Thursday, August 29, 2019

Romans Bible Study #15 "No Condemnation" Romans 8:1-2 (Video and Sermon Notes)

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Quotes from Watchman Nee and Andrew Murray used in this message:

Watchman Nee "The Spiritual Man" 

Moreover, if we only know our flesh has been crucified with Christ but are not exercised to have His accomplished work carried out in us, our knowledge too will be unavailing. A putting to naught requires a knowing first of an identification in His death; knowing our identification, we must exercise the putting to death. These two must go together. We are deceiving ourselves should we be satisfied with just perceiving the fact of identification, thinking we are now spiritual because the flesh has been destroyed; on the other hand, it is an equal deception if in putting to naught the wicked deeds of the flesh we over-emphasize them and fail to take a death attitude towards the flesh. Should we forget that the flesh is dead we shall never be able to lay anything to rest.

Our union with Christ in His death signifies that it is an accomplished fact in our spirits. What a believer must do now is to bring this sure death out of his spirit and apply it to his members each time his wicked lusts may be aroused. Such spiritual death is not a once for all proposition. Whenever the believer is not watchful or loses his faith, the flesh will certainly go on a rampage. If he desires to be conformed completely to the Lord's death, he must unceasingly put to nought the deeds of his members so that what is real in the spirit may be executed in the body.

But whence comes the power to so apply the crucifixion of the Lord to our members? It is "by the Spirit," insists Paul, that "you put to death the deeds of the body" (Rom. 8.13), To put away these deeds the believer must rely upon the Holy Spirit to translate his co-crucifixion with Christ into personal experience. He must believe that the Holy Spirit will administer the death of the cross on whatever needs to die. In view of the fact that the believer's flesh was crucified with Christ on the cross, he does not need today to be crucified once again. All which is required is to apply, by the Holy Spirit, the accomplished death of the Lord Jesus for him on the cross to any particular wicked deed of the body which now tries to rise up. It will then be put aside by the power of the Lord's death.

The moment the Christian ceases to heed the Holy Spirit he instantly fits into the carnal life pattern described here (in Romans 7) . Some assume that because Romans 7 stands between Chapters 6 and 8 the activity of the flesh will become past history as soon as the believer has passed through it and entered into the life of the Spirit in Romans 8. In actuality Chapters 7 and 8 run concurrently. Whenever a believer does not walk by the Spirit as in Romans 8 he is immediately engulfed in the experience of Romans 7. 

Andrew Murray "The Spiritual Life" 

Let us believe there are two powers, the power of the Spirit and the power of sin. Which is stronger? Many Christians tell me the power of the flesh is stronger. It is very sad that so many think this way. Paul tells me, God tells me, that the power of the Holy Spirit is stronger and the power of the Holy Spirit can make me free from the law of sin and death if I trust Him. It is not here a question of the last root of sin being exterminated. We believe the tendency to evil remains to the end, but, we believe this word, too, is literal truth, that the Spirit of life in Christ makes me free from the law of sin to such extent that it has no power over me. My enemy is there, but he cannot touch me.

“Ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” “Of the Spirit,” “after the Spirit,” “in the Spirit,” and “the Spirit of God in you.” All these expressions are used to express the one thought of the closeness, and the reality of the blessed union by which the Holy Spirit takes possession of me. I am in Him and He is in me just as a man is in the air and the air is in him. The air is in my lungs and I am in the air that surrounds me. The two things go together; I go into the fresh air and the fresh air comes into me. Even so the child of God is taken out of the life of the flesh and taken into the life of the Spirit. The Spirit surrounds him on every side with a divine power that is breathed into him and that constitutes his life. He is in the Spirit and the Spirit is in him.

Oh believers who do not think it possible to live this blessed life. I will tell you the simple reason. Because you do not believe God, do not believe that Almighty God will dwell in you. Will you not begin and say, if it be true I may be in the Spirit just as I am in the air, thank God, I think I can lead a holy and blessed life.

