Posts Tagged ‘New Life in Christ’


A young boy had just gotten his driver’s license. He asked his father, who was a minister, if they could discuss the use of the car. His father took him to his study and said to him, “I’ll make a deal with you. You bring your grades up, study your bible a little and get your hair cut and we’ll talk about it.”

After about a month, the boy came back and again asked his father, if they could discuss use of the car. They again went to the father’s study where his father said, “Son, I’ve been real proud of you. You have brought your grades up, you’ve studied your bible diligently, but you didn’t get your hair cut.”

The young man waited a moment and replied, “You know Dad, I’ve been thinking about that. You know, Samsom had long hair, Moses had long hair, Noah had long hair, and even Jesus had long hair!”, to which is father replied, “Yes, you’re right, and they also WALKED every where they went!”

We have come to Romans 8, a chapter in the Bible which more than any other talks about our walk with the Holy Spirit. In fact, our walk in the Holy Spirit is to become so natural that we hardly notice it, becasue our walk in the Holy Spirit is to be the New Law of our Christian walk.

What is a Law? A Law is a general rule that happens over and over again, without exception. Every April 15, we are reminded that without exception some accounting of your income must be made to the IRS. It is automatic. Every time you jump up in the air you come back down. The Law of Gravity is something we just accept.

When you drive, you know you must keep track of your speed. When you see a Red Light you know you should stop. We drive on the right side of the road. In England and Australia they drive on the other side of the road and it is the most unnatural feeling in the world.

When we live according to a Law, it is so accepted that it is natural.

Romans 7 revealed a struggle that Paul had, a struggle that ran him right up against a Law, A Law of Sin. It was a Law that his flesh was comfortable with, had accepted, and was struggling with.

Even though in Romans 6:6 (Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.)  he had taught us

1. KNOW our old man is dead.

Then he taught us in Romans 6:11 (Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord) to

2. COUNT on God that it is so.

Our old man is dead. Depend on it. God says it is true. And then Paul taught us, that if our old man is dead and we can count on that like money in the bank, then our flesh is unemployed, and so it must be…

3.PRESENTED to God for Him to use.

He taught this in Romans 6:13: (Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.)

Still Paul struggled with his will. He testified to this in Romans 7:15-20

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

The reason for his struggle is that he discovered something: “but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.” Romans 7:23

There is a law that governs how we live in this flesh. It is the Law of Sin and of death and it cripples man’s will to do good. Man wills to be different, but the law of sin is relentless, and no human can resist it.

So, how can we be set free from this law of sin and death? We certainly need freedom from sin, we certainly need freedom from death, but most of all we need freedom from this LAW of sin and death.

  • How can we be delivered from the constant repetition of weakness and failure?

The Key Phrases

There are two phrases that we see in Romans 5:12-6:23:

“in Adam” and “in Christ”

There are two phrases we see in Romans 7:1-8:39:

“in the flesh” and “in the Spirit”

POSITIONAL Experience

“In Adam” and “In Christ” picture our position. At birth God views us in Adam. All that is Adam’s is our. His sin nature, his sinfulness, that is our position at birth.

When we are born again through faith in Jesus Christ, we are placed “in Christ.” God no longer sees us in Adam. He declares us justified, righteous. Our sins are forever forgiven. We have the life of Christ.

PRACTICAL experience

“In the flesh” and “in the Spirit” relate to our practical experience.

It is not enough to simply know what your position is. You need to experience it. To be in Christ is not enough. To have our old man crucified is not enough. To present our members as servants of God is not enough. The only way the New Law becomes effective and practical in our lives is when we learn to walk everyday “in the Spirit!”

We need to see there is a New Law that we Christians are to live by. It is as natural as the Law of Gravity. It is a more powerful law than the law of sin.

The key to this Law is walking in the Holy Spirit.

This is why the first part of Romans 8 is so centered upon the Holy Spirit.The Holy Spirit is mentioned in Romans 8 no less than 19 different times. No other chapter in the New Testament contains as many direct references to the Holy Spirit. While it is true that our old man is crucified, and we are freed from the power of sin, if we do not mind our walk, and learn to walk in the spirit, then our lives will be a contradiction to the fact of my position in Jesus Christ.

If we walk in the flesh, what is true of me in Him will not be expressed in my life.

Positionally I may be in Jesus, but practically, my temper, or my lust, or my jealousy, or my greed may be in evidence.

The truth of who we are in Jesus Christ cannot be experienced by walking in the flesh. That is totally the experience of Paul in Romans 7. The flesh is no match for the Law of Sin. The only way we can experience the reality of Jesus Christ in our lives is by living according to a New and greater Law, the Law of Living in the Holy Spirit!

Living in the Holy Spirit means that I trust the Holy Spirit to do in me what I cannot do myself. This life is completely different from the life I would naturally live myself!

  • This is not a life of TRYING but of TRUSTING!
  • This is not a life of STRUGGLING but of RESTING!
  • Whether your problem is a temper, a sarcastic tongue, a critical spirit, impure thoughts, you do not set out by sure will power to change yourself.

    If you are Living in the Spirit, you know and count yourself dead to those things and then look to the Holy Spirit to produce in you the needed purity, humility, patience, meekness, and you are confident He will do so. In fact, you thank Him in advance for deliverance from those sins.

    As Exodus 14:13 states: Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you!”

