Posts Tagged ‘Forgiveness’


Jesus Christ is our Good Samaritan-He was forsaken that we might be loved

One of the hardest verses to understand is in Matthew 27…

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” Matthew 27:46-47

Martin Luther could not understand. He said “How can God forsake God?”

We can see more insight into this as we peer into its Old Testament source:

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. 3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. 6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; 8 “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” 9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. 10 On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. 11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. Psalms 22:1-11

Jesus Christ became the most God-Forsaken Man ever born.

I suggest we will never grasp the full meaning of what Christ experienced when he cried out “Eli Eli lama sabacthani.” To fully understand would be so horrible, so frightening, it would make anything you’ve seen in the movies seem tame. That moment was the blackest of the black, the most terrifying of the terrifying, the most awful of the awful, the most horrible of the horrible.

Jesus was forsaken of God, His father, the one whom He had depended upon all His earthly life, the one He had communed with all eternity.

In that black moment on the cross, God the Father turned his back on God the Son.

The word “forsaken” is very strong. It means to abandon, to desert, to disown, to turn away from, to utterly forsake.

Please understand. When Jesus said, “Why have you forsaken me?” it was not simply because he felt forsaken; he said it because he was forsaken.

Literally, truly and actually God the Father abandoned his own Son.

In English the phrase “God-forsaken” usually refers to some deserted, barren locale. We mean that such a place seems unfit for human habitation. But we do not literally mean “God-forsaken” even though that’s what we say. But it was true of Jesus. He was the first and only God-forsaken person in all history.

What about people in Hell? Of course, God abandoned them, but it is not the same as what happened to Jesus,

“because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened”. Romans 1:19-21

God did not abandon them first, it was their choice to ignore God.

No one can ever know what Jesus experienced in that moment, for no one was ever so united with God as Jesus.

Jesus was wailing the fact that He had been abandoned by the one whom He so depended upon. He had even proclaimed that “I and the Father am one”

People condemned to Hell will curse God for all eternity. They rejected Him all their life, and they will reject Him for all eternity!

My prayer is that no one here will smugly say, “I still have time. I’m not done living my life my way. I know Jesus died on the cross for me, but I’m not ready to turn away from my way and give my life to HIm. I have plenty of time for that later.

You are playing with Hellfire-you are rejecting God even as I speak, and you do not know what will happen in the next hour. If you continue to reject God, and he should take your life on the way home, you will spend all eternity cursing God, because you forsook Him. You rejected that still small voice. You rejected His grace. You rejected the Savior’s love.

Jesus said, “My God,” because the Father-Son relationship was broken at that moment.

That is what God did when Jesus died on the cross. He abandoned his own Son. He turned his back, he disowned him, he rejected the One who was called his “only begotten Son.”

Jesus Became Cursed

Why would God do such a thing? Something happened that day that caused a fundamental change in the Father’s relationship with the Son. Something happened when Jesus hung on the cross which had never happened before.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” Galatians 3:13

Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten son, at that moment became cursed for us.

Why did God turn away?

Imagine that somewhere in the universe there is a cesspool containing all the sins that have ever been commit-ted. The cesspool is deep, dark and indescribably foul. All the evil deeds that men and women have ever done are floating there. Imagine that a river of filth constantly flows into that cesspool, replenishing the vile mixture with all the evil done every day.

Now imagine that while Jesus was on the cross, that cesspool is emptied onto him. See the flow of filth as it settles upon him. The flow never seems to stop. It is vile, toxic, deadly, filled with disease, pain and suffering.

When God looked down at his Son, he saw the cesspool of sin emptied on his head. No wonder he turned away from the sight. Who could bear to watch it?

Think of it. All the lust in the world was there. All the broken promises were there. All the murder, all the killing, all the hatred between people. All the theft was there, all the adultery, all the pornography, all the drunkenness, all the bitterness, all the greed, all the gluttony, all the drug abuse, all the crime, all the cursing. Every vile deed, every wicked thought, every vain imagination—all of it was laid upon Jesus when he hung on the cross.

When God looked down and saw his Son bearing the sin of the world, he didn’t see his Son, he saw instead the sin that he was bearing. And in that awful moment, the Father turned away. Not in anger at his Son. No, he loved his Son as much at that moment as he ever had. He turned away in anger over all the sin of the world that sent his Son to the cross. He turned away in sorrow and deepest pain when he saw what sin had done. He turned away in complete revulsion at the ugliness of sin.

When he did that, Jesus was alone. Completely forsaken. God-forsaken. Abandoned. Deserted. Disowned.

There’s an old Southern gospel song called “Ten Thousand Angels.”

He could have called ten thousand angels
To destroy the world and set Him free.
He could have called ten thousand angels,
But He died alone, for you and me.

Jesus, as the Son of God, could have called 10,000 angels to rescue him from the cross. He didn’t do that, and the chorus ends with these words, “But he died alone for you and me.”

Jesus was Altogether Alone

When Jesus bore the sins of the world, he bore them all alone. Christ is now abandoned, the Trinity disjointed, the Godhead broken. The fact that we do not know what those words mean does not stop them from being true. When Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” he was really and truly forsaken by God.

Have you been redeemed?

By your faith in Jeus Christ, and by turning from your sin to Him, all that vileness, all that stench, all that putrefication of sin is removed. The curse of God’s Law is taken away by Him who became cursed for you.

If you have been redeemed, you have a Blessed Gift that is too Huge to Keep all to yourself.

This is what Jesus read when He began His public ministry:

“THE SPIRIT OF THE Lord IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE Lord.” Luke 4:18-19

Jesus has given us the gift of

  1. The greatest “Good News” anyone could ever receive
  2. Total Freedom and Release from those who have been captured
  3. New Sight to those who have been blinded
  4. Total freedom and release from those held under a oppressing, bruising weight.

Jesus came to touch the abandoned, the forsaken, the captured, the imprisoned, the broken hearted, the beaten, the abused, the blind.  Jesus was willing to be forsaken and cursed so that we could enjoy forever the comfort and presence of God our Fther.

When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. Isaiah 41:17

Jesus is our ultimate Good Samaritan.

Jesus not only became cursed so that we could be freed from being forsaken and abandoned, crushed and bruised under a weight of sin, He came alongside us, and proclaimed His constant sympathy and support in any and all of our trials.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

“There,” says he, “see this hand! I am not an high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of your infirmities. I have suffered, too. I was tempted in all ways like as you are. Look here! these are the scars that prove my commitment to you. They are not only tokens of my love, they are not only sweet forget-me-nots that bind me to love you for ever.

  • They are the evidence of my sympathy. I can feel for you.
  • Look-I have suffered. Has your heart been broken? Has your heart suffered betratal?
  • These scars show that my heart too was broken. I was betrayed. You have my sympathy.

The Sympathy of Christ sustained the martyrs

One of them declared that while he was suffering he fixed his eyes on Christ; and when they were pinching his flesh dragging it off with the hot irons, when they were putting him to agonies so severe that I can not even mention them lest some of you would faint,

“My soul is not insensible but it loves.” “For my eyes are fixed on him that suffered for me, and I can suffer for him; for my soul is in his body; I have sent my heart up to him. He is my brother, and there my heart is. Plough my flesh, and break my bones; smash them with irons, I can bear it all, for Jesus suffered, and he suffers in me now; but he sympathises with me, and this makes me strong.”

The martyr St. Procopius thus spoke to the tyrant who tortured him: “Torment me as you like; but know at the same time, that nothing is sweeter to the lover of Jesus Christ than to suffer for his sake.”7

St. Gordius, Martyr, replied in the same way to the tyrant who threatened him death: “Thou threatenest me with death; but I am only sorry that I cannot die more than once for my own beloved Jesus.”8

In your suffering beloved, think of Jesus

  • When you are sweating, think of his bloody sweat.
  • When you are bruised, think of the whips that tore his flesh.
  • When you are hampered by aches and pains, think of Him falling under the weight of the cross.
  • When you are suffering from some life-threatening disease, think of Him on the cross, gasping for each breath as he feels the agony of the nails against his bones and flesh.
  • When it seems that God has hidden His face from you for a little while, think of Jesus crying out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!”

This is why he wears his wounds in his hands, that he may show that he sympathises with everything that you go through. If by faith you have been born again, you will never ever face this life alone. You will never ever be forsaken. The risen Son of God dwells in you. He is your Elder Brother. He is your comforter. He is your King. He is your High Priest!

Jesus Christ wears His wounds to show us that suffering is an honorable thing.

  • To suffer for Christ is glory. Men will say, “It is glorious to make others suffer.”
  • It is glorious to be trodden on, glorious to be crushed, glorious to suffer.

This is hard to learn. But we see it in our glorified Lord. His wounds are his glory, and his sufferings are part of the drapery of his regal robe. The only degree that God gives to his people is the degree of “Masters in tribulation.” If you would be one of God’s nobles you must be knighted. Men are knighted with a blow of the sword. The Lord knights us with the sword of affliction; and when we fight hard in many a battle, he makes us princes of the kingdom of heaven. We are dukes and lords in the kingdom of God, not through honor of man, but through dishonor of man, not through joy, but through suffering, and grief, and agony, and death. (with thanks to Spurgeon)

The Jewels of a Christian are our afflictions!

  • Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring. 2 Thessalonians 1:4
  • that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 1 Thessalonians 3:3

The Crown of a Christian is to share in love the afflictions of those around you. The challenge before us has been to Love our Neighbor. And to Love our Neighbors, we must be willing to take up their afflictions and sufferings as our own!

We do not close our eyes and pass them by!

We get close enough to look them in the eye and say Jesus Loves You! I will help you in the name of Jesus Christ, the one who gave His life for me when I was afflicted!

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, Colossians 1:24

Becoming a Good Samaritan simply involves getting close enough to people to see their hurts, their pains, their afflictions, their struggles. Then you make those struggles your own in the name of Jesus Christ!

Jesus was afflicted on my behalf. When I abandoned God, He was there for me!

There are thousands of people in our neighborhood who are struggling under the weight of their sin, that are blinded, that are bruised and broken, that are imprisoned by their own selfishness and rebellion from God.

Do we forsake them. Do we abandon them? Do we say a prayer for them and walk on?

Did Jesus do that for you? Did He simply say God bless you and walk on by?

