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Empowered

                                             Empowered

 (Romans 8:26-27 ;                                             July 15 2012

Ephesians 5:17-21;6:18)                     

 

         Paul now looks ahead. One day creation itself will be renewed, even as we are being renewed . Meanwhile the Spirit helps us in our weakness, praying with and for us . It’s our relationship with God that brings us victory, for He has chosen us not to muddle on in the pit of sin but to be transformed into the image of His Son . On the way God will never forsake us, nor even permit us to be charged with sin . We are God’s loved ones. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ our Lord .

 

         1.Their assistance from the Spirit in prayer. (Romans 8:26, 27)      

 

         Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession  for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

 

         Though the infirmities of Christians are many and great, so that they would be overpowered if left to themselves, yet the Holy Spirit supports them. The Spirit, as an enlightening Spirit, teaches us what to pray for; as a sanctifying Spirit, works and stirs up praying graces; as a comforting Spirit, silences our fears, and helps us over all discouragements. The Holy Spirit is the spring of all desires toward God, which are often more than words can utter. The Spirit who searches the hearts, can perceive the mind and will of the spirit, the renewed mind, and advocates his cause. The Spirit makes intercession to God, and the enemy prevails not.

 

         2.Directions to a contrary behaviour, and to relative duties.

(Ephesians 5:17-21)      

 

         Ephesians 5:17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of  God.

 

         Another remedy against sin, is care, or caution, it being impossible else to maintain purity of heart and life. Time is a talent given us by God, and it is misspent and lost when not employed according to his design. If we have lost our time heretofore, we must double our diligence for the future. Of that time which thousands on a dying bed would gladly redeem at the price of the whole world, how little do men think, and to what trifles they daily sacrifice it! People are very apt to complain of bad times; it were well if that stirred them more to redeem time. Be not unwise. Ignorance of our duty, and neglect of our souls, show the greatest folly. Drunkenness is a sin that never goes alone, but carries men into other evils; it is a sin very provoking to God. The drunkard holds out to his family and to the world the sad spectacle of a sinner hardened beyond what is common, and hastening to perdition. When afflicted or weary, let us not seek to raise our spirits by strong drink, which is hateful and hurtful, and only ends in making sorrows more felt. But by fervent prayer let us seek to be filled with the Spirit, and to avoid whatever may grieve our gracious Comforter. All God’s people have reason to sing for joy. Though we are not always singing, we should be always giving thanks; we should never want disposition for this duty, as we never want matter for it, through the whole course of our lives. Always, even in trials and afflictions, and for all things; being satisfied of their loving intent, and good tendency. God keeps believers from sinning against him, and engages them to submit one to another in all he has commanded, to promote his glory, and to fulfil their duties to each other.

 

         3. All Christians are to put on spiritual armour against the enemies of their souls. (Ephesians 6:10-18)      

 

10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who  is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

15 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

 

         Spiritual strength and courage are needed for our spiritual warfare and suffering. Those who would prove themselves to have true grace, must aim at all grace; and put on the whole armour of God, which he prepares and bestows. The Christian armour is made to be worn; and there is no putting off our armour till we have done our warfare, and finished our course. The combat is not against human enemies, nor against our own corrupt nature only; we have to do with an enemy who has a thousand ways of beguiling unstable souls. The devils assault us in the things that belong to our souls, and labour to deface the heavenly image in our hearts. We must resolve by God’s grace, not to yield to Satan. Resist him, and he will flee. If we give way, he will get ground. If we distrust either our cause, or our Leader, or our armour, we give him advantage. The different parts of the armour of heavy-armed soldiers, who had to sustain the fiercest assaults of the enemy, are here described. There is none for the back; nothing to defend those who turn back in the Christian warfare. Truth, or sincerity, is the girdle. This girds on all the other pieces of our armour, and is first mentioned. There can be no religion without sincerity. The righteousness of Christ, imputed to us, is a breastplate against the arrows of Divine wrath. The righteousness of Christ implanted in us, fortifies the heart against the attacks of Satan. Resolution must be as greaves, or armour to our legs; and to stand their ground or to march forward in rugged paths, the feet must be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Motives to obedience, amidst trials, must be drawn from a clear knowledge of the gospel. Faith is all in all in an hour of temptation. Faith, as relying on unseen objects, receiving Christ and the benefits of redemption, and so deriving grace from him, is like a shield, a defence every way. The devil is the wicked one. Violent temptations, by which the soul is set on fire of hell, are darts Satan shoots at us. Also, hard thoughts of God, and as to ourselves. Faith applying the word of God and the grace of Christ, quenches the darts of temptation. Salvation must be our helmet. A good hope of salvation, a Scriptural expectation of victory, will purify the soul, and keep it from being defiled by Satan. To the Christian armed for defense in battle, the apostle recommends only one weapon of attack; but it is enough, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. It subdues and mortifies evil desires and blasphemous thoughts as they rise within; and answers unbelief and error as they assault from without. A single text, well understood, and rightly applied, at once destroys a temptation or an objection, and subdues the most formidable adversary. Prayer must fasten all the other parts of our Christian armour. There are other duties of religion, and of our stations in the world, but we must keep up times of prayer. Though set and solemn prayer may not be seasonable when other duties are to be done, yet short pious prayers darted out, always are so. We must use holy thoughts in our ordinary course. A vain heart will be vain in prayer. We must pray with all kinds of prayer, public, private, and secret; social and solitary; solemn and sudden: with all the parts of prayer; confession of sin, petition for mercy, and thanksgiving for favours received. And we must do it by the grace of God the Holy Spirit, in dependence on, and according to, his teaching. We must preserve in particular requests, notwithstanding discouragements. We must pray, not for ourselves only, but for all saints. Our enemies are mighty, and we are without strength, but our Redeemer is almighty, and in the power of his mighty we may overcome. Wherefore we must stir up ourselves. Have not we, when God has called, often neglected to answer? Let us think upon these things, and continue our prayers with patience.

