For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1

Romans chapter eight opens with this,

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
(Romans 8:1 NASB)

I am not good at English grammar, and so I pay to have my work edited to an acceptable and readable degree. I said all that to say, that I may make odd and rather apparent statements, such as, for Paul to open with the word, therefore, is indicative of a thought that needs to be continued; and, it demands that we understand what that previous thought was. On that note, we ended our look at Romans chapter seven with this upbeat tone.

Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord! So then, on the one hand, I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
(Romans 7:24-25 NASB)

A small Bible study group I am involved in is studying the same section of scripture but leans heavily on Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on Romans. Wiersbe says that this “gives the “therefore” of no condemnation…” If that were all I had to go on, I would be scratching my head in bewilderment, but Wiersbe continues with – “a tremendous truth and the conclusion of a marvelous argument.” Well, yes it is, but suppose you had just joined the group that night, would you know what that argument was? Probably not.

In concise words, none of this would be possible if not for “Jesus Christ, our Lord.”

Assuming that you have been following my studies, the majority of you should realize by now, that until the day when this body gets changed, we are stuck with this body of death. In itself, that is a dismal proposition. Thank God Jesus went to the cross.

Here is where that change I spoke of, comes into play.

“in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the
trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:52 NASB)

As Paul stated in the NASB, “thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord, we are set free.”
If you operate on the principle that you died to this world and that dead people don’t have a problem with lust, then you should make it through this journey with relative success (spiritually.)

Eugene Peterson’s Message adds this commentary to Romans 7:25,

He (Jesus Christ) acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.” The parenthesis is added by me.

And the NLT puts a slightly different spin on 7:25 by saying,

Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ, our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind, I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature, I am a slave to sin.” If it were not for Christ Jesus, we would be lost forever. Ah, but we are not lost, because the answer to this brokenness in us that pushes us to fulfill our desires, is wrapped up in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

Some, like Warren Wiersbe’s commentary, will try to tell you that you were healed the day you accepted Christ. If you sat in meetings with me, where people try to own that idea, you would hear me say, “I wish that were true.”

As Paul said in chapter seven,

But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:16-20 NLT)

I have learned that, for me, in this life, I need to lean heavily upon the Holy Spirit.

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus

And with that, we move into Romans chapter eight.

The Complete Jewish Bible starts us off with the word, therefore, as do many other translations.

Therefore, there is no longer any condemnation awaiting those who are in union with the Messiah Yeshua. (Romans 8:1 CJB)

I often hear my spirit say, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The majority of the condemnation that I have experienced in this Christian life has come at me from religious people. Need examples?

  • The pastor who verbally accosted me and said that I am too edgy to teach Bible study; and yet, he allows others, who stand in defiance as they speak in opposition to accepted church Biblical values and doctrines.
  • An individual whom I used to deem a friend, called me a firebrand (this is a person who provokes people,) and scolded me in public because I try to get people excited about the Word of God.
  • And then, there is the brother in Christ who wanted to make himself look important by trying to argue me down in a home-group. The question was asked of the small group that night, how big was David when he fought Goliath. (Three hard pieces of Biblical evidence demonstrate his potential size, and it wasn’t small.)

So what is Paul saying? Even if abuse or hardship comes, there is NO condemnation awaiting us on the part of Jesus or the Father, because we are in union with Jesus by our acceptance of Him and what He did for us.

The statement, “there is NO condemnation” is straight forward. You would think we should all have this established in our thinking. However, even in a small group that I am part of, a dear lady, who we assume to be knowledgeable in scripture, said, then what do we do with what Paul said about confessing our sin? I told her, don’t you see, the assumption is that:

a. God has just moved you over to the “burn this one in hell” list because of your “sin.”

b. That sin, (You would not expect the eighty-year-old church lady, to be committing grievous sins of the flesh.) has everything to do with raunchy fleshly desires. IT DOES NOT. Sin is merely missing the mark. Every day, we have marks we have to hit, such as loving the unlovable. How does that work out for you? Yeah, me too.

If this “sinning” stuff were the end-all, then NONE of us would go to heaven.

c. This idea of confessing, as though it was a continual act of slaughtering a lamb for your sins, does not change God’s heart toward you. 1 John 1:9 NASB says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Well, obviously, John is talking about the God relationship, but the word confess is not what you think.

Confess is the Greek word homologeō and means to assent.
Assent, from Webster’s dictionary, means “the act of the mind in admitting, or agreeing to, the truth of a proposal.”

A proposal? So your mind has been presented with a proposal, and in many cases, the enemy is the one doing the proposing. Another way to look at this is, Satan offers you a jump (off a cliff for all I know,) and even though you are NOT being pushed, you choose not to resist that nonsense and take the jump. IF you have done that and survived, and you are now confessing to a safe and sane believer – hopefully, how you bought into the lie of the enemy.

Rejoice for you have done several positive things:

  • You have just become open and honest about your sin – in which you missed the mark.
  • You are at least, owning your actions, and the damage you may have created.
  • Now you have the chance to make a change and potentially NOT do that again.
  • And, our intercessor, Christ Jesus, is praying alongside you, for your healing and restoration to sanity.

Before I move on, I want to point something out.

We have many translations available for our usage. If you chose to use the KJV, for example, you would get this: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

Pay attention to these words:

who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

One version, the exeGeses ready research Bible, indicates that this line is NOT in the original manuscripts. Words added for clarity, such as “There is,are most often italicized, but that did not happen here, and, to make our understanding more muddled, the KJV gives me Strong’s numbers for the added line.

Confusing, absolutely, and it requires that we pay attention and dig a little more.

Now, what do I do with this dilemma that the added line creates?
For me, I run several tests on it, and I lean on the Holy Spirit.

If you are not filled with the Holy Spirit, then you need to ask the Father to fill you with that free gift. Scripture tells us that:

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (John 16:13 NASB)

So, clearly, the Holy Spirit is a huge benefit, and He – being a persona of God, no less than Jesus is, will show you the truth and guide into the truth. Sorry, but you are just going to have to learn to trust Him, just as you trusted Christ Jesus to be your Lord.

If I choose not to use the KJV translation with the added words, am I losing some deep part of God’s heart?

I did not pay much attention to this line before, as much of Romans was like muddy water. Today though, I find that the phrase most certainly implies the meeting of some conditional human standard. If that is the case, who set the standard because knowing that will influence how much effort I put into sorting this out?

Lacking an answer as to who set the standard, I move on to some other test. Now, I find myself asking, does what seem like God’s word truly reflect God’s nature and character; if so, how would I evaluate that? 

Considering that God sent His only Son, to die a brutal death, for a world that did not know or love Him, why would He now put stipulations, on what, Paul pointed out, are impossible in our flesh to fulfill, back on us again

I can learn quite a bit about God’s character just by looking at Jesus’ life. He told us, “whatever I see the Father do, I do.” And, as Peter said, “Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed of the devil.

“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38 NASB)

What I understand about what happened here in Acts 10:38, is that there was no exclusion, as all were oppressed by the devil. Again, I am aware that religious folk will accost you for advocating how Jesus operated by saying, the devil is not hiding under every bush, and they would be right. But consider this, Satan took one-third of the angels with him in his fall. One-third of a countless quantity is an astronomical amount, and they are all most certainly helping Satan in his final attempts at destroying anything and anyone that looks like Jesus.

The bottom line for me, God would not, and has not made a conditional relationship with us. Sadly, this very conversation became a point of contention in “Bible Study” one recent Thursday. Fortunately, I did my own personal study and then looked at the Wiersbe commentary and that is precisely what he found. I pointed this out to my critic and that person, for the moment, shut-up.

I must admit that having people walk according to the Spirit would be a better way of living for all of us, but we must learn to show people who are struggling, just as we do with the enemy’s taunts, a little more grace.

I am going to throw in a verse that I was reminded of today before I started working on this study on Romans 8.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 NASB)

I came upon this verse in Ephesian in my morning devotional. It is something a group of men I know, do every day. The writer of the devotional, Andy Stanley, asked the question, should we respond affirmatively to this merely because it is God’s Word, or should we follow the advice, because Christ has forgiven us? In other words, act like Jesus.

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Does the law = sin. Romans 7:7-25

We ended our last study on the premise that, as the NASB put it, we were released from the Law.

Romans 7:6 NLT But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.

Is that a true statement? Well, yes and No.

Yes, because we were released from the bondage associated with the law. How that works is wrapped up in Jesus’ death and resurrection, for through His death and resurrection He paid the price for our redemption and all sins were forgiven humankind.
(Easy, now, there seems to be a bit of catch to this hope of automatic forgiveness. This forgiveness, though very real, is a gift, and like any gift must be received.)
The question then is, have you received that gift of life in Jesus Christ?

The NO side of this answer comes out of several things.

  1. Jesus himself told us that the law would NOT pass away until all had been fulfilled, and only then would we be done with it. [Since some insist on references as proof, then you can look at Matthew 5:18; Mark 13:31; Luke 16:17.]

When will the law be fulfilled?
You could assume that this would happen when Jesus comes back as the warring Messiah Israel longs for. It is at this point that He will shut the mouth of His enemies, and takes His throne, once again, to reign forever. We see this triumphant return at the end of God’s wrath, (the period we love to call – The Great Tribulation,) as we transition into the millennial reign. A large portion of this descriptive is found in Revelation 19 verses 11-21. But there are other examples as well.

Jeremiah 3:17 NASB “At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the LORD,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the LORD; nor will they walk any more after the stubbornness of their evil heart.

Ezekiel 37:25-28 NASB “They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. (26) “I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. (27) “My dwelling place also will be with them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people. (28) “And the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel when My sanctuary is in their midst forever.”‘”

2. The “law” is now written upon our hearts.

Romans 2:14-16 NASB For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, (15) in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, (16) on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

Yes, I am very much aware the these are Gentiles that Paul is speaking of, and, the assumption is that they are godless, because they are NOT of our assemblies, nor have they done the religious things necessary to be acclaimed Christians.

Certainly, you can see that an aspect of the paragraph demonstrates that the “law” bears them witness before God on the day of judgment. Now, if God can write His law upon the hearts of those outside of standardized religion, then He is highly capable of writing His law deliberately upon those He calls His own.

Jeremiah 31:33 KJV But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

2 Corinthians 3:3-8 NLT “Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. (4) We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. (5) It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God. (6) He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life. (7) The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. (8) Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life?”

There is one other idea I need to mention.

3. For those hoping that this all bypasses the “law” and allows them to do whatever they want.

Doing whatever you want here on earth can get you killed, and for many, we have a legal system to deal with those who break the laws of man. However, the things you do here on earth have little to do with the end result of a life spent with the Father in the future. I will admit that there are those that will tell you that you can jeopardize God’s love for you and lose your salvation. (To think that God would ever turn His back on you is nothing more than broken human thinking and needs to be thrown out with the trash.)

Even though we are free from the bondage of the law through Jesus, there is something that may be even more constraining, and that is that we are considered bondservants to Jesus. You want that in plain English? A bondservant is a polite way of saying, slave. Be honest and ask yourself, what rights does a slave have? Truthfully, NONE, however, we are voluntary slaves because we have submitted our lives to Jesus and are therefore bondservants; and yet, we have the FREE WILL to destroy the body God gave us. Isn’t that peculiar?

