"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Saturday, December 31, 2011

JESUS IS GOD – The WORD Incarnate a.k.a. the MESSIAH of Israel – Part TWO





By James Fire


RIGHTEOUS BRANCH – DIVINE MESSIAH –

Jeremiah 23:5 -6
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
.

In the Hebrew Bible it says it like this:

“Behold the days are coming, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous shoot, and he shall reign as king and prosper, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is the name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jere. 23:6, JPS, 1917).

Note that this King that will come from David, who will reign and execute justice in the Earth, is called the LORD of RIGHTEOUSNESS. “LORD” here is the tetragrammaton or the YHWH (Yahweh), and always refers to God Himself.
Dr. Eastman rightly asks the question:

“How could the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses be a descendent of David? Why is this person described as a physical being, born of the line of David, one who will reign as king ‘in his days’ and yet his name [would be] ‘the LORD (YHWH) our RIGHTEOUSNESS’?

Read more!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

JESUS IS GOD – The WORD Incarnate a.k.a. the MESSIAH of Israel - Part ONE




























~~ By James Fire

A friend of mine has three words scribed on the back of his lap top, and displays this message boldly out in public; the same three words are painted on the back window of his van, and scores of people read this controversial message as he drives all over the city of Tucson daily.

What is this controversial message consisting of only these three words?

JESUS IS GOD” and only recently my friend received a little note attached to his van from a detractor:

“Jesus was only a guy, just so you know.”

On this singular issue and assertion, the world is divided with increasingly noticeable distancing. In days gone by, the most determining factor that revealed whether or not a religious group was a cult, was their view of Jesus Christ.
Every cult either takes away from, or adds something to, Jesus of Nazareth. Some cults take away His divinity, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses; others add to His atoning sacrifice He accomplished on the cross, saying that it’s necessary but insufficient for salvation, such as the Roman Catholic Institution.

Yet increasingly among so-called evangelical churches, gone ‘Emergent’ such dialogues have transpired in order to “seek common ground” not merely among denominations, but with world religions across the globe. In seeking that common ground, one of the first things that seem to be conceded by churches today, is the Divinity of Jesus Christ! More and more denominations are ‘voting away’ the Divinity of Jesus! Another one is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!

Read more!

Monday, December 5, 2011

The CHRISTMAS GIFT of PEACE DECLINED

By James J. Fire

Luke 2:1-5
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child
.

The Nativity of the Son of God

*~And so began this marvelous journey, a holy pilgrimage, not to a holy place, but rather accompanying the holy Child within the womb of the virgin, Mary the espoused to Joseph, both descendents of King David, of the House of Judah.
Look at a map and you will find Nazareth in northern Israel in far away Galilee; from here this blessed couple made their arduous and painfully slow voyage all the way to Bethlehem, just south of Jerusalem.

On the back of a mule, feeling every bump in the road, Mary who was “great with child” had one of the most difficult struggles of her very young life. Yet such a journey was necessary, not because of the royal edict of the Caesar of Rome, but because of the Holy edict and proclamation of prophecy, from the prophet Micah:

Mic 5:2
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting
.

And Isaiah confirms that this child would be the One upon Whose shoulder the government would rest:

Isa 9:6
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace
.

On a side note, there are those skeptics who like to point out a supposed Scriptural error regarding Cyrenius, who according to some records was the governor of Syria before this time. However, what most don’t realize is that he was actually governor of Syria – twice! For more on this, visit this site:

Truth For Today - Difficulties and Apparent Contradictions in the Bible

Let’s move on:

Luke 2:6-7
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn
.

Having been to Israel, twice, we visited Nazareth on both occasions and stood shoulder to shoulder, surrounding a manger, a stone carved feeding or drinking trough for animals. This is where the King of all creation was laid after being delivered into this world of sin, not out of choice, but actually because Joseph and His mother had no choice. Whether by lack of accommodations or because of the stigma against Mary and rumors about her illegitimate child, “there was no room for them in the inn.” The first of countless occurrences where Christ would be rejected . . .

And such humble beginnings too: born in a barn! What King have you ever learned about in history class that was born in a barn? What Child was this? Here was the Savior babe “in such mean estate”, wrapped in swaddling clothes – have you ever wondered what ‘swaddling’ is? Watch this brief one minute youtube to find out what this is and how it’s done:

How to Swaddle Your Baby

Some have suggested that because this couple was so poor, that they used whatever was available to them for this swaddling; patches of cloth used for the bedding of lambs in the barn. Yet here was the very Lamb of God wrapped in such course material!

Now this manger scene is almost complete; add to this the ruckus of barn yard animals, and until Joseph had time to clear it all away, the foul deposits of said creatures. Until the Babe actually was born, the barn would have also had, reverberating on its walls, the cries of this young lady in the throes of child birth. Now everything is quiet – a silent night. Perhaps even the animals were aware of the Holy Company that they kept that night. Yet Joseph and Mary were soon to have some other company as well . . .

Luke 2:8
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night
.

For this reason it’s believed that this Blessed Event did not take place in the winter, as shepherds in Israel were not accustomed to keeping their sheep in open fields at this time, but rather corralled, together with the sheep of other shepherds, where collectively, they would stay safe and warm, and shepherds would stay close to the fires.
These men, watching over their flocks were probably gazing at the brilliant, glorious stars under a Spring or Autumn sky. All was quiet with the exception of some bleating sheep; perhaps one of the shepherds softly played a flute, fashioned on the spot from some nearby reeds (a common practice among Jewish shepherds who would lead their flocks to its lilting sound, an almost pied piper practice!).

All was routine and mundane; a night very much like all the previous ones; perhaps even a boring and monotonous night with very little chance of an interesting intervention to break it up.

Yet in the very next instant their night, their very lives and the entirety of their worldview was tipped upside down and spun dizzily on their heads when suddenly a burst of holy light exploded into the darkness, and they saw a brilliant, glorious being that far exceeded the stars in brightness – an angel of God!

Luke 2:9
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid
.

Let’s face it, angels didn’t routinely come around Israel in those days; being visited by one was not a common occurrence! To say that they were “sore (very) afraid” is putting it mildly, especially when all you would expect to see on such a night were the familiar faces of your wooly brood! As terrifying as this unannounced visitation was, the news that this angelic being brought far exceeded the awesome event:

Luke 2:10-12
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger
.

One thing about shepherds is that they are not known for their scholarly prowess or high brow cogitations; yet even such ignorant shepherds as these would know about the Messiah (“Christ”) of Israel, He Who is the “Son of David” that would be born in the city of David (“Bethlehem” – which interestingly means “house of bread.” The LORD Jesus would later proclaim Himself to be the “Bread of Life”).

All of Israel was under the oppressive and heavy hand of the Roman Empire; bereft of self-ruling autonomy as a free nation, once glorious under Kings David and Solomon, the people of Israel lived in a land deemed merely as an insignificant but troublesome province by the Roman authorities. They longed for, and expected their Messiah King to arrive, who would eclipse the martial powers of such famous warriors as Joshua, and David, and deliver them from their Roman oppressors.

Little did they know that the Messiah would be on an entirely different mission this time around (and fulfill the latter mission of delivering Israel from the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) at His second advent)! As the angel said, he brought “good tidings” which is really what ‘the Gospel’ means, and it certainly is! The birth of the Messiah was the commencement of the Gospel in action, in accord with the plan of God since before the foundation of the world!

To think that the Messiah would be born on this night, and that a holy angel would make his appearance to such lowly persons as these shepherds (whose fingers were known to be somewhat sticky, and merchandise would be prone to disappear any time they passed through town) to announce this EVENT of the AGES!

Yet according to this angel, they would find the Messiah – in a manger, a feeding trough? Was this angel confused? How could such a thing be?? He also said that this would be “good tidings of great joy which shall be … to ALL people”?? Why would the coming of the Messiah be good tidings for any one but the Jews? What would Gentiles have to do with any of this (this was the current thinking of the Jews at the time of Jesus’ earthly life)?

When the shepherds went on their way to Bethlehem, they eventually came to the very spot where they beheld this wonderful sight of the Savior of His people Israel! In between the proclamation of this angel and that visitation, they beheld another display of angelic declaration:

Luke 2:13-14
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men
.

Indeed, the glory of God revealed was about to come upon the land and people of Israel, and the blessed Name of the Highest praised and extolled for the mighty works of His Servant-King that would come lowly to His people, from the humblest of beginnings to an even humbler life. I am reminded of the verse where it says:

Matt 11:28-29
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls
.

Not only rest for our souls, but also blessed and enduring peace, even as the angels declared: “…on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Another criticism from skeptics and cynics is this angelic announcement of “peace on earth” when for the last two thousand years the world has known greater and increasingly intense tragic occurrences of war, violence, strife, contention, misery and suffering: so… where is this “peace on earth”?? And “good will toward men”??