Summary

As Christ’s body on earth, we are to imitate God, for Christ incarnates Himself in us . To represent God here on earth we must decisively reject every kind of immorality and impurity . It is our transformation from darkness to light that reveals God and so we must be very careful to live in the light .

Paul then explores three sets of relationships and defines how to live as children of light in each. First, he establishes an overarching principle: We are all to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ . In marriage this means that husbands take the role of Christ and put their wives first, thus freeing the wife to submit to a husband she knows she can trust . In the family this means children are urged to obey parents, but parents are not to “exasperate” children by harsh, unfair treatment . In households with slaves, slaves are to give sincere obedience to their masters, while masters treat their slaves with consideration and respect .

Paul concludes with a creative summary of the teaching of Ephesians. He pictures our spiritual resources as elements of the panoply of a heavily armed Roman foot soldier. Equipped with all God has provided, we are well able to win the spiritual battles we must fight . Paul concludes with a request for prayer and well wishes .

 

Victorious

 

July  8 2012          Victorious (Romans 7:20-8:9)

 

         We may observe in this chapter, I. Our freedom from the law further urged as an argument to press upon us sanctification II. The excellency and usefulness of the law asserted and proved from the apostle’s own experience, notwithstanding . III. A description of the conflict between grace and corruption in the heart .

 

         1. The spiritual conflicts between corruption and grace in a               believer. (Romans 7:20-25)      

 

         Romans .7:20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

 

         This passage does not represent the apostle as one that walked after the flesh, but as one that had it greatly at heart, not to walk so. And if there are those who abuse this passage, as they also do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction, yet serious Christians find cause to bless God for having thus provided for their support and comfort. We are not, because of the abuse of such as are blinded by their own lusts, to find fault with the scripture, or any just and well warranted interpretation of it. And no man who is not engaged in this conflict, can clearly understand the meaning of these words, or rightly judge concerning this painful conflict, which led the apostle to bemoan himself as a wretched man, constrained to what he abhorred. He could not deliver himself; and this made him the more fervently thank God for the way of salvation revealed through Jesus Christ, which promised him, in the end, deliverance from this enemy. So then, says he, I myself, with my mind, my prevailing judgement, affections, and purposes, as a regenerate man, by Divine grace, serve and obey the law of God; but with the flesh, the carnal nature, the remains of depravity, I serve the law of sin, which wars against the law of my mind. Not serving it so as to live in it, or to allow it, but as unable to free himself from it, even in his very best state, and needing to look for help and deliverance out of himself. It is evident that he thanks God for Christ, as our deliverer, as our atonement and righteousness in himself, and not because of any holiness wrought in us. He knew of no such salvation, and disowned any such title to it. He was willing to act in all points agreeable to the law, in his mind and conscience, but was hindered by indwelling sin, and never attained the perfection the law requires. What can be deliverance for a man always sinful, but the free grace of God, as offered in Christ Jesus? The power of Divine grace, and of the Holy Spirit, could root out sin from our hearts even in this life, if Divine wisdom had not otherwise thought fit. But it is suffered, that Christians might constantly feel, and understand thoroughly, the wretched state from which Divine grace saves them; might be kept from trusting in themselves; and might ever hold all their consolation and hope, from the rich and free grace of God in Christ.

 

2.The freedom of believers from condemnation.   (Romans 8:1-9)      

 

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

 

Believers may be chastened of the Lord, but will not be condemned with the world. By their union with Christ through faith, they are thus secured. What is the principle of their walk; the flesh or the Spirit, the old or the new nature, corruption or grace? For which of these do we make provision, by which are we governed? The unrenewed will is unable to keep any commandment fully. And the law, besides outward duties, requires inward obedience. God showed abhorrence of sin by the sufferings of his Son in the flesh, that the believer’s person might be pardoned and justified. Thus satisfaction was made to Divine justice, and the way of salvation opened for the sinner. By the Spirit the law of love is written upon the heart, and though the righteousness of the law is not fulfilled by us, yet, blessed be God, it is fulfilled in us; there is that in all true believers, which answers the intention of the law. The favour of God, the welfare of the soul, the concerns of eternity, are the things of the Spirit, which those that are after the Spirit do mind. Which way do our thoughts move with most pleasure? Which way go our plans and contrivances? Are we most wise for the world, or for our souls? Those that live in pleasure are dead, 1 Timothy 5:6 . A sanctified soul is a living soul; and that life is peace. The carnal mind is not only an enemy to God, but enmity itself. The carnal man may, by the power of Divine grace, be made subject to the law of God, but the carnal mind never can; that must be broken and driven out. We may know our real state and character by inquiring whether we have the Spirit of God and Christ, or not, vs. 9. Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Having the Spirit of Christ, means having a turn of mind in some degree like the mind that was in Christ Jesus, and is to be shown by a life and conversation suitable to his precepts and example.

 

Summary:

 

The apostle, having fully explained the doctrine of justification, and pressed the necessity of sanctification, in this chapter applies himself to the consolation of the Lord’s people. Ministers are helpers of the joy of the saints. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,” so runs our commission, Isa. 40:1 . It is the will of God that his people should be a comforted people. And we have here such a draught of the gospel charter, such a display of the unspeakable privileges of true believers, as may furnish us with abundant matter for joy and peace in believing, that by all these immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation. Many of the people of God have, accordingly, found this chapter a well-spring of comfort to their souls, living and dying, and have sucked and been satisfied from these breasts of consolation, and with joy drawn water out of these wells of salvation.

 

 

I Celebrate You

 

                                    I Celebrate You

            Psalm 92                                             March 18 2012

            God’s actions stimulate us to praise and convince us that the wicked will perish and the righteous be rewarded . (A Song for the Sabbath day.)

            1.Praise is the business of the sabbath. (Psalms 92:1-6) 

         Psalms 92:1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord,  And to sing praises to Your name, O Most  High; 2 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, And Your faithfulness every  night, 3 On an instrument of ten strings, On the lute,  And on the harp, With harmonious  sound. 4 For You, Lord, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands. 5 O Lord, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep. 6 A senseless man does not know, Nor does a fool understand this.