No! No! He looked into the deepest blackest crevices of your sinful heart and said “I Love you!” I willingly gave my back to the Roman soldiers on your behalf. I willingly laid my hands and feet upon the cross for you! I gave my life for you!

Who will you pass by today that inwardly is bruises, inwardly held captive, inwardly is lost and feeling abandoned?

Will you get close enough to se their needs? Will you get close enough to share their afflictions? Will you get close enough to show them the scars of Jesus Christ!

Please remember that the Good Samaritan did not view the man by the side of the road as a project; he viewed him as a son of God in need of help. The relationship was key in that situation, and I pray that it remains key for us today.

I read the story of a father whose young son was killed in a tragic accident. In grief and enormous anger, he visited his pastor and poured out his heart. He said, “Where was God when my son died?” The pastor paused for a moment, and with great wisdom replied, “The same place he was when his Son died.”

This cry from the cross is for all the lonely people of the world. It is for the abandoned child … the widow… the divorcee struggling to make ends meet … the mother standing over the bed of her suffering daughter … the father out of work … the parents left alone … the prisoner in his cell … the aged who languish in convalescent homes … wives abandoned by their husbands … singles who celebrate their birthdays alone.

This is the word from the cross for you. No one has ever been as alone as Jesus was. You will never be forsaken as he was. No cry of your pain can exceed the cry of his pain when God turned his back and looked the other way.

  • He was forsaken that you might never be forsaken.
  • He was abandoned that you might never be abandoned.
  • He was deserted that you might never be deserted.
  • He was forgotten that you might never be forgotten.

Are you determined to continue to be a Good Samaritan? Then allow the crown of Christ’s sufferings to puncture the bubble wrap which insulates your life from the forsaken people all around you. Jesus himself became forsaken that they could hear the Good News! Jesus Saves!

Then seek out the forsaken, the captive, the downtrodden. The message of Jesus is for them. That is the message that brought you to new life, for you once were forsaken!

Now, go and walk as the Son of God!


Our church is going through a series of studies and messages aimed at building a culture of peacemaking. A well-known fact of church life is that most Christians deal with conflict in a way that does not bring honor to Jesus Christ. Most mature churches and Christians wear battle scars from at least one serious conflict in the past. Our church experienced serious conflict two years before I came, and yet the effects are still being felt. God has led me to seek out how to use the Gospel of Peace to build a culture of peacemaking in our church, to develop a body of believers who do not run from conflict, but see it as an opportunity for the Gospel of Christ to become more powerful in our church and community. Ken Sande and his “Peacemaker.net” are the powerful resources we are using. I heartily recommend them. This post is the first of eight based upon the series of sermons used in that peacemaking series.

If you do a Google search and type in the word “peace” you will get 323 million sites which relate to “peace”. There are 232 million images relating to “peace”. That’s a lot of interest in peace. That’s a lot of advice on how to have peace.

People are much hungrier for peace than I imagined! As I glanced over many of the summaries, I learned that there are articles about the Peace Corps, peace prizes, peace poles, peace colleges, peace endowments, peace gardens, peace institutes, and peace protests. There are women for peace, Jews for peace, Buddhists for peace, religions for peace, musicals for peace, and children for peace. The list goes on and on … 323 million web sites and articles dedicated to peace!

If you examined these pages, you would discover an amazing assortment of formulas for finding peace. While some of these formulas are noble and inspirational, many are simplistic and superficial. Remember the song, “All we are saying is give peace a chance”.

Nearly all of them are based on human efforts to resolve conflict and get along with others. Although some of these efforts have encouraged temporary peace, few of them can report genuine, lasting results. And nearly all of them fail to address the ultimate reason there is so little peace in this world.

Therefore, most of these approaches are described all too well by God’s indictment in Jeremiah 6:14: “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.”

Fortunately, we don’t need to sort through 323 million pages on the internet to find the path to real peace. Through Holy Scripture, God has graciously and repeatedly described the one and only path to genuine, lasting peace. That path is beautifully described in Colossians 1:15-20:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

In this brief passage, God provides a more robust, promising, and exhilarating formula for real peace than do all the millions of articles, speeches, and books written by men since the world began. His answer to our hunger for peace may be summarized in five key principles.

1. Real peace is a Priority to God.

Consider who God sent to restore peace in a broken and conflicted world. He did not send an angel, mighty as they are. He did not raise up a mighty army to suppress conflict, enforce justice, and impose unity on the nations. Nor did he did send a delegation of gifted men to teach us how to find peace.

Peace is such a high priority to God that he did not send any secondary lieutenants to bring us this treasure. Instead, he sent his only Son, the most exalted and powerful ambassador who has ever walked the face of the earth. Listen again to Jesus’ credentials:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.

No Last Minute Thing

This was no casual or last minute assignment. As 1 Peter 1:20 tells us, Jesus was chosen for this task “before the creation of the world.” God’s priority for peace is emphasized by the fact that he planned for reconciliation even before the world and all our conflicts came into existence!

Since God has made peace one of his highest priorities, he calls us to do the same. He does not want us to treat estrangement from him or others as an insignificant matter. He expects us to make more than a token effort to seek peace with others. He teaches us never to delay going to someone who may have something against us. In fact, his priority for peace is so high that Jesus commands us to seek reconciliation with others even before we seek to worship God himself!

Consider Christ’s command in Matthew 5:23-24:

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

What more could God say to indicate how high a priority he places on peace? Peace between Christian brothers is so important that God doesn’t want your money nor your worship until you seek to make peace. Yet how many Christians worshiping each Sunday have family members they don’t even speak to any longer? Is there any wonder that Christians are often viewed with skepticism and derision.

God realized the importance of peace when He sent his most exalted ambassador to make peace on earth. And he commands us not to approach him to worship unless we have made every reasonable effort to seek peace with those around us. By his example and commands, God has placed peace at the top of his list of priorities. Let us do likewise!

2. Real peace is Expensive.

Consider the price that was paid to purchase our peace. The Son of God had to leave the glory of heaven, descend into a fallen and corrupt world, take on the form of a helpless baby, walk countless miles over deserts and dusty roads, submit to mocking, beating and torture, and shed his own life’s blood on the cross.

What price can we place on these services? As the only Son of God, Jesus’ life and blood was infinitely precious. If his atoning work could somehow be converted into pure gold, all the vaults in the world could not hold the resulting treasure.

Why would God be willing to pay such a high price for our salvation? He tells us over and over in Scripture: it is love that moved him to pay the supreme price for our peace and salvation. Remember what Jesus said in John 3:16:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

In his first letter, the apostle repeats and expands on this theme:

1 John 4:9-11 “9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”.

Note the response that God is looking for in us: if we understand and treasure the love that he has shown toward us, we will be eager to be a channel of that same love into the lives of others. If that love is flowing through our lives, we will be willing and even eager to pay whatever price is necessary to be reconciled with others, just as Christ paid an infinitely expensive price—his very life!—to be reconciled with us.

Ask yourself today, “Is the love of Jesus living in me? Am I as passionate about peace and reconciliation as he is? Will I pay the price required to spread peace and reconciliation with others, as God has with me?”

1 Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourself under God’s mighty hand.” Will you humble yourself, stop trying to prove your own righteousness, cast aside your lifelong tactics for resolving conflict, and follow God’s path for making peace, no matter how difficult it may be?

In Matthew 7:3-4, Jesus says, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Will you stop dwelling on what others have done wrong and confess, in detail and with sincere sorrow, how you have contributed to a conflict or broken relationship?

In Philippians 2:3-4, the apostle Paul writes, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Will you admit that others may understand a conflict situation more accurately than you do? And will you give as much effort to identifying and meeting their interests as you do your own?

In Ephesians 4:32, Paul writes, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

What about the person who has deeply wronged you? Gossiped about you? Betrayed your trust? Failed to keep a commitment? Damaged your property or reputation? What price will you pay to encourage that person’s repentance and restore peace in your relationship? Will you let go of bitterness? Will you give up self-pity? Will you divest yourself of the desire to make that person suffer for the wrong he or she has done to you?

Weekend at the Tompkins Home

At Baptist Bible College, I was elected the Senior Class President. I was the first single student to do so in the 24 years of the college at that time. A married man would win because the majority of students were married. (Kind of strange today but common for Bible Schools at the time). As such, I was under much scrutiny and unfortunately there were people who resented the election results. Young single students were considered immature. After all, this was a coveted position, one which meant you could get a great job with a great church after graduation.

My Dad was teaching a adult  Sunday School class at Overland Park Baptist Temple, and Pastor Bob Perryman decided to have a contest to see which class could have the most people one Sunday in October, 1973 . The winner got to cut the tie of the loser. I believe the other class was taught by Ken Wohlgemuth. Dad asked me to pad his class by bringing up some friends from BBC. I had so many friends want to come that Dad had to rent a school bus. There were about 40 kids who came up for the weekend and stayed at our house. I still have people reminding me of how great a time they had.

My girlfriend (Lydia Langston) had to work later than the departure time of the bus, so I went to the assistant Dean of Students, Tom Sooter, to see if I could drive up separate from the group. (It had been a big deal to get permission for the group to go). He agreed to let me drive with Lydia as long as another girl drove with us (this was standard policy anyway – you always had to have a ‘chaperone’). So we all went to Overland Park, my Dad won the contest, we all had a super great time and I though everything was great!

The Tuesday following the trip, I got called into the dreaded “Discipline Committee” meeting. They said that I had not received permission to drive up apart from the others, and that because of my disobedience, I would have to speak before an assembly of all the Seniors and resign as President. I was in shock. Tom Sooter was in the meeting denying he had given me permission. Nothing I said mattered. I wanted to strangle him. I was filled with rage. Two days later at an assembly before 900 Seniors, I gave my resignation speech, explaining that I had failed to follow the rules of the college, and had made a serious error in judgment. It was short and to the point. You could see the suppressed smiles on the faces of the married students. I still remember the shocked expressions of my friends. I remember leaving without speaking to anyone and walking quickly to my room. In our room there was an unused closet that we had turned into a carpeted prayer closet. My roommates were in class, and so I spent the next two hours hunched over in our prayer closet, crying and crying and crying before my Heavenly Father. I had never been lower in all my life. My guts had been ripped from me, my heart had been taken and smashed into a million broken pieces. I cried until there were no more tears.

