Archive for the ‘Flesh’ Category


Paul was seemingly singing this song in Romans Seven. He was constantly reminded of the Law of God and how he failed to meet it. Similar to when we are pulled over by a policeman, who reminds us of our failure to obey the Law! Just like this man discovered:

A male driver is pulled over by a cop and the following conversation takes place:
Man: What’s the problem officer?
Cop: You were going at least 75 in a 55 zone.
Man: No sir, I was going 65.
Wife: Oh Harry. You were going 80.
(Man gives his wife a dirty look.)
Cop: I’m also going to give you a ticket for your broken tail light.
Man: Broken tail light? I didn’t know about a broken tail light!
Wife: Oh Harry, you’ve known about that tail light for weeks.
(Man gives his wife a dirty look.)
Cop: I’m also going to give you a citation for not wearing your seat belt.
Man: Oh, I just took it off when you were walking up to the car.
Wife: Oh  Harry, you never wear your seat belt.
Man: Shut your mouth, woman!
Cop: Ma’am, does your husband always talk to you this way?
Wife: No, only when he’s drunk.

Romans 6 deals with freedom from sin. Romans 7 deals with freedom from the law. Romans 6 – how to be delivered from sin. Romans 7 – deliverance from sin is not enough-we need deliverance from the Law. Paul reveals a new discovery in Romans 7: I am in the flesh (vs. 5) I am carnal (vs. 14) and in my flesh dwells no good (vs. 18)

The discovery is that when we are in the flesh, we cannot please God (Romans 8:8)

When we first come to the Lord as our Savior, and then we give ourselves to Him, we feel we must do something for the Lord. So we start out seeking to do his will. We start reading the Bible. We start having regular time of prayer and devotion. We perhaps start tithing. But as time goes by, we forget to read and pray. Money gets tight so we don’t tithe as much or maybe we stop. It seems the more we try to do the will of God, the more we fail. We may re-dedicate ourselves, or try something less intensive, but then we fail that as well.

We get to the point where we exclaim, this is just the way I am, no good thing dwells in me, I guess I just do the best with what I’ve got. And we feel frustrated, or we feel apathetic, or we feel despaired.

We find ourselves in Romans 7. We are despairing because we see there is no way we could please God the way we think He wants to be pleased.

The trouble is we do not know deliverance from the Law!

I. The Power of the Law:

A.The Law Dominates As Long As You Live

VS 1-3: Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. Romans 7:1-3

The Law Does Not Apply to Dead People!

  • Dead men pay no taxes
  • Dead men can’t be incarcerated!
  • A wife is no longer married when her husband dies.

1. Christians are Dead to the Law

VS 4: Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. Romans 7:4

The Law is not dead; the Law has not been done away with. But WE are dead to the Law! Our death has made us dead to the claims of the Law. The Law is not dead; it simply has no claims upon our lives because our old man is dead. The law has no jurisdiction, power, rule, authority, or dominion over the true believer. The believer is dead to the law and the law is dead to the believer. The law simply does not exist for the believer.

What a shocking truth, but that is exactly what Scripture is declaring! We are no longer under the law and its accusing finger, no longer under it’s…

  • Guilt and shame
  • Condemnation and punishment
  • Discouragement and frustration
  • Tension and pressure
  • Sense of failure and unworthiness
  • Sense of disappointment

The Law is Alive to those Walking in the Flesh

2.  We are Free to Marry Christ

VS 4(Phillips): you are free to give yourselves in marriage, so to speak, to another, the one who was raised from the dead, that you may be productive for God.

We are Free to be productive IN THE POWER OF CHRIST!

  • To bear righteousness (Romans 6:21-23; Phil. 1:11).
  • To bear converts (Romans 1:13; John 15:16).
  • To bear Christian character, the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23; Col. 1:10).

None of these is done in the flesh; none of these is done by following a set of rules. Righteousness is of the Heart, of the inward man. People coming to Christ as Savior is dependent upon the working of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. Fruit of the Spirit cannot be faked; it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit!

3. The Law is Alive to those “in the flesh”

VS 5: For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. NASB

“Motions KJV or passions” is pathēma, “an affection, a passion, impulse.” Vincent says, “Motions was used in earlier English for emotions or impulses. Thus Bacon: ‘He that standeth at a stay where others rise can hardly avoid motions of envy.’ “”Did work” is energeō, “to be operative, put forth power, be at work.”

The emotions or impulses of sin, stirred to activity by the law, were operative in the members of our bodies with the result of the production of fruit, this fruit being with respect to death, identified with death, thus, characterized by death. Wuest

We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers–and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 1 Timothy 1:9-10

The law not only points out sin, it actually arouses feelings and stirs the emotions to do the forbidden. Sinful feelings are actually “stimulated” (enērgeito) by the law in our members. When the law prohibits and forbids something, it actually creates within us…

• an interest •  an attraction •  an excitement •  an appeal •  a tug or pull •  a fascination •  a seduction •  an arousal

There is within man something that makes him want to do what he is forbidden to do. When he is restricted or fenced in, he wants to break through the restriction or fence.

We will see that as long as believer’s walk in the flesh, they will still be subject to these stirrings, these impulses, these motions of sins. James reveals this in writing to the fleshly Christians reading his letter:

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:14-15

B.We Follow a New Way When We are “Born Again”

VS 6: But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. Romans 7:6

1. Believers are “delivered” (katērgēthēmen).

We have been discharged from the law. We stand clear of the law. All claims have been dissolved!

2. We Serve God through the Holy Spirit

Galatians 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

  • To live by rules is to live a dead religion. Death produces death.
  • To live by the power of the Holy Spirit is LIFE.
  • We do not serve God by following the letter of the law.

II. The Purpose of the Law

A.The Law Exposes our Sin

VS 7: What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” Romans 7:7.

The Law is to make us aware that we are sinners. We need a Savior.

EXAMPLE:  The Law revealed that Paul had a problem with coveting. He never knew it to be so until he read the Law. When people know the Law, they know they are sinners. Guilt is though the law.

When I was pastoring in Edgerton, I went knocking on doors and if a person allowed, I would ask them a couple questions.

Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever taken something that didn’t belong to you? Have you ever looked lustfully at another person?

Most of the time they would answer yes to each of the questions. Then I would say, then by your own admission, you a liar, a thief and an adulterer? What do you think God thinks of that?

They would mumble, well I guess he doesn’t like it.

I would ask, if you are a liar, a thief and an adulterer, would God let you into His heaven when you die?

Most of the time they would answer, well, yes.

I would say why would he? They would say, because overall I’m a good guy or something to that effect.

Then I would say, but God’s word says that the man who sins will surely die! How could He let you into His heaven and be true to His own Word?

I’ll never forget this one Law student that I talked with. He came to this point where he was aware of God’s standard and he was aware of his violation of that standard, but he looked at me and said, “Aw, that doesn’t apply to me;” and then he said “I’ve got to go!” and he closed the door.

The Law is given so that men and women would see that they are lost. All we can do is hold that Law up, and pray the Holy Spirit convicts them to the point where they realize they need Jesus Christ!

B. The Law is the Revealing Standard

VS 8-9: But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; Romans 7:8-9.

1. The law reveals the fact of our sin

  • That men are not in a right relationship with God.
  • That men are not in a right relationship with other men.
  • That men are living selfishly, thereby dooming themselves.
  • That men are coveting and lusting, thereby destroying their world and their future.
  • That men are displeasing God and have become unacceptable to Him.
    • We will take that second helping of food.
    • We will try to keep up with the Jones.
    • We will go after the excitement and stimulation of the forbidden.
    • We will fulfill the lust of our flesh: “I know that is not how a Christian should behave by talking with his fists, but man can he fight!”
    • We will feed the lust of our eyes. Bachelorette – “I know Adultery to be wrong, but as I watch this TV show I find myself routing for this couple as they seem so right for each other, even made for each other!”
    • We will satisfy the pride of life. “I just have to have that car!” I just have to have that jewelry!

2.  The Law Reveals The Truth Of Our Condemnation And Death.

VS 10-11: and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. Romans 7:10-11

This is a major purpose of the law. By knowing the law the man becomes acutely aware of sin when he breaks the law. It is the law that gives him…

  • A painful awareness of sin.
  • A sense of guilt.
  • A sense of judgment to come.
  • A dread of punishment and of death.

During the Second Great Awakening (1790–1840) in early America, the Law was preached by Charles Finney, Lyman Beecher, Barton Stone, Peter Cartwright, and Asahel Nettleton among others. Altar calls were being used then by people anxious about their souls. Finney used the term “Anxious Seat”. Sometimes the evangelist would not have an altar call, and people would be begging to be saved. They were concerned for their souls.

3. The Law Reveals the Way of God

VS 12-13 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. Romans 7:12-13

  1. The law is holy: set apart and full of purity, majesty, and glory—set apart in that it reveals God’s nature and will—set apart in that it exposes sin, all that is contrary to God’s nature and will.
  2. The law is righteous: just, fair, impartial, equitable, straight. The law treats a man exactly like he should be treated; it shows no partiality to anyone. It also reveals how a man should treat others. The law is just in that it reveals exactly how a man should live. It shows him how to live in relation to God and to his fellow man, and it judges him fairly and impartially.
  3. The law is good: it shows man how to live and tells him when he fails to live that way. It exposes his sin and demonstrates his desperate need for a Savior. The law tells man the truth about the nature of man in a most explicit way, and it points him toward the need for outside help in order to be saved.