Let's listen to Johnny Cash sing about this, he provides a very good answer to such skepticism:
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

The peace spoken of here is that which God extended, and continues to extend to the people of this fallen world, by bringing to us the very Prince of Peace (as we quoted from Isaiah 9:6), the LORD Jesus Christ.

Nah 1:15a
Behold upon the mountains the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace . . .


Being sinners by nature, we were at enmity against the holy God of all creation (Rom. 5:10), and any sin we committed could legitimately be considered in His Holy Court of Law an act of treason, punishable by eternal death (separation from God). We are a people in dire need of reconciliation with the LORD our Maker!

God in His grace and mercy made provision for our sin, and offered up His own Beloved Son, the Lamb of God (John 3:16; John 1:29) and therefore bringing reconciliation for us! We would no longer be counted as enemies, having our sins forgiven; because of this provision by God, we would enjoy peace with God (Rom. 5:1)! This is the peace offered to people everywhere, the same peace as proclaimed by the angels to those shepherds two thousand years ago, and foretold some several hundred years before that by the holy prophets!

Any who receives the Prince of Peace and His propitiation for our sins not only will have peace with God, but will also experience the peace OF God (Phil. 4:7; Col. 3:15) and peace FROM God (See Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2 and elsewhere in all the greetings and benedictions penned in the epistles of Paul).

Just think for a moment, that if the vast majority of humanity actually received this Greatest and most Profound Christmas Gift ever given: the LORD Jesus Christ and His awesome salvation – how different this world would be! Wars would be a rare thing; violence would be almost unheard of; injustice and poverty would be seldom witnessed. There would indeed be peace on earth and good will not just toward all people, but among them as well!

Sadly however, Jesus Christ is rejected all the more in these last days, and since human beings have no peace with their Maker, their hearts are also then absent of any peace (Isaiah 48:22) and in continuous turmoil (Isaiah 57:20). Bent upon self will and selfish ambitions which run contrary to the hearts of others in such turmoil, they propagate the sin empowered strife and therein lies the problem inherent in such conflicts as war, oppression, criminal activity, wanton acts of violence, etc. (Jer. 8: 15; 30: 5; Ezek. 7: 25).

Division and discord will only increase, until the false Christ, the Beast arrives on the scene; this ‘Christ’ rather than the genuine Jesus Christ will be accepted by every one (except those loyal to the Messiah) just as the LORD Himself prophesied in John 5:43. He will unite all of humanity in a false peace on Earth; this sinful race will be in one accord with this man of sin, the son of perdition (2 Thess. 2:3) because both operate from the same spirit of disobedience (Eph. 2:2) in defiance against God Almighty (Dan. 8: 25). Unity is not peace; peace must be based upon Truth, and Truth is contrary to Unity that is based on relativism. For more on this, watch this brief video from the series KNOW YOUR ENEMY -

Deception: Truth vs. Unity (Part 68)

Yet once the LORD Jesus returns (and this will be quite soon for those that belong to the church I believe!) to inaugurate His rightful rule as the Messiah King, He will put down the reign of the Beast, consign both him and his false prophet to Gehenna (the lake of fire; Rev. 19:20) and commence the Millennial Reign where peace will prevail – though still, some pockets of rebellion will appear, even then!
Yet after one final rebellion, with Lucifer, who will at that time be recently released from the abyss (Rev. 20:7 – 10), it will be decisively put down and the curse of sin tainting both the Earth and the heavens will be done away with – in order to make way for a New Earth and a New Heavens, pure and unscathed by sin, but existing with an “abundance of peace” (Ps. 37: 11) reserved for the saints of the most High God!

This Christmas season, may I greatly encourage you to consider Jesus, the Prince of Life, the Prince of Peace and the LORD of Glory! He extends an invitation to any one who is convinced of their sin and sinful ways, will repent by turning from their sins and surrender their hearts to the LORD. Do you desire to know God in a living, breathing, loving relationship with Him as a Heavenly Father? Then come before Him humbly and receive salvation and the eternal peace that accompanies it.

JESUS is the veritable reason for the season! If you want to know more about the Gospel, you can access two different sources from here: the short or long version.
For the long, detailed version, just type “Simple Serious Gospel” into the TTUF search engine, and a few links will appear and you can read each of these segments as you like.
For the shorter version, click on this link to an article posted FROM the MIND of FIRE:

The TRUE Gospel: Accept No Imitations!

By receiving the LORD Jesus Christ (Matt. 10:40; John 1:12; Col. 2:6), the Prince of Peace into your life, you will be part of the prophetic fulfillment of “peace on earth and good will to men” as pronounced by the angel to those shepherds so long ago! He is the ultimate, the best and dearest gift you will ever receive, bar none!

Luke 1:30-33
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Num 6:24-26
The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:

The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:

The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace


Isa 9:7
Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.


Isa 26:3-4
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:

Isa 53:5
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed
.

Remember that while the LORD Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8), the LORD is offering peace to you, not wanting to count you as an enemy, but a friend, and not only a friend, but His child, born of His Spirit as His child (John 1:12), born of grace and peace . . .

Rom 15:33
Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen
.
Read more!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Study in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans – “On the Road of Righteousness” Chapter Seven:

~~ By James Fire

Chapter Seven: An ‘Illegal’ Bride –

In medieval courts and Roman Catholic tribunals of that day, sometimes the practice of exhuming a corpse would be enacted for the purpose of trying them in said courts and tribunals with the intent of convicting them of crimes post-mortem, and then sentencing punitive actions upon them. If such a practice wasn’t such a travesty, it would almost be comedic!

However, here in vs. 1 of this Chapter in Romans, we read Paul’s words about how the Law has no dominion over the dead; their life is over and the appointment with death is met and followed by the judgment (Heb. 9:27):

Rom 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?


At such a point, the Law no longer holds sway over the departed in the sense of enlightening a person to their own sinful state and revealing the need for repentance; rather it is used for the sake of prosecution and condemnation in judgment in the realm of eternity ‘future’.~*Once dead, the remedial influence of the Law is no longer valid; likewise Paul uses the analogy of marriage to demonstrate this point:

Rom 7:2-3
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.

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.


Just as it’s perfectly acceptable and proper for a woman to have another husband, if her first husband is dead, so likewise is it acceptable and proper that once we are married to the LORD Jesus Christ as His bride (Rev. 21: 9), we may validly consider ourselves to be perfectly dead indeed to the Law. Paul expresses this idea of Christ being the husband to the church elsewhere in his epistles too:

2 Cor 11:2
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

Eph 5:31-32
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church
.


Just as husband and wife become one flesh through the marriage covenant, so likewise any that are baptized into the body of Christ through the new covenant (testament) are joined to the LORD in spirit; for the two become one:

1 Cor 6:16-17
What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit
.


Thus the body of Christ and all the individual saints that comprise it, becomes by the Spirit of the LORD, the bride of Christ, no longer bound under the Law, no longer helplessly restrained by the flesh and its sinful tendencies; and for all eternity, joined to the LORD Jesus, forsaking all others (false Jesus’ and false gospels, false hopes in this fallen world, etc.), and keeping their relationship with Him simple, pure and uncorrupted (see 2 Cor. 11: 3-4; Gal. 1: 6-9).

Marriage is an institution that is bound and certified by the law (of the land, but primarily the Law of God that instituted such in the Garden of Eden), but the law makes a poor means of marital relationship. This is why so many Christians who are caught up in legalism have a cold, almost business-like relationship with the LORD!

What He desires of course, is a love relationship, based on the yearning and devotion, commitment and adoration of both marriage partners in a mutual bond of true holiness, purity, commotment and agape love and not the letter of the Law; therefore we are in a sense, with tongue in cheek – an ‘illegal’ bride, one that is not according to the Law but according to grace.

In the book of Revelation, the LORD rebukes the church of Ephesus for leaving her first love; interesting what the name “Ephesus” itself intimates:

The Berean Bible Study Group – A Letter To Ephesus: Chapter 2:1-7

Meaning of the name ‘Ephesus’: “Evidence of the Greek word Ἔφεσος (Ephesos) has only been found in reference to the city and church of that name. Whatever other meaning it may have had has been lost in antiquity. However, Christian tradition indicates that it meant darling or chosen. Strong's indicates that it may have also meant permitted. The word itself may have been derived from the Greek word ephoros, meaning overseer. Ephesus was a major religious center and the home of the first and largest Christian church in Asia. It certainly represented the origins of the church in the eyes of any who would have received this letter. For that reason, we will go with the traditional meaning of ‘darling’.”

