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Msindisi Monthly #127

May 4, 2015

SALVADOR AND DIANNES MSINDISI MONTHLY

Number: 127          May 2015

 P. 

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

 

April started with a trip down to Ballito. We had been asked to help with a Passover event that Coming King Ministry had organised in a local café called the Waterberrry. The evening was on the Friday night, Leslie Crickmay and Salvador walked through the feast teaching through the symbolic meanings pointing towards Christ and salvation, and Jesus’ return. The event had been incredibly well organised by Judy Balcombe a member of CKM with over 90 people attending. Members from the church were involved with readings, prayers, dance, setting up sound equipment, floral art displays for the tables and many other activities. It was a huge effort by all and the evening went very well. On the Sunday of that weekend Sal preached at CKM in their morning service. His message was on Jesus the Nazarene and what Matthew 2:23 means. We are so thankful for everyone who opens their homes for us to stay while we are down your way. We also are so blessed sharing time, meals and coffee with you and getting to know you all even better. There is a real sense of Family in the Fellowship.

Hagaddah for the Coming King Ministries' passover.

Hagaddah for the Coming King Ministries’ passover.

Les

Some of the people attending Passover

Some of the people attending Passover

Di with Les' Crickmay's wife, Angie, on the left and Judy Balcombe on the right.

Di with Les’ Crickmay’s wife, Angie, on the left and Judy Balcombe on the right.

We returned from Ballito with gifts of clothes parcel, to give out in the community, on the Tuesday evening.On arriving home we had a week before we were heading off again to Joberg for a conference with Bill Randles and David Nathan at “Bread of Life”. So that week we did the usual routine of evangelising, cell group, kids club, haircuts, teaching at Carebear crèche, discipling. On the Thursday we drove through the evening and arrived to stay with Allen, Sue and family.

Kid's club gathers for the lesson

Kid’s club gathers for the lesson

Phumlani preaching the gospel in Esihlenzeni.

Phumlani preaching the gospel in Esihlenzeni.

The conference started on the Friday evening with Bill sharing from Matthew 25 and the 10 virgins. This was the start of a wonderful weekend of teaching. It was lovely seeing Bill and Kristin again we were so grateful for the time we could share with them and were encouraged by the word. All the teaching from the conference is available from David Nathan at Moriel or you can visit “Bread of Life” at http://www.bolm.co.za/ . Thank you again for all those who put so much effort into making this conference possible. We brought teaching back with us so those from the cell group and others who could not get to the conference would also get the chance to hear the word. While at the conference we were so blessed to catch a meal with Alan Mackenzie from Port Elizabeth on the Sunday afternoon. We don’t get to see Alan and Brenda (sadly we missed Brenda this time) very often so it was a special time, we were grateful for the opportunity.

Bill Randles speaks with Sue and some of the children.

Bill Randles speaks with Sue and some of the children.

Before heading home we stayed 2 nights with our friends Riaan and Debbie Roux. On the first night we had a wonderful study of the word around the Millennium. This went through to midnight but all were blessed. Riaan and Debbie’s daughter, Bianca and Bianca’s husband Bram are now proud parents to their first child, Esther. The next day Sal went and did the final corrections on the NTM firm foundations which is now translated and completed in Zulu. We are VERY excited by this. He also got to interview another believer for a DVD project he is doing on Ancestors and contacting the dead.

Bianca's sister, Naomi, holding little Esther.

Bianca’s sister, Naomi, holding little Esther.

On returning to KZN we had cell group by us, Phumlani was teaching on “How do we know God is with us” a very good teaching reminding us that it is written in the word.

After kids club on Saturday, we attended a Zulu wedding of the daughter of Jostina. We didn’t go for the whole ceremony. What happened at this wedding is they did the Zulu traditional ceremony first and then they did the white wedding afterwards. A wedding can take all day and all evening. When they started calling the ancestors we left.

Lots of people attending the Zulu Wedding.

Lots of people attending the Zulu Wedding.