    When the Holy Spirit takes matters into His hands, there is no need for strain on our part. It is not a matter of counting to 10, of going home and taking it out on a pillow, there will be no need, for the Holy Spirit has worked it in you.

    Real victory over a sin, over a habit does not come by fleshly effort, but by the Holy Spirit and our living in Him!

    This is why Satan is so active in the world tempting us to stay in the flesh. This is why John warns against loving this world:

    Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 1 John 2:15-16

    If you are in love with the world, the love of the Father is not in you. That is because the love of the world has brought you into a fleshly walk, and not the walk of the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is LOVE!

    When you love the world, the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride of possessions, you are not living according to the Law of the Holy Spirit! You are settling for the bowl of lentil soup that Esau sold his birthright for. In the Holy Spirit is our life of Blessing!

    Temptation gets us off our walk and exposes us to struggle and defeat!

    When the Japanese invaded China, their overwhelming strength destroyed most of the Chinese tanks within the first three months. They were unable to deal with the Japanese armored tanks until they devised this scheme:

    A sniper would be set up in a hidden place and would fire a single shot at the Japanese tank. After at least 15 minutes he would fire another single shot. Then after ten minutes or so, the sniper would fire another shot. He would keep doing it until the Japanese tank driver, eager to locate the source of the shots, would pop his head out to get a better look around him. The next shot would put an end to the Japanese driver.

    As long as the driver remained in the tank, he was safe. The scheme was devised to get him out in the open.

    Satan’s temptations are not designed to get us to do something really sinful, but simply to act in our own energy. As soon as we step away from the Holy Spirit, and start acting naturally, in our flesh, he has the victory.

    This is the lesson of Galations 5:16-18:

    But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Galatians 5:16-18

    THE FIGHT WITH THE FLESH IS NOT OURS, BUT THE HOLY SPIRIT’S.

    These are in opposition one to another! So the Holy Spirit bears the burden of fighting the flesh, and the result is that we not do as we normally would. In fact, the result is that we are not under the Law, becasue we are walking according to a New Law, Life in the Holy Spirit!

    When we depend upon the Holy Spirit, and do not allow the devil to lure us from his cover, He is then free to meet and deal with the flesh in us.

    Walk by the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh!

    Our deliverance and victory lies not in our own fleshly strength and determination, but by our abiding in Christ and and simply counting upon His Holy Spirit with us to overcome fleshly lusts with HIS OWN DESIRES!.

    • The Cross procures our Salvation
    • The Spirit produces that Salvation within us!
    • Christ risen and ascended is the basis of our salvation;
    • Christ in our hearts by the Spirit is its power!

    So what does Paul exclaim in Romans 7?

    I  THANK GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST!

    Up until his exclamation, he used “I” or “me” over 25 times. in just a few verses. He was totally struggling in his flesh! But when he exclaimed I thank God through Jesus Christ, it became him and he and we! That is what Paul revealed in Galatians 2:20:

    I live, yet no longer I, but Christ!

    When the focus is on the I, it is “What a Wretched Man I am!” When the focus is on Christ, we shout THANK YOU GOD!

    Christians do not have a changed life. God offers us an exchanged life! We exchange our natural, fleshly live for the life of Jesus Christ within us! We do not produce within ourselves the life of Christ. We don’t try to act like Jesus. Jesus really lives through us by His Spirit!

    The Holy Spirit reproduces the life of Jesus in us! That is what Galatians 4:19 reveals – Christ is formed in you!

    What brought victory for Paul? He explains in Romans 8, that there is a new law that supercedes the law of sin. This law is not a fleshly law, but it is a law nonetheless. As such, when you start to walk in this new law, it will become natural, it will produce the same result over and over again. After all, it is a Law.

    So how do we learn to walk and live in the Law of Life in the Holy Spirit?

    Only when we we become aware of our great need for His life! We get to the point where we see our deficiencies and our inadequacies and our failures and we can do nothng else but cry out to Him!

    Does that sound like salvation? Yes, and sometimes when someone has led a life of sin and then realizes their need makes a dramatic turn to Jesus Christ, and immediately everything about their life is changed. They immediately begin walking in the Holy Spirit.

    But Paul reflected his experience where he came to Jesus but then tried to walk in his flesh, becasue he was a Jew, used to following a set of laws. But his frustration led him to the point of seeing his total inability. Then he cried out to Jesus and saw the light of the Life in the Holy Spirit.

    Many people who get saved as a youngster and grow up in a Christian home take Jesus for granted. They get out into the world or college and get lured into the love of the world. They try to live the Christian life in their fleshly strength and fail miserably. Then, when they get to the end of themselves, and realize they cannot live the Christian life in their own strength, they are ready to give everything over to Him and let Jesus live His life through them. Then is when they find victory.

    Romans 8:1 No Condemnation

    Paul goes from a wretched man in Romans 7 to this amazing declaration:

    There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

    There are two kinds of condemnation:

    1. Before God
    2. Before Myself

    I have no problem seeing my sins forgiven on the cross. I have no problem seeing that God no longer condemns me becasue I am in His son. I do have a problem with a condemning heart. I experience defeat in my life, and my heart goes into hyperdrive condemning me.

    But in the Spirit, there is no condemnation.

    What lay behind my condemnation? It was my experience of defeat. Before I saw Christ as my life, I labored under a constant sense of a handicap. I was limited, confined to a wheelchair, disabled. I cannot do this. I cannot please God! But there is no “can not” in Christ! THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION, THERE IS NO FAILURE, THERE IS NO DAMNATION, THERE IS NO REGRETTING! THERE IS ONLY THE LIFE OF Jesus Christ in me!