So while Ephesus lost her first love, she is still considered the LORD’s darling, and speaks of the LORD Jesus everlasting and unconditional love and devotion; however this doesn’t at all mean, that Ephesus or any church is beyond being chastened, for the LORD chastens those whom He loves (Heb. 12: 6).

Rom 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
.


So rather than a ‘marriage’ to the Law, we are dead to such “through the body of Christ” that is, the church (see Eph. 5:24; Col. 1:18; side note: there are hyper-dispensationalists that make a distinction between the church and the body of Christ, but such a distinction is unwarranted as these terms are used interchangeably in these and other Scriptures).

Thus, even though we are now “married to another” that is, Christ – we are not adulterers because we are dead to the Law.

HOWEVER: Today more than ever, spiritual adultery is rampant in the church, this body that was intended to remain a “chaste virgin” (2 Cor. 11:2)! Christians are involved in practices that are actually occultic – everything from yoga (no, it is not just physical exercise), to contemplative prayer, to actually engaging explicitly in Eastern meditative practices by name (which is what contemplative prayer really is), to spiritual ‘gifts’ that are not of the Spirit of God, but satanic in origin; Christians dabble with horoscopes, astrology, psychic readings, etc. but “just for fun” when such practices are expressly forbidden in the counsels of Scripture! Today’s emergent apostasy is a hodge-podge of do-it-yourself-religion that harks back to the existential philosophy of “if it feels good, do it.” – Regardless of what the Scriptures say about it!

On the issue of the occult and spiritual seduction through ‘gifts’ particularly in the Charismatic movement, please consider the following by Sandy Simpson of Deception in the Church (DITC) Ministries:

The Vineyard, the Charismatic Church and the Cults

Aside from this, the love for the things of the world and ‘going native’ rather than remaining “pilgrims and strangers, abstaining from the things of the flesh that war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11), Christians have adopted the world’s customs of sensuality both in clothing, mannerisms and in lifestyle. They’ve been lured by the enchantment of materialism and ease, and seldom engage in any spiritual interaction with the LORD in prayer and personal Bible reading; if they do, its the sort of interaction as mentioned above – or entrapped in the bonds of legalism (See also: 2 Cor. 6: 14-18; 1 John 2: 15-17; Rev. 2: 20-23).

How it pains our LORD’s heart, Who only seeks out the simplicity of love and devoted fellowship with His bride, when He sees such corruption, and complication burdening His body, the church. May we be encouraged to repent of any such things, and return to our First and Best love, wholly given over to our Creator and Redeemer, the Lover of our souls!

Just as a marriage will bring about children, that is the fruit of the womb, so too will our marriage to Christ Jesus, our Bridegroom bring forth the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5: 22-23); the Spirit of grace indeed brings eternal life, but the law of sin can only bring death (Rom. 8:2) and the Holy Law of God can only work condemnation upon sinners. Strangely bizarre I think that so many Christians want to put themselves back under the Law when it cannot produce any fruit to the glory of God!

Rom 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
.


Comparing vs. 5 with vs. 4 is most revealing, and will produce some profitable insights for those who will meditate upon them, and observe the contrasts between the two. “Motions of sin” is translated also as “the impulses of sin” and this word “motions” can mean “suffering, pain, something to be endured; to undergo some influence, whether good or bad” and it’s the same word used in Heb. 2:9 in “suffering for death”.

The same idea conveyed here in vs. 5 is also seen in Romans 6:23a. Consider the deadliness of sin and how it mars and ruins the soul!

Rom 7:6-7
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.

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
.


Here we see another example of contrast between the oldness of the letter, that is, the Law and the newness of the Spirit, which brings life. 2 Cor. 3: 6 as well as Romans 2: 29 elaborate on this:

2 Cor 3:6
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life
.

Dr. Scofield provides some interesting insights here:

Romans 2:29; 2 Corinthians 3:6. “‘The letter’ is a Paulinism for the law, as ‘spirit’ in these passages is his word for the relationships and powers of new life in Christ Jesus. In 2 Cor. chapter 3 a series is presented of contrast of law with ‘spirit,’ of the old covenant and the new. The contrast is not between two methods of interpretation, literal, and spiritual, but between two methods of divine dealing: one through the law, the other through the Holy Spirit.”

There are some who, in a sense disdain the Law, and are smug about it, declaring that “we are under grace now” as if there was something wrong with the Law. Yet the Law of God simply declares things like “You shall not kill (murder)” and “you shall not steal” – who would have a problem with these, except murderers and thieves?

Those who would obey the Law in form, by external observation and not obedient from the heart and fulfilling the Law in the intents and motives of the heart (an impossibility for sinners like us) are invalid as far as righteousness is concerned from God’s Holy point of view, and this was the very reason why the LORD Jesus slammed the Pharisees and Sadducees at every turn (consider Matthew Chapter 23 for instance). Such legalists and devotees of religion are following the “oldness of the letter” that only “kills.”
They cannot experience the vibrant, effervescent, joyous life in Christ, which is “newness in spirit” that “gives life (abundantly)” and born not of the will of man, but of God (John 1:13); just as God breathed into lifeless dust and created a living soul in Adam, so too, He breathes His Spirit into dead, barren spirits and raises them to potent life brimming over eternally!

As stated in vs. 7 here, we are aware of sin because of the Law, both observed in Scripture as well as written on our hearts, or that is, conscience; together with the Holy Spirit we are convicted of sin, even as unbelievers upon whom God works, Who would lead them (and ourselves as necessary) to confession (1 John 1:9) and repentance (Acts 26:20).

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


Two words to examine here are “occasion” and “concupiscence” –

Occasion (aphorme in the Greek): “a starting point, a base of operations in war; it is used of the Law providing sin a base of operations for its attack upon the soul (Rom. 7:8, 11). Christian freedom is not to provide (“provision”) a base of operations for the flesh as in Gal. 5:13.”

Concupiscence (epithumia in the Greek): “a longing, especially for that which is forbidden, desire, lust; an irrational longing for pleasure, ‘unbridled lust’ in the sense of a very strong desire, whether for good – which would not be forbidden – (as in Lk. 22: 15; Phil. 1: 23; 1 Th. 2:17) or evil (Rom. 7:8; Col. 3:5; 1 Th. 4:5)

In Romans 6:12 the injunction against letting sin reign in our moral body to obey the ‘lust’ thereof, refers to those evil desire which are ready to express themselves in bodily activity. They are equally the lusts of the flesh as in Romans 13:14; Gal. 5:16, 24; Eph. 2:3 2 Pet. 2:18; 1 Jn. 2:16, a phrase that describes the emotions of the soul, the natural tendency towards things evil.

Such lusts are not necessarily base and immoral, they may be refined in character but are evil IF inconsistent* with the will of God.”

Looking at the book of Hebrews we read:

Hebr 12:1
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us
,


*Note that in this verse there is that which is clearly and blatantly “sin” but also “weight[s]” that weigh and slow us down, preventing our running in the race of our Christian exercise in life and ministry with greater efficiency and effectiveness. Such weights and things that are not perhaps sinful in themselves but become sinful in that they inhibit God’s will in our lives.

For example, I love reading novels, and would voraciously devour them from some of my favorite authors (and admittedly, being secular writers, they would sometimes write about things that are objectionable to the Christian). Yet when the LORD was calling me to greater study of the Word, and in committing more time towards this ministry of TTUF, it required more research in non-fiction books as well as online time on various sites.

Aside from financing novelists that would at times write on offensive topics and acts, devoting time towards reading these, inhibited what God would have me do for TTUF. So, is reading novels a sin? No, not necessarily, but for me, these ‘weights’ were preventing me from accomplishing what the LORD would have me do, so I laid down these things so that I might ‘run the race’ better.

Rom 7:9-11
For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

From Dr. Scofield:
“The passage (vs 7-25) is autobiographical. Paul's religious experience was in three strongly marked phases:
“(1) He was a godly Jew under the law. That the passage does not refer to that period is clear from his own explicit statements elsewhere. At that time he held himself to be "blameless" as concerned the law Philippians 3:6. He had "lived in all good conscience" Acts 23:1.

“(2) With his conversion came new light upon the law itself. He now perceived it to be "spiritual" (Romans 7:14). He now saw that, so far from having kept it, he was condemned by it. He had supposed himself to be "alive," but now the commandment really "came" (Romans 7:9) and he "died." Just when the apostle passed through the experience of Romans 7:7-25 we are not told. Perhaps during the days of physical blindness at Damascus, Acts 9:9; perhaps in Arabia, Galatians 1:17.
“It is the experience of a renewed man, under the law, and still ignorant of the delivering power of the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:2.