The men at the Zulu wedding waiting to come into the homestead

The men at the Zulu wedding waiting to come into the homestead

Traditional Zulu dress for women.

Traditional Zulu dress for women.

This month we also got to visit Nkandla where the home of President Jacob Zuma (South Africa) is located. Sal had made contact with a Zulu pastor called Alpheus Mpungose who had been a Sangoma (Medium/witchdoctor) before he gave his life to the Lord. It was a lovely visit and we learnt more information that we had not been aware of concerning the Zulu understanding of ancestral spirits and some of the rituals that are performed.

Salvador with Alpheus Mphungose and his family.

Salvador with Alpheus Mphungose and his family.

This month Sal was able to complete his first draft on the book on Israel and the church. Hopefully there will be more news to follow at the end of the year or the beginning of next year. We also visited Victory Primary here in Vryheid for a day of singing with the kids, this will now become a monthly visit.

Di teaches about the book of Esther at Care Bear Creche.

Di teaches about the book of Esther at Care Bear Creche.

Mkhulu grew this pineapple in his home garden.

Mkhulu grew this pineapple in his home garden.

Thanks again for all your support and prayer we lean on the Lord daily. He is our strength and shield. With all our traveling and the people we have met our hearts desire is to encourage you all with the admonition to stay close to the Lord and stay in His word for the days are getting darker and darker.

We need HIM

Please pray for :

The people who were at the Passover and heard the gospel

Pray of Thanks giving for the oppurunity to hear the word from Bill and David

The DVD project

Kids club and the teachers, Celani, Khethwie, Di

Shalom

Salvador and Di

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.

NINE

 

THE SECURE, SOUND HOPE OF THE GOSPEL

ROMANS 8

From Romans 1 – 7, Paul has been expounding his understanding of salvation; that the Jew cannot be made right before a holy God through observing the Law of Moses. He can only be made right by faith in Jesus and in what Jesus did on the cross. This is good news for us Gentiles because we were never included in the Mosaic Law in the first place. In Christ, however, we are equals with the believing Jews, being part of a higher law. In Romans 8 Paul is bringing a conclusion to the first 7 chapters. Now there are a couple of things I want to remind us about from previous chapters.

THE MYSTERY OF GODLINESS REVISED

One is the mystery of godliness. This, I feel, is beneficial for us to remember because in this chapter we will be dealing with the area of our adoption as sons. What is the mystery of godliness?

1 Tim 3: 16. “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.”

Jesus never took His own vindication, He never righted His own wrongs but submitted Himself to the will of the Father, therefore, God exalted Him. God initiates and we respond in faith. If we comprehend this, we can comprehend the Christian life and God becomes very real. This is hard for us to walk in because it means that we must wait on God for when He decides it is the right time to answer our prayers. This means that we have an attitude of being God’s servants. That is the first thing I want to remind us of.

A LOOK AT THE MESSIANIC JEWISH COMMUNITIES

The second aspect is the aspect of the Messianic Jewish community. There were two main messianic sects within early Christianity. There was the orthodox one and the heretical one. It seems that by the time of the early church fathers both groups had become heretical. But it is also likely that, like today’s denominations, these messianic Jewish communities were a mixed bag. But the orthodox group were the group that Paul belonged to in Acts 24: 5, the Nazarenes. This group believed Jesus was God and man, that Jesus was the Messiah and the fullness of everything that the Law spoke of. They practiced all the Jewish feasts and still went into the Temple, but they did not compel the Gentiles to do so, recognizing that these things did not secure or bring salvation. In this sect Gentiles and Jews lived together equally in the Messiah.

The other Messianic sect within the early Church was called the Ebionites, which comes from the word “Ebyown”, meaning poor or destitute. They believed that Jesus was Messiah and, it is claimed, they only accepted the Gospel according to Matthew, rejecting Paul’s teachings. Does this sound familiar? But they did not believe that Jesus was the son of God. Jewish readers would have had many questions. Why does Christ supersede the Law? Is this biblical? What about the Jews that do not accept Jesus as their Messiah? What about those who trust in their obedience to the Mosaic Law? I am going to deal with this chapter in four points. From verses 1 – 4 we will look at the fact that there is no condemnation. From verses 5 – 13 we will look at being led by the Spirit as opposed to being led by the flesh. From verses 14 – 25 we will look at our future hope of adoption and lastly from verses 26 – 39 we will look at our assurance in Christ.

