Romans Chapter 8, pt. 2

We made it through verse 11, understanding that the believer can bring himself under the condemnation of sin by his own choices.  We noted that it isn’t God sending condemnation to the believer because the believer sins, but rather it is the believer yielding himself to the realm of Sin, thereby receiving unto himself all that Sin has to offer – which is death.

I read a comment that essentially said that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God but many spend their lives trying to grasp for His glory.  This isn’t limited to those who are working to get God’s attention, but is also prevalent for those who have submitted to God by faith, but insist on trying to grasp at his glory through their fleshly performance.

The reality is, all believers already have His glory because each believer is fused in union with Glory Himself, Jesus Christ.  To those who began in the Spirit and walk therein, experience no condemnation because the Spirit is simply about Life.  But, to those who began in the Spirit and have turned to the flesh (including religious activity), they unfortunately do not get to experience the Life and Peace of the Spirit during this life – not because the Spirit is withholding it, but because yielding to the flesh’s performance can produce neither Life nor Peace, but Death.

Romans 8:12  Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
8:13  For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

If there is any doubt that Paul is writing about the believer’s life, then verse 12 and 13 should lay it to rest.  Paul says, therefore, BRETHREN – meaning, because of the reality he just laid out, there is something that is true for the brethren therefore.  Indeed, there is no indebtedness to the flesh to live after it.  Not only are we not indebted to its demands, but should we decide to live after the flesh nonetheless, then we shall enjoy one and only one result: death.  However, Paul says, if we THROUGH THE SPIRIT do mortify the deeds of the body, then we shall enjoy one and only one result: life.

Now, some might jump here and say, See – there it is – I need to do some flesh maintenance (mortify the deeds of the body) in order to have the Spirit’s life working in and through me.  But, I capitalized something above on purpose.  Note that it isn’t the believer mortifying his deeds, but rather it is the SPIRIT mortifying the deeds of the body.  When the believer yields to the Spirit of Life, the believer’s flesh is rendered inoperative.  It isn’t a series of do’s and don’t’s whereby we clean up and “get right”, but is a simple choice to allow the Spirit of Life to do what it does do – it kills death.  If death is already dead, it would take the very opposite of death to “kill” death – which is Life.  As the Spirit renders His Life in the believer, it effectually kills, or, mortifies the deeds of the body.

Romans 8:14  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  8:15  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  8:16  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:  8:17  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

It is quite evident that a Spirit-led believer is a believer who manifests another reality about himself and that is that he is a son of God.  All believers have been made the sons of God, in Christ.  However, not all believers allow that reality to reign true.  Many still act as children.

In scripture, a child was someone who was already apart of the family and was put under the care of tutors and governors to educate them and train them.  Once the father determined that the child was ready to be loosed from the tutors and governors (having demonstrated sufficient understanding and maturity), the father would adopt or promote the child to a son.  As a son, he is now trusted with the family business, as it were.  The son lives his life, not in bondage to a tutor, but in liberty with his father.

Believers who live by the flesh have enslaved themselves to the bondage of death, while, those who are led of the Spirit enjoy the glorious liberty as a son of God.  Again, the irony is that all believers are sons and all believers are in liberty – but not all believers reckon that to be true and never enjoy the eternal life that God has already given them.  They hope for an eternal life in heaven but miss the boat completely that they can reign in life EVEN NOW by Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17)

Being a son therefore affords us something else – being a joint-heir with Christ Himself.  Everything of the Father’s that is rightfully Christ’s is now rightfully ours as well.  What is the evidence of this?  The believer living after the flesh suffers with himself, but the believer who lives after the Spirit suffers with Christ.

Romans 8:18  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  8:19  For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.  8:20  For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,  8:21  Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  8:22  For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.  8:23  And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

Despite the fact that we can choose to live after the Spirit and have the Spirit’s Life display itself through us, we still recognize that the physical body we occupy is still subject to the world we live in.  However, what is reassuring is that what the Spirit will reveal in us by His Life is far greater than the suffering we currently face.  Many people may see verse 18 as speaking of the glory to be revealed in heaven, and certainly there is a glory to be found there, however, the context has been about the believer’s life, here and now.  This is a glory of the Spirit’s Life and the suffering we face doesn’t compare to the glory of His Life that we currently have.

The entirety of creation groans because of the death that prevails herein, however, we who have the firstfruits of the Spirit may groan internally, but we truly are waiting for the promotion – the redemption – of our body.

Romans 8:24  For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?  8:25  But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.  8:26  Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  8:27  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Not only do we hope for the redemption of our body, we are also confident that the Spirit helps our infirmities, here and now.  Infirmities can be ‘sicknesses’, but in a broader sense, it is ‘weakness.’  The weakness all believers have is the body of flesh that has yet experienced bodily redemption.  The Spirit is able to therefore help us, despite our weakness.  Paul says that we don’t know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit does as He makes constant intercession for us.  Even in our weakness, we may not know exactly what to pray for in order to deal with the weakness, but the Spirit does and is ever at work.  It is further reassuring that according to verse 27, the Spirit’s intercessory work is always according to the will of God.

If you spend time in Christian circles or around churches, you might hear of the will of God quite a bit.  It is often described as this grand plan that God has for each believer and that it is unique to each believer but is only revealed to each believer once the believer has sufficiently worked on his flesh enough to rid it of sin.  (which is religion talking – until bodily resurrection happens, there is no way to rid the body of sin).  But, the will of God is really a general desire of God for all those in Christ.  It isn’t as nebulous as it is often made out to be.  God has a desire for all believers and that is to live as led by His Spirit.  There is never a time when the Spirit makes intercession that is against that – there is never a time when He intercedes by requesting the believer be strong enough to walk in his flesh (for that’s not the will of God).  The will of God is always centered around manifesting the Spirit’s Life in the believer.