    For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the condemning law of sin and death!

    God wants us to realize that as Christians he doesn’t just leave us at the Cross. We don’t come to Christ as Savior and then walk away on our own. God wants us to realize that Jesus Christ wants to live through our lives, in fact, God wants us to realize that we are united with Christ. Everything about us, our identity, our life, our career, our family is inextricably tied up in Jesus Christ!

    God wants us to walk under a New Law, a Law that is to be so natural that we take it for granted, just like gravity. He wants us to walk according to the Law of the Spirit of Life in Jesus Christ!

    When we close our eyes to seeing this new Law, to seeing the Holy Spirit as Lord of our life, we open our eyes to the world and all the associated temptations. If we are not in the Spirit, we walk in the flesh, and so we walk as Romans 7 Christians, always struggling with guilt and failure and problems. Most fleshly Christians end up turning away from God at some point, for the Christian life seems to conflict with the fleshly world and all they experience there.

    Let me illustrate how this works.

    This past weekend Lydia and I were in Boonville, MO. staying at the High Street Victorian Bed and Breakfast operated by Kriss and Gene Royer. Friday night Lydia and I walked three building down to the Hotel Frederick to sit out on the balcony and watch the sunset over the Missouri River (which was at flood stage).

    It was very busy and the people were real friendly. The beer and cocktails were flowing freely, as well as the conversation. People would ask us what we were doing there and Lydia would proudly say that I had decided to ride my bicycle the 76 miles from Clinton to Boonville (on the Katy Trail) on my birthday (the day before). They would offer their kudo’s and looks of unbelief, etc. There was a group of people from the “R” bar in Kansas City and one of the guys appeared to be a “Cowboy” complete with the slow Texan draw. He was real friendly and at some point the ‘question’ got asked. It is the question that many Pastors are afraid of, especially in a crowd of people who don’t seem to be church-goers. He asked, so what do you do? I simply said I’m a pastor of a church. There were several ‘oh’s’ and some furtive glances away, but this ‘Cowboy’ seemed real interested. He immediately perked up and said he goes to church and he was a ‘Methodist-Buddhist-Muslim’. Now my attention was peaked, and I mentioned my curiosity as to how that could work. We discussed several topics in a gentlemanly way. All in the open, with others listening.

    At one point he came over to our table and engaged me one-on-one. As much as could be, this was a private conversation. He shared that as a 13 year old, he had asked Jesus Christ into his life, and admitted that growing up he went to a Gospel-Preaching Methodist all the time. I got the sense that he genuinely believed in Christ, but somewhere along the line he had gotten into a bunch of ‘worldly’ beliefs. I also found out that he is an attorney, and much of his ‘Cowboy’ display is a cover for a very intelligent, shrewd lawyer. Soon after his confession I was led to say that I have found that whenever a Christian strays away from his belief in Christ (at which point he said ‘I’m still a believer’), it is usually the result of at least one of three things. It is either because of moral impurity, deep-seated bitterness, or a temporal value system. At this point he got rather defensive, and launched into another defensive move. He decried a God who could allow such evils as 9/11, Katrina, child abuse, etc. He said he could not believe in a God like that. It hit me that he had some deep-rooted bitterness toward God over sometning in his life.

    I said that many times we make a decision with our mind to believe in Christ, but God says in Prov 23:26: “Son, give me your heart!” God wants our heart, God wants our trust. There are many things that happen in our lives that we can not understand. There are many experiences that will try to destroy our trust in God. That is why God wants our heart. Regardless of what we experience, regardless of what we think, we are to trust in God and His Word. Otherwise, we give our heart to the things of this world, the philosophis of this world, the hurts and disappointments of this world. Before long, our heart is far away from God, from Jesus, from a faith that has real application in this world.

    We conversed over an hour that evening, and while I could see a searching in his eyes, his heart is far from the Jehovah of the Bible. He has gone after a god of his own making, one who embraces Buddhists, Muslims, and all the other deluded people of the world. All becasue he is bitter at the True God for something He did or failed to do. To Mark, there is a Jesus, but He has no reality in this present world.  And so, in all practical aspects, Jesus is dead to Mark.

    And so it is with many Christians, even good Baptist(ha) ones, who make a decision to follow Jesus, but because their focus is not on the Law of the Spirit of Life, they do not see how Jesus relates to their everyday lives, and soon Jesus is an ornament, or a figurehead of something you do on Sunday, if they go at all. They too are focused on the flesh, focused on the world, and Jesus is far from their heart.

    Let’s see what effect this New Law is supposed to have upon Christians. God wants the Truth of Jesus Christ to be superior to our experiences. We are to walk by FAITH and not by SIGHT. When Christians fail to see the Power of Christ for their everyday lives it is because they are letting their fleshy experieces rule their lives.

