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Msindisi #126

April 1, 2015

SALVADOR AND DIANNES MSINDISI MONTHLY

Number: 125          Mar 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

 

 

 

What a whirlwind of a month we experienced with the visit of Salvador’s parents. It was a huge blessing to have them but we kept them busy and are sure that they will be glad to be back in the UK to have a rest. Salvador’s parents, John and Amelia Hayworth, arrived in South Africa on the 4th of March and we stayed with some friends, Morne and Doret, in Boksburg. Morne was training for the South African iron man (triathlon) and we are pleased that he made it in 13 hours 26 minutes.

Salvador's parents arrive in South Africa

Salvador’s parents arrive in South Africa

At Morne and Doret's place.

At Morne and Doret’s place.

The next day we visited Alan and Sue Wells and all their kids (and young adults!) before heading off home to KwaZulu Natal. At Alan and Sue’s, Lizzie and Ernest gave a private concert for Salvador’s parents on the flute, recorders, violin and Ernest on the guitar. Lizzie has just gotten a job teaching some students at a local college and is going to study for a teacher’s diploma. So we were all blessed to enjoy their playing.

Lizzie and Ernest give private concert

Lizzie and Ernest give private concert

With Alan and Sue's kids.

With Alan and Sue’s kids.

It was John Hayworth’s birthday on Friday and at cell group we had a wonderful meeting. Previously we had gone out into the local area and witnessed to some people of KwaBhekephi. In the morning Salvador installed the shower that Alan Wells had shown Salvador how to put together, after he has assembled the relevant parts. The pressure is not great but that is what we need as it takes longer to get through the water. The shower is a pump shower and sits in a bin full of water. It is so nice to stand under running water instead of having a bucket bath, which we have used since 2009. On Saturday John and Amelia observed kid’s club as they were to teach it the following week. Di taught the children on Jesus’ teaching on building our house on the rock. In the afternoon we went to Hendrik and Belinda’s home so that Salvador’s parents could experience a real South African braai (which is like a BBQ but better – those who are from South Africa will know what I mean). It was John and Amelia’s first time eating Pap and they loved it.

Our New Shower!!!

Our New Shower!!!

Cell group at our place.

Cell group at our place.

Amelia at kids club while kids play.

Amelia at kids club while kids play.

Di doing washing.

Di doing washing.

Braai at Hendrik and Belinda.

Braai at Hendrik and Belinda.

On Sunday Phumlani taught at Church in English for the benefit of Salvador’s parents and Salvador interpreted into Zulu. It is easier for Salvador to interpret into Zulu than into English. Phumlani’s message concerned James 1 and the trials we go through, and the need we have for wisdom. On Sunday evening John spoke at Bethany Baptist Church on his time in the notorious cult, the Children of God, and how the Lord got him out. It was very moving and people remarked at the grace of God on each of our lives.

Ibandla Lendlela Eyodwa

Ibandla Lendlela Eyodwa

John gives his testimony at Bethany Baptist Church

John gives his testimony at Bethany Baptist Church

The following day we had arranged for a guide to take us round Hluhluwe-Mfolozi game reserve as a birthday present for John. That day they saw four of the big five. The last of them was a lion which was spotted on the last loop after Salvador and Di had prayed that God would be gracious to grant that for John. We saw an Elephant in the distance and when the guide, whose nickname was Hallelujah, made a growling noise a lion popped his head up and looked John in the eye. After getting him on camera, the lion made his exit.

White Rhino at Hluhluwe-Mfolozi

White Rhino at Hluhluwe-Mfolozi

Buffalo at Hluhluwe Mfolozi

Buffalo at Hluhluwe Mfolozi

Elephant at Hluhluwe Mfolozi

Elephant at Hluhluwe Mfolozi

Lion at Hluhluwe Mfolozi

Lion at Hluhluwe Mfolozi

On the Tuesday we visited various people in the local community, and in the afternoon Salvador’s dad taught the Zulu brethren at Alpha while Salvador interpreted for him into Zulu. On the following day we went to town where Salvador and Di taught kid’s club and John and Amelia taught the children a new song. In the afternoon we went to a crèche run by a lady called Arashni to be an encouragement to her.  In the evening we went to the prayer meeting and Bible study at Bethany Baptist Church. The following two days we went out to evangelise. At one home we were able to visit and share our testimonies and the gospel to those living there. The father of the homestead initially did not want us to enter but at the end he was all smiles and desired to have a bible. The problem was that he couldn’t read much, so Phumlani later took him an audio bible which was left from bibles acquired through the help of believers in New Zealand over a year ago. At cell group, at Girly’s house Salvador taught on having a zeal for God’s house.