We’ll finish the chapter next as our story continues…

 

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Romans Chapter 8, pt. 1

Romans 8

We now come to the mid-point of the book of Romans, seeing as it has 16 chapters in total.

We left off, having finished Chapter Seven, by understanding that Sin is still at work in the believer’s flesh.  We know that who we are in Christ is as sure as the very faithfulness of Christ is sure, however, we were examining the fact that Sin still has its impact on the believer, in the flesh.  Chapter Seven of Romans demonstrates that the operative party that sins is Sin itself.  Sin has no capacity to produce righteousness.  Sin simply does what it does best – it sins.

Paul reminds us that when Sin is sinning, then it is NO MORE I that is doing the sinning.  Paul is thankful, however, that he isn’t restricted to a life of flesh-development whereby Sin is constantly at work, but with his mind, he can serve the law of God.  Paul isn’t out of options.  Despite that Sin forces Paul to conclude how wretched his flesh is – that is nothing more than a body of death, Paul is still able to (joyfully) serve the law of God with his mind.  We will see more what this law is in Chapter 8.

Romans 8:1  There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  8:2  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.  8:3  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 

We were given a choice in Chapter Six – yield our members as instruments of unrighteous or yield them as members of righteousness.  Knowing that choice exists and knowing that Sin is still business sinning in the flesh, we have a reality to that choice.  If I choose to yield my members as instruments of unrighteousness (yield them into the hands of Sin), then I’ve committed to walking after the flesh and would therefore experience condemnation.  If, however, I choose to yield my members as instruments of righteousness (yield them into the hands of Christ), then I’ve committed to walking after the Spirit and would therefore not experience condemnation.

We should be careful not to assume that the condemnation spoken of in verse 1 is about God’s retribution.  We have been conditioned to think that God is always on a witch-hunt against Sin, which causes us to forget that the hunt was finished at Calvary.  However, we do know that Sin sins and when Sin is finished, it leaves nothing but a trail of death.  Sin has no problem condemning its victims to death.  That’s why Paul writes in verse 3 that Christ entered into flesh so it could condemn Sin in the flesh – He confronted and condemned Sin in Sin’s backyard.

When a believer walks after the flesh, he is invariably inviting the condemnation of the flesh (which is death).  Now, this could certainly be literal death if my fleshly choice was a fatal one.  But, again, Paul has been talking about the EFFECTIVENESS of the believer, based on the choice the believer makes (to walk after the flesh or after the Spirit).  In other words, when a believer walks after the flesh, the flesh constantly condemns the believer.  No matter how religious the flesh may appear, it is walking in condemnation of itself.

This is why when believers are trying to conform their flesh to the form of “Godliness” they have constructed, they are always going back to the drawing board (the alter) to seek new forgiveness and to start trudging up the slippery slope again.  The flesh continually condemns that – hence why many give up and become atheists.  They recognize the futility of the flesh and believe that God is just too impossible to know.  Their idea of God has been shaped by those around them who portray God through the religious coating of the flesh.  It is the same reality that God tells Israel in Ezekiel 36 and Paul lights upon in Romans 2, that even though Israel bragged of God by their law performance, it served to blaspheme God’s name to the world.  Those who live a “Christian life” by appealing to flesh maintenance may boast of God, but in reality, they are far from the truth of His life.  They profess a FORM of Godliness, but deny the power thereof.

The believer who lives religiously, walking after the flesh, will invite the FLESH’s condemnation upon himself.  But, the believer who lives righteously, walking after the Spirit, will invite the SPIRIT’s LIFE upon himself.  Again, we are not talking about folks being justified or not, but believers either experiencing the Spirit of Life (which they already have) or believers experiencing the Condemnation of the Flesh.

Paul says that the Law of the Spirit of Life (the law of God from Chapter Seven) has made us FREE from the Law of Sin and Death.  When Sin and Death write legislation, liberty is nowhere to be found – only condemnation.  But, when the Spirit of Life writes legislation, nothing but liberty abounds.

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

2Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Liberty is indeed the theme of the Spirit of Life.  Paul goes on to make another interesting statement regarding righteousness and the law.

Romans 8:4  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 

The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in those who walk after the Spirit.  Certainly Israel thought they could be righteous by keeping the law (through the effort exerted by their flesh), but Paul is very poignant that the law’s righteousness is not fulfilled by yielding to the flesh, but rather by walking after the Spirit.

Romans 8:5  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  8:6  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 

Those who have their focus on the flesh are focused on exactly that – the flesh.  Regardless of how religious it looks or sounds, the focal point is the same.  And, to be fleshly minded (carnally minded) is DEATH.  Again, if I set my mind to focus on how I can keep my flesh pleasing to God, I may convince myself that I’m very “busy for the Lord”, but Paul says it is actually nothing more than death – functionlessness.  In other words, by trying to do a lot for God, I invariably do nothing for God.  But, Paul says, if my focal point is the Spirit, then my mind is not in turmoil, wrestling with the Flesh’s condemnation, but I’m experiencing His life and peace.

But why?  Why can’t God just use my fleshly mind?

Romans 8:7  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  8:8  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 

I think that answers it sufficiently.  The carnal mind cannot please God because it is enmity against God.

Enmity (n), the state or feeling of being actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.

The carnal mind (being death) is actively opposed and hostile towards God.  God is a God of life and naturally therefore, the very opposite of life (death) would stand in stark opposition to God.  So, the fleshly mind is already at odds with God because it is not a mind of life but of death, but, Paul says that the fleshly mind is subject to the law of God (a law of life and liberty), and neither indeed can be!  No matter how hard we try with our religious performance, we can never conform it to the law of God.  No matter how much you try, you cannot conform death to life.  Therefore, those who are of the flesh (living their believing lives by a good show in the flesh) CANNOT PLEASE GOD.

It is unfortunate that many believers have come and gone, living their lives by the utmost religious devotion but never realizing that all of that work and effort cannot please God in the slightest.  I didn’t say they weren’t justified or that they never believed, but rather their Christian life was lived in a manner that had a form of pleasing God, but in reality did not.  God’s pleasure is rooted in one thing, for without this one thing, it is impossible to please Him.

Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. 

When God looks at the all-sufficiency of His Son, why would He ever take His eye from that, then look at what we can offer in the flesh, and determine it is of the same quality?  Is that not insane?!

Romans 8:9  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  8:10  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  8:11  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 

Paul reminds them in verse 9 that they are NOT in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in them.  This is the “NO MORE I” from Chapter Seven.  Who they really are is determined by who dwells in them.  If the Spirit of God dwells in them, then they are not in the flesh.  Therefore, why live after that which you are not in?  It is the same question from Chapter Six – if the kingdom of Sin and Death have no more power, thanks to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, then how should we, which are dead to sin, LIVE any longer THEREIN?

But, we can rest confidently that knowing the same Spirit (of LIFE) which RAISED Christ from the dead will also RAISE our mortal bodies by the very power of the Spirit (of LIFE) which dwells in us.  Our mortal (fleshly) bodies will be raised from death to life – to experience the very same life our spirit’s enjoy in Him.

Therefore, knowing this to be true, what should our response be?  What should we understand about us?

Our story continues further into Chapter Eight…

A Testimony of Trust

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It doesn’t take long, when reading through Psalms, to see that the Psalmist often cries out to God on behalf of the poor, the needy, and the afflicted, knowing they are persecuted at the hand of the wicked, seemingly, at all times. It is very burdensome and troublesome to the Psalmist that this is so. But, we often likewise find the Psalmist, in the midst of these cries, remembering how good the Lord is and how His goodness will surely look upon the poor and contrite and deliver them.

In Psalm 12, for example, we see that David bemoans the state of the poor and afflicted of Israel but rests assured that God will rise up and deliver these people. How sure is David? David is sure beyond doubt – why? Because the promise of deliverance for these folks is a pure promise – as pure as silver tried in a furnace of earth – as pure as silver that has been purified seven times. God will keep and preserve THESE PEOPLE forever.

In Psalm 138:6, David writes that, though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the LOWLY, but the PROUD he knoweth AFAR OFF.

In verse 7, David says, Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt streth forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.

I think it is pretty clear, when reading the Psalms, that there is a consistent theme regarding the wonderful goodness of God upholding those who need it. This isn’t necessarily the only theme, but it certainly is a predominant theme.

Now, at the beginning of Psalm 138, there is a verse that is often used when talking about the Bible. This, of course, would be verse 2.

Psalm 138:2 I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.

Many believe this to be David’s great declaration that the Bible is of a higher authority than the Name of God. First, does it make sense that what is written is of greater authority than the Author who wrote it? Hardly. But, many today, and in time past, have tried to claim that the Bible is of greater authority than God. They may not do it directly or overtly, but they do it when they box God into the scriptures, believing that the scriptures tell God what to do.

Secondly, is this what the context of Psalm 138 is about? If you read the Psalm, you see the consistent theme I mentioned above. The opening of the Psalm has David praising God and DEMONSTRATING WHY God is worthy of such praise and worship.

Verse 1 – I will PRAISE THEE with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing PRAISE unto thee.

Verse 3 – in the day when I cried, THOU answeredst me, and STRENGTHENEDST me with strength in my soul

Verse 4 – All the kings of the earth shall PRAISE thee, O LORD, when they hear the words of thy mouth

Verse 5 – Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the LORD: for great is the GLORY of the LORD.

David is absolutely demonstrating why God is praise-worthy and that folks will be all-to-eager to praise Him.

So, what about verse 2?

I will WORSHIP toward thy holy temple, and PRAISE thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast MAGNIFIED thy word above all thy name.

What does it mean to magnify? It comes from a word that means “to grow up” or “to cause to become great”. “…for thou hast [caused] thy word [to become great] above all thy name.”

If this means that God made his word greater than His name, then we have a problem. In Hebrews 6, when the writer speaks of Abraham, verse 13 records,

For when God made a promise to Abraham, because HE COULD SWEAR BY **NO GREATER**, He sware BY HIMSELF.

In other words, there was NOTHING greater than God Himself for God to swear by when making the covenant. However, if “thy word” (from Psm. 138:2) is GREATER than His name (the express title of His person), then apparently there was an option for God to swear by something greater than Himself.

Based on the context of Psalm 138, I’m not convinced that the Psalmist is trying to make a point about the Bible, but rather, testifying about how trustworthy God is (His name) by virtue of how He has enacted the expanse of His name through His word (His promise/message). In other words, David seems to be saying that the Lord is worthy of worship and praise because the testimony (“thy word”) of His name is far ABOVE any other.

His Name (Jehovah) demonstrates the reason we can trust Him.

Romans Chapter 7

We’ve come thus far, understanding that all have sinned and continually come short of the glory of God and that all can stand justified (righteous) in the sight of God, not by putting their grubby, religious paws on their righteousness, but by faith, accepting the risen Christ as the living Son of God.

Paul has demonstrated that being just before God is a matter of faith, siting both Abraham and David as evidence.  When Job asked how a man could be just with God, he was asking a question that has had a consistent answer – faith – simply take God at His word.

Since Chapter Five, Paul has turned his attention from the mechanics of justification (again, faith), to the benefits of justification.  In Romans 5, Paul writes that being justified we shall be saved from the wrath of God.  In Titus 3, Paul writes that being justified, we have been made heirs of hope.  We were justified by faith and God thereby declared us righteous by making us righteous.  (2Corinthians 5:21)  God did not owe us this, but by His grace, He chose to rescue His creation from the choice of Adam’s disobedience.

As if that were not amazing enough, God further more determined by His own will to bless those He justified with the unsearchable riches of His grace.  In other words, God would ‘save’ or bestow salvation upon the believer.  Therefore, Paul says, being justified by faith, we have peace with God.  From the beginning of Chapter Five, Paul has been describing all that is true about the believer in the wonderful world of the salvation of God.

