Archive for the month “April, 2013”

Pondering Extras on Romans 6:8-14

PonderingExtras

Excerpted from a sermon by Charles  Spurgeon

What is meant by sin having dominion? Look and see. There are men who live in sin and yet they do not appear to know it. Sin has dominion over them by spreading a veil over their hearts, so that their conscience is deadened. They are so enslaved as to be content in bondage. You shall not be so—you shall be enlightened and instructed so that when you sin you shall be well aware of it. Self-excuse shall be impossible for you. Many men live in gross sin and are not ashamed. They are at ease in it and all is quiet. But it shall not be so with you, in whom the life of God has been implanted. If you do wrong, you shall smart for it and your nest shall be stuffed with thorns.

God has so changed your nature by His Grace that when you sin you shall be like a fish on dry land. You shall be out of your element and long to get into a right state again. You cannot sin, for you love God! The sinner may drink sin down as the ox drinks down water, but to you it shall be as the brine of the sea. You may become so foolish as to try the pleasures of the world, but they shall be no pleasures to you—you shall cry out with Solomon, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” That marvelous man tried the world at its best and was disappointed! And you may be quite sure that where he failed, you will not succeed.

If the Lord loves you, sin will never yield you satisfaction. In worldly company you shall be all the while like a man who sits upon thorns, or walks amid vipers and cobras. And in worldly amusement you shall feel as if the house would fall upon you. An ungodly man under the dominion of sin loves sin, but that you shall never do. He wishes he could sin more, for he has upon him the thirst of intoxication! But as for you, you shall never be made happy by evil, but shall groan under it if you ever yield to its power. You shall hate yourself to think you ever consented to its solicitations! You shall be wretched and unhappy and shall find no rest till you return to your Lord. Your nature has been so changed that you cannot give a moment’s entertainment to sin without feeling like one who carries burning coals in his bosom, or
thrusts thorns into his flesh.

No, Beloved, if you are, indeed, a Believer in Christ, you must fight with sin till you die! And, what is more, you must conquer it in the name of the Lord. You are sometimes afraid that it will vanquish you, but if you are of the true seed it cannot prevail. Like Samson, you shall break all its bands. You shall rise superior to habits which now enthrall you! You shall even forget those strong impulses which now sweep you before them. Your inward Graces shall gather force, while the Holy Spirit shall help your infirmities and you shall be changed from glory to glory as by the Presence of the Lord. This assurance is confirmed by the context—“Sin shall not have dominion over you,” because you are dead to it by virtue of your union to Christ.

Pondering Romans 6:8-14

Book-of-RomansClick HERE to read the passage.

How do we live for Christ?

We live in a culture that likes to answer questions like that with answers like this: If you do these three things then you will live for Christ. We are a “doing” culture. If we can check a few things off a list then we feel pretty good about things. In this case the list might include: 1) Go to church every week, 2) Read the Bible every day, 3) Be nice to people, 4) Give money to the church or charity…

The problem with this philosophy is that it doesn’t match up with what the Bible says. According to Scripture, if we want to live for Christ we have to understand who we are before we ever think about what we should do. To say it in a way that sounds smart,  theology dictates praxis. This passage points out two things that we need to understand about who we are and then, once we thoroughly understand this, it gives us two things that we can do. Again, theology dictates praxis!

THEOLOGY

We are dead to sin – When Christ rescued us and we through faith entered into relationship with Him we were “crucified with Christ” and sin died. . It was put to death and we were freed from the influence of sin (see v.7). And yet every day sin rears its ugly head, seemingly rising from the dead, and has its way with us. Why? Because we still have a sin nature (Paul will talk about this at length in chapter 8). Our sin nature breathes new life into sin and it is resurrected until we come to our right minds and kill it all over again. have you ever played one of those games where you have to bop a mole who raises its head out of a hole – but no matter how many times you kill it it keeps showing back up in another hole. That’s what sin is like. Everyday we need to remember that in Christ we are dead to sin. We don’t have to give it new life.

