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CMF eZine


The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


Romans 7:25 - Mind With God - Flesh with Sin

This is the true perfection of those that are born again, to confess that they are imperfect. (Geneva Bible Translation Notes)

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (NASB)

I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (KJV)

Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God's law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. (NLT)

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (NET)

Perhaps it would be good to remember the beginning of this section of the argument as we come to its conclusion.  It began with the thought that:

God's law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were.  But as people sinned more and more, God's wonderful kindness became more abundant.  So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God's wonderful kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Romans 5:20-21 NLT96)

Paul has expanded the argument by illustrating that sin is the master and we are the slaves.  I would have liked it better had the Lord done away with sin, but instead he did away with the sinner for in Christ we have died to sin.  Then he used the illustration of marriage to express the law and its holiness provoking sin to display itself in us.  But since we are dead to the law in Christ, it no longer has the power to provoke:

So then, dear friends the point is this:  The law no longer holds you in its power, because you died to its power when you died with Christ on the cross.  And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead.  As a result, you can produce good fruit, that is, good deeds for God.  (Romans 7:4 NLT96)

This then culminates the finding of fact in Paul's experience that with the "law of his mind," he tries to obey the "law of God," but the "law of sin and death" give him only one choice.  We have thus seen the sad but continuous epitaph of the sin in a battle with God Himself and the sinner with a terminal case of self-inflicted wounds.  The first husband (the Law) unable to extricate the fallen but the second husband (Christ and His Gospel) bringing not only deliverance but everlasting triumph!  Thanks is too small a word to convey the song of a soul set free!

Romans 7:24 - Wretched Man That I Am

The body serving as the seat of the death into which the soul is sunk through the power of sin. (Dr. Marvin R. Vincent, Vincent's Word Studies)

May we be enabled to shake off that lethargy which is so apt to creep upon us! For this end, a deep practical conviction of our natural depravity and weakness will be found of eminent advantage. (William Wilberforce)

Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?  (NASB)

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (KJV)

Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? (NLT)

Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (NET)

Romans 7:24
O wretched man that I am (talaipōros egō anthrōpos). “Wretched man I.” Old adjective from tlaō, to bear, and pōros, a callus.  In N.T. only here and Revelation 3:17. “A heart-rending cry from the depths of despair” (Sanday and Headlam).  WORD PICTURES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT by Archibald Thomas Robertson

Revelation 3:17  You say, 'I am rich. I have everything I want. I don't need a thing!' And you don't realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. (NLT)

Paul here has understood the full measure of that from which he has been delivered!  Who can know the vile depths of a reprobate heart.  His retort is that of total exasperation at this continuous revelation of his fleshly estate and the need for a Savior.

1Timothy 1:15  This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners"—and I am the worst of them all. (NLT)

I used to think that I was the only person in the world that struggled in the faith!  But then somehow I was led to discover John Bunyan--a man whom Christ saved in the very act of suicide.  John's honest sharing of his struggle in the book, Grace Abounds to the Chief of Sinners, told me that I was not alone and, most importantly, that knowing Christ brings victory.  I have not discovered some sort of celestial bliss wherein all struggles cease.  Rather I have discovered how to struggle in the victory over sin that Christ delivers to all who would believe.  I have learned how to live, not under the law, but under His Grace, a place of perfect rest.  However, the struggle is important in our lives because now that we know Christ, it works to produce true humility.  It is truly a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  It is terrible because it strips us of all of the veils behind which we hide.  It is wonderful because it provides peace (not as the world gives) but the peace of knowing that our sins have been forgiven.  It is superior in that we are constantly reminded of the riches of Christ's glory into which we have been adopted as joint heirs.  It shakes us from our sleepful state and drags us from our slothfulness.  With each remembrance of our sin it expands our understanding of the length, breathed, and depth of the Savior's love.