Knowing that this is true of the believer and knowing that the obedience of One, Jesus Christ, put an end to the reign of Sin and Death, Paul begins to turn his attention in Chapter 6 to understanding that we have yet another choice.  Knowing that our Old Man is crucified with Christ, we should henceforth not be the servants of Sin.  If we yield our members to the reign of Sin, then we can only expect to receive the wage commensurate of such efforts – death.  The believer who seeks to appeal to God by fanciful, religious activity accomplished in the flesh ultimately never appeals to God but rather only to themselves.  However, the believer who yields to righteousness doesn’t show up on pay day only to receive death, but enjoys payday everyday because the gift of God IS eternal life.

The “Christian Life” is not day-in and day-out performance in which we hope to attain a payday after we die.  The Christian Life is a day-in and day-out payday, nay, ‘gift day’ where we realize the eternal life we have right now.

So, knowing this is true and that we do not have to yield to the kingdom of Sin and Death, what does that mean regarding our flesh where Sin still manifests itself?  If we are alive in the Spirit and are justified in Christ, why does it seem that our flesh can never come to grips with this?  Let’s watch Paul masterfully unfold this in Chapter Seven.

Romans 7:1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?  7:2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.  7:3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.  7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Paul further reminds folks, by drawing attention back to the law of marriage, that just as the law has dominion over a wife so long as the husband liveth, so too would the law of sin and death have dominion over a man so long as that man liveth (under that law).  But, if the husband be dead, the wife is freed from the law – likewise, if a death occurs for the individual, freedom would ensue.  That death occurred when we were baptized into Christ’s death (not water), back in Romans 6:3.  We died to our old husband, Adam, and were raised to life with our new Husband, Christ.

2Corinthians 11:2 records Paul telling the Corinthians that he has ESPOUSED them unto CHRIST as a chaste virgin.  By the way, but the idea of being a chaste virgin should cause one to pause and reflect on this – the very “carnal Corinthians” were espoused to Christ as a CHASTE virgin?!  Indeed, because as Romans 7 lays out for us, our flesh isn’t what dictates how God views us.  Just as Paul told the Ephesians, we are BLAMELESS in His sight.

Romans 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Therefore, Paul concludes, we should serve God in NEWNESS of the SPIRIT and not in the OLDNESS of the LETTER.  Many people today believe they are serving God by the efforts they exhibit in the flesh and submit themselves to all kinds of mind contortions and flesh manipulations therefore.   There is certainly nothing wrong about making wise decisions and being cautious to hear a matter fully before making a decision, but, to the extent that we believe it is making or keeping God happy with us, we’ve missed the boat.

In 2Corinthians 3, where Paul talks about the Corinthians were the EPISTLES of God, not written in STONE or INK, but in fleshly tables of the HEART.  The scriptures we hold in our hands are certainly complete, but it seems that the written work of God is still ongoing – not in ink on white paper, bound in a book, but in the very heart of every believer.  Kind of an interesting and humbling thought!

As Paul goes on in 2Corinthians 3, we see that the letter KILLETH and the Spirit giveth LIFE.  We see that the GLORY of the Law was nothing compared to the GLORY of the Spirit.  That when compared to, the GLORY of the Spirit shows that there really is no GLORY of the Law.  Imagine that – the GLORY of the Law was pictured by the face of Moses that shone like the sun after coming down from the mount, and yet Paul writes that the GLORY of the Spirit FAR EXCEEDS the Law’s GLORY.  Ever look at the sun?  You can’t do it for too long because it hurts your eyes, but yet Paul says that the GLORY of the SPIRIT is FAR GREATER than that.  And, it is from the GLORY of the Law we have been changed into the GLORY of the Spirit.  We have been made into the very image of HIS GLORY, by His Spirit.  And, as Hebrews states, Christ is the “express image of His person” – Christ is the Glory of God and that’s who we are IN!

Romans 7:7 What 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. 7:8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. 7:10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. 7:11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.  7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.  7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.  7:16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.  7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.  7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.  7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

We know from Romans 5 that the law served to expose sin for what it really is.  And, when we appeal to the law to serve God, Paul states that the law ends up working all manner of evil in us.  Is the law therefore sin?  No, as Paul says, because the law is simply the tool – what is evil or good is a matter of the tool-wielder’s choice.  No, indeed the law is not sin, but when used as a means to serve God, it will do nothing but reveal how much one is actually not serving God.  The letter kills and it is impossible to serve a God of life by means of death.

Paul said he did the things he hated but didn’t do the things he wanted to do.  He said that he learned that within his flesh, dwells NO GOOD THING.  But, Paul concludes that just as SIN took occasion by the law to deceive Paul and to perform all manner of evil in him, so too in the FLESH, SIN takes occasion to sin.  It is vital to understand who is sinning.  According to Paul, it is Sin that sins.  Paul doesn’t say his flesh sins.  Paul doesn’t say he sins.  Paul says, “It is NO MORE I that do, but SIN that dwelleth in me.”

NoMoreI

Paul understood that “who” he was was a Son of God, separated from his flesh by the Spirit, and joined unto Christ.  Paul understood that the sin of his flesh was not a representation of who he was.  Paul didn’t sin – it was SIN that sinned in Paul’s flesh.  How so?  Because the reality of the person of Paul was that he was in the Person of Christ.  His physical body had not yet experienced redemption (bodily resurrection), even though in the Spirit, Paul was ALREADY RAISED TO WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE.

The very fact that sin still sins doesn’t change that we have already been justified and are in the Spirit of God.  The very image of Christ is the same image we’ve been changed into.  We’ve been changed from an old glory (of the letter that killeth) into a new glory (of the Spirit that giveth life).