It is a privilege that we are admitted to praise the Lord, and hope to be accepted in the morning, and every night; not only on sabbath days, but every day; not only in public, but in private, and in our families. Let us give thanks every morning for the mercies of the night, and every night for the mercies of the day; going out, and coming in, let us bless God. As He makes us glad, through the works of his providence for us, and of his grace in us, and both through the great work of redemption, let us hence be encouraged. As there are many who know not the designs of Providence, nor care to know them, those who through grace do so, have the more reason to be thankful. And if distant views of the great Deliverer so animated believers of old, how should we abound in love and praise!

            2.The wicked shall perish, but God’s people shall be exalted.

               (Psalms 92:7-15)      

 

         Psalms 92;7 When the wicked spring up like grass, And when all the workers of iniquity flourish,  It is that they may be  destroyed forever 8 But You, Lord, are on high forevermore. 9 For behold, Your enemies, O Lord, For behold, Your enemies shall perish; All the workers of iniquity shall be scattered. 10 But my horn You have exalted like a wild ox; I have been anointed with fresh oil. 11 My eye also has seen my desire on my enemies; My ears hear my desire on the wicked ,Who rise up against me. 12 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 Those who are planted in the house of the Lord Shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing, 15 To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

            God sometimes grants prosperity to wicked men in displeasure; yet they flourish but for a moment. Let us seek for ourselves the salvation and grace of the gospel, that being daily anointed by the Holy Spirit, we may behold and share the Redeemer’s glory. It is from his grace, by his word and Spirit, that believers receive all the virtue that keeps them alive, and makes them fruitful. Other trees, when old, leave off bearing, but in God’s trees the strength of grace does not fail with the strength of nature. The last days of the saints are sometimes their best days, and their last work their best work: perseverance is sure evidence of sincerity. And may every sabbath, while it shows forth the Divine faithfulness, find our souls resting more and more upon the Lord our righteousness.

Summary:

         It is a groundless opinion of some of the Jewish writers (who are usually free of their conjectures) that this psalm was penned and sung by Adam in innocency, on the first sabbath. It is inconsistent with the psalm itself, which speaks of the workers of iniquity, when as yet sin had not entered. It is probable that it was penned by David, and, being calculated for the sabbath day, I. Praise, the business of the sabbath, is here recommended . II. God’s works, which gave occasion for the sabbath, are here celebrated as great and unsearchable in general . In particular, with reference to the works both of providence and redemption, the psalmist sings unto God both of mercy and judgment, the ruin of sinners and the joy of saints, three times counterchanged. 1. The wicked shall perish , but God is eternal . 2. God’s enemies shall be cut off, but David shall be exalted . 3. David’s enemies shall be confounded , but all the righteous shall be fruitful and flourishing . In singing this psalm we must take pleasure in giving to God the glory due to his name, and triumph in his works.

A psalm or song for the sabbath day.

 

 

Can You Be Counted On?

                                    Can You Be Counted On?

Romans13:1-14                        Nov. 6 2011

 

There are three good lessons taught us in this chapter, where the apostle enlarges more upon his precepts than he had done in the foregoing chapter, finding them more needful to be fully pressed. I. A lesson of subjection to lawful authority . II. A lesson of justice and love to our brethren . III. A lesson of sobriety and godliness in ourselves to the end.

 

1.The duty of subjection to governors. (Romans 13:1-7)  

 

Romans 13:1 Let every individual be obedient to those who rule over him; for no one is a ruler except by God’s permission, and our present rulers have had their rank and power assigned to them by Him. 2 Therefore the man who rebels against his ruler is resisting God’s will; and those who thus resist will bring punishment upon themselves. 3 For judges and magistrates are to be feared not by right-doers but by wrong-doers. You desire—do you not?—to have no reason to fear your ruler. Well, do the thing that is right, and then he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant for your benefit. But if you do what is wrong, be afraid. He does not wear the sword to no purpose: he is God’s servant—an administrator to inflict punishment upon evil-doers. 5 We must obey therefore, not only in order to escape punishment, but also for conscience’ sake.

6 Why, this is really the reason you pay taxes; for tax-gatherers are ministers of God, devoting their energies to this very work. 7 Pay promptly to all men what is due to them: taxes to those to whom taxes are due, toll to those to whom toll is due, respect to those to whom respect is due, honor to those to whom honor is due

    

The grace of the gospel teaches us submission and quiet, where pride and the carnal mind only see causes for murmuring and discontent. Whatever the persons in authority over us themselves may be, yet the just power they have, must be submitted to and obeyed. In the general course of human affairs, rulers are not a terror to honest, quiet, and good subjects, but to evil-doers. Such is the power of sin and corruption, that many will be kept back from crimes only by the fear of punishment. Thou hast the benefit of the government, therefore do what thou canst to preserve it, and nothing to disturb it. This directs private persons to behave quietly and peaceably where God has set them, 1 Timothy 2:1 , 2 . Christians must not use any trick or fraud. All smuggling, dealing in contraband goods, withholding or evading duties, is rebellion against the express command of God. Thus honest neighbours are robbed, who will have to pay the more; and the crimes of smugglers, and others who join with them, are abetted. It is painful that some professors of the gospel should countenance such dishonest practices. The lesson here taught it becomes all Christians to learn and practise, that the godly in the land will always be found the quiet and the peaceable in the land, whatever others are.

 

2. Exhortations to mutual love. (Romans 13: 8-10) 

 

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to any one except mutual love; for he who loves his fellowman has satisfied the demands of Law. 9 For the precepts, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” “Thou shalt do no murder,” “Thou shalt not steal,” “Thou shalt not covet,” and all other precepts, are summed up in this one command, “Thou shalt love thy fellow man as much as thou lovest thyself.” 10 Love avoids doing any wrong to one’s fell man, and is therefore complete obedience to Law.   