It tends to produce humility. It is humbling to man to be thus under the influence of evil passions. It is degrading to his nature; a stain on his glory; and it tends to bring him into the dust, that he is under the control of such propensities, and so often gives indulgence to them. In such circumstances, the mind is overwhelmed with wretchedness, and instinctively sighs for relief. Can the Law aid? Can man aid? Can any native strength of conscience or of reason aid? In vain all these are tried, and the Christian then calmly and thankfully acquiesces in the consolations of the apostle, that aid can be obtained only through Jesus Christ. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

May we be enabled to shake off that lethargy which is so apt to creep upon us! For this end, a deep practical conviction of our natural depravity and weakness will be found of eminent advantage. As it is by this we must at first be roused from our fallacious security, so by this we must be kept wakeful and active unto the end. Let us therefore make it our business to have this doctrine firmly seated in our understandings, and radically worked into our hearts. With a view to the former of these objects, we should often seriously and attentively consider the firm grounds on which it rests. It is plainly made known to us by the light of nature, and irresistibly enforced on us by the dictates of our unassisted understandings. But lest there should be any so obstinately dull, as not to discern the force of the evidence suggested to our reason, and confirmed by all experience, or rather so heedless as not to notice it, the authoritative stamp of Revelation is superadded, as we have seen, to complete the proof; and we must therefore be altogether inexcusable, if we still remain unconvinced by such accumulated mass of argument. (William Wilberforce)

Romans 7:23 - War on My Mind

The law of the mind in this place is not to be understood as referring to the mind as it is naturally, and as our mind is from our birth, but of the mind which is renewed by the Spirit of God. (Geneva Bible Translation Notes)

He perceived it by experience; he felt the force and power of inbred corruption working in him, and as a law demanding obedience to it; and which he might well call "another law", it being not only distinct from, but opposite to the law of God he delighted in; the one is good, the other evil; this other law is a transgression of the law of God, and which he observed to be "in his members", i.e. in the members of his body; not that it had its seat only, or chiefly in his body, and the parts of it, but because it exerted itself by them, it made use of them to fulfill its lusts (Dr. John Gill)

But I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. (NASB)

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (KJV)

But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. (NLT)

But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members. (NET)

It is once again good to reiterate that the war wages because of the law that points out our fallen nature.  But since we are no longer subject to the law the war is only fought when we place ourselves under the law.  Notice I said, "we place ourselves."  How stupid is that?  Way stupid!  Paul was sharing openly from "experience" the perceptions of his personal war that we might fully understand both our falleness and the victory that is ours in Christ Jesus!  Fortunately for us God has created a new day, and called it today, whereby we may enter into His Sabbath rest!  Each day is new and precious and ever so fragile.  We now have a new chooser that allows us to choose to follow Christ or "we place ourselves" back under the law by our rebelliousness.  If we are under the law then we are held captive as a prisoner is captured in a conflict and held against his will.  Held not by the Law of God but by the law of sin and death.  However, if we choose Christ, we are no longer captives to our own sin but bond-slaves of Christ's righteousness that lives in us the power to save us from our sin!

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 NLT)

This is therefore no metaphysical speculation, but a practical matter: Slight and superficial conceptions of our state of natural degradation, and of our insufficiency to recover from it of ourselves, fall in too well with our natural inconsiderateness, and produce that fatal insensibility to the divine warning to "flee from the wrath to come," which we cannot but observe to prevail so generally.  Having no due sense of the malignity of our disease, and of its dreadful issue, we do not set ourselves to work in earnest to obtain the remedy, as to a business arduous indeed, but indispensable: for it must ever be carefully remembered, that this deliverance is not forced on us, but offered to us; we are furnished indeed with every help, and are always to bear in mind, that we are unable of ourselves to will or to do rightly; but we are plainly admonished to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling."--Watchful, for we are encompassed with dangers; "putting on the whole armor of God," for "we are beset with enemies." (William Wilberforce)

5 Ways God Compels Us to Lead

5 Ways God Compels Us to Lead

Coming up through the ranks as a military leader there were, on many occasions, times that I was able to learn from my leaders, my peers, and my subordinates alike.  From each subset of the populous with whom I interacted on a daily basis, I began to formulate my own leadership styles at a very young age.  You see, I learned from all of my leaders, which you would think to be a good thing.  However, there were also occasions where I learned how not to lead.

Marine Drill InstrictorAs a young Sailor I learned a lot about myself.  As subordinate, I learned which traits and mannerisms of my leaders to which I best responded.  There were days that they had to be creative in order to appeal to my motivators in order to obtain the best levels of my work.  My best leaders knew what my motivators were, and managed accordingly.  There were also other leaders who didn’t seem to know or care what motivated me.  As a result my attitude, my morale and of course my quality of work waned.

