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CMF eZine


The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.


Attitude

Attitude

Thoughts to Ponder by Doris

Doris Waldrop Mincks
Doris Waldrop Mincks

AI acknowledge that change is the one constant in life, it helps me to accept the inevitable!  Accepting the difficult circumstances in my life with a more positive attitude has helped me to move on.  As I look to the Lord, who mirrored for me how to get on with life in the midst of struggles, I have a better understanding of my circumstances. "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus,…" (Philippians 2:5) — "…and let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." (Romans 12:2)

All true and lasting change occurs from the inside out.  Instead of trying to change the situation or the significant people in my life, I allow God to work on me. Change can be sudden, unexpected, and unwelcome.  Whatever my circumstances, I can choose to accept it and move forward or stay in a "prison of stagnation."  As someone once said:  "It is not the strongest of the species that survives nor the most intelligent.  It is those most adaptive to change."

The stresses of unexpected changes in my life have required me to change.  With the sudden loss of my first husband over eleven years ago, my initial reaction was anger! But then I was able to look to God for strength, and the ability to move beyond myself. His strength became my sufficiency.  I had to come to accept my loss, and once I was able to do so, I had the flexibility and freedom to move on.

All change follows a definable sequence of stages, much like the stages of grief.  Once I came to the place where I could accept my loss, God gave me the freedom to look beyond myself and to see new opportunities.  Some of the following principles that I have applied in my life, I hope will be helpful to you with your life's changes:

1) Learn to be flexible and adaptable.

2) Listen to the right voices!

3) Allow time for quiet reflection with the Lord.

4) Become involved with helping other people with their needs.

5) Stay motivated by working in community with positive thinking people.

We have a secure anchor in the midst of changes!  "For I the Lord do not change," (Malachi 3:6)  "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8) 

As a military spouse and family counselor, Doris Waldrop Mincks has ministered to military families for many years. Her ministry, Wives of Warriors Worldwide, WOWW, desires to come along side the military community to give encouragement and support to military wives, meeting the life situations unique to them.

The Soldier's Preparation for Battle

The call to battle, the order to go to war issues from the Commander in Chief and moves downward through the chain of command until it rests upon the military unit(s) that will engage the enemy.  Unit commanders prepare their combat forces to engage and defeat the enemy with the goal of walking victoriously off the battlefield.  However, no matter how well trained their combat soldiers might be, no matter how advanced their weaponry, victory in battle will elude them if individual soldiers will shrink from their duties in the face of the enemy.  In addition to being sufficiently trained and well equipped, the combat soldier also needs to have the 'heart of a warrior'.

The same is true for the Christian soldier who would be effective for the Kingdom of God.

In the 17th Century, Puritan preacher and author Thomas Watson called the preparation of the Christian Soldier 'provocation to duty'. He further defined it as:

"Provoking ourselves to duty, implies an uniting, and rallying together all the powers of our soul, setting them on work in the exercises of piety. A man must say to his thoughts, "be fixed on God in this duty;" and to his affections, "serve the Lord without distraction." Matters of piety must be done with intenseness of spirit."

He then describes seven duties required of a Christian soldier who would deveop a 'warrior's heart':

  1. The Reading of the Word.
  2. The Hearing of the Word.
  3. Prayer.
  4. Meditation.
  5. Self-examination.
  6. Sanctifying the Lord's Day.
  7. Holy conversation.

Friendly Fire

Friendly Fire

Casualties of War — Friendly Fire

Iam grieved in my spirit of late at the breaking news about all of the terrorist activity reported in the news.  Not the television network news, nor even the cable news, but reports from the front lines in the battle for souls.  My ears are still ringing from reports of church splits, pastoral staff resignations, mischief and misbehavior at Christian universities.  What fuels the flame of this seemingly continuous conflagration that destroys lives, churches and makes impotent the work of the Gospel?  It is the sin of anger!  Yes, you heard it here first.  Anger is a sin.


