Christian Community, Worship

“Roll Away Your Stone”

Illustrating The Powerlessness of the Law and the Empowerment of the Holy Spirit using lyrics from the song

“Roll Away Your Stone” by Mumford & Sons.

***Listen to “Roll Away Your Stone” by Mumford & Sons before continuing***

Background Information: The Law is an extension of God’s grace to His chosen people, the Jews. The Gentiles (non Jews) were considered pagan because of their worship of many gods instead of the one, true God. What separated The Gentiles from God was their idolatry. The Gentiles were to recognize sin by looking to nature and their perception of the one, true creator God. (Rd: Romans 1:18-25) The Jews, contrary to the Gentiles, were chosen by God to be His people. God established a covenant relationship with the Jews beginning with Abraham. God initiated communion with them! The Jews covenant relationship with God consisted of both God and the Jews maintaining their part of the covenant in order to maintain their relationship. God extended grace through the Law of Moses so that the Jews would be able to recognize and abstain from sin that broke their communion with God.  However, in revealing their sin, the Law amplified the power of sin even more because the Jews were not able to keep the Law of Moses in order to maintain their communion with God as His people. Therefore, the Jews, in their inability to maintain their part of the covenant with God by keeping the Law, became just like the Gentiles being unable to maintain a relationship with God. The Jews received the curse (being kicked out of the Promised Land and taken into exile) for not keeping their part of the covenant, instead of the blessing (God’s presence with His people in the Promised Land). (Rd: Isaiah 49:13-17; Romans 2:12-29) God is faithful and maintained his part of the covenantal relationship and proved it by “doing even more than we could ever ask or imagine!” Praise be to God for Jesus Christ our Lord, who empowers us through the Holy Spirit to be free from enslavement to Sin! He recreates our identity as the children of God who have been restored to His Glory (image)! We who are in Jesus Christ are the “New Israel!”

“Roll away your stone, I’ll roll away mine.
Together we can see what we will find.”

This lyric line exemplifies our criticism of not being able to completely keep the Law on our own and bring about our own salvation. We are skeptical of our hope in Jesus Christ being able to fulfill the Law on our behalf. We ask the question, “Is resurrection, a new identity, really possible?” We then say to Jesus Christ, “If it really is possible, then you do it first!” This is where we find our true selves. Jesus Christ has resurrected from the grave with an indestructible life that has enabled and empowered us to live a new identity through the Holy Spirit!

“Don’t leave me alone at this time,
For I am afraid of what I will discover inside.”

This lyric line is a reminder of our identity apart from the resurrected Jesus Christ. It is because Jesus Christ is resurrected that we will be resurrected! We have the same Holy Spirit that is in Jesus Christ! (Rd: 1 Corinthians 15:12-23)

“You told me that I would find a hole,
Within the fragile substance of my soul.”

This lyric describes our own inability to fulfill the Law leaves us feeling powerless, defeated, inadequate, broken, and worthless.

“And I have filled this void with things unreal,
And all the while my character it steals”

This lyric line depicts the broken state as we dwell in self-deception and pride that leads us to estrangement with God. We are made in the image of God and He is our origin. When try to give ourselves purpose we begin to redefine our origin in things other than God. God is revealed to us in Jesus Christ, who is our true origin. (Rd: Colossians 1:15-20)

“Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think?
And yet it dominates the things I seek.”

This lyric line really helps us to see the point Paul is making in Romans 7. Paul sets up an imaginary figure in dialogue to illustrate the powerlessness of the Law. Paul is communicating that, if you really want to take fulfilling the Law seriously, this is the conclusion to which you will arrive. “What I want to do, I don’t do, and what I don’t want to do is what I end up doing. What a wretched man I am!”(Rd: Romans 7:14-25)

“It seems that all my bridges have been burned,”

This depicts our attempts to fulfill the Law and failing. In trying to fulfill the Law and trying to invoke our own salvation, we place ourselves in enmity with God. In our attempt to fulfill the Law, our sin becomes more evident because we are powerless to keep the Law. Paul indicates Jews powerlessness to keep the Law by recalling their exile from the Promised Land to Babylon and the destruction of the Temple.

“But, you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works”

This lyric exemplifies our discovery of true, undeserving grace. We are ready to accept our freedom from sin, on Jesus Christ’s behalf, through the reception of Grace by being empowered by the Holy Spirit.