The Law is a written expression of the Character of God: O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Psalms 119:97

The Law Does Not Mean Death, The Law Reveals the Sin!

Here in this dish lays Baking Soda (representing man in our natural state). It is still & quiet until another substance is added.

I will now pour Vinegar (representing the Law). It begins to smoke & burn up, but not from the fault of the vinegar, but from the nature of the Baking Soda which will not endure it. Illustrates that the Law is not at fault, but our evil & wicked nature is!

  • When you read “Wet Paint. Don’t touch” what do you immediately want to do? –
  • “No U-Turns”
  • “Keep off the Grass”.
  • In Maui as we snorkeled, “Don’t touch the Turtles”, but I just had to touch one!

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7).

No Excuses

There can be no finger pointing at God. You can’t say to God that “You made me do it, your Law made me rebel” You can’t say the Devil made me do it either. There are no excuses:

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Romans 3:19

III. Paul’s Personal Testimony

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. Romans 7:14-20 (NASB)

1.  Paul’s Struggle

Here Paul confesses his personal struggle with sin that dwells in him. Paul is a Christian, and has been for several years now. He knows the truth of HIs new life in Jesus Christ. He knows that his old man was crucified with Jesus, freeing him from the power of sin. He has reckoned this truth so in his life. He counts on Jesus to deliver him from sin. He has presented his body to God.

But what has happened? Instead of the truth of God becoming REALITY in his life, he finds that sin still dwells in him. He does what he doesn’t want to do, and he doesn’t do what he should do.

Does this sound familiar? Anyone else identify with his struggles?

Paul reveals a truth here, while we are spiritual (born again, alive to God) we are still flesh. And this flesh loves to sin. The means to freedom has been secured on the cross, our old man is dead. We don’t have to sin, but there is something about this flesh that makes it powerless when it comes to the power of sin.

2. Paul’s Personal Discovery

a. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh;

When it comes to serving God, when it comes to following Jesus, there is nothing good in us. Any effort we make in this flesh is tainted, is spoiled. There is nothing good in me.

On the one hand, this is good because when we are aware of the struggle, it reveals we are spiritually alive, that we are born again.

  • If you don’t have a struggle, if you don’t feel guilt, that probably indicates Christ does not live in you.
  • Inward conflicts show us we are spiritually alive!

b. There is a Law of Sin that Dominates his flesh

Just as there is a Law of Gravity dominating our flesh, there is also a Law of Sin that dominates our flesh. The choice we as Christians have is whether we accept this law and live with it, struggling against sin the best we can, or do we desire something more!

3. Paul’s Desperate Desire!

Paul is Desperate for MORE!

Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:24-25

IV. The Power of the New Law

Paul has realized that there is a way of deliverance. There is a Law that we can live under that dominates the Law of Sin. This Law is greater than the Law of Sin. And this Law is available to us through Jesus Christ!

This Law will be explored in Romans 8.

Our eyes must be opened to see that sin is not just conduct. When you lose your temper, it is not just you failing to control your temper. When you lose your temper it is the law of sin at work in you. The victory of sin is a law, just as our defeat is a law. If you view sin as simply a matter of conduct then your focus will be entirely on your own self-effort to resist or overcome that sin.

Do you have a problem with smoking? Do you want to quit? Then don’t see it as a habit to be resisted. Don’t see it as an urge to be controlled. See it as a law. A law that governs your life. And then see that you must live by a new Law that is greater than the Law of Sin.

We Need a New Law!

The Law of Sin is powerful. We cannot overcome it in our flesh. Our flesh is subject to its power. Anytime we struggle against sin with our flesh, we are doomed to fail. Just as you cannot escape the pull of gravity by flapping your arms, you cannot escape the law of sin by doing anything in your flesh.

Even mighty Paul made this discovery.

Paul discovered even though he tried, even though he willed it, he could not overcome sin’s power. He tried to be perfect, to not sin, but he failed. Paul discovered that the Law of Sin was mightier than his willpower. He willed and willed, but lost.

Paul came to the conclusion sin was a law that he could not overcome in his own strength.

He needed something else, he needed to learn to walk in a new Law, a Law which had authority over sin, a Law which could govern his life and deliver him from this constant feeling of defeat and failure.

Romans 7 is the revelation of a man who gives up trying in his own strength and realizes he needs JESUS CHRIST!

If you never come to this realization, that sin is a law that you cannot struggle against in with your flesh or your will, then you will always be a Romans 7 Christian. You will live your life in Romans 7.

You will be like the Laodicean’s, who thought they had no need.

Wretched man that I am – Just like John’s picture of the Laodicea church.

Rev.3:17 “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’; and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked;”

Do you want to be a Romans 8 Christian? Then have your eyes opened to the truth that sin is a Law. Then plead with God to reveal to you the Law he wants you to live by, the law that has greater power than the law of sin. Plead with Him to open your eyes to the truth of the Law of the Holy Spirit in your life!

If you do not live your daily life by the Law of the Holy Spirit, we shall see in Rom 8, then you are doomed to a wretched Christian Life, a Romans 7 life-one of ups and downs, defeats and despairs, one of fleshly struggles, one of constant bouts of guilt, one of being tossed to and fro. That is the plight of Christians who walk in the flesh and struggle against the Law of Sin with their flesh.

Thanks be to God there is a Better Way!

Have you come to the place of wretchedness in your life? You’ve come to the place of realizing you have no power to overcome sin.

Then you are ready to live your life by the Law that will deliver you from sin, from fleshly struggles and defeats.

By walking in the New Law, You will experience the Righteousness of Jesus Christ and THROW OFF YOUR WRETCHEDNESS!

Speaking to a large audience, D.L. Moody held up a glass and asked, “How can I get the air out of this glass?” One man shouted, “Suck it out with a pump!” Moody replied, “That would create a vacuum and shatter the glass.” After numerous other suggestions Moody smiled, picked up a pitcher of water, and filled the glass. “There,” he said, “all the air is now removed.” He then went on to explain that victory in the Christian life is not accomplished by “sucking out a sin here and there,” but by being filled with the Holy Spirit.

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Most  people have seen “Achmed the Dead Terrorist” with comedian Jeff Dunham

  • He is known for yelling, “Silence! I kill you!” to Dunham and people in the audience
  • His favorite Christmas song is “Jingle Bombs”.
  • When Jeff mentions that Achmed appears to be dead because he’s a skeleton, Achmed responds, “It’s a flesh wound.”
  • When Dunham inquires as to how he died, Achmed explains his incompetence with explosives, by saying that they both suffer from “premature detonation.”

Achmed went to a Doctor for an examination. The Doctor examines Achmed and says it looks like he has scoliosis, and orders an X-Ray. Achmed says, “why don’t you just take a Polaroid?”

Paul wants us to see the Polaroid of our Body the way God Sees it: And He wants us to answer this question – Who’s Got  Your Body? Paul presents foundational truth about our body and we must allow that truth to replace our experience.

Whatever contradicts the truth of God’s Word is to be  regarded as the Devil’s Lie, not because it may not be in itself a very real fact to our senses, but because God has stated a greater fact before which the other must eventually yield. Nee NCL p 75.

The body (flesh) is sin’s special sphere of operation. Man is a slave to sin because his body is sin’s puppet. The moment the body is disengaged or disemployed from sin, we cease to be sin’s slave. Our body is liberated from sin’s power and influence. The old man is crucified to release the body from the dominion of sin. With sin’s partner, the old man, crucified, and the new man taking its place, sin’s power over the body is broken.

Let’sl look at what God wants us to do with this body, this flesh. He wants us to believe what His Word says is true. If you recall, we looked at Romans 6 verse 6 and discovered that is our old man was crucified with Christ. Then we looked at Romans 6:11 and saw how we are to count (or reckon) on our old man being dead. The Christian life is not to be a life of following rules, or fleshly struggling to overcome sin. The Christian life is lived in the Grace of God and in His power. God has provided our deliverance rom sin, not by abolishing it, not by removing our flesh, but by removing the old man!

Now we continue on in Romans starting at verse 12, and we discover a new command:

1. COMMAND…

(6:12) Believer’s are commanded to not let sin rule over their bodies. This is a forceful command.

  1. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Romans 6:12

1. We Must Not Let Sin Reign

(basileuetō): have authority, rule, control, occupy, hold sway, prevail over him. The present tense is used, so the idea is a continuous attitude and behavior.

  • “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (1 Cor. 15:34).
  • “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).