Visiting Jostina Madide

Visiting Jostina Madide

Visiting Agnes Xulu the Mtshali family

Visiting Agnes Xulu the Mtshali family

Visiting Gogo at another Mtshali home

Visiting Gogo at another Mtshali home

Kids at Care Bear Creche

Kids at Care Bear Creche

John teaches the children a new song

John teaches the children a new song

Phumlani shares after John shared the Gospel.

Phumlani shares after John shared the Gospel.

A little crowd listening to the Gospel.

A little crowd listening to the Gospel.

On Saturday, Salvador’s dad taught kid’s club after which we headed down to Ballito to visit brethren there. Kevin and Michele Edwards kindly gave up their house for us and stayed with Kevin’s parents. Salvador preached on the Sunday at Coming King Ministries about Jesus being the one who breaks believers out from being under the jurisdiction of the Law of Moses. The wonderful news was that Di was able to pick up her visa on the following day, with no spelling mistakes and that means she is good to stay in South Africa till 2018. Salvador will need to make his visa renewal application at the beginning of next year. As well as taking some time to relax and enjoy the scenery, Salvador’s parents cooked a Portuguese style meal for Kevin and his family as a thank you for their hospitality.

Kids learning at Kids club

Kids learning at Kids club

John teaches kids club

John teaches kids club

Amelia at Kids club

Amelia at Kids club

Hanging out at Ballito

Hanging out at Ballito

Meal with Kevin and Michele Edwards

Meal with Kevin and Michele Edwards

On the way back from Ballito on the Wednesday, a precious sister in the Lord had provided for us to take Salvador’s parents to Shakaland. Shakaland is a tourist place that educates people concerning traditional Zulu culture including African dancing. The first dance demonstrated was the Zulu dance, and none other than Salvador and Di got roped into copying that Zulu dance in front of an audience of French tourists. On the following day, Salvador took his parents to Isandlwana, where the British Army lost against the Zulu impi under Cetshwayo (depicted in the film Zulu dawn). He then took them to Rorke’s Drift where 100 British soldiers later the same day held out against thousands of Zulu warrior led by Dabulumanzi (as depicted in the film Zulu, starring Michael Caine). As was said on that day “Her majesty does not like to lose twice in one day”.

Visiting Shakaland

Visiting Shakaland

Isandlwana

Isandlwana

The following day we went to visit people in the community one last time before going out to evangelise. We had finished witnessing at KwaBhekephi and were starting a new area called Ehlanzeni. That evening we had cell group at Johnny and Kim who also put a braai on for us. Salvador taught on Elisha and the healing of Naaman the Aramean.  The following day we left to go to Gauteng and on the way visited our good friend Veronica. Her and her husband have been praying for us since 2007. We thank the Lord for them and it was a wonderful time of fellowship with Veronica. Jozua, her husband was at work.

Cell group at Johnny and Kim

Cell group at Johnny and Kim

Leaving KwaZulu Natal

Leaving KwaZulu Natal

We stayed for the remainder of John and Amelia’s stay in South Africa at Morne and Doret’s home. On Sunday morning we visited the house church in Pretoria and John taught on the judgment seat of God. It was a wonderful time of sharing, fellowship and interaction. The brethren in Pretoria really demonstrate what it means to fellowship and sharpen one another in the faith and it is always a blessing to see them. It was also wonderful to see our friends, Riaan and Debbie Roux come to join the group for the day.

