Christian Military Fellowship Blog


Discuss the tough questions relating to the Christian Faith. Present the Scripture in an interdenominational fashion demonstrating those things we hold in common and provoking thought whenever possible. Hopefully you will find things here that will encourage you to study more deeply that all of Scripture will be at home in your heart.

Free At Last!
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

"Faith's Review and Expectation" Or "Amazing Grace" 

There are few that know that the author of the famous hymn, Amazing Grace, was written by a former slave trader.

There are fewer still that know this slave trader became a priest.

Only a sparing few may know that this priest became a mentor to William Wilberforce who was the member of the British Parliament who was eventually successful in abolishing the slave trade in the United Kingdom in 1807.

God's hand working through time to transform a "wretch" and use him to push back the darkness.

Romans 7:20 - A perpetual contradiction to myself
But the whole good on which his will is fully bent, he does not do; sin ever springing up in him, through remaining corruption, he often does evil, though against the fixed determination of his will. (Matthew Henry)
But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. (NASB)
Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (KJV)
But if I do what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. (NLT)
Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me. (NET)

We have thus learned three things:

  1. In me, that is in my flesh, there is no good thing.
  2. I will to do good but sin wills otherwise
  3. When I will to do good, sin is too strong for me to succeed

Deliverance is what I then must seek and deliverance is what is found in Christ Jesus!  Deliverance is found only when are convicted by the Holy Spirit and illuminated by His light to the fact that we are incapable of self-deliverance and are in great need of His power to deliver us.  The new world order is now in effect (Jesus in my heart).  The old world order is Sin, the very headwaters of my fallen estate.

Romans 7:20
It is no more I - My will is against it; my reason and conscience condemn it.  But sin that dwelleth in me - the principle of sin, which has possessed itself of all my carnal appetites and passions, and thus subjects my reason and domineers over my soul.  Thus I am in perpetual contradiction to myself. Two principles are continually contending in me for the mastery: my reason, on which the light of God shines, to show what is evil; and my passions, in which the principle of sin works, to bring forth fruit unto death.
This strange self-contradictory propensity led some of the ancient philosophers to imagine that man has two souls, a good and a bad one; and it is on this principle that Xenophon, in his life of Cyrus, causes Araspes, a Persian nobleman, to account for some misconduct of his relative to Panthea, a beautiful female captive, whom Cyrus had entrusted to his care: - “O Cyrus, I am convinced that I have two souls; if I had but one soul, it could not at the same time pant after vice and virtue; wish and abhor the same thing.  It is certain, therefore, that we have two souls; when the good soul rules, I undertake noble and virtuous actions; but when the bad soul predominates, I am constrained to do evil.  All I can say at present is that I find my good soul, encouraged by thy presence, has got the better of my bad soul.” See Spectator, vol. viii. No. 564.  Thus, not only the ancients, but also many moderns, have trifled, and all will continue to do so who do not acknowledge the Scriptural account of the fall of man, and the lively comment upon that doctrine contained in the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. (Dr. Adam Clarke)
The evil here spoken of is the evil that is in our nature, and the want of power to get rid of it.  The forgiveness of sins had been fully taught. What distresses here is the present working of sin which we cannot get rid of the sense of this is often a more painful thing than past sins, which the believer can understand as put away by the blood of Christ.  But here we have the conscience of sin still in us, though we may hate it, and the question of deliverance is mixed up with our experience, at least till we have learned what is taught us in this part of the epistle, to judge the old man as sin in us, not ourselves, and reckon ourselves dead.  Christ, through whom we now live, having died, and being a sacrifice for sin, our condemnation is impossible, while sin is condemned and we free through "the law of the Spirit of life in him." It is not forgiveness, but deliverance, sin in the flesh being condemned in the cross. (Dr. John Darby)

Romans 7:19 - I want to do good BUT
Romans 7:19 For the good that I would, I do not,.... The apostle here repeats what he had delivered in Romans 7:15 to strengthen and confirm this part of his experience; that though he had a will to that which was good, yet he wanted power, and had none of himself to perform; and therefore often did what he would not, and what he would he did not. (Dr. John Gill)
For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. (NASB)
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (KJV)
I want to do what is good, but I don't. I don't want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. (NLT)
For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want! (NET)