  

Christians must avoid useless expense, and be careful not to contract any debts they have not the power to discharge. They are also to stand aloof from all venturesome speculations and rash engagements, and whatever may expose them to the danger of not rendering to all their due. Do not keep in any one’s debt. Give every one his own. Do not spend that on yourselves, which you owe to others. But many who are very sensible of the trouble, think little of the sin, of being in debt. Love to others includes all the duties of the second table. The last five of the ten commandments are all summed up in this royal law, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; with the same sincerity that thou lovest thyself, though not in the same measure and degree. He that loves his neighbour as himself, will desire the welfare of his neighbour. On this is built that golden rule, of doing as we would be done by. Love is a living, active principle of obedience to the whole law. Let us not only avoid injuries to the persons, connexions, property, and characters of men; but do no kind or degree of evil to any man, and study to be useful in every station of life.

 

3.To temperance and sobriety. (Romans 13:11-14) 

 

Romans11 Carry out these injunctions because you know the critical period at which we are living, and that it is now high time, to rouse yourselves from sleep; for salvation is now nearer to us than when we first became believers. 12 The night is far advanced, and day is about to dawn. We must therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness, and clothe ourselves with the armor of Light. 13 Living as we do in broad daylight, let us conduct ourselves becomingly, not indulging in revelry and drunkenness, nor in lust and debauchery, nor in quarrelling and jealousy. 14 On the contrary, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for gratifying your earthly cravings.   

  

Four things are here taught, as a Christian’s directory for his day’s work. When to awake; Now; and to awake out of the sleep of carnal security, sloth, and negligence; out of the sleep of spiritual death, and out of the sleep of spiritual deadness. Considering the time; a busy time; a perilous time. Also the salvation nigh at hand. Let us mind our way, and mend our pace, we are nearer our journey’s end. Also to make ourselves ready. The night is far spent, the day is at hand; therefore it is time to dress ourselves. Observe what we must put off; clothes worn in the night. Cast off the sinful works of darkness. Observe what we must put on; how we should dress our souls. Put on the armour of light. A Christian must reckon himself undressed, if unarmed. The graces of the Spirit are this armour, to secure the soul from Satan’s temptations, and the assaults of this present evil world. Put on Christ; that includes all. Put on righteousness of Christ, for justification. Put on the Spirit and grace of Christ, for sanctification. The Lord Jesus Christ must be put on as Lord to rule you as Jesus to save you; and in both, as Christ anointed and appointed by the Father to this ruling, saving work. And how to walk. When we are up and ready, we are not to sit still, but to appear abroad; let us walk. Christianity teaches us how to walk so as to please God, who ever sees us. Walk honestly as in the day; avoiding the works of darkness. Where there are riot and drunkenness, there usually are chambering and wantonness, and strife and envy. Solomon puts these all together, Proverbs 23:29-35 . See what provision to make. Our great care must be to provide for our souls: but must we take no care about our bodies? Yes; but two things are forbidden. Perplexing ourselves with anxious, encumbering care; and indulging ourselves in irregular desires. Natural wants are to be answered, but evil appetites must be checked and denied. To ask meat for our necessities, is our duty, we are taught to pray for daily bread; but to ask meat for our lusts, is provoking God, Psalms 78:18 .

 

Summary

Living out God’s “by-faith righteousness’’ affects our relationships with other believers (Rom. 12 ). It also affects our relationship with the secular state and all our fellow human beings (Rom. 13 ). Christians must submit to governing authorities by obeying their rulers, paying taxes, and following established laws (Romans 13:1-14). Authorities are in fact God’s (often unwitting!) servants, and our submission is a mark of respect for God . Christians must also show love to their fellow human beings . In fact all the commandments are rooted in love: each calls us to avoid that which might harm a neighbor and so living love will in practice fulfill God’s Law . This obligation is urgent, for history rushes toward its end and we must clothe ourselves with Christ rather than gratify the desires of our sinful nature .

It’s All About Victory

It’s All About Victory

Romans7:1-25                         Oct.9 2011

 

We may observe in this chapter, I. Our freedom from the law further urged as an argument to press upon us sanctification . II. The excellency and usefulness of the law asserted and proved from the apostle’s own experience, notwithstanding . III. A description of the conflict between grace and corruption in the heart (to the end).

 

1. Believers are united to Christ, that they may bring forth fruit unto God.

(Romans 7:1-6)      

Romans 7:1 Brethren, do you not know—for I am writing to people acquainted with the Law—that it is during our lifetime that we are subject to the Law? 2 A wife, for instance, whose husband is living is bound to him by the Law; but if her husband dies the law that bound her to him has now no hold over her. 3 This accounts for the fact that if during her husband’s life she lives with another man, she will be stigmatized as an adulteress; but that if her husband is dead she is no longer under the old prohibition, and even though she marries again, she is not an adulteress. 4 So, my brethren, to you also the Law died through the incarnation of Christ, that you might be wedded to Another, namely to Him who rose from the dead in order that we might yield fruit to God. 5 For whilst we were under the thraldom of our earthly natures, sinful passions—made sinful by the Law—were always being aroused to action in our bodily faculties that they might yield fruit to death. 6 But seeing that we have died to that which once held us in bondage, the Law has now no hold over us, so that we render a service which, instead of being old and formal, is new and spiritual.

 

So long as a man continues under the law as a covenant, and seeks justification by his own obedience, he continues the slave of sin in some form. Nothing but the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, can make any sinner free from the law of sin and death. Believers are delivered from that power of the law, which condemns for the sins committed by them. And they are delivered from that power of the law which stirs up and provokes the sin that dwells in them. Understand this not of the law as a rule, but as a covenant of works. In profession and privilege, we are under a covenant of grace, and not under a covenant of works; under the gospel of Christ, not under the law of Moses. The difference is spoken of under the similitude or figure of being married to a new husband. The second marriage is to Christ. By death we are freed from obligation to the law as a covenant, as the wife is from her vows to her husband. In our believing powerfully and effectually, we are dead to the law, and have no more to do with it than the dead servant, who is freed from his master, has to do with his master’s yoke. The day of our believing, is the day of being united to the Lord Jesus. We enter upon a life of dependence on him, and duty to him. Good works are from union with Christ; as the fruitfulness of the vine is the product of its being united to its roots; there is no fruit to God, till we are united to Christ. The law, and the greatest efforts of one under the law, still in the flesh, under the power of corrupt principles, cannot set the heart right with regard to the love of God, overcome worldly lusts, or give truth and sincerity in the inward parts, or any thing that comes by the special sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit. Nothing more than a formal obedience to the outward letter of any precept, can be performed by us, without the renewing, new-creating grace of the new covenant.

