God's everlasting love. Romans 8:31-39.

We ended with this:

Romans 8:30 NASB and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

  • Predestined
  • Called
  • Justified
  • And Glorified

And thus begins our next foray into Romans.

God’s Everlasting Love

“Since” He has done all this for us,

Romans 8:31 NASB What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

After what we have learned concerning how God feels about us and who we are now, why throw out a word like “if”? When in fact, at this point, in my journey through Romans, I am deeply aware that God is for me, just as He is for you. Another translation read like this:

“So what should we say about this? If God is for us, no one can stand against us. And God is with us.” (ERV) 

The word “if” is merely expressive style on the part of Paul and doesn’t require an answer. [Some would say, it is a rhetorical question.] We find Paul writing like this frequently.

Against is the Greek word katá and indicates motion meaning down from a higher to a lower place. However, my immediate response to the word does not strike me like that; it comes across like an enemy’s attack. The Dictionary tells us it is something in opposition, a contradiction, or aversions, such as a decree against law, reason, or public opinion. Since we know that God tests no man (James 1:13), then it is not reasonable to think that it would be God coming against us. I can see where this type of thinking comes from, as we tend to perceive God as up in the heavens; therefore, any perceived judgment or test from Him would be coming down.

What else could “come down”? Since our enemy originated in the heavens, then perhaps any work or word that comes against us from him, or his cohorts, could be perceived as coming down.

Let’s address our rhetorical question, “If God is for us,” for a moment. Since we know that God is for us, then Paul continues in his efforts to respond to such a challenge with a logical approach as he points out:

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Romans 8:32 NASB

Think about this, how or why would God, “who did not spare His own Son,” for a purpose, NOW, not also freely give us all things”? How about one other version?

He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things? Romans 8:32 TLV 

This verse demands that you analyze what it is saying to you.

  • He did not spare his own Son.
    • but delivered Him over for us all,”
      • how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?”
        • I will bless you
        • and bountifully multiply your seed,
        • your seed will possess the gate of your enemies
        • In you, all the nations of the earth will be blessed

        Our mutual understanding of the next verse typically reads like this.:

        Romans 8:33 NASB Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;

        Even though we struggle frequently with the concept, you, as a follower of Jesus Christ, are one of God’s elect. Let’s try the Message and see if it comes across any clearer.

        And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Romans 8:33 MSG 

        That is significantly clearer; however, it still doesn’t answer the question that many ask, how do I know that I was chosen?

        Deuteronomy 10:15 NLT  Yet the LORD chose your ancestors as the objects of his love. And he chose you, their descendants, above all other nations, as is evident today.

        Even if you cannot claim Jewish heritage, you are a descendant through adoption. We find references to this adoption in Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:5, and Ephesians 1:5. We were adopted through Christ Jesus.

        Since, in theory, no one should dare to tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen, then Paul can also say,

        Romans 8:34 NLT  Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

        You need to know this; people and Satan will try to condemn you. Try as they may, it has no effect, because “Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” Oh, how I long to tattoo this on your brain so that you never forget it. Do you understand that amid the voices, Jesus Christ is sitting at the right hand of the Father, speaking to Him on our behalf? The Complete Jewish Bible does a pretty good job of making this point.

        Romans 8:34 CJB  Who punishes them? Certainly not the Messiah Yeshua, who died and—more than that—has been raised, is at the right hand of God and is actually pleading on our behalf!

        It is hard for some to picture, but this is an inexpressible love. No human has ever done this for me, but Jesus did. Now, with someone like this on your side, Paul addresses his next question.

        Romans 8:35 CJB  “Who will separate us from the love of the Messiah?

        Trouble? Hardship? Persecution? Hunger? Poverty? Danger? War?”

        Paul continues:

         “As it is written, “For Your sake, we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.”  (37)  But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:36-37 TLV

        Paul may be referencing multiple passages in the same sentence. For example:

        Jeremiah 12:3b NASB Drag them off like sheep for the slaughter And set them apart for a day of carnage!

        As yet, this next passage is not so prominent in the United States, but I see it coming in my spirit, and it grieves me.

        2 Corinthians 4:11 NASB (11) For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

        And finally,

        Psalms 44:22 NASB But for Your sake we are killed all day long; We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

        Jesus himself told the Jewish crowd of followers that tribulations would be a way of life for His disciples – that includes us. Just remember that it was the elders and Chief priests that put Jesus on the cross that day, so the majority of tribulations will come from religious zealots.

        Regardless, the thing to keep in mind is that:

        “But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37b TLV

        Almost as if Paul was saying “so what” he continues with this:

        Romans 8:38-39 NASB For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, (39) nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

        Paul creates an extensive list of things that WE think can strip God’s love from us.

        • Death??
          • Life??
            • Angels
              • Principalities
                • Things present
                  • Nor, things to come.
                    • Height
                      • Depth
                        • Nor any created thing.

                          Nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which IS IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD; however, this doesn’t mean that they won’t try. Again, I know that this will discourage many, and they will not put out any effort to learn or change. Here is where the understanding of James comes into play because James speaks toward these constant attempts to take us out of the ball game.

                          Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, (3) knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. (4) And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (5) But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. James 1:2-5 NASB

                          If we stand against these attacks, whether it looks like we are victorious or not, we still receive all that God has in store for us, because He loves us.

                          Posted in advocate, Apostle Paul, bible study, Faith, finisher, forgive, gentiles, God's character, grace, In Christ, Israel, Jesus, Jews, judgment, Mercy, recovery, redemption, righteous, Romans, Thoughts, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

                          Suffering compared with glory. Romans 8:18-30

                          My first thought, the Glory of God’s presence, is something I can only vaguely describe, and all I understand of heaven boils down to one simple word, peace. So, there truly is no comparison, especially those who sit beside me in church on Sunday, think they are having the roughest time if their finger breaks through the toilet paper.

                          Romans 8:18 NASB For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

                          Sufferings are the Greek word pathēma which means something undergone, such as hardship or pain.

                          The “Me” in this sentence is Jesus Christ, with our lives centered on our relationship with Him.

                          The context is divided, but for the moment, we are focused on the sufferings.

                          So in what ways do we undergo hardship or pain?

                          Matthew 5:11-12 NASB “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. (12) “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for, in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

                          People will insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because you have the life of Christ in you. Sadly, the majority of people are religious people.

                          Is that all? Hardly, like Paul, who suffered the loss of all things.

                          Philippians 3:8 NASB More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,

                          Jesus, on the other hand, was beaten beyond recognition and then placed on a cross to die.

                          An interesting point of view comes from the William’s translation.

                          Romans 8:18 Williams  For I consider all that we suffer in this present life is nothing to be compared with the glory which by-and-by is to be uncovered for us.

                          Daniel, the Prophet, knew this all too well. He was taken into Babylon’s captivity, from among the best of best of Israel, at a time when he would have been looking forward to being married, educated, and leading his nation. Nebuchadnezzar would have had him castrated. The purpose behind that is to eliminate the sex drive, destroy Daniel’s chance of ever entering a synagogue again, and to have a severe and lasting impact on any thought of you escaping. Did it work? Absolutely.

                          All of these examples demonstrated that they understood the context; that there is a future hope for those who have placed their life in Christ Jesus. Now, what specifically that future hope comprises is up for debate, but the one thing we know for sure, we get to spend eternity wrapped up in God’s love.

                          In the case of Jesus, we have Hebrews 12.

                          Hebrews 12:2 NET. “keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set out for him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”

                          Jesus submitted himself to the cross because He knew the joy that would come out of His actions.

                          Romans 8:19-22 NLT  For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.  (20)  Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope,  (21)  the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.  (22)  For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

                          Breaking down verses 19-22.

                          • Verse 19) points out that, “All creation eagerly awaits that future day when God will reveal who His children are.”