It would be good here to reiterate that Paul is explaining what it is like to try to obey the law of God in the power of the flesh.  This is the place where we daily live as long as we have breath and a pulse.  The question then becomes then where is the victory?  This will become apparent in Romans 8:1. For now it is good to see that even the Apostle Paul struggled.  However, he also gave us a great many important ways to overcome this struggle with the victory that is ours in Christ Jesus!  As I have said before, the fact that we struggle is a good sign that we belong to Jesus.  If we had no struggle it would be because we were the unrighteous and ungodly against whom the righteousness of God is revealed (Romans 1:18).  Our eyes have the power to see but without light they are rendered absolutely useless.  Only in Christ's light may we see the threat that endangers us.  Only in Christ's light may we find the victory!

It is not the Will that leads men astray; but the corrupt Passions which oppose and oppress the will.  It is truly astonishing into what endless mistakes men have fallen on this point, and what systems of divinity have been built on these mistakes.  The will, this almost only friend to God in the human soul, has been slandered as God’s worst enemy, and even by those who had the seventh chapter to the Romans before their eyes!  Nay, it has been considered so fell a foe to God and goodness that it is bound in the adamantine chains of a dire necessity to do evil only; and the doctrine of will (absurdly called free will, as if will did not essentially imply what is free) has been considered one of the most destructive heresies.  Let such persons put themselves to school to their Bibles and to common sense.
The plain state of the case is this:  the soul is so completely fallen, that it has no power to do good till it receive that power from on high.  But it has power to see good, to distinguish between that and evil; to acknowledge the excellence of this good, and to will it, from a conviction of that excellence; but farther it cannot go.  Yet, in various cases, it is solicited and consents to sin; and because it is will, that is, because it is a free principle, it must necessarily possess this power; and although it can do no good unless it receive grace from God, yet it is impossible to force it to sin.  Even Satan himself cannot do this; and before he can get it to sin, he must gain its consent.  Thus God in his endless mercy has endued this faculty with a power in which, humanly speaking, resides the salvability of the soul; and without this the soul must have eternally continued under the power of sin, or been saved as an inert, absolutely passive machine; which supposition would go as nearly to prove that it was as incapable of vice as it were of virtue. (Dr. Adam Clarke)
The law may discover sin, and convince of sin, but it cannot conquer and subdue sin, witness the predominancy of sin in many that are under very strong legal convictions.  It discovers the defilement, but will not wash it off.  It makes a man weary and heavy laden (Matthew 11:28), burdens him with his sin; and yet, if rested in, it yields no help towards the shaking off of that burden; this is to be had only in Christ.  The law may make a man cry out, O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me? and yet leave him thus fettered and captivated, as being too weak to deliver him (Romans 8:3), give him a spirit of bondage to fear, Romans 8:15. (Matthew Henry)

The Son Can Do Nothing By Himself

"I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does." (Jn 5:19 NLT 3rd Ed)

With Christ as our example, we should follow the same pattern of activity—that we can do nothing by ourselves.  But is that how we live our lives?  Were it true I think the world around us would be enjoying an abundance of Grace instead the cumbrance of sin.  How do we move this from the theoretical to the practical of our daily lives? Perhaps the answer can be found in our surrender to the will of the Father.

Romans 7:18 - Nothing Good Live in Me
There is no principle by which the soul can be brought into the light; no principle by which it can be restored to purity: fleshly appetites alone prevail; and the brute runs away with the man. (Dr. Adam Clarke)
The will is right, but the passions are wrong. It discerns and approves, but is without ability to perform: it has no power over sensual appetites; in these the principle of rebellion dwells: it nills evil, it wills good, but can only command through the power of Divine grace: but this the person in question, the unregenerate man, has not received. (Dr. Adam Clarke)

The entire man in whom sin and righteousness struggle, in whose unregenerate condition sin is the victor, having its domain in the flesh. (Dr. Marvin R. Vincent)
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. (NASB)
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (KJV)
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can't. (NLT)
For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it. (NET)

