Posted in Devotions

Romans 11 Part 1–The Conundrum That is Israel

Paul deals with the Issue of Israel.  Not an easy issue.  God sent Jesus to restore the relationship with His people.  It was only after Israel rejected Christ, that the Gospel spread to the Gentile world.  First it was Peter at Joppa, and then throughout the world through Paul, Barnabus, Silas, and a host of others that the Gospel has spread over all the earth.

God’s initial plan was for Israel to be a nation of priests.  It was always God’s desire that Israel would be the ones that spread the good news across the earth. Yet, as many rejected Christ, God made a way to spread the Gospel to and through the rest of humanity.  Still, God loved His nation, Israel.  Paul makes clear that He will continue to pursue them with an unconditional love.

No matter the outcome, we can be assured that God will save those He chooses to save.  Since we are saved by grace, God’s grace can extend to His national people in any form He sees fit.  In short, We as Christians saved by grace have no place or right to judge to whom God shows mercy.  If it is God’s choice to save all Israel, we rejoice as it was through Israel that we were saved.  If He chooses to save only a remnant, that too is God’s call.  We need only be grateful for our salvation, and we should remain committed to tell anyone that can hear the truth of Jesus!

God Bless You

 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”[a]And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”[b] So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, as it is written:

“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
    eyes that could not see
    and ears that could not hear,
to this very day.”[c]

And David says:

“May their table become a snare and a trap,
    a stumbling block and a retribution for them.
10 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
    and their backs be bent forever.”[d]

Ingrafted Branches

11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!

Posted in Devotions

Romans 10–The ABC’s Of Salvation

There were no more zealous a people than God’s chosen people the Israelites. The problem was not their zeal; no, instead it was where their zeal was focused that left them empty. They did not understand the heart of their Heavenly Father, and His desire to make salvation straightforward.  Here, in Romans 10, Paul sets out the ABCs of salvation.  

First, and probably most importantly for the Romans, Paul wanted them to grasp that God’s salvation was for ANYONE.  Our Father did not limit the redemptive power of His grace to the Jewish nation only.  In several of Paul’s letters to the churches, Paul made clear that in Christ there is no distinction, Jew or Greek, male or female , slave or free.  When the Father created us, He wanted fellowship with us ALL.  

It was people’s sin that separated them from God, and sadly from each other. Even in this generation, with all the information in the world at our fingertips, we still have failed to recognize that it is our sin and not our God that separates us. I hear the last line of our national pledge ringing so loudly, “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for ALL!”  If salvation is the topic, then that salvation is first and foremost for ALL!

Second, salvation comes from BELIEVING.  Believing in God and believing that it is Christ’s sacrifice that saves us.  We can never sin enough to overcome Christ’s sacrifice.  Still, one has to believe that it is in fact, Christ’s sacrifice and not our own, that cancels the debt of our sin.  

I personally struggle, even now, with the idea that my self-righteousness or sacrifices somehow act as a payment for my wicked heart.  Or even worse, that my behavior somehow buys me the “Gold Package of Christianity”.  You know, the one that allows me a seat next to James and John…Lol. The reality is that I have done nothing, nor have I avoided any big sin that raises me to some “Heavenly Gold package”.  It is simply my belief that God is God, and that Jesus Christ is enough; that brings salvation.

Finally, our salvation comes from our CONFESSION that Jesus Christ is Lord!  When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he expressed the truth that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow; in Heaven, on Earth, and under the Earth every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.  People can say God easily and flippantly during their day and in a crowd with little or no reaction.  

When someone speaks the name of Jesus, however, there is an instant and real reaction.  Those who love the Lord react accordingly.  If the name is said in a mean or vain way, we are immediately put into defense mode ready to stand firm for our Lord.  If it is said in a worshipful way, we are joined in that worship.  

Conversely, when one is not a believer, the name of Jesus causes an equally visceral reaction.  People literally become angry and disturbed at hearing the name.  That is what makes the need to confess that Jesus is Lord so important.   

Salvation is not a casual acquaintance with the principles of the Bible. it is instead a personal relationship with the God of the Universe.  We have to submit to the Lordship of Jesus in our lives, not simply make the sign of the cross on our chest, in some proverbial end zone after a touchdown. We must choose, as Joshua did, to serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

Our faith is as simple as ABC! If ANYONE CONFESSES that Jesus Christ is Lord, and BELIEVES that God has raised them from the dead, they will be saved.

God Bless You

Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.”[a] But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”[b] (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’”[c] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”[d] that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”[e] 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[f]

Posted in Devotions

Romans 9–God Still Calls the Shots

Sometimes in the confusion of trying to understand how God works in our lives, we create an image of God that best fits our comfort level.  There are those that picture God as a mean and ferocious being that seeks ways to destroy the ones he does not like.  At the other end of the continuum there are those that see God as nothing more than a cosmic Santa who is only here to grant our every wish. Still others see God as an aloof and distant being who made a great creation but then lost interest.