Our bodies are dying (mortal-thnetos). Our bodies are unemployed (body of sin annulled Rom 6:6)

2. We Must Not Obey (To yield to a superior command or force) sin in its lusts (epithumiais).

The word means strong desire or craving and passion. The pull of sin is sometimes strong, very strong. All men know what it is to lust after things, after more and more, whether it be money, property, security, position, pleasure, fun, or fleshly stimulation. The true believer must not yield to these pulls. He must not let the lusts of his eyes and flesh rule and regulate his mind and behavior. He must not let lust order his life. He must not obey sin in its lusts, in its cravings and desires and passions. He must resist the lusts of his “mortal body.”

  • “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:29).
  • “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Romans 8:13).
  • “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14).
  • “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2).

2. PRESENT…

vs 13: Present yourselves to God

Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Romans 6:13

1. (6:13)  Body is an instrument (hóplon)

The body is not the source of sin, but the Bible says and man’s experience proves that the body is the instrument of sin, the organ which sin uses to manifest and satisfy itself. But Romans 6:6 says our body is unemployed, it is annulled, put out of action when it comes to the power of sin. Now our bodies are free to be instruments fit for the Master!

2.  (6:13) We Must Not Present The Members Of Our Body To Sin.

The word “present” (paristēmi) means to offer; to put at the disposal of; to give; to grant; to turn over to. Some translations use yield, but that implies a passive action. The idea is much more active in its intent. You are to present your bodies to God as instruments for His use. The believer is not to allow the members of his body to be instruments or tools of unrighteousness. If he takes a member of his body and uses it as an instrument or tool of unrighteousness, he sins.

“Do Not Present” is in the imperative, which means it is a command, a command in the present, which means we must always be aware that we do not present ourselves as instruments of sin. Therefore, we must be vigilant in watching who we serve.

But the “present yourselves to God” is in the aorist tense, which means a onetime action that you make. It is not something you do over and over. Just as the golden vessels were presented to the Lord one time, just as Samuel was presented by his mother one time, so you must at one time present your members unto God, for Him to use as He sees fit. God will then be responsible for your body. From that day we must watch who we are yielded too, and lest we forget, God will constantly remind us.

3. We Present Ourselves To God.

Note a significant fact: in the Greek this is not written in the present tense, but in the aorist tense. This simply means the believer is to make a one-time decision for God, a once-for-all dedication of his life to God. We do not just yield- that has the idea of ‘passive surrender’! No, we actively present ourselves to God as His New Creation!

The presentation of your life to God is to be sincere and genuine—a one time decision. You are to yield yourself—your body, your life, all that you are—to God; and your decision is to be a permanent, one time decision.

We present our members to God as instruments of righteousness. Turn the members of your body over to God: your eyes, ears, mouth, tongue, hands, feet, mind—all your members. Every part of your body is to be given over as an instrument or tool to do righteousness.

Present to God as one who has passed from death to life. God doesn’t want the old man, God wants our new life! Our flesh is unemployed, so He wants to employ it, but We must consciously present it to Him!

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

3. LEARN…

(6:14-15) Sin does not dominate true believers. We are under grace and not under the law.

For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Romans 6:14-15

1. Struggling to Keep the Law is an act of the Flesh

The believer is constantly aware that he fails and comes short of the law. He struggles and strives, wrestles and grapples, works and labors to obey; but his experience is full of tension and pressure, disappointment and discouragement. The person under law never lives a victorious life, for he is constantly coming short of God’s glory and perfection. The defeated Christian is relying upon his flesh and self-will to overcome sin.

  • This is not God’s Way!

God’s way is the power of His Grace!

  • “For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me” (Psalm 38:4).
  • “For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me” (Psalm 40:12).
  • “For I acknowledge my transgressions and my sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3).

2.  We Are Under Grace, Not Under Law.

God is not a legal judge hovering over you to punish you every time you sin by breaking a particular law.

What does being under grace mean? It means that the believer accepts the grace of God demonstrated in Jesus Christ. The believer accepts the righteousness, the sinless perfection of Christ as his own righteousness. The believer identifies his life with the life of Christ,

God counts the faith of the believer as the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

  • How do we keep from serving sin and from living under sin and from displeasing God?
  • How do we live under grace day by day?
  • How do we live under God’s favor all of the time?
  • How can we please God and receive His approval and acceptance?

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31

We must constantly keep before us the glorious truth that we are under God’s grace.

God is our Father, and we have become true children of God’s. We are only accepted and beloved in Jesus Christ. We abide in Jesus Christ. As long as we abide, we bear fruit. If we fail to abide by faith, we do not bear fruit.

We have need of daily cleansing. There are presumptuous sins, there are sins of omission and commission. Jesus said we will need our feet washed as we travel this earth. Sin will be around us, but sin does not have control over us.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

3.  Are We Allowed To Continue In Sin?

Can we sin and sin and keep on expecting God to forgive and forgive? Scripture shouts: God forbid! Then Scripture argues that a true child of God must not continue in sin. Why does the true child of God not sin? Why does he keep away from sin?

⇒  Because the grace of Christ indwells us!

“For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee” (Psalm 5:4).

⇒  Because we turned to God in order to get away from sin and its shame and destruction.

He did not turn to God in order to have the freedom to sin, but to be set free from the enslavement and habits of sin, to break the bondage and consequences of sin.

  • “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death” (Romans 6:21).
Sin is not to dominate the believer

We as Children of God must learn something: sin will not and does not dominate the true believer. There are three reasons.

1.  God is not a legal judge hovering over the child to punish him every time he sins by breaking a particular law. The child is not under such frightening dominion.

2.  God is a gracious and loving Father. He cares and suffers long with growing children. When His child falls into sin, God is long-suffering, ever willing to forgive His erring child—if the child will only come and ask forgiveness and turn from his sin (Luke 17:3-4; 1 John 1:9).

3.  God is a teaching Father who disciplines. He exhorts His child not to fall into the dominating trap of sin (cp. Hebrews 12:5-11; 1 John 2:1-2).

The truth of our NEW LIFE in Christ is that we live in and experience the power of grace!

4. KNOW

vs 16: Know that you can only serve one master

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? Romans 6:16

1.  You Can Serve Only One Master, Sin Or God.

The word “servant” (doulos) means slave. A person is either the slave of sin or of God, and there is a very simple test to tell which master a person serves. Do you yield to sin, that is, serve sin? or do you yield to God, that is, serve God? Either sin is your master or God is your Master. You either yield to sin or you yield to God. This does not mean that you become sinless and perfect, but that…

  • you do not plan to sin.
  • you depend upon the life of Jesus
  • you diligently seek to make God the Master of your life by obeying Him.
  • you study God’s Word so that you will know His commandments and can obey Him.
  • you walk in open confession before God, talking to Him all day long, ever gaining an unbroken fellowship with Him as the Master of your life.

2. You walk in the flesh, or you walk in the Spirit!

You either walk by sight, or your walk by faith!

  • “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Matthew 6:24 .
  • “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin” (John 8:34).
  • “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).
  • “While they [the carnal or fleshy] promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage” (2 Peter 2:19).

5. REMEMBER…

vs. 16-17 Remember your decision to obey

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. Romans 6:17-18

1. Remember Your Decision. You Chose Righteousness.

  • Note the stated fact: believers “were the servants of sin.”

You used to yield to sin, all kinds of sin ranging from…

language and media
⇒  immoral thoughts to adultery.
⇒  simple thoughts of pride to drunkenness.
⇒  simple acts of selfishness to stealing.
⇒  self-centeredness from eating to what you buy and what you do.
⇒  hurting and using people

You obeyed God! Not in your flesh, not just obedience to a bunch of rules, but you obeyed from your heart!

  • “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment” (1 John 3:23).
  • “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

2. Note The Result: We Are Freed From Sin.

They are counted righteous by God, not sinful. God sees believers as righteous people, not as sinners. Therefore, believers are freed from sin and its consequences. God does not charge believers with sin; He does not lay sin against them. Believers are freed from the accusation of sin, and they shall never be charged with sin. God has freed them from sin through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ (cp. Romans 8:33-34).

We become the servant of righteousness. Once we truly know God’s glorious love, we are driven to serve God in appreciation for what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. We are driven to be the servant of God by living righteously and godly in this present world.

6. DO…

I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. Romans 6:19-20

1. Do Serve God With The Same Fervor That You Served Sin.

Your body was a slave to sin because your old man was very much alive. All the old man could do was influence your body to sin. Sin held sway over our old man, so our dress, our attitudes, our speech and our thoughts all give way to the bondage of sin. Our thinking gets so upside down that we think everything we do is OK! We ‘justify’ ourselves, our actions, our attitudes and our words. But we are enemies of God.

Sin always produces more sin. As Romans 1 illustrated, sin is a downward spiral that results in our world being turned opposite of what God’s view is. Sin enslaves. Sin becomes a binding chain that produces habits that we simply ‘tolerate’ and even accept. “iniquity unto iniquity” – Iniquity issuing in an abiding iniquitous state

2. Present Your Members As Slaves To Righteousness That Work Holiness

“Let righteousness work holiness” (hagiasmon). The word means sanctification or holy. The believer is to yield the parts of his body to serve righteousness, and he is to let righteousness sanctify him more and more. He is to live righteously and become more and more holy like God.