    Kriss and Gene Royer, InnKeepers

    The Innkeepers of the Bed and Breakfast we stayed at are a marvelous Christian couple. We had a long conversation with Kriss about one of their children, Ashley Ann. They adopted Ashley Ann when she was nine years old. She had been in the foster care system since she was five, and in four short years had already had over twenty foster homes and over twenty different schools. I will let Ashley tell you why (from an essay she wrote for a Scholarship to Southwest Baptist University):

    “My life as a small child was filled with life experiences no one should have to go through, especially a little child. I was deliberately and repeatedly abused and abandoned. At age two, my father shoved my face into a brick wall from which I still have scars. My mother was a prostitute, drug user and dealer. I have seen everything imaginable. I have been sexually abused, deliberately burned, stripped naked and beaten, had needles stuck into me like apin cushion just for the kicks of the drug addicted friends of my mother. They would tell me there were ‘doctors’. At age three I was often left alone for days to look after my brother (who was 11 months older than me and had cerebral palsy) and my newborn sister. I had to learn to be resourceful to find food for us all, and ‘played mommy’ becasue no on else was there to take care of us. While I was still three, the Social Worker took me away from my mom permanently and placed me with my grandmother. This was no better because she allowed my mom to stay at her home against the rules of the social worker. My grandmother continued the abuse, and even went further, forcing me to drink beer and smoke cigarettes. When I refused, she would beat me and even burn me. At age five I was permanently placed in the foster care system. By the age of nine I had gone from foster cfamily to foster family for an average stay of three or four months. I attended twenty seven different schools. No one wanted me, and although I had learned to be flexible with so much change in my life, I was an insecure, untrusting, angry and scared little kid. I quickly learned that if I rejected others before they had a chance to reject me, it wouldn’t be so painful.”

    If the story stopped here, she would have grown up to be another abusive woman, angry at the world, angry at her children. The cycle would have continued, and everyone would have understood.

    Ashley wrote:

    “I think success in overcoming childhood trauma and abuse in a person’s life is much more difficult than attaining worldly success. I have learned that bad things can happen to a person becasue of other people’s choices. I too make choices and it was up to me whether I would carry those painful memories and emotional scars the rest of my life. I could chose to let them weigh me down and keep me stuck in a life filled with anger, pain, self pity and bitterness. Or I could use them to become a better person.”

    What made this transformation possible? How could someone so abused and hated and discarded even begin to hope there was something more to this life?

    Ashley made a startling discovery. She discovered a different foster family. “They really did want me even though they were told I was mean, angry, aggressive, violent, used bad language and tried to hurt others. They loved me no matter what I did, and believe me I tested them plenty to be sure they weren’t going to throw me away like everyone else in my life did!”

    Ashley discovered love for the first time in her life. But then she discovered the reason for that love.

    “One of the things that was different with my new family…was their faith. My new mom and big brothers worked at a family camp and I got to go with them every day. I loved this camp and I got to experience being a kid, and playing and swimming and all the things a kid should experience. And I loved singing the new songs I learned every day. It did not take long before I made this faith my own. I discovered a faith that would carry me through all the trauma of my childhood, and bring complete healing and a wholeness I never thought possible.” Ahsley reveals the power of Jesus Christ when she states: “Through my faith in the Lord I have learned how to forgive those who hurt me and how to release each of those pains and not carry them.”

    She admits it has not been easy, and yet through it all, time and time again, she has seen that “I have a power inside me bigger than myself, and that with God, all things are possible!”

    This is the choice each Christian must make. Your background does not matter. What matters is are you going to believe in the power of Jesus Christ for your everyday life? Are you going to walk according to the NEW LAW, the “Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus?”

    Only as Christian’s walk in this new law are we able to enjoy the overcoming, abundant life of Jesus Christ.

    Or, we can let our failures, the abuses, hurts, pains and evils get us to where we are bitter, disillusioned, defeated. Jesus Christ is little more than a teacher, an ideal, who has little impact on this difficult life we lead.

    It’s up to you whether you will carry your failures and bad choices with you the rest of your life. You can choose to let them weigh you down and keep you stuck in a life filled with fleshly effort, fleshly choices, and all the anger bitterness and pain they bring.

    You have a choice of who you want to become.

    You can be a fleshly Christian, struggling the best you can to be like Jesus, always vacillating between defeat and victory, constantly being drawn away by your fleshly focus.

    Or you can be desperate enough to simply say,”Holy Spirit, I want the life you have for me. I want you to live Jesus through me.” You can stop struggling and start resting. When you realize you need His power, and stop using your own, is when you will see the reality of Jesus Christ.

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    “The epistle to the Romans is the true masterpiece of the New Testament and the very purest gospel, which is well worth and deserving that a Christian man should not only learn it by heart, word for word, but also that he should daily deal with it as the daily bread of men’s souls. It can never be too much or too well read or studied, and the more it is handled the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes” (Martin Luther).

    Paul wrote this letter about 56 A. D. when he was in the city of Corinth, before his trip to Jerusalem. Written to a church he hoped to visit soon. Paul had not yet visited the church in Rome. He wanted to go there and he prayed that God would make this visit possible (Rom. 1:10-12; 15:23-24). This makes the letter to the Romans unique. Most of Paul’s other letters were written to churches where he had personally ministered. But here was a church (the church at Rome) where Paul had not been and where Paul had not taught.

    So the Book of Romans was preparation for when Paul would arrive in Rome.

    Here in the book of Romans Paul gives a doctrinal preview of the content of his teaching ministry. What Paul unfolds in these 16 chapters is nothing less than a doctrinal masterpiece.

    • What is being a Christian all about?
    • What are the central truths of Christianity?
    • What is the gospel really?
    • What formed the foundation of Apostle Paul’s preaching wherever he went?

    Influence of Romans

    To find the answer to all these questions we turn to the greatest doctrinal book in the New Testament — the epistle of Paul to the Romans.