Jim rescues damsel (Lydia) at Halloween Party

God did something to me in that closet, in the midst of my tears and rantings, He tenderly took my heart and placed it in His hands. He assured me that He was at work, that this too was in His plan. He took a heart that was so angry and hurt and changed it into a heart filled with love, even joy and especially peace. I prayed for Tom Sooter. I forgave him as well as the discipline committee. I confessed to Him my sinfulness, my pride, my arrogance, and thanked him for using this to humble me, and to teach me to focus upon Him. God gave me such peace that I cannot describe it. He gave me strength to return to class and return to my job in the college cafeteria. He gave me strength to work with the new married President to carry out all the plans we had made for the Halloween Party a week later. (It was a GREAT one too!) Tom Sooter came into my office about five years later and apologized to me. I was able to tell him I had already forgiven him.

That one event had a profound effect upon my life and my relationship with God. It taught me to always seek Him fisrt in any conflict, and to seek to KNOW Him in that conflict. His purpose will be revealed as we humble ourselves to Him. His healing will prevail as we humble ourselves to Him. His Peace will prevail as we humble ourselves to Him. Jesus is the great mediator between God and man.

I could have allowed my pride to encase my heart. I could have become resentful and bitter at what had happened. I could have let myself become jaded toward God and those ‘religious authorities’ He had set over my life. I would not be in the ministry today if I had. I would not have a soft heart toward God and His word today if I had.

O brothers and sisters, Jesus paid a far greater price to secure your forgiveness from God! His love gladly overflowed in the supreme sacrifice. He now invites you to overflow with the same kind of love and glad sacrifice — not as a way to repay a debt, but as a way of joyfully reflecting and celebrating the love of Christ in your life.

3. Real peace requires an Ally.

I’m sure all of us would love to overflow with this kind of love and ability to make peace. But the price of peace is often far too expensive, isn’t it? When we have been deeply or repeatedly wronged, the cost of reconciliation exceeds our meager resources. We have too little love, humility, compassion and forgiveness to cover the damage caused by sin and conflict.

This is why real peace requires an ally. We cannot, on our own, fully pay the high price of reconciliation. We cannot wash away another person’s sins. We cannot cleanse our own hearts from bitterness and self-righteousness. We cannot forgive as God has forgiven us.

But there is One who can do all these things, and he is eager to come to our side, bear the full cost of sin, and give us all the support and resources we need to restore peace with those around us. Only as I sought the comfort of the Holy Spirit as I prayed was I able to forgive and experience the Peace of God in the midst of such a traumatic experience.

Colossians  1:19-20 promises that “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Christ], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

God would not be pleased to reconcile two people to himself, but leave them at odds with each other. His reconciliation is all-encompassing. Therefore, he is eager to come alongside each of his children and become our ally in pursuing peace with others.

As Philippians 2:13 promises, “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

You have an ally who is eager to see you make peace with others. And this ally is not distant or passive. He is near you, and he is ready to place all of his resources at your disposal. As Ephesians 1:18-20 indicates, our Savior wants you to “know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.”

Your ally is ready to come to your aid. Seek his counsel; bank on his limitless resources; trust that he will never leave your side as you seek peace with others.

4. Real peace is found only at the Cross.

The world offers many formulas for peace. Americans spend millions of hours and billions of dollars every year in bookstores, at seminars, in counselors’ offices, or in courtrooms, searching for ways to resolve conflict and regain some measure of peace.[1]

Most of this effort is utterly wasted, because real peace is found only at the cross.

Colossians 1:20 teaches that it was at the cross that Jesus shed his blood to pay for our sins, purchase our peace, and reconcile us to God. This gift can be found nowhere else in the world. In fact, Jesus promises that we can find peace in Him, becasue only He has overcome the world!

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

As Acts 4:12 proclaims, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” It is at the cross alone that the gospel of Christ is revealed: Jesus has freed us from the penalty of sin and given us the ability to break free from the sinful attitudes and habits that foster conflict and obstruct reconciliation.

As you kneel at the foot of the cross, you will find inspiration, grace, and power to make peace with others. I know this to be true, for I have experienced it several times in my life.

As Ken Sande writes in The Peacemaker,

Take hold of the liberating promises of the gospel. Trust that Jesus has forgiven your sins, and confess them freely. Believe that he is using the pressures of conflict to help you to grow, and cooperate with him. Depend on his assurance that he always watching over you, and stop fearing what others might do to you. Know that he delights to display his sanctifying power in your life, and attempt to do things that you could never accomplish in your own strength, such as forgiving someone who has hurt you deeply.[2]

It is wise and helpful to learn and practice the peacemaking principles and skills that we are all studying in our Sunday school classes. But those principles and skills will produce only superficial results if they are not inspired and guided by what Jesus did for us at Calvary.

Genuine, lasting peace is found only at the cross!

5. Real peace has Eternal consequences.

The fifth principle that we can draw from our text today is that real peace has eternal consequences. When Jesus shed his blood on the cross, he opened the door for us to be fully reconciled to God, to enter the halls of heaven, and to enjoy the Father’s love forever. As Jesus promised in John 6:47, “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.”

Inherent in this gift of peace is the privilege and responsibility of sharing the message of eternal life with others.

As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17-20:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.

If you have received peace, reconciliation, and eternal life through Jesus, he calls you to share this gift with others. Although words alone will sometimes be enough to draw others to the Savior, Jesus taught that our most persuasive testimony is communicated by how we love one another.

In John 13:34-35, he said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

The love that is most eye-catching and persuasive to the world is NOT the love that we show to those who love us. As Jesus taught in Luke 6:27-36, anyone can love those who love them.

What marks us as sons and daughters of God is our love for those who are in conflict with us.

“If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. “If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Luke 6:33-37

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9

When we love and forgive those who have deeply hurt us, or humbly confess our own wrongs, we are demonstrating the reality and reconciling power of Christ in our lives. In doing so we are giving others a taste of the peace and reconciliation they can find in Jesus. Thus God may use our witness as peacemakers to lead others to trust in Christ and find eternal peace through him.

The world is hungry for peace! Not the superficial, temporary peace that millions of confused and misleading voices speak of day after day, but the deep, genuine, and lasting peace that God secured for us through the death and resurrection of his Son.

Every time you experience a conflict, you have the opportunity to show others how to find real peace. May God grant you grace to do so in a way that points clearly to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Challenge: Think of someone in your life with whom you need to make peace.  Throughout this study, commit to prayer the steps you need to take to go to that person.


[1] See cost estimates at www.Peacemaker.net, Resources, Key Articles, “The High Cost of Conflict Among Christians.”

[2] The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict, p. 32


A brunette, a red-head and a blonde were in jail when they decided to break out. The girls broke out and the brunette said,”Let’s hide in that barn, they’ll never find us.” So they climbed up the ladder and then the blonde threw it down.

The next morning, the cops said, “Come out with your hands in the air!”

The red-head said, “Hide in those baskets, they’ll never find us!”

So the Brunette got in the first one, the red-head got in the second one and the blonde got in the third one. Meanwhile, the cops were getting a ladder set up and trying to get up there. Once they got up, the sergeant ordered them to kick the baskets.

So the cop kicked the first one: “RUFF.”

“It’s just a darn dog!” yelled the cop.

The cop kicked the next one: “MEOW.”

“It’s just a darn cat,” yelled the cop.

The cop kicked the next basket and the blonde yelled, “POTATOES!”

As a young teenager I fell in love with the movie “The Great Escape” Steve McQueen was my hero, and I loved watching him test the Germans, bouncing his baseball, getting thrown in the cooler. I was rooting for him as he made his escape on the German motorcycle. My heart leapt when he tried to jump the barbed wire fence, which would have meant his freedom. He almost cleared the fence, but, wrecks and gets caught. Most of the other men who escaped are gunned down in cold blood.

The end of the movie finds my hero (Capt Hilts-McQueen) being led back into the Stalag, bruised, bloody, but defiantly marching back in. Only when he hears of the capture and murder of the other 50 men, does he stagger as he is led off to the cooler.

It was a sad ending to a great movie.

What the Great Escape Lacked was a Great Deliverer!

Paul has just taken us to the Cross of Jesus Christ in Romans Chapter 1-5. They are glorious chapters of how condemned men are made right with a Holy God by our Faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Sinful men are made righteous in Jesus Christ. Romans 1 – 5 are summarized in Romans 5:18 and Romans 5:21:

Romans 5:18 (ESV) Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

  1. All men are condemned
  2. Jesus act of righteousness allows God to Justify us
  3. Justification removes the sentence of death and brings us LIFE!

Romans 5:21 (ESV) so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  1. In place of sin reigning in our flesh, resulting in death,
  2. grace now reigns through the righteousness of Christ,
  3. Leading us to eternal life.

Righteousness has replaced God’s wrath, the power of God’s Grace has replaced the power of Sin and Life in Jesus has replaced the life of death

Romans 1-5 told us how the blood of Jesus dealt with our sins and our guilt! But what about this sin nature that lurks in my heart and soul?

Paul Cries Out

As Paul cried out in Romans 7:24 (ESV) Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Now God’s Word reveals to us the Power of the Grace of Jesus, for it is the Power of Deliverance from Sin! What good is a salvation that deals with our past sins and past guilt, if it does not deliver us from the power of sin that put us in its barb wire prison?!

So many Christians don’t fully understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Grace that it provides, because just like the Great Escape, just when you think you are going to escape from the prison of sin, you get caught up in the barb wire of sin, and back you go to the cooler.

So many Christians whose sins are forgiven and lives made new at the cross of Jesus, whose spirits soar into the heavens in their New Relationship with God, will find themselves days, months, years later tangled up in the Barb Wire of Sin. Many finish their Christian lives in the “Cooler” whiling away the rest of their life by following the bouncing ball of an up and down Christian walk. Christians need to realize that we not only enjoy the Great Escape from Sin at the foot of the Cross, we have Great Deliverance from Sin ON the Cross!

Galatians 1:4 (KJV) Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father…

How Did You Receive Forgiveness?

How did you receive forgiveness for your sins when you first came to Jesus Christ as Savior? You realized that Jesus died on the Cross as your substitute, and bore your sins upon Him, and that His Blood was shed to cleanse away your sins. When you saw your sins and felt your guilt, did you say Jesus, please come and die for my sins?