We are alive to God in Christ Jesus – Not only was sin put to death when Christ redeemed us but we were made alive. The hard part for us to understand is that spiritually speaking we were completely DEAD, but were made alive. Everyday is an opportunity for us to experience aliveness in a way that we were not able to before. And because we are alive we do not have to sin. We do not have to give into our sin nature because the Spirit of the LIVING God now dwells within us. We must never forget this. Because when we do our sin nature is crouching at the door of our hearts ready to spring into action.

PRAXIS

Verse 13 says,DO NOT offer the parts of your body to sin as instruments of wickedness, but DO offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life.” So there are things that we can do. There are choices that we can make every day that will help us in our pursuit of living for Christ. But the “doing” comes after the “being.”

So today, reflect on who you are in Christ. You were dead, but now because of Him you are finally alive. You are dead to sin – don’t allow it to come back to life. Then think of practical things that you can do and not do  that will help you thrive in this incredible relationship that God has invited us to enjoy.

Next Week’s Passage: Romans 6:15-23
Memory Verses: Romans 8: 1-12 (again)

Pondering Extras on Romans 6:1-10

PonderingExtrasA few thoughts on this passage from John MacArthur:

Sometimes when we talk about justification, we might assume that if at some point in time we prayed a prayer and God declared us just, that’s all we need to remember. And the fact of the matter is salvation was not just a declaration, it was also a transformation. So that you are a new creation. You are not what you used to be…. I want you to understand that this is absolutely at the heart of the Christian faith. Everything we do as Christians, everything that we look at at the core of our Christian living manifests that transformation and where that transformation is not present, there is no justification.

What happened to us in this union with Christ? Sin’s power was broken. And sin’s penalty was completed. Understand that? So as a believer there are two things I know to be true about myself. One, I am not under the dominion and power of sin. Two, I will never pay the penalty for sin. It’s paid once, that settled it. How does this flesh out in my life? First of all, if I sin, who’s responsible? Do I have to sin? Must I sin? No. If I sin, who’s responsible? I am. I am. Because I have the impulses of righteousness in my new self, and because I have the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, because I have the truth of God, all of which can lead me through temptation and out the other side victoriously; if I succumb, the burden is with me, the responsibility is with me, but I need to know that sin does not have dominion over me.

And if I am struck over and over by besetting sins, the problem is with me not with my salvation. Right? It is not that something is missing unless I’m not truly saved at all and that may be the case. If I have unbroken patterns of sin as I did before whatever spiritual experience I had, there’s evidence to indicate that I was never really saved. But if my salvation is real, besetting sins don’t speak against the newness of my life, they don’t speak against the broken power of sin, they speak against my own commitment to holy things and the responsibility is mine. So I need to know that sin does not have dominion over me.

Pondering Romans 6:1-7

Book-of-RomansClick HERE to read the passage.

“Lord would You capture my mind’s attention and my heart’s affection.”

My dad’s dad died when he was 57.

My dad died when he was 42.

I died when I was 17.

My death was very different from their deaths. Theirs were physical, mine was spiritual. Verse 2 in this passage says that when I became a follower of Jesus I died to sin. And then was promptly raised to the newness of life in Christ. And yet I continue to sin. Paul seems somewhat flabbergasted in this passage. He doesn’t understand how believers (himself included) who have died to sin seem to fall so easily back into sin.

He is making a theological point here. In the next few chapters he is going to expand on this and then get very practical about how a believer should deal with sin. It is important that we correctly understand the theology of the problem before we try to fix the problem itself. Not doing this would be like me trying to fix my car that won’t start by changing the battery when the problem is actually a blown fuse. (There’s a story in that statement.) You can’t fix the problem of sin unless you actually know how sin works.

And yet I see lots of people who try to do this. They are weighed down by the guilt of sin and try to unburden themselves by “doing better” or buying their way out of their guilt, or reading a good self-help book that makes them feel better about themselves, or even by going to church. They don’t realize that the only way to deal with sin is through death.