                          This idea of creation should take us back to Genesis; for there, we see creation. The understanding is that all created things: plant life, rocks, the heavens, and all of creation, have longed to see the day of the Lord.
                          Hosea 2:18 NASB “In that day I will also make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, The birds of the sky And the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, And will make them lie down in safety.
                          The Psalms speak of this final time of peace.
                          Psalms 96:10-13 NASB Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity.” (11) Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; Let the sea roar, and all it contains; (12) Let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy (13) Before the LORD, for He is coming, For He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness And the peoples in His faithfulness.
                          Look at this word judge for a moment.
                          We all seem to have massive, constant, and negative perceptions about the word judge and the actions it potentially represents. Here, in the Old Testament, it is the Hebrew word shâphaṭ and means to pronounce sentence (for or against); by implication to vindicate or punish.
                          Isn’t that what any court should do? Vindicate or punish. Since the earth is simply the innocent victim of our human “modernization,” then the context leans heavily toward a vindication of the planet.
                          For example, All along the Mississippi river industries have dumped deadly pollutants, which permeates the surrounding land and groundwater. My current pastor made us aware of this when he talked about becoming aware that he had moved his family into this deadly area. People all along this stretch, have cancers.

                          Now, how would God judge the land in this case?
                          He would judge in favor of the land and demand restitution. Since man cannot fix this mess, He will, and we see this action in prophetic words throughout scripture.

                          • Verse 20) tells us, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it,

                          This speaks to the proper judgment that all creation must be subjected to. Everything was unwillingly subjected to destruction through Adam’s actions. It’s funny, but as a study group I was involved in began to consider what Paul wrote,
                          Romans 5:14 NASB 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.
                          A lady in the small group spoke up and said, why is it any of this stuff about Adam significant? To which I replied, there is nothing in scripture that is insignificant. If you don’t comprehend the ramifications of Adam’s actions, you will never grasp all that Jesus did and will do. Fortunately, for us, Romans 8:18-22 do just that as they begin to spell out a portion of God’s judgment on behalf of the earth.

                          • Verse 21 NASB) “that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

                          Pay attention to the phrase; creation itself also will be set free from its slavery.
                          If you recall, we went into this idea of slavery, in-depth. Paul used the horrific term, in reference to himself, as he opened his letter to the church in Rome. I spoke of how Paul was writing to a majority Jewish congregation. Therefore the word slavery was a word choice designed to make a monumental impact when they read it, for the Jews were foolish enough to say, “we have never been slaves!” What do you call the slavery they experienced in Egypt, or, how about that 70 years Babylon thing, an adventure? The point was, that slavery, in most cases, was less than a good thing, and always had negative connotations. So for Paul to call himself a slave, was to voluntarily place himself under the total and complete control of Christ Jesus; and, he was calling for all believers to do the same. Now, Paul is pointing out that all of creation was involuntarily brought under the slavery of a new master, corruption, due to Adam’s actions; however, it will all be freed by the glory of Jesus Christ.

                          • Verses 22, 23) “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

                          I can’t hear it, and yet sometimes, for brief moments, I see the beauty of creation and wonder where the destruction is in this scenario. Let me give you an example: On several occasions, the family went to Yellowstone National Park. The Park is so big that it crosses through several northern states here in the United States. It is spectacular, and though the super-heated pools and geysers are deadly, they are intensely beautiful.
                          What else does the verse tell us? It tells us that we ourselves groan within ourselves, as we eagerly await for the redemption of our bodies. I am not sure what that groaning sounds like. My wife might tell you that I groan (in complaint) all the time, but I am not so sure that is what Paul is talking about. Groan is the Greek word stenazō and means to sigh, murmur, pray inaudibly: – with grief, groan, grudge, sigh.
                          Now that I know what the word means, I believe that I am an expert at this groaning thing.
                          I want to touch on this idea that we “eagerly await our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”
                          First, my adoption came the day I accepted Christ into my life; this is the same process that happened to you if you accepted Christ (and all that He is.) So I am not sure I understand fully what this adoption process is all about. But that brings me to the second part, the part about the redemption of our bodies.

                          I get this, I AM BROKEN, but I have Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and therefore I lean heavily upon them. When I do that, the most amazing things happen, and I get to see smiles on other broken faces. But clearly, there is something more, as this broken body and all its ramifications, will never go away unless something changes them. Fortunately, there is a day coming for the believer when this death associated with the earth, and the body will be done away.
                          1 Corinthians 15:51-54 NASB (51) Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, (52) 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. (53) For this, perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. (54) But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.
                          Thank you, Jesus!!!

                          The peace that often comes when I submit myself to the instruction of the Holy Spirit is, to say the least, peaceful. But it only takes a moment, in some cases, for some self-righteous person to immediately try to admonish me and bring me back to earth. Again, I will explain.

                          One Sunday evening, several years ago, I went back to the church I grew up in. The pastor speaking that night had played a positive role in my life years ago, and he knows me. When the pastor ended his message that evening, he said, if you have had a miracle in your life, come down front and make yourself available to pray for someone else to have a miracle in their life, and so I did that.

                          Yes, there is a little timidity when doing things like that, but you have to override the fear knowing that it is the brokenness and the enemy trying to keep you down when that happens. I often see myself as a big grizzly bear, and so I am not surprised that many avoid me, and that was happening this night. As I stood there, I began to scan the room; the Holy Spirit said, that one, go and get them, and so a second later, when the wife made eye contact, I motioned with my finger for them to come down. I laugh now as I think about the rapid chain of events that transpired. She turned to her husband, who looked back at me. A quick conversation ensued, but the hesitation was there. This all transpired in a few seconds, but that is when I heard the Holy Spirit, once again say, go get them, and so I did. At this point, they came rapidly. There must have been three or more; I did not count, as I was listening to the Holy Spirit and I was a little distracted. When we got back to the front again, I told them what I heard the Holy Spirit saying to me, and prayed over the two adults. We laughed, we cried, and it was amazing. I smiled like I couldn’t stop, and shortly they went back to their seats, as did I.

                          Here is where self-righteous altar policewoman kicked into action. She came barreling across the front of the church and said to me, “who gave you the right to come down here and pray for people?” Can you imagine all the rapid-fire gut reactions I felt? I hesitated, it is often the best thing you can do in a pressure moment, and it will save your hide because your flesh will get you thrown in jail if you give it control. I said to her, he did, and I pointed at the pastor. She replied, well, you have to go through down front prayer training to do this! I glared back, and in a second, she walked away frustrated.

                          What we are looking for is what we call and consider our HOPE.

                          • We hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”

                            If you don’t know my Lord, you have no idea what you are missing, inexpressible Glory.

                            Romans 8:26-30 NASB In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; (27) and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (28) And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (29) For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; (30) and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

                            Pertaining to Romans 8:26-30

                            Recently, somehow, the man-cave discussion turned to the Holy Spirit. The leader spoke about how he grew up in the Assemblies of God and how it was a mandate to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Perhaps that is true, and there was a definite push. Our experiences were similar, and we both let out some babble that we mimicked just to get some church lady off our backs.

                            Looking back, that was not the Holy Spirit. How do I know that? Because there was no power, and for another eight years, I remained powerless and fear-filled. The enemy continued for years to tell me that this prayer language stuff was nothing more than nonsense. I have learned to ignore that ugly voice, for I now know without a doubt that when I pray in the Spirit I am doing battle in the Spirit.

                            P.S. The leader of the man-cave told us, that in time, while out walking the dog around the neighborhood, he received the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Our resident cusser merely continued to rant about how unnecessary and how bizarre the Holy Spirit is. I believe that we, the church, are the ones who made it bizarre by denying the power of the Holy Spirit.

                            • In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weakness;Romans 8:27 NASB and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

                            Jude 1:20b. NASB building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,
                            Ephesians 6:18a. KJV Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,
                            2 Corinthians 5:4a. NET. For we groan while we are in this tent since we are weighed down,
                            John 11:38a. AMP Now Jesus, again sighing repeatedly and deeply disquieted, approached the tomb.
                            [Most translations indicate that he groaned.]

                            Romans 8:27 NASB and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

                            • and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is,”

                            1 Corinthians 2:10 NASB (10) For to us, God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.

                            Revelation 2:23b. MKJV And all the churches will know that I am He who searches the reins and hearts,

                            Hebrews 4:13 MKJV Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.

                            Acts 15:8 NASB “And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; [They were surprised, as they thought the Holy Spirit was only for the Jews.]

                            Romans 8:28 NASB “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

                            • God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God,”

                            Joseph, now second in command in Egypt, speaks to his brothers.

                            Genesis 50:19-20 NASB But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? (20) “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

                            Psalms 119:71 NASB It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.