NO! You only thanked Him for what He has already done! By faith you believed your sins were taken away, by faith you believed you were made right before Holy God! What is true of Forgiveness is also true of Deliverance. The work is done. There is no need to pray, but only to PRAISE GOD! Much of Romans 6 describes a past event! Through the miracle of grace, God has placed every believer IN JESUS CHRIST!

As we will see here in these first few verses of Romans 6, we were all crucified when Jesus was crucified. Our old man was very much killed on the cross along with Jesus. So when you find yourself wrapped up in the barbed wire of sin, and feel hopelessly trapped, there is no need to pray “God, I am a very wicked person, I am trapped in my sins, would you please crucify me, so that I might die to these sins and get freed. Please Lord, crucify my flesh so that I might not do this or that sin anymore!”

As we look at Romans 6, 7 and 8, we will discover that such a prayer is wrong, and reflects a lack of belief in what God’s Word Says.

The Four Steps of Deliverance

Paul wants to open our eyes to the Great Deliverance from Sin that has already been provided for us, and can become ours as we continue from the foot of the cross to go through the Cross. The next three chapters are pivotal for your Christian life and walk, if you are to understand how the Cross is the means to your Great Deliverance from the power of sin. Our study of Romans 6, 7 and 8 will show us the way of deliverance in Jesus Christ! There are FOUR concepts in these chapters that must be grasped:

  1. Knowing
  2. Reckoning
  3. Presenting ourselves to God
  4. Walking in the Spirit

To enjoy the life that Jesus wants you to live, His abundant life, what He considers a “Normal Christian Walk”, you must experience all four of these steps. All four of these steps will take us through the cross and into the life Jesus wants us to live!

In Romans 6:1 Paul asks a pivotal question:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? Romans 6:1 (ESV)

  • continue (epimenō): abide, tarry; remain. Shall we remain in sin as a continuing habit? (present tense)
  • Sin (hamartia) is Deviation from a right line; missing the mark. lawlessness
  • abound: to have in surplus

Perhaps Paul was reading their minds, knowing they were thinking: Since grace abounds all the more when sin abounds, isn’t it OK to keep sinning so that we might experience more of God’s grace?

Paul wants us to understand something about our new Life in Jesus Christ. While our justification introduces us to a new world of TRANSFORMING GRACE, it takes us out of the world of CONDEMNING SIN and lawlessness.

And just as Paul emphasized in Rom 1-5, this “new life”, this “great deliverance” is entirely of God and the Power that He works in us THROUGH HIS GRACE!

I. The Power of God’s Grace

We can see grace as a passive “gift” or “favor” that is always ours…

“If you profess belief in Christ, no matter what you are like as a person, how you behave, God has received you in Christ and has forgiven you. When you die you will go to Paradise to live forever in love, joy, and peace.” (wrong)

We can see grace as the active power of God that works to conform us to Christ.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

The Grace of God is not a gift you can put on the shelf and neglect or ignore. Our New Birth brings the most powerful force in the universe into our life, the GRACE OF GOD!  Grace never cleans you up and leaves you there. Grace is the power that washes us, sanctifies us and justifies us. The power of God’s Grace takes his children and works to conform them into the image of His Son!

Grace Empowers Salvation

Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. John 1:12 (KJV) 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:

Grace Empowers Christ-like Living

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age… (Titus 2:11-12NIV)

Grace Empowers us to abound and be generous in giving:

2 Corinthians 9:8 (ESV) And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:14 (ESV) while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you.

Grace Empowers us to serve God

Hebrews 12:28 (KJV) Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

Grace empowers our Christian ministry and labor

1 Corinthians 15:10 (ESV) But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

Grace empowers those who are weak

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (ESV) Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Grace empowers our relationship with God

Romans 5:1-2 (ESV) Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Grace Empowers us in times of need

Hebrews 4:16 (ESV) Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

  • The Grace Of God Makes Room For Every Sinner At The Foot Of The Cross.
  • The Grace Of God Makes Room For Every Child Of God At The Foot Of The Throne.

The Grace of God never wants to leave you at the cross, a born again child of God, but remaining a baby, soiling yourself, mired in your sin, missing the mark. At the foot of the cross you are born again, brought into a right relationship. There is to be no more “deviation!” Grace will then take you through the cross by empowering you to become like Jesus Christ! Grace empowers us to be conformed to Jesus Christ. Your sanctification or transformation takes place as you experience the POWER of the Grace of the Cross of Jesus Christ.

We Need To See Ourselves As God Sees Us! We Need To Trust In The Truth Of God’s Word!

Paul states a most Mysterious fact in verse 2:

Romans 6:2-3 (ESV) By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

  • God forbid, (me genoito μὴ γένοιτο )

“How is it possible for such as we are, born-again children of God, to do such a thing. It is against our nature to habitually yield to the evil nature. We are not persons of such a nature as to do so.”

  • Died to sin (apethanomen tēi hamartiāi).

Second aorist active of apothnēskō. Refers to our new quality in relation to sin. We have been totally made new at the very moment of our new birth. ἀπεθάνομεν does not mean will be dead, nor have died, but died. It refers to a specific act in our past history. This is not a reference to something that will happen in the future. God’s Word says “We are dead to sin!”

IF GOD SAYS WE ARE DEAD TO SIN, WE EITHER BELIEVE HIM OR WE CALL GOD A LIAR.

God Performs Surgery

Through the mystery of the New Birth, God performs a major surgical operation in the inner being of every sinner that He saves. This operation does two things:

1. Breaks the power of indwelling sin by removing the “old man”

Verse 2: “We are dead to sin,”

2. Gives us New Life by implanting the divine nature. God gives us His divine nature, which through grace gives us both the desire and the power to do God’s will.

Verse 4: “We walk in newness of life.”

THIS IS NOT JUST A REMODEL JOB, NOT A FACE JOB. This is a radical life changing operation whereby we are made NEW; we are made alive to God!

Christians are dead to sin. Sin, is the sinful nature. We are dead to the sinful nature.  (we’ll see how a bit later)

The wording in “died to sin” pictures the separation (apo-off, away from) of the born again Christian from his old self.

When Adam sinned, his nature was forever changed. There was a cleavage between that which God once called “good” and sin. This cleavage, this corruption, was passed onto all men from that day forth. As Paul wrote in Romans 5:18 & 19:

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men…For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners.

God uses His surgical knife to cut the believing sinner loose from his old self. The old self is removed and a new creature is transplanted.

This occurs when the believing sinner identifies with the Lord Jesus in His death on the Cross (Rom 6:3-7), the moment he places his faith in Jesus as Saviour. Instead of being in the old ADAM, we are now in the NEW ADAM!

The tense of the verb is aorist, which speaks of a once for all act. God has worked a separation between the believer and the old man (Adam) which is a permanent one, a once for all DELIVERANCE of the person from the evil old self. This surgical operation is never repeated. So far as God is concerned, He has so thoroughly done His work that that separation is to be permanent.

1 Corinthians 15:45-49 (ESV) 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 but it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.

1 Corinthians 1:30 (ESV) And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,

Our righteousness, our redemption… none of it would be possible if we were left in the prison of Adam, if we were still slaves to our old nature, our old self.

To complete the deliverance, God imparts His divine nature by placing us IN CHRIST which gives the Christian a hatred of sin and a love for righteousness. In addition to this, the Holy Spirit takes up His permanent residence in him to guide and empower each Christian to battle against sin, and live this Christian life.

This is why Paul cries out: “How is it possible for such as we who have died off once for all with respect to sin, any longer to live in it?”

Or to translate and interpret, “How is it possible for such as we, Christians, who have been separated once for all from the sinful nature, any longer to live within its grip?”

  • Live therein:

To spend one’s existence, simply to pass one’s life, from which is derived our word “biography,” the narrative of how one spent his life. You have a new nature! It’s time to write a new biography! How can you keep living the old life? Why do we PERSIST in Sin when we are in a new identity, writing a new biography?

II. Grace BRINGS US INTO New LIFE IN Christ

Romans 6:3-4 (ESV) Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life

  • Know ye not (ἀγνοεῖτε) Are you ignorant?

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (ESV) For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

  • Were baptized into Christ (ebaptisthēmen eis Christon)

baptizo, “the introduction or placing of a person or thing into a new environment or into union with something else so as to alter its condition or its relationship to its previous environment or condition.” (Wuest’s Word Studies)

Galatians 3:27 (KJV) For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Did put on Christ (Christon enedusasthe).  As a badge or uniform of service like that of the soldier. Baptism was the public profession and pledge, the soldier’s oath of allegiance to Christ, taking one’s stand with Christ, the symbolic picture of the change already accomplished by faith

  • baptized into his death:

“to be brought into union with them, as their disciples, or worshippers, as the case may be. In like manner, in the expression baptized into his death, the preposition expresses the design and the result. The meaning therefore is, ‘we were baptized in order that we should die with him,’ i.e., that we should be united to him in his death, and be partakers of its benefits.” Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.

Something Happens When The Holy Spirit Baptizes Into Jesus Christ. That happens the moment we are born again. Water Baptism is a picture of what happens, a picture of something very powerful.

  1. Death
  2. Burial
  3. Resurrection

Is it something magical, something super spiritual? No. It doesn’t save you; it doesn’t make you more holy! It is done in complete obedience to Jesus Christ. Now does Baptism represent something amazing, even mysterious? Yes! It also represents something that many Christians do not fully understand.

III. We are united with Jesus in Death; Our Old Man is Dead!

Romans 6:5-6 (ESV). For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

What dies? What happens to the Sin Nature?

Even though God gives us a new nature which has been surgically separated from our old nature, the power of sin is very much alive. John makes this very plain:

1 John 1:8 (ESV) If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Sin here is the nature, not the act, and for two reasons;

  1. The word is without the article, and such a construction in Greek emphasizes nature, quality, and
  2. Because the word is singular.

The word “ourselves” is in the emphatic position, John’s thought being that any person who holds the theory that the sinful nature is eradicated at a certain point in the Christian’s experience is only deceiving himself!

John tells us the sin nature remains in the Christian throughout his earthly life and is not eradicated until that Christian dies or is glorified.