Romans Bible Study #14 "Wretched Man That I Am!" Romans 7:14-25

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

Romans Bible Study #13: "Hoodwinked" Romans 7:1-13 (Video and Lesson Notes)

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In the latter half of Romans 6, Paul talks about our need to be delivered from sin. Before we knew Christ, we were slaves to sin. At the same time, we were dead to righteousness. After Christ came into our lives, we were freed from sin (or the love of sin) and became slaves to righteousness. We were now bondslaves to God. The purpose of this, Paul said, was that we become sanctified, or made holy to God.

Now as we begin, chapter 7, Paul is going to begin talking about another deliverance. As we need to be delivered from sin, we also need to be delivered from law.

Read 7:1-6

Paul used in chapter 6 the metaphor of slavery. In this first part of chapter 7, what metaphor does he use? Marriage.

Paul says in verse 1 that the law only has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives. That is self-evident. The law has no jurisdiction over dead men. The most it can do is sentence a man to death.

In verses 2 and 3, he states another obvious point. If a woman becomes married to a man, she is bound to him as long as he is living. If she goes to be with another man while he is living, she is called an adulteress. However, if her husband dies, she is free to marry another.

Verse 4 is key. (Re-read it) Let’s try to follow Paul’s analogy here. In the analogy, who would the woman be? It would be us. Who would the man be she was first married to? The law. You would think, then, that it would be the man who dies. However, Paul changes it. It is the woman (who is us) who dies. This is confusing unless we can put this together with the teaching of Romans 6. (Read 6:3, 4) You see, this woman (which is us), died, but was resurrected.

Let’s think of it this way. We don’t have any record of Lazarus having a wife when he died. Let’s just pretend that he did. We know that John 10 records that after 4 days in the grave, Jesus rose this man from the dead. Legally speaking, his marriage was only valid until one of them died. Did one of them die? Yes, Lazarus died. Strictly speaking, Lazarus would have been free to choose another wife after he was resurrected. If he wanted to remain being married to the same woman, it really would have only been a legal marriage if they remarried.

This is to me is what Paul is saying in verse 4 of chapter 7. Not only did we die to the love of sin when we died in Christ, but we also died to the law. This was, Paul says, so that we might be joined to another. Who was this? Christ. There are three steps in this verse. Step 1 is death to the law. Step 2 is that we might be joined to Christ...married to Him. Step 3 is that we might bear fruit to God.

Verses 5 and 6 talk about when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the law, bore fruit to death. Now that we are released from the law, having died to it, we are to serve in newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. This is the same thing that Paul said in chapter 6:4 when he said that “we too might walk in newness of life.”

Before we go on, I’d like to share a story - a “case study” if you will, of someone that I know that really illustrates this. I know a woman who married a man at a young age. She was actually very immature. He cared for her and looked after her. Yet he was cold and demanding of her. For twenty years, she was virtually imprisoned in their home. She had to have his permission to do anything. He decided everything about her, even to the color of the clothes she wore. There was very little love that went on between them. She was obedient to him, and outwardly acted as a moral person. Inside, though, she was seething. After about 20 years, she blew a gasket. She was immoral and unfaithful to him, and eventually asked him for a divorce, which he gave her. Eventually, she became married to another. By her own admission, she was very religious, but did not know Christ. It was only after she blew up and then found forgiveness that she came to know Christ as her Lord and Savior. Now, she walks in liberty, but not in license. She is faithful to her new husband, not because she is required to be, but because she loves him. This is the difference in religion and relationship.

There are three sections in Romans 7. Each is introduced by a question. We have covered the first section. Now let’s look at the second section.

Read 7:7-13

What do you notice about this section as compared to what we’ve been reading? Paul uses himself as an illustration. Paul has rarely referred to himself in Romans, but for the rest of the chapter he is using his own experience as an example.

In verse 7, the question which he asks is, “Is the law sin?” or “Is the law sinful?” After he has spoken of dying to the law in the first part of the chapter, it would naturally follow that someone would ask, “Well, then, does that mean that the law is bad?” Again, Paul answers this is the strongest negative possible, “May it never be!” Paul says that only through the law would he have come to know sin. Remember what he said in chapter 3, verse 20? “Through the law comes the knowledge of sin.” Yet, here he is talking about in his own experience. He then goes on to say that he would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” Where did the law say this? Ten commandments. Actually this was the tenth of the Ten Commandments.

