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What Is My Good?

Funny how the books I’ve been reading, the Bible study I’ve had, the conversations I’ve had and even the sermon last Sunday have all been so interrelated.  I posted about For My Good last week.

But what is my good?

See, like I asked previously, how can terrible things be for my good?

We have a flawed perception of what is good.  To us good is anything that makes us happier or fulfills our desires.

The question is what is for our good with an eternal perspective and with the wisdom of the Lord?

Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. ESV

See this is the verse that follows Romans 8:28 which most believers have no trouble quoting.

Romans 8:28-29 (ESV)
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Being conformed to the image of Christ is what the Lord desires for our good.  Everything that happens to us is for our good and is conforming us to the image of Christ.



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Live Peaceably

Romans 12:17-20 (ESV)

17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Much easier said than done. 🙁


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Chosen For Judgment?

Here is a tough subject to ponder.

Does God chose some for judgment?

Romans 9:17-18 (ESV)

17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.




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Returning to the Law – Spiritual Adultery

Are you committing Spiritual Adultery?

Do you know if you are?

How many times do you read a passage of Scripture without really thinking about it?

I’m sure most of you, like me, have read this passage over and over and yet given it little thought.

Romans 7:1-6 (KJV)
1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Romans 7:1-6 (ESV)
1 Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives?
2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.
3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.
5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.
6 But now we are released from the law
, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

Notice what this passage is saying.

The woman (Israel) was married to The Law and bound to her husband The Law.

However, we were freed by death from The Law.

Now we (The Church, The Bride) are married to Christ.

If we return to The Law, we are committing Spiritual Adultery.

You cannot serve two husbands!

Not only that you are trying to maintain a marriage to a dead man (The Law)!

Have you ever met a person that talked so much of her husband, said her husband wouldn’t like this and that, and might would say I’ll have to see what my husband says?  Then you find out that her husband has been dead for 15 years!  That is what it is like trying to maintain a marriage to a dead man (The Law).  We pity those who are bound by the dead husband, such that they can never live free, in Christ.

 

We cannot be married to The Law and to Christ!


Matthew Henry Commentary on Romans 7:1-6

We are married to Christ. The day of our believing is the day of our espousals to the Lord Jesus. We enter upon a life of dependence on him and duty to him: Married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, a periphrasis of Christ and very pertinent here; for as our dying to sin and the law is in conformity to the death of Christ, and the crucifying of his body, so our devotedness to Christ in newness of life is in conformity to the resurrection of Christ. We are married to the raised exalted Jesus, a very honourable marriage. Compare 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:29. Now we are thus married to Christ, (1.) That we should bring forth fruit unto God, v. 4. One end of marriage is fruitfulness: God instituted the ordinance that he might seek a godly seed, Malachi 2:15. The wife is compared to the fruitful vine, and children are called the fruit of the womb. Now the great end of our marriage to Christ is our fruitfulness in love, and grace, and every good work. This is fruit unto God, pleasing to God, according to his will, aiming at his glory. As our old marriage to sin produced fruit unto death, so our second marriage to Christ produces fruit unto God, fruits of righteousness. Good works are the children of the new nature, the products of our union with Christ, as the fruitfulness of the vine is the product of its union with the root. Whatever our professions and pretensions may be, there is no fruit brought forth to God till we are married to Christ; it is in Christ Jesus that we are created unto good works, Ephesians 2:10. The only fruit which turns to a good account is that which is brought forth in Christ. This distinguishes the good works of believers from the good works of hypocrites and self-justifiers that they are brought forth in marriage, done in union with Christ, in the name of the Lord Jesus, Colossians 3:17. This is, without controversy, one of the great mysteries of godliness. (2.) That we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter, v. 6. Being married to a new husband, we must change our way. Still we must serve, but it is a service that is perfect freedom, whereas the service of sin was a perfect drudgery: we must now serve in newness of spirit, by new spiritual rules, from new spiritual principles, in spirit and in truth, John 4:24. There must be a renovation of our spirits wrought by the spirit of God, and in that we must serve. Not in the oldness of the letter; that is, we must not rest in mere external services, as the carnal Jews did, who gloried in their adherence to the letter of the law, and minded not the spiritual part of worship. The letter is said to kill with its bondage and terror, but we are delivered from that yoke that we may serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness, Luke 1:74,75. We are under the dispensation of the Spirit, and therefore must be spiritual, and serve in the spirit. Compare with this 2 Corinthians 3:3,6, &c. It becomes us to worship within the veil, and no longer in the outward court.
(from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, PC Study Bible Formatted Electronic Database Copyright © 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All Rights reserved.)