                            2 Corinthians 4:15 NASB (15) For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.

                            Romans 8:29 NASB For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

                            • For those whom He foreknew,”

                            This verse seems to make many lose sleep, as they consider the possibility that God might not have chosen them.
                            What if I told you that God chose everyone. John 3:16 bears that thought out.

                            John 3:16 NASB “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

                            Does everyone that God poured out His life for believe in Him?
                            No, they don’t. God knew this would happen and yet, projecting hope, put His Son on the cross anyway.

                            Psalms 1:6 NASB For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.
                            They only perish because they choose to. Psalms 31:7 seems to indicate that God knows every little thing that is coming your way.

                            Psalms 31:7 NASB I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness Because You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul,

                            • He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son,”

                            2 Peter 1:3 NASB seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him

                            He has given us everything so that we stay conformed to the image of His Son.
                            2 Corinthians 3:18 NASB (18) But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

                            “of His Son,” The light of the good news is the glory of Christ. He is the Word and has been from the very beginning of time.

                            2 Corinthians 4:4 NASB in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

                            The Apostle Paul, though we don’t focus on it very much, went through a tremendous amount of abuse, almost all of it at the hands of religious zealots who were trying to protect their traditions. We, here in the United States, have no clue as to what suffering looks like. Here it is mere days away from Christmas of 2019, and I have learned that over a thousand have died at the hands of religious zealots in Nigeria, but no one talks of this. Why not? Because someone is trying to protect their traditions and status quo.

                            But what does Paul say?

                            Romans 8:18 NASB For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

                            Somewhere down the road, and I do not believe it is that far away, we will see this glory that Paul speaks of. Who can obtain this glory? Anyone who believes that Jesus Christ died on the cross for them. Paul ends this study with these words from Romans 8:29, 30.

                            For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30 NASB)

                            It sounds like one could easily get left out of God’s mercy, but that is not the case, as we were all predestined to be conformed. Sadly, many of us choose not to follow. I prefer to conform to His image.

                            Posted in Apostle Paul, bible study, comfort, disciple, disciplined, Faith, forgive, Freedom from sin, God's character, grace, Hearing God, In Christ, Jesus, judgment, Mercy, Peace, recovery, righteous, Romans, spiritual gifts, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

                            Considering that it is the Christmas season, I chose to do a character study on Joseph.

                            It doesn’t feel like I have time, but I want to do a character study on Joseph, the man who married Mary, the mother of Jesus.

                            Let’s set something straight right off the bat. 

                            Although Mary is considered the mother of Jesus, she was merely a surrogate that carried a fertilized egg. I understand that most of you that have some religious background wish to fight with me already. The reason you want to fight is that what I said goes against your theological training and tradition.

                            Why would I be comfortable saying that Mary was merely a surrogate? Because, we humans, ALL of us, is broken. To use an egg from a broken human being would have caused Jesus to be born into sin and that would have made the payment of God’s flesh for our sin, null and void. You see, we have to understand the depths of Adam’s actions to understand this, and that is a direction I had not planned on taking this. 

                            Look at these verses.

                            2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB (21) He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

                            The word “Knew” reaches into the idea of a virgin who knew NO man, much like Mary. 

                            Jesus had NO sin in Him.

                            1 Peter 2:22 NASB WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH;

                            First, let me say that I copied this straight from the NASB. So for them to put these words on a page as capital letters mean to imply the force and enthusiasm with which they perceived Peter saying them. The translators perceived Peter yelling to get his point across.

                            Secondly, when I consider the phrase “nor was any deceit found in His mouth,” most of us understand that Jesus never sinned and, therefore, was NOT worthy of any of the punishment He submitted himself too. And yet, we see Jesus making a whip and driving the vendors out of the outer courts.

                            John 2:14-15 NASB And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money-changers seated at their tables. (15) And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables;

                            Now think about what just happened here. Having observed what was going on, Jesus found the necessary items to build such a device, and then use it on particular people – the vendors. The legal system looks at a chain of events, such as this, as premeditated. For you and me, this is flagrant sin.

                            What did Peter say? “He did not sin.”

                            What about this word deceit, does that tell us anything? 

                            Deceit is the Greek word dólos and generally means fraud, guile, deceit. So my take away from this is that Jesus was NOT fraudulent or deceitful in His actions. I can also comprehend that God saw nothing wrong with the actions and words of Jesus. Consider this:

                            John 5:19 NASB Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.

                            Jesus did nothing unless He saw the Father doing it, or heard the Father say it. That incident with the whip was merely Jesus acting out what the Father had asked Him to do.

                            Matthew 21:13 NLT  He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”

                            The house of prayer aspect points prominently to Isaiah 56:7. Jesus added the part about them, turning it into a den of thieves.

                            “I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” NLT

                            At this point, we have established that:

                            • Jesus was born of an implanted, fertilized egg – a necessary method as it bypassed the contamination of the broken nature that is integrated into all humanity.
                            • Mary, a virgin, was a willing, bearer of the fertilized egg (although the entire process, it seems, was not explained to Mary – that was not necessary) and soon-to-be mother of God’s Son. She was (most likely), by a familial, contractual agreement engaged to Joseph. 
                            • Joseph was a descendant of King David, and his hometown was Bethlehem.Joseph, we are told, was a righteous man. The short explanation of Joseph’s righteousness comes from the Word Study Dictionary, where it says, “In the N.T., those that are called righteous (díkaioi) are those who have conditioned their lives by the standard which is not theirs, but God’s. They are the people related to God and who, as a result of this relationship, walk with God.” There is only one way to perceive this man; he had a solid knowledge of the Torah and followed the Jewish law. It is evident by this statement that many knew of his comprehension and actions. (He may have been an elder.)

                            If he knew the law, as I stated, then he knew this,

                            Deuteronomy 23:2 NASB, “No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD.

                            Hold that thought, for we will come back to it shortly.

                            Mary, the virgin. (Yes, I am very much aware that this is a character study on Joseph, but you have to keep in mind that everything in scripture is integrated into the entirety of God’s plan.)

                            As I am writing this, a prominent fact is jumping out at me. The stories we were told as children are not lining up with the Word of God. This misalignment is one of the reasons that we need to read the scriptures for ourselves. Luke 1:26-38 is an excellent place to start when looking at Mary, for it gives you many of the details. Mary’s hometown was Nazareth. The distance between Nazareth and Bethlehem is approximately 120 kilometers or a little over 80 miles. Not a comfortable walk, and therefore makes me think about how God so casually arranges the meetings of our life, and, how did Joseph know of, or meet Mary. This thought process lends itself more to the contractual marriage idea, an idea that plays into a family’s economy.

                            The Birth of Jesus Foretold.

                            A couple of things I want to point out. The NASB entitles this section the Birth of Jesus Foretold,however, by jumping straight into Luke 1:26, and 27, we lose the context.

                            Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. (Luke 1:26-27 NASB)

                            The context of this moment has everything to do with Mary visiting her relative, Elizabeth. Without the proper context, some, like me, might start thinking about the Jewish month Sivan, and what would be happening then, and what does any of this have to do with the birth of Jesus?

                            Secondly, In Luke 1:27, we have a piece of information that I have never noticed before. Mary is referred to as a virgin twice

                            To the Jews, repetitive words were recognized as God’s way of getting your attention or enforcing a prophetic point. Because of the chain of events that are about to transpire, it may be immensely important that the readers/listeners understand, beyond a doubt, that this girl was a virgin.

                            I started this writing by pointing out that Mary was merely a surrogate mother.

                            What is it that makes a woman a NON-virgin? Intercourse, willingly or not. 

                            Mary never experienced what that might be like, but would have had the sage advice of say, her mother, when she thought it was necessary, to explain the gritty details. I suppose none of this is essential information, and to some degree, tasteless. Still, if Mary, the virgin, is about to become pregnant without sexual contact, the typical evidence an angry mother would demand to see would not be there, and yet, just a few months later, Mary would be showing. All these details suddenly thrust upon her, had to be so confusing.

                            Remember that I told you to hold that thought about Joseph being a righteous man; and how, as a righteous man, he would have had extensive knowledge of the Torah/Jewish law.

                            A person of illegitimate birth may not enter the assembly of the LORD; to the tenth generation, no one related to him may do so. (Deuteronomy 23:2 NET.)