Verse 8 says that sin, taking opportunity through the commandment (or the law), produced in me coveting of every kind. “Taking opportunity” comes from a combination of two Greek words that mean lit. “what charges from off a starting point” or “a successful launching pad.” The law became a launching pad to show Paul the sin that was in him. “Produced” is actually the same Greek word that is translated in Phil 3:12 “work out” when he said that we are to “work out our own salvation in fear and trembling.” That idea is not that it puts in something that was not there before. Rather, it means “to bring to a decisive finality or conclusion.”

The Passion Translation puts this together well. Let’s read this verse in that translation…

It was through God’s commandment that sin was awakened in me and built its base of operation within me to stir up every kind of wrong desire. For in the absence of the law, sin hides dormant.

Why do you suppose that that Paul mentioned this particular commandment, “You shall not covet?” Why not “You shall not murder?” or “You shall not commit adultery?” I believe it is because covetousness is the only one of the commandments that take place inside a man. A man can be eat up with covetousness and it not show to those around them.

Do you remember a case in which Jesus confronted a man with his own covetousness? Turn with me to Luke 18. Let’s read verses 18-23 together. This man was an important man. He was a ruler. He had kept the law (superficially) from his youth up. Jesus did not dispute this. Yet, like a skilled surgeon, he got at the real problem in the man...a problem that this man did not recognize even in himself. His problem was covetousness. His treasure was in his possessions. Another way of saying this was that he was full of himself. His riches, his goodness, his righteousness. Jesus said something that popped his balloon. What a difference this man’s life would have been had he turned and repented just then! He could not follow Christ because he was following other things. He could not be full of Christ because he was too full of himself.

Let’s go back and look at our text. Paul says, in verse 9, that he was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came to him, sin became alive and he died. In verse 10, he says that that which was supposed to be life to him was death to him. In verse 11, he says that sin, taking an opportunity (becoming a successful launching pad), deceived him and killed him. “”Deceived” is an intensified word meaning “thoroughly deceived.” One translation is “hood-winked” or “took me in.” It rose up and slayed him.

We know something of the life of Paul. When do you suppose that this happened to him? This certainly did not happen before he was converted. He knew the law backwards and forwards, every bit as well as the rich young ruler, but he did not know the least not in his inmost being. He would say to the Philippians, referring to his pre-conversion life, that, as to the righteousness which is in the law, he was found blameless. He was a Pharisee of the Pharisee. He was a thoroughly self-satisfied man.

The fact is that no one knows for sure exactly when this happened because Paul doesn’t tell us. However, I have an opinion. It might have even started even before he was confronted by Christ on the road to Damascus. In one of his retellings of his conversion experience, Paul says that Jesus said to him, “It is hard for you to prick against the goads.” It seems that there had been something goading him on the inside. Something only Jesus Himself knew about. Perhaps, it had started when he saw Stephen martyred. Imagine how that the young Saul of Tarsus would have been affected by seeing this man with a face like an angel facing his death and praying that the sin not be laid to their charge. Saul’s outward reaction was to become more violent against the church. This is not uncommon. There are times when those who are on the edge of conversion are at their worst.

I would also for us to use our “sanctified imaginations” for a moment as we look at Saul of Tarsus as he was struck down on the road to Damascus and confronted head on with the man who he was persecuting. Imagine this proud Pharisee who thought he was faithfully serving God finding out that he had been doing just the opposite. What happened to him on the road? He was blinded and now had to be led around. Completely helpless.

I want to digress here a minute. We often talk of this as Pauls’ conversion experience, but this is only partly so. When Jesus confronted him on the road, did he say to Paul/Saul then, “now all you have to do is believe in Me. Say this prayer and now you are a Christian?” Saul was confronted there with his own sinfulness. In Luke’s account in Acts chapter 9, Jesus, after confronting him, only tells him to “get up and enter the city and it will be told you what you must do.” Was Paul saved at that point? It doesn’t seem so. Jesus doesn’t rush things the way we do sometimes. We want a decision card signed right away. Jesus was willing to wait. He didn’t want a partially saved Saul. A sort of saint. He was willing to wait for the real deal.