VERSES 1 4:

THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION.

‘Therefore’ is a word that summarizes what has gone before. In this case it is concluding the whole of the preceding 7 chapters. This goes back to Romans 1: 16 – 18. 16 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 to the Greek. 17 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.

The wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. The answer to this problem is not Moses. But rather it is the Gospel that is the power of God to salvation. The reason for this is because in the Gospel, as I believe from faith to faith, I go through a process where God’s righteousness is increasingly revealed to me. In Romans 7, Paul thanked God that Jesus set him free from the body of this death, and in his mind, he was then able to serve the Lord. Therefore there is no condemnation. There is no sentence hanging over us. We are free and free on two plains.

FREE FROM SIN AND ITS PUNISHMENT

We are free from sin. Though we still have a body of sin and we get tempted (though our flesh may crave illicit desires) we are given the ability, if we walk in the spirit, to say no. But we are also free from the eternal consequence of our sins. We are no more counted guilty. How does God forgive us? God cannot forgive us purely on the basis of our penitence and saying that we are sorry. This is the problem with much of contemporary Gospel preaching. They are told that if they only say sorry and try to stop sinning, God will forgive them; this is a tragedy. If I rob a bank I will have to go before the magistrate and what will happen to me? I will have to be sentenced for my crime. But what if I turn round and say, ‘yes, I did it. I am guilty but I am really sorry’. Will that get me off Scott free? I may get a leaner sentence but I will still be sentenced. Sorry does not change anything. I have still broken the Law. We need to get a handle on this for ourselves and our Gospel preaching. God cannot simply let us off the hook, because He is a good God who does not pervert the course of justice. He does not take a bribe. It needed a sacrifice. Someone had to pay the price for our sin. If the cross is not at the centre of our gospel, then we do not have the Gospel. If the cross is not presented as the answer to forgiveness then we have neither the answer nor forgiveness.

The Law was weak in this regard. It was feeble, impotent, it carried no power and it was weak through the flesh. Remember the two diagrams that we drew concerning the Law of Moses, the law of Christ and the law of sin and death.

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

Both diagrams have a horizontal line. When it comes to righteousness, both the Law of Moses and the law of Christ are above the line and the law of sin and death is below the line being unrighteous. But when it comes to spiritual power, only the law of Christ is above the line. Though the Law of Moses is spiritual, it grants us no spiritual power. So it can only be kept in the power of the flesh. It is powerless, weak, sickly and diseased through the flesh. That is why the Ebionites, and those Jews who still trusted in Moses, had to realize that they needed a law that superseded the Law of Moses. They needed to be under the greater law rather than the Law of Moses. Maybe this is the reason as to why Paul said in Romans 1 that he wanted to preach the Gospel to the Christians in Rome. Possibly within the church in Rome, there could have been some who shared the same beliefs as the Ebionites confusing the believers. What is Paul telling those people who boasted in their attempt to fulfill the Law? ‘You do not fulfill it, we do!’ The requirement of the Law is fulfilled in us. How can that be when we, as believers, still sin, if we do not keep Shabbat or the Day of Atonement and when we do not circumcise our baby boys?

  • Firstly because Jesus is the fullness of the Law. When we have Jesus we have the fullness of the Law.
  • Secondly, verse four tells us that it is fulfilled for those who walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. What does the Law expect the Jew to do? It requires him to uphold righteousness through external means. Christ goes further and allows us to uphold righteousness through an internal change of heart. It is the requirement of the Law that is fulfilled in us.

VERSES 5 13:

BEING LED BY THE SPIRIT AND NOT BY THE FLESH.