When you served sin, you were free from righteousness: you were not credited with righteousness. You did not have the opportunity to live righteously before God. But now you have obeyed God; you have believed. Now you have the opportunity to live righteously, so begin to serve God with the same fervor and energy with which you were serving sin. Let righteousness enslave you and become the bondage and habit of your life.”

  • “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14).
  • “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
  • “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24).
  • “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:2-5).
  • “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).
  • “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2).

7. QUESTION…

What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. Romans 6:21-22

1.  Question if there is any fruit in sin. (Of Course Not!)

The true believer is ashamed of his past sin.

  • “And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10).
  • “And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens” (Ezra 9:6).

The fruit of sin is death. The fruit of sin is not good; there is nothing good about it. Sin corrupts, destroys, and dooms all who seek its fruits. This should always be remembered by men.

David struggled with this:

Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! Psalms 73:12-19

2.  Real Fruit Belongs To Believers Who Are Slaves Of God.

We are “set free” from the corruption of sin by justification in Jesus Christ. Through the blood of Jesus, we are justified in God’s sight. We are declared as righteous as Jesus Christ because we are IN Christ the glorious love of God. We now owe our new life to God himself. Our members are His, set apart as Holy just as the Temple vessels were.

We now bear the fruit of that leads to sanctification and eternal life.

  • “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
  • “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).
  • “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).
  • “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: to the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” (1 Thes. 3:12-13).

Bearing The Glorious Hope And End Of Eternal Life.

  • “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
  • “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together” (John 4:36).
  • “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

8.  CONSIDER…

v 23: the wages of sin vs. the gift of God, of eternal life.

Death (thanatos): the basic meaning of death is separation. “Death never means extinction, annihilation, non-existence, or inactivity.”

Sin deserves death for two very clear reasons. Sinners Live their lives without God, so they will Live their Eternities without God.

1.  Sin ignores and denies God

  • Acts against His nature.
  • Acts in the interest of man.

2.  Sin is rebellion against God.

  • It is rejecting God, ignoring God, disobeying God, denying God,
  • It refuses to Give God His proper place in our life.

They have no part of God.  They are to be banished from God’s sight.They are to be separated from God’s presence forever. They will experience the wrath of God that Jesus experienced for them on the Cross.

As a laborer receives his wages, so sinners shall receive their wages. Each and every day you ignore God and refuse Jesus Christ, you are storing up God’s wrath upon your life. Just as it would be unjust not to pay the laborer, it would be unjust not to pay sinners for their work.

In fact, if sinners did not receive their just punishment, it would be the most gross injustice to His Son, Jesus Christ. Why? Because God would be saying to His Son; your death didn’t mean a thing. Your pain, your suffering, your very life was all a waste. When you experienced Hell for the sake of sinners, it did not mean a thing, becasue I’m going to let them into heaven anyway! Ghastly thought!

Sinners must receive their just wages. Sinners must die; They must be banished forever from the presence of God.

  • “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).
  • “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15).
  • “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thes. 1:9).
  • “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. (Ezekiel 18:20).

3.  The gift of God is eternal life.

Note that eternal life is not the payment of wages. A man cannot work for and earn eternal life. It is the gift of God, and it is only through Jesus Christ our Lord

  • “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
  • “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5-7).

Have you Presented Your Body to God?

Consecration begins when we realize the old man is dead-knowing, reckoning, presenting.

When we know our old man is crucified, then we reckon ourselves dead to sin, and alive unto God. Giving myself to Him naturally follows, for we realize that my newness of life is based upon His resurrection, and indeed my very life is in Him! When we realize that Jesus is our very life, then we naturally give Him everything!

Unless I pass through death, there is nothing to consecrate to Him, there is nothing God can accept, for God has condemned my old man to the cross.

Consecration (presenting) means that I consider my whole life as belonging to Him.

Money in my pocket -if it is mine, I can do whatever I want. If it belongs to another, then the money is in my trust, and I cannot buy what I please.

How many of us realize that because Christ is risen, we are alive “unto God and not unto ourselves.

We belong to another, and we dare not squander a cent of our money, a second of our time or any of our mental or physical powers on anything other than what the Lord wants!

What is Holiness?

When we give ourselves wholly to Christ, that is holiness. We do not become holy by the eradication of something evil within. We become holy by being separated unto God! We have gone to the Cross and discovered not only must we kneel at the feet of Jesus and let His blood cover our sins and cloth us with His righteousness.

Our Journey does not end there, it only begins. For the next step is to join Him on the cross and realize that our old man was crucified with Him that we should no longer serve sin. Once we know that our old man was crucified, we count on it, we reckon it to be true in our life.

Then we present ourselves to Jesus. We don’t give Him any of the old man, that is dead. We give him our unemployed body, our hands, our feet, our face, our self, and we say, put these to work as you see fit. All the old Jim Tompkins is dead, and the life I now life is Jesus living through me.

I give myself to you alone, with my one desire being to know you and to walk with you on the course you have chosen for me. I want nothing for myself! I want everything for God!

Then you can say with Paul, I have finished my course (2 Tim 4:7)

You can say “I know that the will of God is good and acceptable and perfect for me!” (Rom 12:2)

  • How can a tailor make you a suit without the fabric?
  • How can a builder build you a house without the building materials?

We cannot expect the Lord to live out His life in us if we do not give Him our lives in which to live!

Will you present yourselves to God?


Parable of Prodigal SonSome suggest we no longer call this the Parable of the Prodigal Son, but the Parable of the Lost Sons.

I suggest that we should call it the parable of the Lost Son and the Selfish Child.

Jesus said the Father had two SONS, using the Greek word “huios” for both. Then the younger SON (huios) left, declaring his freedom, and in that culture became DEAD to his Father. When his Father saw him afar off, he leaped from his chair and ran to meet him. Rejoicing, he told everyone that this SON (huios) of mine was DEAD and is ALIVE again. (has come to life again – anadzah’o)

The younger brother was his SON again. This the Father demonstrated with the ring, the robe and the sandals. They meant the Father had RESTORED his RELATIONSHIP with his SON! WHY? Because our Father is is the Father of LIFE, of HOPE, of LIVING RELATIONSHIPS.

God of the LivingJesus declared this when he answered the Sadducees  “He is not God of the dead, but of the living.Matthew 22:32. The Word further declares:

Not only is God the God of the Living, but Paul declared this to the Romans: “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit(Rom. 15:13).

Peter further explained that this is a Living Hope by the Resurrection:Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Pet. 1:3).

The ResurrectionGod is the God of Hope by the Resurrection — in other words, by the triumph of Life over death. This means that in every dark situation, God never despairs and never gives up. For our Father knows the tremendous power of Resurrection, of Life.

Huios vs TeknonThe Father had two SONS, but only one knew the power of RESURRECTION. In fact, when the Elder Brother argued with the Father, the Father called him my CHILD (teknon). Calling him a child was like saying “I know you are mine by birth, but you are not my SON, because we don’t have a REAL RELATIONSHIP!”

Jesus was never referred to as TEKNON of God. He was always called the HUIOS of God. We, on the other hand, are called the TEKNON of God by John to indicate we are BORN into the family of God:

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name.  John 1:12.

The Elder Brother Refused to Go In

Elder Brother Refuses to go in

Both Younger and Elder Brothers were the children of the Father, but as our Parable ends, only one was the SON of the Father. The Younger was the Son because he had come back to life and had come into a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with his Father.

The Elder Brother was a child of the Father, but there was no RELATIONSHIP.

The shocking truth of this Parable is that only the younger son reflected the character of the LIVING FATHER. The sinner was more like his Father than the righteous Elder Brother. WHY? Because the Younger Son was ALIVE, while the Elder Brother was DEAD in his self-righteousness.

Like Father Like SonMatthew 5:9 & 45 use the word huios and it refers to those who reflect the character of God. The Greek word for child or children is teknon. In contrast to huios, it means the fact of birth whereas huios stresses the dignity and character of the relationship. Another aspect of this Greek word, huios,  involves “likeness.” The New Testament contains the concept expressed in the proverb, “Like father, like son” (Matt. 5:45,48). It was typical Hebrew usage to employ the word “son” to express likeness. For instance, those who are peacemakers will be called God’s sons because they are like God (Matt. 5:9). God’s likeness, His image, will be “stamped” upon those who have been brought to maturity and adopted as sons (Rom. 8:29; I John 3:2-3).

One way to understand the difference between the Elder and Younger is to understand another use of HUIOS with the addition of thesia or “huiosthesia” – “adopted or placed as sons”. In the Roman world, the father adopted as a son his own child. Birth made him a child (teknon); adoption made him a son (huios). Between the period of birth and adoption, there were stages of growth, education and discipline, until the maturity was reached for adoption into sonship. With adoption the son was recognized as one who could faithfully represent the father. He had arrived at the point of maturity, where the father could entrust him with the responsibility of overseeing the family business. The son becomes the “heir” of his father’s inheritance. Birth gives one the right to the inheritance, but adoption gives one the participation in the inheritance.

Elder Brother Child Corinthians BabiesThe Elder Brother assumed upon the FATHER’S Stuff because of his natural birth, because he was the first born child. But what the Father was declaring was the SONSHIP of the younger brother because of the RESURRECTION and their restored RELATIONSHIP.