So, this life we live in Christ is still one of choice. Do we, as the thief on the cross, choose to turn to the only one who truly loves us, and in a sense, bond ourselves in marriage; or, do we merely submit to his authority as slaves, in obedience? For me, the reciprocity of a marital relationship wins out. In human terms, the marriage relationship is not one where we are always lying in fields of clover without a care in the world; no, there are days when the sound of your spouse’s voice grates on your last nerve. Is it that way with the Father? Even if He calls me a moron, which He sometimes does, I still know that I am loved because we have a relationship based upon respect. (It is not because I respect Him that He loves me, but I have learned what His character and nature are, and out of that I have learned that He can be trusted and that He loves me without end.

What if the alternative is douleuō/slavery? A friend of mine, because of abuses, could not handle the thought of slavery; he could accept Paul’s words as long as he could see his role as one of a bondservant, simply because the bondservant, having been treated with respect, longs to stay in the relationship.

But now we have been released from the law,” but, as C. S. Lewis says, there is no easy Christianity.

The NASB opens the next section as:

The Law and Sin

Heres a standardized version to start us off.

(Romans 7:7 KJVWhat shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. (8)  But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. (9)  For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. (10)  And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. (11)  For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

If the law, as Paul puts it, caused or causes so much grief, then is it bad, or worse yet, is the law SIN? Eugene Peterson put it this way, “then it’s no better than sin itself.”

But you instinctively know this is not a true assumption because SIN came into the world at a time when there was no law as we understand it. Now hold up a minute and think about how that sin entered into the world.

Did Adam take a bite of the fruit before or after sin?
Sin was already active and waiting for him. If you want to get legalistic there was a law, in the form of a commandment – do not eat the fruit of that tree. Since sin is merely missing the mark, the mark for Adam was to obey that one commandment, which he chose not to obey. The commandment to obey was, in reality, a law.

When we read this epic story of humanity’s insertion into the earth and their fall, we assume the entire transaction took place in five minutes, after all, that’s how long it took my Sunday School teacher to tell the story while using the flannel board cutouts. The difficulty is, we don’t have any solid scriptural evidence that backs up that conclusion. Since the Hebrew word eon is contingent upon other words to define its time frame; and, there was NO clock or calendar, then the time frame between the commandment to not eat the fruit of that ONE tree and the damage done could have been a billion years. (Yeah, I know, that gives many of you grief, as you think the entirety of creation until this moment in time is only about 10,000 years. My word to you, your God is too small.)

Let’s try to analyze what Paul said in verse seven.

on the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law;” NASB

Are you trying to tell me, that Saul the pharisee did not realize that having people, like Stephen, killed by stoning, was missing the mark? Ah, but for Saul, Stephen, a blasphemer according to “the law/Torah,” was deserving of stoning.

Alright, then, let’s back up in time to a moment when the toddler Saul, first told his mother NO. This is something that every child does, but where does that rebellion come from? It’s there, already embedded, thanks to Adam.
Does a toddler understand that an outright refusal, lacking reasonable conditions, is inappropriate? They may not at first understand, but it is something they soon learn based on, if nothing else, a commandment (a parental law,) with appropriate enforcement. Should the child have functional mental capacity, then in a short course of time, they come to understand that there are repercussions for open, and antagonistic disobedience.

One of my grandsons was born with a cancerous brain tumor and had to have it removed on his third day of life. He is now 16, praise God. But between the ages of three and four, he did not just say no, he would slap you in the face. The common understanding among the family was that his brain and its ability to function appropriately had suffered tremendously from the tumor, the surgery, and then the chemotherapy treatments, and he was not, therefore, thinking clearly as a healthy child might. Still, the behavior had to be checked, and quickly.

So when Paul says I would not have come to know sin except through the Law, perhaps he is saying, having been taught that there was a law as a young child, I came to understand that going outside the parameters of the Law, was to miss the mark (sin.)

The Phillips translation reads: “sin in me, finding in the commandment an opportunity to express itself, stimulated all my desires.”

I must insert a memory that may help to understand this. As children, we had access to firecrackers and balsa wood airplanes, which we would blow up, and inadvertently annoy the neighbors. The problem is, once you blow up the glider, you need more. Lacking the funds to buy more, where do you think the mental drive pushed me? You got it, and that happened without having to think extensively about it; why? Because it is a part of us, embedded in us. So, the law for me was two-part: 1. My mother would make us boys put our hands in our back pockets so that she could monitor our activity in the store where they had the best glider collection. 2. Mom would also apply the heavy burden of religious guilt and the threat of hell if we stole another glider. This threat was a routine part of our lives when we were children, and to be honest, it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I was able to get past the idea of an ominous, hateful God.

The King James Version of Paul’s statement reads like this “I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.”

Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on Romans, along with many other translations, seems to focus on the word covetousness. The word covet as used in the NASB version of Romans 7:7 is epithumeō and means to set the heart upon, or, to long for. That can mean to long for anything which is not yours. I, too, have that problem when a really nice car or truck goes by me.

In Romans 7:8, the word applied is coveting. It’s a variation from the usage of the word covet that we see in verse seven, but not too much. Coveting is the Greek word epithumia and means a longing, especially for what is forbidden. For some, “lust” is a motivation to steal, while for others, it is to take the sexuality of a woman without her permission.

Can something be prohibited without a commandment or instruction? I would have to say no because God seems to have covered all His bases. This is evidenced in Paul’s next assertion.

Paul himself said the law of God is written on some people’s hearts. Why then do they take what is not theirs, and what excuse do they use?

Is it remotely possible that Saul, before he became known as Paul, as a young man, did not know Law and the ramifications? Hardly, he was a pharisee and ran with the best of them. The process of learning who you were and what was expected of you began early. These kids did not go to regular school, as many of us did, they went to synagogue school, or they were taught at home. But know this, the Torah (or law) was central to their education. So, it is safe to assume that Saul, much like what we saw in Jesus when at the age of 12, they found Him in the temple discussing the scriptures with the temple elders, would have been adept at scripture at an early age.

Romans 7:8 KJV “But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.”

I used the KJV version and it threw us a curveball because it used the word concupiscence – a word that NO ONE uses. It is still the Greek word epithumia (which I defined above,) and means a longing (especially for what is forbidden).

“But sin took the opportunity provided by this commandment and made me have all kinds of wrong desires. Clearly, without laws sin is dead.” (Romans 7:8 God’s Word)

So the law/commandments evoked all kinds of wrong desires. Apparently, most of which centered around fulfilling one’s desires, whether it be for something another person had or the attractiveness of a woman.

Again Paul’s words.

For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; (Romans 2:12 NASB)

So Paul can say, “for apart from the Law sin is dead.” Because, without the law, it would seem that there is no judgment, but you know that is not true, as they, the Gentiles outside of Christ, are judged through Jesus Christ. Fortunately, Christ paid for everyone’s debt on the cross.

“For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” (Romans 2:14-16 NASB)

Romans 7:9 Moffatt NT “I lived at one time without law myself, but when the command came home to me, sin sprang to life and I died;”

The NLT says, “the power of sin came to life.” Maybe that is another of saying, after the Law came, the party was over.

Romans 7:10 MSG “The very command that was supposed to guide me into life was cleverly used to trip me up, throwing me headlong.”

Another version: “…The commandment that was intended to bring me life was found to be bringing me death!” (CJB)

So, I should be able to look at what God did to the people Moses brought out of Egypt, as something that was supposed to guide them into life. I cannot imagine the law having any other impact upon them either.

Consider something: without the law, Israel had NO constraints.

Deeming Moses to be dead, they had Aaron make them the Moloch idol upon which they could go back to roasting their children to this “unknown” god. So the law then came to them, and sin sprang to life, and what happened, many of them died as well.

Romans 7:11 MSG “So sin was plenty alive, and I was stone dead.”

“Having one’s mind controlled by the old nature is death, but having one’s mind controlled by the Spirit is life and shalom.” (Romans 8:6 CJB)

  • A mind
  • Controlled by the old nature
  • Is death.
  • But somehow changing one’s mind to be controlled by the Spirit (This is the pneuma – the breath of God, or, as we know it, the Holy Spirit of God,) is life and peace.

How do you do that? We renew our minds by putting God’s Word into our hearts. Isn’t that nice, I used a religious phrase on you, “just put God’s Word into your heart.” Seriously?

Let me explain, as I have been preparing so that I can convey the obscure things Paul has been saying, I, too, have been absorbing these Words. In a sense, I have been putting them into my heart. Just days ago, I walked through these same words I am giving you, with a good friend of mine. We both had to admit that these Words, which are alive, are changing us, and we could both see the changes and identified them.

Romans 7:12 NIV “So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.”

Nothing conveys a theme better than the Word, so let’s look at what the Psalmist wrote.

For the word of the LORD is upright, And all His work is done in faithfulness. (Psalms 33:4 NASB)

Once again, Paul’s apologetic/common sense argument comes into play.

Romans 7:13 CJB “Then did something good become for me the source of death? Heaven forbid! Rather, it was sin working death in me through something good, so that sin might be clearly exposed as sin, so that sin through the commandment might come to be experienced as sinful beyond measure.”

“Then did something good become for me the source of death?”
I know, I have talked about this a lot recently, but you need to understand something. These people that God brought out of Egypt were effectively Egyptians, and followed after Egyptian god; Moloch is one of them. They had to be retrained and constrained. I can guarantee that they cried like babies.

Romans 7:14 CJB For we know that the Torah is of the Spirit; but as for me, I am bound to the old nature, sold to sin as a slave.

By the way, what Paul wrote here is not defeatist, it is an act of aggression, as you now recognize who and what the enemy looks like. No, I am not necessarily the enemy, but it sure is something that lives with me every day. Now, if we could grasp the idea, that we are in Christ, and that our relationship with Him is comparable to being baptized into His death, then we too are dead to sin, just as He is. (There is no much more than this, but I am trying not to lose you.)

In Celebrate Recovery, a spin-off of AA, you introduce yourself as, insert your name here _, a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, recovering from _ insert your problem here_. Mine happened to be rage.
The Apostle Paul can easily be visualized as standing before the crowd and saying,
Good evening. My name is Paul, a grateful believer in Jesus Christ,
and I am a recovering Pharisee, and a slave to sin.

Paul next talks about his own struggle.
Romans 7:15 CJB I don’t understand my own behavior—I don’t do what I want to do; instead, I do the very thing I hate!

My grandparents had all kinds of sayings, one of them was “landsakes.” I honestly don’t know what that means. I can speculate to no avail, but what I do know, is that when one of them said it, you knew they were not particularly thrilled with whatever you did. I can just hear Paul talking to himself as he says, “well for landsakes,” I don’t understand my own behavior.

If God lives in you, then there is a driving force inside you, called the Holy Spirit, telling you, you don’t need to be doing that!

In what seems like a struggle with the law, there comes this.
Romans 7:16 NLT “But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good.”

A general, and safe assumption, is that everything that has been said, has been stated on a previous occasion. This was not done to bore you, it was done because we forget, and, the most important aspect, all prophecy is born from patterns. Repetition helps to establish God’s prophetic word. Note David’s words.

Psalms 119:127-128 NASB (127) Therefore I love Your commandments Above gold, yes, above fine gold. (128) Therefore I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything, I hate every false way.

So, the law is good.
Romans 7:17 MSG “But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help!”

At some point in my readings, I saw this phrase, the law, above anything else, showed us that we need God’s grace. In recovery, one of the defining moments is when you realize that you are out of control and that you cannot do this by yourself. Our Christian walk is not so different, and that is why God sent the Holy Spirit. Oh sure, I, and you, need other believers to help us along the way, but of a kindred spirit and a sane mind. Why? Because we are broken, and our only hope of getting through this comes through Jesus Christ. The following is Romans 7:18-24 from Eugene Peterson’s Message.