 

2. The use and excellence of the law.  (Romans 7:7-13) 

 

Romans 7:7 What follows? Is the Law itself a sinful thing? No, indeed; on the contrary, unless I had been taught by the Law, I should have known nothing of sin as sin. For instance, I should not have known what covetousness is, if the Law had not repeatedly said, “Thou shalt not covet.” 8 Sin took advantage of this, and by means of the Commandment stirred up within me every kind of coveting; for apart from Law sin would be dead. 9 Once, apart from Law, I was alive, but when the Commandment came, sin sprang into life, and I died; 10 and, as it turned out, the very Commandment which was to bring me life, brought me death. 11 For sin seized the advantage, and by means of the Commandment it completely deceived me, and also put me to death. 12 So that the Law itself is holy, and the Commandment is holy, just and good.13 Did then a thing which is good become death to me? No, indeed, but sin did; so that through its bringing about death by means of what was good, it might be seen in its true light as sin, in order that by means of the Commandment the unspeakable sinfulness of sin might be plainly shown.

 

            There is no way of coming to that knowledge of sin, which is necessary to repentance, and therefore to peace and pardon, but by trying our hearts and lives by the law. In his own case the apostle would not have known the sinfulness of his thoughts, motives, and actions, but by the law. That perfect standard showed how wrong his heart and life were, proving his sins to be more numerous than he had before thought, but it did not contain any provision of mercy or grace for his relief. He is ignorant of human nature and the perverseness of his own heart, who does not perceive in himself a readiness to fancy there is something desirable in what is out of reach. We may perceive this in our children, though self-love makes us blind to it in ourselves. The more humble and spiritual any Christian is, the more clearly will he perceive that the apostle describes the true believer, from his first convictions of sin to his greatest progress in grace, during this present imperfect state. St. Paul was once a Pharisee, ignorant of the spirituality of the law, having some correctness of character, without knowing his inward depravity. When the commandment came to his conscience by the convictions of the Holy Spirit, and he saw what it demanded, he found his sinful mind rise against it. He felt at the same time the evil of sin, his own sinful state, that he was unable to fulfil the law, and was like a criminal when condemned. But though the evil principle in the human heart produces sinful motions, and the more by taking occasion of the commandment; yet the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good. It is not favourable to sin, which it pursues into the heart, and discovers and reproves in the inward motions thereof. Nothing is so good but a corrupt and vicious nature will pervert it. The same heat that softens wax, hardens clay. Food or medicine when taken wrong, may cause death, though its nature is to nourish or to heal. The law may cause death through man’s depravity, but sin is the poison that brings death. Not the law, but sin discovered by the law, was made death to the apostle. The ruinous nature of sin, and the sinfulness of the human heart, are here clearly shown.

 

3. The spiritual conflicts between corruption and grace in a believer. (Romans 7:14-25)

 

Romans 7:14For we know that the Law is a spiritual thing; but I am unspiritual—the slave, bought and sold, of sin. 15 For what I do, I do not recognize as my own action. What I desire to do is not what I do, but what I am averse to is what I do. 16 But if I do that which I do not desire to do, I admit the excellence of the Law, 17 and now it is no longer I that do these things, but the sin which has its home within me does them. 18 For I know that in me, that is, in my lower self, nothing good has its home; for while the will to do right is present with me, the power to carry it out is not. 19 For what I do is not the good thing that I desire to do; but the evil thing that I desire not to do, is what I constantly do. 20 But if I do that which I desire not to do, it can no longer be said that it is I who do it, but the sin which has its home within me does it.21 I find therefore the law of my nature to be that when I desire to do what is right, evil is lying in ambush for me. 22 For in my inmost self all my sympathy is with the Law of God; 23 but I discover within me a different Law at war with the Law of my understanding, and leading me captive to the Law which is everywhere at work in my body—the Law of sin. 24 (Unhappy man that I am! who will rescue me from this death-burdened body? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!)

 

To sum up then, with my understanding, I—my true self—am in servitude to the Law of God, but with my lower nature I am in servitude to the Law of sin.  

Compared with the holy rule of conduct in the law of God, the apostle found himself so very far short of perfection, that he seemed to be carnal; like a man who is sold against his will to a hated master, from whom he cannot set himself at liberty. A real Christian unwillingly serves this hated master, yet cannot shake off the galling chain, till his powerful and gracious Friend above, rescues him. The remaining evil of his heart is a real and humbling hinderance to his serving God as angels do and the spirits of just made perfect. This strong language was the result of St. Paul’s great advance in holiness, and the depth of his self-abasement and hatred of sin. If we do not understand this language, it is because we are so far beneath him in holiness, knowledge of the spirituality of God’s law, and the evil of our own hearts, and hatred of moral evil. And many believers have adopted the apostle’s language, showing that it is suitable to their deep feelings of abhorrence of sin, and self-abasement. The apostle enlarges on the conflict he daily maintained with the remainder of his original depravity. He was frequently led into tempers, words, or actions, which he did not approve or allow in his renewed judgement and affections. By distinguishing his real self, his spiritual part, from the self, or flesh, in which sin dwelt, and by observing that the evil actions were done, not by him, but by sin dwelling in him, the apostle did not mean that men are not accountable for their sins, but he teaches the evil of their sins, by showing that they are all done against reason and conscience. Sin dwelling in a man, does not prove its ruling, or having dominion over him. If a man dwells in a city, or in a country, still he may not rule there.