The first four verses dealt with our justification and escape from the righteous sentence of God that was on our heads. This section deals with the Christian life, or sanctification if you like. Paul brings a distinction between those of the flesh and those of the Spirit. The bible is full of these distinctions; the righteous and the unrighteous; the saved and the unsaved. There is no middle ground. We are in one camp or the other camp. And how can we tell the difference between those of the flesh and those of the Spirit? Paul tells us in verse 5.

5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

The word for ‘mind’ in Greek is the word, ‘Phroneo’. It means to exercise, i.e. entertain or have sentiment or opinion. By implication it also means to be mentally disposed, to interest oneself in (with concern or obedience), to set the affection on. Those who are of the Spirit set their minds on the Spirit. Their disposition is to entertain the things of the Spirit rather than the things of the world. This is not a natural disposition. Note here it says that they set their minds on the Spirit. This is not a nature but an act. As we saw in the last chapter, in the flesh we are slaves to sin but in the mind we serve the law of the Lord. Remember what Psalm 1 says, ‘Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the Law of the Lord and on His Law he meditates day and night.’ His affection is set on the spiritual things but this is an act of the will. It is not done for us; it is something we must exercise. But those who are of the flesh are not so. Their minds are set on the flesh. Now if our experience tends to the latter, the answer is not in simply changing our minds, though that is something important. Remember that having our minds changed is not the principle thing here. The principle thing is always verse 3.

3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,

The principle thing is always the Cross of Jesus. We must start from there and our act of setting our mind on the Spirit is a response to the work of Christ that God has done for us. Paul shows us this in verses 11 and 12.

11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. 12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh –

Paul says that on the basis of the Holy Spirit living in us, and on the basis of the promise that, just as Christ was raised from the dead, so we will be raised too. On the basis of that we are under obligation not to walk according to the flesh. Why? Because there are consequences to the path that we walk down. Verse 6 says there is death or life? These are the destinations of the two paths. We cannot walk down a path of lawlessness and end up with life. We cannot walk down the path of the Spirit and end up with death. We need a spiritual life to live, a newness of life and notice that this is something that you cannot do. John 3 shows us that this is completely a work of the Holy Spirit.

How does a person get the Spirit? You cannot simply ‘get the Spirit’. In fact Romans does not tell us how we get ourselves born again; that is God’s work. What it does tell us about is the glory of the new covenant and Christ’s sacrifice. It tells us that we need to believe and trust in that sacrifice. It also gives us the promise that if we believe with the heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, and if we confess with our mouths the Lord Jesus, we WILL be saved. If we enter into this salvation, if we accept the biblical account of the Gospel, then Christ births us into the Kingdom on the basis of faith.

John 1: 12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name:”

 

As Peter said, ‘Repent and be baptized and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ And if Christ’s Spirit lives in you then you belong to Him, so implies verse 9 of Romans 8. Is it any wonder why Paul says that the Gospel itself is the power of God to salvation for those who believe? This is because it is ministered to us by the Holy Spirit of God who lives in us. This same Spirit also raised Jesus from the dead.

VERSES 14 25:

OUR FUTURE HOPE

The first section dealt with justification; the second dealt with sanctification; but this section deals with glorification. If you look at this section it tells us that we are children of God and yet, at the same time, we are still waiting to receive the sonship. It tells us that we have been saved and yet Peter in 1 Peter 1: 5 & 9 tells us that we are still awaiting the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. We are still obtaining the salvation of our souls. How can you have something and, then in the same breath, still be waiting to receive it? Are we saved or are we still waiting to be saved? There are two extremes of thought on this. There is the Roman Catholic error, which says you can never truly say that you are definitely saved. That is the sin of presumption. That is why my friend’s grandmother lives in fear because no one will be doing Mass cards for her when she dies. She does not know how long she must ‘supposedly’ stay in purgatory. The second error is when we say that we are totally saved now and therefore we have it all in the bag. Thus we do not move on in the Christian walk. One heresy says that, because we are in salvation and God has done it all, then we can claim all the blessings and benefits of salvation now. This would include total healing and in another stream of Christianity, total sanctification. We will deal with healing shortly but the truth lies elsewhere outside these two errors. The truth is that we truly have salvation now, and yet we still are awaiting it too. This seems like a contradiction in terms. It makes no logical sense to us. Yet it is perfectly logical and makes perfect sense when you introduce 3 certain spiritual ingredients. Hebrews 6: 11 – 12.