Yet even though our sin nature has not been eradicated, God tells us that our New Birth DELIVERS us from the power of sin. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?

Romans 6:6 (Darby) knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with [him], that the body of sin might be annulled, that we should no longer serve sin.

Three Major Elements from this verse

  1. sin
  2. old man
  3. body (of sin)

Sin here is our sin nature, the root of sin.

  • We were all once slaves to sin, our sin nature.
  • Sin is a power in and of itself, for it enslaves us
  • Sin seeks to draw us into obedience to our old man (self) so that we might sin.

Old man represents everything we inherit from Adam.

  • We recognize the old man by knowing our new man, for the old man is everything the new man is NOT!
  • Whatever in our life is not of the new man must belong to the old man.
  • Our new man embraces everything which flows from our Lord Jesus Christ at regeneration.
  • We sin because our old man loves sin and is under its power.

Body of Sin refers to our body, our flesh.

  • ´ Our corporeal body is the puppet of all our sinning.
  • ´ It is subject to the power of sin, fully laden with the lusts and desires of sin.

Understanding this, Knowing this

Sin is the power which pulls us to do sin.

Old man is the inward being of what we inherit from Adam.

Body of sin is the outward flesh we inherit from Adam.

First there is sin, next the old man, last, the body. Sin radiates its power to attract the old man and force him to sin. Since the old man delights in sin, he condones it and gives in. This instigates the body to sin.

Sin takes place because of these three elements:

  • The compulsion of sin’s power
  • The inclination of the old man
  • The practice of the body

How does God deliver man from sin?

Some theologians say that since sin is the first cause we must annihilate sin in order to attain victory. They cry for the “eradication of sin.” After all, if the root of sin is pulled out, we shall never sin again. Others say we must subdue our body if we are to overcome sin, for isn’t it our body that practices sin?

So the choice is to get away entirely from sin and any temptation thereof, or to practice asceticism,

Asceticism (from the Greek: ἄσκησις, áskēsis, “exercise” or “training” in the sense of athletic training) describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals.

Either choice promotes legalism and removal from the world.

We can see these expressed in religious sects such as the Amish, or in monasteries, or in church rules such as don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t chew, and don’t go with girls that do. These are not the goal of Jesus Christ. He desires worship that is in “spirit and truth”. He desires us to be in the world but not of the world.

The fleshly thinking is that once we overcome the demands of our bodies we shall be holy.

None of these is God’s way of delivering us from sin.

God neither eradicates the root of sin within nor suppresses the body without!

God deals with the old man in between!

When our Lord Jesus went to the cross, He not only took our sins with Him, He also took our beings, our “old man.” Paul underscores this when he says “that our old man has been crucified with Him.” Crucified is in the aorist tense, meaning that our old man was once and forever crucified with Him.

The Cross of Christ is an accomplished fact. The crucifixion of our old man is an accomplished fact as well!

We don’t question the reality of the crucifixion of Christ, so why should we doubt the reality of the crucifixion of our old man?

The error that enters the church is that since our old man is dead, and since we don’t feel like he is dead, it is up to us to try our best to crucify ourselves! We think we must get on the cross and deny ourselves. This teaching denies the power of the real Cross of Christ and puts any attempt at holiness on the back of what Christians can do by themselves. It is a fleshly attempt at holiness. It is a fleshly attempt to deal with the flesh. As such it is doomed to failure. The Bible never, never instructs us to crucify ourselves.

Romans 6:6 categorically states that our old man is already crucified. This is the beauty of the phrase “in Christ!”

Our faith in Him places us IN CHRIST. We are united with Jesus so that we can say that when Jesus went to the cross, we went there in HIM! When Christ was crucified, we were crucified with Him! This is a mystery, a truth that is not discerned by brain power. It is discerned by the revelation of the Holy Spirit!

Only the Holy Spirit can transcend our fleshly ways and open our fleshly eyes to see that we are in Jesus Christ and we are united with Him in one. The Holy Spirit alone can show us how our old man was crucified with Christ simply by being in Christ!

Jesus said the truth will set us free. He said this because He was aware that divine truth revealed to sinful man it becomes a power in man, and that power (or grace) empowers us to believe! Faith comes through revelation. As we see God we believe God. As we see the truth we believe the truth!

The most important prayer you can pray is for God to reveal this truth to your spirit; pray until God gives you revelation so that you can declare with all your heart “my old man has been crucified with Jesus”. Seeing will empower you to know! As Paul say, KNOWING THIS!

The Consequence of the Crucifixion of Our Old Man

The body (of sin) is annulled (withered, unemployed).

Before, when sin stirred, our old man responded and as a result the body practiced sin. With the crucifixion of the old man and its replacement by the new man, sin may stir within and attempt to exert its power of control, but it fails to get the consent of the old man in driving the body to sin. Sin can no longer tempt the believer for he is a new man, the old has died.

The body’s occupation was formerly of sinning, but this body of sin is now unemployed. He has been terminated.

Why does God crucify our old man with Christ and render our flesh unemployed? His purpose is that “we should no longer be enslaved to sin”

Our divine deliverance makes it possible for us not to yield to the pressure of sin, nor be held in its power. Sin has no dominion over our dead “old man!”

TURN THE TV OFF

The Christian has the same power over the old man that he has over his television. When a program suddenly comes over the air unfit for Christian eyes and ears, he can turn the TV off with a “There, you cannot bring that smut into my life.” Before salvation, the old man could do nothing but be a slave to sin. Sin had total dominion over our old self. Since salvation has crucified our old man, sin is annulled, it has no power over our old man, and therefore, the body of sin is unemployed.

We have a new King reigning in our body, the Grace of Jesus Christ: Romans 5:21 (ESV) so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

When you are born again, the Holy Spirit places a NEW KING on the throne of your heart and life. King Jesus comes into your life, removes the power of the old self, and brings you new life in HIM!

Doe Jesus always stay on our throne? No, He does not! Does He want to always be on your throne? Yes He Does! and we will see from His Word how this can be possible!

PLUG IS PULLED

A floor lamp is connected to a wall outlet. The light is possible because of the electricity that flows from the outlet up through the cord into the light bulb. Just so, a sinner has this old man, this nature of Adam that is under the domination of Sin. Remove the old man, and Sin no longer has a conduit to appeal to the man’s flesh! When a new believer understands that the old man is truly dead, that he has been crucified on the cross, it presents an entirely NEW WAY of praying when faced with the temptation of sin!

Our prayers should confess confidence in the fact that the old man is dead, that he was crucified and buried, and that now we are in Christ.

Here is the Truth of Jesus that will set you free:

You are offered deliverance from sin as no less a gift of God’s Grace than was the forgiveness of your sins.

God’s way of deliverance is totally different from man’s way.

  • Man’s way is to try to suppress sin by seeking to overcome it.
  • God’s way is to remove the sinner, to crucify the old man.

Most Christians mourn over their weaknesses; thinking only if they were stronger all would be well. We think the failure to lead a holy life is because of our impotence, our weakness and so we put undue stress upon what WE MUST DO TO BE HOLY! We keep trying to escape, to jump over the barbed wire fence. When we become preoccupied with the power of sin and with our inability to jump over the barb wire, we naturally conclude that to gain victory over sin, we must have more power, a more powerful motorcycle so to speak.

We plead with God: If only I was stronger, if only I could control my temper, if only I could control these lusts, if only I wouldn’t worry so much, and so we plead with God to strengthen us so that we can exercise more self control.

That is not NEW LIFE in Jesus Christ. That is a cleaned up old man trying to work his way into holiness.

God’s way is to get us weaker and weaker until we finally see that Jesus has put our old man to death on the cross. God delivers us from sin, not by strengthening our old man but by crucifying him; not by helping him do anything but by removing him from the scene of action.

My prayer is that each of you would enter into the wonderful grace of Jesus by coming to the cross and seeing your old man hanging there with Jesus. This is a realization that only the Holy Spirit can take you into. KNOWING THIS…that your old man has been crucified!

Would you ask God to reveal this to you?

John 6:26-29 (NIV) 26 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” 28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”


God-Centered SpouseDo you remember what is was like to “fall in love”? Even the wisest man that ever lived, Solomon, could not understand how a man and a woman fall in love:  “There are three things that are too hard for me, really four I don’t understand: the way an eagle flies in the sky, the way a snake slides over a rock, the way a ship sails on the sea, and the way a man and a woman fall in love.” Proverbs 30:18-19 (NCV)

While we may not understand why certain people “fall in love”, we do understand why people “fall out of love.” Because of trials, wrong priorities, selfishness, needs go unmet and two people who were once falling toward each other “in love” are falling away from each other in either hatred or indifference.

Helen Rowland states: “When a girl marries, she exchanges the attentions of all the other men she knew for the inattention of just one man.”

Mudpreacher and lydia datingI remember the first time I ever laid eyes on my wife to be. I was in charge of a freshman reception and was chatting with the incoming freshmen. It was outside, late August, and I was naturally checking out the incoming freshmen girls. I turned around and noticed this shy gal with the sweetest smile and expression. I went over to talk with her and her friends, but there was just something about her that grabbed my heart. She had the sweetest spirit of any girl I had ever met. Well, it wasn’t but a couple months and we were engaged, and marriage came within nine months of our meeting. (Just a coincidence)

We were flying back from our honeymoon and this guy next to me asked if my trip was business or pleasure. I said pleasure, I’m on my honeymoon. He looked at me, mystified, and said, where’s your wife? I said, a couple rows back, cuz they couldn’t get our seats together. We were still at the gate and he said, I’ll be happy to change seats. I said, “Naw, that’s ok, we’ve been together all week.”

Hopefully you can remember those days when you excitedly ran to meet your future wife or husband. You may have even met them at the door wrapped in Saran Wrap, or with a sexy nightie. But soon those days melt away to kids and diapers and headaches. If you’re lucky the kids still come to the door to excitedly greet you. But after they get older, hopefully your dog comes and greets you, wagging his tale. But once he gets too old, you are pretty much on your own.

Studies show that married couples spend an average of just 27 minutes a week actively communicating.

I’m not talking about, Honey, what do you want for dinner? You respond “Ugh” They say OK. That doesn’t count.
I’m talking about meaningful shared conversation.