Bob Flynn, President/CEO

I did not come to this conclusion by way of thoughtful consideration of my intellectual prowess.  It came instead by incremental illumination by the Holy Spirit as He worked upon my heart during a ten-year long sojourn in the second chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians.  It could not have happened any other way!  It was and is a continuance of the work that God began and will finish on the day when Christ returns (Phil 1:6, paraphrase mine).  For how can mere flesh and blood stand in the midst of Him of whom angels sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”  For He who brings everything into conformity with His will had already spoken through the Apostle Paul and said, “Be humble, thinking others as better than yourself…In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing….” (Phil 2:3b, 14)  Instead, our lives should epitomize the “attitude that was in Christ Jesus.”  The only innocent man who lived did not cling to His innocence but rather sacrificed himself on the altar without complaint.  He could have been angry at those who falsely accused and condemned Him.  He could have clung to His excellence and rightly held us in contempt.  Instead He went as a lamb to the slaughter.  How then shall we live?  Shall we continue giving aid and comfort to the Enemy?  Shall we continue inflicting casualties upon each other because our lives are not “blameless,” “clean” and “innocent” “as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people.”? (Phil 2:15)  How then can we be angry with another without thinking too highly of ourselves?

I know that there are those who would argue with me, but C.S. Lewis pretty much covers the basis for this conclusion in his book, Mere Christianity.

“The law of gravity tells you what stones do if you drop them; but the law of Human Nature tells you what human beings ought to do and do not.  In other words, when you are dealing with humans, something else comes in above and beyond the actual facts.  You have the facts (how men do behave) and you also have something else (how they ought to behave).  In the rest of the universe there need not be anything but the facts.  Electrons and molecules behave in a certain way, and certain results follow, and that may be the whole story.  But men behave in a certain way and that is not the whole story, for all the time you know that they ought to behave differently.”

Blow Up Your TV

Blow Up Your TV

Back in ancient times (BC — Before Computers) in a land far away in the midst of a horrible war, I was looking through the resident collection of albums (the round plastic platters with a hole in the middle) when I spied one by some guy named John Denver (released before he was famous).  There was a song on the album whose first line lyric caught my ear, “Blow up your TV, try to find Jesus on your own.”  I don’t remember much about the song itself but the lyric has remained with me all of these years.

Having reached the age where my children have become adults, I now look back on the earlier years and see that life had some spots that were a blur of activity.  Being involved, because of my children, in little league, Boy Scouts, soccer, Sunday School, youth group and also being a full-time sailor didn’t leave much time for anything else.  Life seemed pretty full.  There are indeed so many activities in our lives!   Yet how many are profitable?  How many are profitable for the kingdom?  How much time do I devote to those things that are important to my health and well being as a believer?  Sometimes I think that the world does a better job of conforming me into its mold than I do allowing the Holy Spirit to transform me by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2 paraphrase mine).  I think in my case that the blur of activity was motivated more by my flesh (not wanting my children to miss out) than by the Spirit (wanting to draw me into a closer walk with Him).  This doesn’t mean I couldn’t have done both.  It means that my attitude wasn’t right.


Bob Flynn, President/CEO

As I was meditating upon Hebrews, chapter twelve, I was struck by the idea of “throwing off everything that hinders.” (NIV)  As I looked up from my easy chair I found myself looking full on at one thing in particular that took up a great deal of my time, the huge one-eyed monster we call Television.  My heart was shaken at its foundations.  The Holy Spirit was showing me in a very clear way that I would rather spend time watching the political talk shows than with Him.  Busted!  So I got up out of my chair walked across the room and pulled the plug!  I would like to say that the angels of heaven broke out in song (However, what really broke out was beads of sweat upon my brow.  Several times that evening, as I was trying to read, I found my hand reaching for the ol’ remote control.  I thought to myself, how many other things are in my life that have become a hindrance to fellowship with the Father.  Am I really trying to work out my faith with “fear and trembling” or am I just busy?  C.S. Lewis, in “Mere Christianity,” mentions that
one of the “cardinal virtues” is temperance.  The first word that the dictionary (my copy was of course printed in the last century) uses to define this is moderation, “bringing within bounds, avoidance of excesses.”

If you find yourselves breathing hard at the end of the day, might I suggest in all humility (because I promise you that I am NOT the fount of all knowledge and wisdom) that you take stock of your activities and see if there isn’t some time that could be better used in your relationship with the Savior.  “Blow up your TV (hyperbole mine) and try to find Jesus on your own!”

“As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses round us.  So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us.  Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.  He did not give up because of the cross!  On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right-hand side of God’s throne.  Hebrews 12:1-2 TEV

Asking the Right Question

Asking the Right Question

“So Jesus used this Illustration: ‘If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it?  And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders.  When you arrived, you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found.  In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!’” (Luke 15:3-7 NLT)
“All of us have strayed away like sheep.  We have left God’s paths to follow our own” (Isaiah 53:6 NLT).