The more pure and holy the heart is, it will have the more quick feeling as to the sin that remains in it. The believer sees more of the beauty of holiness and the excellence of the law. His earnest desires to obey, increase as he grows in grace. But the whole good on which his will is fully bent, he does not do; sin ever springing up in him, through remaining corruption, he often does evil, though against the fixed determination of his will. The motions of sin within grieved the apostle. If by the striving of the flesh against the Spirit, was meant that he could not do or perform as the Spirit suggested, so also, by the effectual opposition of the Spirit, he could not do what the flesh prompted him to do. How different this case from that of those who make themselves easy with regard to the inward motions of the flesh prompting them to evil; who, against the light and warning of conscience, go on, even in outward practice, to do evil, and thus, with forethought, go on in the road to perdition! For as the believer is under grace, and his will is for the way of holiness, he sincerely delights in the law of God, and in the holiness which it demands, according to his inward man; that new man in him, which after God is created in true holiness.

This passage does not represent the apostle as one that walked after the flesh, but as one that had it greatly at heart, not to walk so. And if there are those who abuse this passage, as they also do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction, yet serious Christians find cause to bless God for having thus provided for their support and comfort. We are not, because of the abuse of such as are blinded by their own lusts, to find fault with the scripture, or any just and well warranted interpretation of it. And no man who is not engaged in this conflict, can clearly understand the meaning of these words, or rightly judge concerning this painful conflict, which led the apostle to bemoan himself as a wretched man, constrained to what he abhorred. He could not deliver himself; and this made him the more fervently thank God for the way of salvation revealed through Jesus Christ, which promised him, in the end, deliverance from this enemy. So then, says he, I myself, with my mind, my prevailing judgement, affections, and purposes, as a regenerate man, by Divine grace, serve and obey the law of God; but with the flesh, the carnal nature, the remains of depravity, I serve the law of sin, which wars against the law of my mind. Not serving it so as to live in it, or to allow it, but as unable to free himself from it, even in his very best state, and needing to look for help and deliverance out of himself. It is evident that he thanks God for Christ, as our deliverer, as our atonement and righteousness in himself, and not because of any holiness wrought in us. He knew of no such salvation, and disowned any such title to it. He was willing to act in all points agreeable to the law, in his mind and conscience, but was hindered by indwelling sin, and never attained the perfection the law requires. What can be deliverance for a man always sinful, but the free grace of God, as offered in Christ Jesus? The power of Divine grace, and of the Holy Spirit, could root out sin from our hearts even in this life, if Divine wisdom had not otherwise thought fit. But it is suffered, that Christians might constantly feel, and understand thoroughly, the wretched state from which Divine grace saves them; might be kept from trusting in themselves; and might ever hold all their consolation and hope, from the rich and free grace of God in Christ.

 

Summary

 

Paul has argued that law and faith are contradictory principles. In Romans 7 he shows how a believer can be legally free from obligation to the Law, and then explores why release from that obligation is essential.

Christ’s death frees the Christian from obligation to the Law . This is essential because law stimulates man’s sinful nature . Paul values the Law because it makes him aware of sin’s existence within his personality and because it stands as a witness to all that is holy, righteous, and good . But rather than help Paul be good, the Law has made him aware of the power of his sinful nature, aroused desires that he does not want to feel, and energized evil actions he hates as well . Paul has thus become aware of a terrible inner struggle, between an “I” who takes pleasure in sin and an “I” that wants to do good . He struggles against indwelling sin, but the harder Paul tries to keep the Law the more he finds himself a prisoner of his sinful nature . He finds rescue in Christ .

Stay True

                                                                 Stay True

Jer. 34:1–39:18 Jer. 35:1-2,5-8a,12-14,17a,18-19                  Aug. 7  2011

 

A variety of methods is tried, and every stone turned, to awaken the Jews to a sense of their sin and to bring them to repentance and reformation. The scope and tendency of many of the prophet’s sermons was to frighten them out of their disobedience, by setting before them what would be the end thereof if they persisted in it. The scope of this sermon, in this chapter, is to shame them out of their disobedience if they had any sense of honour left in them for a discourse of this nature to fasten upon . He sets before them the obedience of the family of the Rechabites to the commands which were left them by Jonadab their ancestor, and how they persevered in that obedience and would not be tempted from it . With this he aggravates the disobedience of the Jews to God and their contempt of his precepts . He foretels the judgments of God upon the Jews for their impious disobedience to God . He assures the Rechabites of the blessing of God upon them for their pious obedience to their father .

 

The obedience of the Rechabites.    (Jer. 35:1-11)  

    

Jer 35:1The word that hath been unto Jeremiah from Jehovah, in the days of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, saying: 2‘Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and thou hast spoken with them, and brought them into the house of Jehovah, unto one of the chambers, and caused them to drink wine.’ 3And I take Jaazaniah son of Jeremiah, son of Habazziniah, and his brethren, and all his sons, and all the house of the Rechabites, 4 and bring them into the house of Jehovah, unto the chamber of the sons of Hanan son of Igdaliah, a man of God, that is near to the chamber of the princes, that is above the chamber of Maaseiah son of Shallum, keeper of the threshold; 5 and I put before the sons of the house of the Rechabites goblets full of wine, and cups, and I say unto them, Drink ye wine. 6 And they say, ‘We do not drink wine: for Jonadab son of Rechab, our father, charged us, saying, Ye do not drink wine, ye and your sons—unto the age; 7and a house ye do not build, and seed ye do not sow, and a vineyard ye do not plant, nor have ye any; for in tents do ye dwell all your days, that ye may live many days on the face of the ground whither ye are sojourning. 8‘And we hearken to the voice of Jonadab son of Rechab, our father, to all that he commanded us, not to drink wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, and our daughters; 9 nor to build houses for our dwelling; and vineyard, and field, and seed, we have none; 10 and we dwell in tents, and we hearken, and we do according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us; 11 and it cometh to pass, in the coming up of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon unto the land, that we say, Come, and we enter Jerusalem, because of the force of the Chaldeans, and because of the force of Aram—and we dwell in Jerusalem.’