Meeting with the brethren at Pretoria

Meeting with the brethren at Pretoria

The next day, the day before they flew out, we took John and Amelia to the Lion Park where they were able to pet lion cubs, feed giraffes and see several different animals in various enclosures. Tuesday was the last day and in the morning we visited Vita Nova and played hymns and choruses for the guys, and Salvador’s parents played them a new song. Salvador shared concerning what it means to be born again. It is such a blessing to be with such special people and to minister to them. From sufferers of cerebral palsy, to autism and downs syndrome, many of these people are forgotten by most people in society. We thank the Lord for places like this that give such people a home and sense of community. www.vitanovacentre.co.za

Singing at Vita Nova

Singing at Vita Nova

The guys at Vita Nova

The guys at Vita Nova

In the afternoon it was a tearful time at the airport, having our last meal together. But we thank the Lord for His timing and believe that this visit was His will for this time. For the rest of the week Salvador has been working on a journal article he wants to submit for a theological journal. He has also been working on the final touches of a discipleship book in Zulu and it is now ready for printing. On Thursday we went to Pretoria to pick up Zulu tracts before heading home on Friday. In the Evening Mandla taught us at Cell on the way of Cain. At kid’s club Khethiwe taught the children on Lot and Sodom. Phumlani taught at Church on Sunday on James 3 and the tongue. It was an excellent message. On a side note, Celani has received some work from the local school and has been sewing pinafores for staff and students so it is so wonderful to see the sewing machines donated by our friend, Morag, coming into good use. A lady who has been attending meetings, Nomusa, has expressed her belief in the gospel and desire to follow the Lord and so we pray that the Lord will ground her in the faith and help her to grow.

Saying goodbye to parents

Saying goodbye to parents

Celani makes her pinafores

Celani makes her pinafores

This weekend we will be going to Ballito again to help Coming King Ministries with their Passover celebration. Salvador will be teaching there on Sunday Morning. In three weeks’ time we will be heading back up to Gauteng to see Bill and Kristin Randles who will be visiting the country. Salvador is researching ancestral traditions as part of a project to reach out to those across South Africa steeped in those traditions. Please pray for this project. More details will follow in the future. We are once again grateful and blessed by the support and love of God’s people. I, Salvador, just also want to show my appreciation for Di who has worked so hard this month in serving my parents as a true Zulu Makhoti. It is not always normal in western cultures but in Zulu culture the daughter in law generally serves the family of her husband, always in the background but working harder than everybody. In doing so Di could identify with other Makhotis and was a real blessing to everybody.

Shalom

Salvador and Di

Prayer Requests:

  • For Nomusa in her walk with the Lord
  • Tony and Maria from NTM
  • Evangelism of area
  • Phumulani and the fellowship
  • Publishing and other projects
  • For the Passover this Friday
  • For Bill and Kristin Randles’ visit to South Africa

EIGHT

 

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE LAW AND SIN

&

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SIN AND THE BELIEVER

                               

ROMANS 7: 7 – 25

The book of Romans can be split up into various sections.

  1. In Romans 1 and 2, aside from Paul’s greetings to them, we have his thesis of salvation. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for those who believe because the wrath of God has revealed against all ungodliness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Everybody is under this condemnation whether Jew or Gentile. This is despite the fact that the Jews are God’s chosen people and were given the Law.
  1. This naturally leads onto the Antithesis: ‘How can Paul say that the Law of Moses and the election of Israel are of no consequence in regards to salvation?’ In Romans 3 – 5 Paul submits his second proposition which is that God’s righteousness has been manifested without the Law. And this has been witnessed to by the Law and the prophets. He proves this first by repeating the fact that there is no one righteous any way. Secondly he shows us that the cross of Jesus Christ satisfies the wrath of God. Thirdly he proves it by showing the biblical example of Abraham. Though he was the father of the Jewish nation, he was justified by faith and not by works. Fourthly he proves it by showing that Christ is superior to Moses because Christ goes all the way back to Adam and undoes the mess that Adam created. The reason for the necessity of faith without works of the Law is that the Law makes sin increase but grace delivers from sin.
  1. The rebuttal to Paul’s proposition, that the Jew must come out from under the Law and come under grace, is three-fold. We see this in Romans 6 – 8. Paul deals with the relationship between sin, the Law of Moses and the law of Christ (grace). The more sin we have the more grace we get. Does that mean we should sin more? If grace gets us off the hook, is that not a good reason to live a life of sin? Does the fact that the Law makes sin increase, mean that the Law is sinful? And if the Law brings me death, then surely it is the fault of the Law that I die! Paul rejects this notion by putting the blame on man’s sinfulness and stating that the Law does not liberate but Christ does. That is what we will look at today. In the next chapter we will see Paul’s conclusion to this treatise, in that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. Also those in Christ Jesus have a future hope; a great assurance that they will be saved to the utmost.