    A group of scholars once made a list of the fifteen greatest books, books that were great based upon their beneficial influence upon humanity. Included in this list were John Wesley’sJournal, Luther’s 95 Theses, Augustine’s City of God and John Bunyan‘s Pilgrim’s Progress.

    • As his Journal reveals, Wesley was an unsaved preacher until he read the book of Romans and understood God’s way of salvation.
    • Luther, a Catholic monk, was greatly influenced by Romans 1:17, “The just shall live by faith,” which opened his eyes to the truth of justification by faith.
    • Augustine’s City of God was founded on his study of the Book of Romans.
    • Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress was written after reading the Book of Romans in prison.  It became the best selling book of all time, next to the Bible.

    Among the greatest books of the world, four which come near the top of the list were all directly influenced by the Book of Romans.

    Has the Book of Romans changed your life? When was the last time you read through Romans?

    Although Paul knows many of the people to whom he is writing, he did not found the church, and he has never been to Rome. So he has some work to do in the first 17 verses to introduce himself and his agenda. The “gospel” ties together Romans 1:1-17, and, indeed, the entire letter. In the introduction, Paul features both the content and the power of the gospel that unites Jewish and Gentile believers in Rome.

    The object of the apostle in writing to this church was to explain to them the great doctrines of the gospel. His epistle was a “word in season.” Himself deeply impressed with a sense of the value of the doctrines of salvation, he opens up in a clear and connected form the whole system of the gospel in its relation both to Jew and Gentile.

    Preparation for the Journey

    Whenever I take a trip, I like to prepare myself so I can make the most of my time in the place I’m going. There are three things which you should study about your destination if you are to get the most of your time there:

    1. The Personality (of the people)
    2. The Places (what should we see)
    3. The Pillars (make it a desirable destination)

    I. THE PERSONALITY OF ROMANS

    The following terms must be understood if we are to understand the personality of Romans. Paul’s approach to these terms are nothing short of foundational to understanding the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am certain that most of us do not understand these terms the way Paul wants us to.

    A. The LAW –  78x in 51 verses

    • For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. Romans 2:13 (ESV)

    The Law is not to be understood in terms of  “Thou shall and thou shall not’s“. We commonly think that laws are obeyed and satisfied by works, whether your heart is in it or not. But God’s Law makes its demands not on your works but on the depths of your heart and does not let the heart rest content in works.

    God calls all of us liars in Ps 116:11, because none of us keep the law from the depths of our heart. We all have an aversion to good and a craving for that which is forbidden. If our heart does not freely desire righteousness, our heart has not set itself on God’s Law. Regardless of outward good works, the appearance of an honorable life, our heart is sinful and deserving of the wrath of Righteous Holy God.

    Romans  Two is pointed at the Jews, who are proud of their outward holiness. But Paul says that they are all sinners, and that only does of the law are justified in the sight of God. He reveals that no matter their outward obedience, there is none that truly obey. On the contrary, he says to them, “You teach that one should not commit adultery, and you commit adultery. You judge another in a certain matter and condemn yourselves in that same matter, because you do the very same thing that you judged in another.”

    • You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. Romans 2:23 (ESV)

    It is as if he were saying, “Outwardly you live quite properly in the works of the law and judge those who do not live the same way; you know how to teach everybody. You see the speck in another’s eye but do not notice the beam in your own.”

    You keep the Law (selfish motivations) outwardly out of fear of punishment or love of reward. You do everything as though you are chained-without free desire and love of the Law. If the Law did not exist you would be relieved, you would rejoice. In fact, Paul says (in Romans 5) that the Law causes sin to increase. This is because a person becomes more and more and enemy of the Law the more it demands of him what he can’t possibly do.

    In Romans Seven, Paul says the Law is “spiritual”. What he means is that it were physical, it could be satisfied by your works. Since it is spiritual, no one can satisfy the law unless everything you do springs from the depths of your heart. But no one can have such a heart except the Spirit of God, who gives us a New Heart which has a heartfelt longing for the law and does everything not through fear or coercion, but from a new free and willing heart!

    Only by a new heart energized by the Holy Spirit can one fulfill the Spiritual Law. Otherwise we remain an enemy of the Law by nature.

    You must get used to the idea that it is one thing to do the works of the law and quite another to fulfill it. The works of the law are everything that a person does or can do of his own free will and by his own powers to obey the law. But because in doing such works the heart abhors the law and yet is forced to obey it, the works are a total loss and are completely useless.

    That is what St. Paul means in chapter 3 when he says, “No human being is justified before God through the works of the law.”

    Fulfilling the Law of God

    To fulfill the Law means to actively obey and do its work lovingly and freely, as if there was no Law. The Law is the expression of the character of God. The only way to fulfill the Law is through possessing the love and character of God in your heart and being!

    Paul says that only the Holy Spirit can fill us with this Divine Love: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us”. Romans 5:5 (ESV)  But the Spirit is given only in, with, and through faith in Jesus Christ, as Paul says in his introduction to Romans. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17 (ESV)

    Faith alone makes the Love and Righteousness of God reality in our hearts. Faith alone fulfills the righteousness of the Law. Good works that proceed from faith alone are the only works that satisfy the demands of the Law.

    The Law as Paul sees it: The Law is Spiritual – the revealed Character of Holy God.

