Pondering Extras for Romans 6:15-23

PonderingExtrasAccording to tradition, this is how an Eskimo hunter kills a wolf. First, the Eskimo coats his knife blade with animal blood and allows it to freeze. He then adds layer after layer of blood until the blade is completely concealed by the frozen blood.

Next, the hunter fixes his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scent and discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood. He begins to lick faster, more and more vigorously, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare. Feverishly now, harder and harder, the wolf licks the blade in the cold Arctic night. His craving for blood becomes so great that the wolf does not notice the razor-sharp sting of the naked blade on his own tongue. Nor does he recognize the instant when his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his own warm blood. His carnivorous appetite continues to crave more until in the morning light, the wolf is found dead in the snow!

Don’t be fooled by the temptations of sin. Like the wolf, we can get away with it for a while. Eventually, however, its true character is revealed. Sin leads to death and destruction. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. (Romans 6:23)

Pondering Extras on Romans 6:8-14


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 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 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 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 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

Pondering Extras on Romans 4:1-12

One obvious lesson to draw from Abraham’s life is that we are to live a life of faith. Abraham could take his son, Isaac, up to Mount Moriah because he knew God was faithful to keep His promises. Abraham’s faith wasn’t a blind faith; his faith was a settled assurance and trust in the One who had proven Himself faithful and true. If we were to look back on our own lives, we would see the hand of God’s providence all over it. God doesn’t have to speak from burning bushes or part the sea waters to be active in our lives. God is superintending and orchestrating the events of our lives. Sometimes it may not seem that way, but Abraham’s life is evidence that it is true. Even Abraham’s failures demonstrate that God, while not protecting us from the consequences of our sin, graciously works His will in us and through us; nothing we do will thwart His plan.

Abraham’s life also shows us the blessing of simple obedience. When asked to leave his family, Abraham left. When asked to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham “rose up early the next morning” to do so. From what we can discern from the biblical narrative, there was no hesitation in Abraham’s obedience. Abraham, like most of us, may have agonized over these decisions, but when it was time to act, he acted. When we discern a true call from God, or we read His instructions in His Word, we must act. Obedience is not optional when God commands something.

In the final analysis, we see that Abraham was an exemplary individual, not so much in his piety or perfect life (he had his shortcomings, as we saw), but because his life illustrates so many truths of the Christian life. God called Abraham out of the millions of people on the earth to be the object of his blessings. God used Abraham to play a pivotal role in the outworking of the story of redemption, culminating in the birth of Jesus. Abraham is a living example of faith and hope in the promises of God (Hebrews 11:10). Our lives should be so lived that when we reach the end of our days, our faith, like Abraham’s, will remain as an enduring legacy to others.

Excerpted from GotQuestions.org – Click HERE to read more

Pondering Extras on Romans 3:21-31

PonderingExtrasConsider this modern day illustration.  On June 23, 2000, a deaf couple stood before Judge Donald McDonough in a Fairfax, Virginia court and offered no rebuttal to their landlord’s complaint that they were behind on the rent.  Their recent marriage unfortunately resulted in the loss of disability benefits, most of which kept a leased roof over their heads.  Now they were $250 behind and had no hope of making up the deficit.

Judge McDonough couldn’t disagree.  The landlord was due his rent, the couple was indeed guilty of nonpayment, and justice could not be set aside.  Nevertheless, the judge’s compassion would not allow him to drop the gavel.  Not just yet.  Once the attorney for the plaintiff had closed his case, the judge suddenly left the courtroom.  A few moments later, he returned from his chambers with $250 in cash, handed it to the landlords, and said, “Consider it paid.”  With a transfer of funds from the just to the unjust, the debt was paid and the case dismissed.  The law had been satisfied.  The defendants were then “just” or “righteous” in the eyes of the court.

In a similar way, we have a transfer of righteousness from the account of another to cover our moral deficit so that we might stand justified before the court of heaven. How did this happen? “By His grace.” A free gift given, not because we are good, but because He is good.

(From Insights on Romans by Charles Swindoll)

Pondering Extras for Romans 3:9-20

PonderingExtrasIf all the great outstanding figures in history, whose judgments are worthy of serious consideration, if all the prophets, Psalmists, philosophers, father of the church,Reformers, poets, artists were asked their opinion, would one of them assert that men were good, or even capable of good? Is the doctrine of original sin merely one doctrine among many? Is it not rather, according to its fundamental meaning… the doctrine which emerges from all honest study of history? is it not the doctrine which, in the last resort, underlies the whole teaching of history? Is it possible for us to adopt a different point of view from that of the Bible, Augustine, and the Reformers? What then does history teach about the things which men do or do not do? Karl Barth

A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world — and might even be more difficult to save.  C.S. Lewis

Property Laws of a Toddler:  Evidences of Original Sin.

1. If I like it, it’s mine.
2. If it’s in my hand, it’s mine.
3. If I can take it from you, it’s mine.
4. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.
5. If it’s mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
6. If I’m doing or building something, all the pieces are mine.
7. If it looks just like mine, it’s mine.
8. If I saw it first, it’s mine.
9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
10. If it’s broken, it’s yours.

Pondering Extras on Romans 3:1-8

PonderingExtrasA few quotes from others who have pondered this passage…

“If Torah was the pride of the Jews, their response to it was disappointing. Torah was not a possession to be hoarded but a gift which entailed a responsibility. Calvin believed the Jews were first to be the depositories of Torah and then the dispensers of it. But in this they failed.”  James R. Edwards

“Some people believe that they are secure when they are not because they have never truly come to faith. … Believers should not so presume on their “security” that they fail to make every effort to bring their lives into obedience to Christ. It is precisely for this reason that many contemporary theologians and preachers prefer the slogan “perseverance of the saints” to “eternal security.” Douglas J. Moo

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