our weakness, "Ooops, I've done it again" refers to an instance in which we breached the faith.
     When it refers to the carnal man of sin within us, "Ooops I've done it again" refers to an instance in which we did what we did not want to do!
      But when it refers to our gratitude to God, the same words take on a different meaning. It's hard to hold your peace when we think about the grace of God.
      Consider the old lady who moved in with her great grandchildren up North. They were wealthy professionals who attended a big city "quiet" church. Her grandchildren went to church regularly but they asked grandmother to remember that she wasn't down South. "Folks up here don't say Amen and stuff" like they do down South. Don't embarrass us." Every Sunday the old went to worship and tried her best to keep quiet as the name of Jesus was glorified. Her grandchildren would give her the eye and she would hold her peace. They didn't mind the funny looking red coat she wore. They didn't mind the flower that dangled from hat. If she'd just sit quiet, they'd be happy. A guest preacher from down South was in the pulpit. He started talking about the goodness of the Lord. As he talked the flower started dangling on the old lady's hat as she moved from side to side. Her heels started clicking on the floor. Before she knew it she was standing on her feet shouting, "praise the Lord." As her embarrassed grandchildren stared at her along with whole church, she put her hands on her mouth and said, "ooops, I' did it again!"
     I don't know about you but there are times when we just can't keep it to ourselves, we've got to tell somebody!
     All we can say is, "Ooops, I've done it again!
     Tell somebody about the goodness of the Lord!
     We've got to tell somebody about a savior who picked me up and turned me around!
     We've got to tell somebody about a risen savior who tells me I am his own for he walks with me and talks with me!
      He's name is Jesus!
      He died out on Calvary!
      Early Sunday morning, he arose from the grave!
      He saved my soul! "I said I wasn't going tell nobody, but I couldn't keep it to myself!"
      "Ooops, I did it again!