Bob Flynn, President/CEO

Ayoung man called me from northern Iraq in much anguish over the perceived loss of his salvation.  He had been engaged in a firefight and had inflicted casualties and had for the first time taken a human life.  War in the best of circumstances (if there is such a thing) is at best ghastly.  This warrior had experienced something that would change him forever.  He had killed someone created in the image of God and was suffering from the experience.  The reason God gave King David for denying him the privilege of building the temple was that he had blood on his hands.  This is the unseen red badge of courage that the warrior carries with him always (wounded deeply with no visible wound).  I suspect that if the truth be known, there are not many of us who contemplate the possibilities of combat before we enter the military.  I certainly did not.  I suspect that the most horrific experience for a believer would be to kill his brother in Christ in combat.  Those who have the ears to hear the Holy Spirit grieve will confirm that the soul would know if this event would occur.

For this young man the angst was real and the weight upon his heart was great! He thought he had lost his salvation because of his combat experience.  I suppose that in order to lose something one must first possess it. In the case of salvation one must recognize that we, the believers, are not the possessor but the possession!  If the question is, What is my salvation?, then I am looking for something that I had never possessed to lose.  If the question is, Who is my salvation?, then I will soon discover the correct answer.  In the former I am lost.  In the latter I am found.  Our salvation is in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ! He is not lost.  He is seated at the right hand of the Father.  The question then should be, Is He sufficient to keep me?

“As he loved the unsaved enough to give His Son to die for them, even when they were ‘yet without strength’ and ‘enemies’; ‘Much more then, being now justified by his blood’ and ‘reconciled,’ they shall be ‘saved from wrath through him,’ and ‘saved by his life.’ Such is the unchangeable love of God” (Lewis Sperry Chafer, Grace).

This young man had not sinned in the taking of life in combat. However, he was surely wounded by his experience.  Just as we are “without strength” when Christ died for us (Romans 5:6 KJV), we are often found “without strength” and bleeding from the wounds of life.  The New Living Translation says, “When we were utterly helpless.”  What has changed?  Are we not “utterly helpless” in Romans 6 when we are a slave to sin?  Are we not “ utterly helpless” in Romans 7 when we are under the law?  We can see the victory only when in Romans 8 we see a new law in effect, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”

Whenever parables are taught, I have noticed a consistent phenomena; We reach the wrong conclusion because we are asking the wrong question.  The aforementioned parable of the lost sheep is no exception.  When the parable of the good Samaritan is taught, the question always asked is, who is my neighbor?  The question taught by the parable is, whose neighbor am I.  When the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican is taught, the thought that invades the conscience is, “I am glad I am not like that Pharisee.  The lesson taught is, we are the Pharisee.  With the parable of the lost sheep it is easy to focus on our waywardness, “All of us like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6 NASB) and miss the “unchangeable love of God.”

“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves” (Romans 15:1 NASB).

This young warrior just needed a hug and a reminder that God’s love is unfailing! Jesus said, “ I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.  “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29 NASB).  Eternal life given that is eternally secure in Christ Jesus! We are in good hands!

An Army of One-Or-An Army of the One

An Army of One-Or-An Army of the One

We sometimes confuse our own culture with spiritual things.  In America there exists within us an innate desire to succeed as an individual.  Why else would we have team sports in order to learn teamwork?  When we join the military we learn a new concept called unit cohesion.  It is a long recognized phenomenon that is essential for successful war fighting.  Unit cohesion goes well beyond the idea of mere teamwork into an arena where men and women place their lives and trust into the hands of those with whom they serve.  General Krulac, Commandant of the Marine Corps (former), described it in this way: “We must do everything we can to enhance the transformation of young men and women into the marines that our corps needs to win battles.  I firmly believe that unit cohesion is an integral part of the transformation process.  Marines must possess and feel the absolute trust, subordination of self, the intuitive understanding of the collective actions of the unit, and the importance of teamwork.”

“I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me” (John 17:20-23 NASB).

Bob Flynn, President/CEO

Unity is that gift from God that comes as an answered prayer of the Son so that the world (“Satanic System,” Lewis Sperry Chafer) may know the Father sent the Son.  I have heard unity described in terms of what it is NOT, but sometimes we miss the point because we ask the wrong question.  When unity is described as NOT being uniformity, the question should be, “Did Jesus think like His Father?”  When described as NOT unanimity, the question should be, “Did Jesus and the Father completely agree?”  Those who would make the NOT arguments are those who have NOT experienced this wondrous blessing!  There is only ONE reason for NOT experiencing the Unity of the Holy Spirit — you do not belong to Jesus!  We ARE one just as Jesus and the Father are one for the purpose of the Gospel!  It requires more than teamwork, more than unit cohesion, it requires death to self that the Church may grow with Jesus Christ as the head.  If you think you can make it on your own, I suggest you put jam in both your pockets, ‘cause you’re already toast!