VERSES 7 – 25:

THE LAW AND SIN

This message is a message that will relate to every one of us in a very specific way. This chapter deals with indwelling sin and sin is something that everyone struggles with. If we do not struggle with it then it probably means we are not trying to deal with it but are comfortable with the sin that is in our lives. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours. Paul was no exception. He had to deal with sin before he got saved, being under Moses. Paul had to deal with sin after he got saved, being under Christ. The whole of Romans 6 – 7 is based on chapter 5: 20 – 21.

20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

It is a fairly long answer. But it is comprehensive in order to silence the voice of doubt who would seek to put the blame on God, excuse man and find license to sin more. The reason the Law was brought in was to make sin increase, to make sin bigger. If that is what the Law does, does that not imply that the Law is sinful in itself? Apple trees produce apples, pear trees produce pears. Thus how can the Law produce sin? How does Paul deal with this? If Paul’s message is contradictory then the Jew would become perfectly satisfied in his righteousness being under Moses. He would discount Christ’s sacrifice as something that is unbiblical, illusionary and full of contradictions. Paul, through answering this rebuttal, reveals a twofold relationship to the power of sin; the relationship to sin under Moses and the relationship to sin under Christ. To keep things in perspective it would be wise to remember the two diagrams of righteousness and spiritual power that were drawn up in the last chapter.

Diagram # 1                            Diagram # 2

Righteous:                                           Power of Spirit:

Law of Moses &                                 Law of Christ

Law of Christ

__________________                        _________________

Unrighteous:                                       Power of Flesh:                      

            Law of Sin                                          Law of Moses

& Law of Sin

VERSES 7 – 12:

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE LAW AND SIN.

The voice of doubt brings up another objection; if the Law was introduced to make sin increase then is the Law itself sin? “On the contrary”: in other words quite the opposite. The Law is not sin but the Law reveals sin to us. Now you will notice in these verses that Paul speaks from his own experience in the past tense, i.e. before he got saved. He struggled with sin and how did he deal with sin?  Well he did not really deal with sin but instead he was forced to see the reality of sin in his life by the Law of Moses. But what effect did the Law of Moses have? It merely showed Paul his sin but did nothing to curb it. The Law educates us about what sin is. Think about when you learned to drive, you could not simply get into a car and drive. First you must do your theory test and then, under the tutelage of an instructor you did your practical test. The theory is there to educate you in knowing what acceptable driving practice is and what it is not. But knowing the theory does not mean that you are able to drive. If you pass the theory but fail the practical, you do not then say that the theory was all wrong. You cannot say of the law that it is unlawful. So it is with the law of God. On the contrary, quite the opposite of being sin, it actually tells you what sin is. Paul gives an example of how this works. Paul picks one of the commandments, ‘Thou shalt not covet’. Now why does Paul pick this commandment? Because it deals with the heart. This is the one commandment that bears similarity with the Sermon on the Mount.

The Mosaic covenant is a covenant of externals in many respects, in terms of worship and in terms of obedience. It is about the sacrifice of animals and the offering up of public prayer. It is about worshipping in the temple. But when Jesus came, He said that the time is coming and now is when we shall not worship at a certain mountain, meaning at a certain geographical location, but we will worship in spirit and in truth. Jesus brings a new order, a new garment and new wine. It is not about the external primarily but about a newness of life, it is a covenant of the heart. His law is written on the heart. In Exodus 20 Moses received God’s law from the mountain and brought it to the people saying ‘God spoke all these words’. However, Jesus takes His disciples up to the top of the mountain in Matthew 5 and says, ‘But I say to you’. He takes the Mosaic Law and the teachings of the elders and goes further to the heart of the issue. Moses said ‘do not murder’ but Jesus says, in effect, do not even think about killing anyone – do not have anger in your heart against your brother. Moses said ‘do not commit adultery’ but Christ said do not even lust after a woman. This is the very essence of the Mosaic covenant for even in the Mosaic Law God looks at the heart when He says ‘These people draw near to me with their lips but their heart is far away from me’. Thus Paul picks the one commandment out of the ten that deals with the problem of the heart.

