What do you do when faced with choices? According to one study, the average American makes 35,000 choices each day, like:
Do I hit snooze? Will I brush my teeth? Ponytail? Will I text her back?
Choices are everywhere:
- Starbucks offers consumers up to 87,000 drink combinations.
- Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider, offers up to 1,000 channels.
- iHeartRadio says this: Listen live to over 850 real radio stations or create your own based on millions of songs and artists!
- I ran just 1,500m in Temple Run and made over 40 decisions!
But I want to focus in on a particular area of your life where choices are made: at school.
Do you find it easier or harder to do the right thing in school?
What are some examples of specific situations at school where it isn’t always easy to do what’s right-or where doing what’s right may upset friends or classmates?
Decision making can be hard at school because there’s a lot of pressure and influence around us to make it feel like war.
- If I sit at that lunch table, what are they gonna think?
- If I talk to her, what are the guys gonna think?
- If I let him copy my homework, is that really cheating?
- Am I gonna be nice to this substitute?
- If the teacher leaves the room, am I gonna share answers on the test we’re taking?
- Should I step in if I see someone being bullied?
- Should I forgive them or keep giving them attitude so they know how much they hurt me?
Guys, we’re at war and I want to take you through a passage of Scripture today that I’m sure most of you can really relate to:
Romans 7:21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Romans 7:21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.
“Inevitably” means “unable to be avoided or escaped”
This is because we are born in sin (Psalm 51:5 = Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.)
Without Christ we are condemned to die (Romans 5:18 = Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone)
con·demn/kənˈdem/ means to “express complete disapproval of” or “sentence someone to a particular punishment, especially death”
Do you ever feel like 2 different people? Like, you walk away from Cell Groups encouraged to live for the Lord and then you get in the car and get in a fight with your mom? Or you hear the Gospel at the gathering and are reminded about how good God is but when you get home you give in to lust?
This is our natural state. We are sinners by nature, but then Paul says this:
Romans 7:22 I love God’s law with all my heart.
For how many of us is this a true desire? Paul faced a constant battle, as he desired to do the right thing, but continually fell short and did the exact opposite. This probably sounds familiar, doesn’t it? But check out this Psalm:
Psalm 1.1-3 1 Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
“delight” = at minimum we agree that the Bible is true
“meditates” = we are reading it, we are thinking about it.
If we love it, we gotta be in it, because:
Romans 7:23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.
Just read these and meditate on where the battlefield is:
2 Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Galatians 5.17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions
James 4.1 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?
1 Peter 2.11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls
We love God, we really do…but we still sin. We still make bad choices. We are prisoners of war. Look at what Paul says next:
Romans 7:24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
When you think about this struggle it can wear you out. If you compare your sin to God’s goodness you might be tempted to quit.
Having an understanding of who you are apart from Christ is a healthy way to remind you of who you are in Christ!
But sometimes it can be overwhelming! Do we just give up and sin?
No! Because the power of sin is a defeated enemy. Without Christ, sin is stronger than we are. Without Christ we will want to revert back to our old selves.
So what are we to do?! We’re prisoners of war, we’re struggling to make good choices, we’re exhausted, we love God but what does that really look like. What are we to do?
Romans 7:25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
The answer is in Jesus!
When you are confused and overwhelmed by sin’s appeal, remember Hebrews 4.15 For we do not have a high priest [that’s Jesus] who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin
Now the remarkable thing about this is Jesus was tempted, but he never felt the release of giving in.
When we give in, the temptation goes away for a little while. We feel release, we feel like we got it out of our system, we might experience a moment of peace it seems like.
But not Jesus.
And because He never gave in we can be forgiven for when we do.
The Christian life is not a pleasure cruise to Heaven.
It’s hard! And there is a war going on for your soul that apart from Christ you will lose.
How Do We Respond To This?
We are at war. And one of the battlefields is at school. It’s easier to make better decisions while you’re here at the Kirk. But this isn’t the only place you should make good choices.
The Gospel should affect our decisions. We should be making decisions that seek to honor God while realizing that we’re at war.
We NEED Jesus in order to make good decisions at school.
And I know it’s hard.
Decisions are hard. Sometimes honoring God has more cons than pros. Sometimes we really want to make the right choice but we end up shooting ourselves in the foot again.
That’s what sin does to us. Paul struggled with it. I struggle with it. You will struggle with it.
But thank God we have Jesus! He’s near when we call. He hears our prayers. He suffered the death that we should have died. And He gives us the wisdom that only He has.
So may you make good decisions at school. When faced with a choice, may God give you grace so that you can honor Him with every part of your life.