“(3) With the great revelations afterward embodied in Galatians and Romans, the apostle's experience entered it third phase. He now knew himself to be "dead to the law by the body of Christ," and, in the power of the indwelling Spirit, "free from the law of sin and death" Romans 8:2 while "the righteousness of the law" was wrought in him (not by him) while he walked after the Spirit Romans 8:4, Romans 7 is the record of past conflicts and defeats experience as a renewed man under law.”

And from Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible we have these insights:

A paraphrase based on the Greek in verse 9:
“‘For I was alive without the law once’” q. d. Take me, if you please for an instance. Before I knew the law aright, and understood the Divine and spiritual meaning of it, or whilst the law stood afar off, and was not brought home to my conscience, I was alive, that is, in my own conceit; I thought myself in as good a condition as any man living, my conscience never gave me any trouble. So it was with me once or heretofore when I was a Pharisee or in an unregenerate state. But when the commandment came; i.e. its sinfulness and guilt appeared, and I had a lively sense thereof imprinted upon my soul; or my corruption began to gather head and seemed, as it were, to receive new vigor and life. ‘And I died’; i.e. in my own opinion and feeling, I felt my conscience deadly wounded. I was convinced I was in a state of death and damnation. I lost the confidence I formerly had of my good estate.

Verse 10: ‘And the commandment which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.’ So it came to pas that the commandment which was ordained to be a rule of life, and if I could have kept it, a means of life also (Ch. 10:5; Gal. 3:12) I found it to be to me (through my corruption and transgression) an occasion of death; it bound me over to punishment; and so by accident it tendeth towards death…”

Rom 7:12-14
Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

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.

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin
.


And therein lies the problem of our own perdition! That this death which plagues us not only at the hour of our demise, but in every aspect of this diminishing life and works its ruin because of the sinfulness of our own hearts. The revelation of this deplorable condition is the result of the Law which is “holy, and just and good” and (by contrast) shows us our sinful nature for what it is: a carnal (unspiritual) nature that is “sold under sin” or that is, being “delivered and transported as merchandise or specifically as slaves (“sold” pripasko in the Greek) into sin”.

See also Romans 5: 20-21 and Galatians 3:21.

Here Paul allows us an ‘inside look’ into the inner turmoil he struggled with, and indeed one that every born again believer struggles with: this war of the Spirit and the flesh (Gal. 5:17; the duality of natures both Divine by spiritual rebirth in Christ, and depraved by natural birth in Adam). The Christian need not live a life of defeat by sin (though too often and too readily we may surrender to such) but even the victorious Christian (such as Paul himself!) is never without this struggle!

(We will always have this war on our hands until the redemption of our bodies (See: Rom. 8:23) where we shall inherit glorified, incorruptible, sinless bodies that we will don for eternity by the grace of God!)

This is why Paul stated elsewhere:

1 Cor 9:27
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway
.


Paul isn’t speaking of the sort of practice of monastic orders that would literally beat and torture their own bodies, thinking that this would somehow mortify the flesh and produce holy results; rather, when speaking of his “body” he is referring to “the flesh” or the fallen sinful nature that caters to the body appetites and leads to acts of sin, and he brings such into subjection, certainly not by his own power or determination, but in faith by the Spirit of God.

Our sinful flesh is like a wild, vicious, voracious dog that wants its own way, regardless of what damage is incurred to our spiritual life or even that of others. Paul states here that he, in effect, keeps this wild dog on its leash, subjected and kept under control (of the Spirit!).

Now sometimes you and I let this dog off its leash, and it has a hay day of partaking of sin, and this is why too many Christians suffer defeat, because once loosed, they don’t know how to get this savage beast back under control. The answer is found abundantly throughout Scripture, as well as here in this chapter, in verse 25 and previously in vs. 4 and 6.

Rom 7:15-20
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

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.

For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me
.


Note that Paul distinguishes between the “I” in verse 17 and “sin” or that sinful nature of the flesh (vs. 18) that dwells in him and commits such acts; these are the things that the “I” of Paul, hates. This is the battle between the new man and the old, that which is born of God’s nature and that which is born of Adam’s nature. John expresses this as well in his epistle:

1 John 3:9
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God
.


That which is born of God, does not “commit” sin, that is, does not tarry upon, dwell in, practice in a continual sense of committing sin because the new nature either in this life or in the commencement of the next, overcomes the old nature. The new nature itself born of God, cannot sin (though the old nature certainly can, and does).
This is why those who are born of God and have acquired the new nature will manifest (the fruit of) righteousness in their lives (Read 1 John 3: 4 – 10 to see this in context).

One would think that the self-esteem gospel would have had the wind knocked out of its sails early on in its infancy because Paul himself declares that in himself – his flesh – there dwells “NO GOOD THING”. In his own nature, there was nothing to esteem of value, to venerate as noble and good and admirable. Paul was stating the same thing as our LORD did in the Beattitudes:

Matt 5:3
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
.


Those who are spiritually bankrupt, poverty stricken, entirely deficient of any spiritual value whatsoever! What then is there to esteem about oneself?? Rather, let our focus be upon the LORD Jesus and consider His value, His veneration and holy nobility, goodness and admirable qualities, and the truth of the matter, which is that He willingly died for us out of His own heart of goodness, love, compassion and tender mercies!

I don’t know about you, but I find it of far greater potency and much deeper satisfaction to know the love of Christ for me, rather than any ‘love’ for myself I could ever dredge up! The rest of this portion of Scripture from Romans (vs. 18 – 20) should be ample enough evidence to prove that there is nothing in us worthy of any esteem whatsoever.

Verse 19 speaks of the spiritual bondage to sin that Paul laments over; other verses that speak on this are as follows: Prov. 5:22; John 8:34; Rom. 6: 16; 2 Tim. 2:26; 2 Pet. 2: 19. The only liberation from such bondage is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the new life He imparts upon salvation.

Rom 7:21-23
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

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
.


Two laws are in operation here: the law of sin which is in our members (bodies) and the law of God which operates in the mind or inward man. The inward man is no match by itself to combat the law of sin which brings us into captivity. We need the Life-generating power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ’s atonement and propitiation and resurrection power to defeat this law of sin, and we can and will and do, by faith acquire this victory!
An acronym that came to mind some years ago was A.V.R.A.S. or Absolute Victory (in life) Requires Absolute Surrender (to Christ).


Such victory is proportional to the degree of surrender, so that the more one is surrendered (or yielded; see Romans 6: 13 – 19) to the LORD, the greater the victory in life that will be experienced.
What is commonly known as ‘Spiritual Warfare’ (Use the TTUF search engine and type this phrase and enter; you will find an ample number of articles on this subject) has the significant aspect of spiritual integrity and holiness, which the enemy will endeavor to compromise at any cost in order to see the saint fallen from this state, and back into bondage to sin.

This is why a walk of holiness, a life of obedience and keeping our hearts and minds (2 Cor. 10:4) steadfastly upon Christ is crucial for such victory, yet always and ever by the power of Christ Jesus Himself; simply yield in surrender to Him and such is obtainable.


Rom 7:24-25
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

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
.


When we stumble and fall into sin – and we will (1 John 1:8), let us recognize the flesh for what it is, confess and repent of such, but not spend any time living in the ‘condo’s’ (condemnation) and allow the enemy to beat and bludgeon us further with overmuch guilt to the point that we walk away from the LORD.

Rather, let us remember to keep short accounts with God, confess our sin and failings at once, and simply accept by faith that as we have confessed our sins, “He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The flesh will never know holiness while we remain on this earth; the new man will never know separation from God in communion (but separated in fellowship if we live with unconfessed sin in our lives). The law of sin will always operate in our flesh, just as the law of God will affect our spiritual lives. This is why the crucifixion (by identifying with Jesus Christ and His cross, by faith) of the flesh is the only remedy to diminish the influence (“motions”) of sin in our lives (Gal. 2:20 once again!).

In the next study, Paul will wrap up the doctrinal truths regarding the second aspect of salvation (sanctification) in Chapter Eight and begin to address some of the aspects of the third part of salvation (glorification).

The book of Romans is sometimes compared to a temple with its many chambers and rooms of deep theological and doctrinal truths; in this analogy, Chapter Eight is seen the highest spires and towers of that temple as the heights of its glories are unmatched anywhere else in the epistle, or much of the New Testament for that matter!

For this and many other reasons, I am most excited to venture into this chapter and plumb its depths and feast on its riches of spiritual provender! I hope to see you soon as we continue to walk On the Road of Righteousness!
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Saturday, November 19, 2011

THE GIVING of THANKS - HONORING GOD IN SUCH

By James J. Fire

THANKSGIVING is the favorite holiday of choice among many Bible believers and disciples of Jesus Christ. It’s the one that has apparently been untainted by the customs and mythic beliefs of this world.