The truth is that we will never fully understand the great God of the universe.  His plan is so much more complex and intricate than the most profound minds could contemplate.  What we know is that God does want to be in relationship with us, and He has sacrificed His only Son to provide salvation and redemption for us.   When we set about trying to rationalize the why’s of life, we grow frustrated and disheartened because we would not have managed things the way God manages them.

First, we have to embrace the idea that God is God and has sole right to call the shots.  Whether Jew or Gentile, as God’s chosen, we have to accept His leadership trusting in His flawless execution of life’s plans.  It is difficult to accept, because we want to control our lives.  That is what many scholars would call sin and rebellion.  God calls us to trust Him, follow Him and allow Him to guide us to a full and meaningful life here, and an eternity in His presence.

We do not get to second guess God.  Many have, and they have lived a miserable life.  Faith is trusting in the things we cannot see and hope for God to do.  Like Abraham on Mount Moriah, we have to believe that God will provide, and walk accordingly.  It is neither easy nor instantly gratifying.  It requires a patience only derived from trial and from faith.

We do have to accept that no matter what we feel. We simply must allow God to lead and trust His plan to carry the day.  Otherwise, we will be grasping at a futile image of faith that only ends in our own self-doubt and self-righteousness.  That mix is a concoction that leads to disaster and chaos.

God Bless You

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
    and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”[f]

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”[g] 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”[h] 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea:

“I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
    and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”[i]

26 and,

“In the very place where it was said to them,
    ‘You are not my people,’
    there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”[j]

Posted in Devotions

Romans 8 Promise 4–Nothing can Separate Us!

The Romans could not have been encouraged by any person to the heights Paul lifted them. In this one section of the Letter, Paul assured them of their salvation, encouraged them regarding the trials and struggles of life both being minor compared to the reward God’s chosen had awaiting them.  In addition, Paul reminded the Romans of the overarching nature God’s plan and its purpose in our lives as His kids.

Now, as if saving the best for last, Paul drops the blessing of all blessings on these believers:  NOTHING CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD.  That is game over!  We have all experienced those times when life seems to isolate us from anyone or anything that loves or cares for us.  In the midst of that seemingly hopeless exile, Christians can cling to the truth that absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love.

Yesterday we saw that God is all powerful, all knowing, and in all places and times at once.  Knowing that truth, we can rest assured that there is simply is no way for anyone or anything to pry us from God’s hand.  Paul reminds the Romans that with God the Father behind us, we are more than conquerors.  Whatever we face as His children, we never face it alone.  The most compelling part of the promise is Paul’s detail account of the lengths that God will go to keep hold of us.  In short, there is no one, no height, no depth no length that our Father will not travel reach or face to save and keep us.

He is more than a Superhero in our life; God is the Alpha and the Omega!  He is the undisputed and almighty Ruler of the universe.  Most importantly, He is Dad!  As a dad, even though I am very frail and highly imperfect, I would go to any length, rise to any height, dive to any depth, face any enemy or intruder in defense of my lovely wife and kids.  So, one can only imagine the breadth and power available to the God that uses Earth as His footstool.  Our God loves us with the greater intensity and passion than any creature great or small has for its children.  

Paul’s promise that nothing, (and that means NO THING), can interrupt our relationship and security found in Christ Jesus; should comfort us through any and all circumstance!  Help me, Lord to focus on these wonderful promises and not on my daily interruptions and trials!  Thank You, Lord for this amazing gift.

God Bless You

 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s Everlasting Love

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Posted in Devotions

Romans 8 Promise 3–God’s Plan is Well Formed and Well Executed

In the quiet moments, when one is reflecting on the great and difficult times that have passed through their lives, it is natural to worry and wonder about what lies ahead.  In this fallen world, Christians see little hope of revival and even less hope for the restoration of our land.  We begin to doubt God’s methodology in the world and more especially in our own lives.

It is important to note that those doubts have been living large for hundreds of generations throughout time and all across the world.  Paul tells the Romans to step back and take a breath.  When one understands that our God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent (All Knowing, All-powerful, and in all places and times at once) then it is easier to rely upon and walk in His plan.  Paul says straight out we know that God works all things together for the good to those that know Him and walk with Him.

God knew what our journey contained on the very moment that He said, “Let there be light!” God is never surprised, nor is He ever confused about how to draw a plan together.  He actually knew and directed our paths from time’s beginning and will continue to execute that plan until His return.  We are truly chosen by Him to be in relationship, and each of us should rejoice wholly and solely in that fact. 

