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Archive for November, 2009

…Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Romans 6:6-7

Forrest Gump: Lieutenant Dan, what are you doing here?”
Lieutenant Dan: “I’m here to try out my sea legs.”
Forrest Gump: “But you ain’t got no legs, Lieutenant Dan.”
Lieutenant Dan: “Yes… yes, I know that. You wrote me a letter, you idiot!”

 Later on…

Forrest Gump: “No shrimp.”
Lieutenant Dan: “Where the Hell is this God of yours?”
Forrest Gump: “It’s funny Lieutenant Dan said that, ’cause right then, God showed up.”
Why Do I Sin?

For some Christians, this passage from Romans chapter six is a frustrating portion of theology. “If my old sin nature was done in, ” we might say, “why then do I still sin.”

The truth is that we struggle because we don’t fully understand the Apostle Paul’s assertion.

Lieutenant Daniel Taylor

I chose Lt. Dan from the movie Forrest Gumpas in illustration because, when we first see him in the fictional movie, he is Forrest’s abusive, arrogant, and generally annoying commanding officer during the Viet Nam War. In this respect, Lt. Dan is a picture of the domineering sinful nature inside of us.

Dan Taylor is later wounded in battle and when we catch up to him again nothing much has changed–he is the same vicious, prideful, and irritating guy, but minus his legs and bound to his miserable little wheelchair.

Hold that image…

Back to the Bible

Have you read Romans 6:6-7 and concluded that your old man’s sinful nature is dead because he was crucified with Jesus upon the cross? That’s not an accurate interpretation. Your old man is not dead; he’s incapacitated, just like good ol Lt Dan in his rusty wheelchair.

The Greek word used in the passage for the phrase, ‘Done away with’ (*or ‘destroyed’ in the King James Version) is katargeo, and in this instance it means to make idle. In other words, our old man is not dead, but rendered powerless. As an illustration, Paul uses the imagery of one who hangs helpless on a cross.  Recall the despicable thief on the cross next to Jesus? I’m reminded of Lt Dan; once controlling, now feeble and ineffective—just like our old man.

When We Sin
When we sin, we are in effect listening to an incapacitated man who cannot make us do anything. The reality is that we have the power to both resist and overcome, as given to us by Christ Jesus.  If we sin we have made the decision to put God’s power aside and surrender to something powerless.
God has equipped you!  So forget the notion that God won’t give you ‘anything you can’t handle’.’  That’s rubbish.  A more accurate expression would be (as per the First Corinthians quote below), “God won’t give you anything that He can’t handle.”

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 6:6-7

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Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2

What Promises?

I’m talking about the promises from God as a result of having been justified by our faith in God and the resurrection of His Son. In the precious light of the fabulous news the Apostle Paul reveals to us in Romans chapter four, we have peace with God, access to God, and joy in God.

We are at peace with the Father because we believe what Jesus accomplished on the cross was sufficient appeasement for our sin. By that same faith we have been given access to the Father by the power of His Holy Spirit. And finally, we rejoice because we know by faith our Heavenly hope is a sure guarantee; a done-deal. Fundamentally, the war with God is over—He is not angry, annoyed, or disappointed in us, for having been justified, He sees us in our glorified state.

How Can That Be?

This doctrine is vitally important towards the serenity and sanity of every believer, so pay attention. ‘How can the Lord see us in our glorified state when we have not yet received our glorified bodies? Let’s go back to Genesis and Abraham for that answer.

(As it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed–God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did… Romans 4:17

When the Lord told Abraham these things they had not yet happen, but He makes the statement in a tense that implies the event already was. In other words, Abraham at age 100 has yet to father a child, but God talks about him as if these countless nations already were.

(I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him. That which is has already been, And what is to be has already been… Ecclesiastes 3:14-15a

God has essentially told Abraham, “That which is has already been, and what is to be has already been.” It is an incredible premise and only one that God could accomplish—not only can God see the beginning from the end, He is able to operate in both realms simultaneously. Only God can give a future promise and then proclaim it as if it has already occurred. Think about that the next time you pray for a healing of some kind.

