Love Demonstrated by Obedience

August 30, 2011 at 10:57 am | Posted in Romans | 8 Comments
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As Christians we need to “get into” the Word of God – and make sure the Word of God is “getting into us.” We are to surrender our bodies and be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are not to be conformed to the world. When we are applying these principles, we will exercise our spiritual gifts in our everyday lives, in our relationships with our brothers and sisters, and even with our enemies. That’s the pattern for “proving” the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.

Chapters 1-12 in Romans give us great doctrine about the truths of salvation. This doctrine benefits us in very practical ways in day to day living. Romans Chapter 13 continues to deal with our relationships – not just with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and not just with our specific enemies – but our relationship to “higher powers.”

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Romans 13:1

Our government is one of these “higher powers.” We may not like the way our government is being run, and we may not care for the particular leaders who are in charge of it, but, ultimately, Father God is responsible for “Uncle Sam,” and our Father wants us to be subservient to our uncle.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Romans 13:3-4

Nebuchadnezzar is a Biblical example of someone who learned this lesson the hard way. Although he was a powerful and feared ruler, he was only allowed to rule his nation and conquer other nations by God’s consent. In Daniel Chapter 4 we find it repeated three times (vv. 17, 25, 32) that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men.

Most, if not all, governments today are influenced by Satan or the world, but God’s command to submit to our rulers is clear, as long as we’re not required to break a clear command from God’s Word.

Some people obey because of conscience:

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

Romans 13:5

But some people only obey out of fear of being locked up:

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Romans 13:4

These are both good reasons to obey the laws of earthly governments, but the best reason of all is to show our love for God. God’s commandments can be summarized in New Testament language by two commandments: Love God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Can you say you love your neighbor if you commit adultery with his spouse? If you steal from him? If you covet and want better for yourself than what he has, or plot to get what he has for yourself?

For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Romans 13:9

As Christians, one of our favorite pastimes is complaining about how ungodly our government has become, and how one day soon there will be laws that try to force us into sin. But we have an obligation to demonstrate love.

Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

Romans 13:13

Notice how the sins listed in that verse are paired up: Rioting (wild partying) is often brought on by drunkenness. Chambering (adultery) is often brought on by wantonness (acting like you are available for fornication). Strife (fussing and fighting) is often brought about by envying. The gifts that God has given us are for building – not for fighting with or fighting over.

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Romans 13:14

When we “make provision” – when we make plans to get into the path of temptation – it will lead to sin. I see this often in marriage counseling. When one spouse considers the marriage to be over, the other spouse will pay lip service to the idea of wanting to save the marriage, but put himself or herself in places where he or she is likely to run into a sympathetic partner. That person then proves to be a temptation to move on to a new relationship. This type of behavior is an example of “making provision for the flesh,” not “putting on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Sacrificially Submitting Surrendered Sanctified Service

July 11, 2011 at 10:59 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Romans | 18 Comments
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I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

“Beseeching” is a passionate appeal. “Brethren” are other believers. “Presenting” is a daily process. Christians are supposed to be “living” sacrifices. We are supposed to be “holy.”

Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

I Peter 1:16

For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

Leviticus 11:45

Being living sacrifices who are holy and acceptable to God is our “reasonable” service. All Christians have the capability of doing it and doing it cheerfully.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2

The world wants you to be “conformed.” It wants you to be molded in the shape of everyone else who does not obey Christ. The world will put the squeeze on you and change your shape, but it does not have the power to make you grow. “Transforming” is from within. The Word of God has the power to renew us and make us grow. We must read it and heed it each day. Christians have the exciting opportunity to “prove” God’s good and perfect will. If you are truly a Christian nothing should stop you from being right in the center of God’s will.

We need to think of our bodies as living sacrifices before we begin each day. Consider your feet, legs, stomach, heart, arms, hands, neck, mouth, tongue – your whole physical body – to be surrendered to the service of Christ.

As an example, our natural tendency is to wake up in the morning and start thinking about what we will eat that day – what we’re going to put into our mouths. What we probably need to think about instead is what is going to come out of our mouths that day.

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

Proverbs 8:17

Have you surrendered your ears and eyes to the Lord today – to hear what He wants you to hear, and to see what He wants you to see? The surrender of my body and the renewal of my mind are daily requirements.