SEAL TrainingIt was important to me that I was able to see a realistic path to ascend through the ranks.  I held in high regard the office of those appointed over me and endeavored to show the proper respect to those persons who held the office.  So with that, a natural tendency for me at that young age was to emulate the leader(s) that I felt had the best leadership attributes.  These attributes contributed to my daily habits as a sailor, and through my habits, my leadership character was formed.  Along the way, I learned the elements of those attributes and how to apply them in specific situations.

Through my journey up through the ranks, I began to understand and assimilate into my leadership style, those characteristics that were displayed to me not only by men and women in uniform, but by our almighty God.  In fact, when I began to “take it to the book” (the Holy Bible) did I first begin to realize how I was created, for what I was created, and the character that God displayed befor me every step of the way.  God truly leads by example!

1.  Lead by Example

Colossians 3:17 says:  “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Jesus shows us many ways where He presents the theme of leading by example as being at the forefront of His actions!  If you haven’t heard it before, you should hear it now: as a leader, in any capacity, where you have the ability to teach and mentor protégés, they are watching and learning from your every move!  Make no mistake, like little children they are learning from your mannerisms, your speech, your ethics and your values and at each step, they are internally assessing your ability to lead them, in any capacity.  We do it all the time.  How many Pastors have you “sized up” when investigating a new home church?

Paul writes to Timothy: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”  1 Timothy 4:12 ESV

The Gospel of John says that we’re to be an example in service to each other.

“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”   John 13:12-15 ESV

2.  Be a Servant Leader

“But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  It shall not be so among you.  But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  Matthew 20:25-28 ESV

Chief among the attributes of servant leadership, Jesus compels us to put down our pride, and serve each other with grace and empathy.  We have to remember that not only are we in the business of completing well-orchestrated (most of the time) strategic missions, that we’re also in the business of shaping and molding people.  Jesus compels us to serve our brothers and sisters and that through that service, we are providing those within our charge with the best attributes of leadership possible, both morally and ethically.

3.  Lead with Wisdom

Wisdom and discernment come with time, age and experience.  As a young leader, don’t be afraid to plant your flagpole and make a decision.  Subordinates and protégés don’t always benefit from indecision.  However, be deliberate in your decision making methodology, otherwise the ripple effects of your decisions can be impactful in other potentially unforeseen areas.  Take as many factors into consideration as possible before leading the charge in any one direction.  The benefits of your deliberate decision making process will be many.

Proverbs 8:1-36 ESV states, “Does not wisdom call?  Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:  “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense.”

4.  Have Trust

Have trust in those around you, as the camaraderie and bonds that you have formed through your traditions and training will be displayed during the most stressful of times.  In leading young service members individually or collectively, there must be trust among those you empower, to be able to carry out the orders with precision, as they have been trained to do.  Trust in each other, and trust in the Lord.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.  Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce”  Proverbs 3:5-10 ESV

As Paul again writes to Timothy:

“The saying is trustworthy:  If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.  He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?”  1 Timothy 3:1-7 ESV

5.  Lead with Love

As leaders, whether we’re leading in a military capacity, or as teachers of education, or trainers for our business or our church, or as stay at home parents; the greatest of attributes that we could ever adorn in leadership or other capacities is on distinct display by our Lord and Savior.  Of the many attributes that Jesus teaches us for how to behave and what is most consistent with the expectations that God has for us on this earth, he sums up with two very specific commandments.  They are found within the Gospels, and Matthew tells us this is how the conversation occurred:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”  And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40 ESV

The apostle Paul also gives us, in his letter to the Romans:

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Love one another with brotherly affection.  Outdo one another in showing honor.  Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.”  Romans 12:9-13 ESV

Who Controls Your Heart?

WHO CONTROLS YOUR HEART?

Thoughts to Ponder by Doris

February Fourteenth is known as Valentine's Day in the United States, and is a special day to remember the people we love. Men love to give chocolates and flowers to their wives and sweethearts. Cakes and cookies are baked to resemble hearts!