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

God can, in a sense, see the entire parade as if viewing it from the Goodyear blimp. Although the analogy is flawed, it loosely demonstrates how He can see the beginning and the end concurrently and how He is able to forecast with perfect accuracy to the person below what lies ahead. God can say, “You have seen the Underdog balloon,” before we have seen it, because He knows it is only a matter of time before we do. From our limited perspective we can only realize that which is directly in front of us, but by faith we are able to take God at His word. When we do, we are justified, and when we are justified, we are seen by God as glorified. If you believe that by faith, it should bring you much peace, access, and joy!

(Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. Hebrews 11:1-3


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What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. Romans 4:1-4
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If it’s True it’s Not New
Building on the divine standard pronounced in the previous chapter, the Apostle Paul brings us way back to the Old Testament to emphasize that justification by faith alone is nothing new. Using Abraham to demonstrate his point, the passage reveals that his righteousness was accredited to him based solely on his faith and not by his efforts. If Abraham did achieve righteousness by his works he could have sung his own praises, but that was not the case . Abraham was a saved-man before he set out from Ur and before he brought Isaac to the mountain sacrificially; he was saved when he simply believed the Lord and took Him at His word.

Now to him who works…wages are not counted as grace but as debt. Romans 4:4

Romans 4:4 is an incredibly significant doctrine and one that many born-again believers quickly forget. Many Christians comprehend that salvation is not something that can be earned and that it is a free gift from God that we receive by faith—at least initially. The mistake we often make is after we are saved; after we have freely received this gift of grace and buy into a false teaching.

By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)

God Owes Us Nothing

For whatever the reason, it is not unusual for the born again Christian to initiate works in order to earn God’s blessings. It’s often what’s being taught (the false prosperity gospel) and then erroneously enforced when we misinterpret the blessings the Lord bestows before, during, and after we work.

“I tithed, ” we might say, “and this is the reason God blessed me.”

That is wrong theology.

The Lord’s blessings do not cease or increase based upon any work we do. His blessings flow continually. Whether or not we are receiving them is based on positioning, not propositioning. We cannot approach our Lord and proclaim, “Ok Lord, I’ve prayed, I’ve fasted, I’ve poured through the Bible, and gone to church, now how are you going to bless me today?”

These are things that we get to do because it is our desire. If someone tells you that these are things you must do in order to gain or maintain your salvation, call him a liar and run away.

Just teasing.

Tell him the truth. Tell him that to assume God owes us anything is likely the most ridiculous concept we could harbor, for God is a debtor to no man. Any work we do should be a gracious response to what the Lord has done, is doing, and will continue to do regardless of our efforts. It is that faithful model that keeps us close to the spout where His blessings pour out.

He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless. Scarcely shall they be planted, Scarcely shall they be sown, Scarcely shall their stock take root in the earth, When He will also blow on them, And they will wither, And the whirlwind will take them away like stubble. “To whom then will you liken Me, Or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might And the strength of His power; Not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, And speak, O Israel: “My way is hidden from the Lord, And my just claim is passed over by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. Isaiah 40:23-28

  1. What do these passages say about God?
  2. What do they say about us?
  3. What should we consider doing?

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Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight Romans 3:20 What is Justification?

In the biblical sense of the word, what does justification mean? My pastor has always liked to say that its meaning is plainly spelled out in the word itself. “Its just-as-if you never sinned, ” he would say. It helps to recognize that it means much more than just having been forgiven of transgression; it’s a declaration of righteousness. Imagine going to court for a speeding ticket and your case is never called. When you make an enquiry, the judge advises, “We have no record whatsoever of you having committed the offense you speak of.” That’s justification.

Justification is Independent of the Law

The opening verse from Romans 3:20 remind us that no person can be justified; that is made righteous, by the law. Perfect adherence to the law is an impossibility for the earth-bound. While it is true man can justify certain behavior, that in know way suggests that the Father does the same. In His perfection, God cannot and will not wink at our offenses.

Justification is by Faith in the Lord

…The righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 3:22a

There is only one source for justification—Jesus Christ. By faith alone can righteousness be realized.

Justification is For all Mankind

…To all and on all who believe… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:22b-23

The word all in the original Greek language means all–this blessing is for everyone. Why? Because all have sinned and our Father desires that no one should perish. His grace is always there and all a person must do, is by faith take possession of it.

Justification is Exclusively by His Grace
…Being justified freely by His grace Romans3:24a

God has provided one way, not because He is mean or even exclusionary, but because we are, for lack of a better word—stupid. God’s purpose is to keep the formula, the remedy, whatever you want to call it, as simple as possible—one way, two choices—a person either wants salvation or they don’t. The more choices we have, the muddier the water—satan know this and the likely reason there are gazillions of false religions out there. Our loving God is not a God of confusion, but order.