I realize that I don’t have what it takes.
I can will it, but I can’t do it.
I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it;
I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.
My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions.
Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it’s predictable.
The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.
I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight.
Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps.
I’m at the end of my rope.
Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
(Romans 7:18-24 MSG)

I will admit at this point, that I am in tears because I have felt this way. Thank God I know what the next verse says.

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.
He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
(Romans 7:25 MSG)

Enough said.

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Released from the law, a fascinating thought. Romans 7:1-4.

The NASB entitles chapter seven:

Released from the Law

The translators opted to put the Bible into chapters; I suppose for the sake of clarity. The reality is, as most of you know, that Paul wrote this letter to the Church in Rome from Corinth. He never made it to Rome until he went in “chains.” (I am well aware that he may not have been in chains, but it makes a point, doesn’t it?

The church in Rome was comprised of a group of Jewish followers of Christ, and, an unknown number of Gentile believers within their assembly and anyone with a simple understanding can start at the first chapter of Paul’s letter pick up on the idea that this letter is centered around Jewish understanding, tradition, and culture issues.

Assuming that you for some reason decided to start in chapter seven, a chapter that opens with, “Or do you not know?” You, as the reader should be adequately lost, because you have entered mid-thought and have no idea what the conversation was about, nor do you know, who specifically he is talking to.

Or do you not know, brothers and sisters (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law is lord over a person as long as he lives?
(Romans 7:1 NET.)

  • The phrase, “Or do you not know,” has no explanation without a context.
  • There are a variety of translations and the NET version chose to refer to them as “brothers and sisters.” Language such as this is mere “church speak” for fellow believers, and obviously a mix of men and women. In reality, the translation is merely trying to not offend anyone by including women. However, Paul was a devout Jew and women, by tradition and earlier training, would not have been his focus in a conversation. So a version like the NASB, which simply says “brethren” leans more toward the Jewish attitude, and adds to the argument that his focus is on speaking to Jews who are having an attitude problem. (This attitude problem is spelled out in the earlier chapters of this letter. An example of Paul’s attempt at addressing their bad attitude can be seen as Paul opens this letter with, “I Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ.” The Jews, on one occasion, screamed back at Jesus with, “we have NEVER been slaves to anyone.” Really? Did you merely throw four hundred years of history out with the trash? What happened there in Egypt? There is also an attempt, on Paul’s part, to get these followers of Christ, to lay off the high minded attitude that you are better than the Gentile believers who have joined you.)
  • Note how the verse above says, “for I am speaking to those who know the law,” this is further evidence that Paul is addressing a crowd with a Jewish emphasis. Do not think for a moment that this letter that Paul wrote to the church in Rome is not meant for us, it is. The letter had both an immediate context and an extended and intended impact on you and I. If you read the previous posts on Romans six, then you would have seen life-changing terminology such as We were joined with Christ; baptized into His death; Raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives; Crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives; We are no longer slaves to sin.
  • The NET translation that used above ends with, “the law is lord over a person as long as he lives.” It would appear that we, especially since we are reading this, are quite alive. The obvious fact is that dead people don’t have to worry about laws anymore; or do they? Now I have to consider, or understand that the soul is eternal – made in the image of God, (Genesis 1:26) and never dies. But what then is death? Eternal separation from God. The law is primarily a Jewish orientation. Thanks to Jesus and the cross, the law was satisfied, but we are still required to love God and treat people decent. (That is my short version of the law.) The NLT translation says, “those familiar with the law.” Again, that would have been the Jews. Doesn’t that imply my exclusion? Sorry, but no, for the law, Paul argues, is written on our hearts.

Romans chapter six ends on this note: a transition, from slavery to sin, where your only reward is some form of death; to a life that is made holy because of, and through Christ.

I used several translations to build the paragraph below.

(Romans 6:20-23 ) In the past, you were slaves to sin, and you did not even think about doing right. (ERV)  Well, what did you gain then by it all? Nothing but what you are now ashamed of! The end of all that is death; (Moffatt ) However, now, freed from sin and enslaved to God, you do get the benefit—it consists in being made holy, set apart for God, and its end result is eternal life. (CJB) The payment for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord. (GW)

This new life has no payment, but it does have a gift – eternal life which is found in Christ Jesus. Having found and received this gift of eternal life, Paul poses the next question.

“Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?” (Romans 7:1 NASB)

Why would Paul make such an apparent statement as “the law only has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?” This is what I talked about just moments ago when I asserted, “The obvious fact is that dead people don’t have to worry about laws anymore.” But therein lies the problem. There are two kinds of death, but our heads only seem to focus on one of them – the cessation of breath.

To be dead here on earth is nowhere close to spiritual death, and that is what we were without Christ. Oh sure, the benefits of the cross, like forgiveness, were applied to the whole earth, but you still have to receive the gift, and the gift was and still is Jesus Christ.

Paul, knowing full well what the Jewish attitude is about divorce (God hates divorce,) speaks in a manner that Jewish believers would understand.

For example, a married woman is bound by Torah to her husband while he is alive; but if the husband dies, she is released from the part of the Torah that deals with husbands. (Romans 7:2 CJB)

It’s not just the law she is bound to, it is the Torah. To simply say “the law,” as many translations do, pushes us to look at this statement through Gentile eyes. In the world I understand, you don’t need a reason to get divorced anymore. You can simply be annoyed with the way they hold their toothbrush. So in my Gentile world, we are only bound by the law for as long some court document says we are. In the Jewish world, the man could merely abandon the woman. If he did that she would then be stuck between a rock and a hard place, but if he dies, then she is free to possibly remarry. Considering there was no social security or welfare, this was a brutal way to live.

Here is where the law makes the married couples’ life complex.

“Therefore, while the husband is alive, she will be called an adulteress if she marries another man; but if the husband dies, she is free from that part of the Torah; so that if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress.” (Romans 7:3 Complete Jewish Bible)

Fortunately, the story doesn’t end here.

Thus, my brothers, you have been made dead with regard to the Torah through the Messiah’s body, so that you may belong to someone else, namely, the one who has been raised from the dead, in order for us to bear fruit for God. (Romans 7:4 CJB)

And this statement, “you have been made dead with regard to the Torah through the Messiah’s body,” is exactly the focus of Romans chapter six. We don’t just get to be forgiven; we get to bear fruit for God. The saddest part of this is that many, learning of this freedom, will simply abuse it.

“For when we lived according to our human nature, the sinful desires stirred up by the Law were at work in our bodies, and all we did ended in death.” (Romans 7:5 GNB)

If a Doctor were to look at your genetic chain, they would see a marker at some spot, just as they do in everyone else, and they would declare you, no matter the impact it has on you, to be normal. This concept is a little easier to comprehend if think about Adam’s act of eating the fruit, as something that changed him genetically. Is that so impossible anymore? I don’t think so, as most of what we eat is genetically modified. Therefore, if a man can do it, then so can God.

So, when Paul says something like, “For when we lived according to our human nature,” he is talking about a permanently broken human nature, that drives us to fulfill our lusts, and a few of Satan’s as well. Now, as for that permanently broken aspect. Is that a hopeless cause for us? No, because there is something amazing that will happen to us.

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
(1 Corinthians 15:52 NASB)

That piece that is broken, will be fixed. I know this because I have an assurance that I am spending eternity with my Father, and that He will let nothing that pollutes into His kingdom.

I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:22-27 NASB)

Can you see why God had to have a plan in place from the very beginning?

But now we have been released from the law because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code. (Romans 7:6 NET bible.)

Let’s take this apart backward, sort of.

  • Because we have died to what controlled us.”

I am jumping ahead, but only because I have a point to make. Paul had the same problem I am now having, I keep missing the mark (Missing the mark is a derivative from Medieval archery, where an archer would miss the bullseye or mark. Our life is filled with opportunities to hit the mark, the only problem is, that the target, mounted on a bail of hay, could be well over 91.44 meters away. At this point, the mark, or bullseye, may look the size of a very small coin.)
How then do I come to understand that I have died to what controlled me?
Since everything we do has to have some faith attached to it, let’s start there. Symbolically, our understanding, and or, our act of putting ourselves in water before a crowd of people, demonstrate our faith in Jesus Christ. What did He do for us? He died for us so that we might live, and that association is our death along with Him. As I said earlier, dead people don’t have desires, and so I have to remind myself occasionally, that I am dead. Keep in mind that we don’t merely die, we live as well, but we live together with Him. And He is not bothered with sin in His condition either.

  • But now we have been released from the law.”

You want to know what you were released from? The bondage that the law brought with it. The law brought a fear of death, and, even worse, the law was only a temporary fix.
Our relationship with Jesus Christ brought us the gift of God, which is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Let’s focus on the term law for a moment. Jesus told us plainly,

“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.” (Matthew 5:17-18 NLT)

So the law, and it’s practical side – civility will be with us until Jesus is finally seated on the throne in the New Jerusalem.

Another, possibly more restrictive alternative is already in place.
When Paul opened his letter to the Romans, he introduced himself as a slave to Christ Jesus. Slaves have no rights and certainly no room or permission to an opinion. I suppose there are always exceptions to every rule, but in general, you do what you are told. So for Paul to make this statement about slavery was powerful, and it surely made a point to the Jewish readers.

In case you don’t know, slavery at this point in time was so common, that one in four humans was a slave.

At least, as our twisted minds see it, we had more options under the law for we, supposedly, could ignore the law.

“Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.” (Romans 6:19 NLT)

  • so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code.”

    Such a pleasant word, serve, unfortunately, it is the Greek word douleuō and means to be a slave, or, to be in bondage. Rewritten, the verse could easily read like this: “so that we may be in bondage to the new life of the Spirit.

    Do you still believe that you are not guided by the law? Certainly, we are not oppressed by the bondage and fear associated with the slavery of the law. But here, the law is written upon our hearts; it is a part of who we are now.

    And, we have the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us, if we will listen to His voice.

    Posted in Adam, angels, apologetics, Apostle Paul, bible study, disciplined, Faith, forgive, gentiles, God's character, grace, Hope, In Christ, Jesus, Jews, Mercy, Our being caught up, redemption, restore, righteous, Romans, Sin, strongholds, Thoughts, Thoughts on scripture, understanding, unrighteousness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:15-23.

    A quick jump into Romans, picking up where we left off, and I will use the Message, as it comes across like a 90 mile per hour fastball in the World Series.

    Romans 6:15 MSG So, since we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind?

    Take it easy with terminology like tyranny. God introduces the law with ten commandments. Does that seem so overwhelming? No, and not only that, but most of these commandments could be classified under the category of treat people decently.

    If you were paying attention in Sunday School, then you would know that the first one says, “love the Lord your God.” If you perceive that as tyranny, then perhaps you need to rethink what is going on at this point in the history of the nation of Israel, and your own life.

    Here is a short, but twisted history of “Israel.”

    The descendants of Jacob, with the help of the #2 man in Egypt, Joseph, also a son of Jacob, settled in Egypt. However, after the death of Joseph and a span of time, there was a regime change. The new ruler doesn’t know Joseph, nor does he care, but he seems to be very aware that these Hebrew sheepherders are very large in number, and so an intentional attempt at population reduction begins. God steps in because of the cries of His people and sends them a deliverer – Moses. After a series of devastating plagues, including a night that became known as the Passover, where the firstborn son, in the unmarked homes, would die, God’s people are finally allowed to leave. One of the monumental events in this migration is the parting of the Red Sea, through which Israel walked with over a million people. But, it is also the place where, once the people had crossed safely, God released the water He had been holding back, and drowned the armies of Egypt that were in close pursuit. You might think they would be thankful and worship, but that did not happen. In no time at all, they built an altar to the god Moloch, upon which they roasted their children.