IS THE LAW SIN?

So back to the original question, ‘Is the Law sin?’ No, quite the opposite it speaks against the same things as the law of Christ does. It speaks against the evil in the heart just like Jesus did. The Law teaches us what sin is so that we can identify it as evil. It is like the example we looked at of the driving law. If I break the speeding limit, does that make the law wrong? No the law is right and I am in the wrong. If I am driving in a 100kmph zone and that zone becomes a 70kmph zone but there is no sign to show the change in the speeding limit then I can claim ignorance. But once the sign comes up then I become culpable and guilty. So it is with the Law, the Law shows us what sin is so that we may become culpable for our sin. However, when it comes to the law of God, as manifest in the Mosaic covenant, it does not deter me from sinning but on the contrary it makes sin increase. If the Law is good how can it have such an effect on sin? Paul tells us how this can happen.

Verse 8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.

Have you ever tried to write a poem or to compose a song, or to write a letter or email? One thing that you need is information and ideas to allow creativity to perform its work. You cannot create in a vacuum. So then whether we have the Law or no law, sin exists in us and is active. Without the law of God we might not be that conscious of it. However when the Law comes in Sin looks at it and says, “Thou shalt not covet? Ohh that sounds like fun. I must try that out. And I can covet in this area and that area, there are so many possibilities.”

Sin takes opportunity through the commandment. That word for opportunity in the Greek is ‘aphorme’, which means to set up a base of operations for an attack. And sin uses this opportunity in a two-fold manner. Firstly sin uses the opportunity to produce sin in our heart. Coveting leads to every other sin. Coveting is like leaven and at the heart of it is pride. Coveting is a form of pride. “Why should they have that car, that house, that spouse, that opportunity in life, I am more suitable than that guy. His car would be looked after better with me, His house would look more presentable with me. His wife would be happier with me. His children would be happier with me.” But this leads on to the second thing.

Verse 11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

Sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived Paul and killed Paul. In Hebrews 3: 13 we read that we can get hardened by the deceitfulness of sin and this is a very real danger. The context is speaking about not following Israel’s example in the wilderness of putting God continually to the test. Why did they get to that point?

  1. They never really left Egypt. Though they left Egypt physically they still carried it in their hearts.
  1. They were ungrateful. This is the same thing that happened with the Pagan nations, our ancestors. They did not honour God nor give thanks but their foolish hearts became darkened and they turned to idols.
  1. They did not believe God despite all the miracles and the signs. Through deception sin hardened their hearts.

When Satan tempted Eve, he attacked the Word of God (Has God truly said…). And when he tempted Christ he tried to use the Word of God in one of the temptations. Sin takes opportunity through the commandment to deceive and then to bring forth death. How did Paul die here?

Galatians 2: 19. “19 For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.”

Paul says that when the commandment came he died. The commandment ‘coming to him’ must refer to him being personally convicted by it. It does not refer to the time where the commandment was given to Moses. This probably refers to Paul’s coming of age. Until a Jewish boy reaches 13 he is in a period of innocence. When he reaches the age of thirteen he undergoes his bar-mitzvah and that means he becomes a son of the commandment. Thus he became a man who was able to join with the men as students of the law. When the commandment ‘came’ to his heart, to his conscience, it killed him. Through the Law, Paul died to the Law. Why? Because the Law pronounced him guilty and sentenced him to death. He was on death row. But this death was a necessary evil. It was a good death because it made him aware of his need for a Saviour.

The worst spiritual death is when you think you are alive but you are not. It is when you think you know God but in fact you do not. What does it take to own up to the fact that we do not know God? It takes a willingness to go back to square 1 and relearn what it is to be a Christian. Deception and sin bring death but the Truth and obedience bring life. The Law did not help Paul know God in a relationship with Him. Rather, the opposite happened, through the Law he was enticed to sin more. Read this quote from Barnes.

