The Sinful Nature (Romans 7)

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We have been talking a lot about sin lately. I hope you don’t let this letter make you feel terrible about yourself.  That isn’t the point here. Paul is seeking to help us understand what sin is, and how terrible it is. Once we have that understanding, we can fully understand what God did for us through Jesus Christ. They honestly did an amazing thing, but without the context, we really have no understanding why getting rid of sin is necessary.

Paul brings up an interesting point. “I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway” (7:18-19 NLT). Paul is speaking to the inner battle that exists for all people, not just Christians. However, as Christians, it is more obvious to us. Our minds and hearts are set on God, and what He wants from us. We all know these things, follow the Ten Commandments, live like Jesus, etc., but it is hard for us. Why? Because our bodies have a sinful nature, and are only interested it what it wants, not what God wants.

WARNING!!!!!!!!!!!!! I feel that I have to warn you that this post is about to get really personal, so if you know me in person and don’t want to know something deeply personal and embarrassing, please skip down.

The best example I can think of with this came from my own life, and sadly the same way many men’s lives are. In my teen years, I discovered the power of pornography. It became a large problem for me, but I had no idea how big a problem it was until I found Christ. It was such a problem, I still struggle with it today. It is only with God’s help that I am able to overcome that temptation, but it is still a struggle everyday. I could blame it on the world, with it’s sex crazed advertisement style, or television/movies when there is excessive nudity, but in all honesty the problem is me and my body. My mind knows that my sexual needs are to be fulfilled from my wife and no one else, but my body eats away at my fortitude to get me to fall away from God’s direction in my life.

OKAY!!!!!!!! It’s safe to read again!

I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that sin is powerful. Our bodies long for it simply because it knows what it wants. It is impatient to wait for God, or simply doesn’t want to follow His way. So I encourage you to pray about what troubles your mind and body. Paul states, “there is a power within me that is at war with my mind. This power make me a slave to the sin that is still within me” (7:23 NLT). God can give you the strength to overcome the thoughts and actions that plague us, and can help us to become more pure and holy. There is a war happening within us, and we cannot win without God. It has taken me a lot of hard work and prayer to get where I am. I still struggle today, and I may never fully overcome myself, but I know God is there to help me. And He is willing to help you too. All you have to do is pray and ask for His help.

Previous Chapters

One Man Can Change The World (Romans 5)

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In today’s chapter, Paul continues connecting the Old Testament with the New. Yesterday, he told us that we are all made righteous by faith, the same way Abraham was in Genesis 12. Today Paul goes further back in history. In the beginning, God made Adam, the first man, father of us all. God gave Adam the simple instruction not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve was deceived, and then lead Adam to disobey God. This was the first sin, and by committing the first sin, sin entered the world and has plagued humanity ever since.

Paul then shows us Christ. Through Jesus, salvation and life was able to enter this world that was full of sin and death. Paul says, “Because on person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because on other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous” (5:19 NLT). Paul is really making clear to us that we simply have to have faith in Jesus, and that he is the only way, for our salvation from sin and death.

So where does that lead you and me? We know how we are supposed to live. But just like Eve who was deceived by a snake, we have our own snakes to fight. They are powerful. Even a quick 15 second advertisement, or a billboard along the road, can trip us up. But Jesus gives us the power to overcome sin, especially those things that are really attractive to us.  I’m reminded of the lyrics from Kari Jobe’s song Savior’s Here:

“You have saved us
You have won
Sin is broken
Death is gone
Freedom’s found us
Breakthrough’s near
In your presence
No more Fear
Our savior’s here
Our savior’s here”

It’s true what she says, sin has been broken and death is gone. Christ did that for you and for me. People like to say that one person cannot change the world, but I think of Christ. He is one man that not only changed the world, he saved all of Creation! So celebrate today. You have been saved from the death you deserve, by your faith in, and the death of, Jesus Christ!

Here is that Kari Jobe song for you to take a listen too.

 

Previous Chapters

Righteousness of Abraham (Romans 4)

Abraham in The Bible miniseries
Abraham in The Bible miniseries

Something I think most of us have trouble with is bridging a connection between the Old and New Testaments. We find it pretty easy, as Christians, to connect with Jesus, Peter, Paul, and the rest of the New Testament, but the Old just seems a little irrelevant. I, however, disagree with that thought. The Old Testament is what gives us the frame of reference for why Jesus is important.