Christmas (the observance of the birth of Christ at any rate) is tainted with Santa Claus, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, and materialism in the world of commerce to your home.
Easter (barring the pagan name – I prefer to call it Blessed Resurrection Day myself) is about the resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ from the dead, and yet here too we have such things as Easter Baskets, the Easter Bunny, etc. and so forth.

Thanksgiving is at least in form, untouched; true, people partake of food in such quantities as to be considered gluttonous; but the idea of thankfulness is present. The world just doesn’t seem to know to Whom they’re to express their thanks (themselves and their own industry maybe?) – or if they offer thanks, it’s to some generic concept of ‘God’.

For the believer however, thanksgiving is not just one day of the year to observe; rather it’s a heart attitude to maintain every day, and if one wills, to make a special observance of such on this last Thursday of November.
*~Why is it imperative to give thanks to God all of the time? Doesn’t He know our hearts and whether we are actually thankful or not? Why the need to constantly express our thanks to Him?
Well, for one reason, the Scriptures are replete with verses that speak on “giving thanks” and expressing our hearts of gratitude to the Giver of all blessings and gifts . . .

2 Sam 22:50
Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.
2 Sam 22:51
He is the tower of salvation for his king: and sheweth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore
.

He is indeed the tower of our salvation, and shows mercy, not just to the king, David, but even those of lowly estate, meager and poor though their circumstances may be; in that which is vital and of eternal importance, the LORD is gracious in salvation and mercy (1 Chron. 16:34) and for these reasons, we offer our thanks and note this: "among the heathen". The unsaved are to see our gratitude for God and this is, in part, a faithful witness and testimony before them!

The Psalms are as overflowing with thanksgiving and praise to God as are our Thanksgiving tables with delectable feasts! And they’re just as stuffed with such subject matter as a roasted turkey!


Psalms 30:4, 12
Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever
.

Over and over the Psalms remind us to give thanks to God for His holiness, for His goodness and mercy, and for His righteousness and justice, and for His faithfulness to those whose hearts are towards Him!

Likewise in the New Testament, we see an ample supply of admonitions and exhortations to “give thanks” to the LORD –

We are thankful to the LORD for our fellow saints, that the LORD saved their souls and through whom we find encouragement and cheer, as one member of the body ministers to another to our mutual edification and joy:

Eph 1:15-16
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,

Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers
;

We understand that God’s will for us is to “give thanks” in – not necessarily “because” but at the least, “in all things”:

1 Thess 5:16-18
Rejoice evermore.

Pray without ceasing.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you
.

Another Psalm links thankfulness with the worship of God, and the life of a believer is to be as constant in worship as it is in breathing! It so “blesses His Name” to see His own beloved children express their heart-felt appreciation and thanks to Him for all He has done for us!

Psalms 100:4-5
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations
.

Thankfulness is associated with love and peace in the Scriptures:

Col 3:14-15
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful
.

Its sobering to note that the unsaved, and specifically those opposed to God have as one of their defining characteristics an attitude of an unthankful heart (Rom. 1: 21; 2 Tim. 3:2) and they did not (and do not) glorify God, a primary reason for our very existence!

There are times of sorrow and deep loss for every saint in the kingdom; its during this time, when overwhelmed with grief and despondency when one is tempted to become hardened of heart, even accusing God with such words as “You could have prevented this, LORD!” or something similar.

It’s during these times that we do well to remember that even in the darkest of days, and the deep, deep despondency of grief and pain, there are still things to be thankful to the LORD for – and such thanks offered, at such times when one feels least like doing so, is a sacrifice to the LORD. In bringing the heart about, and directing it towards God in thanksgiving is a means of lifting us out of our present circumstance, so we can see, despite the current calamity, that we have an eternity of blessing awaiting us, for which it is proper to express our thanks and gratitude:

Psalms 116:17
I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD
.

Anxious thoughts, worry and frustration will be abated when once we direct our hearts in prayer and supplication to the LORD, and in bringing before Him our thanksgiving, and thus bearing the fruit of peace which shall rule our hearts:

Philippians 4: 6-7
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.


And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Its important that we express thanks, and in so doing, bringing to the fore the constant reminder of the supply of the LORD’s blessing – even if there is a temporary lack of physical blessing in our earthly world – that shall endure for all eternity, knowing that our struggles and burdens we endure now are only temporary – like our lives themselves: but a vapor that appears for an instant and then is gone.

Those that ignore the offering of thanks will soon forget the blessing and provision that the LORD brings to us, and will see only the pain and sorrow, the deficiencies and lack, the darkness and dreariness of life, and as a result become bitter and hard of heart, not expressing faith towards God, but unbelief and mistrust.

Hebrews 3:12-13, 19
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief
.

And also:

Hebrews 4:10-11
For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief
.

We are God’s sheep, the flock of His pasture – and the LORD is our Shepherd, we shall not want (have any need unmet); it’s important that we “rest” in His provisions just as He has faithfully made provision for our salvation! He Who wrought such an incredible provision that will endure throughout all eternity, is He any less able to meet our temporal provisions that we have need of (sometimes desperately so), even in today’s society of a depressed economy, scant provisions for employment, and with little foreseeable hope on our future horizons (EXCEPT for the Blessed Hope of the LORD’s SOON RETURN!)?

Rom 8:31-32
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?


A good brother (and worship leader) that I know is fond of saying, “If the LORD Jesus died for our sins, and did nothing else for us, this in itself would be far, far more than we ever deserve.” Yet the LORD daily loads us with benefits (Psalm 68:19), some of which we are not even presently aware of! Yet we must remember, since our Abba Father has granted to us His Son, Whom He willingly sacrificed on the cross for our salvation, how much more shall He in the same Spirit of Grace, Love and Peace give us all things, and freely so?

What He would have of us, if I may say so, is a closer walk with Him, recognition of His provisions, both physical and especially spiritual, and a heart fluent in worship and thanksgiving.

This Thanksgiving, may we all stop and consider that which the LORD has blessed us with, and if we can think of nothing else (though I’m sure we can!), the primary cause and focus of our thankful heart: the LORD Jesus Christ, our King, and Savior and Chiefest of Friends! HALLELUJAH, what a Savior!

Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart

Today as you read this, there is a saint in Communist China who is imprisoned, having endured torture, who is thankful to the LORD for giving them the grace to bear up under such violence and remain faithful to His Name despite such. Others are enduring the same thing behind Islamic borders and are likewise thankful for the same reasons…

There are other followers of Jesus Christ who are thankful in Africa for the handful of food, a daily provision for their present need, and not looking towards tomorrow’s needs, but leave that in the faithful hands of our dear LORD…

Other believers are gathered together at a funeral of a beloved who has departed; thankful that the LORD allowed them to be blessed by their life, and the privilege of knowing them, and that they are securely in the hands of our Abba, and awaiting our own arrival in heaven…

Some saint has had a tragic car accident and has lost their legs, and now will spend the remainder of their days in a wheel chair, but they are nevertheless thankful for the days when they did have good, strong legs . . . and are also thankful that the LORD spared their life, which means that they have yet some divine purpose to fulfill in this world, for His glory…

At that same hospital, another believer is fighting cancer, and in the pain and anguish, offers up sacrifices of joy, thanking Him for grace to endure, and a life lived with beloved family and friends, and with whom, they will one day be reunited, delivered from all disease, pain and death...

Now we focus our attention on a healing that the LORD performed on ten lepers; apparently there was at least one among them that was not Jewish but "a stranger (foreigner)" . . . who received healing like the other nine, but with a difference:

Luke 17:11-19 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us
And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole
.

Again, we see that the giving of thanks equates to glorifying God; let us as His beloved, glorify Him by offering our heart-felt and deep, abiding thanks this not only on this upcoming Thursday, but all the year through!

Psalm 95:2a
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving
.

Everywhere God is present, but there is a peculiar presence of grace and glory into which men should never come without the profoundest reverence. We may make bold to come before the immediate presence of the Lord - for the voice of the Holy Ghost in this Psalm invites us, and when we do draw near to him we should remember his great goodness to us and cheerfully confess it. Our worship should have reference to the past as well as to the future; if we do not bless the Lord for what we have already received, how can we reasonably look for more? We are permitted to bring our petitions, and therefore we are in honour bound to bring our thanksgivings.” ~~ Charles Spurgeon
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Monday, November 14, 2011

A Study in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans – “On the Road of Righteousness” Chapter Six:

~~ By James Fire

Chapter Six: Dead Man Walking – Alive by God’s Spirit

In the closing verses of Chapter Five of this Pauline epistle, we read about how “sin reigned unto death” and how that “the law entered that the offence [of sin] might abound”. We also examined, and with great joy, that just as “sin reigned unto death” so would “grace reign through righteousness” and that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound”.