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, ARE CHANGED into the SAME IMAGE from glory to glory, even as BY THE SPIRIT of the Lord.2Corinthians 3:18

Romans 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.  7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:  7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

But, even though he knows that who he is in Christ is an ever-sinless son of God, he still finds another law (law of sin and death) working in his flesh and warring against the law of his mind.  The mind is where the ability rests to accomplish reasoning and understanding and discernment.  The flesh is nothing more than the vessel of clay that houses the mind.  The FLESH is the garden of Sin, whereas the MIND is the garden of God.  Paul, with his mind, concludes that the law of God is of utmost desirability.  Paul does NOT make this conclusion from his FLESH, note.  Why?  Because, as Paul says in Romans 8, the FLESH is NOT subject to the Law of God and NEITHER INDEED CAN BE.

The proper response to sin’s activity in the flesh is verse 24.  The believer who lives after the Spirit looks at his flesh and declares how wretched he is and the need to be delivered from the body of DEATH.  Paul thanked God that even though his FLESH, he served the law of SIN, with his mind, he still has the ability to serve the Law of God.

The “Law of God” is not necessarily synonymous with the “Law of Moses”, unless the context would lead that direction.  In Romans 6, 7, and 8, however, we find that the Law of God is the jurisdiction of the Spirit of Life within the believer.  It is the boundaries of His glorious liberty that has been granted to each believer.

Romans 8:1 There is now therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ, who walk NOT after the FLESH, but after the SPIRIT.

Our story continues…

Romans Chapter 6

WagesOfSinSpiral2

In Chapter 5, we saw that Sin and Death was given dominion over creation by the choice of Adam to disobey God.  We further learned that Sin and Death were uncontested champions over mankind, where no one could stand and defeat Sin and Death until the day Jesus Christ died and rose again.

Knowing therefore that this is what Christ accomplished, what does it mean for the believer?  Often the believer boasts of trusting in the death, burial, and resurrection and seeks to live his/her life trying to improve upon their belief, by setting a personal course to rid their life of sin in a never-ending cat-and-mouse game of trying to keep up with God’s righteousness.

Sadly, many believers end up confused, defeated and some give up on God altogether because they come to understand that no matter how much they desire to reform their flesh, their flesh fails on every turn.  What is more unfortunate is that they actually come to realize a truth about their flesh, but fail to realize that truth is to point them to a much greater – a much more relieving truth – that their salvation is not a status to be maintained, but is a life given them to enjoy – the very life of Jesus Christ.

Romans 6:1  What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  6:2  God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?  6:3  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  6:4  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 6:5  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:  6:6  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 6:7  For he that is dead is freed from sin. 6:8  Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 6:9  Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 6:10  For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 6:11  Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in Sin, that Grace may abound?  Note, it doesn’t say, “Shall we continue to sin, that grace may abound?”  Many view this statement that the more sins we committed, the more grace had to be shown.  But, let’s not lose sight of the context.  Paul hasn’t been talking about individually committed sinful actions, but rather has been talking about the sourcesin itself.  If we have been removed from the reign of Sin and Death, Paul wants to know if we should continue IN (that reign of) Sin so that the reality of our LOCATION in Grace could abound?  In other words, should we appeal to the OLD Kingdom of Death in order to make the New Kingdom of Grace appear all that more appealing?  Paul says, God forbid! – don’t even have that thought in your mind!  Why?  Because how can anyone who is DEAD to SIN live any longer THEREIN?

If we are NO LONGER LOCATED in the Reign of Death, then how and why would we want to live as if we were still in it?  Is God’s grace only good so long as you have Sin to compare it to?  Does God’s grace demonstrate itself good and pure on its own, or does it need Sin to compare against it?  Certainly His grace is all-sufficient, whether sin existed or not.

How can we be made dead to sin?  What if we were submersed into the very death that made Christ dead to sin?  Romans 6:3-4 says this very thing.  We were baptized into CHRIST and into His DEATH.  Baptism is a word that often gets a very narrow label and ‘religious-ized’ into only a water ritual.  However, it is very easy to see in scripture where baptism is not limited to a water ritual.  This post isn’t designed to demonstrate the purpose of the water ritual, but simply to demonstrate that we shouldn’t make a hasty conclusion that anytime we see the word ‘baptism’ that we immediately think of ‘water.’  Note these various types of baptism mentioned:

Matthew 3:11  I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire

1Corinthians 10:1  Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;  10:2  And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea

By the way, the baptism unto Moses in the sea was a ‘dry’ baptism, note:

Exodus 14:21 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.

Hebrews 11:29 By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. 

Here are at least 5 different ‘agents’ of baptism – water, the Holy Ghost, fire, the cloud, the (divided) sea.  Further in Romans 6, however, we have yet other agents of baptism – Jesus Christ and (His) Death.  The baptism spoken of in Romans 6, is it a water baptism?  is water mentioned at all?.  Does being baptized in water make you dead to sin?  If it does, then you need water baptism to be justified (which removes the sole necessity of faith that Paul presented in Chapters Three and Four).  But, water baptism isn’t in the context here.  We were baptized into Christ’s death and as Christ was raised to life, so too we were raised to walk in newness of life.

In Matthew 20, we find Christ referring to His baptism into death, by the way:

Matthew 20:22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.

Therefore, if any man be IN (location) Christ, HE is a NEW creature; OLD THINGS have PASSED AWAY; behold all things are become NEW.  The old things of Adam passed away and we became dead to sin, but were raised to walk in the newness of Christ’s resurrection life.

Romans 6:6 – For OUR OLD MAN (collective, singular) is crucified WITH HIM.  This is not a “sin nature” or an “old nature” – this is OUR OLD MAN – who we all have in common in the flesh – Adam.  Many see the believer as an entity with two natures (one of God, and one of Sin).  However, an entity is known by its nature, is it not?  Is an entity ever known by another nature that is foreign to it?  No, clearly not.  The believer does not have one foot in Adam and one foot in Christ.  1Corinthians 15:22 clearly demonstrates that in Adam, all die, but in Christ shall all be made alive.  The human entity is either known by its Adamic nature or its Christ nature.