    God made a keen attempt to control this nonsense and to try and remove the filth of Egypt from them. He called these instructions commandments; but apparently, many of you call them tyranny.

    So the implications are clear, we don’t have the freedom to act any way we choose.

    Alright then, how do we control ourselves? It’s more like, how is God going to do that in us? I say this because I live with the reality that is called me, and I know what this body wants to do, such as act out in rage. This refresher course in what we last studied should help you understand.

    “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7 NASB)

    Simply put, if you have given yourselves over to Christ by faith, you have been crucified with Him. God did this so that the effects we have to deal with because of these broken bodies, MIGHT be squelched, subdued, and conquered; and, that we would no longer be slaves to sin. Granted, if you are living a life that is out of control, you are simply a slave, following someone else’s commands. I say that with a sinister snicker, as so many of you think, you make your own decisions. You don’t.

    So what is the grand secret to making this all work? 

    If, because of your “new” relationship with Jesus, you can realize that Jesus died to sin, and you have given yourself to follow His example, then as we speak, you are dead to sin as well. Now, the practicality of all this is, you may have to remind: yourself, the enemy (Satan,) and a few of your acquaintances that you died to that junk that enslaved you for so long and that you choose not to partake any longer.

    This idea of choice is marvelous and freeing. You get to choose: to not jump at every whim Satan offers; you get to choose joy; and, you get to choose to forgive and forbear the bitterness that comes when you decide to be the punisher and gatekeeper of the mental prison in which you are keeping those that offend. 

    Alright, this is going to sting.

    Romans 6:16 NLT  Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.

    • Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey?”

    It might as well say, “what is wrong with you?” “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey?”
    How many things, outside of God’s will, have you given yourselves over to?

    • You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.”

    The choice is yours.
    Am I saying, that to choose poorly will send you to hell, hardly, but what kind of life will you live here on this earth? Let’s get something straight here; I write to people who follow Christ. Now the reality of that statement is that you, like me, either stumbled around in the darkness, or you are there now. I am telling you, time is short, and you need to get yourselves free.

    You were not called to be in bondage to anything.

    What is the very next thing Paul says?

    Romans 6:17 CJB  By God’s grace, you, who were once slaves to sin, obeyed from your heart the pattern of teaching to which you were exposed;

    Note, this is all and only, by God’s grace.

    • You, who were once slaves to sin,”
    • But you, “obeyed from your heart the pattern of teaching to which you were exposed;”

    Many will say, we are free from the law, and …”; and that is precisely how we opened this study today; however, I need to point something out, Jesus said, I have not come to do away with the law, merely fulfill it, and that is what He did.

    Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily, I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Matthew 5:17-18 KJV)

    And the reality is, that there is not a chance that all will be fulfilled until Jesus comes roaring back on the scene as the conquering Messiah that Israel has longed for.

    Are you telling me that the law is still out there, and I have to live by it? I am telling you that without thinking about it, you have been living by it, particularly if the Holy Spirit of God dwells within you.

    What is the first and most important commandment, was the question asked by the scribes and Pharisees? Number one on the stone tablets, and it still stands true today,

    Jesus replied, “The chief one is: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, with your whole mind, and with your whole strength. (Mark 12:29-30 Moffatt NT)

    And to this very day, He desires our love and attention. This is not an oppressive thing; it is the very reason He made humankind in His image, to have a relationship with. Most people who struggle with the notion that God’s desires are oppressive have usually come out of dysfunctional homes and relationships. Maybe, this should speak loudly to those of us who still have a chance to influence, in a positive manner, some young person, so that they don’t have to go through recovery like I have.

    Romans 6:17 and now 18 from another translation.

    You were slaves to sin. But I thank God that you have become wholeheartedly obedient to the teachings which you were given. Freed from sin, you were made slaves who do what God approves of. (Romans 6:17-18 GW)

    Think about that for a moment. “Freed from sin, you were made slaves who do what God approves of.” Slaves have no rights, and may only function within the parameters of their bondage, but this relationship we are in is one of freedom. Our freedom is found within the relationship, because outside, in the enemy’s camp, there is nothing but death. 

    So let’s end this study with a short speech from the Apostle Paul, and Eugene Peterson’s “Message.”

    I’m using this freedom language because it’s easy to picture. You can readily recall, can’t you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing—not caring about others, not caring about God—the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God’s freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness? As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn’t have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you’re proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end. But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master. (Romans 6:19-23 MSG)

    While I would not use Peterson’s Message as a study bible, it certainly says things in plain English at times. 

    Paul said to the group reading this letter, who was, by the way, primarily Jewish, I am using this language because it’s easier to picture. Watch this.

    “You can readily recall, can’t you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing—not caring about others, not caring about God—the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God’s freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness? As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn’t have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you’re proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end. But now that you’ve found you don’t have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death.”

    Death is an interesting concept as it has multiple meanings. Haven’t I told you that God has engraved you on the palms of His hands; what does that mean to you? To me, it means that I can never be pushed aside and given over to Satan and the hell God has planned for him.
    But, there are other meanings, such as literal death. Since your soul is eternal then a literal death would have meant a cessation of life down here.

    Wouldn’t it really be a question of where you will spend eternity?
    As a believer and one that may have been taken captive by the enemy, your life is not destined for hell, although it is grievous that you will have been rendered useless for sharing God’s love.

    The last deathly option is one that Adam may have come to understand; separation from God.

    To best understand this separation it would be good to visualize Adam. Adam had that freedom of relationship that Eugene Peterson’s Message was trying to convey when he said, as you have discovered the delight of conversing with God. Clearly, this was something that Adam seems to have lost.
    The implications of this separation, that many are proponents of, are that you have become dead to God, and therefore lost to hell. Jesus experienced this same separation on the cross, and did we lose Him to hell? NO, therefore God is not going to lose us to hell either.

    “…I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost,…” (John 17:12b NLT)

    And He still, to this very day, intercedes on our behalf, and He will not lose any.
    I know, there are unusual Bible passages, that imply that there are some that can and will fall away. One, in particular, was espoused by the Apostle John, however, I do not believe that people John is referring to, chose to belong to God in the first place.
    I will tell you though, I choose to believe that God calls to your heart frequently. Proverbs tells me that wisdom cries out in the highways and byways, therefore we need to tune into God’s voice, not the other way around.

    My suggestion, run to the one who loves you.

    Posted in Apostle Paul, bible study, Freedom from sin, gentiles, grace, Hearing God, Hope, In Christ, Israel, Jesus, Jews, judgment, Law of liberty, Mercy, overtaken, Prophetic, rapture, redemption, restore, righteous, Romans, Thoughts, Thoughts on scripture, understanding, ungodliness, unrighteousness, wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

    Today the Mormons came to my door.

    I don’t like confrontation, nor do I like to embarrass myself, so typically I tell the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witness, that I am not interested, and they leave; but not today.

    For years I have heard others talk about how they have disarmed every statement that the Elders have made. Few ever tell you that the elders gave their hearts to Jesus, but there is some twisted sense of pride, knowing that they dissembled their arguments.

    As I stood there, merely trying to be polite, I heard my spirit crying out, God, I have no clue as to what to say. So, I simply listened to their pitch, which was well-rehearsed, about how Jesus called disciples to himself, anointed them to be Apostles and prophets, and how that church grew out of their ministry. But the church went a tremendously long dark time because there were no prophets. At this point, the red flags went up, but I was still constrained by the Holy Spirit.

    The two elders alternated in sharing their parts of the story, but essentially they said, that “John the Baptist appeared to Joseph Smith and conferred upon him the Melchizedek or higher priesthood. After this Joseph Smith was directed to organize the Church of Jesus Christ again on earth, … and that through Joseph Smith, Jesus again called forth the twelve Apostles.” (I got the quote directly from their pamphlet, The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.)

    They then asked me if I wanted more information on Joseph Smith – the prophet; to which I replied, it isn’t about Joseph Smith, it’s about Jesus; while it is true the church did go through a dark time, and I made the point of talking about how there were four hundred years between Malachi and Matthew where no one seemed to hear God’s voice. But you need to understand something, Mr. Smith is not and was the only prophet in the earth. To prove my point, what do you do with the instructions God gave to Moses when Aaron and Miriam rose against him, for they too wanted to be deemed prophets.

    Numbers 12:6-8 NASB He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. (7) “Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; (8) With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?”

    I then told them how Jesus had appeared to me in a dream or a vision and laid out my life before me. Shouldn’t that according to God’s standard, make me a prophet as well? But don’t ask me to tell you what that title prophet means because no one listens to me. At this point, I brought up the most recent turn of events, as we found out, about a year ago, that my mother may have had pancreatic cancer. The Doctor would not say affirmatively without a biopsy and my mother refused the biopsy. The Holy Spirit spoke to me and told me, at best you will only have her for six months. Well, no one was willing to hear that. Two months later, the Holy Spirit told me to go say my goodbyes to her as she would be going home within the week. I called one of my brothers, who lives a distance away and told him that he needed to come quickly. Although he berated me, he still showed up the next day to say his goodbyes to mom. She died the following Sunday.

    As for false prophets and teachers, I know one personally, and today he espouses that the church MUST suffer through God’s wrath – that event in which He pours out His wrath upon Israel and the nations. This conversation then evolved into how I believe that God is out to save people and bring them into the kingdom. This can be seen in Matthew 24 and 25, where the Shepherd calls all the dead to Himself; these are people that were not part of the church, and by church standards, not worthy of God’s mercy. He separates the group called into those he designates sheep and those he terms goats; The sheep are then invited into the kingdom. Stunned, they ask why? To which Jesus says, because when I was thirsty you gave me water; when I was hungry, you fed me; and, when I was in prison you visited me. In reality, these people lived outside of their selfishness. The goats did none of those things and were cast off into outer darkness to follow their chosen leader – Satan. 

    I then told the two young Mormon men, that I pray for them often, as I do not wish for them to have to endure God’s wrath when merely believing in Jesus Christ as their savior was the way into God’s eternal kingdom.

    This led me to talk about the parable that Jesus told about the ten virgins. Do you realize that He was talking about the church today? I said, in a sense, you and I sit by some of those that make up the fifty percent. I looked into both their eyes. I asked, how is it that upon getting an invitation you would not prepare yourself, especially if you have a written invitation? These virgins ran out of oil, but did they ask politely? No, they demanded oil from the others, and not getting it, they went out into the night and tried to obtain oil from any of the households they could wake up. Obviously, they missed the entrance into the party, and I suppose, had to endure the potential wrath that is to come. I told them, that by the voice of the Holy Spirit, who speaks to me all the time, that I know that they have a comprehension of this Jesus I speak of. I also said I believe you have the potential of being one of those who will be caught up.

    There is no Joseph Smith, it is all about Jesus, and His word. I love His word, but I don’t waste my time with false prophets.

    They asked me if I would like them to come back with a book of Mormon, to which I said no, I can get several of those at the second-hand store if I needed one, but I don’t because I have Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

    I told them that I had chosen to be polite and friendly, just as I must choose Joy or to not be bitter. I told them how my small group had broken up over bitterness, and how that the remaining brother, because of the Word of God, has talked lately about the changes he perceives God is making in his life.

    I thanked them for indulging me and wished them a great day. As they walked away, I wiped a tear from eyes because having the Holy Spirit speak through me so powerfully, always does that to me. I then prayed a prayer, out loud, that I do not expect you to understand, but I said, God, just wreck their day. To me, that is when He steps into the middle of your life, changes everything, and turns your heart toward Him.