                            Many of Mary’s neighbors also knew the law, and because Mary stood her ground and insisted that this child, she is so obviously carrying, is God’s and NOT Joseph’s, she is either thought to be a liar or an adulterer. The negativity would have spilled over onto Joseph, and everyone would have been looking at this righteous man, not only with the stink eye but the “you know what to do eye.” None of these neighbors would have allowed Mary, Joseph, or the child into the Synagogue or Temple, however, as most of you know, Jesus entered the Synagogue, as was His custom, opened the scroll of Isaiah, and read the prophecy that spoke of Him.

                            The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, (Isaiah 61:1-2 NASB)

                            And the strangest thing happened, those who acknowledged Him, called Him Rabbi – teacher. Where did they come to this understanding?

                            In reading Luke’s gospel, we just left off with the narrative about Elizabeth, who should be well beyond childbearing years, and she is the wife of an old priest named Zacharias. She is now six months pregnant with the baby that will soon be named John the Baptist. (Luke 1:1-26.)

                            Luke 1:1-26 is where things are less than clear to me. I think this confusion stems mainly from the flannel board stories of my youth and religious traditions that have marred the chronological timeline in my head. You see, I always assumed that Mary went to see Elizabeth simply to get away from the hostility of the neighbors in Nazareth. Pay attention to this next part of the story.

                            Matthew 1:18 NASB Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, however, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.

                            Matthew just threw us into fast forward, so we need to go backward in time to when Gabriel tells her what God’s plan is.

                            Luke 1:26-27 NASB Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, (27) to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

                            It is almost as though the story starts here, but as you know, it started back when God opted to have Joseph become engaged to Mary. Remove from your thinking that she is some assertive, twenty-something, pre-med student because that is not even close. She could have been anywhere between twelve and sixteen. Twelve-year-old children do not often have their wits about them, but a sixteen-year-old might. Based upon the upcoming conversation, and the fact that she stood her ground against Joseph and her neighbors, I would lean toward sixteen.

                            Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, and for that reason, the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age, and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, the bond-slave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38 NASB)

                            Things I see in this transaction between Mary and Gabriel.

                            • And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
                              • Verse 29 tells us that she was very perplexed.
                                • Having been told, “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
                                    Overshadow is the Greek word episkiazō and means to envelop in a haze of brilliancy, along with a few other meanings. In other words, this event will be beyond your comprehension, and much like many of our intense experiences with the Holy Spirit, you are left with an immensely warm feeling. And by the way, Mary, the events that you associate with your time of the month, will cease, as the child immediately begins to develop within you. (Jesus voluntarily became a human; that means that He went through the entire birth and growth process, just as we all do.)
                                  • Gabriel adds, “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.
                                    • “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

                                      The entire conversation ends most intriguingly.

                                      • “Behold, the bond-slave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”

                                        Now the focus shifts back to Joseph.

                                        Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, and before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:18 NASB)

                                        • Mary, betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, was found to be with child.
                                          • Mary, knowing that running around town, telling people her “wonderful” news would be detrimental to her health, as some would likely kill her, keeps quiet.
                                          • Since pregnancies can only remain a secret for so long before the rumors begin to fly, one of the apparent attacks would come from her household.(Remember, this engagement has moved from the contractual stage to a point where Joseph has made the official call for her hand in marriage. At this point, he would begin building what would be their home. This home was often an add on to the parent’s home, and he will come for her at the end of this engagement period, most likely a year, when the house is finished. This home is in Nazareth at this point.)

                                        Now how would someone know that something about Mary had changed?

                                        The first and most obvious person to know would be her mother, for she would have noticed that Mary did not have her period at its regular interval. Well, that may not be a good clue because stress and other factors have caused some to miss their periods, although this tends to be a one month issue. The next thing that may have been the giveaway would be the baby bump. Common sense and politeness would rule out most of us from saying anything. For all we know, she is just getting fat; since the attire of the period is loose clothing, this would be hard to detect for several months.

                                        So the reality is, she may be three months or more along by the time Joseph finds out about this pregnancy by God.

                                        And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. (Matthew 1:19 NASB)

                                        We already talked about the ramifications of Joseph being a righteous man, but now we see that he does not want to disgrace her

                                        That word disgrace is the Greek word deigmatizō and means to expose or to make a show of her. His choice to protect her dignity shows remarkable class on his part, but it also shows that he knows full well what is about to happen to her and the child, and he is trying to protect his character as well.

                                        But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21 NASB)

                                        Matthew 1:20-21, in saying, “when he had considered this,” gives us NO time frame as to how long this deliberation on the part of Joseph would have taken.

                                        The “made for T.V.” version showed Joseph immediately going back to the house he had meticulously worked on and started smashing it to pieces. Regardless, considering the thought, plans, and preparations he had to make to “put her away privately,” may have taken weeks at a minimum.

                                        • Do not be afraid.
                                          • for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
                                            • She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus,”

                                              And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son, and he called His name Jesus. (Matthew 1:24-25 NASB)

                                              Unlike the story of Abram, where he has a vision, we are told that Joseph awoke from his sleep. It appears that he immediately did as the angel of the Lord commanded. He took Mary, that day, as his wife. However, he did NOT have intercourse with her, keeping her a virgin until she gave birth to God’s Son.

                                              Think about what just happened. If Joseph had touched Mary sexually, then the enemy would have had opportunity to argue that Jesus was not born without sin. The ramifications would have been many. Whether Joseph was operating under a Godly mandate and not touching her, is not made clear to us. Logic has to play a role in this thought process.

                                              Married and pregnant.

                                              Now in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was with child. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped Him in cloths and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:1-7 NASB)

                                              Wouldn’t you know it, Caesar Augustus demanded that the whole earth, as he perceived it, would comply with his demands by participating in a census. And so every male, and his family, were on their way to the city of their birth, to register for the census, and that meant that Joseph had to take his very pregnant wife south to Bethlehem. A story like this evokes many levels of discomfort, as we picture Mary, potentially riding on a colt.

                                              It is not until the end of the paragraph that we are told, “she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.”

                                              Now answer me this; where are they? They are in Bethlehem, the hometown of Joseph, where his kinfolk live, and NO ONE will take them in. Why is that?

                                              • Could it be that they too had found out that Mary was pregnant before Joseph and Mary got married?
                                                • And, could it be that Joseph is openly stating that he did not touch her at any point?
                                                  • Mary continues to insist that the baby is God’s?

                                                    Could any of these possibilities cause problems? Absolutely. But remember, Joseph is a righteous man.

                                                    In a short time, Mary gives birth to the baby boy; and yes, it is possible that they stayed in that manger for many days.

                                                    And when eight days had passed, before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (Luke 2:21-22 NASB)

                                                    Joseph, the righteous man knew this law.

                                                    “And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. “And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants.” (Genesis 17:11-12 NASB)

                                                    And he also knew this:

                                                    “No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 23:2 NASB)

                                                    Can you imagine the inner turmoil Joseph may have had, knowing that the world he understands sees this baby as illegitimate, and therefore, neither the baby, Joseph, or his wife, are eligible to enter the temple.

                                                    But notice how Luke 2:22 says, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. Jerusalem may be a place where the word about the parentage of Jesus has not traveled as yet.

                                                    Why would anyone challenge Jesus’ parentage?

                                                    They wouldn’t, unless, as we know, both Mary and now Joseph, both hold to the testimony that the baby Jesus is the Son of God. An answer to my question may be found in the probabilities that, with each birth, there may be the recital of one’s ancestry. Wow, suddenly the fact that Mary is tied back to Abraham, and Joseph’s lineage takes him back to Adam.

                                                    From what I understand, the modern Jewish community has people/Priests/Rabbis that will come into your home. We can only assume that the availability of those who do circumcisions, at this time, is only found at the temple. We have to look a little further to see that they took Him to the temple.

