Measuring Up {Romans 7}

11:59 PM

By Becky Austin

I'm sure that Paul knew every detailed letter of the Law as did many of the Jewish people he was trying to teach about salvation. As Chapter 7 begins, Paul is using an analogy to show his listeners that although the Law is binding, there is a way to be freed from it. According to Jewish law, a woman was obligated to stay married until her husband died.  But if he died, she was free to marry another.  Through the death of Jesus, on a spiritual level, a similar thing occurred. “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.” (V4) Jesus did away with our obligation to the Law and became like the "new husband". Our loyalties were shifted from being enslaved to serve the Law and we gained freedom to serve Jesus, and to bear spiritual fruit for God. 

We are no longer bound to the Law but that doesn't mean the Law has no value or purpose.  In fact, Paul says it serves an important role. "If it had not been for the Law, I would not have known sin".  The Law shows us the character of God.  It shows us the righteousness and holiness of God.  “So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (v12). 

The Law is not what brings us a death sentence spiritually.  Paul recognizes that it is the sinful nature of our flesh that wants to entice us to do the  opposite of the Law that is the true threat to us.   Unfortunately, he also realizes that even though we are spiritually given God's grace and eternal salvation, we still have bodies of flesh to contend with.  “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." (v 14-15)

Do you struggle as Paul did with wanting to please and honor God but your flesh keeps tripping you up? “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. " ( V22-23) As a Christian, this can be very discouraging. And guess what....
That's just what Satan wants you to be.  He wants you to quit, throw in the towel, or maybe he wants you to keep trying harder and harder in your own strength until you exhaust yourself or get swallowed up in defeat and failure.   

Perhaps you ask the same question Paul did. “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  (v24).  Notice he didn't ask "What" but " Who".   Paul, who encountered the risen Jesus on the dusty road to Damascus, knew that it wasn't his failures in the flesh  that he should focus on but the perfect work of the risen, glorified Christ whose blood covers all our sins and failures. " Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! "

We're not going to be perfect in these bodies of flesh.  We don't have to be.  We're perfectly represented to God because Christ dwells in us and He is perfect. Living this life is a process of letting The Holy Spirit continue to work within our hearts to mold us, teach us, transform us and draw us deeper and deeper in a dependency relationship with Jesus. Even our failures can be tools of transformation if surrendered to Jesus. 

    " My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. " Psalm 73:26


Winning The Battle Over Sin {Romans 6}

1:25 AM

By Sue Desmarais

This past week has been one of the hardest weeks ever for me! A very close friend’s husband lost his battle with opioid drugs and alcohol addiction. The sad truth is, he died just days after he had told his wife he was ready to turn his life around and come back to be the husband and father God had ordained him to be. His heart desired to turn/repent and do things God’s way, but he couldn’t free himself from the control the drugs now had over his body.

The truth is, he is just one of many!

Sin starts out masking itself as something to be desired. Sin is FUN---enjoyable! Holiness is dull, boring and no fun at all! Right? That what our enemy would like us all to think. No one takes the first drink of alcohol determined to become an alcoholic, or prescriptions drugs planing to become dependant on them to function. No one lusts after things not promised to them in hopes that whatever it is will take them down a path that can ultimately destroy their life and others, especially those they love most! We all think we’re above all that. Just a little won’t hurt, we’ll be able to stop at anytime. I bet most, if not all of us, can recall a time when those very thoughts, or some like them swirled in your mind. What’s important is what we did with those thoughts! This is what Paul is addressing here in chapter 6.

The word that came to mind most as I read over Romans 6 is, SURRENDER. Each of us have a choice before us daily. All of us must choose each day to surrender to the world’s sin, or God’s righteousness. Hear me when I say, you will surrender and become a slave to one or the other, which is why chapter six is so crucial to the book of Romans, because here is where Paul let’s us know that we can live in victory over sin and how; for Christ’s death and resurrection not only paid the penalty for our sin, but also provided the power that we need to overcome sin on a daily basis.

There is so much found in this one chapter that I have struggled on what and where to focus my post, but I finally settled on where we receive the power for freedom from sin!! For, I know none of us, if given the choice, would choose to live as a slave to sin’s power to destroy us and others. The victory over sin is found in Romans 6:3-4, Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Baptism is the picture of Jesus’ death (standing in the water -death on the cross), burial (going down under the water) and resurrection (being raised up out of the water to a new life).

Paul goes onto tie these verses with his  first command in Romans 6:11, “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” “Even so” means, just as Christ died for our sin, so you too should count yourselves in Him to be done with it. Just as Christ has risen from the dead and now lives far removed from sin, so you too should live in Him, since in the future you will live forever with Him in heaven.”