    I noticed something about this entire process. Within moments of answering the door, the fear and intimidation left me. All the questions I had in my mind just went away as the Holy Spirit began to speak through me. Honestly, it was such a short time ago and I am struggling to remember what and how I said it. To me, that is a pretty good indication that it was the Holy Spirit because I am not that clever.

    Posted in apologetics, apostles, confidence, deception, delivered, dreams, End times, Faith, false teaching, finisher, forgive, gentiles, God's character, grace, healing, Heaven, Hope, In Christ, Jesus, Mercy, Our being caught up, parables, Peace, Prayer, Prophetic, rescue, restore, spiritual gifts, the good news, The supremacy of Christ, understanding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

    Dead to sin, alive to God. Romans 6:1-9.

    So here is how Romans chapter five closes:

    God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20-21 NLT)

    God brings his law to “His people”, although they were not called Israel at this point, to show them how sinful they were.

    Stop here and think about this for a moment. With little to guide them or show them a way to God, who were they? By the time Moses, as a baby, comes on the scene, most were, for all intents and purposes, Egyptians.

    What if the only remaining family, that still held to the oral history – a history that takes them back to creation itself, is the one that brought Moses into the world? Do I know this is the way it happened? NO, but jump forward in time a bit, to where God’s people have barely escaped with their lives from Egypt.

    Soon after setting up camp, Moses does not only the impractical but the impossible, as he goes up into the mountain without food and water. Gone for forty days the people effectively declare Moses dead.

    Well, since God’s leader has to be dead, then it must be time for a return to what we know best, and they appoint Moses brother Aaron to make the god Molech for them.

    Didn’t I just say Moses’ own family may have been the only remaining link to the oral history of these people; and what do we see? Aaron, at the demand of the people,  gathers gold and fashions this half man – half calf altar with a hollow cavity and outstretched arms, that they used to sacrifice children.

    Read through the account that Stephen gives to the Jewish council that is about to have him stoned to death.

    “But our ancestors refused to listen to Moses. They rejected him and wanted to return to Egypt. They told Aaron, ‘Make us some gods who can lead us, for we don’t know what has become of this Moses, who brought us out of Egypt.’ So they made an idol shaped like a calf, and they sacrificed to it and celebrated over this thing they had made. Then God turned away from them and abandoned them to serve the stars of heaven as their gods! In the book of the prophets, it is written, ‘Was it to me you were bringing sacrifices and offerings during those forty years in the wilderness, Israel? No, you carried your pagan gods—the shrine of Molech, the star of your god Rephan, and the images you made to worship them. So I will send you into exile as far away as Babylon.’ (Acts 7:39-43 NLT)

    In his speech, he says, “you carried your pagan god’s – the shrine of Moloch, the star of your god Rephan, and the images you made. ..” No one on the Jewish council disputed with Stephen over these words.

    We are told in Exodus 32:28, that about 3000 men, and who knows how many women, died that day. Now, how sinful was Israel in this case? Sinful enough for at least 3000 people to die. 

    While that paints an ugly picture, Romans 5:20,21 has a more pleasant side to it.

    But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.”

    That being said, let’s look at Romans chapter six.

    The NASB entitles this segment: Dead to Sin, Alive to God.

    What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
    (Romans 6:1-2 NASB)

    What a great question: “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? Well, it makes sense; if sinning causes God’s grace to become more abundant, shouldn’t we just keep on sinning, maybe God will love us more? Don’t be foolish; sin will get you killed, and then you are no use to anyone.

    Paul answers his own question when he says,

    May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”

    Did you catch that? We who are in Christ, have died to sin. If you have died to sin, then theoretically, sin no longer exists to you. Sadly, we all know sin does still exist to us, so what is Paul trying to say? If you treat sin (Sin is an old English word meaning to miss the bullseye on a target – I include this terminology because it puts this idea of sin on an everyday playing field. It is common to all of us.) as though it is dead, then perhaps you won’t go out of the way to act out in sin. Try applying this concept to road rage, or having your own way – this also covers selfishness and showing mercy to others as Christ showed mercy to you.

    Paul has more on this dying to sin.

    Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. (Romans 6:3-7 NASB)

    • Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?”

    My statement was, We who are in Christ have died to sin. Did that happen because we got baptized? I don’t think so, besides, there are many who did not get baptized, and yet this idea of dying to sin applies to them as well. So then, it leans itself to a spiritual concept. Since many of us cannot seem to comprehend this from a spiritual point of view, then it has to be put it into words people can relate to, such as:

      • Christ’s death on the cross.
      • His baptism in the Jordan, and in death; and that takes us to His burial.
      • Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20a. NASBI have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;”
      • Having risen from the dead, Paul tells us in 1Corinthians 15:5-7, that Christ appeared to over 500 people. I point this out as it adds to the tangible evidence.
      • And although this is a little less tangible for most, His ascension into the heavens.
        Acts 1:11 is one of those places that speak of this.

    They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

    Sometimes, visualizing a concept causes it to become more of a reality to you.

    • Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

    Paul is using the Greek word baptízō here. It is a word that carries the meanings of to saturate and to overwhelm, but you cannot escape the fact that the word also means to immerse, submerge, and baptize. Based on this information, it is safe to assume that Paul is associating water baptism with Christ’s burial. In that case, it should prompt you to think more clearly about what you are doing when you get baptized. There is an old saying that goes a bit like this, “I am deadly serious.”

    The phrase is intended to shock your thinking, as there are beneficial things that can kill you, like tractors and the edged implements that attach to them. While baptism is not going to kill you, you are putting yourself in a substitutionary state to demonstrate that you are burying the past, and rising to a new life in Christ. This life, whether you get baptized in water, or not, can if you will let it, change everything about your life; in the Apostle Paul’s case and in the lives of all the Apostles but one, it was deadly serious.

    • For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,”

    This isn’t just focused on death, Paul also focuses on Christ’s resurrection. Our coming up out of the water represents such a moment of time. But here again, you probably did not grasp that concept the day you had your baptismal orientation.

    What happened that day that Jesus resurrected? The writer of the letter to the Hebrews goes into great detail how Christ Jesus:

    • was restored to full Son-ship;
    • made the heir of all things;
    • now shines with the radiance of the Father;
    • is the exact representation of the Father;
    • upholds all things by the word of His power;
    • as our high priest made purification of sins;
    • has had all things put under his feet;
    • and ever makes intercession for us.

    All this was done “so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.”

    Paul opened this letter to the church in Rome by introducing himself as a slave of Christ Jesus. Many years ago, the singer/entertainer Bob Dylan came out as a Christian and made an album. One of the songs went like this, you may serve the devil, or you may serve the Lord, but you are going to have to serve somebody. Just know that you don’t have to be a slave to sin; however, if you are, it was most likely a choice you made.

    Now, since we died with Christ, we shall also live with Him.

    As we ended our last study on Romans with this:

    “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; (7) for he who has died is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7 NASB)

    My mind takes me to a time when I was about 12 years old. Some of the boys from church that I tried to hang out with, went down front to accept Jesus Christ as their savior, and so I joined them; however, I cannot remember a time when I did not know Him – thank you, Mom. So, let’s say that at my age currently, I have always known the Lord.

    If that is the case, how did I have such a catastrophic moral failure at midlife?

    Doesn’t Paul say, that he who has died is freed from sin?
    He does, and so the unmistakable fact is, the prodding that we have to sin is ever-present with us. The easiest way to understand “sin” is that it is genetic, passed down from Adam, and we will NEVER, while we live in these mortal bodies, be free from the attraction of “sin.”

    If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:10-11 NASB)

    And if we are giving this an honest look, then we have to admit that Paul also struggled with this embedded sin.

    For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. (Romans 7:18-19 NASB)

    Paul explains all this as we weave our way through Romans, but allow me to follow my train of thought.

    Since I can’t escape the sin that is a part of me – short of death, then my relationship with Christ must give me another solution, and it does.

    Pay attention to the phrase, “for he who has died is freed from sin.” Obviously, I did not die, Christ did, but through His human activity that took place, and because of His death and resurrection, He eliminated all spiritual penalties associated with that sin; and, as the sacrificial lamb/scapegoat, He paid for and canceled all – past, present, and future compensation for sin – things that we habitually associate with God and punishment. 

    Note: this action on the part of Christ does not get you off the hook with local, state, and federal laws, although there have been instances where it has.

    The most significant impact Jesus’ death and resurrection has is when religious zealots want to try to put sin, and the guilt associated with that sin, back on you through manipulation. Hey, if you are going to a church that does that, GET OUT and find another church.

    Moving on with Romans 6:8 – We shall also live with Him.

    Romans 6:8-9 NASB Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, (9) knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.

    Symbolically, we died with Christ when we got baptized or believed with understanding. In using the terminology “now if,” Paul may be trying to assuage some doubts, that he has, with the relationship some, who claim to be in Christ have demonstrated. In my own extended family circle, we have one who did all the religious things; however, it did not stop him from cheating on his wife several times; and, based on his actions, I would say that his fruit dies on the vine far too frequently. The Apostle John said something similar.

    The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; (1 John 2:4 NASB)

    Only a few paragraphs later, there is this cryptic passage.

    Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this, we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:18-19 NASB)

    Obviously, there are those in our congregations that really are not of us. But here is the problem with that, as Jesus said, we city folk can’t tell a stalk of wheat from the weed Downy Brome. Try to pull out the weed that looks very similar to wheat, and we may pull a few good stalks of wheat in the process. The details of this parable are found in Matthew 13:24-30 and I will leave you to pursue that.

    There is, however, a context to Paul’s statement that he makes in Romans 6:8-9, as he is referring to what he had previously stated when he said, “he who has died is freed from sin.” Spiritually, in God’s eyes and the heavenly record books, this is blatantly true; if I can accept that Christ died for me, and have faith in all that He has done for me. (That is really quite a mouth full.)

    What is it that gives first Paul, and now I, the understanding that we are now free from sin? Romans 6:9

    “Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death is no longer is master over Him.”

    Jesus Christ is never going back on the cross. The price He paid was enough; not the kind of enough that barely gets you through, but the kind that is seen as over-achievement.

    Pay attention to the words “death is no longer master over Him.” While it is true that Jesus has conquered death and it is no longer master over Him, for the time being, death, and all its ramifications, still exists, humans continue to sustain injury and cease to breath; and, people still have the option of choosing spiritual death over life, this essentially brings about their separation from God.
    If death is no longer master over Him, then death no longer has control over those of us who have chosen to follow after Jesus Christ.

    Paul repeatedly makes this point about how our relationship is in Christ.

    Romans 8:38-39 NASB For I am convinced that neither death nor life, … will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    1 Corinthians 15:22 NASB (22) For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ, all will be made alive.

    Ephesians 2:13 NASB But now in Christ Jesus, you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

    I am of the belief that this information should be retaught frequently because we forget who we are, and who we belong to. Remember, YOU are in Christ and dead to this world. As one who struggles with anxiety and depression, then I am talking to me as well. 

    Have you ever heard someone say, “Thanks, I needed that.” Well, I needed to hear this again, and so do you.

    Posted in advocate, bible study, condemnation, confidence, Faith, forgive, Freedom from sin, grace, guilt, Hope, In Christ, Israel, Law of liberty, Mercy, overtaken, righteous, Romans, Thoughts on scripture, understanding, unrighteousness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Death in Adam, Life in Christ. Romans 5:12-21

    The NIV entitles this section – Death in Adam, Life in Christ

    Here is a standard version of Romans 5:12.

    Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people because all sinned— (Romans 5:12 NIV)

    How about another translation that is a bit more relaxed, and perhaps, more comfortable to grasp.