Because of the Law, sin abounded, but because of the atonement of Jesus Christ on the cross, our sin-bearer not only provided His grace, but that this grace abounds even more so than the Law-revealing sin that would condemn us.

Chapter Eight expounds on how there is no longer any condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, and here in Chapter Six we will begin to examine how that salvation is not just positional, but practical. What do I mean by this?

Put simply, since the day that each of us has received the Gospel via repentance and received Jesus Christ as LORD and SAVIOR, we have been washed clean of our sins and stand before our Holy God as pure and sinless as the LORD Jesus Himself, Who has granted to us His Holy Spirit as well as His flawless righteousness.
~* This was a Divine ‘trade up’ for us: Jesus took our sins, and in return, He gave us His righteousness. That’s our position, that’s how God the Father sees us from Eternity where He dwells. This occurred the very hour, the very moment that salvation was granted to you, who are born again, by the LORD.

Yet there is the matter of how sin still tempts us; our lusts still may to some degree govern our drives; we are, at least in portions and parts of our lives prone to sin. Overall, we are guiltless of sin because the blood of the Lamb cleanses us from all unrighteousness, but in our day to day living, we aren’t experiencing victory over sin in certain respects.

Being a Christian doesn’t mean practically being sinless, but being a Christian does mean that we should (practically) sin less. In other words, sin should be a diminishing influence in our lives. We grow in holiness and purity; we lessen in the participation and ‘death-style’ of sin. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we are perfect, but it does mean that God is able to work in our yielded hearts in “perfecting holiness” in us, His children:

2 Cor 7:1
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God
.


That word “perfecting” is significant; it means “to execute, to perform, to complete, to accomplish” and it intimates a work that is to be finished, an enterprise that has a terminus where everything necessary is fulfilled to completion.

How can we experience spiritual victory over those besetting sins that cause us to stumble in our walks with the LORD? That is the subject Paul tackles here! I am persuaded that most Christians, who are frustrated by their inability to overcome sin, are so frustrated because they don’t understand Romans Chapter Six (and Seven and Eight). Because of this frustration and their unsuccessful struggles too many saints have resigned the fight and resolved towards compromise.

One man who claimed to be a Christian told me that sin is hard to beat, that the devil is too strong for him, and for this reason he has given up in his walk (not his belief in God) and surrendered to the powerful influences of sin.

Indeed, remember this: sin is such a powerful force assailing fallen humanity, that it took no one less than God made flesh, the LORD Jesus Christ to ruin its power! Now I think we can lay the argument to rest that we are able to defeat it and that it’s up to us to beat sin!

Rom 6:1
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?



Dr. Scofield comments on the issue of sin and its biblical definition:

“Sin, Summary: The literal meanings of the Heb. and (Greek - sin," "sinner," etc), disclose the true nature of sin in its manifold manifestations. Sin is transgression, an overstepping of the law [which is] the divine boundary between good and evil Psalms 51:1; iniquity, an act inherently wrong, whether expressly forbidden or not; error, a departure from right; Psalms 51:9; Romans 3:23, missing the mark, a failure to meet the divine standard; trespass, the intrusion of self-will into the sphere of divine authority Ephesians 2:1, lawlessness, or spiritual anarchy 1 Timothy 1:9, unbelief, or an insult to the divine veracity John 16:9.
Sin originated with Satan Isaiah 14: 12-17; entered the world through Adam, Romans 5:12; was, and is, universal, Christ alone excepted; Romans 3:23; 1 Peter 2:22, incurs the penalties of spiritual and physical death; Genesis 2:17; 3:19; Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Romans 6:23 and has no remedy but in the sacrificial death of Christ; Hebrews 9:26; Acts 4:12; availed of by faith Acts 13:38, 39. Sin may be summarized as threefold: An act, the violation of, or want of obedience to the revealed will of God; a state, absence of righteousness; a nature, enmity toward God.”

We who have been born of God’s Spirit, born again of God (John 1:13; 3:3, 5) and have entered into the Kingdom of God, perceiving its reality and understanding the governing truth of that realm, now live under the reign of grace, and not of sin and death.

Therefore it is entirely inappropriate that any true Christian should “continue” in the old ways before we came to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior. As believers we shouldn’t find ourselves ‘at home’ in our old life (sin committed is something that bothers the saint, not the sinner). The word “continue” implies an intensive form of “dwelling, to tarry, persevere, to remain, to continue long, and still to abide.”

So Paul asks the rhetorical question of whether we should make ourselves at home with sin, so that God’s forgiveness via His grace should abound.

Rom 6:2
God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?



That’s his answer, and it is also mine: “God forbid”!

Imagine with me for a moment that there has been a death in a family; the corpse, rather than being delivered to a mortuary and later a funeral home to be assigned a casket and then a burial, was left at home, and tended to by family members in dressing them every day, sitting them down to meals, bringing them into the family room to enjoy a night of television with their spouse and children, etc.

After about a week or so, it would become amazingly clear that this person does not belong in the house. They are starting to smell and decompose. They never share in the family conversation. They don’t lift a finger to help around the house. They don’t share in the financial responsibilities to maintain the household, etc. etc.

The fact that they are dead means that they no longer belong to the world in which they once lived. They need to be separated! So too for the Christian; since we are now “dead to sin” we no longer belong to this world of sin; we belong elsewhere, yet while here, we are to be separated - sanctified unto our God!

Suppose that corpse died of liver failure due to excessive drinking; now there they are, lying on the couch, and you take a bottle of their favorite brand of whiskey and swirl it in front of their pale, rotting face. I don’t think you’ll get much of a rise out of them! They are dead and any such attraction to alcohol is absent from them.

Since we likewise are “dead to sin” any such temptations shouldn’t get much of a rise out of us either! Yet it does; constantly in many, too many of us! Why?

We are not living the crucified life, that’s why! And what is the crucified life? The crucified life is that life of a believer who has walked away from the cross which has done its work in the soul and so that believer is ready for burial:

Rom 6:3-4
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

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
.


In many passages of the Scripture, we read the phrase, “in Christ” and in this epistle alone this phrase is mentioned several times (3:24; 8:1-2, 39; 9:1; 12:5; 16:7 and in other passages in Romans but these have a different meaning). How is it that the believer is “in Christ”?

If one is water baptized, they are then ‘in water’ and if one is “in Christ” it’s because they’ve been “baptized into Jesus Christ” and are now members of the body of Christ:

Rom 12:5
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

1 Cor 12:13
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit
.

See also: Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21.


This baptism of the Spirit is distinct from, but sometimes coincidental with water baptism.
Baptism is a means by which one is identified with another, or a particular office or ministry.

Jesus our LORD was baptized by John, but had no sin for which He had to repent of; rather He was identifying with fallen humanity, and this was likewise in preparation to inaugurate His ministry.
Those who are baptized into Jesus Christ are identified with Him, not in some mere ceremony, but in a spiritual reality and transaction based on the new covenant/testament made valid by the blood of Christ.

Jesus Christ died on the cross; His was an actual death because He took on our sin (the wages of sin is death (6:23a), and just as that is a reality so also is our identification with Him a reality! Read slowly vs. 4 of this chapter.

The fact that we are buried with Him by baptism into death means that, spiritually speaking, WE – ARE – DEAD – IN – CHRIST (the crucified life)! The LORD Jesus however didn’t ‘stay dead’. He is the exclusive example (but only for now!) of the physical resurrection, the “first fruits from the dead” as the Bible puts it in 1 Cor. 15: 20. And just as He is alive forever more (Romans 6:9) so we should walk in that same “newness of life”, a newness that is born, grown, maintained and flourishing by the Holy Spirit in the yielded heart of a believer.

It’s the yielding that presents the problem however; Christians yield to sin because sin is enticing, it is pleasurable, it is ‘fun’ for the old sinful nature and it always will be. The answer then is that we decide by faith in God’s Word and what it declares, that we are “dead to sin” being identified with Christ Jesus on the cross, just as Paul declared in:

Gal 2:20
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me
.


As we have observed a moment ago, you can’t tempt a corpse (No, of corpse you can’t!); temptation in the life of a believer should be no greater a force to contend with.
Just as we have believed by faith that Jesus Christ died for our sins, we have exercised repentance towards God and surrendered to Him, and thus received the fruit of salvation which itself has rendered effective results in our lives; so too, this is an exercise of faith:

Rom 6:5-7
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

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.

For he that is dead is freed from sin
.


Our old man, our sinful nature, that spiritual rebellion that was commenced by Adam and even now continues to work in the hearts of the lost, the children of disobedience (Eph. 2:2) is crucified with Jesus Christ, Who hung on the cross two thousand years ago. Receive this truth just as you received the truth of the Gospel, for its all part of the same work of salvation! Believe by faith that it is just as God said in His Word.