    B. SINS and SIN  – 48x – 41 verses

    In Romans Paul deals with our sins, and then he deals with our sin. Sins refers to the external works of the body and soul. Sins of omission and commission. Sin refers to those forces within us that move us to do the sins. Sin is from the depth of our wicked heart with all its powers and inclinations.

    The root and source of our sins is the sin nature that comes with being “in (the unbelief) of Adam”. The Holy Spirit and the Scriptures see into the heart, to the root source of sins, and that is our sin nature, which is founded in unbelief in the depth of the heart.

    Just as faith alone makes us just and brings the Spirit and the desire to do good external works, so it is only unbelief which sins and exalts the flesh and brings desire to do evil external works.

    That’s what happened to Adam and Eve in Paradise (cf. Genesis 3). That is why unbelief is called sin by Christ, as he says in John, chapter 16, “The Spirit will judge the world because of sin, because it does not believe in me.”

    • Sin is the nature we possess that causes us to not believe.
    • Sins are what result as a result of our unbelieving sin nature.

    In Romans, Paul will show us how God can deal with our sins, and also our sin!

    C. Grace and Gifts – 21x – 18 verses

    • and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Romans 3:24 (ESV)

    Grace is the active force in our lives which makes us completely just before God. God’s grace is not divided into bits and pieces, as are the gifts, but grace takes us up completely into God’s favor for the sake of Christ, our intercessor and mediator, so that the gifts may begin their work in us.

    By this, we understand chapter 7, where Paul portrays himself as still a sinner, while in chapter 8 he says that, because of the incomplete gifts and because of the Spirit, there is nothing damnable in those who are in Christ. Because our flesh has not been killed, we are still sinners, but because we believe in Christ and have the beginnings of the Spirit, God so shows us his favor and mercy, that he neither notices nor judges such sins.

    God’s grace allows Him to deal with us according to our position in Christ until our flesh is completely redeemed.

    • Grace is the Loving Power of God displayed in our daily lives
    • Gifts are the pieces of God’s grace that we often reject or neglect, and can lead us to miss or refuse God’s Grace.

    D. FAITH – 40x – 35 verses

    • 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. Romans 5:2 (ESV)

    Faith is not that human illusion and dream that some people think it is. When they hear and talk a lot about faith and yet see that no moral improvement and no good works result from it, they fall into error and say, “Faith is not enough. You must do works if you want to be virtuous and get to heaven.” The result is that, when they hear the Gospel, they stumble and make for themselves with their own powers a concept in their hearts which says, “I believe.” This concept they hold to be true faith. But since it is a human fabrication and thought and not an experience of the heart, it accomplishes nothing, and there follows no improvement.

    Faith is a work of God in us, which changes us and brings us to birth anew from God (cf. John 1). It kills the old Adam, makes us completely different people in heart, mind, senses, and all our powers, and brings the Holy Spirit with it. Faith places us IN CHRIST. Faith keeps us abiding in Christ. We live the exchanged life by THE FAITH of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

    “What a living, creative, active powerful thing is faith! It is impossible that faith ever stop doing good. Faith doesn’t ask whether good works are to be done, but, before it is asked, it has done them. It is always active. Whoever doesn’t do such works is without faith; he gropes and searches about him for faith and good works but doesn’t know what faith or good works are. Even so, he chatters on with a great many words about faith and good works.” Martin Luther

    • Faith is the living, unshakeable confidence in God’s grace.

    This kind of trust in and knowledge of God’s grace makes a person joyful, confident, and happy with regard to God and all that He does. Through faith, a person will do good to everyone without coercion, willingly and happily; he will serve everyone, suffer everything for the love and praise of God, who has shown him such grace. It is as impossible to separate works from faith.

    Through faith a person becomes sinless and eager for God’s commands. Thus he gives God the honor due him and pays him what he owes him.

    Faith comes only through the word of God, the Gospel, that preaches Christ: how he is both Son of God and man, how he died and rose for our sake. Paul says all this in chapters 3, 4 and 10.

    That is why faith alone makes someone just and fulfills the law; faith in God’s promises sees the Power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. Faith opens our will and want to to do those ‘good works’ which God designed us for. Then good works proceed from faith itself. That is what Paul means in chapter 3 when, after he has thrown out the works of the law, he sounds as though the wants to abolish the law by faith. No, he says, we uphold the law through faith, i.e. we fulfill it through faith.

    For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law. Romans 3:28-31 (ESV)

    • Faith makes the Vitality and Power of God real in our daily living.

    E. FLESH (CARNAL) 23x – 19 verses and SPIRITUAL (SPIRIT)

    • For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. Romans 7:18 (ESV)

    You must not understand flesh here as denoting only immorality or spirit as denoting only the inner heart. In Romans, Paul not only calls every human being ‘flesh’ but also everthing done by human beings in their own strength or in their own devices “fleshly”. Those living in the flesh can be sinners as well as saints. Anything done apart from the Spirit of God is walking in the flesh and not the Spirit. In Romans 8, Paul says that, through the flesh, the law is weakened. He says this, not of the immoral, but of all sins, most of all of unbelief, which is the most spiritual of sins. Unbelief destroys the SPIRITUAL life of any believer.

    • But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. Romans 7:6 (KJV)

    I have come to the conclusion that a true Jew is not the man who is merely a Jew outwardly, and a real circumcision is not just a matter of the body. The true Jew is one who belongs to God in heart, a man whose circumcision is not just an outward physical affair but is a God-made sign upon the heart and soul, and results in a life lived not for the approval of man, but for the approval of God. Romans 2:28 (Phillips NT)

    A person is spiritual who has been born of the Holy Spirit, and lives in and by the Spirit. Outward righteousness is a result of the inward spirit of God producing the life and character of God.