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Jewels from Romans #16

Romans 11:19-22

19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”
20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe.
21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.
22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.
(ESV)

The Jews were a nation most favored by God for a period of perhaps two thousand years, from the time of Abraham up to the time of Jesus Christ and the beginning of the church. However, we are told in Romans 11:25 that the majority of Israel failed to rejoice in Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah, and thus have hardened their hearts. “Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” (ESV) There was at the time of the Jesus, and still is today, a remnant of Jews who are alive to the gospel message and are saved. Romans 11:5 “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.” (ESV) But the majority of Jews are hardened against Jesus Christ.

The question we want to consider today is “Why?” Why is it that the Jewish nation became hardened to Jesus Christ, and why is it that the Gentiles were then grafted into the olive tree whose roots go back to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? We find the answer to the first question in the beginning of Romans 11:20 “They were broken off because of their unbelief…” (ESV) The Jews were branches broken off from the olive tree because the majority refused to believe in Jesus Christ, that He is the promised Messiah, that He is the Lord and Savior, that He is the only way to God the Father. We are told concerning Jesus Christ in John 1:11-13 “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (ESV)

The second question is answered in the next phrase of Romans 11:20 “…but you stand fast through faith.” (ESV) The Gentiles have become part of the olive tree because of faith, which is a gift of God. God in His unsearchable mercy took from the heathen Gentile nations a people who were rebellious against God and made them part of His most favored nation. We saw this begin very early in the book of Acts with the Ethiopian Eunuch and Cornelius the Centurion. Romans 11:30-32 says “Just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.” (ESV) A common characteristic between Jew and Gentile is that all are disobedient. And another common characteristic is that God has chosen to be merciful to the elect of both Jew and Gentile nations.

The primary point that I wish to focus on today is the warning found in Romans 11:20-21. “So do not become proud, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.” (ESV) It would be easy for the church, which is primarily made up of Gentiles today, to become proud and boast against the Jewish nation. Paul warns us that this pride would be ill-founded, and that, instead, the church today should stand in awe before God because of the wonderful work He has done. Otherwise, notice what Paul says in Romans 11:21. God is able to cast off the Gentile nations from His promise just as He did with the Jewish nation. “For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.” (ESV)

I am convinced that we have seen this casting off begin to take place in America. America was once a Christian nation, a nation founded on Christian principles, a nation blessed to see many great awakenings by the power of God, a nation which was a beacon of light for the rest of the world. But now America has fallen largely into a state of unbelief. A repeated theme that I have heard among the most respectable Christians in America today is that the “American Way” is no longer the Christian way. Albert Mohler wrote about this in a blog this week entitled “The ‘American Experience’ and the Death of Evangelism.” Paul Washer has commented that churches in foreign nations no longer want to see missionaries come from America because we no longer hold to the gospel message. We are a perverting influence rather than a saving influence.

It is time that we here in America look at the history of the Jewish nation as an example of what awaits those who fall into unbelief, who reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In 70 A.D., Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, and the Jewish nation was scattered across the earth. And ever since, the Jews have been persecuted in practically every land they have settled in. Since 1948, the history of Jews who have returned to Israel has been nothing but warfare and terrorism. We should heed the warning of Romans 11:21 “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.” (ESV) We are called to do two things:

1) notice both the extent of the kindness and the severity of God, and

2) continue in the kindness. In other words, do not fall into a state of unbelief.

And the place to begin this work is within what is left of the church in America.

By Berean Husband

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Jewels from Romans #15

Romans 10:1-3

1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.
2 I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
(ESV)

In Romans chapters 9-11, Paul writes concerning the spiritual state of the Jewish people. Even though we know Paul primarily as the Apostle to the Gentiles, we find that his heart still longs for the salvation of his Jewish brothers. In Romans 10:2, Paul describes the Jewish people as having a zeal for God, but that this zeal is not properly directed according to the knowledge of the truth. “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” (ESV) This lack of knowledge is manifested in two ways according to Romans 10:3. “For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.” (ESV) First, we see that they were not able to grasp that following the Law could never result in the righteousness that God required. Paul tells us in Romans 4:13 “For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.” (ESV) Second, we see that they worked to establish their own standard of righteousness. That is why we read such statements in the Bible as Matthew 23:4, where Jesus says of the scribes and Pharisees “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.” (ESV)

