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Wednesday, July 22 2020
Contributor: Peter Folikwe
By way of recap, from our previous study of the book of Romans, Apostle Paul focused on the problem of sin as a limitation of the natural man. In the last study of Chapter 7, Apostle Paul emphasized the unending war between the natural flesh and Spirit of man.
For instance, in Rom 7:15 NIV Paul says “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” In Verse 24, Paul declared how wretched he was asking who shall deliver his body from death, because of our fleshly desires. He stated that the law is spiritual, but we are carnal because of the lust of the flesh. Since the law is spiritual and we are carnal, we are often condemned by the law. The law, as a mirror, keeps exposing our sins. The law according to Paul, therefore, has a right to condemn us, because we flesh out often. By the end of chapter 7, our condemnation by the law leaves us wondering; who can save us from this condemnation?
VERSE 1: A RAY OF HOPE
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (KJV)
Chapter 8 opens with Paul’s declaration. This opening verse simply gives us that ray of hope that we are not indeed condemned by the law. Why? We shall understand by the time we get to Verse 17.
VERSE 2: NOT CONDEMNED
“because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (NIV)
The law Paul refers to here is not the law of Moses (the law of righteousness), but something/natural authority that has “power” over us. For instance, the Taoiseach enacted a law at the beginning of the pandemic that religious houses and some other places of social gathering should be closed. Violation of that law comes with consequences. Eccl 8:4 says “Where the word of a king is, there is power:”
So if you replace “law” in the above verse with “power”, the verse reads “the power of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the power of sin and death”. Therefore, if the ‘power of the Spirit’ dwells in you, it will save you from the ‘power of the law’. In essence we need the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome the power of the law.
VERSE 3: THE WEAKNESS OF THE LAW
“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:” (KJV)
Paul here switches back to the law of Moses (law of righteousness). This law sets out rules but does not empower anyone to keep it. The weakness in the flesh often weakens the ability of the law to change our lives. God, understanding of our weakness, sent His only begotten son Jesus in likeliness of our sinful flesh, not as a sinner. Jesus was without sin in the flesh and had to be without sin to qualify to pay for our sins. If Jesus had sinned, He would have to pay for His sins and not for you and I. If you lend me money, I can’t be owing you and decide to pay another man’s debt, except only after I have settled my debts. Since Jesus took on our sins, He became condemned for our sins. Going back to the introductory verse, there is therefore no condemnation for them who are in Christ Jesus, why? Simply because Jesus has been condemned for our sins. This however does not give us freedom to continue in sin.
VERSE 4: RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE LAW FULFILLED IN US
“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
This verse tells us why Jesus was condemned; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us....... Paul here talks of the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled “in” us, not “by” our own actions of obedience. Because none of us can fulfil the righteousness of the law in our sinful flesh. It will be fulfilled in us, only if we walk after the spirit. Because Jesus (through the power of the Holy Spirit) lives in you & I, therefore He can empower us to live & keep the requirements of the law. It does not mean that we do not occasionally fall (not deliberately) into sin, but Godly sorrow through the Spirit of God that lives within us, we confess & repent of our sins.
VERSE 5: SPIRIT CONTROLLED VS FLESH CONTROLLED
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set (constantly thinking) on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set (constantly thinking) on what the Spirit desires.” (NIV)
Paul clearly distinguishes between those whose minds are inclined towards living a life controlled by the flesh and others whose focus/mindset are focused on spiritual desires. Luke 12:34 says “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
VERSES 6-8: THE CONSEQUENCES
“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. 8 That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.” (NLT)
Paul admonishes us to bring our body under subjection, otherwise our bodies will bring us instead under its control. It is usual for the natural man to run contrary to God’s laws. Adam was instructed not to eat the apple; exactly that he did with eve. Paul says “I find myself doing those things I hate to do”. Caution a child not to touch an object, just look away, your guess is as good as mine. It is impossible to live gratifying the flesh and live a life pleasing to God. It is by the spirit of God that lives within us we are redeemed (born again).
VERSES 9-13: IT IS ALL ABOUT GOD’S SPIRIT IN US
“9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. 12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” (NIV)
Paul says if the Spirit of God is not in you, then you are not a believer. It is the spirit of God, not our own righteousness that makes us born again children of God. Verse 10 says our physical bodies are subject to physical death because of sin. Jesus however did not die for our physical body, but for our souls. For those who Jesus will meet on earth when He returns in glory will have their physical bodies transformed/changed, not redeemed. Verse 11, talks about the glorification of our bodies at resurrection for as long as we have the in dwelling of the Holy Spirit. Verse 12 says we are debtors, but not to the flesh anymore because it has been paid by Jesus on the cross. Verse 13 implies you can only put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit, not by our own strength.