Paul referred to the Corinthians as babies, still on milk. They had been born into the family of God, but had never matured, even though they had been enriched in speech and in knowledge of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:6). In fact, he said they were not lacking in any spiritual gift. The Corinthians probably saw themselves as the Elder Brother saw himself – the Mature Ones. But the Father called him a child, and Paul called the Corinthains babies!

Secret of SonshipWhat makes the difference? How do we Elder Brother Types become SONS? Paul gives us the clue when he says “you are still of the flesh.” What does that mean to born again children of God?

It means we are still walking around in our stinking rotting corpses. And the flesh is abhorred by the Father.  Paul shouts the secret of SONSHIP to all Elder Brothers:

And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. 1 Corinthians 2:12 (NLT)

We have a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with the FATHER of the LIVING, but it is only through the Holy Spirit! We must walk after the Holy Spirit to enjoy this Living Relationship with our Father. It is not on the basis of our works that we have this living relationship. It is on the basis of the Holy Spirit being allowed to LIVE in us!

The Father went outside and pleaded with his Elder Child. The word for plead is paraclete, the same word we use for the Holy Spirit! Picture the Holy Spirit pleading with all us EBT’s to reckon our flesh and works dead, and to FOLLOW HIM, to Walk in the LIFE of the Holy Spirit! This is the only way we will enjoy any RELATIONSHIP with the FATHER!

He is the FATHER of the LIVING, the FATHER of those who have died to the flesh, and now walk in the Living Relationship of the Holy Spirit within us! The younger brother experienced that death and so was welcomed to LIFE. The Elder Brother saw no need to die, and so found no LIFE.

Alive but actually dead to GodElder Brothers must realize they can be all righteous and moral but inwardly be walking corpses, dead to God!  Our morality is worthless without a LIVING RELATIONSHIP with our LIVING FATHER!

God is all about the RESURRECTION! He is all about LIFE! And ther can be no SONSHIP without the RELATIONSHIP! The Resurrection will bring all Elder Brothers (and younger) into RELATIONSHIP with the Father!

Most people who read and study The Parable of the Prodigal Son concentrate completely on the character of the younger son, his repentance, and the father’s forgiveness. And yet look at the text. It doesn’t end with the return of the prodigal. Almost half of the story is about the older son. The story is about two sons, who are both alienated from the father, who are both assaulting the unity of the family. Jesus wants us to compare and contrast them. The younger son is “lost”—that is easy to see. We see him shaming his father, ruining his family, sleeping with prostitutes, and we say, “yes, there’s someone who is spiritually lost.” But Jesus’ point is that the older son is lost too. Let’s learn from the text:

      1. A new understanding of Lostness,
      2. Signs of being an Elder Brother
      3. What we can do to join the Feast?.

1. A startling new understanding of LOSTNESS—verse 28.

  • The elder brother would have known that the day of the prodigal’s return was the greatest day in his father’s life.
  • The father has “killed the fattened calf”, an enormously expensive extravagance in a culture where even having meat at meals was considered a delicacy.
  • The older son realized his father was ecstatic with joy. Yet he refused to go into the biggest feast his father has ever put on. This was a remarkable, deliberate act of disrespect. It was his way of saying, “I won’t be part of this family nor respect your headship of it.
  • And the father had to “go out” to plead with him. Just as he went out to bring his alienated younger son into the family, now he had to do the same for the older brother.

Do you realize what Jesus is saying to his listeners, and to us? The Elder Brother is lost ! At the Very Least He is Missing out on Fellowship with His Father and Brother.

  • The father represents God himself, and the meal is the feast of salvation. In the end, then, the younger son, the immoral man, comes in and is saved, but the older son, the good son, refuses to go in and is lost
  • The Pharisees who were listening to this parable knew what that meant. It was a complete reversal of everything they believed. You can almost hear them gasp as the story ends.
  • And what is it that is keeping the elder brother out? It’s because: “All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed…” (v.29). The good son is not lost in spite of his good behavior, but because of his good behavior. So it is not his sin keeping him out, but his righteousness.
  • The gospel is neither religion nor is it irreligion; it is not morality nor is it immorality. This was completely astonishing and confusing to Jesus’ hearers at the time—and it may even be astonishing and confusing to you

Why is the older son lost?

New understanding of Lostnessa) There is No Relationship.
b) There is No Companionship.
c) There is Only a Selfish Child.

The Father Parakaleo – came along side, is a picture of the Holy Spirit, pleading! Come in, Fellowship with me!

The younger brother wanted the father’s wealth, but not the father. So how did he get what he wanted? He left home. He broke the moral rules. But it becomes evident by the end that the elder brother also wanted selfish control of the father’s wealth. He was very unhappy with the father’s use of the possessions—the robe, the ring, the calf. But while the younger brother got control by taking his stuff and running away, we see that the elder brother got control by staying home and being very good. He felt that now he has the right to tell the father what to do with his possessions because he had obeyed him perfectly.

So there are two ways to be your own Savior and Lord.

  • One is by breaking all the laws and being bad.
  • One is by keeping all the laws and being good.

If I can be so good that God has to answer my prayer, give me a good life, and take me to heaven, then in all I do I may be looking to Jesus to be my helper and my rewarder—but he isn’t my Savior. I am then my own Savior.

The difference between a religious person and a true Christian is that the religious person obeys God to get control over God, and things from God, but the Christian obeys just to get God, just to love and please and draw closer to him.

2. ARE YOU AN ELDER BROTHER TYPE?—verses 29-30.

Elder Brother TypesSome people are complete elder brothers. They go to church and obey the Bible—but out of expectation that then God owes them. They have never understood the Biblical gospel at all. But many Christians, who know the gospel, are nonetheless elder-brotherish. Despite the fact that they know the gospel of salvation by grace with their heads, their hearts go back to an elder-brotherish “default mode” of self-salvation.

Here is how to tell if you are infected with the Spirit of the ELDER BROTHER:

  • AN ANGRY SPIRIT (v.28—“became angry”).

But he was angry (ōrgisthē). First aorist (ingressive) passive indicative. But he became angry, he flew into a rage (orgē). This was the explosion as the result of long resentment towards the wayward brother and suspicion of the father’s partiality for the erring son.

If you believe God owes you a good life…
You will be angry…Why does my buddy have a better life…Why is all this going wrong…
Anger is a characteristic-frustrated, hostile
Elder brothers believe that God owes them a comfortable and good life if they try hard and live up to standards—and they have! So they say: “my life ought to be going really well!” and when it doesn’t they get angry. But they are forgetting Jesus. He lived a better life than any of us—but suffered terribly.

  • A Selfish SPIRIT (would not go in)

Would not go in (ouk ēthelen eiselthein). Imperfect tense (was not willing, refused) and aorist active (ingressive) infinitive. Selfish people are Fleshly People. They are Dead, but don’t realize it.

The Elder was dead and did not realize it. The Younger was dead, and realized it.

  • A SPIRIT OF Joyless and Dutiful Obedience (v.29—“I’ve been slaving for you”).

Duty without beauty.
Younger son – I’m not worthy, make me a slave, Father makes him a Son.
Elder son – I’m your obedient son, so he becomes the obedient slave.
You go to college to study to make money
In the world you spend money because it is beauty.
Totally results oriented, becomes a grind, a duty
Elder Brothers pray but not adoring God.
Prayer is a duty, not a beauty.
I obey and obey but I don’t get anything out of it.
Everything went wrong becasue he was faithful and obedient.

Elder brothers obey God as a means to an end—as a way to get the things they really love. Of course, obedience to God is sometimes extremely hard. But elder brothers find obedience virtually always a joyless,
mechanical, slavish thing as a result.

  • A SPIRIT OF Coldness to Younger Brother-types (v.30—“this son of yours”).

You Don’t Rejoice in what the Father Rejoices in. You have Religious and class superiority. If you ground your value in success or hard work, you have to look down your nose at the poor, the perceived lazy.  When you look at people of different races, classes, you look down at them or creeped out at them you are an elder brother.  The older son will not even “own” his brother. Elder brothers are too disdainful of others unlike themselves to be effective in evangelism. Elder brothers, who pride themselves on their doctrinal and moral purity, unavoidably feel superior to those who do not have these things. If you hate other cultural styles and customs, you are an elder brother.
You don’t grow in love in sweetness. Do evidences of the joy and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus doesn’t lash out at them, condemn the Parisees, the ones who will kill him. You are alienated from the Father’s heart, my child, While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us.
The Cross is the greatest challenge to us. We are so messed up that nothing short of the cross will save you. See the humiliation of the Cross, and the Affirmation of His Love for You.

  • A DOUBTING SPIRIT – Lacking Assurance of the Father’s Love (v.29—you never threw me a party).

As long as you are trying to earn your salvation by controlling God through your goodness, you will never be sure you have been good enough. What are the signs of this? Every time something goes wrong in your life you wonder if it’s a punishment. Another sign is irresolvable guilt. You can’t be sure you’ve repented deeply enough, so you beat yourself up over what you did. Lastly, there is a lack of any sense of intimacy with God in your prayer life. You may pray a lot of prayers asking for things, but not sense his love.