Saul is in Damascus for three days. He was blind during that entire period. He was so undone during that time that the Bible says he “neither ate nor drank.” How undone would you have to be to not only eat but not even drink anything for three days? I believe this is where everything that he had ever done hit him square between the eyes. He had no natural sight, but his spiritual sight dawned during this time. At the end of this three days, Paul is a changed man. The law that he had trusted in rose up and slayed him. In particular, he realized the depth of his own covetousness. What he had thought he was doing for God, he was actually doing for his own sorry self. The man that Annanias saw at the end of that three days was a remarkably different man than the man struck down on the road. His balloon had been thoroughly popped. But, unlike the rich young ruler, he was determined to follow this man who he had been persecuting with the same tenacity for Christ that he had practiced against Christ. How welcome those words that Annanias spoke to him must have been, “Brother Saul...receive your sight!...Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” (Acts 22:13, 16) You will be “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Paul could be filled with the Holy Spirit only because he had been emptied of himself.

In verse 12 of Romans 7, Paul says that the Law is holy, righteous, and good. In verse 13, he asks, is that law which is good become a cause of death to me? Again, we have the strong negative, “May it never be.” He says, (NKJV) “sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.”

In the case of the woman I described to you earlier, the sin that came out in all it’s ugliness had been in her heart all along. If she had never had the husband that she had, the same sinfulness would have been there. It is in fact in all of us. But in a way, having a husband who was “a stern taskmaster” drove her first to have the sin in her heart exposed, and then to the forgiveness which is found in Christ Jesus.

In Paul’s case, the sin that had been in his heart all along was exposed after his confrontation with Christ on the road to Damascus. Through what we might call “the enlightened law” his sinfulness came exceedingly sinful.

Romans 7:13 The Passion Translation

So, did something meant to be good become death to me? Certainly not! It was not the law but sin unmasked that produced my spiritual death. The sacred commandment merely uncovered the evil of sin so it could be seen for what it is.”

This really ushers us into the next section. Paul is still in “I” mode, but now he is not talking about what happened in the past in one moment, but something that is ongoing in the heart of a young believer. As Paul progresses in his spiritual experience, sin does not become less sinful, but even more “exceedingly sinful.”

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Mass Shootings...What Is The Answer?

I woke up this morning as many of you did with the heartbreaking news that there has been another mass shooting. At the time I am writing this, the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio early this Sunday morning has claimed nine lives. As many have noted, this is becoming far too common-place. What is not common-place is to have two mass shootings in twenty-four hours. But that is exactly what has happened, as there was an even deadlier shooting yesterday morning in El Paso, Texas. This shooter tragically took twenty lives, with at least twenty-three others injured. 

I can remember twenty years ago (it's hard to imagine that it was that long ago!), that the tragic school shooting took place in Columbine High School in Colorado. People were traumatized that something of this magnitude could happen in America. Yet, now, twenty years out, we have become so used to these events that within a short time we will move on. We have become numb to the tragedy. However, we must not become numb to this. We have to face the fact that something is tragically wrong in our society.

Each time that one of this events take place, there is a flurry of blame to be placed and a bevy of answers that are proposed. The left will say that the cause is guns and the answer is gun control. The right might say that the problem is mental health or illegal immigration, and then propose its own answers. Yet, when we look to the left or the right, we are looking in the wrong direction. The direction we need to be looking is up.

Many will be saying, "Where was God when these things occurred?" Yet I have to say that it is hubris of the highest order to believe that we can turn from God as a society en masse and then declare that He should have been there to stop tragedy when the gunman pull the trigger. The child who runs away from home out from under the protection of his father cannot become angry when he runs into difficulty and the father is not there to deliver him. 

The prophet Jeremiah had these prophetic words to say almost 2600 years ago which still ring true today...