I believe that we have this same problem within the broad community which calls itself Christianity today, although it is manifested in a completely different way than the error of the Jews in the first century. Today, there are a lot of people who obviously have a zeal for God, but this zeal is not according to knowledge. And being ignorant of what God requires for righteousness, these people have invented their own methods for the worship of God which have no basis in the Bible. I am thinking of many different things at this point, many of which have been written about in other posts here on the “Berean Wife” website. I am thinking of Rick Pino and the youth at his events dancing in bare feet swinging their socks over their heads. There is a lot of zeal for God there, but it is not according to knowledge. I am thinking about the antics of the counterfeit revival of Todd Bentley. I am thinking about prayer-walking, and taize, and labyrinth-walking. I am thinking about the homosexual Bishop Gene Robinson praying at the inauguration of a United States President, I am thinking about much of the Contemporary Christian Music scene. We recently made the switch to digital TV here at our house, not that we watch that much TV anyway. Now we get five channels of religious broadcasting from a local station. There is one channel that looks exactly like the MTV which I grew up on, except for the small MTV logo in the corner of the screen. These people may have a zeal for God, but it is not according to knowledge.

But I am also thinking about another group of people. These are the people who are all around me every Sunday at church. People who think that they are living a Christian life, but have left out Jesus Christ. These people have turned away from the righteousness which God requires in order to practice their own brand of Christianity which involves programs, Oprah Winfrey, correcting social ills, and worrying over having a democratic President. Or perhaps they are doing nothing at all except for showing up at church for an hour on most Sunday mornings (when there is nothing better to do, and the weather isn’t too bad). These people too may exhibit a zeal for God, but it is not according to knowledge.

Allow me to share a fictional story which makes the point right well. The condition of the “Christian” community today is like a husband who has just finished reading a book on marriage. This book has given him 100 ideas on how to please his wife. So he commences to do all 100 things at the same time: he brushes his teeth more often, takes a shower, trims his fingernails, goes out to buy her flowers, and also chocolates, then he does the laundry, makes the bed, reads to the kids, mows the lawn, gets the oil changed in her car. This goes on for hours, and then for days, then for weeks. But, all the while, this guy’s wife is standing in the middle of the living room, saying “All I really want is for you to pay attention to me.” We’ve treated Jesus Christ this same way. We are so busy for Him, that we’ve forgotten how to worship him. We need to hear the words that Jesus said to Martha in Luke 10:41-42 “But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (ESV)

By Berean Husband

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Jewels from Romans #14

Romans 9:6-9

6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel,
7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”
8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.
9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return and Sarah shall have a son.”
(ESV)

The topic for today is pragmatism, and specifically the heartache which is caused by pragmatism. In these verses in Romans just quoted, Paul has in mind the difference between the first two children of Abraham – Ishmael and Isaac. Ishmael, you may recall, was born out of pragmatism, while Isaac was born out of faith. Notice that, even though both sons were born to one father, Abraham, that the offspring of Abraham would only be named through one of those sons – Isaac. Why would God decree this? Because of the example given to us as shown in Romans 9:8 “This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.” (ESV) God decreed that the child born of the flesh, that is, because of pragmatism, would never be a child of God.

Unfortunately, many of the so-called evangelical churches today are giving birth to children of the flesh. We have sacrificed the gospel message, a contrite heart, brokenness over sin, and repentance for a “decision to accept Jesus Christ into your heart.” Nowhere in the Bible are the ideas of “salvation” and “decision” ever linked together. This is an invention of pragmatism in order to swell the church membership. Why else would 60% of the membership of the Southern Baptist Church never attend church?

But this post is not about pragmatism in general, it is about the heartache of pragmatism. In order to see the heartache of pragmatism as it relates to Romans 9:6-9, we must turn back to the book of Genesis and read an account from the life of Abraham and Ishmael.

Genesis 21:8-12

8 And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.
9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. 10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.
11 And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son.
12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.
(KJV)

Notice the reaction of Abraham when both his wife Sarah, and then God Himself, tells Abraham that he must cast out Hagar and Ishmael. Abraham was grieved. The KJV uses the words “very grievous”. The word “grievous” comes from a root word meaning “breaking”. I think we might could say that it broke Abraham’s heart to have to cast out Hagar and Ishmael. Why was it so hard for Abraham to do so? The end of verse 11 tells us it was “because of his son.” Regardless of the circumstances of how he was born, Ishmael was still Abraham’s son.

