Thursday, December 21, 2017

Romans 8

Romans 8:1-4 – Not Condemned

In chapter 7 Paul explained justification and sanctification and that we have a sinful nature.  Then he gives us the most important truthful words in the Bible.  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”Rom. 8:1.  Because of Jesus who took the punishment for our sins when He died on the cross, we are now free from the wrath of God that we deserve.  We were all condemned by God for our sins, but Jesus declared us righteous and through our faith and belief in Him.  We are not and never will be condemned.   Thank you Jesus!

The purpose of this chapter in Romans is to assure believers.  All condemnation of Christians is forever finished!  There may be times when we don’t feel the peace of God, but we do have that peace.  It’s not about feelings.  God is your Father no matter your past.  This is done by God’s power alone.  We are His children and there is future glory waiting for us.

Principle:  There is no condemnation for believers in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:5-11 – Not the Same

Paul tells us there are two kinds of people.  There are those who live according to the sinful nature and those who live according to the Spirit.  Let’s look at the characteristics of each.
Those who live by their sinful nature:
Set their minds on their desires
Their mind is death
Their mind is hostile toward God
They do not belong to Christ
Do not submit to God’s law nor can they do so
Cannot please God

Those who live by the Spirit:
Set their minds on what the Spirit desires
They have life and peace
They are not controlled by sinful nature, but the Spirit
The Spirit of God lives in them
They belong to Christ
Their body is dead to sin, yet Spirit is alive because of righteousness
They will be raised to life with a mortal body as Christ was raised

To which group do you belong?
Where are you not living according to the Spirit?
Where in your life are you still controlled by sinful desires?
What in your life displeases God?

Principle:  God gives believers new desires

Romans 8:12-17 – Not Alone

Paul tells us Christians have an obligation, because we are joined to Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  Jesus delivered us from God’s wrath.  We are obligated to be obedient.  As a Christian we enjoy many privileges.  He has given us a new nature and a new identity.  We are empowered by His Spirit who now lives in us.  Through the Holy Spirit living in us we are guided and directed to walk Christ-like.  We are adopted into God’s family.  We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.  He is our Father and we belong to Him forever.  We share in His glory as we share in His suffering.  We are predestined to be conformed to His likeness.  Nothing can separate us from God and His love.

We have additional benefits from being a child of God.  Matthew 6:7-8 tells us that God knows what we need before we ask.  Hebrews 12:7-11 tells us He disciplines us like a Father and through our discipline righteousness and peace are produced.  1 John 3:1-3 tells us of His great love for us and when he appears we will be like Him.  With this hope we are purified just as He is pure.

Principle:  Christians have an obligation to live by the Spirit, because they are sons of God.

How are you living as an obedient adopted child of God?
How will you thank Him for His great love?

Romans 8:18-22 – Creation Groans

Paul tells us our sufferings don’t compare to the future glory that God will reveal to us.  Even creation waits in eager expectation and is subjected to frustration as it waits for liberation from decay.

Paul suffered and the Lord Himself suffered so why do we think we should be exempt?  We all suffer in this life.  We suffer through death of loved one, divorce, disease and sickness.  We suffer when our family and friends disappoint us.  It’s part of living in this fallen world.  As bad as our pain and sufferings are, the glory that awaits us is immeasurable.  Our suffering will be short compared to our eternal sharing in the glory of our God.

What is this glory that will be revealed to us?  Glory means honor or distinction, great praise, a state of splendor and absolute happiness, gratification or contentment, splendor and bliss of heaven.  Believers will receive honor and reward for good works done for Jesus.  They will experience God’s glory.  They will have renewed bodies like Jesus.  They will experience eternal joyous worship and service to God.  They will experience a deeper intimacy with God and be in His unlimited presence.

Creation refers to the earth including the animals and nature not humans.  The world is not what God created it to be so it waits as we wait for God to rid it from evil and decay.  It is experiencing birth pangs.  We see this in earthquakes, floods, storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes just to name a few.  All violence and death in the animal kingdom are the result of the curse resulting from man’s sin.  One day the world will be renewed and there will be a new heaven and a new earth. 

Creation is God’s world.  He made it, but it is not what He created it to be.  The world has value because God created it and He values it.  We are to respect it and value it, but we must not worship it.  We are to praise and worship God and thank Him as its Creator.

Principle:  Our suffering will be short compared to our eternal sharing in the glory of our God.

Romans 8:23-25 – Christians Groan

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”Rom. 8:22-23. 