    When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. (Romans 5:12 NLT)

    [A good question to ask here is: What was Adam’s understanding of death? Evidently, since God made the man in His exacting image, then Adam should have had an individual copy of God’s knowledge as well, but we don’t know that. Our presumption, although it clashes with the young earth crowd, is that Adam had to exist among the predatory dinosaurs. Since Adam named ALL the animals, then that would make sense. Considering that Adam had complete dominion over the earth, then I can safely assume that Adam could suppress any behavior with a word. Since we have nothing in scripture to enhance that idea, then I have to go with the theory that the first act of violence Adam witnessed was performed by God. Why tell someone you are will die that day, and then show them, after the fact, the death of several animals? That doesn’t make much sense, does it?]

    And for contrast.

    Here is how it works: it was through one individual that sin entered the world, and through sin, death; and in this way, death passed through to the whole human race, inasmuch as everyone sinned. (Romans 5:12 CJB)

    It would seem to be common knowledge, even among the atheists, that sin came into the world through Adam. An acquaintance of mine would say, no; sin came into the world through Satan, or perhaps Eve. To think this way disregards God’s power and creative ability; and, it ignores the responsibility Adam had over the earth. In other words, through the transfer of dominion, or the entitlement that God gave Adam over the planet, Adam’s actions turned the Earth over to Satan.

    [Having created this study and talked it over with a friend of mine, I briefly mentioned this comprehensive understanding of Adam to another small group. One lady said to me, “Why is any of that important?” I answered with, in scripture, it’s all important; and, unless you understand who and what Adam was, you will never comprehend the detail and depth of what Christ did for us.]

    I have sat in teaching sessions where this passage is introduced, and Adam is labeled as treasonous.

    I never really took the time to look up the word treason, but logically, I could grasp Adam’s actions in this manner. Is it a game-changing school of thought? Not really, but if you don’t understand the implications of Adam’s actions, you may never understand why God had to have a plan of action in place – that plan of action included putting His own Son on the cross to die.

    Treason, according to Webster’s means: It is the offense of attempting to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance, or of betraying the state into the hands of a foreign power. If that is the case, then Adam, certainly betrayed the planet into the hands of a foreign power, Satan.

    How would I define Adam seeing as his actions were so overwhelming?

    • Made in the image of God.

    Wasn’t Jesus made in the image of God? Most certainly. And, we are told, Jesus was the second Adam. Wasn’t Jesus sinless, and therefore perfect in all His ways? Yes; can we then say that Adam was perfect, or as the Hebrew put it, GOOD?

    In Genesis 1:26 we see God saying, “Let US make man in our image, according to our image…” (NASB) It would be beneficial for you to read the entire narrative, which ends with: “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31 (NASB)

    Pay attention to the phrase, very good. The word very is the Hebrew word meh-ode’, which includes the terms exceedingly or greatly. Good, is the Hebrew word tob, which also means pleasant, agreeable, and excellent. So, if Adam was exceedingly excellent, could it be said that he was perfect? Seeing as Jesus was patterned after Adam’s image, then again, I can assume that Adam was perfect.

    • Both Adam and Eve, in a spiritual state, not unlike the angels, had dominion over everything that moved and breathed upon the earth. Genesis 1:26 CJB 

    The Amplified Bible says the man had “complete authority;”

    The Contemporary English Version states that the man was like us (God.)

    The English Standard translation tells us that man had dominion over everything.

    And finally, the NLT says, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.

    • And finally, he was human.

    But that did not happen until Genesis 2:7 NASB

    Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.

    Since Paul is making a point about the contrasts between the first and second Adam, then there have to be similarities, doesn’t there? But we will cover those similarities momentarily.

    What is the point of defining Adam, seeing as I was told this is unimportant?

    To prove a point: That God is perfect and beyond sin, and yet can have the capability of introducing a tree of knowledge of good and evil without it affecting His own nature and character; that Adam was perfect, no less than Jesus was – made in the image of the Father; and, that Adam was God’s representative here on this earth. I could think of Adam as the key holder, and as such, he gave the entire planet away. [For those who can’t handle that idea, why did Satan say to Jesus, here are all the kingdoms of the earth and I will give them to you if you follow me. That kind of statement does not work unless it is accurate, and Jesus never argued the validity of the statement.]

    Back to studying.

    Romans 5:13 NASB for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

    Imputed means = charged to the account of.

    Do you realize that this applies to Adam and Eve as well?

    Think about the process that sin applied in taking down Adam. Eve was first deceived, but Adam, standing within arm’s length of her, and certainly within earshot of the serpent that was talking to her, did nothing to stop what was about to happen. What did I point out earlier? That the spiritual creation of humankind was in God’s image, and that they had control and dominion over the earth and every breathing thing on it; this includes this serpent. And yet, what did Adam do? Nothing.

    What was one of the first pieces of evidence that we had of this sin applying to man’s actions?

    So indeed, our first example was Adam and Eve, but we are hard-pressed to see an immediate action against them. Another more dominant example came when Cain got angry that God would not accept his sacrifice of vegetables. Read this in Genesis 4: 4-7, where God says to Cain,

    If you are doing what is good, shouldn’t you hold your head high? And if you don’t do what is good, sin is crouching at the door—it wants you, but you can rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7 CJB)

    Unlike with Adam’s sin, Cain’s crime seems to be in our faces, as Able is struck violently in the head with a rock and buried, as though no one will find out. We also see Cain holding a bizarre conversation with God about people seeking to kill him, and his fleeing to a city called Nod.

    One could argue that sin only got its foot in the door through Adam’s transgression, but even without sin being an integral part of their makeup, it got him. You see, sin is deeply embedded in selfish desire, and Adam chose to satisfy his own curious and immediate need that day.

    Lacking any law, such as the tablets of stone given to Moses, was sin imputed to Adam?

    Not just sin, but the corruption of all humanity from that day forward, as we all attribute and hold Adam responsible for this corrupted body we walk around in. Having been caught, doesn’t “the law” demand a penalty? Yes, and death was demanded – and Adam eventually died, in several different ways.

    Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (Romans 5:14 NASB)

    If there was a penalty, then there had to be a law, right?

    If that was the case, what was the law?

    Adam only had one demand placed upon him, don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, in the center of the garden – for when you do, you will surely die.

    Adam, knowing that something will change drastically, did nothing to shut up the serpent; did nothing to stop his woman from partaking, and then did it himself. So, yes, there was a “law.” Now, consider the word law for a moment. It is the Hebrew word nom’-os and has several unexpected alternate meanings: law (through the idea of prescriptive usage. That which is assigned); or, the observance of which is approved of God. So do these ideas fit the parameters by which Adam was supposed to live? Absolutely.

    But how was the SIN being imputed?

    Perhaps it was not – for God does not lie, and surprisingly, we don’t see Cain being burnt up by lightning or some other hideous and painful death. This train of thought blows holes in many of the teachings that conveniently don’t hold tightly to scripture, insisting that Adam belongs in hell. Sadly, even with NO imputation of sin, there was no escaping the immediate penalty, death, and Abel experienced that truth. Unfortunately, death reigned over Abel, and what did he do wrong, nothing, except being Cain’s brother?

    Romans 5:14 goes on to say, this death even reigned over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam.

    Remember how I went into great detail about Adam, to demonstrate the authority and power he yielded; and, at the same time, contrasting him with Jesus, the second Adam – come from God. Doesn’t a conversation like this tell you that there was so much more going on here in Adam’s actions than any mere flannel board bible story could convey?

    Romans 5: 14 ends with Adam, a type of Him who was to come. What does the word “type” mean?

    From Webster’s, the word type means “1. The mark of something; an emblem; that which represents something else. 2. A sign; a symbol; a figure of something to come; as Abraham’s sacrifice and the paschal lamb (the sacrificial Passover lamb) were types of Christ.” [Italics mine.]

    Both of these examples: the Abrahamic sacrifice and the paschal/Passover lamb, were representative of the blood that covered our sin, the payment of death made on our behalf by Christ, and the protective covering that we are afforded through our relationship and faith in Him. (We previously covered how Christ saves us from the wrath of God through Him.)

    Since Adam was a symbol of Christ, and he failed, then how did he represent Christ Jesus?

    • He came from God, and so did Jesus.
    • Adam was not born of man, and neither was Jesus. Keep in mind that WE have this sin motivation built into us. Neither Jesus nor Adam had sin driving them. Wait a minute. Adam failed, and so did Satan/Lucifer, and yet, Jesus did not, and we are told that He was tempted in every way, just as we are. What’s the difference? We are driven to sin, and they were not. One gave in to the temptation, and the other did not.

    Take a moment to ingest this slowly.

    Romans 5:16 CJB  No, the free gift is not like what resulted from one man’s sinning; for from one sinner came judgment that brought condemnation, but the free gift came after many offenses and brought acquittal.

    • No, the free gift is not like what resulted from one man’s sinning;”
    • for from one sinner came judgment that brought condemnation;”
    • but the free gift came after many offenses and brought acquittal.”

    For if, because of the offense of one man, death ruled through that one man; how much more will those receiving the overflowing grace, that is, the gift of being considered righteous, rule in life through the one man Yeshua the Messiah! (Romans 5:17 CJB)

    Because of one man, we are subject to death, how much MORE will those receiving the overflowing grace … I can’t say this any better than this translation puts it. Christ Jesus, through His death and resurrection, but perhaps Eugene Peterson’s Message can.

    If death got the upper hand through one man’s wrongdoing, can you imagine the breathtaking recovery life makes, sovereign life, in those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life-gift, this grand setting-everything-right, that the one man Jesus Christ provides?
    (Romans 5:17 MSG)

    Note the words, “those who grasp with both hands this wildly extravagant life- gift.”  How have you received Him?

    Yes, Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.
    (Romans 5:18 NLT)

    Whether we sinned or not?

    I know, it’s impossible not to sin. Simply falling short in some area of your life or relationship with people or God would qualify as missing the mark; and we, if unprotected, would be under condemnation. Wait a minute. If we ARE ALL under condemnation, then wouldn’t WE ALL be destined to hell? Fortunately, a serious read of the Bible demonstrates that not all go to hell. As a matter of fact, it is only those who choose to reject Christ Jesus that go to hell.

    What else does Romans 5:18 say? “but Christ’s one act of righteousness brings a right relationship with God and new life for everyone.”

    Clearly, not everyone chooses to enjoy this new life.
    So how do I perceive what happened here? Jesus’ choice to choose the cross brought life to everyone, but something else must happen, you must accept that this was done on your behalf and put your trust in Him.

    Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19 NLT)

    A key phrase in Romans 5:19 proves my point, “one person obeyed God,” and because He obeyed, many will be made righteous. Now it is our turn to follow His lead and obey Him.

    God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.
    (Romans 5:20 NLT)

    • God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were.”
    • “But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.”

    So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:21 NLT)

    Death is still in our faces, BUT, so is LIFE. We can’t stop this body from dying, but our souls can live eternally with Christ in Glory. Why? Because through Jesus grace RULES, whether you see it or not, and because of Christ Jesus, WE have right standing with God, and that gives us eternal life when we put our faith in Him.

    Posted in Adam, apologetics, Apostle Paul, bible study, disciplined, Faith, forgive, Freedom from sin, Genesis, gentiles, God's character, grace, Hope, In Christ, Jesus, Mercy, Peace, restore, righteous, Romans, Thoughts on scripture, understanding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

    Since we have been made right. Romans 5:1-4.

    The NASB opens chapter five with this headline.

    Peace with God through faith.