                                                    “Every firstborn male shall be counted consecrated to the Lord,” and to offer the sacrifice in accordance with what is specified in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.” Now there was in Jerusalem, a man named Simeon, an upright, devout man; he was expecting to see the consolation of Israel, and he was under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not die without seeing the Lord’s Messiah. So under the Spirit’s guidance, he went into the temple, and when the parents brought the child Jesus there to do for Him as the custom of the law required, (Luke 2:23-27 Williams)

                                                    • and to offer a sacrifice according to what was said in the Law of the Lord.”
                                                      • Now there was in Jerusalem, a man named Simeon, an upright, devout man; he was expecting to see the consolation of Israel, and he was under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not die without seeing the Lord’s Messiah. So under the Spirit’s guidance, he went into the temple, and when the parents brought the child Jesus there

                                                        Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married for only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem. (Luke 2:36-38 NLT)

                                                        The census was taken, and the baby was born. At a minimum, two years had passed when the Magi showed on the horizon. Their numbers, along with the entourage, raised no small cloud of dust. The report was made to Herod, who immediately went into a panic.

                                                        “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod, the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: (NASB) ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’ (Matthew 2:6 NLT) Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house, they saw the Child with Mary, His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.” (Matthew 2:1-12 NASB)

                                                        Joseph once again hears from God and takes the family to safety in Egypt.

                                                        After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.” (Matthew 2:13-15 NLT)

                                                        History tells us that Herod the Great died in 4 B.C. I suppose that would make Jesus around four when Joseph brought the family out of Egypt. But the travel saga doesn’t end there, as apparently, they tried to return to Bethlehem.

                                                        “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” So Joseph got up and returned to the land of Israel with Jesus and his mother. (Matthew 2:20-21 NLT)

                                                        Matthew 2:20 merely says, take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel; this is not very specific.

                                                        But when he learned that the new ruler of Judea was Herod’s son Archelaus, he was afraid to go there. Then, after being warned in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee. (Matthew 2:22 NLT)

                                                        The Commentator Albert Barnes points out that Archelaus possessed a cruel and tyrannical disposition similar to his father. At one of the Passovers, he caused 3,000 people to be put to death in the temple and city. For his crimes, after he had reigned nine years, he was banished by Augustus, the Roman emperor, to Gaul, where he died. 

                                                        This is conjecture on my part, but it does not change my faith or remove my confidence in God’s plan, and yet, it sure makes sense when I say, the region of Galilee would be familiar ground for Mary, and quite possibly for Joseph as well; for where do we first see Joseph? In Nazareth, a town in the region of Galilee. It would be easy to blend in, and there is the added benefit of time. Time? Why say that? Because the overall time frame since they first left Nazareth, is quite possibly five years or more, and because of the adamant stance the two parents took just before they left.

                                                        Dr. Luke’s gospel is extremely abbreviated, as it bypasses the trip to Egypt, puts them walking out of the temple door, meeting Anna the prophetess, and heading back to Nazareth.

                                                        When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. (Luke 2:39 NLT)

                                                        What were the requirements? Joseph knew the answer to this question. The purification time for his wife; the circumcision of Jesus on the eighth day. If there was anything else, I am not aware of it.

                                                         And so, according to Luke’s gospel, back to Nazareth, they went..

                                                        The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. (Luke 2:40 NASB)

                                                        I have heard it said that all that a child is going to be, behavior-wise, is established by the age of seven. I suppose much of that has to do with oral and visual inputs from the adults that surround their life. If your father is a man that knows and follows the Torah, then your inputs should be God-oriented as well, and this is exactly what we see in Jesus. So Joseph was a good and capable choice.

                                                        The next time we see Jesus he is age twelve, very close to the age of Bar mitzvah. “Bar mitzvah is a Jewish coming of age ritual for boys. According to Jewish law, when a Jewish boy is 13 years old, he becomes accountable for his actions and becomes a bar mitzvah.” Wikipedia

                                                        If you care to challenge the FACT that Jesus went through a Bar Mitzvah, then I offer this detail. In Mark’s gospel, we have this:

                                                        As Jesus was starting out on his way to Jerusalem, a man came running up to him, knelt down, and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked. “Only God is truly good. But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. You must not cheat anyone. Honor your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” the man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.” Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:17-21 NLT)

                                                        The Bible Knowledge Commentary has this to say about Mark 10: 17-21.

                                                        “In answering the man’s question directly, Jesus quoted five commandments from the so-called “second table” of the Decalogue (cf. Exo_20:12-16; Deu_5:16-20) but in a different order. Obedience to those commands dealing with human relationships are more easily verified in a person’s conduct than are the earlier commands (Exo_20:3-8). The command, Do not defraud, not a part of the Decalogue and occurring only in Mark, may represent the 10th commandment (Exo_20:17). But more likely, it is an appropriate supplement to the 8th and/or 9th commandments (Exo_20:15-16) applicable to a wealthy person (cf. Lev_6:2-5; Mal_3:5).

                                                        The man’s reply shows he firmly believed he had kept these commandments perfectly (cf. Php_3:6) since he was a boy, since age 12 when he assumed personal responsibility for keeping the Law as a “son of the Law” (bar Mitzvah; cf. Luk_2:42-47). Perhaps he had expected Jesus to prescribe something meritorious that he needed to do to make up for any lack.”

                                                        Because, as I have stated repeatedly, Joseph was a righteous man, then he would have made Jesus submit to the tradition of bar Mitzvah as well. That is why Jesus knew fully what the young man was saying when he responded to Jesus with, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

                                                        What is one of the common things we know about Jesus? He fulfilled all the commandments of righteousness, and Matthew’s gospel proves that out.

                                                        Then Jesus arrived from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and You are coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him. (Matthew 3:13-15 EMTV)

                                                        So, where does Joseph fit into this conversation?

                                                        Joseph, being a righteous man, knew these things and saw to it that they were performed.

                                                        Now after Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, and take with you the young Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the life of the young Child have died.” Then he rose and took along the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But hearing that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being divinely instructed in a dream, he withdrew into the regions of Galilee. And when he arrived, he settled down in a city called Nazareth, so that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He would be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:19-23 EMTV)

                                                        And with this, we end our look at Joseph, for, after this point in time, we see him no more. However, I will add one more piece of information.

                                                        When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed from there. He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? (Matthew 13:53-55 NASB)

                                                        Based upon this paragraph, we assume that Joseph was a carpenter, and therefore Jesus too was a carpenter. But that is NOT what this verse says. I know, it sure appears that it does, but therein lies the majority of our misinterpretation of God, His nature, and His character. They never said carpenter, the translators did, and they did it because it made sense to them.

                                                        The word translated carpenter is tektōnand merely means a craftsman. Tekton can also mean one who writes poetry, but since we know that this was not Jesus’ calling, then we can exclude that idea.

                                                        An interesting detail about Nazareth is that a half-mile outside the city the Israel antiquities department excavated a stone vessel shop. In this shop, it was determined that 2000 years ago they lathed, yes lathed, quarried stone into household vessels, such as mugs and large water vessels. 

                                                        What is the significance of that? 

                                                        During the days of Herod, the Great, a Jewish, entrepreneur read in the Torah, how vessels can become unclean by the usage of certain persons and products, like pig fat. However, in his reading of the law, it became abundantly clear that it said nothing about stoneware. With no small discussion, it was decided that because stone was not mentioned in the list of things that could become contaminated, that stone MUST be excluded. To this day, stoneware is a standard in the Jewish community. Did God come up with this idea? Hardly, but the Jews have integrated this stoneware usage rule into their laws.

                                                        What does this mean to me? It means that Joseph may well have been a craftsman of stoneware and that Jesus had learned that trade alongside him. 

                                                        Then consider something. When Jesus performed his first public miracle, what was involved, massive stoneware water vessels that were being used for ceremonial cleansing. So when he asks the servants to fill these same vessels with water, he did not concern himself with the cleanliness issue and turned that water into wine. He knew full well about the rules pertaining to stoneware and may have been one of the tektōn’s who made those pots.

                                                        Posted in Angel Gabriel, Bethlehem, Bethlehem, bible study, character study, dreams, Egypt, Faith, forgive, grace, Jerusalem, Jesus, Jews, Joseph, Magi, Mary, Mercy, Nazareth, righteous, sexual sin, Sin | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

                                                        Heirs with Christ, Romans 8:12-16

                                                        We ended our last study with this:

                                                        Romans 8:9-11 NLT  But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)  (10)  And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.  (11)  The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

                                                        Take a moment to let these truths about you, sink in.

                                                        • You are NOT controlled by your sinful nature.
                                                        • You are controlled by the Spirit – IF you have the Spirit of God living in you.

                                                        How did or do we get the Spirit of God to live inside of us? Through faith.