11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

The ingredients are hope, faith and patience. To realize the full assurance of hope until the end means that you have an assurance of salvation but that assurance needs to be realized. It is like when you have a plan to do something. That plan may be a reality in your mind. But for it to become an experiential reality, you have to execute certain activities to cause it to become an outward observable reality. Now when we receive salvation it is similar yet different to this situation. It is similar in the fact that what we receive has yet to be realized. But it is different in the fact that the reality in the mind is not a certain thing. It may happen or it may not happen. Who knows? That is why you have to work on probability with these ventures. But that is not the way with salvation. Salvation is not about probability but about certainty.

Turn back to Romans 8: 24 & 25.

24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”

SAVED AND YET STILL NEEDING SALVATION

We have been saved; that is past and that is fact. Yet it is in hope that we have been saved. Hope does not speak of something past but of something future. The word in Greek is ‘Elpis’ and it means a confident expectation of something that will come to pass. These verses teach us that we do not have it all here and now. We have not yet received the sonship. If we did have it all here and now then we would not need hope, because as verse 25 says, who hopes for what he sees? We do not see it all here and now. People tell us, ‘So you believe in heaven, where is it? All you believe in is pie in the sky when you die but where is it?’ In hope we have been saved. We cannot see it but it is certain and will happen. By grace you are saved, through faith. Faith is the key here. Hebrews 11: 1 & 2 say that faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Faith takes what is there as future fact and brings it into our present day experience. Faith is something we grow in and so Paul said in Romans 1: 16 – 17, that the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. It is not a stagnant thing; it is a living thing. As Paul also says, the Just shall LIVE by faith. Faith is based on God’s word and is staking your whole life on what God has said. It is so certain that we will be completely saved to the utmost if we are in Christ, thus we are saved. So if we are still waiting to receive the sonship, what right do we have to call ourselves children of God in the here and now?

Verse 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,

The Holy Spirit, who lives in us, testifies that we are children of God. The Holy Spirit is the One who makes our faith a reality in itself and our hope is not vain. This is because the Holy Spirit is God almighty. He is the ‘I AM’ as much as the Father and the Son are. In the beginning ‘He is I AM’, He now is I AM and in the end ‘He is I AM’. The Spirit is eternal and not bound to the limits of time. He knows us now and, in the same measure, He also knows what we are when we are glorified. He is there in the future just as much as He is here in the present. He ministers to us the reality of what we shall be. We are dealing with something that we cannot grasp with our finite minds. How can someone that is outside time relate to us who are trapped by time? God sees the finished product but we do not and therefore we have to travel the journey to reach the destination of realised salvation. When we look at salvation by faith we are looking at it from an eternal perspective. When we look at the salvation yet to come, we are looking at it from a perspective of time. And this journey that we travel includes certain things.

As verse 17 shows, the journey includes suffering. But this is suffering in a specific context. It is suffering with Christ. Jesus suffered in His death for sin, and through His persecution for righteousness. But our journey also includes enduring a fallen world and fallen bodies. It includes living with sickness, though God does heal. These people that say that you do not have to suffer, you are a ‘King’s kid’, forget some things. Though they are right that the Atonement includes healing, (Jesus carried our infirmities), they are wrong to say that this means we can always claim healing in the here and now.

  • Firstly they forget the servant mentality that we looked at in the introduction, which is Godliness. We are sons by faith but experientially we are yet to receive the sonship.
  • Secondly, they forget that we live in a fallen world. Verse 20 – 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. God’s purposes go beyond saving our souls but God wants to redeem the physical world too. God is concerned about the redemption of creation. But the world was subjected to entropy, futility, so that God would set it free at a later time. The pinnacle of the creation was man and the pinnacle of redeemed creation will be redeemed man. That is God’s ecological program to save the whales and to stop the destruction of the planet. He saves the world by saving men. We are not oblivious to this corruption though we are saved. In fact, healing is certain but it will come when Jesus returns. Verse 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. We are still waiting for the redemption of our body. Any healing we receive is only a temporal foretaste of glory and nothing more.