  • An Unforgiving, Judgmental Spirit.

The elder brother does not want the father to forgive the younger brother. It is impossible to forgive someone if you feel “I would never do anything that bad!” You have to be something of an elder brother to refuse to forgive.

3. What we can do about this spiritual condition?

How do we Go in to the FeastAnd he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ” Luke 15:31-32

First, we have to EXPERIENCE DEATH TO SELF

  • Jesus ends the parable with the lostness of the older brother in order to get across the point that it is a more dangerous spiritual condition. The younger brother knew he was alienated from the father, but the elder brother did not.
  • If you tell moral, religious people who are trying to be good, trying to obey the Bible so God will bless them—that they are alienated from God, they will just be offended. If you know you are sick you may go to a doctor; if you don’t know you’re sick you won’t—you’ll just die.
  • Moralistic religion works on the principle, “I obey, therefore God accepts me.” The gospel works on the principle, “I am accepted by God through Jesus Christ, therefore I obey.”
  • These are two radically different, even opposite, dynamics. Yet both sets of people sit in church together, both pray, both obey the Ten Commandments, but for radically different reasons. And because they do these things for radically different reasons, they produce radically different results—different kinds of character. One produces anger, joyless compliance, superiority, insecurity, and a condemning spirit. The other slowly but inevitably produces contentment, joy, humility, poise, and a forgiving spirit.
  • Unless a person and a congregation knows the difference between general religiosity and the true gospel, people will constantly fall into moralism and elder-brotherishness. And if you call younger brothers to receive Christ and live for him without making this distinction clear, they will automatically think you are inviting them to become elder brothers.
  • Must learn to see yourself through the eyes of the Younger Brother.

Second, we HAVE TO EXPERIENCE LIFE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

The Father Entreated (parekalei). Imperfect tense, he kept on beseeching him. This is a picture of the Holy Spirit pleading for the Elder Brother to surrender to His Control, to allow Him to be in charge, and thereby experience the feasting of FULL FELLOWSHIP with the Father and the Son.

  • Remember, again, whom Jesus is speaking to (vv.1-2). Jesus is speaking to his mortal enemies, the men he knows will kill him. On the one hand, this is an astonishingly bold challenge to them. He’s talking to those who want to kill him and telling them that they are lost, that they fundamentally misunderstand God’s salvation and purpose in the world, and that they are trampling on the heart of God.
  • But at the same time, he is also being so loving and tender. When the father comes out to the older brother, that is Jesus pleading with his enemies. He is urging them to see their fatal error. Jesus does not scream at his enemies, or smite them, but lovingly urges them to repent and come into his love.

Climb the Ladder to HeavenAnd so we have a foreshadowing of that great moment on the cross when he says, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). This love toward his enemies made him vulnerable and cost him his life. On the cross, instead of blasting his enemies, he lovingly took the penalty of their sins on himself. While we were his enemies, Christ died for us (Rom 5:10).  Knowing what he did for us must drain us of our self-righteousness and our insecurity. We were so sinful he had to die for us. But we were so loved that he was glad to die for us. That takes away both the pride and the fear that makes us elder brothers.

We must stop trying to climb our own ladder to heaven. It is fruitless, it is hopeless. Only when we go to the cross and die to what we are and want and hope, and reach up and take the hand of Jesus – will we have the proper relationship with our Heavenly Father. We will be ALIVE, partakers of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.


uzzah touiches arkElder Brothers are usually more responsible, more careful, and more critical when it comes to their jobs or tasks. I always wanted Elder Brother types to be managers or team leaders when I was in the business world. They usually took a personal ownership attitude toward their responsibilities. However, Elder Brother types usually don’t work well in church situations.  They tend to want to give God too much of a hand, and rely more on their own strength and not upon the Lord.

Classic example occurred when David was moving the Ark of the Covenant from the home of Abinadab to its rightful place. The two brothers Uzzah and Ahio were responsible for the move, driving the ox cart. Normally Uzzah, being the elder, would have driven, but he wanted to keep a close eye on the Ark, as he considered it his job to make sure it arrived in good order. So he let his younger brother drive. I’m sure Uzzah told him to keep away from the threshing floor of Nacon, but you know how those younger brothers are. He probably got lost in all the attention and failed to notice the oxen heading for the grain. I’m sure Uzzah had some harsh words for Ahio as the oxen left the road and rushed toward the grain of the threshing floor. The ground was getting more uneven, the oxen were getting faster, the Ark was rocking with the cart. Uzzah knew for sure that unless he steadied the Ark, it would continue to wobble until it fell off the cart. He couldn’t let that happen! What would God do if His Ark fell off the cart and broke? The Ark needed the steadying arm of Uzzah, so he did what any Elder Brother would do – he gave God a hand.

Uzzah Did Not Heed the LordYou know what happened. God didn’t want Uzzah’s help. In fact, God struck Uzzah dead on the spot.

Elder Brothers do not understand this story. Even David got mad at God. How could God do such a thing? All Uzzah was trying to do was help! Don’t you want us to take our jobs seriously, to always do our best?

God wants us to do whatever we do with all our hearts. But God wants things done His way and not our way. Paul put it this way when describing how slaves should work for their masters:

Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Ephesians 6:6-7

As an Elder Brother, Uzzah thought he was doing right. He was taking ownership of the Ark. He was doing his best to take care of it. But he was so wrong. God had prescribed precisely how the Ark was to be transported and touched. He expected His will to be followed to the letter. He did not need anyone revising His rules. He did not need a hand in transporting the Ark. He simply needed willing hands combined with willing hearts that were obedient to His Word.

Ive got this under control

Elder Brothers must guard against the attitude that “I know how to do this.” “I don’t need anyone telling me what to do.” “I’ve got this under control.” Getting to know the Father’s heart requires obedience, but not unless it is from a humble heart. You may be a skilled, talented Elder Brother Manager in the business world. Your bosses may love what you are doing. But that doesn’t work in God’s House. In God’s House those that walk after His Spirit are to be in charge. Those that walk after their flesh are not welcome.

Uzzah did what was right under normal conditions. Elder Brothers will normally do what is right. There is a way which seems right to man, but the end thereof is death.

God does not want us to be right. Anyone can do what is right. God wants our hearts to be dependent upon Him, and to obey Him! That means Elder Brothers must humble themselves before the Father, and set aside what they think is right. They must depend upon the Father for their very life! The younger brother learned this lesson and was saved. But Elder Brothers have a hard time with humility and depending upon someone else.

Father: Open my eyes to see You, and to see how wrong I am. Take my heart and teach me to depend totally upon You! May Your Word be the only light for my path.


Joshu Lets Go Across the JordanIt is time to cross the Jordan River.

Reminds me of a couple of gals at their 40th High School Reunion. This was the first time they had seen each other in 40 years. The one gal asked the other, “You were always so organized in school, Did you manage to live a well planned life?” “Yes,” said her friend. “My first marriage was to a millionaire; my second marriage was to an actor; my third marriage was to a preacher; and now I’m married to an undertaker.” Her friend asked, “What do those marriages have to do with a well planned life?”

“One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go.”

Well, it’s time to go. Let’s look at Joshua one this morning and we will find three important things from God’s Word:Challenge Confidence Conduct

  1. T he Challenge God Presents
  2. The Confidence God Provides
  3. The Conduct God Presumes

The Challenge God Presents

1:1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: 2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them–the children of Israel.

Crossing the River JordanIt is time to go through the Jordan River. The Israelites could not build a bridge. They could not go around. They had to go through the Jordan. The reason is because the Jordan River represents death. As we learned last week the entire purpose of the wilderness wanderings was to teach them that they had to put off the old man, the old flesh, and live by the power of God. Joshua in particular had to align himself with the Captain of the Hosts, He had to die to what he thought was best, and follow what God wanted to do. In that respect Joshua represents a man who has joined himself with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Challenge God Presents

Now it was time for the entire nation of Israel to claim the inheritance God was giving them. In order to do so they must die to the flesh, and their fleshly desires, and live according to God and His Word.

The Jordan River always represents Death in the Bible.

  • It feeds into the dead sea.
  • Lot spied the Jordan Valley and thought it was a Valley of Life. But actually it was the way of death.
  • (There is a way which seems right to man, but the ways thereof are the ways of death)
  • Elisha had to cross over the Jordan to get Elijah’s power
  • Elisha told Naaman to go to the Jordan and dip himself seven times in order to be cleansed of the Leprosy.
  • The axe head fell into the Jordan River and Elisha made it float with the tree.
  • John the Baptist baptized those who brought forth works meet for repentance in the Jordan.
  • Jesus was baptized in the Jordan.
  • Baptism is a picture of death to self and rising to new life.

In order to live in the promised land, in order to enter into God’s rest, in order to be born again and put on the new man, we all must cross over the Jordan River. We must die to self and sin and what we want and then rise to walk in newness of life, in the Power of the Holy Spirit.