As His children, we must refocus our vision from the troubles of our day, and we must place our eyes upon God’s greatness and history of executing His plan.  All of us deserve death and separation from God! Instead, He brings life and fellowship through Christ’s sacrifice, the Holy Spirit’s guidence and comfort, and through the promise of eternal life.  God does work all things, ALL THINGS together for the good of His chosen.  Our minds can no more fathom the significance of that than we can fathom the immense universe and all the workings within it.

The great news is simply that we do not have to understand God’s plan and daily inner workings.  We simply have to trust the God that has taken away condemnation, provides a glorious future with Him in eternity, and imminently and intricately continues to fashion a plan that specifically involves and benefits us until His glorious return.

God Bless You

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

More Than Conquerors

31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 

Posted in Devotions

Romans 8 Promise 2-Today’s Troubles Cannot Compare…

Paul was encouraging the chosen in Rome.  He had been unable to join them thus far, but knew that all roads led to Rome and therefore the Gospel could spread very quickly from Rome to the world.  The first promise of Romans 8 focused on the justification our relationship with God provided.  The next promise centered upon who we are in Christ, and what awaits us as God’s heirs.  

As followers of Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin, the world culture, or to the ravages of the enemy.  Instead, we are reborn.  We are now children of God.  As adopted children, we are entitled to the honor, benefits, and inheritance that any heir would receive. Paul told those he was living with at the time in Corinth, “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation.  the old is gone and the new has come.”

As heirs to the Father, we need not be discouraged by the trials and suffering we endure in our journey.  As Paul so clearly annunciated, “Our present suffering does not compare to the glory that awaits us.” This life is centered in a broken world.  We are surrounded by sinful and broken people.  We are in spiritual war, facing daily attacks and devastations.  Still, in the midst of these present struggles, We have the Holy Spirit to guide, train and comfort us. 

What’s more, We will soon join the Lord for an eternity in His presence.  There, we will no longer suffer.  Sin will be gone, the battle won, and we will stand with our Heavenly Father victorious and as full heirs to His Kingdom. Our minds cannot fathom the amazing eternity that awaits us.  Simply to be in God’s presence, welcome and completely embraced by His love and desire to be in relationship with us will so overwhelm and astound us that we will forget the measly life issues and problems we faced.

Our lives are but a dot on a very long line of infinite eternity.  We can endure whatever comes our way knowing it cannot compare to what we, as His children, have waiting for us in and for eternity!

God Bless You

10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Heirs with Christ

12 So then, brothers,[e] we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[f] of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Future Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 

Posted in Devotions

Romans 8 Promise 1–No Condemnation

Romans 8 contains a treasury of four outstanding promises that should bring peace and assurance to anyone who lives in relationship with Christ Jesus.  In my early years as a professional, I had the opportunity to represent the State of Oklahoma as a prosecutor in Oklahoma County.  During my 4 years as a prosecutor, I led the prosecution of a variety of cases ranging from driving under the influence of alcohol to premeditated murder of a wife by her angry husband.

Prosecuting criminals taught me that when one is found guilty of a crime, that criminal’s act follows him for the rest of his days. In my last jury trial, I tried a truck thief.  He made a career of stealing vehicles and salvaging the parts to fund his nefarious lifestyle.  After presenting the original case to the Jury, I had one juror who was adamant that the well dressed and clean-cut man at the defense table could not have done something so wrong.  

She was prepared to stand up against the other 11 jurors even though the evidence was very clearly pointing to this man’s guilt.  Finally, after 7 hours of deliberation, she caved and voted guilty and convicted the man.  It was then my duty to read the second page of the defendant’s profile. 

I spent the next several minutes recounting to the jury the seven other convictions this defendant had acquired over the last 10 hears. The juror who had fought so diligently on the defendant’s behalf grew ashen.  She was appalled and now enraged at the way she had been duped. The defendant was sentenced to a very long prison sentence and admitted to hundreds of additional thefts he had been involved in.

In Romans 8, Paul gives us the first great promise. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, We will not have a page 2 of our life profile.  Dikaioutai is the Greek word for Justified.  By definition, it means wiped clean—just as if it was never there.  In the verse, we are wiped clean, set back to factory defaults because of the price paid by our Savior.  I recently took ownership of my former company’s computer.  Before I was able to take ownership, however, the tech staff had to remove any trace of the company from it.  They set the computer back to the factory defaults and “viola'”, the computer was in the same condition it had been in on the day it was originally taken from its packaging.

When we accept Christ Jesus as Lord, We are set back to factory defaults–The way the manufacturer intended.  We have no faulty programming; none of life’s viruses or spam.  We are perfectly set to be exactly what our Father and Lord intended us to be. 

God’s original plan is reinstated in our lives, and we can walk in confidence that when accused by the enemy, our slate will be clean, and our lives now prepared to spend eternity in God’s presence.  God’s spirit is constantly working in our lives to justify, sanctify, and eventually glorify us as children of the Almighty God. We are found not guilty, and therefore, not condemned to suffer the consequence of spiritual separation from a loving but Holy God.