Once again we see our sinful selves in practice under the law.  The obstacle to doing good is me even though my desire is willing the evil propensity overshadows because it was enraged by the righteous law.  It demonstrates what Paul now exclaims in no small way, "nothing good dwells in me!"  How then do we see ourselves.  Can we begin to see the total debauchery of the flesh in which we make our abode in this life?  Only because the Spirit of Holiness now lives in us and enables us to see that which beforehand was invisible to our reprobate minds.  Present [in with] me (παράκειται parakeitai) "that is, it was constantly before him; it was now his habitual inclination and purpose of mind.  It is the uniform, regular, habitual purpose of the Christian’s mind to do right." (Dr. Albert Barnes)  However, it must be noted that, though it looms large in our view, the dynamic tension between the two natures is not the subject at hand but rather the effect of the law!  The point then becomes NOT condemnation, even though the holy writ does leave us under judgment, but rather the total absence of the required energy to fulfill it righteous standards to avoid condemnation.

A man walks in quiet indifference, doing his own will, without knowledge of God, or consequently any sense of sin or rebellion.  The law comes, and he dies under its just judgment, which forbids everything that he desires.  Lust was an evil thing, but it did not reveal the judgment of God; on the contrary, it forgot it. But when the law was come, sin (it is looked at here as an enemy that attacks some person or place), knowing that the will would persist and the conscience condemn, seized the opportunity of the law, impelled the man in the direction contrary to the law, and slew him, in the conscience of sin which the law forbade on the part of God.  Death to the man, on God's part in judgment, was the result.  The law then was good and holy, since it forbade the sin, but in condemning the sinner. (Dr. John Darby)
Gen 6:5 The LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and He saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. (NLT)
Job 14:4 Who can bring purity out of an impure person? No one! (NLT)
Job 15:14-16 Can any mortal be pure?  Can anyone born of a woman be just?  Look, God does not even trust the angels.  Even the heavens are not absolutely pure in His sight.  How much less pure is a corrupt and sinful person with a thirst for wickedness! (NLT)
Job 25:4 How can a mortal be innocent before God?  Can anyone born of a woman be pure? (NLT)
Psa 51:5 For I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. (NLT)
Isa 64:6 We are all infected and impure with sin.  When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags.  Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind. (NLT)
Mat 15:19 For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. (NLT)
Mar 7:21-23 For from within, out of a person's heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.  All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you." (NLT)
Eph 2:1-5 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins.  You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world.  He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.  All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature.  By our very nature we were subject to God's anger, just like everyone else.  But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God's grace that you have been saved!) (NLT)
Tit 3:3 Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient.  We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures.  Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. (NLT)
1Pe 4:2 You won't spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. (NLT)
Psa 119:5 Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect Your decrees! (NLT)
Gal 5:17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants.  And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires.  These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. (NLT)
Php 3:12 I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection.  But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. (NLT)

Nothing In...Nothing Out

"Yet we expect to be Christians
without labor, study, or inquiry."
William Wiberforce

Sensual gratifications and illicit affections have debased our nobler powers, and indisposed our hearts to the discovery of God, and to the consideration of his perfections; to a constant willing submission to his authority, and obedience to his laws. (Chapter 2 page 23)

The diligent perusal of the Holy Scriptures would discover to us our past ignorance.  We should cease to be deceived by superficial appearances, and to confound the Gospel of Christ with the systems of philosophers; we should become impressed with that weighty truth, so much forgotten, and never to be too strongly insisted on, that Christianity calls on us, as we value our immortal souls, not merely in general, to be religious and moral, but specially to believe the doctrines, and imbibe the principles, and practice the precepts of Christ….Bountiful as is the hand of Providence, its gifts are not so bestowed as to seduce us into indolence, but to rouse us to exertion; and no one expects to attain to the height of learning, or arts, or power, or wealth, or military glory, without vigorous resolution, and strenuous diligence, and steady perseverance.  Yet we expect to be Christians without labor, study, or inquiry.  This is the more preposterous, because Christianity, being a revelation from God, and not the invention of man, discovering to us new relations, with their correspondent duties; containing also doctrines, and motives, and practical principles, and rules, peculiar to itself, and almost as new in their nature as supreme in their excellence, we cannot reasonably expect to become proficient in it by the accidental intercourses of life, as one might learn insensibly the maxims of worldly policy, or a scheme of mere morals. (William Wilberforce)

There is a saying in the information technology community: "Garbage in, garbage out; information in, information out; nothing in, nothing out." We would never assume that professional excellence could be achieved in any endeavor without much effort.  Yet in the post-modern Christian world the masses bask in the glow of delusion that being connected to the root is the same as bearing fruit.