VERSES 14-15: LED BY THE SPIRIT
“14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (NIV)
God sees us as His children provided, we have His Spirit dwelling in us. Unlike some ‘so-called Christians’ who believe they can only make heaven based on how hard they work for God, but do not have a Spiritual relationship with God through Jesus Christ. For you and I who walk by the Spirit, we can boast of a personal relationship with God; calling Him “Abba Father” - our dear Father.
VERSES 16-17: CONCLUSION
“16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
Verse 16 tells us that we are His children only if we do His will enabled by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. The Spirit in us testifies/bears witness with us that we are children of God. 2Cor 13:1 says “.... In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.” The two witnesses here are the Spirit of God in you and yourself. Verse 17 talks about our inheritance in His heavenly kingdom. This inheritance is however predicated on our sharing in His sufferings (salvation, persecution, putting our bodies under subjection of the Holy Spirit etc). Ultimately, we will also share in His glorification. Jesus explained this inheritance in the Parable of the Sheep and Goats: Matt 25:34 NIV
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. God bless and help us all to abide in His Words. Amen.
Thursday, July 16 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
Let’s have a quick reminder of what we have learnt from the last two studies; so that we can keep today’s study in perspective. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has set you and I free. Having said that, it is possible to miss out on this freedom for two reasons. First, Romans 6:1-14 points out that, even though you are a Christian, you can deliberately choose to give yourself over to the bondage and slavery of sin. There’s also the notion that God, in His grace, will forgive us, so we can continue to indulge in sin. The answer to that attitude is found in Chapter 6, Verses 15-22. The Scripture says that anyone who lives on that basis, will be enslaved, shamed, limited, corrupted, defiled, saddened and ultimately eternally separated from God by sin.
Verse 7: THE LAW’S LEGITIMATE FUNCTION
The MSG version renders verse 7b thus: “The law code had a perfectly legitimate function. Without its clear guidelines for right and wrong, moral behaviour would be mostly guesswork.”
Verses 8-11: SIN’S MANIPULATIVE POWER
The MSG version renders verse 8b thus: “What happened, though, was that sin found a way to pervert
14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
Verses 12-13: THE LAW IS HOLY & RIGHTEOUS – NOTHING WRONG WITH IT
The MSG version renders verse 13b thus: “No again! Sin simply did what sin is so famous for doing:
The Law was designed to expose sin, and to make us feel this way so that we begin to understand what this evil force is that we have inherited by our birth into this fallen human race. The Law shows sin to be what it is, something exceedingly powerful and dangerous, something that has greater strength than our willpower and causes us to do things that we are resolved not to do.
Verses 14-15 – TWO PROBLEMS
In these verses, Paul switches to the present tense. This is significant because it means that he is now describing his experience at the time he wrote this letter to the Romans. These verses always raise a problem. Recall in Chapter 6 verses 17-18, where Paul said: " But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness" (NIV)
How could a man write that he had become in Christ, a slave to righteousness, and just a few paragraphs later write, "I am unspiritual (carnal), sold under sin, a slave to sin"? Was he confused? Not at all! He was simply describing what happens when a Christian tries to live under the Law. When a Christian, by his dedication and willpower and determination, tries to do what is right in order to please God, he is living under the Law. And what Paul is telling us today is what to expect when we live like that -- for we all try to live that way from time to time. Sin, you see, deceives us. It deceived Paul as an apostle, and he needed this treatment of the Law. It deceives us, and we need it too.
In Verse 15, Paul tells us that there are basically two problems: The first is spotted in the b part of verse 15 and the second problem is in the c part
Verses 16-20: THE EXPLANATION - “I” vs “Me”
Paul says that as a Christian, redeemed by the grace of God, there is now something within him that wants to do good, that agrees with the Law, that says that the Law is right. But also, he says, there is something else in him that rises up and says "No!" Even though he determines not to do what is bad, he suddenly finds himself in such circumstances that his determination melts away, his resolve is gone, and he ends up doing what he had sworn he would not do. Have you ever felt that way?