God Bless You

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 

Posted in Devotions

Romans 8 –Answers to Life’s Greatest Questions

This week we are going to be examining one of my favorite chapters of the Bible.  Paul was setting out his best understanding of faith to the Roman people and had already clarified the impact of the law on the Jews and the non-Jews.  He delineated how the law was sent to direct, but never to act as a savior.  He made clear that our response to God had always been and is to be sinful and independent. Paul reiterated that only God’s grace and not our adherence to rules and law could repair the wounded sinful lives we have all inherited and live.  

As I read the book of Romans, the first 7 chapters are building and building to a crescendo that is Romans 8.  This week, we will talk through the four great promises in the chapter.  Romans 8 sets to rest once and for all the question of what God’s Love actually means to us.  If, after living in Romans 8 for a time, one is not deeply moved to love God deeply and personally, that person is truly blind to great and amazing truth.

As an introduction, Romans 8 promises that we need not fear the condemnation of the Heavenly Father.  Further, we need not shrink from the trials and circumstances we face.  We can rest in the fact that His gift and reward will so completely dwarf them.  We can also cling to the truth that God is never surprised by our lives or fates.  He not only has a great grasp of our lives but uses the day-to-day events to shape us and to carry out His plan in our lives and the lives of others.  

Finally, we will see the focused and determined love and care of a perfect, immortal, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent Father.  A Dad that rose to the heights, sank to the depths, and jealously clutched His most prized treasure, us!  I must confess that I paid little attention to this most powerful chapter of God’s word until God literally laid it in my lap one Sunday afternoon in the parking lot of a small missionary Baptist church.  Since then, Romans 8 has stood as my treasure of faith and hope.  

God Bless You

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh,[b] God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.[c] And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life[d] because of righteousness. 

Posted in Devotions

Romans 7 Part 2–We Are the Problem

We truly live in a world gone mad.  In every corner and in every category, chaos reigns.  One of the reasons for the chaos that rules the world is people’s unwillingness to take responsibility for their behaviors. While it is extremely prevalent in our culture, it is not a new problem. 

It was first reported when Adam, caught in sin, spoke those unforgettable words, “The WOMAN YOU gave me made me sin!” Since that time passing the buck has been and still is the way we deal with our shortcomings.

Paul did a noble thing in Romans 7, He called himself out.  I know what the law is, but I cannot do what I am supposed to and flourish in doing the things I am not supposed to do.  The sin inside of me rules all!  Poor Paul! 

Well, that has not changed as we have passed through the ages.  We still do everything we are not supposed to do and nothing that we are supposed to do. Oh, sure we have moments that we shine, but, our hearts are always looking for opportunities to do it “our way” and leave God out of it.

Paul is simply helping the Romans to understand it is all our struggle, because we are subject to our own human sinful nature.  We cannot blame the rules for our nature.  Neither can we ever hope to live in a way that those rules will bring us redemption.  We must trust the Lord to provide the redemption we need.  We are unable to provide it for ourselves.  This is the central truth behind salvation by faith in Christ.  Paul is encouraging us to quit trying to do life by ourselves or for ourselves.  Seek God, follow Him, and allow Him to give you the salvation and redemption you so dearly need.

God Bless You

13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin.

Posted in Devotions

Romans 7 Part 1–Clarifying a Legal Issue

Israel was a blessed nation.  Through Israel, God presented the very law and code of life followed by most societies across the globe.  The ideas of valuing what we worship, valuing our parents, valuing Life, marriage, and the property of others were all carefully laid out to the people of Israel as they established themselves as God’s people.

Still, even with God literally speaking and handing the law to these people, they still made a mess of things.  What is worse, they did it with full knowledge and intent.  Paul made it clear; the law is not the problem.  We are the problem.  We are sinful people that do what we want despite our intimate knowledge and experience with the rights and wrongs of life.

While that is the bad news then and now, it is also the good news.  We are no more prepared to live and follow the law than were God’s chosen people.  Infact, with world culture and enemy influence so pervasive through all forms of media it is probably even harder.  That is why we are free from the law and walk under the grace of a loving God that sacrificed all so that we could be free.  

Paul was not delivering a judgement and punishment for our failure; he was delivering hope for our redemption.  We stand free from the law and saved by God’s grace.  That freedom allows us to focus on becoming like Christ; not crossing every “T” and dotting every “I”.  We can cling to the grace of the Lord and walk in freedom not in fear.  Paul was not invalidating the law, simply clarifying Christ’s redemptive power and authority over the law.

As we travel down the path, we must let go of our fear of breaking the covenant with God because of our frailties and imperfections.  Instead, we need to celebrate, live, and share the freedom receive from Christ Jesus.  

God Bless You

Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh,[a] the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

The Law and Sin

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”[b] But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.