Most of us fall in love, and if we are not careful, we let trials, selfishness, neglect, anger, problems lead us to fall out of love.

Two Stumbling Sinners Falling Toward God and Each Other

We need to realize it’s ok to stumble, it’s ok to fight, it ok to have struggles in your marriage, as long as you are falling the right way. Falls are inevitable, but we can take some steps that will enable us to control the direction we fall.

Just as my wife and I fell in love rather quickly, the danger is always there that we fall out of love. We learned that love is not a passive emotion. God intends us to actively engage in love, to be purposeful with our love, just as God actively uses marriage to accomplish His purpose for our lives. God wants our marriage to be much more than polite “civil” arrangements. He wants us to be dynamically involved with Him in allowing this marriage to make us more like Jesus Christ.

If you have stopped moving toward your spouse, you have stopped moving toward God. The opposite of “agape” love isn’t hate, it is “apatheia” which is no emotion, indifference, apathy. If you are not purposefully moving toward your spouse, you are indifferent toward your spouse. To make matters worse, if you have stopped moving toward your spouse, your love for God is lacking. God has inextricably combined our love for our spouse with our love for Him.

DIFFICULT FOR MEN

communication difficult for menThis active moving toward your spouse is more difficult for men.

1. Men Are Less Communicative

  • We think warm and fuzzy thoughts about our wife
  • We have trouble expressing those thoughts
  • Men do not realize the damage they do by simply staying quiet

2. Men View Independence As Sign Of Strength And Maturity

  • We must be willing to stand alone
  • God is always moving toward people
  • To flee relationship is an act of cowardice
  • Easier to get someone young
  • Maturing relationship challenges his authority and power
  • We sulk when we don’t get our way.
  • We can’t take the “give and take” of a real relationship, so we pour ourselves into our work and play.

God calls men to centrally move toward your wife. This moving toward your wife is what will mold you into the image of Christ.

There Will Be Emotional Highs and Lows

Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time) wrote a little poem which expresses what many couples feel at one time or another. She directed this toward God:

Dear God,
I hate you.
Love, Madeleine

Her love for God is the foundation of her hate. Even though she hates Him at the moment, she says she still loves him. Even in the moments of anger, betrayal, exasperation and hurt, we are called to pursue this person, to embrace them and to grow toward them.

WE EACH MUST INITIATE INTIMACY

annie hallMarriage is much more than “I agree to never have sex with anyone else.” Marriage is a GIFT of SELF that goes way beyond sexual fidelity. You can have a great marriage in the eyes of the world by doing many external deeds of love, but all the while you are holding back the most precious gift-your inner self. That gift must be consciously and continually given through communication.

Verbal Communication

You need times of communicating, not just through raised voices. You each need to learn how to accommodate your spouse and their particular communication skills or lack thereof:

From Annie Hall: Alvy addresses a pair of strangers on the street:
Alvy Singer: Here, you look like a very happy couple, um, are you?
Female street stranger: Yeah.
Alvy Singer: Yeah? So, so, how do you account for it?
Female street stranger: Uh, I’m very shallow and empty and I have no ideas and nothing interesting to say.
Male street stranger: And I’m exactly the same way.
Alvy Singer: I see. Wow. That’s very interesting. So you’ve managed to work out something?

Physical Communication

While men certainly need to discover the importance of nonsexual touching, most wives discover that if a woman is not pursuing her husband sexually, just about every other movement toward her husband will go unnoticed.

“A wife may demonstrate her love in many ways, but it is often negated by her rejection or lack of enjoyment of sex. You may be a great housekeeper, a gourmet cook, a wonderful mother…but if you turn him down consistently in the bedroom oftentimes those things will be negated. To a man, sex is the most meaningful declaration of love and self-worth” (Love that Lasts, p 152). Men and women just have a totally different view about the importance of sex:

In the movie  “Annie Hall” you see a split screen with Annie and Alvy both in conversation with their respective therapist:

Alvy Singer’s Therapist: How often do you sleep together?
Alvy Singer: [lamenting] Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.
Annie Hall’s Therapist: Do you have sex often?
Annie Hall: [annoyed] Constantly. I’d say three times a week.

Now communication either verbally or physically is not the focus of this message. (THANK GOD)
What I do want to emphasize is this, communication is important to please God and see Him working in your marriage.

  • Some of you men may say “Why should I talk to her or be affectionate when she never wants to have sex?”
  • Some of you women may say “Why should I have sex when he never talks to me or shows me he cares for me?”

The question you should ask is how can I keep moving toward God when my wife or my husband is causing me so much pain or frustration or problems. The answer will be found in how God wants you to keep falling toward your spouse when you want to do the exact opposite.

Typically a marriage book will say “Well you have to do A if you want to get B! Husbands, if you do this it will get her revved up and jumping into bed. Here is the point-if marriage is about making God happy, it involves a lot more than going to sleep with a smile on your face. God wants to use your marriage for your spiritual benefit and growth. It’s all about God remember?

MARRIAGE METHODS

Differing Approaches to our Spouse1.Self-Centered

  • Withholding Approach –Selfish, moving away, marriage is more about getting what you want
  • Wanting Approach – Basically self – centered; you realize to get what you want, you have to give a little. So you move toward each other, but you still guard yourself. Marriage is a continual process of give and take, but the intimacy is on a constant roller coaster.

2. Spouse-Centered

This is the Willing Approach. You have given your marriage to God and you realize that your spouse is important to you, right or wrong. So you pay her attention, you focus on her needs, you treat her with love. She does the same for you. It’s not always perfect, but for the most part you are willing to honor your spouse.
You can still fall short of spiritual intimacy and growth.

There is a spiritual discipline that you must consider following. It is the:

3. God-Centered

This is the Waiting Approach. You add another dimension to the willing approach. You consider God as you seek to love and communicate with your spouse. In fact, God is the very reason you fall toward her, communicate with her, have physical relations with her. You treat your relationship with your spouse as you do God. No matter what God does good or bad in your life, He is God, and you owe Him your undying devotion and attention. No matter what your spouse does or says, they are your spouse, and you owe them your undying devotion and attention. Wait means “To wait or to look for with eager expectation”

The waiting approach applies if both spouses are moving toward God, or if only one is.

  • Psalms 25:5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.
  • Psalms 33:20 Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.
  • Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
  • Hosea 12:6 Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.
  • Psalms 123:2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.

A Christian is never dependent upon the response of others to grow spiritually. He is looking to God and waiting expectantly Our relationship with God is dependent only upon our heart decisions. If you have truly given yourself to God, you will want to give yourself to your spouse. If you are holding back areas of your life from God, you will hold back parts of yourself from God.

The WAITING APPROACH TO MARRIAGE

Waiting Approach to Marriage1. God’s Will and Pleasure is Supreme
2. God uses your marriage and your spouse to refine you into likeness of Christ
3. Just as you keep moving to God, you must keep moving toward your spouse by giving yourself (whether they do or not)
4. You look to God with expectation of His provision and power in your marriage.
5. You Forgive your spouse
6. You Serve your spouse

Fellowship with our spouse that mirrors our fellowship with Christ is one which acknowledges our sinfulness and embraces His forgiveness. The challenge is not to keep on loving the person you thought you married, but to love the person you did marry! (A Sense of Sexuality, p. 197)

Falling Forward will always involve Forgiveness

Marriage must have forgivenessThe Prodigal God showed us that while the Father let the son go, he was constantly looking out for the return, so that He could fall forward upon the neck of his son. We can’t depend upon someone else to determine what we do. God was actively seeking the lost when He sent Jesus to this earth. We often use our spouse’s sin to pull back, to hold back to Withdraw. We all sin, so even in our sin we should fall forward into the arms of God and the arms of each other.

A Stonemason was charged with inscribing a headstone for a woman’s husband. He inscribed the husband’s name and this common phrase: “Rest in Peace”
A few months later the wife discovered that her husband had been unfaithful. In a fury she returned to the stonemason and had him add these words to the gravestone:
Rest in Peace…
Till we meet again.

None of us got married for the reason “It gives us an opportunity to forgive!” But we certainly must…

How to Build a Forgiving Spirit into your Life

1.See Yourself as God Sees You – A Stumbling Sinner

Spirit of ForgivenessTo constantly be moving forward to God means we must be continually forgiven. To see that same spiritual growth in our marriage, and to move toward each other, we must also practice forgiveness. We do so by realizing our need for forgiveness on a daily basis. We must see that sin is anything that we do without dependence upon God. We don’t hold up God’s Law to our spouse and say “How Could You!” If anything, we hold up God’s Law and say forgive me Father, I am unclean. I have no right to condemn.

Romans 3:20 (NIV) Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

The law wasn’t created by God for two spouses to hold each other up to an impossible standard with which they can beat each other over the head. A “self-righteous” spouse is an obnoxious spouse, even though they are momentarily blameless. Eventually the spouse will slip to. The worst thing you can do is to hit your husband over the head with a Bible Verse.

2.Realize to Withhold Forgiveness is to Invite the Cancer of Bitterness into Your Life and Marriage.

Hebrews 12:12-15 (ESV)Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

Focusing on the sin invites a cancer into your life. God says to lift your hands and strengthen your knees and make straight paths, so you can be healed. To not do so, to not forgive, to not seek holiness, you are blocking God from your heart. Instead, bitterness will crust and harden your heart, it will spread, and it will bring more trouble into your life and those around you. This is especially true if you are in a second or third marriage. If there is still unforgiveness from those prior marriages, you are bringing bitterness into your present marriage.

Shoah is a documentary film on the Holocaust. In one scene the leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising talks about the bitterness that remains in his heart toward the Germans. “If you could lick my heart, it would poison you!”

3. Forgiveness invites God’s Healing Into Your Marriage and Life

James 5:16 (ESV) Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Example of Forgiveness

How Can I ForgiveGary Thomas tells of Melissa and Bryant, who after 25 years of marriage began facing a severe problem. Melissa discovered Bryant had been cheating on her. She had contracted an STD. Melissa remembers the day Oct 16 1997. She went totally numb. She tried to find answers from the Bible, but she could find none.

To compound the problem, Bryant was pastor of the church they attended, and Melissa sang on the worship team. To her horror, she remembered she was to sing this Sunday at a special service in which most of Bryant’s family would be there. One of those people was her unsaved brother-in-law who was dying of lung cancer.