    Spend any amount of time, in church and someone will tell you that you are just a sinner, saved by grace. Often, they take it a step further and point out how you are only one step away from hell’s flames because of your sin.

    Is that the case?

    Let’s find out what Paul says about it. Know this; chapter five is not meant to stand alone. It is part of a saga that began with Paul opening his definitive letter to the church in Rome – a church comprised of Jewish believers who were holding fast to traditional and legalistic values, with the words:

    I, Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ.

    How does Paul’s admission that he is a slave of Jesus Christ, affect our reading of, in this case, chapter 5?

    If you thoroughly understood what it means to be a slave, you would cringe at reading that word. The implications of slavery are horrifying And yet, Paul identifies with being a slave to this Christian community. It may add to your understanding if you read Paul’s letter to Philemon, another Jewish believer, who was also a slave owner. Notice that neither here in Romans, or in his letter to Philemon, that Paul does not put down the ghastly treatment and ownership of another human, for it was commonplace. However, we need to know that to identify or speak out against a way of life where 1 in 10 people in Rome was enslaved, was unheard of.

    There are so many bits of information that explain to us who Paul is really writing to. I think I covered a touch of history, and how that the Roman’s, under Claudius, expelled the Jews for their insurrections. Apparently, the Jews attributed their revolts to one the Roman’s called Chrestus – Christ Jesus. So Paul then is writing to a primarily Jewish community of believers, who were treating the Gentile converts like slaves, in attitude and mannerisms.

    I suppose I included this bit about Paul and slavery because, it seems, Paul was not afraid to speak out against tradition and social behaviors, especially when those practices seem to go against God’s will.

    Sadly, a good deal of what we have read in Romans, to this point, is engaged with addressing traditions, mental attitudes, and religious ideals of men.

    Here in chapter five, we have this somewhat eye-opening statement.

    Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. (Romans 5:1-2 NLT)

    Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith,”

    The mere fact that the sentence starts with the word, therefore, tells us that something essential and defining was previously explained. 

    Briefly, we have an answer from Paul when he says,

    We have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”

    Doesn’t the quotation above beg the question, what happened to create, not only the righteousness in us but what did Jesus do?

    Fortunately, Romans 4:25 spells out rather succinctly what happened.

    Jesus was handed over to die for our sins, and he was raised from death to make us right with God. (Romans 4:25 ERV)

    This being made right by God didn’t just happen; it took some participation on our part, and Paul, in Romans 5:1-2, makes that clear.

    Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.”

    As I stated in beginning, some, feeling threatened, will condemn you to hell simply because you live outside the grace they are comfortable with; but what did Paul say? Our faith in Jesus and the price he paid on our behalf, has gained our acceptance into this righteousness. The other half of this paragraph says, “Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand.

    Where is the threat in that?

    There is none. Consider how God has consistently dealt with those He calls His own. He says to them, as for Me. This approach says I will hold up my end of the bargain, regardless of what you do.

    Can there be negative results for not following God and His ways? Indeed, yes, at some point, He laid down the law, and along with that He points out following Him is good, and NOT following Him brings pain and destruction.

    Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: A blessing if you obey the commandments of Jehovah your God which I command you today, and a curse if you will not obey the commandments of Jehovah your God, but will turn aside out of the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known. (Deuteronomy 11:26-28 MKJV)

    I suggest that you read Deuteronomy 11 and 28. In chapter 28, God lays out the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience. If your life seems like it is out of control, then take a look at those blessings and curses. While we who follow Christ are not under the law, the law, like gravity, certainly plays a role in our lives. If you have chosen to function within the realm of the curses, you subject yourself to a tremendous amount of destructive effects.

    Romans 5:2 ends with,

    and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

    Paul, writing to the church in Colossae, said,

    “For to them, God would make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,” (Colossians 1:27 MKJV)

    Isn’t our hope, an eternity filled with peace; free from the bullies of this life; and a life spent with the Father. That last part takes on a different meaning if you have been abused or been given some horrendous example of fatherhood. If this was you, let me say, I understand. However, I have found God to be a good Father and one that you can trust and count on. If we can set the dysfunction aside, we begin to see that hope is the backbone of our beliefs. I get it, for dysfunction took on a different meaning when I was accosted within the church community by a friend, and a pastor, about what they believe is a false hope. I don’t think they disagree that there is hope, but they certainly disagree that this hope we long for is anywhere in the near future.

    Again, I give you Paul’s voice as pertaining to hope.

    1 Thessalonians 5:8 MKJV  But let us, who are of the day, be calm, having put on the breastplate of faith and love and the hope of salvation for a helmet.

    Salvation can take on a variety of meanings depending upon the circumstances. I am not in dire need, nor under a threat of death, but many are. Perhaps you are as well. If that is the case, I pray that the Holy Spirit gives you a strength that you did not know could exist within you, so that you stand strong in the face of the enemy. Why would that be important, because WE HAVE HOPE? Hope that the restoration of all things will come and that Jesus Christ will reign as the Messiah that the Jews have longed for.

    This next verse began to be a problem for me when I figured out that I could think for myself.

    Romans 5:3-4 MKJV  And not only this, but we glory in afflictions also, knowing that afflictions work out patience,  (4)  and patience works out experience, and experience works out hope.

    Why would this be a problem for me? Because I was raised to keep sticking your face out so that they could slap it off if they wanted to. I found no comfort or peace in that attitude. I was also told that if I defended myself, that I would be handed over to my Father and his belt. That kind of treatment makes the idea of afflictions even more painful.

    If what Paul wrote has had an impact on me, then I should be well established in a hope based in the peaceful reign of Jesus. But then, there are these bizarre words:

    We glory in afflictions.”

    Who, in their right mind, would do that?

    Someone who has come to understand, thoroughly, what Christ has done to and for us. Sometimes we all need a reminder.

    • We have been made righteous in God’s sight.
    • We have peace with God
    • Why are we righteous, and have peace with God?
      • Because of what Jesus did on our behalf.
      • Because of our faith, that we put in Him.
      • And, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege (grace) where we now stand.

    Another way to read this comes from the NLT.

    We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. (Romans 5:3 NLT)

    So there it is, this peculiar manner in which we handle life’s problems, thanks to hope, causes us to have perseverance, and proven character.

    Scripture speaks of judgment, particularly, the Bema seat of Christ. Said in menacing tones, this can be very disheartening. Two things about this so-called time of judgment that I have come to understand: 1. The Bema Seat is a time for Christ to give back to us. It is not about some ominous, detrimental judgment, as most proclaim. 2. Jesus said, you will be judged, as you judge. A question, how do you judge others; harshly, critically, and without mercy? Well, that is what I did, and six months later, those very words came back to judge me. In that season, my world turned upside down and ended. The comfortable world I knew came to a crashing halt. Because of all this judgment, I have learned perseverance that I did not think I was capable of, and, I have had to establish and demonstrate my character repeatedly. 

    knowing that afflictions work out patience, and patience works out experience, and experience works out hope.”

    Odd how that all works out. Our relationship with Christ allows for us to have these character traits in our lives; so that, when troubles arise (which Jesus guaranteed would come as you follow Him,) we would have the patience to endure the problem, no matter how deadly. This patience turns into experience, and experience causes even more hope to arise in you.

    Posted in advocate, apologetics, Apostasy, Apostle Paul, bible study, disciple, disciplined, finisher, fixing, forgive, gentiles, grace, hypocrisy, In Christ, Jesus, Jews, Mercy, Peace, restore, righteous, Romans, strongholds | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Romans chapter four. What of Abraham?

    In looking at Romans chapter four, it initiates with a question.

    What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, according to the flesh, has found? (Romans 4:1 NASB)

    The NASB does not improve my understanding, for the language is outdated, and stated in a backward manner. So let’s try the Message.

    So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things? (MSG)

    The Message goes a little too far, as it rephrases the question and almost sets it aside. But on the plus side, it forces us to look at the context, which we find in chapter three. However, we really need to go back to Genesis 15 to do that.

    The biggest question that must be answered is, what did Abraham find?

    In trying to figure out what Abraham found, we find some things he was not.

    He was not that strong in faith, for he:

    • After being told to leave his family in Haran, took his time in following the Lord’s commands. God had to speak to him several times.
    • Doubted that God would take care of him, as he told the Egyptian king that Sarai was his sister. In doing this, Abraham lied.
    • And even though he could see God’s hand upon his life, he still doubted, as he listened to his wife’s prompting, and went to have sex with Hagar. (Consider something: After all these years of not making a baby, how do you know if the problem is with the man or the woman? Since Hagar got pregnant, we now know where the problem lies.) Ishmael was not to be left out, as the blessing over him carries some similar terminology to what God had said to Abraham, in that Ishmael would also be the father of many nations. Those nations are, to this day, a thorn in Israel’s flesh.

    Paul tells us in Romans 4:2 that it was not good deeds that made him righteous. Because of that statement, we can eliminate his being circumcised as the thing that made him righteous.

    For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. (Romans 4:2 KJV)

    The NLT makes this idea of good deeds more clear.

    If his good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. (NLT)

    In Genesis 15, God spoke to Abram (his name had not been changed as yet,) in a vision. Abram’s response to this plan of making him great was to say I don’t even have a son. God seems to know the direction that Abrams’ heart is going, and says,

    Then the LORD said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” (Genesis 15:4 NLT)

    Almost as though God is sealing the deal, (while still in the vision,) God takes Abram outside and shows him the stars of heaven, and tells him, your descendants will be numbered like the stars. Because of this moment, Abram believed God.

    What did Abram believe?

    • That he would have descendants, but not through the servant woman.
    • Those descendants will be innumerable.

    And Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith. (Genesis 15:6 NLT)

    The new way of thinking, as the Message puts it, is that the righteousness of God comes only through faith.

    Romans 3:22 tells us:

    We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. (NLT)

    Romans 3:24 states:

    Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. (NLT)

    Information like this opens up a world of problems to those who are immature in Christ. Think about this: We are informed that, through Christ, God made us right in His sight, BECAUSE, Christ paid the penalty for our sins.

    Does that sound like a bad thing? Not at all, right?

    Then why would this righteousness in Christ be such a negative thing?

    Because, Many can hear a statement such as, “we are made right with God,” and say, then why is there a punishment of hell for anyone?

    The answer simply put, we all choose to follow a leader. Some, through the act of intentional non-compliance, will follow Satan to his doom.

    But there is always mercy.

    When we studied Romans 2:12-15 we looked very deliberately at some simple words.

    For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; (Romans 2:12 NASB)

    The word without is the Greek word anomōs and means lawless, but it also can mean one who is not amenable to (the Jewish) law. The word amenable means one who refuses to be held in check by the law, or non-compliant.

    What’s the problem here?

    For one, we are not talking about Jewish law, as we live under Jesus’ Messianic law, the perfect law of liberty. And secondly, this idea of not being held in check can apply to any of us. You see, we have a built-in problem and its called sin. Since sin seems to have desire as its biggest motivator, you would think we are doomed.

    Moving on.

    Romans 4:4-8 Paul continues the discussion of the futility of trying to earn your way into God’s graces.

    Romans 4:9 asks, is this for the Jews only? They seem to think so, however, God Paul points out how Abram received his declaration of righteousness, and it was not through circumcision, an event associated with Jewishness.

    Romans 4:10 very distinctly spells out the chronology of events.