I think that in this chapter, Paul does a very good job “bridging the gap”. In the previous chapters, he began to roll out his argument that all you have to do for salvation is have faith. This concept was obviously a little hard for the ancient Hebrews, and Gentiles, to understand. So Paul made a case for the main figure in the Jewish faith.

Paul spoke of Abraham, the father of the entire Israelite nation. Abraham was the man that God came to in Genesis 12, and made him a promise based on his faith and righteousness. Paul states, “Well, we have been saying that Abraham was counted as righteous by God because of his faith. But how did this happen? Was he counted as righteous only after he was circumcised, or was it before he was circumcised? Clearly, God accepted Abraham before he was circumcised!” (4:9b-10 NLT).

The circumcision issue being raised here, I’m sure comes from some of the debate going on with the Roman church. Many times Paul has had to combat the issues of being bound by the Law while also accepting Christ. One of the points being made was that Gentile Christians had to become circumcised because that was part of the Law. But Paul disagrees. His statement is, once again, that faith is what is necessary for salvation, not Law. He speaks of Abraham because he is one of the highest people in the Jewish faith. He wasn’t circumcised, but God counted his faith to him as righteousness. Not because he was following the Law (which hadn’t been written yet) but because He believed in God and in His promises.

So where’s the connection? It is through our faith in Jesus. “So the promise [given to Abraham] is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe.” (4:16 NLT).

For us today, this means that we still get to be recipients of God’s promises because of our belief in Jesus Christ. His sacrifice opened the door to us Gentiles, and allowed us to have salvation as well. People still come up to us and say that we are doing the wrong thing, or we need to be doing something else. But honestly, so long as we have our faith in Jesus we get to be counted among Abraham’s children as the People of God!

Previous Chapters

Faith Against Law (Romans 3)

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One of the main topics Paul discusses throughout his letter to the Romans is about the Law. This Law is not only made up of the Ten Commandments, but in total contains 613 different laws that every Jew was to obey. This law was upheld by the Pharisees, and was a constant theological battleground for Jesus. After the founding of the Church, Gentile Christians were constantly told by Jewish Christians that they must adhere to the Law of Moses (aka the Pharisees’ laws). This is so wide spread that Paul talks about it in many of his letters to other churches. But in Romans it is most certainly a main topic.

In the previous chapter Paul spoke about the law, and how God is the only judge. In this chapter Paul raises his argument against those that say Christians must follow the old Law. Paul’s response is that we must have faith, it is faith that saves us. He will go on to talk about it in later chapters, so we will stick with Romans 3 today. This chapter contains one of the most important verse in the Bible, and is a center point of our faith, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” (3:23-24 NLT).

The point that Jesus was trying to make during his ministry is that God is loving, and the Law is what condemns us. When we put our faith in the Law, and do our best to keep it, we will die. But Christ paid the penalty of our sins for us, so that we may have life. So Paul’s point becomes that the Law kills us, but putting our faith in Jesus, we live. Paul finishes this chapter with the statement, “only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law” (3:31 NLT).

So I ask the question, is it better to have faith in Jesus, or be worried about living a good and perfect life? To be honest friends, I’d take faith any day of the week! Jesus is the only person to have lived a sinless life, and he is the only one capable of such a feat. So why try? However, we should still strive to do what God has asked of us. It is impossible for us to be perfect, we are imperfect, broken creatures that have an enormously sinful nature. Our sinful nature is something we cannot overcome. Fight it as much as we can, we will still sin.

But thank God for grace! Grace is what allows you and I to be saved and forgiven, despite our sins. However, this doesn’t give us the freedom to sin as we please. By our faith in Christ, we are changed to be compelled not to sin. The problem arises when people forget that it is in our very nature to sin, we can’t help it, and God knows it.

So where are we at today, friends? You and I have all sinned. We continue to sin, despite our urge to not sin because of our fallen nature. But as we grow in our faith, and get closer in our relationship with God, we start to sin less and less. It will never stop, but we do get better at not sinning. So don’t lose hope. Just because you fall doesn’t make you a bad Christian. It simply makes you human, and God loves you anyway.