By Adam’s death, he was crucified, and as Paul says in Colossians, he was crucified “with his deeds” – the nature of Adam (of sin and death) was crucified.  Our old man (Adam himself) was crucified with Christ and three days later, the Reign of Life took hold and will never be defeated.

I’ve often wondered if the thief on the cross is a type of Adam, being crucified WITH Him.  Adam stole property from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and was therefore banished from paradise.  The thief on the cross sees His redeemer, recognizes Him as his redeemer and in so doing, Adam was told he was allowed back into paradise.  He was brought INTO His grace, WHEREIN is the paradise of God.

The body of sin was destroyed when our old man was crucified and therefore, we should not serve sin.  Sin is no longer the master because the embodiment of it is destroyed.  It is no longer a master that rules over us or has dominion over us or that must be consulted!

For indeed, IT IS FINISHED!

Romans 6:12  Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.  6:13  Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.  6:14  For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 
Slaves to Righteousness.  6:15  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.  6:16  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?  6:17  But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.  6:18  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.  6:19  I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.  6:20  For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.  6:21  What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.  6:22  But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.  6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Therefore, Paul says, whosoever is dead (having died with Christ) is FREED from sin.  So, if you are free from that dominion, why would you present your bodies/members as instruments of that dominion?  It is impossible to have one foot in grace and another foot in sin.  Impossible.  There is a scale in heaven and God sits on one side – and it doesn’t matter what we try to put on the other side, the scale won’t budge.

Paul says to whom we submit ourselves, that is the master we must obey.  Now, let’s stop for a moment and clarify – Paul is not talking about our justification.  Paul is not talking about doing works in order to obtain or maintain a just standing with God.  Paul is talking about BELIEVERS (already justified folk) who have a choice – they can either, AS JUSTIFIED people, present their bodies as instruments to be used in the reign of Life Himself (Christ), OR, they can present their bodies as instruments to be used in the reign of death (non-functioning existence).  How does a believer submit himself to the Reign of Death?  – By any act, regardless of how religious or pious it seems to ourselves or our fellow man, whereby we believe we are scoring points or maintain points with God will fashion us as wonderful servants in the Kingdom of Death.

Every believer is alive in Christ but not every believer reckons that to be true.  Some believers are RESTING in the fact that Christ is ALL SUFFICIENT and HIS GRACE surpasses anything they could offer or ‘work for’, while other believers are WRESTING themselves, trying to keep short accounts with God.  Some believers walk after the Spirit: some walk after the Flesh.  We’ll get to Romans 8 soon enough, but I’ll draw your attention to Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, WHO WALK NOT AFTER THE FLESH BUT AFTER THE SPIRIT.

If we present our members as instruments of righteousness, we will essentially yoke up with God, who is already at work, and He will use us in HIS hands, tilling and cultivating HIS ground, and harvesting HIS fruit.  However, if we present our members as instruments of self-righteousness (by appealing to Sin, the infirmity of our flesh), then WE will use us in OUR hands, to till and cultivate OUR ground and will harvest OUR fruit – all the while branding it as “God’s work.”  However, the proof is in the pudding, or, in this case, it is in the fruit.

Fruits of righteousness will flourish and will reflect the very source of their life – God Himself.  Fruit of self-righteousness, however, may appear just as nice and healthy as the other fruit, but inside is nothing more than the worms of death.

As believers, we have a choice.  If we appeal to ourselves (ultimately to sin and death), then our “Christian life” will exist, but it won’t function – it won’t realize the wonderful grace and blessings of God.  We certainly still have His grace and blessings, but the impact of them in our lives will go unrealized.  However, if we present ourselves as instruments of righteousness (to God), then we’ll recognize that our “Christian life” is not our life, but His life and His life has no choice but to function in the ever abounding grace and blessings of God.
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Let’s not forget that this section of Romans is addressing the saints at Rome.  This is not directed to the unbelieving world.  The wages of sin being death is true of the believer.  The prevailing wage in the economy of Sin is death – functionless-ness.  The believer who sets out to ‘work for God’ or ‘do something for God’ will earn his wage – the only wage worthy of self-righteousness and that’s death.  This isn’t physical death of the body, but the life of the believer will be held in bondage to death.  Christ’s life will not  be given the opportunity manifest itself in the believer’s life.
However, the GIFT (not an earned wage but an unmerited gift) of God IS (right now and forever more) ETERNAL LIFE through JESUS CHRIST our Lord.  The believer who realizes that there is nothing they can ‘do for God’ but that God is already ‘doing’ and they get the express privilege of yoking up with him, they live and enjoy their eternal life, even now.
…who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.
What should we conclude then about sin?  If the real nature of the believer is the nature of Christ, then why does sin still manifest itself?  Our story continues in Chapter Seven…

Romans Chapter 5

We have learned that being neither Jew nor Gentile offers escape for anyone from the wrath of God, for indeed all are concluded to be under sin.  We further learned that to be resolved of that condition, we are justified (made righteous) by faith.  The righteousness of God is unto all and upon all them that believe (again, being a Jew or Gentile notwithstanding).

Chapter Four demonstrated this reality as not something new, but something that has been true, even all the way back to Abraham.  Becoming an heir of Abraham is not a matter of works or performance, but is solely a matter of faith.  Just as Abraham believed God and that belief was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness, Paul writes that this wasn’t recorded for Abraham’s sake only, but for US ALSO who believe on the risen Jesus Christ.

Chapter 5 begins the great truth of what it means to be justified.  Now that God has made the believer righteous (which He was certainly under no obligation to do), God further demonstrates His grace by welcoming the justified believer into the realm of His salvation.