And that’s the point of this passage. Ponder these verses. They are great preparation for what Paul has to say next.

Next Week’s Passage: Romans 6: 8-14
Memory Verses: Romans 8: 1-12

Pondering Extras on Romans 5:12-21

PonderingExtrasI like what Charles Swindoll had to say about the Law as a moral ledger:

Think of it this way.  A young couple comes comes home from their honeymoon, settles into an apartment, and begins life together.  He works; she works; they spend their earnings and all seems well.  Three years later, mortgage rates drop and they have a golden opportunity to buy a house.  Unfortunately, they have no money for a down payment.  In fact, they have accumulated a few thousand dollars in credit card debt.  To get their finances in order, they consult a financial expert, who helps them establish a budget.  He places their income on one side of the ledger and they list their monthly expenses on the other.  Lo and behold, they have been slowly digging a financial hole for many months and they must adjust their habits.

What changed as a result of seeing the ledger?  Certainly not their financial situation.  Only their awareness of it.  The ledger sheet brought the truth of their fiscal irresponsibility to light, which gave them an opportunity to do something about it.

The Law is a moral ledger sheet that brings to our attention the truth about our moral debt.  With or without the ledger, we remain indebted. Consequently, before the ledger of the Law was given to humanity, “death reigned from Adam until Moses.”  Even those who did not sin against an explicit command as Adam did are nevertheless guilty of sin and deserving of death.

Pondering Romans 5:12-21

Book-of-Romans

There are 3 words in this passage that immediately caught my attention – and they are repeated two times… “how much more”. They got me thinking about how much Christ has done for me – besides just giving me life with Him eternally. So here’s a song I wrote that expresses some of my thoughts. (All I need now is someone to put the words to music.)

HOW MUCH MORE

How much more could Christ have done than what He did so long ago?
And yet today He fills my heart with a joy that overflows.

How much more could He have done than when He set this captive free?
And yet today I taste the fruit of His awesome victory.

How much more could He have done that when He rescued me from sin?
And yet today He gives me hope and helps me find my strength in Him.

How much more could He have done than save my soul eternally?
And yet I find that in this world I live with joy and power and peace.

How much more, O how much more could He do in you and I
If Christ alone became the greatest treasure in our lives.
How much more, O how much more could He really do in us
If our hearts could fully grasp the mighty power of His love. (Refrain)

How much more could He have done than break the chains of doubt and fear?
And yet today when I despair I find that He is always near.

How much more could He have done than to create new life in me?
And yet He fills my soul with songs that I cannot help but sing.

How much more could He have done than make things right with God again?
And yet today He walks with me as if I am His greatest friend.

How much more could He have done than prove His love at Calvary?
And yet today I am reminded of His faithful love for me.

How much more, O how much more could He do in you and I
If Christ alone became the greatest treasure in our lives.
How much more, O how much more could He really do in us
If our hearts could fully grasp the mighty power of His love.

May your soul be captured today by the awesomeness of Christ’s love and recognize how much more He still wants to do in your life.

Next Week’s Passage –  Romans 6:1-7
Memory Verses – Romans 8:1-11

Pondering Extras on Romans 5:1-11

PonderingExtrasGod’s anger at our ungodliness is our main problem in life. If God is resolved to pour out his wrath on us we are in a terrifying position.

Imagine the power of God behind his wrath! When you look up into the sky on a clear night you can see what is called the Milky Way, the name of our galaxy. It has about 200 billion stars in it, they say. You can see maybe a 40-millionth of them on a good night. The disk of the Milky Way is about 100,000 light years across (about six hundred thousand trillion miles) and 2,000 light years thick. Our sun will take about 200,000 years to make a circuit. And besides our galaxy there are, some estimate, 50 million other galaxies.