    • So then, a person is “flesh” who, inwardly and outwardly, lives only to do those things which are of use to the flesh and to temporal existence.
    • A person is “spirit” who, inwardly and outwardly, lives only to do those things which are of use to the spirit and to the life to come.

    F. Unbelief and Belief

    The very foundation of sin coming upon man was unbelief. Adam and Eve believed the deception rather than the Word of God. If they had only believed what God had said, they would have lived in eternal bliss.

    Jesus defined sin as unbelief. God defined sin as going your own way. It is unbelief that leads us to go our own way. Unbelief in Romans reaches far beyond simple belief in Jesus as your Savior. Essential for being born again, yes,  but belief is essential for your very LIFE as a son of God. Your belief in the Word of God is foundational to your LIFE here and now and for all eternity.

    Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:8-11 (ESV)

    Paul uses Old Testament illustrations to convey the Truth of Romans. He points out Abraham, who did not stumble at the promises of God by unbelief. His belief is what made him righteous before God. His believing the promises of God is what gave him LIFE here on earth and in all eternity.

    He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Romans 4:20-22 (KJV)

    In Romans, Paul lays out the truth of the gospel of Christ, and that truth doesn’t end at the cross, it goes through the cross to affect not only our sins, but our sin nature. We are made righteous by our belief in the promises of God. That belief does not stop at the cross. It does not stop at being born again. Belief in the Promises of God’s Word is to be a daily thing whereby we are made righteous every day. We are given LIFE every day. Not life in the flesh, but life in the Holy Spirit of God!

    • UNBELIEF-anything -thought, person, thing that keeps the Power of God from your life.
    • BELIEF – is reflected in the daily manifestation of fruit in your heart and life.

    Summary of the Personality of Romans

    Romans is the richest possible teaching about what a Christian should know: the meaning of law, Gospel, sin, punishment, grace, faith, justice, Christ, God, good works, love, hope and the power of the cross. We learn how we are to act toward everyone, toward the saints and the sinners, toward the strong and the weak, friend and foe, and toward ourselves. Paul bases everything firmly on Scripture and proves his points with examples from his own experience and from the Prophets, so that nothing more could be desired. Therefore it seems that Paul, in writing this letter, wanted to compose a summary of the whole of Christian and evangelical teaching which would also be an introduction to the whole Old Testament. Whoever takes this letter to heart possesses the light and power of the Old Testament. Therefore each and every Christian should make this letter the habitual and constant object of his study.

    II. THE PLACES OF ROMANS

    1. The Gospel of Salvation

    The introduction (1:1-17) delineates the theme of the book of Romans, which is the gospel of God. This is the content of the introduction. Our next tour will explore this Gospel which was so important to Paul.

    • Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, Romans 1:1-6 (ESV)
    • Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen. Romans 16:25-27 (ESV)

    2. Condemnation—the Need of Salvation

    Following the introduction, we have the section on condemnation (1:18—3:20) that unveils to us the need of God’s salvation. We all are hopeless and helpless cases and are under God’s condemnation. We need God’s salvation.

    3. Justification—The Accomplishment of Salvation

    The third section, justification (3:21—5:11), reveals the accomplishment of God’s salvation. Related to this matter of justification we have three other items—propitiation, redemption, and reconciliation. We will cover these terms when we come to chapter 3. At this point I will only say a brief word. God’s justification depends upon the redemption of Christ. Without the redemption of Christ, God has no way to justify sinners. Therefore, justification depends upon redemption, and redemption has one major aspect—propitiation. Propitiation is the major structure of redemption. Propitiation is the major part of the redemption of Christ because, as sinners, we owed God a great deal. We were held by God to pay this debt, and this caused a tremendous problem. That problem has been resolved by Christ as our propitiatory sacrifice. Since this propitiation has solved our problems with God, we have been redeemed. Based upon the redemption of Christ, God can easily and lawfully justify us. Thus, justification depends upon redemption, and the major part of redemption is propitiation. What, then, is reconciliation? Reconciliation is the issue of justification. God’s justification issues in reconciliation. All of this has been accomplished. Hallelujah! Although you may not be clear about all of these words at present, you can say to the Lord, “Lord, I don’t understand all these terms, but I praise You that everything has been accomplished.”

    Justification brings us to God. In fact, it not only brings us to God, but also into God. Therefore, we may have the full enjoyment of God. The King James Version says, “We joy in God” (Rom. 5:11). We not only joy in God; we enjoy God. God is our enjoyment. This is justification.

    4. Sanctification—the Life-process in Salvation

    Following this, we have sanctification (5:12—8:13). How great it is to be in God and to enjoy God!  After being justified, we need to be sanctified.

    What does it mean to be sanctified? We use the illustration of tea. If we put tea into a glass of plain water, the water will be “teaified.” At best, we are plain water, although we are actually not plain, but dirty. Even if we are plain water, we lack the tea flavor, the tea essence, and the tea color. We need the tea to come into our very being. Christ Himself is the heavenly tea. Christ is in us. Hallelujah!

    God is progressively revealed throughout the book of Romans:

    • In chapter 1 He is God in CREATION,
    • In chapter 3 God in REDEMPTION,
    • In chapter 4 God in JUSTIFICATION,
    • In chapter 5 God in RECONCILIATION,
    • In chapter 6 God in IDENTIFICATION.
    • In chapter 8 God in US.