So, what has gone wrong? Paul's explanation is this: "It is no longer I who do it; it is sin living in me." Isn't that strange? He implies a separation within our humanity. There is the "I" that wants to do what God wants, and there is the "me" indwelled by sin, that is different from the "I". Human beings are complicated creatures. We are made up of a spirit, a soul, and a body; these are distinct, one from the other. What Paul is suggesting here is that the redeemed spirit never wants to do what God has prohibited. It agrees with the Law that it is good. And yet there is an alien power, a force that he calls sin, a great beast that is lying still in the flesh until touched by the commandment of the Law (remember, it is the spirit that is regenerated when we are born again and not the flesh); that springs to life, and overpowers us and we do what we do not want to do.
Jesus implied the same when He said, "If your right hand offends you, cut it off," (Matthew 5:30). He was implying that we should take drastic action because we are up against a serious problem. Agreeing that that there is a "me" within us that runs our members, that gives orders to our hands, feet, eyes, tongues, brains, sexual organs, and controls them. That "me" gives the order to do something wrong, but there is another "I" in us who is offended by this. This "I" does not like it, does not want it. And so, Jesus' words were, "Cut it off."
Verses 21-23 THE BATTLE OF LAWS
These verses emphasize the same problem. You want to do right and determine to do right, knowing what it is
Verse 24: THE HEART’S DESPERATE CRY
The Message version says: “I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is
This desperate cry at the end is where the Lord Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," (Matthew 5:3). Blessed is the man who comes to the end of himself. Blessed is the man who has arrived at spiritual bankruptcy. Because this is the point -- the only point -- where God's help is given.
Verse 25: THE CONCLUSION
Who will deliver me from this body of death? The Lord Jesus has already delivered us! We are to respond to the feelings of wretchedness and discouragement and failure, to which the Law has brought us because of sin in us, by reminding ourselves immediately of the facts that are true of us in Jesus Christ. Our feelings must be answered by facts. We are no longer under the Law; that is the fact. We have arrived at a different situation; we are married to Christ. That means we must no longer think, "I am a poor, struggling, bewildered disciple, left alone to wrestle against these powerful urges." We must now begin to think, "No, I am a free child of God, living a normal human life. I am dead to sin, and dead to the Law, because I am married to Christ. His power is mine, right at this moment. And though I may not feel a thing, I have the power to say, "No!" and walk away and be free, in Jesus Christ."
Culled from: https://www.raystedman.org/new-testament/romans/the-continuing-struggle
Friday, July 10 2020
Contributor: Clem Roberts
PART 1: CHAPTER 6
There is no middle ground between being a slave to sin and a slave to obedience to God; you are either for one or the other
VERSES 17-18: A NEW NATURE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
“Thanks be to God” because He did it. And Paul also admonishes us in Col 2:6: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him...”
VERSES 19-23: CONCLUDING CHAPTER 6
PART 2: CHAPTER 7
Paul made a very powerful illustration, pointing out that if a wife marries (lit., “if she comes to”) another man while her husband is still alive, she is called (future tense, “shall be publicly known as”) an adulteress. Conversely, on the death of her husband she is free from that marriage. So, she is not an adulteress if she marries (lit., “even though she comes to”) another man. A widow who marries again is not guilty of adultery.
VERSE 4: WE ARE DEAD TO THE LAW
He said that you also died to the Law. Just as a believer “died to sin” (6:2) and so is “set free from sin” (6:18, 22), so he also died to the Law and is separated and set free from it (6:14; cf. Gal 2:19). As a wife is no longer married to her husband when he dies, so a Christian is no longer under the Law.
VERSE 5: WHAT DID THE LAW DO FOR US?
This verse describes a believer before he was saved (Rom 6:19). The Law by its prohibitions aroused sinful passions. Sin, Paul repeatedly affirmed, leads to death (Rom 5:15, 17, 21; 6:16, 21, 23; 7:10-11, 13; 8:2, 6, 10, 13). The law energized our rebellion... The law cannot bring us into a righteous life. All it does is to demonstrate our sinful nature.
VERSE 6: WE HAVE BEEN DELIVERED FROM THE LAW
But now, being identified with Christ, believers are dead to the Law. Like the widow released from marital obligations, so believers are released from the Law and its arousal to sin. Like we read in Romans 5:20; Moreover, the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.