 

Jonadab was famous for wisdom and piety. He lived nearly 300 years before, 2 Kings 10:15 . Jonadab charged his posterity not to drink wine. He also appointed them to dwell in tents, or movable dwelling: this would teach them not to think of settling any where in this world. To keep low, would be the way to continue long in the land where they were strangers. Humility and contentment are always the best policy, and men’s surest protection. Also, that they might not run into unlawful pleasures, they were to deny themselves even lawful delights. The consideration that we are strangers and pilgrims should oblige us to abstain from all fleshly lusts. Let them have little to lose, and then losing times would be the less dreadful: let them set loose to what they had, and then they might with less pain be stript of it. Those are in the best frame to meet sufferings who live a life of self-denial, and who despise the vanities of the world. Jonadab’s posterity observed these rules strictly, only using proper means for their safety in a time of general suffering.

 

The Jews’ disobedience to the Lord.   (Jer.35:12-19)      

 

Jer 35:12 And there is a word of Jehovah unto Jeremiah, saying: ‘Thus said Jehovah of Hosts, God of Israel: 13‘Go, and thou hast said to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem: Do ye not receive instruction?—to hearken unto My words—an affirmation of Jehovah. 14 Performed have been the words of Jonadab son of Rechab, when he commanded his sons not to drink wine, and they have not drunk unto this day, for they have obeyed the command of their father; and I—I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking, and ye have not hearkened unto Me. 15 And I send unto you all My servants the prophets, rising early and sending, saying: Turn back, I pray you, each from his evil way, and amend your doings, yea, ye do not walk after other gods, to serve them, and dwell ye on the ground that I have given to you and to your fathers; and ye have not inclined your ear, nor hearkened unto Me. 16‘Because the sons of Jonadab son of Rechab have performed the command of their father, that he commanded them, and this people have not hearkened unto Me, 17 therefore thus said Jehovah, God of Hosts, God of Israel: Lo, I am bringing in unto Judah, and unto all inhabitants of Jerusalem, all the evil that I have spoken against them, because I have spoken unto them, and they have not hearkened, yea, I call to them, and they have not answered.’18 And to the house of the Rechabites said Jeremiah: ‘Thus said Jehovah of Hosts, God of Israel, Because that ye have hearkened unto the command of Jonadab your father, and ye observe all his commands, and do according to all that he commanded you; 19therefore, thus said Jehovah of Hosts, God of Israel, Of Jonadab son of Rechab one standing before me is not cut off all the days.’

 

The trial of the Rechabites’ constancy was for a sign; it made the disobedience of the Jews to God the more marked. The Rechabites were obedient to one who was but a man like themselves, and Jonadab never did for his seed what God has done for his people. Mercy is promised to the Rechabites. We are not told respecting the performance of this promise; but doubtless it was performed, and travellers say the Rechabites may be found a separate people to this day. Let us follow the counsels of our pious forefathers, and we shall find good in so doing.

 

Summary

As the nation is about to fall to the Babylonians, Jeremiah is given a message for Zedekiah, Judah’s last king. The king will be captured, but God promises he will die in peace, mourned by his people . This is a reward for Zedekiah’s initiative in winning his people’s agreement to free their Hebrew slaves, who according to Moses’ Law should be kept in servitude for only seven years. But the people soon go back on the solemn oath they swore before God and take back their slaves—dooming themselves to death at the hands of the Babylonians . To underline the wickedness of Judah, Jeremiah tempts members of the Recabite family with bowls of wine. They refuse to drink, because generations before the family patriarch had commanded his descendants to drink no wine . The family which showed such respect for its forefather was praised and rewarded—and Judah, which showed no respect for God but persistently disobeyed Him—was promised punishment .

Be Forgiving

                                                  Be Forgiving

         Philem. 1-25 Philem. 1,3-22                           May 29 2011

 

Philemon

Philemon was an inhabitant of Colosse, a person of some note and wealth, and a convert under the ministry of St. Paul. Onesimus was the slave of Philemon: having run away from his master, he went to Rome, where he was converted to the Christian faith, by the word as set forth by Paul, who kept him till his conduct proved the truth and sincerity of his conversion. He wished to repair the injury he had done to his master, but fearing the punishment his offence deserved might be inflicted, he entreated the apostle to write to Philemon. And St. Paul seems no where to reason more beautifully, or to entreat

more forcibly, than in this epistle.

Philemon 1

1.     Salutation  (Phil. 1:1 )

 

Phil.1:1Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timotheus the brother, to Philemon our beloved and fellow-worker,

 

The apostle’s joy and praise for Philemon’s steady faith in the Lord Jesus, and love to all the saints.

 

2: Thanksgiving and Prayer (Phil.1:4-7)

 

Phil.1:4 I give thanks to my God, always making mention of thee in my prayers, 5 hearing of thy love and faith that thou hast unto the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, 6 that the fellowship of thy faith may become working in the full knowledge of every good thing that is in you toward Christ Jesus; 7 for we have much joy and comfort in thy love, because the bowels of the saints have been refreshed through thee, brother.

 

Faith in Christ, and love to him, should unite saints more closely than any outward relation can unite the people of the world. Paul in his private prayers was particular in remembering his friends. We must remember Christian friends much and often, as their cases may need, bearing them in our thoughts, and upon our hearts, before our God. Different sentiments and ways in what is not essential, must not make difference of affection, as to the truth. He inquired concerning his friends, as to the truth, growth, and fruitfulness of their graces, their faith in Christ, and love to him, and to all the saints. The good which Philemon did, was matter of joy and comfort to him and others, who therefore desired that he would continue and abound in good fruits, more and more, to God’s honour.

