Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2010
Scripture: Romans 7
Mother bear no doubt had showed her three cubs how to find yummy food by rummaging through people’s garbage. One of her three cubs had not learned that danger lurked there as well.
At the end of July residents in the town of Weirsdale, Fla reported sightings of a bear cub with his head stuck in an industrial size, plastic mayonnaise jar. The cub, his mother and two siblings had been seen foraging in garbage bins around Weirsdale.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was called in with the challenge to release the jar from the cub’s head. Without food or drink it would starve to death. Biologists set live-animal traps in different areas in an effort to capture the cub, release the jar and set the captive free. For 10 days there were no sightings of the cub or his family.1
Affectionately known around town as “Jarhead”, the cub found out the hard way that one’s head can go deep into a jar to lick out the most alluring contents in the corners of the bottom of a jar but that doesn’t mean one can just as easily release ones head from the jar. Even mother bear could not free her own baby from imprisonment in the jar. It took an advocate who cared.
In Chapter 7 of Romans, Paul points out that were it not for the law, he would not have recognized sin or the will of God. Because breaking the law carries the penalty of death the Savior came to be our Advocate.
Paul uses three illustrations to further clarify his point to the Jewish Christians and Gentiles attending the church in Rome. He saw their need for balance between the Old Testament laws and prophecies and the gospel of salvation and grace.
Dr. John Brunt, pastor of the Azure Hills Church in California and author of our study helps, “Redemption in Romans”, suggests that Paul’s three illustrations in our passage this week on marriage, the tenth commandment and the personal struggle of one who wants to do right but ends up doing wrong are so powerful that we often forget the main point of Paul’s sermon: the law.
“Paul’s problem with the law is not with the content of the law. His problem is with the misuse of the law. People misuse the law in two primary ways,” writes Brunt. “They attempt to rely on the law, rather than on God, for salvation. They also view the law in a way that divides people and excludes some of them from the sphere of God’s grace.” 2
Paul knew that every human being, whether Jew or Gentile, was under the power of sin, and that they could not free themselves from sin on their own. In many respects we today are not unlike the cub, Jarhead. We find ourselves being allured by sin until we cannot get out of it by ourselves.
This past weekend, the bears returned. Mama bear was shot with a tranquilizer dart and put in a trap used to entice the babies to join her. The three cubs missed their mother’s milk. One by one they returned to find their source of life. A biologist wrestled Jarhead, pinned back his ears, released the container and the cub. Jarhead then joined his mother and siblings until the biologists saw that the cub was able to nurse. When it was safe, the bear family was released back into the national forest.
Through sermon illustrations given to the church in Rome, we are reminded that the law doesn’t save. Only by Christ’s death for our sins are we saved. Oh, what mercy; what love; what grace.