The same principle applies to the “Body” of Christ as a whole.

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Romans 12:4-5

Our love for one another needs to be open, authentic, submissive, and renewed daily.

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Romans 12:9

Destined for Victory

February 16, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Posted in Romans | 18 Comments
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For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Romans 7:14

The Law can not change us. Nobody can deny that the Law is holy and good and just, because it came from the holy God. The Law is good because it reveals God’s holiness and our unholiness – our sinfulness. But the Law cannot cure us – it makes the diagnosis.

According to Romans 7:15-21, our “members” – our arms, legs, and whole body – can be controlled by our flesh (carnal nature; old nature), or by the Spirit (new nature). It is okay for the believer to have a goal of not breaking God’s laws, but the believer has to realize that, like the Apostle Paul, we can not obey the laws in our own power. Nor does the Law itself provide the power for us to do good.

According to Romans 7:21-24, believers have been “redeemed.” We have been “set free” or “bought out of slavery.” But the Law can not set us free. The Law is like gravity. The more we struggle to jump up in the air, the more keenly we feel its weight drawing us down. The Law – when viewed as a burden of weight to carry – draws us down into sin. When the Apostle Paul calls himself a “wretched” man, he means “wretched” in the sense of someone who has been in a battle and is worn out and worn down. No matter how hard we struggle in the battle, we will wind up wretched unless we are delivered – delivered by the Lord Jesus.

According to Romans 8:1-4, as believers, we are not condemned by the Law. There is now (present tense eternal) no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus (those who are saved). We owed a debt for our sins, but Christ paid it for us. Now, it has been paid in full – the Law can not claim that it is still owed.

According to Romans 8:5-17, as believers, we are destined for four specific victories:

1. God’s Spirit, which lives inside us, is stronger than our flesh. Therefore, we are destined for victory over the flesh.

2. We had physical life before we were saved, but were dead spiritually. Now, we have the victory of spiritual life, too.

3. Before, we were at war with God. Now, we have peace with God. The victory is chiefly His, but, in a sense, it is ours, too.

4. Before, we wanted to please ourselves. Now, we want to please God. We are destined for victory over self.

According to Romans 8:18-30, as believers, we do not have to feel frustrated. The suffering in the world was not “created” by God. It was created by Adam’s sin. The suffering of the believer is temporary. We long for the fulfillment of our hope, but, because we know it is coming, we shouldn’t be discouraged. Jesus feels our pain, and intercedes for us in prayer. We know that God’s plans are perfect.

According to Romans 8:31-39, as believers, we do not have to worry about God disowning us. We need to be focused on serving God as our King and Lord, but there is also a sense in which God is “on our side.” He proved it when Christ died for us. If He died for us while we were sinning against Him, how much more will He bless us, now that we are His children? God is not a double-minded hypocrite. Having justified us, He will not now accuse us. Not only does the Holy Spirit pray for us, but Christ does, too. Even when we fail God, He still loves us. It is not a conditional love. A child who disobeys his father is still that father’s child. No child, once born, can change the fact of who his father is. Nobody can go back and be “unborn.” NOTHING can separate the born-again believer from the love of God.

Failure to Yield

December 27, 2010 at 10:36 am | Posted in Romans | 14 Comments
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Sin as a “power” was defeated by the power of the Resurrection. Therefore, Christians are free from sin (Romans 6:7) – not free to sin. Now, let’s look at the practical application of that in our lives. How do we practically “get the victory” over submitting to our old master?

First of all, we need to believe the facts. Freed slaves have to believe they are free in order to get the benefits of freedom.

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:11

Second, after we “reckon” we are to yield.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

Romans 6:12

Note the relationship of “reign” and “obedience.” We do not yield to our old ruler. We yield to our New Ruler.

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.

Romans 6:13

My members are “instruments” or “weapons,” and they are not to be used for my own cause. They were formerly used to fight against God, but now they are to be used to fight for God.

As a Christian I recognize that I do not really own “my” house. My car is not really “mine.” “My wife” does not really belong to me in an ownership sense. “My” kids are really God’s kids.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:19

“My” members are not really mine. They are a gift from God, but they come with the responsibility to use them for God. Many of the sins which afflict the body of Christ today stem largely from a failure to yield, and the failure to yield stems from a failure of truly believing to Whom we belong.