Surrounded by Bryant’s family, Melissa led the worship team and listened to her husband preach. Then she watched as their brother-in-law came forward and received Christ as his Savior. She thought that even though her pain was devastating, it wasn’t bigger than God.

She remembered looking at her husband and saying “I know I have to forgive you and I’m going to. But she was not flooded with a great sense of forgiveness. She was confronted with the truth of having to forgive.” Forgiveness was the only way she could stay right with God.

In the months that followed Melissa was constantly confronted with forgiving her husband. She learned that there had been more than one affair, and she knew she was in her rights to kick Bryant out of her life. But she said “Forgiveness was the harder option, but I never felt in my heart that divorce was the right thing to do” “I’ve always lived my life by conviction and the harder road is not something I’m afraid to take.” I’ve learned that even when you are in great pain, we’re not excused from considering others and from carrying out our call to witness to God’s faithfulness.”

Melissa told Gary that forgiveness kept bitterness and anger at bay. It saved her marriage, brought Bryant around and moved Melissa many steps closer to more fully modeling the person of Jesus Christ. Melissa took the bitter juice of her marriage and by offering that to God, made spiritual honey in her life.

We love the sinner but hate the sin. Except when it comes to our spouse. Yet, turn the tables around and we love ourselves in spite of our wretched sin. We learn to forgive ourselves to maintain our own health, So why not our spouse?

“As an old man, Bill, looking back on one’s life, it’s one of the things that strike you most forcibly–that the only thing that’s taught one anything is suffering.  Not success, not happiness, not anything like that.  The only thing that really teaches one what life’s about–the joy of understanding, the joy of coming in contact with what life really signifies–is suffering, affliction.”Nearer, My God: An Autobiography of Faith by William F. Buckley, Jr. (Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1997) p. 211; quoting Malcolm Muggeridge.

(This accords with the ancient Greek proverb “pathein mathein”–“to suffer is to learn” and calls to mind that most mysterious of NT verses, Hebrews 5:8, “Though a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered.”)

A God-centered spouse who practices the Waiting Approach:

  1. Waits Upon God
  2. Gives YourSelf By Communicating
  3. Forgives Your Spouse
  4. Waits Upon Your Spouse by Serving

The Waiting Approach requires you to actually wait on your Spouse. You become a servant of your spouse.

Falling Forward will always involve SERVING

Marriage is about becoming a servantThe essence of our falling forward toward God, toward our spouse is found in Phil 2:
Philippians 2:1-8 (NIV) If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!

Most marriages begin by bringing certain things to the table:

  • Wife brings her body, her admiration, her dog, her funny personality, her debt, her money, her organizations skills, cooking abilities…
  • Is my wife attractive to me, will she take care of me, wash my clothes, feed me, take care of the home, keep it nice, look good when we go out…
  • Husband brings himself, his career, money, strength, confidence, hopes, dreams, debt, money, endurance, strength, cooking abilities…
  • This is why we marry: Can this guy support me, would he make a good father, do I find him attractive, will he make me feel special and loved.

If you keep expecting from your spouse, you will keep going through those withholding – wanting – willing cycles. Eventually you either get too hurt, or too tired or too anything. You end up leaving because your found someone else that meets your expectations better, or you end up settling, living as individual people separated by a wall of politeness and preoccupation with what you want to do.

A God-Centered Spouse keeps falling toward God and that spouse He brought into your life. You don’t fall away, you fall toward.

  • Forgiveness is a must to keep the hurts from piling up and building that wall of separation.
  • Servant hood is a must to keep you falling toward your spouse.

SO we must learn to ask ourselves: How can I serve my mate? Most people do not enter into marriage with the idea of becoming a servant. It is demeaning to women, and emasculating to men.

Why is it empowering to give yourself as a servant to our Lord Jesus Christ, and yet demeaning or emasculating to give yourself to your spouse as a life-long co-servant? To fully sanctify the marital relationship, we must live it together as Jesus lived His life-embracing the discipline of sacrifice and service as a daily practice. In the same way Jesus gave His body for us, we are to lay down our energy, our bodies and our lives for others, especially our spouse.

Instead of “will you do this for me”
“Will you accept what I want to give?”

You become consumed with how well you are carrying out the duty of serving your spouse.

SERVING YOUR SPOUSE

Serving Your Spouse1.Serving Because God Lives Within Me

1 John 3:16-18 (ESV) By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

2.Serving Because I Want God To Live In Them

John 3:17 (NIV) For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

  • Serving not because they deserve it
  • Serving regardless of reciprocal treatment

3. Serving With A Willing Spirit

Eph 6:6,7 doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men (your spouse)

  • Dutiful isn’t necessarily beautiful
  • Beauty of God is reflected in our attitude and Spirit
    • Verbal expressions –sigh, puff of exasperation, rolling of eyes, hunched up shoulders, the headache grimace, grunting when I have to do something.
    • Expressed attitudes reveal a self-serving spirit, a wanting spirit, a selfish spirit.

4. Serving in Practical Matters

a.Time & Money

  • Quarrels over money reflect a demand to “own” our own life rather than serve each other with our money, our things and our existence.
  • How much am I willing to sell my marriage for-30 pieces of silver?
  • Ask, how does spending this money serve my spouse?
  • Am I putting money before my spouse?
  • Same applies to our time and the things we use to occupy it.
  • Am I spending time to serve my spouse?

b.Sex

In 1958, when Player won his first tour event in Kentucky, he was asked for his reaction to a new Callaway driver he had helped develop and used during the victory. “Like a fool, I said that if I had to choose between the driver and my wife, well, I’d miss her,” Player recalls, laughing. “A week later I’m at the next tournament in Oregon and I walk in the (hotel) room and there’s my driver on the bed with a negligee wrapped around it.

  • Sex brings a husband and a wife under tremendous relational power.
  • Sex can cure everything from depressions, to migraine headaches, although those usually keep you from wanting sex.
  • Sex between a husband and wife can be a powerful experience in serving.
  • Likewise it can reveal the lack of serving.

The problem with illicit sexual behavior – sex between other people besides a married husband and wife, is it focuses on getting. Sex becomes the preoccupation, rather Than the needs of the spouse. Each spouse should constantly be asking:

  • Is sex something I’m giving or withholding
  • Is sex something I’m demanding or offering
  • Is sex something I am using as a tool of manipulation or as an expression of generous love?
  • If God looked at nothing other than my sexuality, would he consider me a mature Christian or as a near pagan.

God-centered Spouses see God in every aspect of their marriage.

See God in Your MarriageForgiveness and Serving-two powerful results of focusing our lives on God. When our spouse errs, hurts, even abuses us, we forgive for Christ sake who loved and gave himself to us. This forgiveness is not dependent upon anything our spouse does. We must not allow any bitterness or resentment or hurt or pain get in the way of our relationship with God. We must not allow our partners sin build a wall of bitterness on our heart.

Serving is the way we see God in a more powerful way. We need to see Him in our lives, or else we won’t have the strength or the spirit to serve. We must see that by serving our spouse, we are serving God, and God will use this to open our spouse’s heart to God. We must see the importance of service in every aspect of our marriage – money sexual relations, spending time. Marriage and the willingness to serve will bring the reality of the cross to your life.

Do you see the face of God in your spouse? Do you see God as your Father-in-Law, watching the way you regard his son or his daughter.

Servant LeadershipJesus knew that the time of His death was near. He also knew that none of his disciples would stay with him. He knew Peter would deny Him, Judas would betray Him. Yet Jesus went one by one and washed their feet. Do you think he really rubbed Judas feet till they hurt? No Jesus washed each one as if he was washing the feet of His Father. He wanted God to be so much in their lives.

Becoming TotallyMarriedAre You Falling Toward Your Spouse? Or Are You Falling Away?


Time to celebrateMost people have a deadly disease and do not realize it. This is the disease that prevents them from seeing God for who He is. This is the disease that prevents them from seeing Jesus as their True Elder Brother. Before we reveal this disease lets read again from the Parable of the Prodigal Son:

The father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing… he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him….and 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 15:22-32(ESV)

The Father told his oldest son, “We must celebrate!” It hardly seemed the appropriate thing to do considering the waste and debauchery of the younger brother’s life. But the Father said “We MUST!” In order to understand the Father’s declaration and see the Disease that keeps us from celebrating, we must see some things from this parable.

Man lives in exile

1. Man is in Exile

The truth is that we are all in exile on this earth. Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, man has not been welcome on this planet. We are seperated from our Creator Godby a Wall of Fire. We were expelled from the home God designed for us. We were expelled because of our willful rebellion, our sin against the  Father.

2. There is NO WAY to Go Home.

There is no way to get back. Our pitiful estate is described in Romans 3:10-18.

As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” “Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit”; “The poison of asps is under their lips”; “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Our Creator God longs for RELATIONSHIP. He longs for those whom He created to come back to Him, to come home.

Jesus crucified for sinnersSo here is what our Father did: Romans 3:23-28 (NLT):

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

God Rejoices in the NowI want you to notice something about our Father. Our Father is always Looking Ahead so He Can Work in the NOW!

It’s like the movie “Back to the Future” where Marty McFly had to go back in time to change the future. Well God is all about the NOW because He is LOOKING to the FUTURE. He is looking to get us HOME! And so He wants us to enjoy the NOW!

GOD COVERS OUR PAST SO WE CAN LOOK FORWARD TO THE FUTURE AND REJOICE IN THE NOW!

Coming Home3. The Parable of the Two Lost Sons is about Coming Home.

This is why the Father sent our True Elder Brother to this world, and at the cost of His blood and body, He paid the price to redeem us from our slavery to this hostile world and it’s devilish owner. He satisfied the Holy and Righteous demands of the Father, and so the Father opened His arms to us, and He is calling us Home.

Home is the place we long for at the end of a hard day.. Home is a refuge from the troubles of the world. Home is a place we can relax, walk around in ratty old sweats, scratch and not worry about saying excuse me when we belch or whatever. Young men who go forth to serve for our country can’t wait to come home. Home is for fellowship, relationship. Home is always in the present, but it also shadows the future.

God calls us home in the present time, God reaches for us in the present time, God places us at the Banquet Table in the presetn time, but His heart is on our future together!

The Younger Son came to his senses, and the Father wants each of us to find our “God-Sense”!