    Christ is in us (Rom. 8:10)! He is no longer merely in creation, redemption, justification, reconciliation, and identification, but He is now within us, in our spirit. Christ is in us doing a transforming and sanctifying work, just as the tea, when put into the water, works the element of tea into it. Eventually, the water will be wholly “teaified.” It will have the appearance, the flavor, and the taste of real tea. If I serve you some of this beverage, I will be serving you tea, not plain water.

    • Have you been JUSTIFIED?

    You should all reply, “Hallelujah! We have been justified because Christ has accomplished redemption. God has reconciled us and we are now enjoying Him.”

    • Have you been SANCTIFIED?

    If some of you married men claim to be sanctified, what would your wives say? “He may be justified, but it is doubtful he is sanctified.” Or you might say”maybe a little bit… or maybe he is improved, but I do not think he is sanctified yet.” I am not talking about being improved, but being sanctified—that is to have the very character of Christ worked into our very being, just as the essence, flavor, and color of the tea are worked into the water. This is sanctification. And every born again Christian should learn that he indeed is sanctified.

    5. Glorification—the Purpose of Salvation

    The next section in the book of Romans is GLORIFICATION (Rom. 8:14-39), unveiling the purpose of God’s salvation. Following sanctification, there is the need of glorification. Our body needs to be glorified. Although a brother may be quite saintly, his body needs to be glorified because of its physical defects and limitations. When the Lord Jesus comes, we will be glorified. Presently, I must wear thick, peculiar eyeglasses, but when the Lord comes I will be glorified. We shall not only be justified and sanctified; we shall be glorified, that is, our body shall be redeemed. Glorification is the full redemption of our body.

    This glorification reveals the purpose of God’s salvation. The purpose of God’s salvation is to produce many brothers to Christ. Originally, Christ was the only begotten Son of God. Now the only begotten Son has become the firstborn Son. We ourselves will be processed into the many brothers of Christ and the many sons of God. He is the firstborn Son, and we, the many sons, are His many brothers. This is the purpose of God’s salvation.

    6. Selection—the Economy of Salvation

    After glorification, we come to selection which reveals the economy of salvation (Rom. 9:1—11:36). God has a purpose and an economy. His economy is for the fulfillment of His purpose. God is very wise and He arranges everything for the fulfillment of His purpose. He knows what He is doing. He knows who are His chosen people and He knows when His chosen people should be called. In relation to God, selection is for the accomplishment of His purpose; in relation to us, selection is our destiny.

    7. Transformation—the Life-practice in Salvation

    After this, we have the section on transformation, unfolding the life-practice in salvation (Rom. 12:1—15:13). In this section we see the life-practice of all that has been produced by the life-process. Whatever is produced in the section on sanctification is practiced in the section on transformation. Eventually, sanctification becomes transformation. In one sense, we are in sanctification; in another sense, we are also in transformation. We are in the process of life and in the practice of life that we may have the Body life with a proper private life. Every aspect of the proper Christian life and church life is included in this section on transformation. While we are being sanctified, we are also being transformed from one form into another form and from one shape into another shape. Praise the Lord! We are all under the life-process of sanctification for the life-practice of transformation.

    8. Conclusion—the Ultimate Consummation of Salvation

    The last section of the book of Romans is the conclusion, indicating the ultimate consummation of salvation (Rom. 15:14—16:27). The ultimate consummation of God’s salvation is the churches—not just the Body, but the local churches as the expressions of the Body. Hallelujah! The book of Romans begins with the Gospel of God and concludes with the local churches. In Romans, we do not have the local church in doctrine but the local churches in practice.

    III. THE PILLARS OF ROMANS

    The major structures of the book of Romans are three— salvation, life, and building.

    A. Salvation

    The first major structure of Romans is salvation, revealed in 1:1—5:11 and 9:1—11:36. Salvation includes propitiation, redemption, justification, reconciliation, selection, and predestination. In eternity past God predestinated us. Then He called us, redeemed us, justified us, and reconciled us to Himself. Thus, we have full salvation.

    We need to differentiate between redemption and salvation. Redemption is what Christ accomplished in the eyes of God. Salvation is what God has wrought upon us based upon the redemption of Christ. Redemption is objective, and salvation is subjective. When redemption becomes our experience, it becomes salvation.

    B. Life

    Salvation is for the life unfolded in 5:12—8:39. In this section the word life is used at least seven times and, according to chapter 8, this life is four-fold. This Eternal Life or Life with God, begins not when we die but when we are born again!

    C. Building

    In the last part of Romans, 12:1—16:27, we have the building, the Body with all of its expressions in the local churches. Salvation is for life, and life is for building. Thus, the three major structures of Romans are salvation, life, and building.

    Finally:

    Why is our Tour through Romans called Journey Through the Cross?

    Paul is all about this New Life that is the result of the Power of the Gospel of Christ.

    For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:13-15 (ESV)

    Such is the Power of this New Life we have through the Gospel of Christ that Paul makes this BOLD declaration:

    For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17 (ESV)

    He boldly declares the power of the Cross of the Gospel in Romans 6. The Truth of Romans 6 is only experienced as we Journey Through the Cross:

    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. 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. 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. Romans 6:4-6 (ESV)

    Our Journey through the Cross is a Journey into the New Life that is in Jesus Christ