Victory over the FleshThe challenge that God presents is that this inheritance, this rest can only be claimed by dying to the flesh, dying to what you want, and by living in the power of the Holy Spirit! The Jordan is a picture of the Cross. You always have to die by passing through Jordan to get to Canaan. The only way to be born again is to experience the Cross. When you are willing to die, then you are in the place where God raise you up and use you.

Joshua Is The Man United With The Holy Spirit

Joshua a man united with the Holy SpiritYou Must Be Willing to Die to the Flesh in order for God to Raise You Up and Use You to Claim the Inheritance.

  • Romans 8:8-9 “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.
  • Romans 13:14 “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:50 “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”

The Mark of a Christian: No Confidence in the FleshNo Confidence in the Flesh

  • Philippians 3:3 “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh”
  • James 4:10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.”
  • “When all the nation were clean passed over Jordan” God Spoke (Joshua 4:1)

The Confidence God Provides

Confidence God ProvidesWhen God presents a challenge to us, a challenge to die to what we want, and to live in His power, He always gives us the confidence of a promised victory! God provides us three-fold ammunition to assure us of victory:Promises, Presence, Past Performance

God’s Promises

  • Verse 2 I am going to give this land to you.
  • Verse 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot.
  • Verse 5 No one will be able to stand up against you.
  • Verse 6 You will lead these people to inherit the land.

The outcome was promised. They would be victorious over the enemy. They would claim the land that God had given them for an inheritance. No matter how long it took and no matter how many casualties were sustained the outcome was guaranteed – God promised. The full extent  of the inheritance was not realized until David and Solomon. But in God’s mind it had already been secured. God had promised this to Abraham (Gen 12) God had promised this to Moses (Deut 34:4) There was going to be no repetition of what happened at Kadesh Barnea (Num 13) Joshua 14:9 (ESV) And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ 1 Kings 8:56 (NKJV) “Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.

In God, Joshua Can’t Fail, Because GOD CAN’T FAIL..

God Can't FailGod has given us a mission that can’t fail because he won’t. God had already given them the land; it was their responsibility now to step out by faith and claim it. Revelation 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.” You Have An Inheritance That Is SURE. All that we need is in Christ. We are seated with Him and Blessed in Him in the heavenlies. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. He has made us to be more than conquerors. He is the author and perfector of our faith. What more do you need to know that you can live a victorious, joyful life, regardless of the circumstances.

You Have No Enemies That Can Defeat You.

No one can stand against you if you are claiming Christ’s Inheritance. We normally think of Satan when we think of enemies. Or maybe terrorists with masks and bombs. But for most of us the enemies that can defeat us are friends, family, gossip, money problems, discouragement, sickness, disease, circumstances. These are the enemies we encounter everyday. The saddest thing in God’s mind is a Christian who has let their heart be overcome by hatred for a fellow Christian or family member, or overcome with discouragement because of a financial setback, or become depressed because of a sickness or even the loss of a loved one. I guarantee you that even though most everyone in this church claims that Christ lives in your heart by faith, that there are some here who are living in defeat because of some situation that has defeated you either emotionally, physically, or psychologically. If Jesus Christ is in your heart, there is no such thing as living a defeated life. He reigns over every situation.

The only way to claim this confidence that God wants us to live in is by seeing Him who is invisible. There are rooms in our lives that we tend to block Jesus out of. We don’t let the Holy Spirit in. He stands at the door of that room and knocks. He says let me come in and show you the victory I have for your life. In 2 Corinthians 1:19-20 (NIV) we are told: For the Son of God, Jesus Christ…in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” The promises of God are completed in Jesus Christ. He is the YES to all God has promised. When we live our lives in Jesus Christ, we are the AMEN to God’s promises. Our testimony shouts to the folks around us “AMEN to Jesus Christ!”

“O God, you promised, and I believe in your promise.  Please do what you have promised.”  That is praying according to the will of God.

God’s Presence

God's PresenceJoshua 1:5 “I will not leave you nor forsake you.” What a promise God gave to Joshua! “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you or forsake you” (Josh 1:5, NIV). God had given a similar promise to Jacob (Gen. 28:15), and Moses had repeated God’s promise to Joshua (Deut. 31:1-8). God has given this promise to His people today! The Gospel of Matthew opens with “Emmanuel…God with us” (1:23) and closes with Jesus saying, “Lo, I am with you always” (28:20 NKJV).

The writer of Hebrews 13:5 quotes Joshua 1:5 and applies it further. Hebrews 13:5-6 (NKJV) Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” to Christians today: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (NKJV).

Covetousness and Confidence in God’s Presence

Jesus cant come where there is covetousnessHe relates confidence in God’s presence to lack of covetousness or fondness for money. Christians have come a long way since that moment when Joshua led the people across the Jordan. Our confidence is too often in our money our possessions. If you want God’s presence in your life, you confidence must be in Him alone. Many Christians have a real fondness for their possessions, their money. They watch it all the time. Here God was bringing Israel into a place where money was not going to do the job. It was an impossible task. God offered Joshua the promise of His presence, and in so doing, there can be no confidence in anything else!

Romans 8:31 says if God be for us, who can be against us? But if we be not for God, why should He battle for us. In fact, if our confidence is in our money, God says He will vomit us from His presence

Revelations 3:17 mentions this Laodicean church. The people were saying: ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. When our confidence is in our money, our things, when that is what we delight in, God withdraws from us, or at very best lies grieving in a basement closet of our life. We think we are blessed, but God says Here, Look in My Mirror-you are wretched, inwardly miserable, poor, blind and naked. Here, God was promising His presence to a scared insecure band of runaway slaves. They had nothing in which to be confident. All the Gold the Egyptians gave them was useless in the fight against the Giants of Canaan.

JESUS is with us NOW! But We Can Shut Him out of our Lives

That is the promise of Jesus to us that many of us ignore – And ignoring it is not so much a sin as it is sad. At the end of the letters to the churches in Revelation 3:20 (NLT) “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Even though we are Christians, and the Holy Spirit indwells us, IT IS POSSIBLE TO SHUT JESUS OUT OF YOUR LIFE, AND NOT FEAST WITH HIM ON HIS WORD. We must repent of our fleshly confidence in our wealth and things and talents. These things make us indifferent to the Cause of Jesus Christ. Repent and open the door!

God’s Past Performance

Joshua 1:5 – Just  as I was with Moses, so  I will be with you.

Gods past performanceJoshua knew the history of God’s faithfulness to his people. He had heard how God had steadfastly worked in Abraham’s, Isaac’s, Jacob’s and Joseph’s lives.  He had heard the stories over and over again of God’s protection, God’s provision and God’s power on behalf of his people. As a very young man he had witnessed the miracles of the plagues in Egypt, the saving of the first-born Israelites from the angel of death, the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, and the manna from the skies. God had proven himself faithful.

“Living victoriously is not your responsibility – it’s your response to God’s  ability!”

Those stories and countless others like them are our stories too. Yes you can be cynical and say that the good things of life are just coincidental. But if you believe in God and believe that he sent his Son Jesus for us, then it is illogical not to accept that “every good and perfect gift is from above” as James said it, and not to take courage that the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joshua is the same God who is faithful to me today.

Confidence in God comes from trust in His promises, His Presence and His Past performance.

God Gives Us The Challenge To Claim Something He Has Secured, God Gives Us The Confidence Of Victory Based Upon Unbeatable Ammunition, God Assumes We Will Abide By His Rules.

The Conduct that God Presumes

Joshua 1:6-9 (KJV) Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Before God could fulfill His promises, however, Joshua had to exercise faith and “be strong and of good courage” (1:6).

Promises of God no pillowTHE PROMISES ARE NOT A PILLOW BUT A PROD

Divine sovereignty is not a substitute for human responsibility. God’s sovereign Word is an encouragement to God’s servants to believe God and obey His commands.

As Charles Spurgeon put it, Joshua “was not to use the promise as a couch upon which his indolence might luxuriate, but as a girdle wherewith to gird up his loins for future activity” (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 14, p. 97).

Real trust involves action – God says if you trust me you will obey me.

  • Be Strong & Of Good Courage
  • Focus On Your Responsibility (You Affect The Others Inheritance)
  • Be Strong & Very Courageous.
  • Build Your Life Around The Word And Instructions Of God
  • Be Purposeful Obedience Will Bring GOOD Success.
  • He Mentioned It Twice – Emphasizing Keeping It In Your Mouth.
  • Be Strong And Of A Good Courage; Be Not Afraid, Neither Be Thou Dismayed
  • I Am With You Always.

God says if you are going to live a worthwhile life, if you are going to accomplish the mission I have given you then this is what you must do – know and obey my Word, make it YOUR LIFE!

Covenant RelationshipOUR COVENANT RELATIONSHIP

God was reminding Joshua of the foundational strategy of living a worthwhile life – live an intimate relationship with God in his Word. God doesn’t give Joshua military instructions at this point. Wouldn’t that have been what you would have wanted? God give me the military intelligence I need on the armies we must fight, give me the battle plan, give me the names of the men I should put in charge. But God says if you want success in your mission, here is what I am telling you to do – meditate on my Word so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.

Meditate on God’s Word.