For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can 
hold no water. (Jer. 2:13)

This country, though never perfect, was for many decades a place where God and the things of God held a place of honor and reverence. The recent 75th anniversary of D-Day brings to mind the prayer that President Roosevelt prayed on behalf of the nation on that momentous day…
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph..The president would go on to call the country, not to a day of prayer, but to “devote themselves in a continuance of prayer.” He would continue…

The president would go on to call the country, not to a day of prayer, but to “devote themselves in a continuance of prayer.” He would continue…
As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

It is almost impossible to imagine a president today calling on people to pray in such an unapologetic way. In Roosevelt’s day, the people responded by doing as he asked. Today, I’m afraid that such a plea would result in outrage by some and indifference by others.
Most tragically, it is the lukewarmness of the church of Jesus Christ in this country and the lack of fervent prayer that is surely the most unbecoming to God. The prayer closet and the prayer meeting are largely empty. Those who profess Christ are content to ride on the surface of a superficial Christianity that has no depth to it. The words of Jeremiah have more to do with a fallen church than a fallen nation. We who profess Christ have largely forsaken God, and replaced him with “broken cisterns which hold no water.” We have programs, plans, concerts, plays, and much synthetic worship, but no real heart for God. As a consequence, the spiritual wells that we are to draw from in most cases hold no water.
Church, it is a time to turn to God...It is a time to “rebuild the ancient ruins” (Isaiah 61:4). It is a time to get back to prayer and to seek God with a new earnestness. Jeremiah said in another place, “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13) It is a time for brokenness. A time to fall on our faces in repentance. God spoke through Hosea saying these words, which are so relevant to us today…
Therefore, return to your God.
Observe kindness and justice,
And wait for your God continually.” (Hosea 12:6)

The answer is...where it has always been. It is in God. Our God is a God who is ready and eager to forgive. He is a God who will be found, when we seek Him with our whole heart.
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble…
Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:1; 10)

Follow us as we study God's word! We are currently studying the Book of Romans...

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Friday, August 2, 2019

Romans Bible Study #12 "Slaves To Righteousness" Romans 6:14-23 (Video and Lesson Notes)

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Romans 6:6-9 AMPC
We know that our old (unrenewed) self was nailed to the cross with Him in order that [our] body [which is the instrument] of sin might be made ineffective and inactive for evil, that we might no longer be the slaves of sin. [7] For when a man dies, he is freed (loosed, delivered) from [the power of] sin [among men]. [8] Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, [9] Because we know that Christ (the Anointed One), being once raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has power over Him.

Romans 6:10-11 AMPC
For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending His relation to it] once for all; and the life that He lives, He is living to God [in unbroken fellowship with Him].
Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him]
Passion Translation...12 Sin is a dethroned monarch; so you must no longer give it an opportunity to rule over your life, controlling how you live and compelling you to obey its desires and cravings. 13 So then, refuse to answer its call to surrender your body as a tool for wickedness. Instead, passionately answer God’s call to keep yielding your body to him as one who has now experienced resurrection life! You live now for his pleasure, ready to be used for his noble purpose.[g]14 Remember this: sin will not conquer you, for God already has! You are not governed by law but governed by the reign of the grace of God.

Warren Wiersbe...Reckoning (Vs. 11 NASB “Consider yourselves” in KJV “reckon yourselves”) is a matter of faith that issues in action. It is like endorsing a check: if we really believe that the money is in the checking account, we will sign our name and collect the money. Reckoning is not claiming a promise, but acting on a fact.”

Wiersbe...Literal translation of vs. 13…”Do not constantly allow sin to reign in your mortal body so that you are constantly obeying its lusts. Neither constantly yield your members of your body as weapons (or tools) of unrighteousness to sin; but once and for all yield yourselves to God.”

Read 6:15-23

In verse 15, Paul restates the same question that he asked in verse 1 in a different way. It is as the “heckler in the audience” rises up again and seizes on the last thing that Paul said in verse 14…”you are not under law but under grace.” The heckler says, “Well, then, if we are under grace and not under law, then that is another reason that we can continue in sin, isn’t it?” (This guy really likes to sin, doesn’t he?). Paul again expresses this most negative of terms which we’ve encountered several times already, translated “May it never be!”

Vs. 16 Paul again turns to the analogy of slavery, which he’s going to stick with through the rest of the chapter.
(say a few words here about the difference in Roman slavery and American slavery...Roman slavery not based on race...could be prisoner of war, abandoned baby, or could sell yourself into slavery in order to eat)

It’s important to keep in mind that Paul was not talking about slavery based on race here. Many of the slaves that Paul were familiar with sold themselves to their owner. They presented themselves to that person and were purchased by them. That may be what he was referring to in this verse. In any event, the idea is that you cannot be the slave or servant of one person and work for another. It doesn’t work that way.