Romans 7:17 - Sin's Abode
That natural corruption, which adheres strongly even to those that are regenerated, and is not completely gone. (Geneva Bible Translation Notes)
So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. (NASB)
Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (KJV)
So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. (NLT)
But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me. (NET)

Here we have some figurative language expressed because we know that it is the person who commits sin.  However, Paul is illuminating the hidden motivation of reprobate hearts.  The power of sin that dominates us so that even our acts that are righteous in our sight fall woefully short of the mark because of this inward dwelling dysfunction.  Perhaps the NLT 1st Edition adds to the idea:

But I can't help myself, because it is sin inside me that makes me do these evil things.

Dr. Albert Barnes explains well this tension between our new nature and our old self:

But the apostle makes a distinction between sin and what he intends by the pronoun “I”.  By the former he evidently means his corrupt nature.  By the latter he refers to his renewed nature, his Christian principles.  He means to say that he does not approve or love it in his present state, but that it is the result of his native propensities and passions.  In his heart, and conscience, and habitual feeling, he did not choose to commit sin, but abhorred it.  Thus, every Christian can say that he does not choose to do evil, but would wish to be perfect; that he hates sin, and yet that his corrupt passions lead him astray. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

We also see here that sin dwells in our hearts (makes itself at home) which (according to Dr. Barnes) is where the expression "in-dwelling sin" originates. This is in contrast to:

Rom 8:9 But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.) (NLT)
1Co 3:16 Don't you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? (NLT)

It is important for us to see the origin of our rebellion against God that darkens our ability to understand rightly and also perverts our judgment.  Dr. Adam Clarke describes this "principle" that "acts in it, (our soul) as its lord, or as a tyrant."

Now contrast this with John's words:

1Jn 3:9 Those who have been born into God's family do not make a practice of sinning, because God's life is in them.  So they can't keep on sinning, because they are children of God. (NLT)

Now we begin to see the battle that is present in us each and every day!  But we shall soon see that there is victory already one in this daily battle because of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

But sin that dwelleth in me; the old man, the carnal I, the evil present with him, the law in his members; which not only existed in him, and wrought in him, and that at times very strongly, but dwelt in him, had its abode in him, as it has in all regenerate persons, and will have, as long as they are in the body. (Dr. John Gill)
Gal 5:17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants.  And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires.  These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. (NLT)
That coexistence and mutual hostility of “flesh” and “spirit” in the same renewed man, which is so clearly taught in Romans 8:4, etc., and in Galatians 5:16, etc., is the true and only key to the language of this and the following verses.  (It is hardly necessary to say that the apostle means not to disown the blame of yielding to his corruptions, by saying, “it is not he that does it, but sin that dwelleth in him.”  Early heretics thus abused his language; but the whole strain of the passage shows that his sole object in thus expressing himself was to bring more vividly before his readers the conflict of two opposite principles, and how entirely, as a new man - honoring from his inmost soul the law of God - he condemned and renounced his corrupt nature, with its affections and lusts, its stirrings and its outgoings, root and branch). (A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown)

Perhaps James gives us the insight into this struggle:

What is causing the quarrels and fights among you?  Don't they come from the evil desires at war within you?  You want what you don't have, so you scheme and kill to get it.  You are jealous of what others have, but you can't get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them.  Yet you don't have what you want because you don't ask God for it.  And even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.  You adulterers!  Don't you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God?  I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.  What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy?  But He gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires.  As the Scriptures say, "God opposes the proud but favors the humble."  So humble yourselves before God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come close to God, and God will come close to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.  Let there be tears for what you have done.  Let there be sorrow and deep grief.  Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy.
(James 4:1-9 NLT)

Tyndale's Commentary tries to, as concisely as possible, clarify the possible observances of this passage:

Who is this person who struggles so much with sin?  Among the most prominent views, it is held that these verses describe (1) Paul’s life either before or after he became a Christian, (2) the experience of all people in Adam, (3) the experience of any person who relies on the law and his own efforts for sanctification, or (4) the experience of someone whose “true self” is struggling with the flesh (physical desires of the human body).  It is likely that Paul was using himself as a picture of every human’s struggle with good and evil. (Tyndale concise Bible commentary)