  • When are we going to learn that there is LIFE in this Word. There is Healing Power in this word. You want strong bones – meditate on the Word. You want a Strong Heart – meditate on the Word. You want to know how to Battle enemies – meditate on the Word.
  • It’s one thing to say to a leader, “Be strong! Be very courageous!” and quite something else to enable him to do it. Joshua’s strength and courage would come from meditating on the Word of God, believing its promises, and obeying its precepts.
  • It isn’t enough to have the Bible on your coffee table or in your car or next to you at church. Take time to read it daily and make it a part of his inner person by meditating on it (Ps. 1:2);. The Hebrew word translated “meditate” means “to mutter.” It was the practice of the Jews to read Scripture aloud (Acts 8:26-40) and talk about it to themselves and to one another (Deut. 6:6-9). This explains why God warned Joshua that the Book of the Law was not to depart out of his mouth (Josh. 1:8).

“If you don’t talk to your Bible, your Bible isn’t likely to talk to you!”

The Word is Like the Covenant Feast

Word is our covenant feastThe modern ideal is individualism, self-interest, and self-centeredness. We glory in the philosophy that says, “I will do what I want to do, when and how I want to do it, and I don’t care what anyone else thinks.” But the moment we are converted, such life must come to an end, for as Christians we are called to live in covenant relationship with God and with each other. A covenant is an agreement between two or more persons; therefore, covenant life is community life, and a covenant person will seek, not his own interest, but that of the entire community. So a husband will look after the interests of his wife; parents will look after the interests of their children; and a believer in Christ will look after the interest of the whole community of believers of which he is a part.

Many who enter into a covenant-based life fail to live up to their promises and commitments to others. They become self-seekers instead. But the Bible detests such people. Instead, it praises those who keep their oaths even when it hurts (Psalm 15:4). Take, for example, Joshua’s agreement with the Gibeonites (Joshua 9). As inhabitants of Canaan, the Gibeonites were slated to be destroyed by the Israelites. But they deceived Joshua and the leaders into making a covenant of peace with them, and Joshua kept that covenant, even though it hurt him. Jesus Christ calls us all to live a covenant life, putting the interests of God and our fellow believers before our own.

WHERE ARE YOU IN YOUR JOURNEY?

Where Are You ChristianEach of us is on our own spiritual journey that will ultimately end in either Rest and Reward, or Punishment and Pain. I wish it were that easy. Good and Bad, Life or Death, Heaven or Hell, Black or White. But life is far from easy. In this life on earth we are usually in one of four places:

  • In Egypt, still in slavery to sin, and you need to be saved.
  • In the wilderness, redeemed, but going nowhere other than in circles.  Time of testing, dealing with the flesh, a time where the Holy Spirit is dealing with fleshly habits that keep you wandering. Been saved for years but you still aren’t really digging into your Bible, still not really praying, still not tithing consistently, still not making commitments to be faithful and to serve.  Been saved for years but never led a soul to Christ!  You’re not much closer to God than you were the day you got saved.
    • After leaving Egypt, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years due to their own unbelief and rebellion. An entire generation murmured against the covenant God had made with them and, as a result, they died in the desert. They did not enter into their inheritance of rest because of their disobedience.
  • In Canaan, excited, growing, having the joy of the Lord.  They’re not a wilderness wanderer, but a giant conqueror! You struggle with enemies, with the flesh, but you are in the Word, living your life and home in Jesus Christ. You are feasting on the Covenant Feast – the Word.
    • Enjoying Covenant Relationship
    • Marriage Relationship as the Bride of Christ
  • An “EASTSIDER” living on the dead side of Jordan. You are saved, but in the world, living for the flesh, for what you think is right. Occasionally you eat some of the milk and honey from the Lord. You cattle are well fed. You probably have money. But your family is falling apart, there is sin at the door. Satan is having a heyday stealing your inheritance.

Heb 4:1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest.

Now the second generation were east of the Jordan River, ready to enter the land. They had already defeated Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan (Deuteronomy 1:4), thus gaining possession of the territories of these two Amorite kings on the east side of the Jordan River, stretching from the Arnon River in the south to Mount Hermon in the north, beyond the Sea of Galilee. They controlled hundreds of cities of the Amorites, including such fertile lands as Bashan and Gilead. The Bible speaks about “the cows of Bashan,” meaning cows that are healthy and well-fed because of the fertile land. Numbers 32:1 and Deuteronomy 3:19 tell us that the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh possessed large numbers of livestock. So they approached Moses and the other leaders with this request: “Please do not make us cross the Jordan, but let us possess these fertile lands on the east side of Jordan” (Numbers 32:5). In this request, we can see their sinful rejection of the covenant obligations of community life. They were rejecting God’s plan and not living by faith. They were placing their own interests and that of their cattle over the interests of all the other tribes.

lot chooses Jordan ValleyJUST LIKE LOT: many centuries before. Genesis 13:10-11 tells us that “Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt . . . So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan.” Lot made his choice based on one reason – he owned many cattle. Lot based his decision on sight, not on faith.

Like Lot, these two and a half tribes were making their decision based, not on faith, but on selfish, material interests. They were refusing to cross over the Jordan, to die to their self and selfish wants. Jesus once warned his followers, “The pagans run after all these things” (Matthew 6:32). “These things” there means money, or material possessions. Pagans live for money, making decisions based on the possibility of making more money.

Moses was mad at their request. In anger he called them a “brood of sinners” (Numbers 32:14) and asked, “Shall your brothers go to war while you sit here?” (v. 6).

You see, they were not thinking about being brothers and part of the twelve-tribe community. They were only thinking about themselves. They did not want to cross the mighty Jordan to endanger themselves by fighting wars against the Canaanites. They wanted to enjoy the good life while the others fought on their behalf. In effect, they were saying, “Let the others cross the Jordan and fight the wars of the Lord. We just want to rest and take care of our livestock. We are sick and tired of wandering. We have no more stomach for battles.”

Just as these tribes rejected covenant community life in favor of a self-centered life, so there are believers who confess Jesus as Lord and take upon themselves covenant responsibilities, only to reject them. They refuse to cross over the Jordan, to die to self, to the flesh.

They Repented and Agreed to Fight

Numbers 32:16-19 tells us that these two and a half tribes repented of their sins and renewed their covenant. They entered into an agreement with Moses, Joshua, Eleazar, and other leaders which included these three promises:

  1. Their armed men would cross over the Jordan with their brothers;
  2. They would go ahead of everybody else as the vanguard to face the greatest danger of fighting; and
  3. They would not return to their homes until every Israelite had received his inheritance.

IN OUR COVENANT RELATIONSHIP, GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES!

Yes, when God makes a promise, we can rely on it, for God is not a man that he should lie, nor does he ever change. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ’Yes’ in Christ’” (2 Corinthians 1:20). He promised rest to all the tribes and he would keep that promise. But would the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh fulfill what they had promised?

Consequences to not crossing the Jordan

Although these tribes ultimately repented, there were some consequences to their decision to obtain land on the east of the Jordan. The wives and children they left behind were deprived of the privilege of witnessing divine miracles – the parting of the Jordan River, the destruction of the walls of Jericho, and the many battles fought and won. And in later years, due to their great distance from the temple, these tribes came more and more under pagan influence, and were the first to go into captivity.

We Must Agree to Obey & Join the Battle

  • This is exactly what we mean when we say, “Jesus is Lord.” We are telling the greater Joshua: “Whatever you command, we will do, and wherever you send, we will go. If we do not do it, put us to death.” That is covenant language. Joshua was so pleased with these people that he gave them this certification in Joshua 22:2: “You have done all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded, and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded.”

Some people live under the mistaken notion that Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you: Love yourself.” But is that what he said? No, he said, “Love one another” (John 13:34). That is covenant life. In fact, Jesus said we must love one another “as I have loved you.” We do not even have the right to love the way we want to love. How did Jesus love us? By dying on the cross for our sins! Therefore, we too must lay down our lives for our brothers. This is serious community life. I hope we will not say, “Who is that person? I don’t have anything to do with him!” No, you have everything to do with that person because he has been saved by Christ and brought into the family of God. Jesus then said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (v. 35).

East-siders’ settle for less than God’s best.  They may have marched the football all the way down the field, but they allow the devil’s goal line stand to keep them out.  With the promised land in sight, they give up and are shut down, just inches away from victory!

It’s easy for Christians to get into a ‘comfort zone’, and never reach the ‘end zone.’  They’re better off than they were in Egypt or the wilderness, and that’s good enough for them.  God’s best for their life is just a step away, but they don’t take that step, and cross the Jordan River.

“I may not be on fire for God but I’m not exactly living in sin, either!”

Ready to Join the Battle

The peril is that having begun in the Spirit, you might turn aside to make some compromise with Amalek, because of the hardness of the way, the greatness of the cost, by reason of the conflict and forgetting God’s word – “utterly destroy Amalek” (1 Samuel 15:3). “Walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4).

We settle for a peaceful coexistence with the flesh. God says to destroy Amalek.

People, it’s time to Roll. It’s time to Go.

Hebrews 6:1 (NLT) So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God.