Let’s look at this in modern terms. You are hired by a company. This company is a great company to work for. You used to be employed by one of their rivals. Your old company was a terrible company to work for. You had long hours and little pay. No appreciation. The more you work, the more your old employer required of you. Now you are free from that old master. You are employed by the new company. You show up for work at your new company for a few days, and then...they can’t find you. They ask around and they find out that you are back working for your old company. You’ve put yourselves back under the bondage of the old employer. Now...even though you have been hired by the new company, who are you really working for? What do you think your new employer is going to think of these arrangements? Wouldn’t it be right for your new employer to say, “Well, if you like your old employer so much, you can just go work for him again! You’re fired!” This makes as much sense as a Christian going back to his or her old lifestyle.
In vs. 16, one obedience leads to death (you’re fired!) while the other obedience (to the new employer) results in righteousness (your new employer is pleased with you because you are doing the right thing).

Vs. 17 Paul rejoices that we are freed from our old master (law and sin). This was done when we were “baptized into his death”, entering into a new life. We obeyed from the heart (that is the obedience of faith) that form of teaching to which we were committed (or delivered). We weren’t only delivered from sin, but we were delivered into “a form of teaching.” “Form” means “pattern”, “type”, or “example.

Vine’s…”The metaphor is that of a cast or frame into which molten material is poured so as to take its shape. The gospel is the mold.”

So when we voluntarily surrendered to Christ, we exchanged our old master for a new master. Vs. 17 says that we were poured into a mold so that we would become like our master!.

Vs. 18 states this even more explicitly. We were freed from the old master of sin and at the same moment we became slaves to right standing before God and to righteous living.

John Stott…”All human beings are slaves, and there are only two slaveries, to sin and to God. Conversion is a transfer from the one to the other.”

At the beginning verse 19, Paul seems to be apologetic about using slavery as an analogy to our conversion experience. It is important to understand that all analogies in the Bible eventually break down at some point. Paul says that he uses slavery as an example because of the weakness of our flesh.

The next part of verse 19 describes first our experience under sin.
“For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness…” This means that when we yielded to our old master, things just got worse and worse. Lit. “lawlessness unto lawlessness”...also translated NIV “ever-increasing wickedness.” Those who are under sin can only get worse. We see this today in the world at large. Things that were considered out of bounds or even morally repugnant even ten or twenty years ago are now only not tolerated but celebrated...and if you don’t celebrate them you are on the hit list!

The last part of verse 19…”so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.” Paul is saying here that just as you devoted yourself to unrighteousness in the past resulting in more unrighteousness, now devote (or yield) yourself to righteousness which results in sanctification. (We will talk about sanctification more in a few minutes)

We might rephrase verse 20 as saying “When you were slaves of sin, you had nothing to do with righteousness.” The implication is that now that you are “slaves to righteousness”, you should have nothing to do with sin!

Paul has a final argument to make to the Roman believers as he continues to make the case that they have nothing to do with sin. This time, he turns to their own experience. This is a question everyone who has escaped sin should ask themselves…”What benefit did you derive from your life of sin? The word translated “benefit” literally is “fruit.” What was the fruit of your life of sin? He answers it for them. The outcome...the fruit is death. Separation from God. Separation from all that is good and right. Eternal blackness. Eternal death. That is the end of that road.

Another way of putting this is...where is this road taking you? Is it taking you towards God, towards love, peace, joy, etc., or is it leading you to death

In verse 22, Paul continues to draw contrasts. Now that we have been freed from our old wicked slaveowner of sin and have come under God’s employ, the result, he says, is sanctification, which leads to the ultimate outcome, eternal life.

Now let’s talk about sanctification. (If you missed Sunday’s message on sanctification, you missed a really good one! Pastor Mike’s message is available now on our YouTube channel and our website).