Recall from Chapter One, Paul was writing to the saints at Rome – those who were already of mutual faith with Paul, having believed on the resurrected Son of God.  However, Paul was now ready to preach the gospel unto them (Romans 1:15) and it is this gospel that Paul is not ashamed of – the Gospel of Christ.  This ‘good news’ is focused on opening the eyes of the Romans to understand what is true about them, having already been justified.

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 5:3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 5:4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

 

Being justified by faith affords us unchanging peace with God, but it doesn’t stop there. Paul makes it clear that we HAVE peace with God.  To be at peace with someone is to enjoy a state by which there is never any hostility.  The same faith granted us access into His grace. Sometimes we view grace as something God gives out, like a trophy, but, we should never lose sight that God HIMSELF is Grace. After all, did not John record that the Word was made flesh and they beheld His glory, being FULL of GRACE and truth?

God extended grace to each believer by even offering to justify the believer. But God doesn’t stop there, after the believer has responded to the offer of grace, God then immerses that believer in grace. Romans 5:2 says we have access into this grace where in we STAND. This is present tense – we STAND in grace and no matter what happens in our rotten old flesh, we still stand because we are in the Person of Grace, who is forever worthy to stand therein.  In other words, we stand by necessity because He stands.

Because of this grace, we can rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Hope is the confident expectation that what God has promised, He will indeed be faithful to bring to pass.  But note, it doesn’t give us just cause to glory in ourselves – we didn’t bestow God’s grace upon ourselves – He did. If there is any boasting to be done, it is to be directed to and about HIM.

Therefore, we have reason to GLORY (rejoice) in our tribulations, knowing that our tribulations will produce patience in our lives.  The Thessalonians were a perfect picture of this, having been commended for their ‘patience of hope’ that was a product of much affliction (1Thess. 1:3; 6-7). Further in 1Thessalonians, Paul tells them to not be moved by these afflictions because they are APPOINTED unto them (1Thess. 3:3). In other words, tribulations are going to happen, but they shouldn’t take you by surprise. The tribulations/afflictions will work patience in us as we awaiting the hope of His glory. We know that the tribulations we go through is NOT a reflection of His glory; which gives us all the more reason to rejoice in the hope of His glory.

Tribulations then work experience – wisdom. Wisdom reaffirms to us why we can rejoice in our tribulations, because, as Paul said, experience leads back to hope. It is a perfect cycle that works to refocus us AWAY from our troubling circumstances and TOWARDS our earnest expectation of His glory.

We can hope in His glory and not be ashamed of the tribulations we go through because His love is shed-abroad in our hearts, as Paul writes. Romans 8 states that NOTHING separates us from that love. Love as not some abstract, emotional mush. It isn’t a Friday evening watching sappy movies on LifeTime. Love is the determinant choice from the will of the individual to make provision for another, while accepting the risk that the other party may reject said provision.  Love is not a feeling – it’s a choice.  Love is not something you fall into – it’s something you give out.

What does God’s choice to love us demonstrate about God? Paul says that it is rare for one to die for a righteousness man.  He says it is even rarer for one to die for just a good man. But, God commendeth His love toward us in that while we were yet SINNERS, Christ died for us. This flat out defies logic.  If a righteousness man is worth dying for and a good man are worth dying for but yet, only a few would actually commit to dying for them, then what is God thinking to actually die for ALL sinners?!  Nonetheless, God’s love for us defies our human logic.

God provided mankind a remedy at Calvary, knowing full-well that many would reject it. But, His love wasn’t just at Calvary, for Paul writes to the Philippians that our God will SUPPLY all our need according to HIS RICHES in glory BY CHRIST JESUS.

Therefore, Paul goes on to conclude, that being justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies with God, God reconciled us unto Himself (by the death of His Son), MUCH MORE then BEING RECONCILED we shall be saved (by the LIFE of His Son). Remember “saved” doesn’t always refer to “saved from sin (being justified)” – it often refers to the very grace God brought us into as a RESULT of our justification. Romans 5:9-10 shows this to be true – that BEING JUSTIFIED we have something as a result – salvation from wrath and salvation by His life.

We were enemies of God before being justified, but now being justified by faith, we are no longer enemies, being fully at peace with Him.

Let’s turn our attention now to the LOCATION of grace.  This location is where we are, at all times, without fail, regardless of how our already-not-measuring-up flesh continues to not measure up.  As verse 2 of chapter 5 speaks, we were called into grace (by faith) and it is WHEREIN we stand.  However, prior to faith, we were in a location where God would view us as SINNERS and ENEMIES (Romans 5:8; 10). We were in a realm of condemnation, WHEREIN we stood.  There is tremendous implication to this.  If the believer now stands IN Grace, then he no longer stands as a sinner.  God completely and eternally sees the believer as RIGHTEOUS.

Paul is now ready to explain how this happened, beginning in verse 12.

Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: 5:13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 5:15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 5:16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.  5:17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)  5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.  5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.  5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:  5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sin and Death were brought into the world by the choice of one man, namely, Adam. Paul records that Death reigned as king, even over those who had not transgressed as Adam did. Death was the uncontested victor and therefore established himself as king over mankind. Once the law came into existence, then Death’s a co-regent, Sin, was finally revealed. Paul writes that the law entered so that the offense might abound. When we move into Romans 7, we’ll see more of what it means that the offence abounded.

Adam was given dominion over creation and maintained the authority to make choices about creation.  With one choice, Adam gave that dominion into the hands of Sin and Death.  Adam became enslaved to Death and therefore anyone he brought into the world was brought in as a slave to Death–immediately.  Eventually, when Sin came on the scene (by virtue of the law’s revelation), Adam’s descendants were shown to be enslaved to Sin as well.  Death is the result of Sin and Sin explains why Death happens.  It is impossible to have Death without Sin and the inverse is true as well. These two had humanity conquered – no matter what man would try to do to defeat these two, it was futile.  Until, that is, one day Jesus Christ set foot up Calvary’s hill.