I think that we see a very similar heartache due to pragmatism in the church today. How many young children become members of the “church” through our typical Vacation Bible School program, only to never be seen again? How many of our youth drop out of “church” on the day they finish school and leave home for college or career? How many couples have joined the “church” on transfer of their letter, only to be found on lake or at the beach or on the ski slopes every Sunday? I am not a pastor, but I can only imagine the heartache a pastor must truly feel over the fact that so few of the church’s “converts” really appear to be converted. That is, unless the pastor glories in numbers rather than seeing people changed by the power of God.

Is there a solution to the problem? Yes, I think there is. I think that the answer to this problem is found in Romans 9:9 “For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return and Sarah shall have a son.” (ESV) Abraham’s troubles started when he lost sight of the promise of God and took matters into his own hands. Similarly, I think that the church’s trouble starts when we fail to wait on the promises of God and take matters into our own hands. We are told in 1 Corinthians 1:21 “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” (ESV) We think that relying in faith on the preaching of the gospel message to reach those God intends to join the church doesn’t produce enough converts, or enough baptisms, or enough interest in joining the church. So we turn to the methods of pragmatism. We water down our preaching and teach insipid Sunday School lessons, and then turn to other “fun” things to attract people into the church. But the problem with this is that all of our programs are bringing children of the flesh into the “church” without the power of God ever converting them to become children of God. The church today needs to learn to wait, to be obedient, and to trust fully that God will draw those who are to become members of our local congregation. We don’t need to rent a searchlight, we need to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, the light of the world.

By Berean Husband

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Jewels from Romans #13

Romans 8:23-26

23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words
. (ESV)

Why is it that God does not take Christians to heaven immediately at the time of their conversion? The passage in Romans cited above tells us that waiting in faith is a necessary to develop spiritual maturity. Perseverance here on earth has a required role in our sanctification. We become more and more conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ as we face trials and temptations. We all have weaknesses which we learn to overcome through time and testing. The time we spend here on earth as Christians is a step in our learning to trust fully in God.

But notice that we are not left alone in facing our weaknesses. Romans 8:26 tells us “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (ESV) What kinds of weaknesses does Paul have in mind here? I think he is talking about physical weaknesses – sickness, disease, pain. I think he is talking about emotional weaknesses – grief, loneliness, anger. I think he is talking about moral weaknesses – succumbing to temptation. And I think he is talking about spiritual weaknesses – doubt and fear.

When we adopt this view of patience in working out our sanctifications, we can understand Romans 8:28 in a new light. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for I those who are called according to his purpose.” (ESV) God is working out everything that happens to us for our sanctification. Not everything that happens to us is good, but God is causing all things to work together for good. And what is the greatest good? Romans 8:29 tells us “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (ESV) The greatest good that God is working out in our lives is to be conformed to the image of His Son Jesus Christ. Therefore, God is using all the events of our lives to:

• bring us to repentance, to the point where we hate sin;
• bring us to contrition, to the point where we hate self-righteousness;
• bring us to humility, to the point where we hate pride;
• bring us to faith, to the point where we hate doubt.

I am sure there are other items we could add to this list. The point is that God is working out all things in our lives in order to bring us to greater and greater conformation to His Son Jesus Christ.

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Jewels from Romans #12

Romans 8:3-6

3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
(ESV)

Why was the Law not all that we needed in order to please God? After all, in Psalm 19, we read the following verses which pertain to the Law of God:

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
(ESV)

It seems to me from these verses in Psalm 19 that the Law is everything we need to gain a right standing before God and to live a righteous life. The Law revives the soul. God’s testimony gives us wisdom. God’s precepts bring joy. The rules of the Lord show us the way to righteousness. So then, why is the Law not everything we need?

Paul answers this question for us in Romans 8:3-4 “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (ESV) There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Law. The problem is with our flesh. Paul tells us that the Law is weakened, not because it has some inherent flaw, but by our flesh. More specifically, the problem is with the sin that had dominion over our flesh. The Law has failed to make us righteous in either a spiritual way or a practical way. No one is able to obtain a right standing before God by obeying the Law, and no one is able to live a daily life of righteousness by obeying the Law. And the problem is not with the Law, the problem is with us, because we sin.