It’s also important to note that the word,“consider” is in the present tense which means, “keep on counting this to be true.” However, we won’t count it to be true because we feel dead to sin and alive to God, but rather because God Word says that it’s true! Victory over sin begins in our minds, and Paul will go on to speak more about this concept in the chapters to come.

For now, I’ll leave you with Paul’s last words in chapter 6, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (6:23). We’ve been given a gift, the most precious gift. God would never demand anything from us without also giving us the ability to do it! He has given us everything we need in Christ Jesus our Lord. Surrender to Him and His righteousness (way of doing things) and you WILL have all you need to live a victorious life this side of paradise.

I love this song by Nicole C. Mullins It’s a great reminder of what can happen when we call on Jesus:


Rejoice in Suffering {Romans 5}

4:06 AM

By Lisa Thayer

When I initially read this chapter, I thought, there’s nothing more to be said.  This is perfect!  So I read it again, looking for something that stood out.   Then I remembered why I thought this chapter was so good – I had studied it and written about it last year. 

I have been in a state of busyness at my home and having already written something previously has helped me out this week.  I hope you enjoy this chapter as much as I have.

Many people feel it isn’t right for God to judge us because of Adam’s sin.  We confirm our unity with Adam by our own sins.  We are made of the same stuff and are prone to rebel, and we are judged for the sins we commit.  Because we are sinners, it isn’t fairness we need – it’s mercy.  

Paul reminds us in verses 13 and 14 that for thousands of years the law had not yet been explicitly given, yet people died.  The law was added, he explains in 5:20, to help people see their sinfulness, to show them the seriousness of their offenses, and to drive them to God for mercy and forgiveness.  This was true in Moses’ day, and it is still true today.  Sin is a deep discrepancy between who we are and who we are created to be.  The law points out our sin and places the responsibility for it squarely on our shoulders.  But the law offers no remedy.  When we are convicted of sin, we must turn to Jesus Christ for healing.

We see in 5:14 that Adam is the pattern.  If you’ve ever sewed or knitted, you follow a pattern.  Adam is the representative of created humanity.  Christ is the representative of a new spiritual humanity. 

In verses 15-19 we understand that we are all born into Adam’s family – the family line that leads to death.  All of us have reaped the results of Adam’s sin.  We have inherited the guilt, a sinful nature or the tendency to sin, and God’s punishment.  Because of Jesus, we can trade judgment for forgiveness.  We can trade our sin for Jesus’ righteousness.  Christ offers us the opportunity to be born into his spiritual family – the family line that begins with forgiveness and leads to eternal life.  If we do nothing, we have death through Adam; but if we come to God by faith, we have life through Christ.

What we have as Adam’s children:
* Ruin 5:9
* Sin 5:12, 15, 21
* Separation from God 5:18
* Disobedience 5:12, 19      
* Death 5:12, 16, 21
* Judgment 5:18
* Deliverance 5:10, 11
* Law 5:20

What we have as God’s children:
* Rescue 5:8
* Righteousness 5:18
* Eternal Life 5:17, 21
* Relationship with God 5:11, 19
* Obedience 5:19
* Deliverance 5:10, 11
* Grace 5:20

John Piper says, “1) First, it humbles us morally and intellectually.  Morally, because I must admit I not only do bad things, but I AM bad.  I not only need natural training, I need supernatural rebirth.  Something about me needs to die and something new needs to be created.  I am deeply in need for something beyond what I can produce.  And I am humbled because this doctrine of original sin, pushes the ability of my reason to the limit of its powers and leaves me behind.  Most of us will have to settle for a large dose of mystery here.  How are we connected to Adam such that it is just for his sin to be counted as our sin, and just for us to be condemned?  Paul does not make that explicit.  We do not doubt the justice of God; we doubt our own ability to explain it.  The doctrine of original sin is therefore morally and intellectually humbling truth.

2) It deepens our gratitude for salvation.  The more we know about our fallen condition, the more grateful we should feel that we are saved.  This is why Paul erupts with thanksgiving in Romans 6:17, “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart.”  Knowing that we are not just sinners but “slaves of sin” will make us sing for joy to be justified from sin’s guilt and delivered from sin’s power.”

Jonathan Edwards puts it this way, “This doctrine teaches us to think no worse of others, than of ourselves:  it teaches us that we are ALL, as we are by nature, companions in a miserable helpless condition: which under a revelation of the divine mercy, tends to promote mutual COMPASSION.  And nothing has a greater tendency to promote those amiable dispositions of mercy, forbearance, longsuffering, gentleness and forgiveness, than a sense of our own extreme unworthiness and misery, and the infinite need we have of the divine pity, forbearance and forgiveness, together with a hope of obtaining mercy.”