Hopefully this romantic day of the year isn't the only time we remember to recognize loved ones with gifts! Do we think only with our hearts?

The heart is the chief organ of our physical life. It is a hollow, muscular organ with its rhythmic contraction, and is like a pump maintaining the circulation of blood in our bodies. We see the importance of the heart in Leviticus 17:14-- "the life of every creature is its blood."

The Scripture encourages us to guard our hearts: Proverbs 4:23-- "Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." The heart is the very center and core of our life, the real self! Character is determined by our motives, and motives are a matter of the heart--what we choose to do.

Proverbs 14:30-- "A heart at peace gives life to the body."

Do we allow God to control our hearts each day of the year? We can plan our way, but God determines our steps.

Proverbs 21:2 —- "All a man's way seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart."

Proverbs 16:9 — "The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps."

Proverbs 3:5 and 6 — "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."

Thought to Ponder:  Are you allowing God to control your heart and direct your steps?

 

Sharing Jesus Part 5

The Response

So far we have discussed with our friend ‘Pat’ the problem of evil in the world and the source of that problem in Adam’s sin against God.  We discovered that the root cause of the evil deeds of men is also called sin and that it’s a problem we all have, again thanks to Adam rebelling against God.  We also discovered that God presented a solution to the problem of the human sinful nature, in the person of Jesus Christ, his own Son, whom he sent to die on behalf of those who would repent of their sin and believe the message of the gospel—that Christ died for the sins of men.  The message of the gospel requires a response.

Understand that as you approach the need for responding to the gospel, you and Pat are standing on ‘Holy Ground’.  Approach the moment with much prayer—prayer that the Holy Spirit will let you know when the moment has arrived, and prayer that God will continue his supernatural work of drawing Pat to the foot of the Cross.

Be gentle, and don’t apply any pressure.  Don’t ‘push’ for a response. That means forget emotional appeals. Let God do HIS work.  It’s entirely possible that in the course of your conversation Pat might have privately trusted in Christ for salvation but just not told you.  You might have to part ways before getting to a response. Don’t fret.  God began the work in Pat and will bring it to pass. 

With that in mind, and as one pastor (Allistair Begg) suggests, a couple of simple questions for your friend might be appropriate:

  1. Based on what we’ve been talking about have you personally trusted Christ or are you still on the way?

    If God has already brought Pat to a place of repentance and belief, you will find out and you can rejoice together.  If you hear something like “I guess I’m still on the way.”   You might ask:
     
  2. How far along the way are you?

    It’s a simple question that will require some thought to answer. Maximum sensitivity is needed here! (Satan hates this and will try and disrupt things.)  Real difficulties in peoples’ lives sometimes surface. Your friend might want to go and think about it.  Don’t push. Say something like “If you must leave, that’s fine.”  Continue the conversation!
     
  3. If you hear “I’m pretty far along the way, you can something like:

    “Would you like to become a real Christian and be sure of it?  Remember, you are standing on holy ground at that moment.  When the answer is “yes”, you need to add one more thing to the conversation before leading in a prayer of response.

The last part of the conversation before a response should be about cost of becoming a Christian.  Very few ‘methods’ ever talk about this all important subject.  With the goal of obtaining a ‘decision’ for Christ, many of us charge right ahead without even mentioning it.  However, obtaining decisions isn’t our goal. Our only goal is that a lost sinner repents of sin and genuinely trusts in Christ for salvation.

You can say something like “The moment you become a Christian, you MUST become a Christian. Are you ready for a revolution?  To say no to sin, self, and secrecy?”

If God has done His work, the answer will still be ‘yes’.  You might be asked to explain what the ‘revolution’ would look like.  Be ready to lovingly share passages of scripture that talk about some of the ‘challenges’ facing the Christian who is open about his/her faith ((Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23).  Be familiar with , which talks about the attitude of the world system toward Christians.  The one whom God, not your clever speech, has brought to the Cross of Christ will be inwardly readya for the challenge.

It’s then that you can lead in a serious and solemn prayer:

“Dear Lord Jesus, I admit that I’m a helpless sinner before you.  I’ve tried to clean up my act so many times and failed.  I believe that the Bible is true when it says that you are the savior for my sin.  I’ve considered the revolution that will come.  I ask you to come forgive me of my sin and enable me to turn from sin and turn in faith to you. Fill me with your Holy Spirit.  Give me a desire for your Word and to share the good news with others.  Number me among those who are your own.  In Jesus Name, Amen.”