“It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart,”

This line illustrates the powerlessness of works and the empowerment of Grace. It is our encounter with Jesus Christ that changes our hearts and minds, and not in our attempts to perform acts of righteousness. It is not by works (works = “a long walk” to get home) that we would be able to work at keeping a Law that is impossible to fulfill on our own. (Rd: Ephesians 2:8-9)

“But the welcome I receive with the restart.”

This line details that it is only by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that we are able to receive and extend grace in every failure. The Holy Spirit enables us to live in the grace-filled Law of the Spirit. (Rd: Romans 5:12-21; Luke 15:17-24)

“Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think?
And yet it dominates the things I seek.
Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think?
And yet it dominates the things I seek.
Darkness is a harsh term don’t you think?
And yet it dominates the things I seek.”

These lines are communicating a revisiting of our state when we try to pursue our own righteousness through performing works of the Law. Just as Isaiah communicates, when we encounter grace in the person Jesus Christ “our righteousness is as filthy rags.” Throughout our lives in times of temptation we reiterate our powerlessness to be able to fulfill the Law even when we try our very best to perform works of righteousness. God has revealed Himself to us! He has come to us, and not us to Him! Isaiah exclaims the words of the Lord to His people, “Here am I, here am I!” (Rd: Isaiah 64:4-65:1)

“Stars hide your fires, And these here are my desires”

This lyric line illustrates our pride. There are times in our lives when we indulge in self-proclaimed darkness and call for the stars themselves to hide their light. We still maintain a longing to be able to fulfill the Law on our own. Even our best attempts at fulfilling the Law are futile when we are confronted with the Holiness and grace of Jesus Christ. (Rd: Philippians 3:2-16)

“And I will give them up to you this time around.”

The confession that we are powerless, and not Lord over our own lives.  We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be free from sin that we may become slaves of righteousness. (Rd: Romans 6:14-19 & Roman 10:9 )

“And so, I’ll be found with my stake stuck in this ground
Marking its territory of this newly impassioned soul!”

This lyric line accentuates our reception of the Holy Spirit as the reclaiming of our created identity seen in Adam and Eve, and even more so. Now, in our encountering Jesus Christ, we are not simply seen as created beings, we are now children and if children then we are heirs with Jesus Christ in his resurrection! Because of our encounter with Jesus Christ, we commune with God by the Holy Spirit of God dwelling with/in us! We “stake” our claim in our new identity, being empowered by the Holy Spirit to fulfill the Law and receive the full blessing of the Covenant, God’s presence! We are the first fruits of a new creation! (Rd: Romans 8:1-27)

“Hide your fires, these are my desires
And I will give them up to you this time around.
And so, I’ll be found with my stake stuck in this ground
Marking its territory of this newly impassioned soul!”

This phrase is reiterating our confession in our new identity. Paul exclaims in the beginning of Romans 8, that we who have received the Holy Spirit of God, by believing the word about Jesus Christ, are free from being slaves to sin.  We are free from sin; so that, we may become slaves to righteousness through the Lordship of Jesus Christ. What Paul is saying is that through our encounter with Jesus Christ we are empowered to be free of sin to become slaves to righteousness. This is why Paul can say with assurance that God is able to do “even more than we could ever ask or imagine!” Who imagined the cross would bring resurrection for us all!?

“But you, you’ve gone too far this time
You have neither reason nor rhyme
With which to take this soul that is so rightfully mine.”

This lyric line is a proclamation. Now, we have the ability, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to say “No” to sin and “Yes” to living in the law of the Spirit. It’s not that the Law is against Jesus Christ, the law is perfect. The problem was that we did not have the power to keep the Law. God fulfilled His part of the covenantal relationship with His people. The Law was an extension of God’s grace to His people so that He would be able to commune with His people by their becoming holy. The Law did not empower us to be able to keep it, but it did identify sin in our lives so that we may know how to remain pure and maintain a communion with our Holy God. The Holy Spirit empowers us to be able to do the sorts of things God always wanted us to do in fulfilling the Law. The end result being eternal communion with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. This is our reality/identity in Jesus Christ! (Rd: Romans 6:20-23)

***Once again, listen to “Roll Away Your Stone” by Mumford & Sons before concluding***

Blessings and Peace,

eric

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