“Such is the depth and obstinacy of sin in man, that the very attempt to restrain often only serves to exasperate, and to urge to greater deeds of wickedness. Restraint by law rouses the mad passions; urges to greater deeds of depravity; makes the sinner stubborn, obstinate, and more desperate. The very attempt to set up authority over him throws him into a posture of resistance, and makes him a party, and excites all the feelings of party rage. Any one may have witnessed this effect often on the mind of a wicked and obstinate child.”

Is this not true? That is why people say we should do away with law altogether. When you tell people they cannot do something they will go ahead and do it anyway. So should you tell them not to do it? That is the argument that people had in the UK about legalizing cannabis for recreational use. By legalizing it, less people will be breaking the law. But if people are told they cannot do it, they will be more inclined to take it. Look at children. When a parent tells his little child ‘No, do not touch’, the kid will often walk over to the forbidden item, hands outstretched all the while looking at the parent as if to say, ‘Look I’m touching, I’m touching!’ And that was Paul’s experience of being under the Mosaic Law. Therefore Law is not sin, but rather the Law of Moses is holy, righteous and good. It could be nothing but holy, righteous and good because it is a reflection of the character of God. The problem is that we are sinners by nature.

VERSES 13 – 25:

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SIN AND THE BELIEVER.

In this section Paul changes from speaking in the past tense to speaking of himself in the present tense. The context has seen Paul admitting that he was under the condemnation of the Law but never gave the remedy. I used to believe that this section where Paul speaks in the present spoke of his life as a believer. But Paul starts this section off with a question from that notorious voice of doubt. The question in verse 13 is based on the statement in verse 9, that through the Law sin became alive and Paul died. This does not mean that sin never existed before that time but that it became alive to him personally. This is why I no longer believe that Paul is primarily speaking of his life as a Christian because the question concerns the state of the person who is dead in sin. So even though Paul gives his answer in the present tense, the context concerns a person before they come to Christ. The voice of doubt is saying, in effect, ‘well if I die when I receive the commandment, then why not live without the commandment and stay alive?’ Therefore the reason I die is not because of my sin but it is the fault of the Law. Is this not what people say? ‘Why do you have to bring the Law into this? I was alright the way I was. I felt good about myself and then you had to spoil it all!’ This is what some preachers are saying. Robert Schuller says that making someone aware of their own sinfulness is unchristian, uncouth and is counterproductive to the evangelistic enterprise. Why do you have to bring the Law into it? May it never be! It is not the fault of the Law that we die.

Lev 18: 5. 5 So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the LORD.”

On the contrary, the Law promises life to those who keep it. The Mosaic Law promises life and the Messianic law promises life too. The Law is not the cause of death. If the Jew could only keep it, it would give him life. But the reality is that, like the rest of us, the Jew is sinful and therefore the Law will not have that effect. Rather the Law comes in and makes sin utterly sinful. That word ‘utterly’ is the Greek word ‘hyperbole’. The word hyperbole means to exaggerate something to make it look bigger. The Law scrutinizes sin and makes it more serious and, as such, makes it exceedingly sinful. As a matter of fact the absence of Law would not stop death because sin’s nature is to bring forth death. Just like in Romans 5: 14, death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of Adam. Go back to the driving analogy. There might be an area that warrants a 60kmph speed limit. Just because there is no speeding sign does not mean that I will not kill a child by exceeding 60kmph. Legally I might not be incriminated but I still cause a death. If a speed limit is imposed, I would be incriminated by breaking the law but it would make me aware so that I might do something about my driving. So the Law brings out the gravity of sin so that I might seek a remedy, an answer.

SLAVES TO SIN?