“But they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For we are joined together in his body by his strong sinews, and we grow only as we get our nourishment and strength from God” (Colossians 2:19 NLT).
“Instead we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church . Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:15-16 NLT).
“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up only one body. So it is with the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12 NLT).
“Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others” (Romans 12:3b-5 NLT).

Romans 7:03 - A New Husband

The second marriage is to Christ.  By death we are freed from obligation to the law as a covenant, as the wife is from her vows to her husband. (Matthew Henry)
So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. (NASB)
So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. (KJV)
So while her husband is alive, she would be committing adultery if she married another man. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law and does not commit adultery when she remarries. (NLT)
So then, if she is joined to another man while her husband is alive, she will be called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she is joined to another man, she is not an adulteress. (NET)

Since a death has separated us from the obligations of the law we are free to be joined to another.  In this case the risen Lord Jesus Christ.  This is of paramount importance lest we be severed from one oppression only to be saddled with a new and different burden.  The rules is, there is no rules in the sense of being separated from the law.  However, now we are joined to Christ and have a new heart and a new motivation and so following Christ allows us to become the fulfillment of the law.  Oh what joy my heart experiences with each beat.

It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. (John 3:29 NLT)
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.  He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. (Ephesians 5:25-27 NLT)

Romans 7:02 - Death and Marriage

For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. (NASB)
For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. (KJV)
For example, when a woman marries, the law binds her to her husband as long as he is alive. But if he dies, the laws of marriage no longer apply to her. (NLT)
For a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of the marriage. (NET)

This is a simple illustration and one should not engage in puerile fantasy when gleaning its very upfront meaning—that death dissolves all those things that bind us to the law in life. Remember that in verse 4, "You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ," we can consider that our death to the law is brought about in union with our benefactor, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul had to be precise here by not saying that the law died, but rather our obligation to the law.  We can look upon this from several aspects.  If we continue the contrast from chapter six where sin is the master and we are the slave, sin did not die but the slave did.  Here again we have the contrasts of two husbands represented by Christ the creator of the law and the benefactor of Grace.  In one sense the law remains and the wife (us) is dead brought about by our death in Christ yet we live on.