Now, the God we are talking about here in Romans made this universe with a mere command. He simply spoke and all the galaxies came into being. And he holds them in being by the word of his power. This God is so great that any attempt to portray his greatness falls infinitely far short. But what we can see and feel is this: that if such a great God is angry at us, and has such indescribable power to back up his anger, then we are in the worst of all possible conditions. Nothing could be worse than to be opposed by the wrath of infinite power.

And that is our situation. God is revealing his wrath against our ungodliness now and will bring it to a climax in the last day of judgment (Romans 2:4). Our only hope is if God may provide a way of reconciliation. Verse 10 says that he has: “We were reconciled to God through the death of his Son.” This happened because Christ bore our sins and fulfilled our righteousness. Now by faith we are united to Christ, so his righteousness is imputed or credited to us. And the result is peace. God is no longer angry with us. We are reconciled. There is no condemnation.

John Piper

Pondering Romans 5:1-11

Book-of-RomansClick HERE to read the passage

I love to be around people who are joy-filled people. I don’t run into a lot of them. But I can usually tell the difference between people who are joy filled and people who are driven by the pursuit of happiness. Joy filled people are usually happy. Those driven by the pursuit of happiness usually are not.

This passage has several things to say about joy and why believers have good reasons to rejoice.

Verses 1-2: Joy comes from our relationship with God and understanding what He has done for us. Having been justified through Jesus and having been granted access into God’s amazing grace is the foundation for our joy. It is something we should remind ourselves of everyday. Because of the gospel, believers live boldly and intentionally in the present but our lives are firmly rooted both in the past (in what God has done) and in the future (in what God is yet to do.) We, therefore, rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Because believers are a people of hope, we don’t get all bent out of shape by things that happen in the here and now.

Verses 3-5:  In fact, suffering can actually be a cause for rejoicing for believers. This is something that the world around us does not understand at all. But because we understand that suffering has a purpose and because to know that God is in complete control we can deal with suffering in a way that reflects our faith in the goodness and greatness of God. We don’t have to like going through suffering but it is not something that has to lead to despair or doubt or discouragement. Instead it can lead us to cling even more closely to God and find our joy in Him. We rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us.

Verses 9-11: Reconciliation is an incredible word. It means that enemies who were once involved in a bitter war have made peace. Think about it. We were once enemies of God and He was determined to exact His justifiable wrath upon us. BUT… because of Jesus that is no longer necessary. Through the cross we have been reconciled to God. This is great cause for rejoicing. No longer do we have to fear God’s vengeance. No longer do we have to wonder what happens when we die. No longer do we have to live with the guilt of our sin. No longer is life meaningless. No longer do we have to keep trying to fuel our lives with the emptiness of this world. No longer is lasting joy just a pipe dream. We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Next Week’s Passage: Romans 5:12-21
Memory Verses: Romans 8: 1-10

Pondering Extras on Romans 4:21-31

PonderingExtrasPaul says, “If those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified” Romans 4:14. In other words, the “promise” of God’s grace was meant to be received by “faith”, not earned by what he calls “Being of the law” – a phrase that probably implies relying on our religious culture or morality rather than on God’s grace. John Piper

It becomes more clear now why and how his faith brought  righteousness to Abraham: it was because he depended on the Word of God, and did not reject the grace that God promised. This relationship between faith and the Word is to be continually maintained and committed to memory. John Calvin

Abraham trusted God even though God gave him no proof, nor even a sign. Rather, there were only mere words promising things which by nature were impossible. John Chrysostam

Abraham worshiped and served a big god. he understood his Maker to be immensely more powerful than any human impossibility. And from him we learn two important lessons about faith.

  • Genuine faith is strengthened when we must wait on God’s promises to be fulfilled. When we must wait to receive something the lord has promises, we gradually turn our eyes away from circumstances to look instead on the greatness and faithfulness of God.
  • Genuine faith is directly proportional to our knowledge of God. As we fully comprehend His nature, our faith cannot help but grow.

Charles Swindoll

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