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.

Romans 6:19

We need to yield our members to righteousness even more enthusiastically than we formerly yielded them to sin.

Here are some motivations for yielding:

1. As a response to God’s grace. We should love God because He has been gracious toward us, and the result of love toward God is obedience to God.

2. Because of our freedom. Freedom brings about responsibilities. The easiest way to lose our freedom is not to exercise it in doing good.

For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

Romans 6:20

3. To bear good fruit.

What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

Romans 6:21

Justification is by grace through faith. Being justified, we encounter the problem of how practically to stop sinning. First we reckon, then we yield.

Free FROM Sin, Not Free TO Sin

December 3, 2010 at 10:40 am | Posted in Romans | 20 Comments
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In Romans Chapter 6 the Holy Spirit is using the Apostle Paul to overcome objections. Christians are called to be witnesses of Jesus Christ. We are called to preach the Gospel. We are called to proclaim the Gospel. We are not salesmen, and the proclamation of the Gospel should not be a “sales pitch.” However, one of the valuable things I learned when I used to sell health club memberships is that it is good to be prepared to overcome objections when you are trying to convince someone to believe something. When we think about proclaiming the Gospel we need to be prepared to anticipate and overcome objections before they’re raised. When we do this, we’re not doing the work of the Holy Spirit, but we are preparing ourselves so we can be used by Him.

The Holy Spirit knew that some people would have an objection to the idea that grace does “much more abound,” and that many people would not really like that idea. This can be a little tricky. Why would anyone not want grace to abound? Grace is a free gift. Why wouldn’t someone want a free gift?

The answer is because those being addressed in Romans 6 had too much invested in the Law. Imagine if you spent 19 years of your life obtaining the education needed to be a criminal defense lawyer, and upon receiving your certificate to practice, all the criminal laws were repealed and all the criminals were reprieved! So these objectors said, “Well, if grace abounds much more than sin, then every time we sin, we get much more grace, so let’s get to sinning so that we can experience more grace.”

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

Romans 6:1-3

When we are saved we are “baptized into” Christ. So, like Jesus, we are dead “unto” sin, not just dead “because of” sins. Christ didn’t just die “for” sins – He died “unto” sin.

For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

Romans 6:10

Sin as a “power” was defeated by the power of the Resurrection.

Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

Romans 6:8-9

That explains the doctrine and the truth of freedom from sin – “free from sin” (Romans 6:7), not “free to sin.” But what is the practical application in our lives? How do we practically “get the victory” over submitting to our old master?

We have been set free from a very cruel master: Satan. We don’t have to serve him any more. Therefore, we need to believe the facts. It doesn’t do a slave much good to be free if he doesn’t know he is free!

Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:11

Reckon” in this verse does not mean “to guess.” It is used here in the sense that it is used in the term “dead reckoning,” which is a nautical term. Dead reckoning is a procedure of observing landmarks in relation to time of departure, or it can be done by dropping an object in the water alongside a ship and watching it float by. “Dead reckoning” is short for “deduced reckoning” or what we might call “deduced reasoning.” Sailors use it when they can’t depend, for some reason, on a compass or the stars. Spiritually, we left our lost condition and became adopted into the family of God when we believed the Gospel, trusted Christ, and received Christ. Therefore, it does not matter what the compass or the charts or the stars of popular philosophy say. We may not know exactly where we are, but we’re not “lost” any more. We know where we were before the trip started and we know when we left. Our experience of salvation is not a slowly absorbed, amorphous feeling. It happens at a time and at a place.

The True Jewish Justification

October 20, 2010 at 11:30 am | Posted in Romans | 4 Comments
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Some people were already arguing against the doctrine that Jesus had given to Paul. They were saying, “Look, if he’s teaching that God’s Law was given to point out that it could not be kept, then why should we even do good? Let us do more evil to bring about more good.” But the Holy Spirit through Paul says that God is righteous. He is not slack concerning His promise. He requires faithfulness, because He is faithful. He can judge our unrighteousness, because He is righteous. How do the just live? Or what do they live by? Faith.

