Tag Archive | Romans

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.



Share

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. 🙁


Share

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

Share

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

Share

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

Share

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.

Share

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

Share

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

Share

Jewels from Romans #10

Romans 6:1-5

1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
(ESV)

In Romans 6:1-5, Paul describes the relationship which exists between the believer and sin. The believer is dead to sin. Before we were converted, we were dead in our trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1-3 says “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (ESV) But when we became alive in Jesus Christ, we became dead to our sin. When Jesus Christ was crucified, our old self was crucified along with Him. And when Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, our new self was raised along with Him.

But I hear an objection to this idea. And that objection is coming from me. I don’t feel like I am dead to sin. I feel like sin is still alive and well within me. There is not a day which goes past during which I do not sin multiple times over. Does that mean that I am not a Christian since I struggle so with sin? No, that is not the case, because, if it were true, then there would be no Christians. I am not the only Christian who struggles with sin. The key to gain a better understanding is in Romans 6:2 “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (ESV) The Christian no longer lives in sin. That does not preclude the Christian from sinning on occasion, but it does preclude a Christian who still lives in sin. The Apostle John put it this way in 1 John 2:1 “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (ESV) And again in 1 John 3:6 “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” (ESV)

Therefore, belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ not only imputes righteousness, it also gives the power to live a life of righteousness. In Romans 6:4 we read “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (ESV) This is not talking about what we will be like after we are resurrected. This is talking about a here-and-now fact of life of being a Christian. Here are a couple of more passages from the Apostle Paul, which speak to this idea of walking in the newness of life.

Ephesians 4:20-24

20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!—
21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus,
22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,
23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
(ESV)

2 Corinthians 5:17

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (ESV)

So, then, if I am indeed dead to sin, and if I indeed have been raised to walk in newness of life, why do I still struggle with sin so much? Paul is going to answer this question for us in detail in Romans 7:7-25. Here is an excerpt from this passage:

Romans 7:14-20

14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.
15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.
16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.
17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.
19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me
. (ESV)

No, I admit that I may be way off base in the next comment, but I’m going to write it anyway. I may be dead to sin, but my sin is not dead to me. As long as I live in this body of flesh, sin still wants to have control over this corrupted body. Therefore, there is a constant struggle, a constant war, going on between my new self and the sin which wants to gain control over my old body which I am still dragging around. After all, my old body used to belong to sin – it was rightfully the possession of sin. Sin wants nothing more than to regain control over what used to be its rightful possession.

By Berean Husband

Share

Jewels from Romans #9

Romans 4:4-5

4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.
5 And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness
(ESV)

Thought #1: It is an affront to God to try to pay in any way for the grace which He has extended. If you want to pay at all, you must pay the full price. Let’s suppose you have a friend who is an artist. He makes his living by selling paintings at a local art show. And let’s say that your friend is quite good, and most of his paintings sell for several thousand dollars each. One day you visit with your friend at the art show and he – out of the blue – takes one of his paintings off of its stand and gives it to you as a gift. Do you offer to pay him $20 for the painting? No, of course not. Offering an artist $20 for a work of art worth $2000 is a slap in face. In the same way, anything you offer to God in attempt to pay for his free gift of grace is a slap in God’s face. What could you possibly begin to pay that would match the value of the grace of God? In the words of Isaac Watts from the hymn “When I survey the Wondrous Cross”:

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

And just so we know, what would be the full price to pay for what God offers to us freely? Read a couple of verses and you will get the idea:

Matthew 5:20 “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (ESV)

Matthew 5:48 “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (ESV)

James 2:10 “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” (ESV)

There is a Biblical precedent for this idea. Do you remember the story of Simon the Sorcerer from Acts chapter 8. When he saw the gift of the Holy Spirit being given through the work of the Apostles, he offered them money to be able to do the same. Here is the exchange between Simon the Sorcerer and Simon Peter the Apostle from Acts 8:18-21:

18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money,
19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!
21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.
(ESV)

Thought #2: Here is a related but kind of different thought. It is also an affront to God to think that He extends grace as a payment for our good works. Consider the parable of the workers in the vineyard found in Matthew 20:1-16:

1 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.
2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’
5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same.
6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’
9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius.
10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius.
11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house,
12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’
13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?
14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you.
15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’
16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”
(ESV)

Did the workers hired for the last hour of the day deserve a denarius, full payment for working an entire day? No, of course not. It was the grace of the owner of the vineyard that they received pay for a full day’s work. But there is something more to see than that. It was also grace that they were hired to work at all. Likewise for the laborers who were hired first thing in the morning. The fact that they were given a job at all was all by the grace of the owner of the vineyard. So it is for those who are part of God’s kingdom. Some have been laboring hard for God for years. But what they will receive is just as much from grace as the person who repents on their deathbed. No one is ever paid eternal life, it is a free gift. Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (ESV) And Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (ESV) No one in heaven will be talking about what they did to earn their salvation.

By Berean Husband

Share