                                                        • And (because) Christ lives in you, even though your body may die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God.
                                                        • The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you.

                                                        Job 19:27 NLT I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!

                                                        • And, just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

                                                        Everything Paul said, was based in the Torah and Tenach, here is an example:

                                                        Isaiah 26:19 NLT But those who die in the LORD will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!

                                                        Romans 8:12 – 17 entitles this next section,

                                                        Heirs with Christ

                                                        As we open the new section, I find this opening statement so powerful that it takes my breath away.

                                                        Romans 8:12 NLT  Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.

                                                        The KJV version uses a variation from the NLT.

                                                        “We are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.”

                                                        We don’t owe Satan anything, for he has NO hold on us IF we are in Christ. That statement includes all the stupid stunts we have pulled since receiving Christ.

                                                        Romans 8:13 Williams  “for if you live by such a standard, you are going to die, but if by the Spirit you put a stop to the doings of your lower nature, you will live.”

                                                        What standard is the Williams translation speaking of? The one that the flesh sets for us, one in which we do what the flesh demands.

                                                        Look, once again, at what Paul said in Romans 8:6.

                                                        Romans 8:6 Williams  “For to be thinking the things suggested by the lower nature means death, but to be thinking the things suggested by the Spirit means life and peace.”

                                                        Is it as “harsh” as what Adam had when God said to him, you are not to eat from, nor touch the tree? If merely pondering the things my flesh suggests means death, then I am surprised that I have lived this long. Obviously, death is something more than just physical?

                                                        Romans 8:13b. CJB  For if you live according to your old nature, you will certainly die; but if by the Spirit, you keep putting to death the practices of the body, you will live.

                                                        Death seems inevitable, that is, unless you, by the Spirit put the practices of the flesh to death.

                                                        Things to note here:

                                                        • Death does not necessarily mean a physical end to life, although it can. The Complete Jewish Bible added the phrase “keep putting.”

                                                        The Greek word is thanatoō, and it means to cause…to be put to death, made to die, and putting to death. The Amplified Bible uses the word habitually to convey the message.

                                                        All of these definitions are indicative of a combat-ready attitude or a fighting mentality.

                                                        Ephesians 6:12 NIV  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

                                                        Keep in mind that you are NOT fighting against flesh and blood; you are battling against demonic forces, allied with Satan. The purpose is that you take a proactive stance against the enemy’s attacks against you. These attacks have everything to do with what your body and mind want to do, such as road rage, retaliation, throwing a tantrum, or pursuing some addictive behavior.

                                                        Let’s assume that you have taken this proactive behavior, and you are trying to stave off the enemy’s attacks, which often look like people. 

                                                        Are you winning? 

                                                        If it seems like you are not, then here is a piece of information that might help.

                                                        Ephesians 6:13c-14 NASB Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. (14) Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,

                                                        • Verse 13 ends with “stand firm.” Why? Because you have done everything, you know how to do.

                                                          The Moffatt’s translation tells us to continue to hold our ground :

                                                          Ephesians 6:14 Moffatt NT (14) Hold your ground, tighten the belt of truth about your loins, wear integrity as your coat of mail,

                                                          I suggest you read Ephesians chapter six through to the end, as it defines our spiritual armor in detail.

                                                          If you live, what will that look like for you?

                                                          You may only see what this world has to offer, and that falls pathetically short of God’s kingdom. But if you said, I will live in eternity, with the Father, wrapped in peace, then you would be correct.

                                                          Romans 8:14 Moffatt NT For the sons of God are those who are guided by the Spirit of God.

                                                          The NASB states,

                                                          Romans 8:14 NASB For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

                                                          Alternative words for led are driven or induced. Don’t you see the fallacy of you having control? God has His hand upon us, in the form of the Holy Spirit, all the time, and the fact that you are being led proves that you are a son of God.

                                                          If you, as Paul did, submitted yourself to Jesus Christ like a slave, then you are guided by that same Spirit of God.

                                                          Romans 8:15 NLT  So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

                                                          Yes, I posted a verse that uses the term slave. There is hardly a reasonable human that sees slavery as anything other than fearful. The concept of slavery is nothing less than dismal, that is unless things go well for you, and you long to stay in what you feel is “a protected and loving” environment as a bond-servant. This slavery is the portrayal of the person that we see in scripture voluntarily having their ear pierced as an indication that they have given themselves over permanently to their owners.

                                                          Exodus 21:5-6 KJV  And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free:  (6) Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him forever.

                                                          Deuteronomy 15:15-17 KJV  And you shalt remember that you were a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you: therefore I command you this thing today.  (16)  And it shall be, if he says unto you, I will not go away from you; because he loves you and your house, because he is well with you;  (17)  Then you shall take an awl, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be your servant forever. And also unto your maidservant, you shalt do likewise.

                                                          Fortunately, our relationship with God is never that harsh, and the idea of being a bond-servant is purely voluntary. Many think they have walked away from God’s ownership, but I do not believe that is possible as God certainly can keep track of those who belong to Him.

                                                          Romans 8:16 MKJV  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.

                                                          • The Spirit Himself”
                                                            • bears witness with our spirit.”
                                                              • that we are the children of God.”

                                                              Children are the Greek word téknon, meaning to bring forth (as in a) child.
                                                              So, God, after years of damage and rebellion on our part, still leans on the fact that we were created in His image, that and the fact that we, as believers, have His Spirit in us, that makes us those who have been brought forth. No decent human should throw aside their progeny, and yet we do, but NOT God. He sought us out and made way for our return to His side.

                                                              Posted in advocate, apologetics, Apostle Paul, author, bible study, condemnation, disciplined, Faith, finisher, forgive, Freedom from sin, gentiles, God's character, grace, guilt, In Christ, Jesus, Jews, Law of liberty, Mercy, restore, righteous, Romans, Sin, spiritual gifts, strongholds, Thoughts on scripture, understanding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

                                                              Those who are according to the Spirit. Romans 8:5-11

                                                              The NASB entitles, chapter eight, Life in the Spirit.

                                                              I have come to realize that whether we meet up with religious expectations or not, we are, and will be alive in the Spirit.

                                                              This idea of life makes more sense to those who are followers of Christ, who long to be more knowledgeable in their understanding of Scripture. You would have to go back to Adam to understand that death, the opposite of spiritual life, meant many things. The primary and most notable aspect of death came in the form of being cut off from the intimacy of a deep and open relationship with God. Jesus also experienced this on the cross. We saw it when He cried out, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

                                                              Had the Father forsaken His Son?
                                                              Hardly. The plan was necessary but painful. It was one in which, Jesus had to pay the full price for Adam’s transgression – An act in which the ownership of the planet was handed over to Satan; and, thereby restore the Father’s relationship with humanity, and set the world right again, without a deceiver to influence ever again.

                                                              If you understand that your spirit never dies, then you can surmise that it is only the relationship that dies. You should also grasp that you live eternally with the Father, or you follow your leader Satan, to his demise, and live forever in his torment, permanently cut off from God. Fairly straightforward.

                                                              The Law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body, God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. (Romans 8:3-4 NLT)

                                                              So, having done all that, we no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.  Well, that’s what it says, and so it must be true, right?

                                                              But didn’t Paul talk about this in Romans chapter seven?

                                                              But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 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 7:16-19 NASB)

                                                              To hear Paul say it makes me feel hopeless, but we are not because he finished this out by saying there is hope and that hope has everything to do with Christ Jesus and His work on that cross.

                                                              And with that, we begin looking at Romans 8:5 and beyond.

                                                              Romans 8:5 NASB For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

                                                              Immediately I see two categories of people:

                                                              • Those who have their minds set on the flesh.
                                                              • And those who are according to the Spirit.

                                                              The people who are according to the Spirit, have their minds set on the things of the Spirit.

                                                              Set is the Greek word phroneōand means to exercise the mind, that is, entertain or have a sentiment or opinion; by implication to be (mentally) disposed (more or less earnestly in a certain direction.)

                                                              My soul longs to teach the Word of God; that’s how much I am inclined to pursue the Lord. How can you be a teacher unless you follow understanding?

                                                              However, I don’t see myself as someone who is set, for staying in the Word has become a way of life to me, and when I am not involved in prepping for a study or writing a post, I feel a strange sense of loss. I question whether those moments of discontent are the years of legalism in my head or only my annoyance with this useless world.