Justification is Free But not Without Cost

Whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood. Romans 3:25

God the Father gave to us His Son to pay the price for all the sin of the world, thus solving the divine dilemma: doling out perfect love and perfect justice simultaneously.

Justification is Not an Achievement

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. Romans 3:27

There are no bragging rights for the guy who rides the bench for the entire game when his team wins. So it is with justification. The justified had nothing at all to do with it, therefore the only one to get the glory is the One who afforded it. We are saved and blessed by grace, not by works. Let us never confuse the fact that because God might bless us while we do works, that the work itself is what brings forth blessings.

Justification Validates the Law

Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law. Romans 3:31

A road sign is designed to do two things: tell you where you are ~and~ where you aren’t. The Law is such a device—it tells us that we are mired in sin and at the same time points us to the solution in Jesus Christ. The law is not dead to those who are justified, but we are in a sense dead to it. The mere fact that the law brought us to the cross proves its inherent value and establishes its purpose.

 

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For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse… Romans 1:20God Did it

God’s creation is undeniably God’s handiwork. No one, having taken it all in could honestly proclaim otherwise. From the smallest atomic particle, to the vastness of space, and to everything in between–it all screams of divine intelligent design.

The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Psalms 19:1

Consider the enormity of our universe. Earth is approximately 93 million miles from our sun. Let’s say that the thickness of a sheet of paper is equal to that distance. If we desired to jump in our spaceship and travel to the next-nearest star, Alpha Centauri, a stack of paper 31 feet high would represent the distance. If we wanted to continue to the boundaries of our galaxy, the Milky Way, the stack would climb to 310 miles. And if we sought to voyage to the edge of the known universe, the stack would soar beyond a whopping 30, 000, 000 miles. We’re talking a kind of hugeness that only God could create.

A majority of scientists have concluded and proved that the universe began in a single event, thus creating for them a weightier fix. They are now faced with the problem of determining what caused this effect, where did this matter come from in the first place, and why and how was the energy set into motion. Believers already know that the answer is not a what, a how, or a why, it’s a Who.

Robert Jastrow, the director of Nasa’a Goddard Institute for Space Studies has said that science cannot answer these questions. Jastrow went on to later say…

“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

Amen to that!

So Why Does Man Deny God?

…Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:21

If God is so inheritantly obvious, why does man suppress the truth? Simply stated, we’re selfish. We do not want to glorify or express gratitude because to do so is to admit we are subject to a Higher Authority. In the same vein, graitutude comes with the notion of indebtment. The selfish only submit to themselves or to an undemanding false idol in order that they might blindly chase worldy desires. It is in steep contrast that the grateful believer continually glorifies and pursues the Father, praying, “Thy will be done.”


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To Be or Not to Be – at PeaceTo all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:7

You’re Either a Saint or an Ain’t

I study my Bible using the King James and the New King James versions. I only point that out because in those editions the recorders occasionally insert italicized words or phrases that are intended to help the reader better understand the text. Unfortunately, sometimes those modest flourishes detract from the Authors’ (Gods’) true intent and muddy the water. In Romans 1:7 we discover one of those regrettable expressions—the phrase ‘to be’ should not be there. Those who are born again are not called to be, or are working towards sainthood—at rebirth all Christians are saints.

But That’s Not What I Wanted to Talk About

In the passage, the Apostle Paul combines the Hebrew shalom and the Greek charis to formulate his all-inclusive greeting, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” It is a greeting Paul uses over and over, and each time with grace always preceding peace. Why? Because it infers that we cannot maintain any type of sustained peace unless we have first received God’s grace through Jesus Christ. Without Jesus any peace we might have is temporary at best. As Paul has written, ‘peace is from God.’

But That’s Not all

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Romans 5:1-2

Our peace is from God and it is also with God. What does that mean? God is proclaiming to everyone that what His Son accomplished on the cross put Him at peace with us. He is not mad at us, He is not disappointed in us, He is not annoyed with us—He is at peace with those, who by faith have accepted His free gift of grace.