Now are you beginning to understand the glorious liberation from the old ways, the sinful life of the old man, the enslavement to sin? – so that we are not just freed from the penalty of sin (justification) which is hell fire, but also from the power of sin (sanctification) which is spiritual enslavement to sin! We are free from sin! WE ARE FREE FROM SIN!

The sinner, having a sinful nature will sin; he can’t accidentally be righteous before God; it’s just not in his nature. The only thing he can do, when once he falls under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and finally understands the Gospel of Grace, is to receive such from the LORD Jesus Christ. Until then he has but a singular, selfish, self-seeking sinful nature that is “prone to sin”.

For the saint however, we have a dual nature – we still have the fallen Adamic nature of sin, but now we also have the nature of the Spirit of Jesus:

2 Peter 1:2-4
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust
.


Both Paul (Romans 6:1 and elsewhere) and Peter (here above) make reference in their respective commentary on the reception of the new nature by means of Jesus Christ’s atonement and resurrection as the supreme manifestation of the grace of God. What is the ‘grace’ of God? As I’ve used this acronym before, indulge me as I use it once again here:

G.R.A.C.E.God’s Riches of righteousness Attributed to us at Christ’s Expense. In other words, this is the unmerited blessing of God’s salvation in the Person of Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross for our justification and the endowment of citizenship in the kingdom of God as sons and daughters of the LORD God our Father!

Later on in the 2 Peter 3:18, Peter mentions grace again.

Scofield’s notes have ample edification in exposition on this primary attribute of the LORD our God:

Grace (imparted). Summary (see "Grace,") (See Scofield John 1:17) grace is not only dispensationally a method of divine dealing in salvation but is also the method of God in the believer's life and service. As saved, he is "not under the law, but under grace": Romans 6:14. Having by grace brought the believer into the highest conceivable position: Ephesians 1:6. God ceaselessly works through grace, to impart to, and perfect in him, corresponding graces: John 15:4, 5; Galatians 5:22, 23.

Grace, therefore, stands connected with service: Romans 12:6; 15:15, 16; 1 Corinthians 1:3-7; 10 ; 15:10; 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10; Galatians 2:9; Ephesians 3:7, 8; Ephesians 4:7; Philippians 1:7; 2 Timothy 2:1, 2; 1 Peter 4:10 with Christian growth: 2 Corinthians 1:12; Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 3:16; 4:6; 2 Thessalonians 1:12; Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 12:28, 29; 13:9; James 4:6 ; 1 Peter 1:2 ; 3:7; 1 Peter 5:5, 10 ; 2 Peter 3:18; Jude 1:4 and with giving: 2 Corinthians 4:15; 2 Corinthians 8:1; 2 Corinthians 8:6, 7, 19; 9:14.

Now because we have this ‘split-personality’ as it were of our carnal, sinful nature and that nature divine in Jesus Christ, we have a choice to make every day, every moment of every day:

Gal 5:16
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh
.


Lust (besides but also including the sexual kind) is very much ‘old man’ and ‘old world’ and is a power exploited by Satan in tempting souls to commit sin; such things that are welcome by the citizens of the kingdom of darkness, but not the kingdom of God! We are dead to self, to sin, to seduction, to the world in all of its secularism.

Have you ever noticed that human beings are built in such a way that we are incapable of walking in two different directions at once? We can only move in one direction at a time, even if it’s just a step to the right and then a step to the left. Likewise in the Spirit: you can’t walk after the Spirit and after the flesh at the same time.

So, it’s very much a matter of choosing, step by step, the way in which we will walk: either spiritually or carnally.

So when temptation comes slithering into your thoughts, you not only have the opportunity, but the spiritual obligation to seize such thoughts by the throat (2 Cor. 10:4-5), and declare that such things are a trespassing by Satan on to holy property purchased and redeemed by the LORD Jesus Christ’s own blood (1 Cor. 6:19-20); that such thoughts are a form of spiritual treason against the KING Whose kingdom we now belong to (1 Peter 2:11; and NOT that of Satan’s) and will therefore NOT BE TOLERATED!

We then must ask the LORD to take that which is of our flesh that is lusting and struggling to free itself out of our grasp to obtain the desired sinful object and crucify it on His cross, so that it might die the death. The flesh may plead and whine and struggle, beg and placate us to let it be, to allow it just this once to indulge itself, but such cries must fall on sanctified ears that are deaf to their imploration. Rather, without mercy we must drag our lusting flesh to the cross, and all the while it will kick and scream in utter rebellion like the wild, savage beast that it is.

Ultimately, we must therefore see it impaled on the cross and die. This is what’s called the mortification of the flesh.
Here are some scriptures on this theological truth:

Matt. 5:29; Rom. 6:6; 13:14; Gal. 5:16; Col. 3: 5; 1 Pet. 4: 2.


Then we must turn once again to the LORD and ask Him to fill the vacancy that was once occupied by that sinful tendency of our old man with His Holy Spirit and sanctify that region of our soul with His presence so that the nature of Jesus (new man) will be all the more present and our sinful nature less so. This is sanctification. This is growing and living in becoming more like Jesus!

Here are some scriptures on the theological truth of sanctification:
John 17: 19; 1 Cor. 1:2, 30; 6:11; Eph. 5:26; 2 Tim. 2: 21; Heb. 2:11; 10:10; 13:12; 1 Pet.1: 2; Jude :1.


Rom 6:8-9
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
.


Just as certainly as the death of Christ on the cross will work effectively in our own death towards our sinful nature, so too, the resurrection life of Christ will work effectively in the imparted eternal life given to us by the LORD Jesus (This being incorporated by our new and godly nature); the body of Jesus Christ was never found, because people have looked for it in all the wrong places.

Where they should look to, is to the right hand of the Father in heaven, where Christ is seated (Rev. 3:21; Heb. 1:3; 10: 12).

Because He is risen from the dead, we understand and know that our sins indeed have been done away with, that He has overcome – that death no longer has dominion over Him, and because of this, death and the sin that causes it, need not have dominion over us either!

Isaiah 25:8
He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.

2 Tim 1:9-10
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:

Rev 21:4
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away
.


That blessedness of life eternal is not something that we will rejoice in when once we enter heaven’s portals; this eternal life is something that we as saints of the living God enjoy here and now! The LORD Jesus, in praying to the Father before His Passion, declared what eternal life really is:

Jhn 17:3
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent
.


This knowledge of God is not academic or theological knowledge, nor is it knowledge about God; its knowledge of God in His Person, just as we know the persons of our parents, our brothers and sisters, our children and our friends. It’s the sort of intimate knowledge that comes through relationship not research; by fellowship, not fact finding. This relationship commences when once we come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, post-Cross, that is, we are able for the first time, since Christ Jesus offered Himself for our sins and then rose from the dead, to know God – not just as Creator or Judge or Author of the Scriptures, but as our Father who is “the only true God” (John 20: 17):

1 John 5:13
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God
.

Just as certainly as intimate knowledge, relationship and fellowship with spiritual communion with our Father, via Jesus Christ His Son brings eternal life, we as saints are confident in our knowledge that we possess eternal life because we have believed “on the name of the Son of God.”

Rom 6:10
For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.



On a side note: unfortunately, Roman Catholics have Christ dying for our sins millions of times each year around the world; they say that it’s not a series of singular, independent deaths, but the same death He suffered two thousand years ago, and continuing on in what they call “the mystery of the hour”. This is a false doctrine; Jesus Christ died once and only once, whereupon completing the atonement for the sins of the world He declared “It is finished.”

Hebrews 9:26, 28
For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation
.

For information on this issue, visit Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM) and read the following article:
Transubstantiation and the Real Presence

For a ministry outreach to Catholics by former Catholics (and priests) please visit this site: The Berean Beacon

Also, Jehovah Witnesses will often quote this verse, supporting their view that Jesus is the Son of God, but not God because “he liveth unto God” yet when one takes this verse and seeks out other scriptures that deal with the relationship between the Father and the Son, it is clear that Jesus Christ is indeed God (John 10: 30; Heb. 1: 8; 1 Tim. 3:16, etc.).

Rom 6:11-12
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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


Just as in the previous chapter where Paul addressed how that death reigned, here now he admonishes the saints to not “let . . . sin therefore reign in [our] mortal [bodies]” and mortal they certainly are! Corrupted bodies with the taint of sin nature inherited by Adam; yet by faith we can accept the truth of God’s Word, that we are in Christ, dead to sin, free from sin – liberated, no longer enslaved, chained, held captive by sin! Rather, we are “alive unto God through Jesus”!