But what the Law could not do, Jesus Christ could do. Jesus Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh. He had a human body just like you and me. However, since Jesus was also God, He was able to live a sinless life in his body, and by his crucifixion He condemned sin. Jesus appeased the requirements of the Law on our behalf. When the righteousness of Jesus is imputed to us, the end result is just as if we had lived a life in complete obedience to the Law.

But notice I said that there were two problems with the Law. First, the Law was not able to impute righteousness to us so that we can have a right standing before God. But second, the Law could not also empower us to live a daily life exhibiting righteousness. Paul deals with this second issue in Romans 8:5-6 “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (ESV) Allow me to ask you a personal question here: What is your relationship to your flesh? Is your mind set on the things of the flesh, that is, do you live your life paying constant attention to fulfilling the desires of your flesh? If the true answer to this question is “Yes”, then you have your mind set on death. But if your mind is set on the things of the Spirit, then your mind is set on life.

Let’s keep reading in Romans chapter 8.

7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
(ESV)

What is a “carnal Christian”? The term itself is an oxymoron according to the doctrine of the book of Romans. It is more than an oxymoron, it is an impossibility. Romans 8:7-9 tells us four facts about a person whose mind is set on the flesh, fulfilling the desires thereof:

· First, the person whose mind is set on the flesh is hostile to God. Only a life lived after the Spirit is at peace with God.

· Second, the person whose mind is set on the flesh will not and cannot submit to God’s Law.

· Third, the person whose mind is set on the flesh cannot please God.

· And fourth, the person whose mind is set on the flesh does not have the Spirit of Christ in them, and therefore does not belong to Jesus Christ.

Do these four things describe a “carnal Christian”? No, of course not. These four things describe the state of the majority of people in this world, and, unfortunately, a majority of people who think they are in the church today. These four things describe the mind of an unbeliever who is hostile to God. I recently had a pastor lament to me that he was disappointed with his congregation because after a time of worship, singing, prayer, and studying God’s word, the first thing the people did was talk about football. Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh.

So, allow me to ask you my question again: What is your relationship to your flesh?

By Berean Husband

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Jewels from Romans #11

Romans 6:13

13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. (ESV)

My home is filled with musical instruments. As I sit here at the computer in our study, I can look behind me and there is a table the size of a dining room table filled with musical instruments, and several more sitting on the floor around me: violins, guitars, a flute, a harp, a piano. Fortunately, they are all quiet now at 6:00 a.m. on New Year’s Day. And why are they all quiet? Because there is no one around to play them. There is no danger that I am going to pick up one of these instruments and play it. I have compassion on the other people in this house.

Now, why all this talk about musical instruments in a blog about Romans? In Romans 6:13 Paul writes “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” (ESV) The Greek word translated “instruments” in this verse is “hoplon”, which means “an implement, utensil, or tool”, and is especially related to weapons of warfare. And what is a primary characteristic of an instrument? It does nothing on its own. None of the musical instruments behind me are suddenly go to start playing Bach by themselves. Swords do not kill people by themselves. Hammers do not drive nails by themselves. All of these instruments require an active force using them before they can do anything.

So, what is the point? Every one of us carries around an instrument with us everywhere we go. In Romans 6:13, this instrument is called our “members”. Collectively, our members get together to form our body. It goes everywhere we go. And how is our body an instrument? Once again, Paul writes in Romans 6:13 that either sin can use our body to play a song called “Unrighteousness”, or God can use our body to play a song called “Righteousness”. And notice that we have a part to play in the choice of which song is played. In Romans 6:13, Paul writes “Do not present…but present”. These are both active and imperative commands. The tense of “do not present” indicates an action which had been done in the past but needs to be stopped immediately. And the tense of the second “present” indicates something which needs to be done immediately. I like the word the KJV uses instead of the word “present” in these verses. The KJV uses the word “yield.”

Is it a hard choice to make? For me it is. I find myself yielding my body to sin to play a song of unrighteousness far more than I should. But it should not be a hard choice to make. Look back at the preceding two verses in Romans chapter 6:

11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions
. (ESV)

As Christians, our old self was crucified to sin along with Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary. And our new self was resurrected with Jesus Christ on Easter morning. Sin should no longer reign in our bodies. We have a new Lord, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. I would much rather hear a song of righteousness being played through my body by the hands of the Maestro Jesus Christ instead of hearing the cacophony of the song of unrighteousness that sin plays every time it gets hold of the instrument of my body.

By Berean Husband

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