The Holy Spirit sums up this part of the argument by declaring everyone guilty.

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Romans 3:10

He is quoting, opening, and alleging Psalm 14:1-3: “[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.] The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

They were not “seeking” God. By saying, “No God,” they were also saying no “to” God.

The way people try to justify sin would make you think sin was actually good for you.

I need to get more focused on how I feel. If I feel good doing something, then it must be right. If somebody tells me something, I hope it is “confirmed in my spirit,” so that I don’t have check the Bible – that’s too confusing, that’s too much hard work.

typical church-goer

Satan wants you to believe that the best law to follow is: “Do what feels right – that’s the best thing for you.” But even if we did have some excuse to sin, the sin still wouldn’t be good for us.

Destruction and misery are in their ways:

Romans 3:16

That’s not only the misery and destruction of the people I sin against, the people I hurt with my sin. No, that’s my own misery and destruction, too. By way of illustration, every time a doctor tells a smoker that he’s dying of lung cancer, he must be secretly thinking, “Does that surprise you?” People who smoke cigarettes may honestly enjoy it, but they can’t honestly say that they thought it was going to be good for their health. If I know the first thing about the Bible, why would I be surprised when sin causes me to get hurt, to get sick, to cause division among my friends and neighbors?

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:23

These are easy-to-understand verses that can be used to show an unbeliever the way to salvation.

Romans Chapters 3-6 are also key to understanding the doctrine of justification.

When you read the Bible, pray for the Holy Spirit’s help in understanding the Scriptures. If I had a book about electrical wiring, and I wanted to know what something in the book meant, I would like to be able to call and ask the electrician/author what he meant. The Holy Ghost is the Author of the Bible. He explains how we can be “justified” before God – how we can be counted as “righteous” before God, beginning in Romans 3:23 and on into Romans Chapter 4.

What does “righteousness” mean? It means being “right” with God.

To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Romans 3:26

Because everyone has sinned, no one can be right with God because of what he or she does. How, then, can we be right with God? We can be right with God if He forgives us. The Bible says He forgives us if we believe and trust in Jesus. Then He views us as being right with Him.

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Romans 3:24

Then, what does God expect from us when He sees us as justified or “right” with Him? He expects us to do good things.

Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

Romans 3:31

Romans Chapter 4 addresses the misconception the Jews had about their ancestral father, Abraham.

What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Romans 4:1-3

Abraham was “counted as righteous.” We might say he was “saved” by his “belief” – by “faith.” Not only Abraham in Genesis, but David, in the Psalms, knew that their works couldn’t outweigh their sin.

Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

Romans 4:6-7

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

Psalm 32:1-2

It is not the man who hasn’t transgressed or the man who hasn’t sinned who is right with God. It is the man to whom the Lord has not imputed iniquity. David understood that the truly blessed man of God had his sins covered, and his transgressions forgiven, and his iniquity was not imputed to him or counted against him.

Will the flood waters call us to repentance, to seek forgiveness? For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.

Psalm 32:6

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

Psalm 32:11

The Holy Spirit knew that the Jews would point to Abraham’s circumcision and say, “Wait a minute, Paul, you told us that outward circumcision didn’t count as righteousness. Abraham is the one who received the sign of circumcision.”

So the Holy Spirit has Paul say, “Yes, but look at when he was circumcised.”

Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. 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: 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.

Romans 4:9-12

Abraham was counted as righteous first because of faith, then the circumcision was received as a sign and an outward seal. That’s how the ordinance of baptism is supposed to work for New Testament Christians. It does not save us, but it is a sign that marks us as believers.

What is the specific example of Abraham’s faith? When did he believe God, and not hold to belief in the natural?

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 Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Romans 4:19-22

We have a common expression whereby we say someone is “as good as dead.” That’s how Abraham was when Sara got pregnant.

Who are you going to believe? The television anchorman on the evening news or God? The “scientist” who tells you the earth is billions of years old or God? We all have faith in something. And we really don’t struggle with faith in the natural. Most people will plop down in a chair they’ve never sat in before without a second thought.

Romans 4:21 says Abraham was fully persuaded. Are you fully persuaded? Or are you like King Agrippa: “almost persuaded?” 90% persuaded is not really persuaded at all.


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