Romans 7:16 - Own It and Disown It
Christians may here find a test of their piety.  The fact of struggling against evil, the desire to be free from it, and to overcome it, the anxiety and grief which it causes, is an evidence that we do not love it, and that there.  fore we are the friends of God.  Perhaps nothing can be a more decisive test of piety than a long-continued and painful struggle against evil passions and desires in every form, and a panting of the soul to be delivered from the power and dominion of sin. (Dr. Albert Barnes)
But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. (NASB)
If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. (KJV)
But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. (NLT)
But if I do what I don't want, I agree that the law is good. (NET)

The fact that we are wrestling with our sin give us a sign of our ownership.  If we did not have God's light within us we would be at peace with our falleness and would be trying to encourage others to join in our fallen lifestyle (Romans 1). Matthew Henry pretty well encapsulates this (see quote below) when he describes this as being sold to a hated master.  We serve sin unwillingly (that is we hate what we are doing) yet we find ourselves unable to extricate ourselves from the conflict. But when we are rescued by the comforter (the Spirit of Christ who lives within) we begin to discover the victory planned for us.  Kenneth Wuest says that "To be saved from sin, a man must at the same time own it and disown it; it is this practical paradox which is reflected in this verse."  We are responsible for our own sin (we own it) but must repent of it (disown it) and turn away from our dead self and toward Christ (our new life).  The honest place to begin is to confess to our Heavenly Father our conflict that we might be partakers of the life He has planned for us.  If our failures are the result of the sin that lives in us, then our victories must be the result of Christ in us.  The "I" in us must die to see the victory assured.

Compared with the holy rule of conduct in the law of God, the apostle found himself so very far short of perfection, that he seemed to be carnal; like a man who is sold against his will to a hated master, from whom he cannot set himself at liberty.  A real Christian unwillingly serves this hated master, yet cannot shake off the galling chain, till his powerful and gracious Friend above, rescues him.  The remaining evil of his heart is a real and humbling hindrance to his serving God as angels do and the spirits of just made perfect.  This strong language was the result of St. Paul's great advance in holiness, and the depth of his self-abasement and hatred of sin.  If we do not understand this language, it is because we are so far beneath him in holiness, knowledge of the spirituality of God's law, and the evil of our own hearts, and hatred of moral evil.  And many believers have adopted the apostle's language, showing that it is suitable to their deep feelings of abhorrence of sin, and self-abasement.  The apostle enlarges on the conflict he daily maintained with the remainder of his original depravity.  He was frequently led into tempers, words, or actions, which he did not approve or allow in his renewed judgment and affections.  By distinguishing his real self, his spiritual part, from the self, or flesh, in which sin dwelt, and by observing that the evil actions were done, not by him, but by sin dwelling in him, the apostle did not mean that men are not accountable for their sins, but he teaches the evil of their sins, by showing that they are all done against reason and conscience.  Sin dwelling in a man, does not prove its ruling, or having dominion over him.  If a man dwells in a city, or in a country, still he may not rule there. (Matthew Henry)
Psalm 119:127-28 Truly, I love Your commands more than gold, even the finest gold.  Each of Your commandments is right.  That is why I hate every false way. (NLT)


The only way to be kept from falling is to grow.  If you stand still, you will fall. Read Prov. xi. 28, “The righteous shall flourish as a branch.”  Remember you are not a tree, that can stand alone; you are only “a branch” and it is only while you abide in Him, as a branch that you will flourish.  Keep clear your sense of justification; remember it is not your own natural goodness, nor your tears, nor your sanctification, that will justify you before God.  It is Christ’s sufferings and obedience alone. Seek to be made holier every day; pray, strive, wrestle for the Spirit, to make you like God.  Be as much as you can with God.  I declare to you that I had rather be one hour with God, than a thousand with the sweetest society on earth or in heaven.  All other joys are but streams; God is the fountain: “all my springs are in Thee” (A.A. Bonar, Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert. Murray M’Cheyne, 206).