Be God’s Light to the World (Romans 2)

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Today’s chapter of Romans 2, continues on with what we were saying yesterday. Here Paul again quotes an Old Testament prophet, “The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you” (Isaiah 52:5, Romans 2:24 NLT). Yesterday we discussed holding the world to a different standard than it holds itself to, but today Paul is showing that we can be the cause from people to turn against God.

God is the judge of sin, not man (2:2). However, Paul writes “Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things” (2:3 NLT). This doesn’t mean you can only judge someone if you don’t commit the same sin they do. Rather, God only sees sin as sin. Unlike us, God does not view it as lying, stealing, murdering, cheating, etc (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Instead, for Him, it is sin and is all equally just as bad. So if you sin, you cannot judge others of sin.

But as Christians, we are to be the light of the world. I believe that we should live our lives according to the Will of God. Which means, to me, that we may give our opinions of sin when asked. We can’t stand on our soapbox and tell the world everything they have done wrong, because honestly, I’ve done it too (and so have you!). However, we can pray for them, even if our opinion isn’t asked of us. You never know, God could give you a whole knew way to interact with these people that is beneficial for the both of you. When Christians get on a soapbox, people turn away and get a bad opinion of God. Which leads us right back to 2:24.

So keep yourselves focused on what is right. Live according to the Bible and the Will of God. Keep your opinions of other people actions between you and God. When you are asked, give the opinion God would. The point is not to tell people what they do is wrong. The point is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the message of a God who love you and me!

Live by Faith (Romans 1)

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Well friends, it’s been a few days since I’ve done this but I’ve decided to do another book study! I’ve decided this time to cover the Book of Romans. Just like we did with Mark, I will do a chapter a day provided nothing comes up in the mean time. So let’s jump into this letter to find out about what God has to say for us.

Let me start by saying, Romans is probably my favorite book of the Bible. It was the last letter that Paul wrote, and is one of his prison letters (meaning he wrote it while in prison). He wrote it to a church that He hadn’t founded, but had the urge to visit (1:13). The Roman church didn’t just sit in the middle of a sin infested city, it was the middle of the whole world; everyone and everything either was apart of  or knew of the Roman Empire. Paul was excited for this church because they had the ability to spread the gospel throughout the world, because they were placed in Rome. However, we quickly see what the problem of the church is. He sets it up through he thesis for his letter, which is a quote from Habakkuk 2, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life” (Romans 1:17, Habakkuk 2:4 NLT).

It’s the truth isn’t it? Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one come to the Father but through me” (John 14:6 NASB) and “the gateway to life is very narrow” (Matthew 7:14 NLT). So what Jesus is saying is the same that Paul and the prophet Habakkuk both say, belief in Jesus is the way to life. The problem that the Roman church had, and what many of us have today, is that we think there are multiple things we still have to do other than have faith. As we will see, Paul shows that the old Jewish Law is dead because of Christ saving death. That’s it friends. Have faith.

So if it’s that simple, how come we get caught up in telling people they have to do this, this, and this, but we don’t mention Jesus one bit. I think our focus, as a Church, has shifted. We have accepted Jesus, we know the world knows about him, so naturally we feel that the world needs to be reminded how to live a Christian life. That’s all well and good, but we don’t live in a Christian world. Largely, Christ is fought, and mostly it’s because Christians have been finger pointing so long that we are viewed as judgmental. We get confused on what it means to hate the sin. It’s true, as Christians we are to hate what God hates, and love what God loves. But God only hates one thing, sin. That means we have to hate sin. Sin is not a person, it is a person’s actions. Sin is something you do, not what you are. And since we love what God loves, we get to love the sinner, despite what they do.

The other side is true as well. The world teaches us that the only way to love others, is to support everything they do. And if you don’t, then you must hate them. Rick Warren said it best, “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

So where does that leave Christians? We’re stuck. We have to stand against sin. We have to love people. We have to share Jesus. We have to live by faith. We want the people we know and love to get to experience the life given to us by our faith. But largely, they are against the idea of Christ. My suggestion, we live like we are supposed to. We follow God, and seek after His heart. When our friends and family ask what the secret is, then we tell them about God and Jesus. This is the only way we can share our faith and help other get life, by example. Because as much as this world believes it’s alive, it has no idea that it is just a valley of dry bones. God can bring this world back to life (Ezekiel 37), but in order for Him to provide, we must have faith that He will.