This is the first time that we’ve encountered this word in Romans. Pastor Mike gave us one meaning of sanctification on Sunday which is to consecrate or to dedicate to one purpose. There is a finality to this. Look back at verse 13. Sanctification is the “presenting of yourself to instruments of righteousness to God.” Instruments can mean a tool or a weapon. Remember the paraphrase we started out with? “Neither constantly yield your members of your body as weapons (or tools) of unrighteousness to sin; but once and for all yield yourselves to God.” This is the beginning of our sanctification…”it is once and for all.” It is a transfer of ownership from one master to another. It’s really what we’ve been talking about all along but now we have a word for it!

Sanctification also means “to be separate” or “to be separated.” You might be surprised that sanctification and holiness are almost interchangeable in scripture. In fact, they both come from the same root. What is translated “sanctification” here in NASB is actually translated “holiness” in many other versions. Holiness is what God is. John Piper calls it “his utterly unique, divine essence.” In this sense, it means utterly separate. His ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts higher than our thoughts.

God is often described as righteous and holy and we are called to righteousness and holiness. What is the difference in these two terms? Righteousness generally describes actions. God is “righteous is his ways” it says in Psalm 145. What he does is righteous. What He is is holy. Hebrews 7:26 describes Christ as our Great High Priest. It says He is “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.” That is a pretty good description of what He is.
Correspondingly, we are called to be not only righteous but holy. Righteousness is what we receive when we trust in Christ. It is truly a gift from God. Holiness is higher than righteousness. It is becoming like Christ. It is becoming more and more conformed to the image of God’s Son.

It is significant to me that the word “holy” or “holiness” does not appear one time in Genesis. Noah was called a righteous man. Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. Where do you suppose we find the word “holy” in the Bible for the first time? It is in Exodus 3:5. Let me read it to you and see if you remember the context.

Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

Moses at the burning bush. What made that ground holy? It was where God was. It was transformed by his presence. God is getting ready to deliver the Israelites from the bondage of Egyptian slavery to the freedom of Canaan’s land. We will encounter the word holy 46 more times in Exodus. God is not just wanting to make a righteous people. He is wanting to make a holy people.

Look back at verse 19 of Romans 6. Let’s read this substituting “holiness” for “sanctification.”
(It seems to me that generally sanctification is the process while holiness is the end result of sanctification). We yield ourselves to righteousness first. As we yield ourselves to God, who has made us righteous in Christ, we begin to do the right thing more and more. This doing the right thing changes us as we begin more and more to be conformed not only in our actions but in our thinking.

Look at verse 22. This seems to take it a step further. We are freed from sin and enslaved to God, which results in sanctification (or holiness), the end of this is eternal life. That is the outcome of the process of sanctification. It doesn’t mean we earn eternal life, but it means that’s where we’re headed. We will never be fully sanctified until we get to the other side.

BTW, what is a saint? It is a person being sanctified! Remember in the first chapter, Paul describes the Romans as “called as saints” or “called to be saints.” A saint is not someone who lives a perfect life. Rather, it is a person who is in the process of being made Christ-like. Are you a saint? You bet you are?

Let’s look at verse 23 now. Paul wraps this section up with this very famous verse. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord!” What is the end of sin...death. God’s free gift is eternal life. We don’t often hear this verse in context. Do you see that it is connected with sanctification? Eternal life is a free gift, but so is sanctification. Being made sanctified can be quite a painful process. We talked earlier about being poured into a mold. That doesn’t sound too pleasant, does it? Yet, even the process of sanctification is in itself a gift...a free gift from God. Let’s thank God not only for the end result but for the process that God uses to get us there!

NKJV Study Bible…
Most often this verse has been used as a promise of regeneration. The phrase “eternal life” is used 42 times in NT, and it ususually refers to something we receive as a gift at the moment of belief in the gospel (as in John 3:16). But 11 of these 42 times, eternal life is presented as something to be attained. Thus we learm from the Bible that eternal life is not simply a static entity. It is a dynamic and growing relationship with Jesus Christ Himself. (See John 10:10, 17:3). Through living in faith and obedience, Christians can fully enjoy God’s free gift of eternal life.”

I’d like to end by sharing the story of one sanctified life. It’s good to see a see someone who is farther down the road than we are. And this man was far, far down the road from me.