                                                              My Pastor recently told the Church, with the hope of getting the audience on board with his decision, that he was going to fast commercials on the television (Fasting is meant to set aside personal time and pleasures, like eating, so that you draw closer to God. When it comes to fasting commercials on the television, how do you do that without fancy equipment like a “Tivo?” – I don’t think they still exist. The Tivo unit allowed you to bypass the commercials, among other things. I don’t have that kind of equipment, but I suppose I could shut the sound off, but then there are the images.

                                                              Why fast commercials?

                                                              Because it is a known fact that commercials are designed to control your thoughts and perceptions of life, some of my family members are prime examples of this, as they must wear the latest name brand product, or, they will call and say, you have to try this newest product. Most of the time, it isn’t any better than the last thing, and often it’s worse. Commercials are trying to conform you to somebody’s idea of what the world should be drinking, driving, or wearing.

                                                              Romans 12:2 NASB And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

                                                              1 John 2:15-17 NASB Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world. (17) The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.

                                                              But the mind, set on the Spirit is life and peace.

                                                              Romans 8:6 NASB “For the mind, set on the flesh is death, but the mind, set on the Spirit is life and peace,”

                                                              If a commercial, which makes you focus your attention on the lusts of the flesh, a thing of death, then it too must represent death, because it certainly has your mind, set on fleshly things.

                                                              Doesn’t this word death demand an explanation? Sure it does, because I have been focusing my attention on commercials my entire life. And yet, I don’t seem to be dead. This terminology of death is so similar to what we saw God say to Adam.

                                                              “but about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, ‘You are neither to eat from it nor touch it, or you will die.’” Genesis 3:3 CJB 

                                                              Although physical death began that very moment, it could not be seen. At the same time, another aspect of death that could not be seen was the separation of their soul’s relationship with God. This spiritual death evidences itself most in the brokenness of the relationship between the human and the Father (God.) So the mind, set on the passions of the flesh, dies on the inside. It is inevitable, as you forget what it is to have God’s life and peace in you.

                                                              In opposition to death, there is life.

                                                              “but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.” (Romans 8:5b. TNIV)

                                                              I suppose the question here is, what do you have your spirit set on?

                                                              “The mind, controlled by the sinful nature, is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6 TNIV)

                                                              • The word set, or controlled as the TNIV puts it, is the Greek word phronēma and means: to have a (mental) inclination or purpose.
                                                              • The word inclination, according to Webster’s dictionary, means A leaning of the mind or will, propension or propensity, a disposition more favorable to one thing than to another.

                                                              So, having my mind controlled by the sinful nature of my flesh, started with my leaning toward one thing more than the other. That other was God. The end result is death or the advanced deterioration of my relationship with the Father.

                                                              Romans 8:7 MSG,  “Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing.”

                                                              Dr. J. Vernon McGee states: “This verse reveals how hopelessly incorrigible and utterly destitute the flesh really is. It is a spiritual anarchist. This demolishes any theory that there is a divine spark in man and that somehow he has a secret bent toward God. The truth is that man is the enemy of God. He is not only dead in trespasses and sins but active in rebellion against God. Man will even become religious in order to stay away from the living and true God and the person of Jesus Christ.

                                                              When you study the chain of events that led up to the flood, you see one central theme, that every thought of man was only evil, and the world was filled with violence. A statement like this would back up Dr. McGee’s assertions. But, are we entirely hopeless? I don’t want to think so, because there was a thread of hope that ran through Adam to Noah. (An explanation for humanities fall in this circumstance is there in Genesis chapter six. Many cannot see it, and most refuse to see it. It requires more than a simplistic reading of the chapter.) Perhaps, if we could remove all the influences that remove us from God, then maybe we could live in an open, vibrant, and honest relationship with the Father, but how would you make that happen?

                                                              Romans 8:8 NASB, “and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

                                                              When Paul wrote, what a wretched man I am, I feel confident that he meant it. However, there is hope; there is always hope. Surrounded and inundated by the pulls of the flesh, what am I to do?

                                                              Romans 8:9 NASB, However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

                                                              Consider what this is saying to us.

                                                              • You are not in the flesh – if the Spirit of God dwells in you.

                                                              Early in this letter to the Romans, Paul said, “and you are dead to sin if you have been baptized into His death.”

                                                              What’s the rule associated with dead people?

                                                              They are no longer capable of sinning, or, as Romans 8 tells us, pleasing the flesh. Yet we dead folk still sin? Quite a dilemma if you don’t have Christ. Consider that with Christ, we are held righteous in God’s eyes. Now that may be another story with people, especially religious people, but as followers of Christ: 1. We are not indulging, repeatedly, and wantonly in sin. 2. We keep focused on the truth that we are buried in Him, that our life is in Him, and we have the Spirit of life in us and belong to God.

                                                              Romans 8:9 appears to have an addendum.

                                                              • But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”

                                                              How would we know that someone did not have the Spirit of Christ in them?

                                                              An obvious answer might be to look at their fruit, but I have known people who appear to be in Christ, simply because they go through the motions at church, and yet I am not sure what their fruit is or resembles. While others, who have also gone through all the motions, but their fruit is rotten on their branches. The bottom line for me, I am going to let God sort this out at the end.

                                                              Under the umbrella of, there is always hope, we have this.

                                                              Romans 8:10 NASB, If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

                                                              How can the body be dead and still have functionality here on earth? It can’t, so death then must be thought of as spiritual, and expresses itself in a variety of ways. And yet, here is that hope once again, the spirit is still alive because of righteousness. Righteousness is right standing with God, nothing more and nothing less.

                                                              Webster’s dictionary defines righteousness like this: “Purity of heart and rectitude of life; conformity of heart and life to the divine law. Righteousness, as used in Scripture and theology, in which it is chiefly used, is nearly equivalent to holiness, comprehending holy principles and affections of heart, and conformity of life to the divine law. It includes all we call justice, honesty, and virtue, with holy affections.

                                                              That right standing that Paul speaks of is only contingent upon one thing, our faith in Jesus Christ and the price He paid; that’s it, and this faith gives us our life in the Father. All this freedom and hope sounds too good to be true. And yet there is more.

                                                              Romans 8:11 NASB 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.

                                                              • If, the same Spirit The qualifying action is faith and acceptance.
                                                              • of Him who raised Jesus from the dead, He who raised Jesus from the dead is God the Father.
                                                              • dwell in you, Paul said, if you were baptized into Him, then He now resides in you.
                                                              • (Then) He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead Again, we are talking about God the Father.
                                                              • will also give life to your mortal bodies. God will give life to your human body. Now wait a minute, this makes sense if I am dead, as He will, I assume, breath life back into my body. I am not sure I understand why He couldn’t just as easily make me another. But what if Jesus comes back to catch us away and I am alive, what happens then? Apparently, we are not as alive as we thought we were.
                                                              • through His Spirit who dwells in you. All this life and the restoration of life happens because of the life that dwells in us. We just went over who this is that resides within you? Jesus Christ, however, here on earth, it is the Holy Spirit, who is just as much God as the Son, dwelling in us. The Holy Spirit of God is our life here on earth.

                                                              Well, that same Spirit does dwell in me; so then, He will also give this life to my mortal body, through that same Spirit.

                                                              It is irrelevant, but why do I need this body?

                                                              I don’t know, but God seems to have a purpose since He made it with all these sensory organs, that like to eat fruit and other things. Perhaps this all plays into our eternity with Him, as Jesus, in His physical return, made a fire, cooked some fish, and ate with the men. He had that “new” body, one that doesn’t need to eat anymore; then maybe we can assume that He ate for the pure pleasure of it.

                                                              If you don’t know my Jesus, you can. Simply ask to bring this life back into yours and chase Him as though your life depended upon it.

                                                              Posted in apologetics, Apostle Paul, bible study, disciplined, Faith, God's character, grace, Jesus, Law of liberty, Mercy, recovery, righteous, Romans, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

                                                              Paul tells us why Romans 8:1 works. Romans 8:2-4.

                                                              We learned in Romans 8:1 that there is NOW (an ever-present tense) NO condemnation. To me, an obvious conclusion is that this applies to my relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ.

                                                              So what does Romans 8:2 tell us?