It is clear to our mind's eye that it is normal for a tree to grow. But how often do we think about the branches. If you spend anytime at all tending trees you will notice that not all branches are the same. Their size seems to be dependent on their proximity to the root. It is very much the same with us as believers. We grow based upon our closeness to the Root of Jesse. It is the "fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's veins" that is our life and our sustenance. If for some reason we are not in the midst of this flow, then we wither and die.

Let the children come to Me
Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, "Let the children come to Me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn't receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it." (Luke 18:16-17 NLT)
We think that children must
grow up to become like us
before they are eligible to the
Kingdom. Nay, we must grow
down to become like them, in
simplicity, in humility and in faith.
(F. B. Meyer)
It was the custom for mothers to bring their children to some distinguished Rabbi on their first birthday that he might bless them.  That is what the mothers wanted for their children from Jesus. We are not to think that the disciples were hard and cruel.  It was kindness that made them act as they did. Remember where Jesus was going.  He was on the way to Jerusalem to die upon a cross.  The disciples could see upon his face the inner tension of his heart; and they did not want Jesus to be bothered.  Often at home we may say to a little child, "Don't bother your Daddy; he's tired and worried tonight."  That is exactly how the disciples felt about Jesus.
It is one of the loveliest things in all the gospel story that Jesus had time for the children even when he was on the way to Jerusalem to die.
When Jesus said that it was of the child-like that the kingdom of God was composed, what did he mean "What are the qualities of which he was thinking"?
(i) The child has not lost the sense of wonder.  Tennyson tells of going early one morning into the bedroom of his little grandson and of seeing the child "worshipping the sunbeam playing on the bedpost."  As we grow older we begin to live in a world which has grown grey and tired. The child lives in a world with a sheen on it and in which God is always near.
(ii) The child's whole life is founded on trust.  When we are young, we never doubt where the next meal is to come from or where our clothes will be found.  We go to school certain that home will be there when we return, and all things ready for our comfort.  When we go on a journey we never doubt that the fare will be paid or that our parents know the way and will take us safely there.  The child's trust in his parents is absolute, as ours should be in our Father—God.
(iii) The child is naturally obedient.  True, he often disobeys and grumbles at his parents' bidding.  But his instinct is to obey.  He knows very well that he should obey and is not happy when he has been disobedient.  In his heart of hearts his parents' word is law.  So should it be with us and God.
Jesus’ call to be like children was not a call to be ignorant or naive. It was a call to believers to be humble, that is, willing to see themselves as God sees them and accepting that perspective (like the tax collector in 18:13) and then moving on in obedience to do what he wants (like the disciples in 18:28). (Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary)
(iv) The child has an amazing faculty of forgiveness.  Almost all parents are unjust to their children.  We demand from them a standard of obedience, of good manners, of refined language, of diligence which we seldom satisfy ourselves.  Time and again we scold them for doing the very things we do ourselves.  If others treated us in the way we treat our children in the matter of plain justice, we probably would never forgive.  But the child forgives and forgets, and does not even realize it when he is very young.  It would be so much lovelier a world if we would forgive as a child forgives.
To keep alive the sense of wonder, to live in unquestioning trust, instinctively to obey, to forgive and to forget--that is the childlike spirit, and that is the passport to the kingdom of God.  (William Barclay)

Children, in simplicity, believe what you tell them of the Lord.  These are the ideal members of the kingdom, who simply take Him at His word.  “Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”  That used to trouble me.  Though I knew I was saved, yet when I came to that verse and the kindred one in Matthew, I used to wonder if I had qualified in this way:  I am not like a child; I am not as innocent as a little child; I have not the same hopeful attitude toward life as little children.  How can I, a sinner by practice, ever get back to the comparative purity and goodness of a little child?  Then I noticed that “Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children…”  He called and the child came.  That is what He means when He says, “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.”

It is when we heed His blessed call and come to Him in unquestioning faith that we enter the kingdom.  It is this alone that puts us on praying ground and entitles us to bring all our troubles and perplexities to Him, and He has promised to undertake for us.  (Harry Ironside)

 In these words Jesus was stating that a person must come to Him in humility in order to enter the kingdom. Children come with expectation and excitement. They come realizing that they are not sufficient in themselves. They depend totally on others. If these same attitudes are not present in adults, they can never enter into the kingdom. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary, J. Walvoord, R. Zuck)

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