Sin and Death stood confidently – nothing had been able to defeat them before, what is one more try?  Jesus Christ stretched out His arms on the cross, having become sin for you and me, and Sin found himself nailed to the cross.  Sin panicked, but nothing could be done.  And in a moment, Christ proclaimed that, It Is Finished!  Sin is now dead.

My sin, O the bliss, of the glorious thought
My sin, not in part, but the WHOLE,
Is NAILED TO THE CROSS and I bear it NO MORE

But, it wasn’t just ‘sins’ that were dealt with at Calvary, but Sin Himself.  It isn’t just my sins that were nailed to the cross, but Sin Himself was nailed to the very same cross, being crucified forever.

With Sin now dead, Christ was to deal with the other regent, Death himself. Christ died to defeat Sin. Christ was buried to bury Sin. Christ resurrected to LIFE to defeat Death. As Paul says to the Corinthians, O Grave, where is thy victory? O Death, where is thy sting?! Can you hear Paul mocking death and the grave in light of the resurrection of Christ?

Adam’s choice to be enslaved to Sin and Death was immediately rectified through the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Christ. Adam’s choice for disobedience brought condemnation upon his descendants. Adam could do nothing about it, no matter how much it repented him that he had made the decision he did. But, Christ’s choice for obedience to the Father opened access into His grace and is made available, freely, to all those who would, by faith, RECEIVE the abundance of grace.

Our story continues in Chapter Six…

Romans Chapter 4

In Chapter One, we see Paul expounding upon the unbelieving group of Israel, how that God had demonstrated all sorts of things to them, even invisible things concerning His eternal power and Godhead and yet, professing themselves as wise, they became fools by worshiping the creature more than the Creator.

In Chapter Two, Paul reminds that judging their failure is futile because he who judges it has essentially condemned himself because he is guilty of the same. Paul goes on to describe how a Jew is not a Jew just because he has the law or because he is circumcised because a Gentile can do by nature the things of the law and could certainly be circumcised, but that doesn’t make the Gentile a Jew. Why? Because as Paul says, the Jew is not defined by the circumcision of the flesh, which is outward, but rather the circumcision of the heart, which is inward.

Chapter Three brought the Romans to the realization that ALL have been concluded under sin and therefore ALL are in need of the remedy. Whether Jew or Gentile, it matters not, for their is no difference when it comes to our tie back to Adam. Paul lays out that the remedy is to be justified (made righteous) in the sight of God and he points out that this is by faith. Romans 3:22 states that the righteousness of God is unto all and upon all them that believe, for there IS NO DIFFERENCE. The circumicion (Jews) would be justified by faith and the Uncircumcision (Gentiles) would be justified through the very same faith. The idea of this righteousness being by faith is key for Chapter Four.

Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

First, Paul mentions Abraham and the fact that he was justified by faith. Abraham found something, as it related to his flesh and that was that if he were justified by his performance, then he would have the right to glory in HIMSELF but NOT before God. Paul cites the scriptures that Abraham believed God and it (that belief) was accounted unto Abraham for righteousness. When this happened, was Abraham a Jew? No, he was a Gentile – a Babylonian nonetheless, having come out of Ur of the Chaldese.

Paul says that if the reward (righteousness) is reckoned by performance, then the reward (righteousness) is no longer given on the grounds of grace, but rather on the grounds of debt – as if God is indebted to our performance and therefore needs to pay up. How absurd!

No, Paul says, but it is to him that WORKETH NOT, but BELIEVETH on him that JUSTIFIETH the ungodly, his FAITH is counted for righteousness.

JustifiedByFaith

Romans 4:6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 4:7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 4:8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Paul doesn’t waste any time on this subject of justification by faith. He calls back to Abraham and now David – probably the two most revered men of Israel’s history outside of Moses. David understood that the non-imputation of sins was an act of justification by faith.

Romans 4:9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. 4:10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: 4:12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

Paul continues on making arguments that substantiate his point that Abraham was justified by faith. And, remember, he is using Abraham as an example to the Romans (and us, by extension). He is showing that we are justified in the very same manner as Abraham was. In verses 9 through 12, Paul reminds them that Abraham was justified PRIOR to his circumcision (laying to rest any idea a Jew would have that his circumcision played into his righteousness). Paul then explains that circumcision was the seal or evident token of the covenant. In other words, circumcision simply testified of what was ALREADY TRUE about them. The circumcision did not make their justification true, but simply demonstrated something that was already established. It is through this, that Abraham becomes not only the father of those who are in circumcision (Jews), but also of those who walk in the same steps of faith yet being uncircumcised (Gentiles).

Romans 4:13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 4:14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: 4:15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

Paul demonstrates that the promise of righteousness was to Abraham and it was NOT through the law (obviously, since the law was some 400 years later). And, as Paul writes in Galatians 3, the law being 400 years after Abraham didn’t nullify the promise of faith. Why can’t the promise of faith come by the law? Because where righteousness is concerned, the law can only work wrath because of its revealing properties – it reveals just how unrighteous and how unworthy you are of His righteousness (to earn it by your performance). Therefore, Paul says, it is of faith so that it might be of grace.

Romans 4:17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were. 4:18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. 4:19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: 4:20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 4:21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 4:22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Paul is simply continuing his point that it was of faith that the promise transferred. Paul demonstrates that it was out of DEATH – the deadness of Sarah’s womb – that the Promise would be transferred. In death, there is no work or effort, for it is dead. Abraham was fully persuaded that what God had promised, God would perform. Therefore, it was imputed to him for righteousness. So, you might ask, how do we know that this wasn’t just a special instance for Abraham? Let’s keep reading 🙂

Romans 4:23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 4:24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 4:25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

The great news is that it wasn’t recorded for Abraham’s sake alone, but this very same righteousness shall be imputed unto US, by the very same faith. The promise of God that we are fully persuaded He was able (and did) perform was the resurrection of Christ. Christ was delivered for the very offences (sins) of us all and was raised for our justification (righteousness).