Thursday, July 02 2020
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In our last study we considered two teams: Team Adam and Team Christ. We learnt that by Adam’s sin, sin entered the world and we became sinful in nature from birth. But glory to God we also learnt that by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we have become free from the curse of sin; as long as we choose the join Team Christ. In today’s study we shall be looking at a fundamental aspect of a believer’s standpoint; depicting the power we have in our everyday life to live in ways that are faithful to God. In Romans 5:20, Paul said that where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. And in the first two verses of Chapter 6, Paul answers the question that stems naturally from that verse.
The opening two verses of Romans 6 make it very clear that the apostle was dealing with the question of whether a believer can go on living in sin after he or she has come to Christ. Can they go on in a lifestyle that is basically wrong and sinful? Can they live as alcoholics, or swindlers, adulterers, homosexual, or slanderers? Is it possible to maintain such a lifestyle and be a Christian? The apostle's answer -- as we have already seen in the first two verses -- is, "By no means!" (Romans 6:2a NIV). It is impossible, Paul says, because, as he puts it in these four little words, "We died to sin," (Romans 6:2b NIV). When we stand in grace it is bizarre to
VERSES 3-4: THE SYMBOLISM BAPTISM OFFERS
Paul draws attention to baptism as the starting point. It is the act which communicates our identification with Christ's death. But the water isn’t what cleanses us! It is a demonstration of how we died to sin, how we became separated from being in Adam, and how we became joined in Christ. You will agree with me that no water can do that. It is the Spirit of God! John the Baptist, who made his reputation because he baptized in water, said, "I indeed baptize you with water, but there comes One after me, greater than I, who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit," John 1:33). That is what Paul is talking about here -- the baptism of the Holy Spirit --
VERSES 5-7: GRAFTING – WHAT IT MEANS TO BE UNITED IN DEATH WITH CHRIST
Paul draws out inferences in terms of death to sin. We can't die with Christ and not be risen with him. If we died with Him, we must be risen with Him as well. In other words, we can't pick and choose. The word united means "to graft a branch into another." The branch is tied together in such a way that the life from the trunk of the tree flows into the branch and they grow together until finally you can't tell the difference between the graft and the natural branch. The life is fully shared. This is the figure Paul is using here to describe our tie with the Lord Jesus. His life becomes our life. We are no longer in Adam, in any sense. The tie is totally broken. We are now in Christ, and He is our life from now on.
VERSES 8-10: RISEN WITH HIM
Next Paul traces this parallel. Jesus was crucified, and we were crucified too. Our old self, the old man, the man who was in Adam, the tie with Adam, has been broken by death. All that we were as a natural-born human being ended when we accepted Jesus. Paul was referring to our spirit man here. He explains that Jesus was crucified in order that the sin which was in His body on the cross should come to an end; that His body be rendered powerless with respect to sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says "he was made sin for us," In Adam, sin filled the whole of man -- our spirit, our soul, and our body. We were slaves to sin, and no matter how much we wanted to be different, we couldn't be. But now that bond has been broken. In Christ our spirits are free, and have become united with Jesus; have risen with him, and now free from sin. (1 John 3:9). Here John was talking about our spirits; our spirits are who we are, not our bodies!
VERSES 11-13: TWO KEY STEPS TO OVERCOME TEMPTATION
When we feel temptation in our bodies or minds, then there are two things we are to do:
Paul closes with such a wonderful statement. Interestingly, he brings in the Law because he is dealing with one of the most basic problems of the Christian struggle, the thing that oftentimes depresses and discourages us more than anything else -- the sense of condemnation we feel when we sin. You see, the Law produces condemnation. The Law says that unless you live up to this standard, God will not have anything to do with you. We have been so engrained with this that when we sin, even as believers, we think God is angry and upset with us and He doesn't care about us. We think that way about ourselves, and we become discouraged and defeated and depressed. We want to give up. "What's the use?" We say. But Paul says that is not true; we are not under the Law. God does not feel that way about us. We are under grace, and God understands our struggles. He is not upset by it; He is not angry with us. He understands our failures. He knows that there will be a struggle and there will be failures. He also knows that He has made full provision for us to recover immediately, to pick ourselves up, and go right on climbing up the mountain. Therefore, we mustn’t be discouraged. Sin will not be our master because we are not under the law and the condemnation that comes from it, but under grace. And even though we struggle, if, every time we fail, we come back to God and ask His forgiveness, and take it from Him, and remember how He loves us, and that He is not angry or upset with us, and go on from there, we will win the battle over sin!
Culled from: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3882, https://www.raystedman.org/new-testament/romans/the-true-baptism-of-the-spirit