    But how did this happen? Was he counted as righteous only after he was circumcised, or was it before he was circumcised? Clearly, God accepted Abraham before he was circumcised! (Romans 4:10 NLT)

    The participation in circumcision happened when Abraham was 99, and it was:

    Circumcision was a sign that Abraham already had faith and that God had already accepted him and declared him to be righteous—even before he was circumcised. So Abraham is the spiritual father of those who have faith but have not been circumcised. They are counted as righteous because of their faith. And Abraham is also the spiritual father of those who have been circumcised, but only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had before he was circumcised. (Romans 4:11-12 NLT)

    As Paul states, this makes him the righteous father of both the circumcised and the uncircumcisedthe Jews and the Gentiles. With the addendum, “only if they have the same kind of faith Abraham had.” Simply put, Abraham believed God.

    If this last statement seems daunting, consider this:

    Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was not based on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. (Romans 4:13 NLT)

    Paul continues to present a logical path.

    If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. (Romans 4:14 NLT)

    Knowing that we could not obey the law on our own, we are given the hope that comes through faith; that and the Holy Spirit.

    What an impossible task the Jews have placed upon themselves.

    “For the law always brings punishment on those who try to obey it. (The only way to avoid breaking the law is to have no law to break!)

    So the promise is received by faith.

    It is given as a free gift.

    And we are all certain to receive it,

    whether or not we live according to the law of Moses,

    if we have faith like Abraham’s.

    For Abraham is the father of all who believe.” (Romans 4:15-16 NLT)

    Paul then tries to explain what God was trying to say to Abram, and to us.

    “That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him,

    I have made you the father of many nations.”

    (Try to picture Abram, receiving this message. It was in a dream, however, a very vivid dream, but the reality is that Abram was married without children. I am sure he tried, it seems to be instinctive, and yet, no children. Lacking MRI machines and fertility doctors, how would Abram know the reasons why? And because of that, he may have looked around to see if God was talking to the right person.)

    This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing; but then, how would Abram have known that about God?

    Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham just kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations.

    (When God started talking to Abram, he was already seventy-five years old. )

    For God had said to him,

    That’s how many descendants you will have!”

    And Abraham’s faith did not weaken,

    (Weaken? What about Hagar? I keep forgetting, God’s vision is much better than mine. And He is the one who places our sins/failures into the sea of forgetfulness.)

    even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—

    and so was Sarah’s womb.

    Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise.

    (Circumcised at 99. God had to remind Abraham that he and his wife would have this son, and the son through the servant girl, was not it. Abraham, although already deemed righteous, has the circumcision performed upon himself. Apparently, as soon as he healed up, he tested the waters with Sarah once again. Nine months later, at the age of 100, Abraham becomes the father of Issac.)

    In fact, his faith grew stronger,

    and in this, he brought glory to God.

    He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.

    And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.”
    (Romans 4:17-22 NLT)

    This story begins in Genesis chapter 12 when Abram is seventy-five years old. In Genesis 16, Abram is eighty-six when he sires a son with Hagar. Finally, in Genesis 21, when Abraham is 100 years old, Issac is born by Sarah. Over the course of 25 years, there have been many opportunities for doubt and despair, and yet God continually looks to the future, and, overlooks our faults.

    Here is where we come in.

    And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit.

    It was recorded for our benefit, too,

    assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

    He was handed over to die because of our sins,

    and he was raised to life to make us right with God.
    (Romans 4:23-25 NLT)

    So, an aspect of our belief, would be to comprehend that God raised Jesus from the dead; that He died because of our sins; and, that He was raised to life to make us right with God. None of this happens in and for us, without faith.

    Posted in angels, bible study, dreams, Faith, gentiles, grace, Jesus, Mercy, righteous, Romans, the nations, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Everything around me is changing, and I don’t like it.

    I and the Church, in general, is going through changes – we have been for some time now. These events/changes affect each of our lives differently. For some, mainly the people who don’t care, the changes make no difference. These are the kind of people who think the world revolves around them. (The problem with thinking like that is that if you call yourself a Christian, then your mentality is one that does not align with the Word of God. We are talking about the Word which describes the calling that is upon all of us who follow Christ.)

    Let’s make a quick distinction here.

    Everybody, especially when it can make them an extra dollar, claims to be a Christian. An example of this might can be seen in the music industry, or when a televangelist is trying to sell their latest book or album. One thing is for sure; when labeling yourself a Christian becomes a death sentence, you will see this trend come to a screeching halt, as only those who know Christ, and are sincere, will risk being killed.

    The events that surround my life have occurred over the last couple of months. I have wanted to talk about them, but I struggle with insecurities about telling you all about the problems I go through. So, in a sense, I have been sitting on this, halted by the Holy Spirit. But now I feel I have the freedom to share it, and, I  think you need to hear it, and consider your own lives.

    What kind of changes have I personally been experiencing?

    • A clash in Church

      A brother in Christ decided to give a somewhat, angry Word to the body recently. The problems that transpired in this process were many. Having been raised in a Pentecostal, charismatic, holy roller atmosphere, myself, I am accustomed to people presenting “words from the Lord” like this, and it was not uncommon for some to sound downright hostile.

      The brother that gave the “unexpected” Word that morning started in a very theatrical manner, and others thought the same thing. It seemed as if he was presenting his credentials in the third person, just like a movie, proving that God had ordained what we were about to hear. (There was a “brother” at this Church, years ago, who had an earned Doctorate in Theology. I tried talking with him on several occasions and he was little more than rude. In spite of his rudeness, he did admonish me with some advice, that I have clung to. He told me, that when you introduce the Word, which may be from the Holy Spirit, as though it is “a Word from the Lord,” you are adding an element, that in theory, says, it is mandatory that everything I am saying, is appropriate and must be accepted at face value, and that is inappropriate.) And that is precisely what this brother in Christ did.

      As he began to read the scripture that was motivating him, his presentation turned ugly. He was now using very angry tones, and it was his tone that seemed to set off alarms in the Pastor and his missionary brother – who happened to be there that day. The pastor’s brother, having spent time in third world nations, has seen peculiar things, and the manner in which this man tried to give the word to the church body, was no different. Together, the Pastor and his brother asked the man to sit down, to which the man loudly replied, No!

      Several seconds passed, and now the man and the Pastor are telling each other to be quiet in Jesus name. Scripturally, we have authority over demonic activities in the Name of Jesus. Assuming that what we were seeing was demonic, hence the commands in Jesus name back and forth seemed appropriate, but what happens when what you are experiencing is coming out of the desire and heart of the speaker. (Everything contrary to the Word of God is demonically oriented, but as Christians, we are not supposed to be possessed, and therefore telling what you think is a demon to stop, is a futile exercise.)

      Since the man giving the Word would not sit down and has now turned his attention exclusively against the Pastor, saying, “you are a false teacher, and I can prove it,” the Pastor retaliated by saying, brother, now it’s time for you to leave the building. Another lady, who had been sitting nearby, jumped up and shouted into the man’s face, “you shut your mouth in Jesus name.” At this point, he shut up, and walked toward the door – escorted of course. His final gesture was to scream out, “your blood is not on my hands,” and that ended it.

      Merely telling you this story grieves me, as we lost a good brother in the Lord that day. I am not asking most of you to understand what I am saying, but I am telling you that giving Words to the body is and should be considered a biblically sound practice; as long as it is in order, and this man was not.

      • Men’s groups are shutting down.

        A group that I was invited to attend had chosen to use a video teaching series of a well known “faith” teacher. I used to be heavily involved in the “faith” movement, but I no longer believe that God has any interest in what kind of car you drive, or, how big your house is. Keep in mind that I went to see if there was a mutual fit, and there was not. Several times, I was asked for my opinion, and so I gave it. (My neighbor calls my delivery as one of being “matter of fact.”) My comments were accepted by some and chastised by others, and so, after three sessions, I left that group. Subsequently, I was asked by the leader to attend the last meeting of that group, as he wanted input from the men about what they wanted to see and hear in the future, should the group reconvene. Because I felt that I needed to show my respect for the man who was leading it, I returned for the evening.

        Another instance of groups shutting down would be one I have been a part of for several years now.

        Recently one morning, one of the men announced: “Today, is my last day here.” His reason: because we don’t spend enough time in the Word of God. The disturbing aspect of this decision is that we three had been a part of a, church-sponsored, men’s bible study, that incessantly wasted our time, espousing ridiculous themes, and never developing them. In other words, like the man that got tossed out of Church said, the leader of that Monday morning group, was a false teacher.

        Disgusted after several years of learning nothing from this man, we pulled off to form our little group. (This small group formation was not an overnight thought process; and, it turns out we had all been thinking about quitting, but where to go next was a problem.) I was one of the primary persons that pushed to have these meetings so that we could get into the Word of God more adequately.

        My friends reasons for leaving, according to him, had more to do with how much time we wasted talking about feral hogs and people hunting them. Strangely, this friend that accused us has spent more than his fair share of time talking about his life as an outlaw biker, the bars he went to, and the people that he hurt. Did we shut down the group because of that? NO.

        I didn’t say a word in my defense, as the Holy Spirit pointed out to me, that my mouth, would be doing little more than pointing fingers and tattling. 
        But, let me explain something here. On a previous occasion, I had mentioned how neuropathy was keeping me awake as my the nerves in my feet attempt to come back to life at night. In response to that statement, a brother says to me, what are you watching before you go to sleep at night, because that can keep you awake with your mind racing (obviously he wasn’t listening.) So, at the previous meeting with the guys, before this guy quits on us, I showed them what I look at before I go to sleep, just to get a laugh – feral boar hunting videos. Well, as usual, this went far beyond what I intended, with conversations about how we could go on helicopter hunts and shoot some ourselves. Yes, it turned into a waste of time, but, the idea was that we, could do something together.

        You see, for two years we have been sharing our lives and the associated pains, with each other, as we integrate our lives into the Word of God. Well, thanks to one man, the dynamics of the group changed.

    • Leaders quitting.

      Just in the last few weeks, our worship leader’s daughter quit. She got a full-time job at a church they used to be a part of. Her leaving shouldn’t be a consideration for most people, but I was there when her father first got hired to be the worship pastor. And, I was also there when the new Pastor fired this same worship pastor a few years later. Since the old Pastor had been asked to come back three years ago, he rehired the former worship pastor back again.

    • Leaders getting caught doing illegal or immoral acts.

      This is more like saying, I pay attention to news sources; not all of which make the headline news. But it seems like every week there is a pastor embezzling the church; molesting some innocent, or changing the Biblical standards and making some act, that God calls bad, into something he wants us to accept. This kind of activity is a part of what constitutes apostasy.

    Well, enough of my rant. I just needed to talk I suppose. What is important, is how you deal with issues like this. We are called to love; called to forgive the unforgivable, and to generally demonstrate the love of Jesus to people; that is so hard to do when we are acting out in rage and anger against someone, who we think deserves it.

    The two us that remain have dealt with this brother that left differently. I am not going to lie to you, I was furious. But the man stills sends messages asking his foolish questions. I was constantly admonishing him to change his bible study habits but to no avail, as he still jumps from front to back, taking things out of context, in order to make them fit whatever new doctrine he is trying to develop. My remaining friend, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with him. So he gets to ignore the brother, and I get the Holy Spirit saying to me, “I won’t let you ignore him. You are going to answer his foolish questions in the most logical and sound manner that you can.”

    So while it is the flesh’s desire to bring wrath upon people, I hear the Holy Spirit saying, “Don’t you understand, Christ took all the wrath upon himself; if that is the case, then who are you to try to put it back on people.”

    Folks, we need to figure this out and lead people to the real Jesus of the Bible, not the religious one.

    Posted in bible study, condemnation, false teaching, finisher, forgive, Freedom from sin, grace, guilt, Hearing God, In Christ, Jesus, Mercy, preach, redemption, repress, Sin, strongholds, Thoughts on scripture, understanding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment