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Msindisi Monthly # 124

February 4, 2015

SALVADOR AND DIANNES MSINDISI MONTHLY

Number: 124          Feb 2015

P. O. Box 1481

Vryheid 3100

KwaZulu Natal

South Africa

 

+27 (0) 72 8311008

+27 (0) 72 3843786

 

Email: msindisi@gmail.com, salv.di@gmail.com

 

KwaZulu Mission Website: www.kwazulumission.com

 

KwaZulu Mission Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/kwazulumission

 

 

 

This month has been a month of good news and much sorrow for our dear friends, Hendrik and Belinda Els. Belinda sadly lost her brother to a brain stem stroke. You can imagine the shock for the family as only last year they had buried his small son Adam after a tumour. Please keep them in prayer.

Early in the month, we were able to visit Asimbonge and Ncedo in Newcastle. We were given many toys and clothes over the Christmas period so we arrived with a bike for Ncedo, puzzles and blocks for the boys and some clothes. It was lovely to see them again, they are doing well.

Asimbonge

Asimbonge

Ncedo on her bike

Ncedo on her bike

Sadly we got a call from Tholakele who lives in Alpha, while returning from Vryheid one day saying she needed our help as the ambulance that she called had not arrived and her oldest daughter had swallowed half a litre of Jik (bleach).  This resulted from many factors as her mum had just hit her after discovering she was 3 months pregnant and her boyfriend had also been hitting her. Mbali left school last year, to try and earn some extra money for the family. She is from a family of 4 girls and her mum, Tholakele, is a widow. Mbali is doing fine now and the baby is ok. We meet up with her last Friday to chat and give some counsel. Before going we downloaded stats about violence that woman endure which has resulted in murder. One woman every 8 hours is murdered by her boyfriend or husband here in South Africa. There is a mindset in some Zulu woman that they deserve these hidings. We were able to remind her of Bhabekile and her recent murder explaining that she was a lovely, respectful girl however that still did not prevent her from being abused and then killed. The usual pattern in this area is that the boys and girls are very young between 14 – 17 when they start a sexual relationship. The girl gets pregnant then keeps the child. She usually stays at home with her parents and the boy comes to visit sometimes but not often. He has no responsibility. It is usually the family who now have to take care of another child. He can return whenever he wants as the child is his, some return to give some clothes, some to give hidings. Sadly men in this culture have no real Father figures so in their mindset to be a man is to have a child and drink beer.

Scenery in Alpha village.

Scenery in Alpha village.

Very rarely will the boy meet the family before he takes the daughter. With the constant fear of HIV, many discover later, (8 years on) that they have contradicted the disease. Meanwhile the boys and men have been sleeping with many other woman. The thinning disease is never named for what it is . . AIDS. When someone dies, as it is the immune system that has been so broken down, the presenting illness is TB or another illness so the community can hide and shake their heads pretending they don’t know how this could happen to someone so young but they refuse to acknowledge it is AIDS. We are praying about how the Lord might use us to reach out concerning this issue, of the absence of Father figures, as it weighs heavy on our hearts.

We attended a funeral, from the Mthembu family this month where the young girl who was in her twenties died. Once again it was not spoken of, she just got very very thin then died. Attending these funerals are very distressing you want to shout from the roof top. The pastors all want to be able to speak so they gather in the front of the tent, they are from all different sects, most not even saved. One of the churches present was “Christ Embassy” of the infamous false teacher, Pastor Chris, who was reported to have paid people to fake illnesses for three weeks before he supposedly heals them in his meetings. It is such a big show but nothing real is addressed. In this case we were told that she had repented and given her life to the Lord. We hope this is true, for our Lord reaches out His hand right to the very end longing that none should perish but all will respond to His free gift of eternal life, knowing there is nothing that we have done or can do that can make us right before a Holy God. Only Jesus can make that way possible by His sinless death in our place.

Calf at our home

Calf at our home

It was great having Mesuli home over the holidays. What a blessing this young man is. He has grown so much. His studies in pharmacy are going well and we just heard he has been granted a bursary for next year. These holidays he taught kids club for the first time. We have seen him grow and develop in his faith, asking real meaningful questions and wanting to be able to give a reason for the hope he has. We were able to show the kids at kids club a photo of when he used to attend kids club in 2004 when the Leembruggen family visited the mission at the old cattle auction yard. Kid’s club this last Saturday was taught by another attendee of kid’s club back in 2004, Khethiwe, who is Celani’s eldest daughter. It is wonderful to see these young people grow in the Lord.

Mesuli teaches kids club

Mesuli teaches kids club

Mesuli in 2004 when he used to attend kids club.

Mesuli in 2004 when he used to attend kids club.

Khethiwe teaches kid's club

Khethiwe teaches kid’s club

Khethiwe in 2004 when she attended kids club. She is standing on the right of her mother Celani.

Khethiwe in 2004 when she attended kids club. She is standing on the right of her mother Celani.

Friday evenings continue with cell group. Phumulani started the first one for the year with teaching on “fearing the Lord”. It was very good. Sal has been going through 2 Kings on Elijah and Elisha. We continue to go from home to home, sharing a meal together, praying and singing, along with sharing. Mandla is bringing the teaching next week. Evangelism continues in the local areas. Last month we finished preaching the gospel in the area of KwamaThema without any harassment from local people, though it was first mentioned when we arrived there. Now we have begun sharing the Gospel in the next area called KwaBhekephi.

Kid's playing their guitars at KwamaThema where we preached the Gospel

Kid’s playing their guitars at KwamaThema where we preached the Gospel

While preaching in KwamaThema saw this cool

While preaching in KwamaThema saw this cool

Phumlani preaches in KwamaThema.

Phumlani preaches in KwamaThema.

Every January Di helps Belinda out at care bear crèche to help with the first week of schooling. Therefore, Di helped out in Vryheid in the third week of January which gave Salvador opportunity to Skype his dissertation supervisor for Bible college and he completed and submitted the last assignment of his B.th (Hons). He is very grateful for all the friends and family in Messiah that supported him along the way and when he gets his final grades he will be personally thanking each person. Now Salvador has taken the opportunity to do more recordings for the discipleship book in isiZulu so that he can get that published as a resource. There are several other projects Salvador has got up his sleeve and more news should follow.

Salvador working on his dissertation

Salvador working on his dissertation

Over the last weekend of the month we went to the east coast to get Di’s outcome of her application for her renewal of visitors permit. Praise the Lord, Di got a visa for another three years which means that she gets to stay till 2018. However, they spelled Di’s name wrong which meant that Di had to make another application to get the visa amended. Another two and a half hours later her application was lodged. Fortunately they did not charge her anything for this application. While there Salvador played guitar and preached at Coming King Ministries in Ballito. Salvador preached on the tabernacle and koinonia and it seemed to be a word in season. We stayed with a lovely couple called Matthew and Maralize who attend the assembly. We also visited a home bible study of the Indian church in Stanger on the monday evening. Salvador spoke on witnessing in a multi-faith society. Then on Tuesday we visited a place called Summerhill where there are plans to build an orphanage/children’s home with a community centre. At the moment a Zulu lady opened her home up for orphans and many children go there to get help with homework. It has taken them 5 years to get planning permission to build the complex so should be exciting for them to be able to go ahead with it. On Wednesday evening we visited Kevin and Michelle’s (from Coming King Ministries) home to attend their cell group before heading back on thursday.

Travelling to the East Coast, Beautiful scenery.

Travelling to the East Coast, Beautiful scenery.

Praise team at Coming King Ministries

Praise team at Coming King Ministries

Enjoying a Braai with the brethren of Coming King Ministries

Enjoying a Braai with the brethren of Coming King Ministries

Enjoying discussion with Leslie Crickmay

Enjoying discussion with Leslie Crickmay

Salvador with Matthew whose home we stayed in.

Salvador with Matthew whose home we stayed in.

Giving out jumpers to bible study members in Stanger

Giving out jumpers to bible study members in Stanger

Cell at Kevin and Michelle's

Cell at Kevin and Michelle’s

This month will be rather full. Salvador may be preaching at Coming King Ministries. In a couple of weeks time there will also be an evangelist, Cecil Peasley, visiting Vryheid and speaking at Bethany Baptist Church, the local prison and a Zulu community not too far from us. Salvador will be interpreting for him at the prison on two days and then at a pension day. The week after we will go through to Gauteng to get Salvador’s guitar sorted, to help NTM material corrections at the printers, to do some interviews for a project Salvador is involved with and hopefully to pick up our Portuguese marriage certificate before Salvador’s parents arrive from the UK for a three week visit at the beginning of March.

Di has been sorting baby jumpers into piles to give out to the maternity ward at  Vryheid hospital, the clinic, crèches, other Ministries and Neighbours and friends in surrounding areas. Thank you to all the faithful knitters in Australia and Marg and Pam from Moriel ministries for all the work in getting them here.

Di sorting out kids jumpers

Di sorting out kids jumpers

Parents, kids and jumpers

Parents, kids and jumpers

Family of knitted toys needing a home

Family of knitted toys needing a home

Jumpers given out at clinic

Jumpers given out at clinic

This kid will probably have grown into this jumper by the time winter sets in

This kid will probably have grown into this jumper by the time winter sets in

New born baby in Vryheid hospital. They are so tiny.

New born baby in Vryheid hospital. They are so tiny.

A mother and baby at Vryheid hospital

A mother and baby at Vryheid hospital

Blanket given to little one at Vryheid hospital

Blanket given to little one at Vryheid hospital

Baby at Hospital receiving jumpers

Baby at Hospital receiving jumpers

Inserting all these photos because these kids are just so cute

Inserting all these photos because these kids are just so cute

Thank you for your faithful support and constant communication.

We serve a Mighty God, may we continue to sit at His feet, sharing our heart, praying and listening as we read His word so He can reveal more and more of Himself to us showing His great love and wisdom in a world that is blind, lost and striving after the wind.

Shalom

Sal and Di

Prayer Requests:

  • Thanks for Di’s visa
  • Thanks for Mesuli’s Bursary
  • Thanks for growth in Mesuli and Khethiwe’s lives
  • Evangelism of area
  • Dealing with issues of fatherhood in community
  • Publishing and other projects
  • Salvador’s parents visit

SIX

 

NOT UNDER LAW YET NOT LAWLESS: part 1

GRACE, THE REAL ANSWER TO ANTINOMIANISM

ROMANS 6: 1 – 14

Up till now we have been tackling the issue of justification by faith and what a detailed treatise Paul has given the Christians in Rome! These Christians were mainly gentile but had Jewish believers among them. The issue of table fellowship between Jews and Gentiles was one of the earliest difficulties the Apostles had to deal with in the Church. One of the main things we have to remember is that the trimmings of biblical Judaism are exactly what they are, biblical. These issues of the feasts, the Law, the Abrahamic covenant and even the separation between Jew and Gentile are not simply cultural differences but they are issues that God created. It was God who gave the Mosaic Law. It was God who gave the feasts. It was God who made a covenant with Abraham, which He cannot annul. And it was God who made the Mosaic covenant with Israel. It was also God who made the division between Jew and gentile. And so to stand against these things is not to oppose a man-made institution but God. This is why the letter to the Romans is so detailed and goes through such legal debating.

Paul preaches the gospel as historically rooted in Israel, yet also as a prophetic message. When I say a prophetic message I mean that the Israel’s is seen as prophetic of Israel in Paul’s day. Stephen, the martyr in Acts 7 also did this. He went right back to Abraham and gave the history of Israel’s hardness of heart throughout the ages. Then he showed how it related to them in terms of Jesus. When Paul went into the synagogue in Psidian Antioch (Acts 13), he related the history of Israel from the Exodus through David up to John the Baptist, and showed them how Jesus’ death and resurrection fulfilled OT prophecy.

We will deal with Romans 6 in 2 sections. We will deal with the first half of the Romans 6 in this chapter and we will deal with the last half in the next chapter.

Verses 1 – 14:

GRACE, THE REAL ANSWER TO ANTINOMIANISM

Now please remember that this epistle has much to do with the Jewish people. God never annulled the covenants and aspects of the Law as legitimate Jewish cultural practices. He never tried to stop Jews practicing what aspects of the Law that they were able. Rather God has annulled the obligation of keeping the Law for salvation. There are a few reasons why we cannot say it is wrong for Born Again Jews to still practice aspects of the Mosaic covenant.

  • Firstly the practice of Torah or Law for the believing Jew, such as Paul or James, was always done in relation to Christ because Christ is the fulfillment of the Law or Torah.
  • Secondly, because it is not obligatory, we Gentiles according to the flesh were never compelled to keep any of the commandments except four. Those were to abstain from blood, from meats strangled, from immorality and from things sacrificed to idols. Not even tithing or remembering the Sabbath was included in that. However that was a liberty given to the Gentiles and not a nullifying of the Jewish feasts and food laws for the Born Again Jew.
  • But thirdly to keep the Law out of obligation for salvation only brings condemnation because the requirement is to keep all of it. However a practice of it by faith takes it away from a salvation issue.

When a believing Jew keeps the feasts and the commandments out of faith in his Messiah it is the faith that justifies him and not the keeping of the feasts or anything like that. So Paul has taken away the obligation of keeping the Law. He has not said it is wrong to do Passover and keep Shabbat or to eat Kosher. Now it would be wrong for a Jewish believer to look down on a fellow believer because he does not keep those aspects of the Mosaic Law. There were stern warnings in Galatians concerning Jews that tried to convert Gentile believers to Jewish identity and a Jewish lifestyle. If they converted through circumcision they would be denying the Gospel because their testimony would be, “Jesus never brought me all the way in, it was rather Moses who brought me in.” But there is freedom for the Jew from the compulsion of keeping the Mosaic Law in regards to his salvation but there is also freedom for the Jew to keep the Mosaic Law.

Now think of the last two verses of the last chapter. Paul says that the greater the sin, the greater the grace has to be. Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. Now think of how this must have sounded to Jewish ears. The Law was not simply a set of rules for him; it was a whole way of life given by God. It was the purpose for which he was created. It was through the imposition of these rules that the Jew combated sin. The Law strengthened their good impulse which was naturally weaker than the evil impulse. Eventually they hoped that, through the Law their good impulse would eventually overcome the evil impulse. The Jews believed that the good impulse started at conception but the good impulse began when a boy was bar-mitzvahed. Thus the evil impulse had a bigger advantage, so much that the good impulse was picture as a prisoner in the fortress belonging to the evil impulse. The Law stood for righteousness and so if you brush it to one side, are you not going to excuse sin?

IS IT A CHOICE BETWEEN LAW AND SIN?

Look at verse one. 1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?

 

Now we see the return of that ‘voice of doubt’ (diatribe) that we first encountered in Romans 3. Back in Romans 3 we saw that this voice was Jewish and here it would seem to be the same case. We especially see the Jewishness of this voice’s identity at the beginning of the next chapter where it talks of being free from the Law; a law that we, as physical Gentiles, of which we were never a part. The fact that Paul may be addressing the Jewish contingent in Rome should not make us think that he is not also addressing the gentiles, and by extension us.

  • Firstly, we have been grafted in as equals into the commonwealth of Israel.
  • Secondly and more importantly, the issues of this chapter are universal to all Christians of all backgrounds. We all struggle with sin.

So the Jewish mind is saying in effect, ‘when I take the necessity of the Law away, does this idea of grace not mean that we should commit more sin in order to get more grace?’ The Law which condemns sin is taken away and there is no condemnation for those acts. ‘Therefore, why should we not sin more to get more grace?’ Paul raises this question, not only to address objections that Jewish people would have raised, but also to reflect man’s heart, which seeks self-justification and to pin the blame on God. This attitude is already becoming apparent and will become even apparent in the next chapter and in Romans 9.

So what is Paul’s answer to this question? Should we throw out the Law that condemns unrighteousness and give way to sin or keep the Law and fight against sin? It is neither. Verse 2 tells us that grace does not excuse sin but grace rather signifies that we have died to sin. The point of grace is not to encourage sin but to deliver us. Grace does not merely deliver us from the consequence of sin but also from sin itself. Now if we are honest we can easily see the seductiveness and appeal of the argument made in verse one. There is something in the human being that strives to find a way of sinning and getting away with it. If people discovered a simple cure for AIDS (which would be much needed and would be a good thing in itself) do you think that the South African Health Authority would promote fidelity? Would promiscuity be on the rise? That is why we need to pay close attention to what Paul says. Grace is God’s free gift. It gets us off the hook so that we will not be punished for our sin; so that we will not die for our sin. The more we have sinned, the greater grace we receive to deal with that sin. That is the benefit of Grace, if you like, but it is not the main purpose of grace. The main purpose of grace is to restore our relationship with a God who hates sin and to deliver us from the dictates of sin through Jesus’ work on the cross. Verse 21 of the last chapter says that grace reigns through righteousness. This is the point of grace. Even though we blew it, we still have the opportunity to be counted and become righteous.

DYING TO SIN ONCE AND FOR ALL AND DYING DAILY

We have died to sin. That tense, according to Martin Lloyd Jones, is the aorist tense. This tense speaks of a once for all act never to be repeated, or in technical terms it is punctiliar. In Galatians 2: 20 Paul says that he had been crucified with Christ. Jesus’ death was our death. When He died we also died. And it was not only a death to sin but as verse 19 says, Paul also died to the Law. The Law no longer had mastery over Paul’s life but Christ did. This death came about through the Law itself. How did this death to the Law come about? It came about because the ultimate purpose of the Law was not simply to guide the Jew to live a life pleasing to God, though it surely did that, but it was to expose sin and to condemn it. Paul died through the Law because the Law condemned him, he was on death row. I once read a book called ‘Cry, the beloved Country’ by Alan Paton. In it a young man is found guilty of murdering another man. The fact that he did it out of fear did not matter. He had taken a weapon and the weapon was loaded. Therefore he was guilty and the sentence was death by hanging. As soon as the sentence was given, this young man was a dead man. He was still living and moving, he could write letters home and before he died he was able to have a feast of anything that he wanted to eat but he was on death row. He was a dead man walking. It was that case with us. We were dead men walking, under the sentence of condemnation. But the Law was also the school master to bring the Jew to Christ. The gentile nations had the law of God in their consciences and so, in a manner of speaking, even they had God’s law, though it was watered down. The law of God in the conscience was our tutor to bring us to Christ too. So it is only when we realize that we are on Death row, that we will look for salvation from the one who fulfilled the Law and gave Himself for us. Instead of us being hung for our crimes, Jesus was hung for us on a tree. When we got saved we became identified with Christ and we were born again of a spiritual birth. His death was our death so now we take His life. ‘I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I that live but Christ lives in me.’

We will look at the truth of continual dying at the end of Romans 7. As Paul says, ‘I die daily’. But can you see that when you and I got saved, it was because Jesus took our death and we took his life? His death was our death and so the life of sin has been done away with positionally. Now that is the objective truth. That is the truth when I feel it and when I do not feel it. It happened in time and history and nothing I do changes it. Therefore, Paul says it is completely illogical to continue in a life that we have died to. Imagine if you are a prisoner and someone comes and pays your bail. It does not make sense for you to stay in the jail. You died to sin, how can you continue in it? That is the objective truth. But the objective has to be experienced in a subjective way. And this is what Paul gives us in verses three and four.  Baptism is a subjective experience but it speaks of the reality that happened by faith when someone accepted the Lord. When someone accepts the Lord they have died. Baptism is spoken of as a burial.

Whether we like it or not, in the book of acts, people were baptized upon conversion. There is no evidence that baptism was postponed till people ‘were ready’. There is no problem with sitting down with someone to test their conversion and to see if they really have a saving faith. Nevertheless, if that person is truly converted they are ready for baptism. Baptism speaks physically of what has happened by faith, spiritually. It is the Christian who makes the baptism real and not the baptism that makes the Christian real. There is nothing in the book of Acts to suppose that this is an event where people invited relatives to come and see, though it may have been in public where the sources of water were. It was a matter of obedience. In Matthew 28: 18 – 20, Jesus commands that disciples be baptized. There are no ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’. The bible teaches us that if you are a Christian today you should have been baptized. The only condition to baptism is that we have a saving faith. As FF Bruce states in his commentary on Romans. “We may agree or disagree with Paul, but we must do him the justice of letting him hold and teach his own beliefs, and not distort his beliefs into conformity with what we should prefer him to have said. (This applies to many other subjects than Paul’s baptismal doctrine!)”

Paul says that through baptism we are identifying ourselves with Jesus’ death. We are buried with Him in baptism. It is not the baptism that is saving us. Peter explains it in 1 Peter 3: 21. Corresponding to Christ dying for sins once and for all, and corresponding to the salvation of Noah and his family in the ark, he says, baptism now saves you. Now lest we misunderstand this and think that baptism is a prerequisite to salvation he continues – not the removal of dirt from the flesh. The main issue of baptism is not the water. It is not the physical act but of what it symbolizes that counts. It is an appeal to God for a good conscience – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are baptized into Christ’s death, not trusting in baptism because that will never save anyone, but in baptism we appeal to God to clean our conscience. This is on the basis of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Not only this but Peter continues into verse 22 and says that Jesus is at the right hand of God. He is not only waiting for God to make His enemies a footstool for His feet but Hebrews 8: 1 ff also shows us that Jesus is there as our great high priest ever living to make intercession for us.

Let us get back to Romans 6. Now what has a clean conscience and Jesus’ intercession to do with the symbolism of baptism? We are not only identified with Jesus’ death but Baptism holds significance of something else. And it is a twofold significance. Verse 4 shows us the significance for this present time and verse 5 shows us the significance for the future. Verse 4 says that as Jesus was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. We appeal to God for a clean conscience based on the merits, goodness and the righteousness of Christ and what He did on the cross. Christ intercedes for us and God wipes the slate clean. Because the slate is wiped clean we may walk in newness of life without the stain of the past being counted against us. It is newness of life and not only a fresh start God offers us. As a pastor of mine once said, ‘Christ does not offer us a new start in life but a new life to start.’ This is not like a new year’s resolution that is made over and over again, but it is a brand new spiritual life. As Paul says in Romans 8, the Law could not do what Christ did. The Law, by itself, offers no power to the Jew to conquer sin, it simply tells him, ‘do not sin’. But grace enables a spiritual life to conquer sin.

But verse 5 shows us that baptism also speaks of our future hope. If we are identified with Christ in His death, then we will also share in His resurrection. This is reminiscent of a few other places in scripture where death and glory go together. In Philippians 3: 10 Paul prays that he may know the power of Jesus’ resurrection AND the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death. Suffering here is related to death. There are two crosses in Christianity. There is the cross of atonement, or the cross of justification. That is the cross that saves us and only Jesus could take that cross. No other cross brings salvation to us and there is nothing we can contribute to this cross. It is the source of the free gift of salvation. But there is also the cross of identification. This is the cross that we take, but not to get salvation. Rather, it is part of the package of salvation that we have received.

And as we have seen, this cross is experienced in a twofold way. Firstly as an event, as a one off act where we have been removed from the kingdom of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of light. This aspect is never to be repeated. It is the death to the life of sin and identity with the world. Our repentance primarily concerned a change in identity. We turned from our Adamic nature and received Christ’s nature, through the Holy Spirit. This is a past death. It is the entrance and we only go through the entrance once. Thus Paul in Romans 6: 2 says that we died to sin. But secondly we experience this cross daily. We daily take up our cross. This is not a death to the old life but rather to the resident sin that lives in our bodies. It is a continual dying to the flesh. We have already become dead to the world and the old life; that is past and has already happened. But we still carry about the body of death do we not? Thus Paul says that he died daily. The ‘once for all death’ marks the entrance. The continual dying daily is the path that leads to glory.

DEATH AND RESURRECTION

We cannot have resurrection without death. Jesus said if we deny Him before men, He will deny us before the Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:33) We need to be identified with Him in this life for Him to be identified with us in the next one. Again this is not a prerequisite to gain eternal life but is part of what we accepted when we received eternal life. But why do we have to take on board the suffering in order to get the blessings of Christ? Why do we have to endure some things that we do not want? The mindset of only taking the blessings but rejecting the suffering is the mindset of using the Lord and Master of creation as a means for our personal happiness. We press the right buttons and get what we want. But Christ wants us to know Him and for Him to know us. It is called fellowship. The word fellowship means sharing. If we will not endure the suffering and we decide to cop out, if we will only follow Him in times of blessing but not adversity, then we are not fully fellowshipping with Him. He means for us to share in all aspects of his sonship, both the positive and the negative. It puts a whole new spin on the words of Jesus when He said, many will come in that day and say, ‘Lord, Lord’ and He will say ‘Depart from Me, I never KNEW you.’ “I never fellowshipped with you, I never shared my life with you. You did not go my way, but you did whatever you felt like anyway. You were not identified with me. You were lawless.” This is not what grace is about.

THE BODY OF SIN

Verse 6. 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;

Who are we identified with? FF Bruce, speaking of this verse, argued that the term ‘body of sin’ does not refer to our own physical bodies. He argues that it speaks of ‘the body of sin’ as it says in the Greek, ‘to soma tis hamartia’, ‘THE body of sin.’ He claims that the term ‘The body of sin’ refers to the community of the human race in Adam. In other words, our old self was crucified with Him in order that the community of sin, the body of sin in Adam, might be done away with. ‘Being done away with’ means it is rendered ineffective or put out of action, because as verse 7 says, the one who has died is freed from sin. Paul makes a distinction between ‘the body of sin’ and ‘our old self’, or ‘our old man’. There is profit in recognizing that ‘the body of sin’ that is rendered ineffective is the community of humanity in Adam, because with Christ there is no middle ground. Just as Psalm 1 indicates, we are either in the camp of the godly who revere the Word of God, are immovable and bear the fruit of Christ or we are in the camp of the ungodly, listening to the advice of the ungodly and are spiritually empty. Here in Romans 6:6-7 we see that, because we have died with Christ and become identified with Him, we have ceased to be part of the world. Unbelievers are outsiders. They are not a part of us. They are different. They are outsiders; not in. But they are outsiders who we should desire to be converted. We should love them and pray for them, help them and share the truth with them but they are not a part of us. Paul calls them outsiders in 1 Thessalonians 4: 12 when he urges people, who are part of the Church, to work. God wants to destroy the body of sin without rejoicing in the death of the wicked. We should want to see God’s enemies killed, not by execution nor by the sword, and not in the Lake of fire, but killed in the same way as we died and became new creations.

CONSIDER YOURSELVES TO BE DEAD TO SIN

From verses 8 – 10 Paul sets forth Christ’s example in a slightly different way than he did in the previous verses. In the previous verses Paul states that our identification with Christ’s death has brought us into union with the new life in Christ, and with the Resurrection of Christ. In these verses, Paul argues that following the example of Christ’s death brings the benefit of sharing in the liberty that is in Christ, or the power He has wrought over death. Jesus died once for all, never to die again. So we too die once. This is a very complicated concept because, as we have said, we have died a death once, never to be repeated and yet we die daily. We will look at this paradox in Romans 8. But we experience salvation, by faith. Faith speaks of our future hope but experiences a foretaste of that future hope and treats it as something present. Death is no longer to be master over us. There is a paradox here. The scripture says that we have died to sin, and that death is no longer master over us. But when we look at the state of churches today, even of our own lives, we can see such a lack of evidence of this being the case. Now we can argue these scriptures away easily and state that they must mean something else. It is too impractical to believe this. But how does Paul deal with this? In verse 11 Paul says, consider yourselves to be dead to sin. This word ‘consider’ is ‘logizomai’ and it is the same word used of Abraham when it says that Abraham believed God and it was reckoned, ‘considered’ to him for righteousness. In other words analyze these truths and come to see yourself by faith in the same way that God sees you. God considered us righteous first and so, let us consider ourselves righteous too. It must be by faith. As Romans 1: 16 – 17 says,

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed FROM FAITH TO FAITH; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.””

Let the scripture fill you, meditate on these truths, and let the Holy Spirit work in you till you believe, till you stop fighting it and accept the Truth of what Paul is saying. It is then we will see the difference in our lives. In Christianity we do not separate ourselves in order to make ourselves separate. First God separates us and then He tells us that on the basis of what He has done, in history and by faith, to separate ourselves. In the world, when you go to university, you do the course, you sit the exam and then you get the certificate if you make the grade. God does it the opposite way round. God first gives you the certificate and then he makes you run the course and then He proves you. As Colossians 1: 12 says, “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” Read from verse 9 and you will see Paul is urging the readers to walk in a way that is worthy of the Lord. Do we believe that we have been made holy, that we are dead to sin? If we do then we may read Romans 6:12 – 14.

OVERCOMING SIN BY GRACE

I find these verses so realistic, so true to life and grasping them helpful. Verse 12 tells us that on the basis of everything that we have talked about ‘do not let sin reign in your mortal body’. Why do I find this realistic? Because it does not say that sin is not there or that sin does not try to take the upper hand in our lives, or even that we are to cast every trace of the flesh out of our bodies. This verse implies that sin has a very real presence in our lives. Verse 13 is even more realistic because it tells us that we are not to go on presenting the members of our bodies to sin as instruments of unrighteousness. I find this encouraging. Why? Because, by the use of the words ‘do not go on presenting’, Paul implies that in the past we have presented the members of our bodies to sin as their tools. But why is this encouraging? Apart from the fact that it portrays the reality of our lives in its commanding us to be holy, it also means that my past, even as a Christian, does not disqualify me from following Jesus. I, who have sinned even as a Christian, am commanded not to let sin reign in me and to stop living like a slave to sin. ‘Yeah you have sinned, and have done it habitually. I know that, I know what you have been like but do not go on doing it. Turn from your sins. Repent and serve God.’ Sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under Law but under Grace. To answer the Jewish objection, from verse 1: Dying to the Law does not promote sin in the life of the Jew and of the Gentile but actually it gives the power to overcome sin which the Law could never do because the Law never gives that newness of life in Christ. Grace does.

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One Comment
  1. Well done Sal on completing your studies. May you continue to grow by His grace and in His wisdom. May the Lord make the way level and smooth as you and Dianne share the gospel by your words and through your lives to His glory. xxx

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