Rom 7:1-6
So long as a man continues under the law as a covenant, and seeks justification by his own obedience, he continues the slave of sin in some form.  Nothing but the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, can make any sinner free from the law of sin and death.  Believers are delivered from that power of the law, which condemns for the sins committed by them.  And they are delivered from that power of the law which stirs up and provokes the sin that dwells in them.  Understand this not of the law as a rule, but as a covenant of works.  In profession and privilege, we are under a covenant of grace, and not under a covenant of works; under the gospel of Christ, not under the law of Moses.  The difference is spoken of under the similitude or figure of being married to a new husband.  The second marriage is to Christ.  By death we are freed from obligation to the law as a covenant, as the wife is from her vows to her husband.  In our believing powerfully and effectually, we are dead to the law, and have no more to do with it than the dead servant, who is freed from his master, has to do with his master's yoke.  The day of our believing, is the day of being united to the Lord Jesus. We enter upon a life of dependence on him, and duty to him.  Good works are from union with Christ; as the fruitfulness of the vine is the product of its being united to its roots; there is no fruit to God, till we are united to Christ.  The law, and the greatest efforts of one under the law, still in the flesh, under the power of corrupt principles, cannot set the heart right with regard to the love of God, overcome worldly lusts, or give truth and sincerity in the inward parts, or any thing that comes by the special sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit.  Nothing more than a formal obedience to the outward letter of any precept, can be performed by us, without the renewing, new-creating grace of the new covenant. (Matthew Henry)
Robertson says; “The analogy calls for the death of the law, but Paul refuses to say that. He changes the structure and makes them dead to the law as the husband (6:3–6). The relation of marriage is killed ‘through the body of Christ’ as ‘the propitiation’ (3:25) for us.”
Translation. So that, my brethren, you also were put to death with reference to the law, through the intermediate agency of the body of Christ, resulting in your being married to another, to the One who was raised up out from among the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.
(Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader)
In this passage he used the illustration of a husband and wife to show that the believer has a new relationship to the Law because of his union with Jesus Christ.…But in Paul’s illustration from marriage, it was the husband who died and the wife who married again.  If you and I are represented by the wife, and the Law is represented by the husband, then the application does not follow the illustration.  If the wife died in the illustration, the only way she could marry again would be to come back from the dead.  But that is exactly what Paul wants to teach!  When we trusted Christ, we died to the Law; but in Christ, we arose from the dead and now are “married” (united) to Christ to live a new kind of life! (The Bible exposition commentary)
How can we legally be free from the Law? (Rom. 7:1–3)  Paul turned to marriage for an illustration.  A married couple is bound to each other under the Law until one of them dies.  The death of a partner frees both, so that the living partner is free to remarry.  Our union with Jesus is a real union too, so when He died we were legally released from any obligation to the Law.  God considers us to have “died to the Law through the body of Christ” (v. 4), and so to be free from any past obligation to live “under” it (6:14).
(The teacher's commentary)
To match the Christian experience of dying to sin and living to God, Paul used an illustration in which someone is set free by death, but still lives.  Jesus Christ acted both as the husband in the believer’s bondage to the law and as the new and living husband in righteousness.  The human illustration requires two husbands to make its point.  But the great truth of Romans 7 is that Christ is at the same time the one husband who dies to the state of bondage and the one who brings his bride, the church, into a new state of freedom.  Romans 6 shows that believers are dead to sin; Romans 7 shows they are dead to their old relationship to law. (Tyndale concise Bible commentary)
When a woman is married to a man, she is bound to that man until he dies.  Then she is free to marry again. Before we met Christ, we were bound by the Law and condemned by it.  The Law, however, did not “die” when we were saved; instead, we died in Christ.  We are no longer “married” to a system of regulations; we are “married” to Jesus Christ, and the Law has no control over us. Read v. 4 again and again and absorb its wonderful message.  Our old “husband” has no control over us: we are in a wonderful new relationship through and in Christ.  When we were lost, the Law triggered the “arousings of sin” in our old nature, and this produced death (v. 5).  But now we are delivered from the Law and can serve Christ in newness of the Spirit, not in the oldness of the letter (v. 6). (Wiersbe's expository outlines on the New Testament).
7:1–6 Freed at last, from bondage to blessing.  In a further effort to illustrate our freedom in Christ, Paul compared the law, with its tendency to make us want to sin (7:5), to a demanding husband. As long as the husband lives, his wife is bound to him; when he dies, she is free to marry another.  Likewise, the law and the sinful desires it arouses have no more claim over the believer; he or she is now free to be united with Christ (7:4; compare John 3:29; Eph. 5:25–27; Rev. 21:2). (Willmington's Bible handbook)

Romans 7:01 - Ignorant and Bound

The Christian, or, to say better, the believer, has part in Christ as a Christ who has died, and lives to God, Christ being raised from the dead through Him.  What is the force of this truth with regard to the law (for the law has only power over a man so long as he lives)?  Being then dead, it has no longer any hold upon him.  This is our position with regard to the law.  Does that weaken its authority? No. For we say that Christ has died, and so have we therefore; but the law no longer applies to one that is dead. (Dr. John Darby)
The apostle shows how by death the Christian is freed from the law, which, good as it is in itself and in the divine intention, nevertheless, owing to the corruption of man’s nature, instead of helping to make him good, perpetually stimulates sin. (Denny as quoted in Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader)

Released (7:1–3).  A spouse is no longer bound by the law of marriage to a partner who has died.  Death freed him or her from that law.  Similarly the death of Christ, which we shared in our union with Him, frees us from all legal obligations to God’s Law.  (The Bible readers companion)
Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? (NASB)
Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? (KJV)
Now, dear brothers and sisters—you who are familiar with the law—don't you know that the law applies only while a person is living? (NLT)
Or do you not know, brothers and sisters (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law is lord over a person as long as he lives? (NET)

Coming to Christ is not the toughest part of the journey we face.  Following Christ is the road less travelled and most maligned.  The world is a graveyard of lost ships who have professed their faith only to crash upon the rocks.  If Jesus is the way the truth and the life, it would beg to question why the ditch at the side of the road remains so full.  Woefully, the saddest epitaph is that the Road in question is Christ Himself.  It is the deception of the flesh and its song sung well by the chief of deceivers that brings each one of us to this ditch at one time or another.  It is only the tenacious love of the Savior that brings us back to the road.  So complete is the deception that draws us into the ditch, that those with whom we travel are not always able to turn us from this plight.  In the Lord's economy, a believer may travel thousands of miles to encourage someone who is in the very midst of the saints.  I do not mean this to be a pejorative slight at those who are still traveling on the road but rather to illuminate the wiles of the enemy and how easily all of us are deceived.  It is not that I would give glory to the one who travelled far for it is the Lord who brought him as well.