Be mindful that a prayer like the above example is not part of a ‘formula’ for or ‘method’ of evangelism.  Such a prayer is a response to a message that by nature demands a response.  Such a prayer summarizes the conversation that has been going on for days, or weeks, or perhaps months. Therefore the content of the prayer is what’s important. It restates the problem (sin), the solution to the problem (Christ’s substitutionary death), and contains a personal plea for mercy and forgiveness, trusting that God will make good on his offer of salvation.

Also remember that the ‘Amen’ at the end of the prayer is just the beginning for the one who has now cast himself/herself upon the mercy of God and believed in Christ for salvation. There is now new life in a new creation in Christ, for the Bible tells us:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

And finally, be ready to walk with a new believer and help him/her grow!

 

Sharing Jesus Part 4

The Solution to the Sin Problem

Armed with a biblical understanding of ’spiritually dead’ and understanding that in essence, unbelievers are ’dead men walking’, and knowing  that our friend ’Pat’ realizes that the issue if sin is the root cause of evil in the world, we can offer Pat the solution to the problem of sin in a manner that honors God.

Since the conversation is reaching ’critical mass’ there are a few important things to remember.

First of all, pray that God would open Pat’s heart to receive this all important part of the message of the gospel.  Secondly, remember that God alone saves and you are just the messenger.  It’s not your job to get a decision or otherwise ’close the deal’ – the Holy Spirit does a fine job of applying the solution to a God opened heart! As one evangelist expressed it:

“Christ is going after His lost sheep, and He wants to use our lips that they may hear His voice today, and our hands that they may feel His touch.  He is the soul-winner.  People are not won by us for Him.  They are won through us by Him.  He can win them without us, just as He can speak to them through the Bible quite apart from anything we might say.  But He has chosen to work through us and with us.”  Leith Samuel

Spend a few moments going over a few things with Pat.  You might want to briefly summarize where the conversation has gone up to this point:

· The world is full of ’bad stuff’ (evil).
· The Bible calls the bad stuff ’sin’.
· Sin is a human problem that began when Adam blew it and disobeyed God.

Once you and Pat are on the same page it’s time to address the solution. You might want to ask Pat what he/she thinks is the answer to the problem. The answers you receive might be good answers even if they are just about temporal things like passing more laws, doing a better job of raising our children, raising the quality of our schools, easier access to higher education, and/or government programs to get rid of poverty.  If so, talk about them, acknowledge that they might solve problems, but that they are only external answers and cannot really address the inner problem of sin that we all have.

This is a good place to introduce, in simple terms and directly from the Bible, (not a 25 lb. Schofield reference Bible, but the small one you tend to carry around with you), God’s plan for dealing with sin.  Be gentle!  This is a conversation, not a used car lot!

Here are some suggested passages of scripture that were all written by the Apostle Paul.  You can even introduce some or all the following scriptures by telling Pat that this guy named ’Paul’ who absolutely loved to kick Christians around all over town wrote them!  Make sure to tell Pat how each passage relates what you have already discussed.

 The problem:

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” – Rom 3:23

The natural consequences of the problem:

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord..” – Rom 6:23

God’s plan to punish his own Son in our place:

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Rom 5:8

The applications of God’s plan – believe and call on the name off the Lord:

“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Rom 10:9

“For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Rom 10:13

The result of believing and calling on the name of the Lord:

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Rom 5:1

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Rom 8:1

The above passages are by no means a set mThe ethod that must be followed.  You might want to use other passages of scripture that also talk about the problem of man’s sin and God’s solution.  John 3:16 is a good example and a passage we probably all know by heart.  It also expresses God’s solution to our problem.

Always anticipate questions, and be ready with an answer or willing to find an answer.  Be able to talk about the Biblical context of passages you use in the conversation.  This communicates that you didn’t just memorize a few passages, but you know and are convinced of the truth of scripture.  That’s huge!

In the next article we’ll talk about the response to God’s offer of salvation through Christ.