We are also feeling birth pangs and are yearning for the time when we will be in heaven with our Lord and when our grief and pain will be removed and our bodies will be made perfect.  Paul compares our groaning with that of child birth.  Child birth is filled with hope.  The pain is real, but will end and is full of hope. 

The longer we wait the more we are encouraged in our trials because of the hope of future glory.  Our hope is sure and certain, not wishful thinking.  We can be confident about God’s plans for the future.  God will do what He has promised so we eagerly and patiently wait.

For what are you hoping and waiting?

Romans 8:26-27 – The Holy Spirit Groans

“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 with groans that words cannot express.”Rom 8:26. 

Often times we don’t know what or how to pray.  As soon as we get tired in waiting, the Holy Spirit is right alongside helping us along.  Maybe we are overwhelmed with circumstances and want to pray, but just don’t have the right words.  God searches our hearts and knows our minds.  He has given us help.  He has given us the Holy Spirit who groans to the Father on our behalf and prays for us according to God's will.

Why do we need to pray?  We pray because we are weak and need God's help, but prayer can be hard work and a struggle.  Look at those in the Bible and see those who prayed like Moses, Elijah, David or the Lord Jesus Himself.  Jesus prayed often and depended on His Father for all things.  He is a model for us to pray at all times and for all things.  Our weakness should cause us to go to God in prayer.

Prayer is not easy.  The Christian life is not easy.  We know we should pray and we want to pray, but sometimes the words just don’t come easy.  We need to remember who we’re talking to.  We’re talking to the Creator of the universe.  We need to praise Him, confess to Him, and thank Him. 

Principle:  Remembering the Spirit’s intercession comforts suffering believers.

How does knowing the Spirit prays for you encourage you to pray?

Romans 8:28-30 – The Golden Chain

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who live him, who have been called according to his purpose.” - Rom 8:28.  This is one of the most familiar verses in the Bible.  He is not talking to everyone.  He is talking to Christians.  He is saying that no sinful person can change God’s purpose or plan for the life of a Christian.  The good he’s talking about is to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus.  He is saying as long as you love God, He will work everything together for good for you.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those he predestined he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”Rom. 8:29-30.  These 5 truths have been referred to as the “Golden Chain of Five Links”.  These are truths that have been forged in heaven – foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. 
Foreknowledge – God knew before we were born who would belong to Him.
Predestination – God determined a person’s destiny beforehand, a destiny to be conformed like Jesus.  He marked a glorious future for those who love Him.
Called – God summoned believers to come to Him.
Justified – God declares us not guilty because of Jesus’ work on the cross.
Glorified – God makes us just like Jesus – He sees us as glorified.

Paul doesn’t say we feel or we hope.  He says we know.  We know God is working all things together for our good because He has an eternal purpose for us that includes salvation.  He has predestined us to be conformed to be like His Son.

Principle:  God is sovereign and in control of a believer’s life from start to finish.

How might God be working for your ultimate good?

Romans 8:31-39 – Salvation Secured

“What, then, shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  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?  Who will bring any charge against those who God has chosen?  It is God who justifies.  Who is he that condemns?  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.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?”Rom. 8:31-35.

Paul asked these questions in reference to these 5 wonderful truths we see in verses 28-30.  The reason that all things work together for good is that our salvation is from the Lord.  He originated it before the foundation of the world and will complete it at His second coming.  We are secure.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God.

What do you say to these questions?
What is your testimony?
How does the assurance of the love of God strengthen you?

Paul testifies, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is Christ Jesus our Lord.” Rom. 8:38-39.

Are you absolutely convinced of God’s great love for you?

Principle:  God’s great love for us is demonstrated in Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us on the cross.

Next time we will study Romans 9.  Have a blessed day and thanks for visiting my site.  Hope to see you here again.  --  I encourage you to trust in Jesus.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Romans 7 The Law and the Gospel

Romans 7:1-6 – Released from the Law

Paul is speaking to those who know the law.  He tells them that the law has authority of man only as long as he lives.  He uses the example of a married woman being bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if he dies she is released from the law of marriage and can remarry.  But if she remarries while her husband is still alive, she is an adulteress. (Rom. 7:1-3)

Paul says we also died to the law through the body of Christ so we might belong to another, the one who was raised from the dead in order that we might bear fruit to God.
We were controlled by the sinful nature and sinful passions aroused by the law which was at work in our bodies so we bore fruit for death.  But now by dying to what bound us, we have been released from the law so we can serve in the new way of the Spirit.  (Rom. 7:4-6)

Believers have died to sin and the law.  We have been freed from sin and are released from the law.  We now walk in the newness of life and serve in newness of the Spirit.  This victory is tied to our union with Christ in His death and resurrection.  We are release from the law and the power of sin like the woman is released when her husband dies.  We are now joined to the crucified risen Lord.  We are remarried to Christ so we might bear fruit for God.