VERSES 26 39:

ASSURANCE

 

I do not want to delve too much into this section. Rather I want to use this section as a conclusion to Romans 8. This is always a question when we talk about the fact that salvation is yet future. ‘Well where is the assurance in that?’ The assurance can only lie in God Himself. I got into a conversation with someone at a former workplace in the UK. He asked me where my assurance of salvation was, if I believe that I am able to walk away from the Lord. I told him that my assurance is not in a doctrine that I can never fall away, nor in a doctrine that I have to keep myself saved, but my assurance lies in a person. That person is the person of Jesus Christ. It is not my STAYING in Him that assures me, but it is staying in HIM. Do you see the difference? Paul seeks to give us that assurance of salvation before he moves on.

  • Firstly from verses 26 – 27 we have the assurance of the intercession of the Holy Spirit. We are weak, sick, feeble and we do not know how to pray as we should. Quite often we do not come to God in a way that He deserves. But we have the Spirit who pleads our case and speaks in groans too deep for words. This is not a reference to speaking in tongues. Tongues are simply the ability to speak in another language, other than your own, by the aid of the Holy Spirit. The phrase too deep for words means that the groans cannot be uttered. We utter words with the languages that we speak in, but these groans cannot even be uttered in words. What is this about? Verse 27 says that the Spirit searches our hearts. He knows exactly what we are and what we are asking for even when we do not. He knows our hearts’ desires better than we ever could. And the Spirit intercedes for us, filling the gap that we have made with our weakness.
  • But secondly there is the assurance of God’s eternal nature. As we have said, God is the ‘I AM’. He is not subject to the limitations of time. As such, verse 29 says, those He foreknew He predestined.

FOREKNOWLEDGE AND PREDESTINATION

This foreknowing does not mean that God saw in advance those who would accept Him and who would reject Him as if he was on the outside looking in. This ‘foreknowing’ is not referring to God looking forward in time and picking out those who He would want to save. This is knowledge in terms of a relationship. In other words, God knew you before the foundation of the world. This is because God is not trapped by the limitations of time. So God was in relationship to us before the creation of the world because He was here today before the creation of the world. Remember this does not necessarily mean that God chose some people to heaven and hell arbitrarily. The predestination is based on the foreknowing and not the foreknowing on the predestination. What we are dealing with is a mystery of God’s purposes for His people. Predestination means that God limited those people in advance for a purpose. Predestination is never spoken of in the New Testament in terms of obtaining salvation. God does not predestine us to be saved. Rather predestination is spoken of as being unto sonship, co heirs and brethren with Christ. Test me on this and look up the word predestine and all the scriptures it refers too. But surely is not sonship itself salvation? No it is not. God could have saved us merely to be servants.

A life as a servant of God is much more than the terrors of hell. But God’s purposes are greater than servitude. He wants to elevate us to being sons of God. We are sons now by faith but we will completely receive the sonship when Jesus returns. There is no choice in this regard. If you are saved, if you are in Christ, God has already determined before the beginning of time that you would be made into a son of God. And on the basis of that predestination comes God’s call to salvation and on the basis of that call comes justification, and on the basis of that justification comes the sanctification. How can we marry this to our temporal experience? We cannot comprehend it but God’s eternal nature should give us assurance that what He has purposed will come to pass. Nothing can separate us from God’s love.

Verse 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The love of God resides in Christ Jesus. If you and I are in Christ Jesus what God has decreed cannot fail to come to pass. We have this assurance because the Spirit in us testifies to us. And we can trust God because of His eternal nature. The way to remain assured is to remain in Jesus. Abide in Him and you will bear much fruit. And if you abide in Him, nothing can pluck you out of His hand.

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