Sharing Jesus Part 3

The Sin Problem – How Bad Is It?

Having realized that the issue of sin is at the center of what’s wrong with the world and that it’s a very human problem, we need to ask “How bad is it?”  If we know the answer, we can offer the best solution.

It’s like having a computer problem.  Do I just have to many ‘toolbars’ trying to all load at the same time, or is there a problem so deep that I need to call the Geek Squad to fix things?

If we have a heart for sharing Jesus with others, what we understand about the inner problem of sin defines ‘how’ we share Jesus with others.  If sin is a problem deep inside of us, where did it come from and again, how bad is it?

Most of us would agree that the problem of sin began when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit.  We would also agree that what followed their disobedience was physical death in this life and a separation from God.  What we might not agree on is the nature of the ‘separation’ from God. Assuming that Adam’s sin affected all of mankind, does that mean that all human beings are born basically good with some flaws but are able to help themselves out of a pickle?  Or does it mean that we are so messed up that we are totally unable to dig ourselves out of the ditch?  What does the Bible say?

The Bible tells us that those with carnal minds (the only kind possible for an unbeliever) are actually in active rebellion against God and can do nothing to please God (Rom 8:7).  The Bible also tells us that a person without the Spirit of God (all unbelievers) cannot understand the things of God and thinks they are a bunch of foolishness (1 Cor 2:14).  And the Bible tells us that the ‘natural’ man is completely unable to approach God on his own (John 6:44 & 65).

If just having ‘capability’ issues isn’t bad enough, the Bible tells us that we aren’t just wounded, we are totally and completely ‘dead’ in our trespasses and sin, not that we are basically good and just ‘do’ bad stuff now and again (Eph 2:1 & 5, Col 2:13).

It’s not that we are as bad or evil as we could be, but that we are as bad off as we could possibly be when we live apart from Christ.  After all, how ‘dead’ is dead?  What can a ‘dead’ man do? (If those aren’t rhetorical questions, we have a problem.)

We probably don’t need Ralph Venning’s Sinfulness of Sin, or be able to explain the difference between a ‘trespass’ and a ‘sin’ at this point, but what’s really important is understanding and being able to talk about the depth of the problem of sin.  That understanding will affect ‘how’ we share Christ with those who desperately need him.

So , armed with a biblically understanding of ‘spiritually dead’ and understanding that in essence, unbelievers are ‘dead men walking’, we can now move on to the next part of our short series, providing the solution to the problem of sin in a manner that honors God.

Romans 7:22 - Delight in the Law of God

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. (William Wilberforce)

For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, (NASB)

For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: (KJV)

I love God's law with all my heart. (NLT)

For I delight in the law of God in my inner being. (NET)

Romans 7:22 
For I delight - The word used here Συνήδομαι  Sunēdomai, occurs no where else in the New Testament. It properly means to rejoice with anyone; and expresses not only approbation of the understanding, as the expression, “I consent unto the law,” in Romans 7:16, but more than that it denotes sensible pleasure in the heart.  It indicates not only intellectual assent, but emotion, an emotion of pleasure in the contemplation of the Law.  And this shows that the apostle is not speaking of an unrenewed man.  (Dr. Albert Barnes)

 Every Jew, and every unregenerate man, who receives the Old Testament as a revelation from God, must acknowledge the great purity, excellence and utility of its maxims, etc., though he will ever find that without the grace of our Lord Jesus he can never act according to those heavenly maxims; and without the mercy of God, can never be redeemed from the curse entailed upon him for his past transgressions. (Dr. Adam Clark)

The more pure and holy the heart is, it will have the more quick feeling as to the sin that remains in it. The believer sees more of the beauty of holiness and the excellence of the law. His earnest desires to obey, increase as he grows in grace. 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. The motions of sin within grieved the apostle. (Matthew Henry)

Perhaps the New Living Translation most accurately captures this thought for the modern western mind.  I think in our busy world where every minute is spoken for as we go about the ritual of our daily lives the thought of deep and reverent contemplation are foreign to our custom and nature.  How often do we contemplate anything?  Thus since we do not in our day delight in the law of the lord nor meditate on it day and night we remain barren of the fruit in season! (Psalm 1)  This speaks adamantly of our deception as we think we are doing good while all the while serving our sinful selves and doing the work of the enemy instead. (Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, paraphrase mine)  A quick look through the news of today will find our society crumbling by every measure—certainly a far cry from the observations of Tocqueville.