What area in your life do you need to be widowed from and married to Jesus?

The Jews thought the law was given to make us holy, but Paul says the law served to arouse us to sin.  The law is holy and good.  We are the problem.  Just because we have died to the law doesn’t mean we can live the way we want and do whatever we please.  We died to the law so that we are legally free to be joined to Christ and His authority and as our husband.

The law is not the answer to our sin problem, because all of us have violated the law many times and will continue to do so.  You can post the commandments on your refrigerator and try to keep them by your own strength, but it won’t work.  The law just arouses our sinful passions and will not quench our sinful desires.  Because of the power of Jesus, we are free from the condemnation of the law and the power of sin is broken.

Are you a Christian?  You cannot be partly Christian.  You are either dead or alive, born or not born.  It is not a gradual process.  You are or you are not a Christian.  If you are not a Christian, you are under condemnation of the law.  Put your trust in Christ and then you will be released from the law and joined with Christ.  Then you can bear fruit for God.

Principle:  We are released from sin through Christ to bear fruit for God.

Romans 7:7-13 – The Purpose of the Law

Paul says the law is not sin and that he would have not known what sin was except through the law.  Apart from the law sin is dead.  He uses the example of “do not covet”.  Once he was alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and he died.  The commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.  Sin deceived him and through the commandment put him to death.  The law is holy and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.  In order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in him through what was good so sin might become utterly sinful.  (Rom. 7:7-13)

Paul said the law isn’t sinful and he chose the commandment of “do not covet” as an example.  To want others possessions is a sin.  He didn’t know this until the law was shown to him.  The law is good, but it’s our human nature that seems to want things just because God forbids them.  The law is holy and righteous because God gave it and God is holy and perfect.  God intended the law to help people.  He says the law is good.  It is sin that causes death.

Romans 7:14-25 – The Law and Our Struggles

Paul says he knows the law is spiritual, but he is unspiritual and sold as a slave to sin.  He doesn’t understand what he does.  For what he wants to do he doesn’t do and what he hates he does do.  It is the sin living in him and nothing good lives in him in his sinful nature.  He has the desire to do good, but doesn’t carry it out.  (Rom. 7:14-25)

Paul is speaking of the past in 7-13, before his conversion.  Verses 14-25 is after his conversion.  There is a lot of controversy of whether Paul is speaking of himself or not in these verses.  Some think it was before he was saved.  Some think it was when he was a new believer and some when he was a mature believer. 

Either way I think we can all identify with him.  The Christian life is not easy.  Paul struggled with his own sin conflict with sin.  We all have struggles against sin and we are not perfect.  We will continue in conflict with sin as long as we live in this world.  We have to depend on the Holy Spirit to guide when tempted.  We like Paul should give thanks to God for Jesus who rescued us.

How has Jesus rescued you?
Where do you struggle in your Christian life?

I have been a Christian most of my life and have studied the Bible over the years.  You would think because of this I would feel better about myself, but I’m like Paul and I don’t.  I think it’s because the more I study and experience Him the more He reveals my sins to me.  I want to do what I should, but my sin nature sometimes keeps me from it.  I will never arrive to perfection in this life.  I am constantly learning and growing in my faith.

This is a very difficult passage to understand, but that is not Paul’s main concern.  His concern is not to share his personal experience, but to tell us that God’s law is not evil.  He is trying to show that the law bring conviction of sin and that we are powerless and need Christ’s power to save us.

Principle:  The Christian life is a struggle, but Jesus rescues us.

Next time we will study Romans 8.  Have a blessed day and thanks for visiting my site.  Hope to see you here again.  --  I encourage you to trust in Jesus.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Romans 6

Romans 6:1-14 – Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

Paul emphasized God’s grace, but some suggested to get more of grace they should do more sinning.  He strongly opposed this idea.  He is saying that sin ended when we became Christians even though we still do wrong things.  We should not let sin control our lives anymore.  We were buried with Him in baptism so we too are raised like Christ to a new life.  Paul says we died to sin and repeats it several times throughout the chapter, because he wants us to really get his message on living a godly life.  We are rescued from sin’s power.  We still sin, because we are not perfect, but sin doesn’t control us.   (Rom. 6:1-4)

Principle:  Christians died to sin and were buried with Him in baptism to live a new life. 