For the past month we have looked at how were are by natures slaves to sin.  However, in union with Christ Jesus we have been transformed by this union into slave of Christ and His righteousness.  Today we begin a sojourn in the study of our relationship with the law.  Perhaps said with more literary penash, "the Tale of Two Husbands."  Both are perfect and holy however, the first is not very helpful ("gives me neither feet nor hands").  The second, though, is helpful in every way but I cannot be the wife of two husbands.  If it were me, I would have done away with the first husband.  However, Christ chose to do away with the wife.  Since I am dead in Christ, I am no longer obligated to the Law but to Christ!  The law's ability to show the true nature of my fallen estate is slaked in Jesus and this wondrous union He created for me to walk within.

The chapter starts out proclaiming our ignorance (?γνοε?τε - from G50 ?γνο?ω) a word equated with heathenism (Josephus, Antiquities) and in general the opposite of wisdom.  A more stark way of putting it would be "ignorant brothers I am speaking to you who have come to a complete understanding of the law."  We have ignorance because we ignore! We can begin to see our plight here in that we were ignorant to our complete deliverance from the law that kept us chained to our fallen nature while at the same time being cognizant of its just authority to do so but bound only so long as we live.  Did the law weaken to facilitate our escape? No! We died!

Rom 7:1 The apostle continues the comparison between the former and the present state of a believer, and at the same time endeavors to wean the Jewish believers from their fondness for the Mosaic law.  I speak to them that know the law - To the Jews chiefly here.  As long - So long, and no longer.  As it liveth - The law is here spoken of, by a common figure, as a person, to which, as to an husband, life and death are ascribed.  But he speaks indifferently of the law being dead to us, or we to it, the sense being the same. (John Wesley)
We are delivered from the law.  What is meant by this?  And how is it an argument why sin should not reign over us, and why we should walk in newness of life?  We are delivered from the power of the law which curses and condemns us for the sin committed by us.  The sentence of the law against us is vacated and reversed, by the death of Christ, to all true believers.  The law saith, The soul that sins shall die; but we are delivered from the law. The Lord has taken away thy sin, thou shalt not die.  We are redeemed from the curse of the law, Gal 3:13. (Mathew Henry)

Romans 6:23 - Wage or Gift

We usually apply Romans 6:23 to the lost, and certainly it does apply; but it also has a warning for the saved.  (After all, it was written to Christians.)  “There is a sin unto death” (1 John 5:17).  “For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep” (1 Cor. 11:30, NASB).  Samson, for example, would not yield himself to God, but preferred to yield to the lusts of the flesh, and the result was death (Jud. 16).  If the believer refuses to surrender his body to the Lord, but uses its members for sinful purposes, then he is in danger of being disciplined by the Father, and this could mean death. (Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary.)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NASB)
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (KJV)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (NLT)
For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NET)

The word used here for wages is ο?ψω?νια (opso??nia ).  It was used originally to describe those things that were purchased to be eaten with bread (vegetables, meat, fish, etc.) and was the way that Roman soldiers were paid their wages.  It is used here to convey that which is earned or deserved.  Death then is the proper dessert or just reward for sin!  Remembering back to chapter one where the wrath of God is being revealed against all unrighteousness and all ungodliness, it is then easy to see that not one pain is inflicted upon a sinner that is undeserved but rather ALL has been earned.

Eze 18:4 For all people are Mine to judge—both parents and children alike.  And this is My rule: The person who sins is the one who will die. (NLT)

To the contrast of wages we have a free gift given because of Christ's mercy.  Each gift is of the same length (eternal - everlasting).  One will be awful the other glorious.  There will be no innocent martyrs in hell.  Those blessed with eternal life with Christ Jesus will all enjoy this blessing without merit but rather because of Christ's rich and sovereign Grace (χαρισμα του Θεου - the gracious gift of God).

Thus we see this wonderful doctrine of the Gospel unfold.  But it is useless to those who refuse to die to sin and rise with Christ, in the likeness of his resurrection, and enter into the newness of life He provides.  Look around your home, your neighborhood, you nation and see the untold millions who believe the whole Gospel and yet are living in sin! Don’t forget to look in the mirror!


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