I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors and her ample rivers … ; in her fertile fields and boundless forests … ; in her rich mines and vast world commerce … ; in her public school system and institutions of learning.  I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution.

Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.  America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great. (Tocqueville, Charles Alexis Henri Maurice Clèrel de)

Romans 7:21 - The Law versus Evil

The conclusion: as the law of God exhorts to goodness, so does the law of sin (that is, the corruption in which we are born) force us to wickedness: but the spirit, that is, our mind, in that it is regenerated, coexists with the law of God: but the flesh, that is, the whole natural man, is bondslave to the law of sin. Therefore, in short, wickedness and death are not of the law, but of sin, which reigns in those that are not regenerated: for they neither wish to do good, neither do they do good, but they wish and do evil: but in those that are regenerated, it strives against the spirit or law of the mind, so that they cannot live at all as well as they want to, or be as free of sin as they want to. (Geneva Bible Translation Notes)

There can be no doubt that he refers here to his carnal and corrupt nature; to the evil propensities and dispositions which were leading him astray. His representing this as a law is in accordance with all that he says of it, that it is servitude, that he is in bondage to it, and that it impedes his efforts to be holy and pure. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. (NASB)

I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. (KJV)

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. (NLT)

So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me. (NET)

Galatians 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)

It is probably a good thing at this point to recall a couple of important things from earlier in the chapter.  We often get focused in the near (like a microscope) and forget at what it is we are looking.

So then, dear friends, the point is this:  The law no longer holds you in it's power, because you died to its power when you died with Christ.  And now you are united with the one who was raised with the dead.  As a result, you can produce good fruit, that is, good deeds for God. (Romans 7:4 NLT96)

I felt fine when I did not understand what the law demanded.  But when I learned the truth, I realized I had broken the law and was a sinner, doomed to die. (Romans 7:9 NLT96)

THE POINT IS THIS:  we are empowered by our union with Christ Jesus our Lord!  But we can be deceived by our own sinfulness into thinking that we are fine!  If we look around the cosmos today we see a universe that is expanding whose end we cannot see (astronomy), whose enormity we cannot comprehend (even with the Hubble Telescope) yet our country is the largest consumer of illegal drugs, we find newborn babies in trash cans, the economy is in shambles, the ship of state has run aground, divorce is just as prevalent inside the church as outside, marriage is no longer a respected institution of the Almighty, and same gender marriages are commonplace.  But "I felt fine!"  We live in a world where armed guards now walk the halls of the churches, background checks are required for ministry workers, and famous church leaders fall like ducks in a shooting gallery.  But "I felt fine."  We must recognize that we are not able to see our own sin and our own deception apart from the Holy Spirit working in our hearts.  Our bellwether becomes our obedience.  "And how can we be sure that we belong to him?  By obeying his commandments." (1 John 2:3 NLT96)  If we are rebellious, the answer is obvious.  If we "feel fine" perhaps not so obvious.  If we are struggling, we should rejoice in our struggle and allow for the victory that is in Christ Jesus as we enter into His Sabbath rest.

God is light and there is no darkness in him at all.  So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness.  We are not living in the truth….If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth….If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts (1 John 1:5b, 6, 8, 10 NLT96)

Rom 7:21 
I find then a law - I am in such a condition and state of soul, under the power of such habits and sinful propensities, that when I would do good - when my will and reason are strongly bent on obedience to the law of God and opposition to the principle of sin, evil is present with me, κακον παρακειται, evil is at hand, it lies constantly before me. That, as the will to do good is constantly at hand, Romans 7:18, so the principle of rebellion exciting me to sin is equally present; but, as the one is only will, wish, and desire, without power to do what is willed, to obtain what is wished, or to perform what is desired, sin continually prevails.

The word νομος, law, in this verse, must be taken as implying any strong or confirmed habit, συνηθεια, as Hesychius renders it, under the influence of which the man generally acts; and in this sense the apostle most evidently uses it in  Romans 7:23. (Dr. Adam Clarke)


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