Paul is sold into bondage to sin. In Romans 7: 14 Paul does not present himself to sin but is sold against his will. The next verse gives the reason that he can say he is sold against his will. (i.e. he hates what he does). In verse 2 of the next chapter Paul reiterates the truth that we have been set free from the law of sin and death. In Judaism there was an understanding that Jews had two impulses. There was the yetser hara, the evil impulse, which Jews said began at conception. There was also the yetser hatov, the good impulse, that began at ones Bar Mitsvah. Jewish rabbis taught that the evil impulse was older than the good impulse by thirteen years and was therefore stronger. The good impulse was pictured as a prisoner in a castle run by the good impulse. A good Jew must therefore strengthen his good impulse by his obedience to the commandments that the good impulse may eventually overcome the evil impulse. This was the reality Paul experienced before he became a believer in Jesus. The reason that Paul writes this in the present tense is that we are told to walk in the Spirit, that we will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. Thus, if we do not actively walk in the Spirit, we will fulfil the lusts of the flesh. Though we have been positionally set free from sin’s service, it does not mean that sin is not a reality in an experiential sense. What Christian does not struggle with sin? God has set us free from sin and given us what we need to live godly lives. But we still experience sin’s hold on us. Paul does not brush aside our day to day experience and live in a fantasy world of total sanctification. He does not tell us he has arrived. I once heard a story of a lady that boasted that she had not sinned for so many years. When she was asked if she was proud about that, she replied, ‘Yes’. So pride and sin is a reality whether we recognize it or not.

So what are we to do? What is the difference between the Jew’s relationship with sin in the old covenant and the believer’s relationship with sin in the new covenant? This is what many people say in the world today. ‘Those Christians are no better than the rest of us!’ They do not even realize the full extent of the truth which they have uttered.

There are a few things that Paul tells us about himself.

  • Firstly, and most importantly, Paul hates the sin that he does. He hates it so much that it has become much like the experience of a drug addict. Since getting saved sin has taken on a life of its own. It is not that Paul is saying he does not do those things himself and is blameless. When the drug addict comes to hate his drug abuse, he knows he is to blame but he also claims that this is not him doing it because he hates doing it. So Paul knows what is good and acknowledges it but he cannot attain to it. Now John Macarthur has made a very important point concerning this passage. Paul is not dealing with a particular sin that he was struggling with, but he is speaking in reference to the whole law of God. Paul desired to keep the whole Law but found it impossible. The sin was not outside of him but inside him and yet he wished it was not that way. Sin is a nature, not merely the breaking of commandments.
  • Secondly, present within Paul is not only the law of sin and death but also the law of God. And it is with the law of God that Paul joyfully concurs. As a good Jew he delighted in the Law but the Law by itself could not help Paul overcome the evil impulse. The law of God is spiritual and the law of sin is fleshly. Man is tripartite. (He is made up of 3 parts). In the beginning, when God made man, he took dirt from the ground (body) breathed into him, the breathe of life (spiritual) and the man became a living being, soul. This is the best way of explaining the Trinity. God is one but he is three. We are one but we are three. We are made spiritually alive in Christ and God’s law is written on our hearts according to the new covenant of Jeremiah 31: 31. We joyfully concur with God’s law in the inner man. But our body we get from Adam and within that body resides a law of sin which is fleshy. And even though we are saved we still have that same body which has yet to be redeemed. Thus as long as we continue in this life we will always battle with the flesh.
  • So thirdly Paul shows that he is in a battle between the two laws.

Who will deliver Paul from this? Moses will not. Moses offers no power and sin thrives under Moses. What can Paul do? He can call out to Jesus. Jesus will deliver us from the body of this death when we get new bodies but Jesus can deliver us now, from day to day. May be we are caught up with some sin. You and I must learn to call out to Christ. Because here is the answer that Paul gives to this predicament. Verse 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with the mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with the flesh the law of sin. With my flesh I serve sin. My body craves satisfaction and indulgence. I cannot do anything about that. That is the way it is and I must accept that. But with my mind I serve the Lord. It is with my mind that I make the choices I make. Sometimes I may have terrible dreams, wicked dreams. I do not have control over that. I did not choose to dream that. I may crave certain illicit things, and I may feel powerless against it. But in my mind I serve the Lord. I may have these pulls and temptations and these dreams but I will never consent to go down that path and I choose not to give in. I might be powerless in the flesh but, thanks be to God, the answer is in Jesus. He is the power, He brings deliverance and I must learn to rely and call out to him. Where Moses keeps me in captivity, Jesus brings liberty and that is something worth praising God for.

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