The word “died” refers to past action.  We are not “dying to sin” nor are we “continuing to die”.  We are “dead to sin”, when we believe in Jesus.  Christians no longer respond to sin.  Christians are dead to sin and will stay dead.  Dead is dead!

There is an uniqueness of believers.  Once sin defined us and sin was our life which gave us our identity.  Now that Christ is our life, believers have a new identity. 

As a Christian your identity is now in Jesus and you cannot return to practicing sin.  You can sin and you do sin, but now sin collides with who you are in Jesus.  Jesus has won the battle against sin for everyone who believes.

If we were united with Him in death, we will also be united in His resurrection.  If we died with Christ, we believe we will also live with Him.  Our old self was crucified with Him so we will not be a slave to sin, because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. (Rom. 6:5-7).

When you decide to turn from your sin, baptism follows.  Baptism is taking part in His death and resurrection.  Baptism means to immerse.  Our sinful lives end and we rise again to a new life to live and serve Christ.  You begin a new relationship with Christ.  We were redeemed when Jesus died, was buried, was resurrection, and was raised.  This actually happens the instant we believed.  We express this symbolically in water baptism.

Christians are united to Christ by our faith.  Our old nature died on the cross with Christ and now sin has no power over us.  When Paul speaks of our old self, he is speaking of a life of evil desires, a life of self-indulgence, and a life controlled by our sin nature.

If we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.  We know He was raised and cannot die again and death no longer has mastery over Him.  He died to sin once for all and now He lives to God. (Rom. 6:8-10).

Christ died only once for all people then, now and in the future.  He will never die again.  Our resurrection will be like His resurrection.  Like Christ we will live to give honor to God.

How does your life show you are honoring God?
What does your union with Christ mean to you?

Being a Christian is not a lot of do’s and don’ts.  Christians are only human and not perfect so we will sin.  God will not stop you from sinning, but He will always forgive you when you do.  Sin will not be the master of your life, because you are under grace.  God is the master.  We will live to God.

As Christians we are to be ambassadors for Christ.  Being died to sin and alive in Christ in your home, workplace, community or church by setting a good example, making sure our children are involved in prayer, Bible study and church, not being selfish, being a witness, and  by worshipping and praising God in all circumstances. 

Principle:  Christians are united with Christ in death and will be united with Him in His resurrection.

Romans 6:15-23 – Slaves to Righteousness

We should not sin because we are under grace.  When you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey – whether you are slaves to sin leading to death or obedience that leads to righteousness.  Thanks to God that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. (Rom. 6:15-18).

Either Christ is your master and you obey Him or sin is your master and you obey it.  There is no middle ground.  Everybody serves something or someone.  When God saves you, He frees you from sin and makes you a slave of righteousness.

Who are you serving – sin or God?

Paul is putting this in human terms because we are weak in our natural selves.  When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.  You benefited nothing at that time.  Those things result in death.  Now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefits you receive lead to holiness and eternal life.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:19-23).

God has freed you from sin, but if a Christian begins to sin, they will become more and more wicked.  Sin begins in small ways, but one sin follows another.  Then worse sin follows.  If Christians obey God, they will begin to live a holy life and please God.

Paul explains that Christians used to be slaves to sin and sin was like a master and controlled their lives.  They received no wages and no benefits for their efforts.  Death was the only result of their efforts.  God’s grace is a free gift that no one deserves.  It is the gift of eternal life.  This gift is received when you invite Jesus into your life.  Jesus is the only one who could pay the price to free you from sin by dying on the cross.

How can we win over sin since we have a sinful nature?  If you have never trusted in Jesus, you are hopelessly and helplessly under the reign of sin.  Christ died and rose again to free you from sin.  Let Him be your new Master.  Let Him have authority over your body, obey His Word, and remember He redeemed you.  Look forward to a glorious eternal life free from sin in His presence.  You won’t be sinless in this life, but you can grow in holiness and win over sin.

Principle:  You can win over sin by looking forward to your glorious future of eternal life in Christ Jesus.

Next time we will study Romans 7.  Have a blessed day and thanks for visiting my site.  Hope to see you here again.  --  I encourage you to trust in Jesus.

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