But There’s Still More

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

We also have access to the peace of God. The peace we have with God is unconditional (for the born-again believer that is), but the peace we can have of God comes experientially through prayer. It’s not a work we have to do, but rather something we get to do—and why wouldn’t we want to? The promise from God is that when we toss aside our burdens and come to Him in prayer, His peace is our peace.

There is of course the evil one and his henchman that set out to continually remind us that we are not worthy to approach His throne, recalling us to our past sin and spiritual shortcomings. We have all heard his chants, “You haven’t been to church in weeks, ” or “Look at the dust on your Bible, how can you possibly think about going to God in prayer, He won’t hear you.” It’s a lie from the pit of hell. Despite our inadequacies and failures, God is at peace with us and we have none other than Judas to remind us of that.

And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. Matthew 26:47-50

Whenever we are beginning to feel inadequate or unworthy to approach our Lord Jesus, all we need do is remember this passage from Matthew’s Gospel. We all know what Judas did, but we don’t everything he did. Jesus knew everything and of course He knew of this ultimate betrayal. But yet, in spite of knowing that Judas would not repent, Jesus calls him friend, as if to say, “Judas, you have done this deed and the damage is done, but repent my friend, it is not to late.”

Can we not assume if Jesus were at peace with Judas (with all his baggage), that He is also at peace with us? What wretched things could we possibly have done that would exceed the error of Judas? There are none for those who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Saints, we have peace with God and we can have the peace of God whenever we choose.

…And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7


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And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint… Romans 5:3-5

List Your Hopes

So what are you hoping for? A new job? A new spouse? An improved house? What makes your hope-list? Maybe your hope is for someone else; your child perhaps, that he or she will succeed in college, find a suitable mate, a career, and so on and so forth. I submit to you that we should toss them all aside, for these are not hopes, at least by Biblical standards. Please keep reading.

Throw Them All Away, Save One

Maybe you’re thinking, “I’m not throwing away all my hopes. That’s an absurd notion.” Well the truth be told, I’m not suggesting you purge yourself of all hopes, but advising that you get rid of all of them save one—the hope of eternal life with our Lord and Savior in Heaven. Why? Because that singular hope is the only one that will never disappoint. To help us gain a better grasp of the concept, consider this quote from Pete Warren, a Christian Musician residing now in Nashville, TN.

Hope Was the Enemy

“It resonates with me conceptually, because I’ve lived it. I recall over a decade ago, my then wife left me for another man. I had this false hope it’d all work out. I thought it was hope in God, but it was not. I got over it fairly quickly. I realized that “hope (outside of our Heavenly hope) was the enemy.”

To that we might say, “But what about when things work out for the good?”

What the Lord through His word is teaching is that it is reasonable to aspire towards these things, like a good marriage or a better job, but we are not to put our hope in these things for in due time they will all come to an end—even if they end on a good note, end they will.

Consider the hope-list you made earlier. What would you foresee your circumstances if none of them came to pass? Would it be a crushing blow to the person you perceive yourself to be or are you the type to shake it off and commence to fashion new hopes? To what end I’d ask you—to what end–to be disappointed again?

I cannot begin to tell you how many testimonies I’ve heard from Christian athletes who strived and hoped to attain the highest awards their vocations tendered—and got them! We’re talking Olympic Gold Medals, World Series trophies, and Super Bowl rings. Their earthly hopes were realized and inevitability do you know what they all said? Afterwards, after the trophies were stashed away and the cameras were turned off, there was barrenness; a hope–less void. Their achieved hope, they soon discovered, had no sustaining qualities. In many instances, the only saving grace was that in their despair, they came to know Jesus Christ.

For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:30

I submit to you that if your walk with Jesus Christ is not light and easy, the most-likely cause is that you have more than One hope in your life. Think about it. Have you ever said or thought of your Christian faith as hard?

“I share the Good News with my friends, ” you say, “and they roll their eyes. At work people avoid me and make comments behind my back. Let’s not even talk about my family.”

What Were You Hoping For?

When you make a statement like that, chances are you have put to much hope in your friends, your family, and other relationships. Unquestionably we aspire to have good associations with others, but when they falter, do we falter as well? We most certainly will if that’s where our hope lies. The doctrine the Lord is putting forth is this: if we are determined to have one singular focus, that is One Hope, the yoke of Jesus will always be easy, the burden, although still a burden, will be light and we will not be disappointed.

Can you cope with just one hope? The maturing Christian can.

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