Walking in the Spirit #5

Monday, October 8, 2012

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24,25 KJV).

Now that we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, we have a new identity, and this identity should impact our lifestyles for God’s glory.

In Romans 8:1-14, Paul describes the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit in us believers. For instance, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (verse 1). While often assumed to be soul salvation, its context (the previous chapter, 7) is actually sanctification, how God has separated us from common mankind for His purposes—made us holy, or saints—which identity will now influence our lifestyles.

Romans 8:2-4 reads: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death [the performance-based acceptance system of religion]. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh [we, our flesh, could not obey God’s law], God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

As today’s Scripture amplifies, we Christians have new life in Christ. God’s Spirit makes this new life real to us: He works in us to fulfill the Law (Romans 8:4). We cannot keep the Law, either for soul salvation or for Christian living. However, Jesus Christ’s perfect crosswork satisfies the Law, thus paying for our sins (our failure to keep the Law). This makes us Christians accepted of God (Ephesians 1:6). This same principle allows the Holy Spirit to then transfer our new identity in Christ to our lifestyles—thus producing Jesus Christ’s lifestyle in ours.

To “walk in the Spirit” as today’s Scripture exhorts, means we Christians simply place our faith in this doctrine. The Holy Spirit will then work in us to produce God’s righteousness in our lives.

Walking in the Spirit #2

Friday, October 5, 2012

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24,25 KJV).

Now that we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, we have a new identity, and this identity should impact our lifestyles for God’s glory.

Sadly, it is often assumed—even by some professing grace believers—that grace is a license to sin. Since “[we] are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14b), some erroneously conclude that we are free to live any way we want. Verse 15 cautions us, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid [May God never let that happen!!].” God’s grace teaches us to “[deny] ungodliness and worldly lusts” and it teaches us to live “soberly, righteously, and godly” (Titus 2:12).

In Galatians 5:13, we are exhorted: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Christ has made us free from the burden of the Mosaic Law, the “yoke of bondage” (verse 1), a system of rules we could never keep, but this does not mean that God does not care how we live.

We are not under Israel’s performance-based acceptance system. Nevertheless, grace teaches us that God fulfills in us believers the righteousness the Law demanded. Never should we abuse God’s grace by using it “for an occasion to the flesh;” grace should never be (ab)used to promote selfish living (preferring to serve sin rather than serve God and fellow Christians). Verses 14,15: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (verse 16). We have new life in Christ, and when we by faith let Him live His life in us, we will not live sinfully and selfishly (today’s Scripture).

The Flesh Straineth, Christ’s Love Constraineth #7

Sunday, September 16, 2012

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14,15 KJV).

We would do well to memorize, meditate on, and believe today’s Scripture, a wonderful encapsulation of the Christian life.

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection alone as sufficient payment for our sins, Christ’s righteousness—His perfect performance—has been applied to our account (imputation). We have a right standing before God (justification): “we [have been] made the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). We Christians need not strain to perform in religion, seeking God’s favor and acceptance. God already accepts us in Christ, because of what He did for us on Calvary’s cross! “God hath made us accepted in the beloved [Jesus Christ]” (Ephesians 1:6).

We are not under the Mosaic Law (Romans 6:14,15), but God still cares how we live. Once we understand and rest in God’s great love for us (His sacrifice of His Son on our behalf), it transforms our thinking (today’s Scripture). Since God loves us so much, we Christians should not selfishly live our lives, doing whatever we want. We should, by faith, offer our lives to Him so He can accomplish His will in and through us. As one Christian brother says, “Jesus Christ gave His life for us, so He could give His life to us when we trust Him alone, so He could live His life through us when we trust Him alone!”

Our Christian service is us studying and believing sound Pauline Bible doctrine, and then us letting the indwelling Holy Spirit use that doctrine to work in us (1 Thessalonians 2:13) to generate “the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, unto the praise and glory of God” (Philippians 1:11). These “fruits of righteousness” are Christ living His live in us, conforming our lifestyles to our position in Him.

“The flesh straineth, Christ’s love constraineth….”

We Troublemakers Are Grace Partakers #6

Monday, July 30, 2012

“What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin” (Romans 3:9 KJV).

By God’s grace, we troublemakers can partake of the results of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary.

From today’s Scripture to verse 20, God’s Word proved that we are all sinners, offensive to God’s righteous standards (particularly, the Ten Commandments). The Mosaic Law was given “that the offence might abound” (Romans 5:20a): the Law clearly identifies and condemns man’s sins. Israel mistakenly believed the Mosaic Law would prove their “righteousness” (Deuteronomy 6:24,25)—it proved their unrighteousness, as it does ours, and proved God’s righteousness!

Romans 3:21ff. teaches that today, in the Dispensation of Grace, God is not demanding we keep any laws to gain His acceptance or forgiveness: the Dispensation of Law demonstrated that we sinners cannot measure up to His righteousness. So, God nailed the Mosaic Law that condemned us, on Calvary’s cross (Colossians 2:14), and replaced Israel’s performance-based acceptance system (Law) with His Jesus-based acceptance system (Grace)! “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” (Romans 3:24).

Verses 26-28 conclude: “To declare, I say, at this time his [God’s] righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

We are justified by faith without works because Jesus Christ already worked for our salvation. We cannot boast that we worked for heaven; we can only brag that we could not work for heaven! Jesus Christ is well pleasing to God (Matthew 3:17), so when we trust His finished crosswork as the “propitiation,” the fully satisfying payment for our sins, God “accept[s] us in the beloved [in Christ]” (Ephesians 1:6). Our sins and our “righteousness” are not the issue: Jesus Christ’s perfect sacrifice for our sins and His righteousness are!

Indeed, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20b). 🙂

Sins That Are Past?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

“[Jesus Christ] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;” (Romans 3:25 KJV).

Does today’s Scripture teach that we are only forgiven of our past sins?

Some believe that, once we trust Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, God will forgive us of our sins only up to that point in life. These are said to be the “sins that are past” in today’s Scripture. Whatever sins we commit after we trust Christ, we are urged to confess them daily (“short accounts with God”). First John 1:9 is then ripped out of its context here.

Hebrews 9:15 is the best cross-reference to today’s Scripture: “And for this cause he [Jesus Christ] is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” Here, we see how God dealt with Israel’s sins committed under the Old Covenant. Paul’s revelation not only gives us new information (the mystery program), it also further explains the prophetic program (what God has been revealing since man’s creation).

Israel was commanded to offer animal sacrifices, but this animals’ blood did not take away sins (Hebrews 10:4). Those animal sacrifices typified, or previewed, the perfect blood of Jesus Christ that would one day be shed on Calvary (this blood would be efficacious in taking away sins). Israel will receive national forgiveness at Christ’s Second Coming (Acts 3:19-21; Romans 11:26,27; Hebrews 8:8-13; Hebrews 10:15-17). What national Israel has yet to experience, we have now received in Christ (Romans 5:11; cf. Romans 3:21-31). God was fair in passing over Israel’s “time past” sins because Christ’s blood, His propitiatory sacrifice, would permanently cover them. Despite their historical idolatry, Israel will still be His people one day by virtue of the New Covenant!

Colossians 2:13 says God has forgiven us Christians ofall trespasses.” Thus, the phrase “sins that are past” (today’s Scripture) could not refer to our past sins. It refers to Israel’s past sins.

The Glory of Our Lord Jesus Christ #1

Sunday, March 18, 2012

“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:13,14 KJV).

We enter this world as sinners, heirs of Adam’s sin nature (Romans 5:12). As King David wrote, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). Saints, we were once hell-bound sinners, marred by sin—that was our “glory” in Adam. Now that we are “in Christ,” we have obtained the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Adam was “made in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26,27). Originally, Adam was sinless, in complete and unbroken fellowship with His perfect Creator God. Once Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he lost that fellowship. Sin destroyed his link with His sinless Creator. Mankind had chosen the way of Satan, seeking his own glory instead of the glory of His Creator. He was now lost, God’s enemy.

Jesus Christ, humbly left heaven’s glory, to walk earth’s filthy streets and subject Himself to wicked man. Why? God the Son became a man, to undo what Adam did, and reconcile man unto Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18,20). He came to die for our sins, to be buried, and to be raised again for our justification (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Jesus’ perfect blood was shed to restore us to the perfect fellowship that Adam (mankind) once had with God!

Now that we have trusted Christ alone as our Saviour (the Gospel), we have “obtained the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (today’s Scripture): we have been “sanctified” (set apart for God’s purposes) and “saved” (from sin and hell). We have been made the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ’s perfect nature has been now applied to us Christians! Jesus’ blood has made atonement for our sins (Romans 5:6-11); sin no longer prevents us from fellowshipping with our Creator God. Glorious truth!

The Self-Righteous Unrighteous Made Righteous

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

“For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8 KJV).

Religion—from the Latin “religio,” meaning “to bind anew”—is man’s futile attempt to make himself right with God. Mankind naively believes that his religious performance makes him “righteous,” in good standing before God. This is actually self-righteousness.

We cannot work for our salvation because we always break the simplest rules of God’s Word (one lie, one curse word, one evil thought, and so on). Our sin prevents us from reaching God’s standard of righteousness (“rightness”). Compared to church members, atheists seem evil. Little, sweet elderly ladies appear to be less sinful than prison inmates. While you appear less sinful than others, others appear less sinful than you! Still, we are all guilty sinners in God’s eyes and according to God’s standards.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “There is none righteous, no, no one(Romans 3:10). We are not perfect. No matter what we do, our performance may exceed others’, but it will never be good enough for God.

Yet, today’s Scripture declares the wonderful news—before we lied, stole, coveted, and cursed, Jesus Christ died to save us wicked, unrighteous humans. The Lord Jesus Christ bore our sins on Calvary’s cross. He died to save us wretched humans because we all fell short of God’s glory. None of us could fulfill God’s righteous standards (the Ten Commandments, for instance).

God did not die for the righteous, but for the self-righteous unrighteous. Why? Only because He loves us, despite our evil deeds! Praise God that we can now inherit eternal life by trusting in the finished cross work of Jesus Christ. We can now be made “the righteousness of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Through Christ’s cross work on Calvary, the self-righteous unrighteous are made righteous.