God-Sense will lead us home4. COMING TO OUR GOD-SENSE WILL LEAD US HOME

The younger son thought he was doing the right thing when he got his inheritance and went to a far country. We don’t know how long the partying lasted, but the father was far from the younger brothers thoughts. He was doing things his own way, having fun and living large. Only when he was at the end of his rope, stinking with the fetor of pig slop did he come to his senses. His “Father sense” kicked in.

Preachers know that it is best to reach people’s hearts when they are young, when they are more open to God. It is best to build Biblical truth into a young heart. We know all too well that this world has a much stronger attraction to exploring hearts. If there is no solid Biblical truth guiding a young heart, often our young people go off to college and for years never again go to church, study the Bible. They are off doing their own thing. Suddenly, something happens. Perhaps their marriage takes a turn for the worse, a child becomes seriously ill or has problems at school, a close friend becomes stricken with a deadly illness, tragedy strikes in the form of an auto accident, a job loss, a natural disaster.

Something happens to cause the wandering son to come to his senses, to look up and see the Father! We start to head home, we seek to know this Heavenly Father, we seek for meaning in our life.

I was in a small Christmas Play in College at Seminole Baptist Church. It was about a college student coming home. He had just been to his first semester of Bible College, and had come home all pumped up and wanting to witness to his family. Almost immediately his brother and sister started in on him, criticising him, mocking him. Then his mom joined in, followed by the condemnation of his father when he got home from work. At one point they were surrounding this young believer and while not stoning him, were hurling verbal insults and abuses at him. He is on his knees on the floor, hands over his ears, and as they continue to make fun of his belief in Jesus, suddenly a bright light shines, and the Lord Jesus Christ appears, calling his children to join Him in the air. The young man starts singing as he is raptured to be with His Lord:

I’ll tell the world, that I’m a christian,
I’m not ashamed, His name to bear;
I’ll tell the world, that I’m a christian,
I’ll take Him with me everywhere.

I’ll tell the world, how Jesus saved me,
and how He gave me a life brand new;
And I know that if you trust Him,
that all He gave me, He’ll give to you.

I’ll tell the world, that He’s my Saviour,
No other one, could love me so;
My life, my all is His forever,
and where He leads me I will go.

For when He comes, and life is over,
For those who love Him there’s more to be;
Eyes have never seen the wonders,
That He’s preparing, for you and me

Oh, tell the world, that you’re a christian,
Be not ashamed, His name to bear;
Oh tell the world, that you’re a christian,
And take Him with you everywhere.

The homecoming that I was looking forward to, to telling my family about Jeus, turned into a nightmare,  with my family continuing to reject me. But then Jesus appeared, and the most wonderful homecoming happened. It will be so wonderful to go home! We can not even begin to imagine the celebration that will take place! God wants us to have a taste of that celebration here on earth. He wants us to feast and celebrate here!

The Elder Brother, the Younger Brother, any Brother, any Sister needs to discover their God-Sense, and see what the Father has done for us. We need to come home. We need to come to the Father. We need to come and enjoy the feast He has prepared for us.

What is your God-Sense today? You may think you are safe and comfortable, just like the Elder Brother. But he had to see that he had no God-Sense, no Father-Sense. He was exiled from the Father’s love. He did not go into the Feast.

With God, our Home Coming is not a future event, it is not a one time event, it is meant to be an on-going event! It is meant to be a LIFE DEFINING EVENT!

This morning we all need to go home. We all need to go in and enjoy the FEAST!

Stiff-Neck5. A Deadly Disease Keeps Us from the Feast: It is called Stiff-Neckitis

The Elder Brother suffered from a deadly disease. It is a disease that some of you may suffer from. It has been called many things through the years, but the Bible simply calls it sklērotrachēlos (sklay-rot-rakh’-ay-los).

In Acts 7:51 it is translated “stiff-necked.” It is a disease that results in a slow death, sometimes 40 years after diagnosis. (The Jews wandered in the wilderness for 40 years until they had died)

You may be thinking of the stiff-neck that you wake up with sometimes. Or perhaps you have had a child with a sore stiff neck and they suspected meningitis. But the stiff-neck mentioned in theBible is much more deadly. And the Elder Brother had the disease.

stephen stoningStephen was stoned because he called the Jews “stiff-necked”. He told them they do always resist the Holy Spirit. Much of what he was preaching to them about was about their fathers in the wilderness. They too were called stiff-necked.

This disease prevents people from feasting, from going home, from escaping exile. People with stiff-neck disease are people who resist God.

Stiff Necks Refuse the Feast

Perhaps you remember the Terminator movies, when Arnold returned as a good robot. These other bad robots were after the kid or the mom. But what I remember most was that it was almost impossible to stop the robot. One was like mercury, just kept bending and changing shape.  No matter how many times Arnold shot him or beat him or crashed him, he just kept on coming.

Stiff-Necks refuse to celebrate

That is a picture of a stiff-neck to God. No matter how Good God is, no matter what God sends their way to wake them up to Him, they refuse to come to God! Be it kindness or trials, they refuse to honor God!

The Jews in the wilderness were so stiff-necked, that no matter what God did for them-manna, quail, water from a rock, victory over Amalekites, victory over giants Kings, or no matter what he did to them, snakes, the eart swallowing them up, killing those who worshipped the golden calf, they refused to humble themselves to Him as God. They kept complaining, kept longing for Egypt. They rebelled and resisted Moses.

Are you stiff-necked this morning? Not the kind that comes from sleeping wrong. The kind that the Elder Brother had. He was stiff-necked in his heart.

He had a problem, in that he lived in the flesh. He only believed what he saw. He saw a brother who was selfish, sinful, wasteful, doing all sorts of evil and dirty things. He saw his brother as one of those filthy stinky pigs.

Even though he came home, and got all cleaned up in the robe and new shoes, he was still filthy and dirty to the brother. That is all he could see.

The Father could see something else. He could see the son’s heart. He could see repentance, he could see brokenness. But more than that, he could see the future.

God is not a God of the Past. O sure, He wants us to know what He has done, but more than anything, He wants us to know who HE IS and WHAT HE IS GOING TO DO!

God is the Great I Am6. God is the GREAT I AM. God is God of the Living.

Too many of us define ourselves by the past. How we goofed up, how we sinned, how we succeeded. We define our marriage by the past. Too often we let the past influence the present, and then it works to rob us of the future.

The Past was Nailed to the Cross.

God forgives the past, and looks to the future. He is all about tomorrow. He is all about NOW!

The Feast means God is God of the Now7. God Uses Feasting to Teach Us That He is ALL ABOUT THE NOW!

God wants us to remember that He is God of the Living, and God of the Future.

How does He do that? He does it through FEASTING!

The Jews have several important Observances that involve feasting and celebrating. They are prescribed by God’s Word. We Christians have only one Important Feast prescribed by the Scriptures!

Lords Supper Feast of Celebration8. WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN’S FEAST? – The Lord’s Supper!

Most of us think that communion should be a somber time. We should be reflective, confessing our sins, wondering if we are partaking worthily. That is a complete misunderstanding of what communion is all about. NONE of us is WORTHY! We are there ONLY because of what our True Elder Brother has done, because the Father sent Him! We are to rejoice because of Him. We are to rejoice because of the Father! Communion should be a time of Praise! Psa;m 97 and 98 should be read at all Communion services. We should shout and sing and clap our hands because NONE of us is worthy to be at the feast! But the Father invites us in! The Father loves us. The Father forgives us becasue of what our True Elder Brother has done! Don’t fret about the past! Don’t fret about the future! Live in the NOW with the Father! Let Him take charge of the future!

9. What Keeps us from Enjoying the Feast?

Our Stiff-Necks! We need to Remove the things which make our neck stiff:

  • Sin
  • Selfishness
  • Pride
  • Greed
  • Lack of Forgiveness
  • Lack of Love
  • Self-Will

The worst cause of stiff-neckitis is a CRITICAL SPIRIT!

That is really why the elder brother refused to go in! He was so critical of his father and the younger brother. A Critical Spirit is looking at the past. A person is usually critical because of their own past. God offers to wipe the past away through the blood of His Son. He offers us acceptance, love, beauty, forgiveness. Our Father is never critical, His arms are always open to his returning children!

10. WE MUST CELEBRATE!

The Feast is our Testimony of the Father’s GRACE.  It is Proof of His Love and Greatness. It is Proof of His Wealth.

Testimony is in the CongregationCOMMUNION IS the way we bear TESTIMONY to our FATHER AND IS ALWAYS SHOWN BY THE FAMILY, (the CONGREGATION)

  • Psalms 119:59 (ESV) When I think on my ways, I turn my feet to your testimonies;
  • Psalms 119:79 (ESV) Let those who fear you turn to me, that they may know your testimonies.
  • Psalms 119:111 (ESV) Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.
  • Psalms 119:146 (ESV) I call to you; save me, that I may observe your testimonies.
  • Psalms 119:88 (ESV) In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.

Failure to celebrate denies the TESTIMONY OF THE FATHER

Testimony and Congregation are almost identical in the Hebrew language:

עֵדָה‎, ‘ēdâ—congregation “company assembled together” for a certain purpose, similar to the Greek words synagōgē and ekklēsia, from which our words “synagogue” and “church” are derived. In ordinary usage, ‘ēdâ refers to a “group of people.” It occurs 149 times in the Old Testament, most frequently in the Book of Numbers.—‏

עֵדָה – ‘ēdāh: A feminine noun meaning a testimony, a witness. Derived from a word that denotes permanence, this term refers to the act of testifying to a fact or an event. For example, by accepting Abraham’s gift of ewe lambs, Abimelech acknowledged the truth of Abraham’s statement about the ownership of the well at Beersheba (Gen. 21:30). Likewise, a heap of stones became a witness to the boundary agreement reached between Jacob and Laban (Gen. 31:52). Within the context of a covenant renewal ceremony, Joshua placed a single large stone to function as a witness of the covenant established between the Lord and His people (Josh. 24:27).

Time to CelebrateAre you ready to Celebrate?

Let’s Give our necks and our hearts a once over. Close your eyes, relax your neck, now roll your head to the left three times.. Now roll it to the right three times. Ah, the stiffness is gone. Now we can go in and CELEBRATE!