                                                              For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Romans 8:2 NASB)

                                                              As I sit with my friend, going through the bo

                                                              We learned in Romans 8:1 that there is NOW (an ever-present tense) NO condemnation. 

                                                              To me, an obvious conclusion is that this applies to my relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ.

                                                              So what does Romans 8:2 tell us?

                                                              For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Romans 8:2 NASB)

                                                              As I sit with my friend, going through the book of Romans, I am reminded of how many times I have heard the phrase within the Christian community – we are free from the law

                                                              At moments like that, I turn to my friend and ask, is that an accurate statement?

                                                              Well, right there, in front of us, are words in opposition to that assertion.

                                                              For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.

                                                              Let’s tear this up for a moment. The word law is focused on the requirements that the Jews understand, the Torah. If you are a devout follower of Warren Wiersbe, then you are already looking for a way to fight with me because he leans heavily toward an exclusively Gentile audience.

                                                              The word Law, as included in Romans, is the Greek word nomos and means anything established; anything received by usage; a custom; a law, or a command. Yes, the Torah falls under these categories.

                                                              But, did the Jews, as Paul points out, know the Torah as something that brought life?

                                                              Hardly; all they could perceive was the word NO, just like impudent children. 

                                                              If you read my previous posts on Romans, then you would understand that these people, Moses led out of Egypt, were effectively Egyptians. I pointed out how Stephen, gave the Jewish council a history lesson, which none of them disputed, in which he accurately points out how “Israel” brought their Egyptian gods and the tent of Moloch out of Egypt. The “law” written in stone was, at this point, ten simple rules, and yet, we see the immediate death that the law brought, as the first rule was to love the Lord their God. The problem is, Jehovah was not their Lord.

                                                              Is there a law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that we can turn to? 
                                                              Absolutely, but we don’t call it a law; we call them the gospels, epistles, and letters to the church.

                                                              Jesus said,

                                                              Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19 NASB)

                                                              One more thing about the law.

                                                              Paul opened his letter to the church in Rome, a church primarily comprised of Jewish believers, who had an attitude problem with the Gentile believers, with this statement, “I Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus.

                                                              If Paul, too, had found his freedom in Christ Jesus, then why the slave conversation? 

                                                              • Because he knew that the Torah still holds reign over the Jewish community.
                                                              • Only with the new eyes, found in a relationship with the Father – through the Son, can we see that the Torah was meant for life.
                                                              • And, that this life we live is meant to be lived in the Spirit – the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, not the letter of the law.

                                                              So, without calling it “the law,” do we have any constraint upon our lives? 
                                                              Certainly, we do. We have the law written upon our hearts.

                                                              “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.” (Jeremiah 31:33 KJV)

                                                              Spare me the arguments. I realize that contextually Jeremiah 31:33 is talking about the Jews, but God saw fit to add this addendum that makes it valid for anyone. You can find this in 2Timothy 3:16.

                                                              Saul, also known to us as Paul, and a self-proclaimed expert in the Torah, could hold his ground with anyone in a discussion about that law. So he knew well the legalism the Torah represented, and yet the Torah is the basis for the freedom we find in the New Testament. It kind of makes you wonder what Jesus might have said to Saul after He knocked him to the ground, although we should take into consideration that Saul/Paul spent three years in the Sinai peninsula, at the base of the mountain where Israel had camped, listening to the instructions from the Holy Spirit.

                                                              As a follower of Christ, there is no longer any condemnation toward me from Jesus, the one to whom all judgment has been given. Why that works has everything to do with the cross, including the life I now live because of and through Him.

                                                              Freedom from the law of sin and death.

                                                              For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, (Romans 8:2-3 NASB)

                                                              Let’s stop here for a minute. 

                                                              Verse two says, “For what the Law could not do, … God did:”

                                                              The Law only pointed out the necessity for a savior, although I admit that I still have a tough time seeing that aspect of the law. The law was not the savior, nor could it be the sacrifice for our redemption, that had to be achieved by the blood heir, Christ Jesus. If you have ever seen the movie version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis, you are seeing Azlan play out that role when he gives himself over to the witch as payment for young Edmund’s treasonous act.

                                                              So what did God do?

                                                              sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin.”

                                                              God sent His Son. Since humanity has an embedded/genetic desire to lust/sin, God had to bypass all that by creating His own fertilized egg and implanting it. One of Islam’s arguments against the God we serve is what they loudly declare, the disgusting idea that God would have sex. Well, no one said He did. If you cannot handle the idea that the creator of all things, could make a fertilized egg and place that egg inside of Mary, then you need a bigger God.

                                                              Now, this is where the statement, in the likeness of sinful flesh, comes into play. Yahshua looked just like every other broken human that walked the earth, there was nothing special about Him. (In case you don’t realize, Jesus still maintains that human form.)

                                                              The word likeness is the Greek word homoiōma and means a form; abstractly resemblance:

                                                              So, when we say, the likeness, He was every bit human, but without the built-in sin. Haven’t you ever wondered how Jesus could think through the process of making a whip out of cords, build it, and then use it against the sellers and money changers in the outer courts of the temple that day? What He did was premeditated. I can guarantee you that if I did it, I would be sinning/missing the mark, and yet, in everything Jesus did, He did not sin. I have yet to completely sort that out. Suffice it to say, that sin that lies within me longs to erupt on people at times, but sin was not there with Jesus pushing Him.

                                                              Romans 8:3b from the Message.

                                                              ” In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that. The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it.”

                                                              And so he condemned sin in the flesh,

                                                              Romans 8:4 NIV  in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

                                                              So, he condemned sin in the flesh, but who is the “he” referring to? 

                                                              Jesus. I know, God sent His Son to pay the price, so why can’t the “he” refer to God? Alright, let’s look at the context once again.

                                                              Romans 8:3-4 NIV  For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh,  (4)  in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

                                                              Plainly you can see, that God sent His own Son to be the sin offering.

                                                              The law demanded sacrifices.

                                                              Bluntly, blood had to be spilled, but the blood of animals was never enough to redeem back the population of a planet that had been taken captive. And so God gave Himself, in the form of His Son, and the exchange was made, life for life. Satan apparently was not aware of the sinless state of the Son could never trap Him in deception – although he thought he had. What glee he must have felt seeing Jesus hanging on that cross. What a failure this Messiah had proven to be, or so he thought. Satan, it seems, had taken Jesus captive. What a shock when Jesus ripped the doors off the prison gates of Hell. It appears that a forerunner, Samson, had demonstrated how to do it when he ripped out the gates of the city.

                                                              The NLT tells us,

                                                              Romans 8:3b, 4 “He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body, God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.”

                                                              Having watched people repeatedly go to the altar to be saved, you have to wonder, do they not understand this?

                                                              He (Jesus) did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.” 

                                                              This is a present-tense statement. There is nothing about it, in which we have to maintain some status of righteousness; it was done, once, for all. I will admit that if we could keep this righteousness, life here on earth would be a more peaceful place, but it is not, and you know that.

                                                              1 Peter 3:18 NLT  Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

                                                              I suggest you read Hebrews chapter 9, for it speaks of this very thing.

                                                              Hebrews 9:24-28 NLT  For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf.  (25)  And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. (26)  If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.  (27)  And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment,  (28)  so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

                                                              Romans 8:4 ends like this,

                                                              who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.”

                                                              This is not a conditional statement, like the one I perceived in Romans 8:1, but a description, as Paul, like God, looked to the future and saw you acting like the King you were meant to be.

                                                              The Contemporary English Version does an excellent job of clarifying what is going on here.

                                                              Romans 8:4 CEV  He did this so that we would do what the Law commands by obeying the Spirit instead of our own desires.

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                                                              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.

                                                              Posted in angels, Apostle Paul, bible study, disciplined, Faith, fallen angels, forgive, Freedom from sin, God's character, good news, grace, In Christ, Jesus, laying on of hands, Mercy, Peace, righteous, Romans, spiritual gifts, strongholds, the good news, Thoughts on scripture, understanding | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

                                                              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.

                                                              Posted in apologetics, Apostle Paul, bible study, disciplined, Faith, Freedom from sin, gentiles, God's character, grace, guilt, Hope, In Christ, Jesus, Jews, Law of liberty, Mercy, overtaken, Peace, recovery, redemption, restore, Romans, sexual sin, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

                                                              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.

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