We share in His death, we share in His burial, and we share in His resurrection life! One day we will likewise share in His ascension at the rapture of the church when we finally arrive home! We have the power, by the Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead, to live our lives just as Jesus did (Rom. 8: 8-16; 1 John 2:6) – albeit not as perfectly, as He was absolutely without sin, but ‘grow into’ the walk of a mature believer in Christ (2 Cor. 9:10; Eph. 4: 15; 1 Thess. 3:12; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3: 17-18).

Spiritual maturity is associated with understanding the Word of God, a deeper relationship with the LORD, obedience and submission to His will, denying one self and being yielded to the Spirit as He directs us.

Rom 6:13-14
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.

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace
.


Just as we surrendered our lives to the LORD when we heard the Gospel message of salvation, so too we surrender (“yield”) ourselves by faith, and allow God’s Spirit to use our members (our very bodies and minds) as instruments for righteousness! We are not empowered by the Law to do so; the Law can only reveal the holiness of God and thereby condemn sin – those are its only functions. Rather, we acquire the power to live holy, righteous lives by the grace imparted by the LORD.

Grace is not only for forgiveness of sin, but empowerment to resist sin (Heb. 4: 16): “…to find help in time of need.”

In these two verses (13, 14) we have the same dynamic and spiritual truth as found later in the 12th chapter of Romans, vs. 1 – 2. Our spiritual liberty is spoken of everywhere in Scripture; here are a few examples: Gal. 3:23-24; 2 Cor. 7: 1; Titus 2: 12-14.

Rom 6:15-17
What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

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?

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
.


Seeing how Jesus Christ suffered and agonized the cross and all the excruciation of the sin bearer, being separated from the Father and enduring the wrath of His holy judgment – all for the sake of delivering us from sin, death and hell, but also delivering us from the powerful enslavement to sin, how can we then relish sin as believers? How can we imbibe deeply of iniquity? How can we render ourselves back into servitude to sin, when our LORD did beyond imagining, freeing us from such, so that we are no longer slaves to sin?

If we obey sin, there will be death – not physical death necessarily (but eventually), but perhaps the one that obeys the sin of adultery will see the death of their marriage, or health; the drug addict that obeys his sin will most certainly see the death of his health, family, finances, a law abiding status, etc.

The one that obeys the sin of lust in pornography will likewise see the death of their marriage, of wholesome relationships, and may well find themselves convicted of the crime of assault and rape.

Yet those that are obedient to God will find themselves in 'right standing' before the LORD and their fellow man that is, righteousness which in itself is a protection against the many destructive ‘deaths’ that are rampant in our dying society.

“God be thanked” for what He has done for us! Let us offer up our very lives as a giant “thank You!” to God for His kindness and grace and tender mercies in delivering us from our obstinate rebellion and transgressions! Let us express our gratitude by honoring Him in our loving obedience “from the heart” (for the saint, there should be no other kind!) to His will, which is for our blessing besides!

“…that form of doctrine delivered to you.” And to think, there are those that say “doctrine doesn’t matter” or “doctrine is divisive” or “we’ll set doctrine aside for the sake of unity”! Doctrine is vital in the life of the believer, for by the truth that it employs and is inspired by, it brings us life and peace, righteousness and the means to know how to please God with our obedience.

Having “doctrine . . . delivered” to us liberates us from the enslavement of sin as shown in vs. 17 of this passage. Doctrine is not for learning only; consider the first two letters in the word.

James 1:22, 25
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

Philip 4:9
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.



And now for the last remaining verses in this chapter:

Rom 6:18-19
Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.

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
.


Being a slave of righteousness brings far, far greater and powerful freedom than a death-style of sin couldn’t even imagine! Partaking of sin entangles a soul until it suffocates under the oppressive weight of this downward spiral (“uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity”) of corruption and anguish. Of course, sin is pleasurable for a season (Heb. 11:25), that is until the seeds of such bears its stinking, vile and poisonous fruit (Matt. 7:17-18)!

Far more blessed is the soul that will follow after the LORD, heed the call of salvation, and enter into that blessed rest of the LORD Jesus Christ, embarking on this fantastic journey into eternity where we will know joys sublime, love everlasting, and peace ever enduring (Psalm 1:1-3; Matt. 13:23; John 15:5, 8)!

“Righteousness unto holiness” – note here the inclination of spiritual progress (the same idea of such progress was brought forth earlier in this study from Romans 1:17 "from faith to faith"); righteousness is pleasing to the LORD as it entails right standing before God, and in regards to reflecting God’s nature towards others; holiness is something that is directed towards God Himself, from the heart. Righteousness could be feigned as a mere outward shell, but for holiness, there is no such veneer, for holiness is of the heart of the redeemed, where only God Himself can see.

Rom 6:20-22
For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

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

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life
.


“Free from righteousness” – we had neither the desire nor even the thought of righteousness when we were in darkness; it wasn’t until the LORD came and began to minister to us by His Spirit (John 14: 17; 16: 7-11) and began to woo us towards the LORD Jesus for salvation. Those who reject such wooing remain “free from righteousness” and continue in a state of darkness and as a result, condemnation (John 3:19).

Vs. 21: Such “fruit” was referred to earlier . . .
“…fruit unto holiness” Have you ever ‘tried’ to be holy? That’s like squeezing the branch of an apple tree in an attempt to squeeze an apple out of one of its stems! Holiness cannot come by any self effort or struggle.

As we simply receive God’s Word (the seed that will produce fruit after its own kind, that is godliness, and holiness of Jesus, etc), and seek God in prayer, and remain yielded to Him just as the soil is yielded to the plow, and subsequently the seed of the sower, the fruit of holiness will simply come naturally – or more accurately, super-naturally by God Himself.

Such fruit as mentioned in Gal. 5: 22-23 and 1 Cor. 13: 4-8a, 13; Heb. 12:11, 14-15 (and those references made earlier) is the blessed fruit that is born of God, and is the very nature and character of the Word Incarnate, Jesus Christ our LORD and Savior!

Rom 6:23
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord
.


Note the contrasts in this single verse: wages as compared to gift; sin as opposed to Jesus Christ; death in comparison to eternal life.
As one goes about their unredeemed life, doing that which comes naturally – that is sin (falling short of the glory of God, and all He intended for mankind), such deeds and practices are by the labors of self; thus “the wages of sin” which brings forth the ‘payment’ of death. Sin separates souls from their Savior (Is. 59:2), and as He is the only wellspring of life (be it physically or spiritually), separation from this exclusive Bringer of life will result in death (remember the ‘fish out of water’ analogy in an earlier study).

See Gen. 2:17; Ezekiel 18:20; Rom. 8: 6; James 5:20; Rev. 21:8.


God is not seeking payment from ourselves for our sins against Him (the cost is far too high), and so He took on the responsibility of paying the debt Himself, through God the Son, Jesus Christ. So like any gift, the Giver can offer this freely at no charge to the receiver (you and I); and this gift of eternal life is brought to us by Jesus Christ, the only Manufacturer Who can produce this marvelous, inestimably valuable product of perfect salvation!

See John 1:4; 10:10; 11:25; 14:6; Rom. 5:21; 1 John 5:12.


On a final note: Imagine if you will a regal, wealthy and noble King who has a beggar coming before him that owes him a debt he cannot hope to ever pay in his life time or that of his children (sounds a bit familiar doesn’t it? Matt. 18:23-35).

The King forgives the beggar the debt… but then He goes yet another step further, because He sees that the beggar is in very poor health, covered in sores, wheezing and coughing, scrawny and nearly starved, with rags for clothes and no where to live but the street.
He takes it upon Himself to bathe the beggar in His own royal bathing chambers; He looks to His own wardrobe and selects of the finest silks and satins and wonderful shoes and a jewel necklace and a ring. He brings him to accommodations of his own to live in the palace with the King where he dines sumptuously at His own dining hall!

He sleeps in sublime peace upon a bed with a deep, soft mattress and a pillow to match. On the next day, the beggar is astounded when some of the Kings servants approach him with papers of adoption for him to sign, so that he actually becomes the adopted son of the King!

Jesus has forgiven our debt and justified us, but His love for us is far too great than to stop merely here; He longs to feed us of the Bread of Life, and clothe us in His own righteousness, and make such provisions for us that will mean our spiritual well being. In lavishing such things upon us and in us, He is bettering our souls so that we not only are delivered from beggarly externals and surroundings, but also delivered from the beggarly practices, attitudes, deficiencies and anything else inwardly that makes us a beggar and transforms us into His begotten. This is sanctification, and this is God’s will, our heavenly Abba’s desire for all of His dear children!

May the LORD Jesus bless us as we continue to know Him, the fellowship of His sufferings and the power of His resurrection!
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