His name was Nicolas Herman. He was born in France in 1611 to a poor family and he received little formal education. As a young man, Nicolas joined the army and fought in the Thirty Year’s War against England. At age 18, while he was still in the military, he had an experience with God that began his spiritual journey. A short time after his conversion, he had a serious injury that left him lame and in pain for the rest of his life. This forced him to leave the army, and he spent a period of time in solitude. Eventually, he entered a monastery in Paris. He took the name Lawrence of the Resurrection. He was then known as Brother Lawrence.

His lack of education kept him from qualifying as a priest. He spent the rest of his life within the monastery, working in the kitchen for most of this time and then later as a cobbler. While assigned to the kitchen, he developed the practice of living always in conscious awareness of God.

Despite his humble position in the community, his reputation attracted many visitors from the outside who sought spiritual guidance from him. The practical wisdom that he shared would later become the basis for this book, The Practice of the Presence of God. His death in 1691 occurred in relative obscurity, but his teachings continued to live on in his words.

I’d like to read a little from that book:

He told me that it all consists in one hearty renunciation of everything that does not lead to God. In this manner we develop the practice of continual communion with Him in freedom and simplicity. We just need to recognize God as intimately present with us and address ourselves to Him every moment. When in doubt, we can ask His assistance in knowing His will. We can also ask his help in performing those things which we know He requires of us. We should offer everything to Him before we do it and give Him thanks after we have finished.

Our sanctification does not depend upon changing what we do, but in doing for God’s sake what we normally do for our own sake.

I cannot describe what happens within me now. There is no suffering or difficulty because I have no will but God’s will. I attempt to accomplish God’s will in all things. I am so surrendered to God that I would not pick up a straw from the ground against His will, or from any other motive but love of Him. I have stopped practicing all forms of devotion and set prayers, except those which I am obliged to participate in. I make it my practice only to persevere in His holy presence. I do this simply by paying attention to, and directing my affection to, God. I call this the actual presence of God. It is a habitual, silent, and secret communion of the soul with God. This often causes such joys and raptures inwardly, and sometimes also outwardly, that I am forced to make an effort to moderate them to prevent their appearance to others. In short, I am certain beyond all doubt that my soul has been with God above during no the last thirty years.

I consider myself the most wretched of men, full of wounds and uncleanness. I have committed all sorts of crimes against my Sovereign. Prompted by heartfelt repentance, I confess all my wickedness to Him. I ask His forgiveness and give myself fully into His hands. He may do whatever He wants with me. But my Lord, who is full of mercy and goodness, does not punish me. Hi Instead he embraces me in love, seats me at His table, and serves me with His own hands. He hands me the key to His treasure trove. He converses with me and shows his delight in me incessantly in thousands of ways. He treats me in all respects as His favorite son. This is how I come into God’s holy presence. Most often my method is a simple attention to God combined with a general sense of hunger for God. I find myself often attached to God with the great sweetness and delight of an infant at the mother's breast. I hesitate to use the expression, but the inexpressible sweetness which I taste and experience there is as if I were at the bosom of God at all times. Sometimes my thoughts wander away from God by necessity or infirmity. But soon an inner desire brings me back to God. This inward yearning is so delightful and delicious that I am ashamed to describe it. I desire that Your Reverence reflect upon my great wretchedness, of which you are well aware, rather than upon the great blessings which God bestows on me, of which I am unworthy and ungrateful. My set hours of prayer are only a continuation of the same exercise I have been describing. Sometimes I consider myself as a stone before a sculptor, who is making a statue. I present myself to God, and I desire Him to make His perfect image in my soul, and make me entirely like Himself.

The spiritual life is neither an art nor a science. To arrive at union with God all one needs is a heart resolutely determined to apply itself to nothing but Him, do nothing but for His sake, and to love Him only.

He told me that it all consists in one hearty renunciation of everything that does not lead to God. In this manner we develop the practice of continual communion with Him in freedom and simplicity. We just need to recognize God as intimately present with us and address ourselves to Him every moment. When in doubt, we can ask His assistance in knowing His will. We can also ask his help in performing those things which we know He requires of us. We should offer everything to Him before we do it and give Him thanks after we have finished.

Our sanctification does not depend upon changing what we do, but in doing for God’s sake what we normally do for our own sake.

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