 

3. The Plea for Onesimus ( Phil. 1:8-22)

 

Phil.1:8 Wherefore, having in Christ much boldness to command thee that which is fit— 9 because of the love I rather entreat, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ; 10 I entreat thee concerning my child—whom I did beget in my bonds—Onesimus, 11 who once was to thee unprofitable, and now is profitable to me and to thee, 12 whom I did send again, and thou him (that is, my own bowels) receive, 13 whom I did wish to retain to myself, that in thy behalf he might minister to me in the bonds of the good news, 14 and apart from thy mind I willed to do nothing, that as of necessity thy good deed may not be, but of willingness, 15 for perhaps because of this he did depart for an hour, that age-duringly thou mayest have him, 16 no more as a servant, but above a servant—a brother beloved, especially to me, and how much more to thee, both in the flesh and in the Lord!17 If, then, with me thou hast fellowship, receive him as me, 18 and if he did hurt to thee, or doth owe anything, this to me be reckoning; 19 I, Paul did write with my hand, I—I will repay; that I may not say that also thyself, besides, to me thou dost owe.20 Yes, brother, may I have profit of thee in the Lord; refresh my bowels in the Lord; 21 having been confident in thy obedience I did write to thee, having known that also above what I may say thou wilt do; 22 and at the same time also prepare for me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I shall be granted to you.

 

It does not lower any one to condescend, and sometimes even to beseech, where, in strictness of right, we might command: the apostle argues from love, rather than authority, in behalf of one converted through his means; and this was Onesimus. In allusion to that name, which signifies “profitable,” the apostle allows that in time past he had been unprofitable to Philemon, but hastens to mention the change by which he had become profitable. Unholy persons are unprofitable; they answer not the great end of their being. But what happy changes conversion makes! of evil, good; of unprofitable, useful. Religious servants are treasures in a family. Such will make conscience of their time and trusts, and manage all they can for the best. No prospect of usefulness should lead any to neglect their obligations, or to fail in obedience to superiors. One great evidence of true repentance consists in returning to practise the duties which have been neglected. In his unconverted state, Onesimus had withdrawn, to his master’s injury; but now he had seen his sin and repented, he was willing and desirous to return to his duty. Little do men know for what purposes the Lord leaves some to change their situations, or engage in undertakings, perhaps from evil motives. Had not the Lord overruled some of our ungodly projects, we may reflect upon cases, in which our destruction must have been sure.

When we speak of the nature of any sin or offence against God, the evil of it is not to be lessened; but in a penitent sinner, as God covers it, so must we. Such changed characters often become a blessing to all among whom they reside. Christianity does not do away our duties to others, but directs to the right doing of them. True penitents will be open in owning their faults, as doubtless Onesimus had been to Paul, upon his being awakened and brought to repentance; especially in cases of injury done to others. The communion of saints does not destroy distinction of property. This passage is an instance of that being imputed to one, which is contracted by another; and of one becoming answerable for another, by a voluntary engagement, that he might be freed from the punishment due to his crimes, according to the doctrine that Christ of his own will bore the punishment of our sins, that we might receive the reward of his righteousness. Philemon was Paul’s son in the faith, yet he entreated him as a brother. Onesimus was a poor slave, yet Paul besought for him as if seeking some great thing for himself. Christians should do what may give joy to the hearts of one another. From the world they expect trouble; they should find comfort and joy in one another. When any of our mercies are taken away, our trust and hope must be in God. We must diligently use the means, and if no other should be at hand, abound in prayer. Yet, though prayer prevails, it does not merit the things obtained. And if Christians do not meet on earth, still the grace of the Lord Jesus will be with their spirits, and they will soon meet before the throne to join for ever in admiring the riches of redeeming love. The example of Onesimus may encourage the vilest sinners to return to God, but it is shamefully prevented, if any are made bold thereby to persist in evil courses. Are not many taken away in their sins, while others become more hardened? Resist not present convictions, lest they return no more.

 

 

Summary

Paul identifies himself as a prisoner as he writes to the “dear friend and fellow worker” Philemon . Following a typical first-century pattern Paul extends God’s grace and peace to Philemon  and outlines the prayer that he offers regularly on Philemon’s behalf .

At this point Paul launches his plea on behalf of Onesimus, whom he calls “my son” . Paul readily admits that as a slave Onesimus had been useless—but states that subsequent to his conversion “now he has become useful” .

Paul is sending Onesimus back even though he would have liked to have kept him near. In one sense this was because as the slave’s owner, Philemon had a right to his services. But even more, Paul was eager to see Onesimus reconciled to his master as a fellow-Christian .

With great delicacy Paul asks Philemon to welcome Onesimus as a brother—well aware that Philemon owes Paul far more than favors .

The request made, Paul indicates a hope to visit Philemon personally soon  and then closes with typical greetings and a benediction .

 

 

Be Focused

Be Focused
Col. 3:1-17 Col. 3:1-17 May 15 2011

The Gnostics argued that the body was hostile to the spirit, for the material was essentially evil. Some turned to asceticism to weaken the body. Some gave in to licentiousness, dismissing what the “evil” body did as morally irrelevant. But Paul has shown that God entered the material world and in a real human body won us salvation. Now he shows that the way we live in our body does make a difference. In fact, true spirituality is living a human life, here on earth in union with God.
Since we have been raised with Christ we “put to death” the sins that belong to our earthly, sin nature . We have put on a new “self,” renewed in God’s image . Thus, as God’s people we live with others the kind of life Jesus lived here on earth, so that all we do can be said to be done “in the name of the Lord Jesus” . Here too Paul reminds us that we are each to live this way in the framework of the role we have been assigned—as spouse, parent or child, slave or free. In whatever setting we find ourselves we can live in a way that expresses, and pleases, God .

1. The Colossians exhorted to be heavenly-minded. (Col.3:1-4)

Col.3:1 If, then, ye were raised with the Christ, the things above seek ye, where the Christ is, on the right hand of God seated, 2 the things above mind ye, not the things upon the earth, 3 for ye did die, and your life hath been hid with the Christ in God; 4when the Christ—our life—may be manifested, then also we with him shall be manifested in glory.

As Christians are freed from the ceremonial law, they must walk the more closely with God in gospel obedience. As heaven and earth are contrary one to the other, both cannot be followed together; and affection to the one will weaken and abate affection to the other. Those that are born again are dead to sin, because its dominion is broken, its power gradually subdued by the operation of grace, and it shall at length be extinguished by the perfection of glory. To be dead, then, means this, that those who have the Holy Spirit, mortifying within them the lusts of the flesh, are able to despise earthly things, and to desire those that are heavenly. Christ is, at present, one whom we have not seen; but our comfort is, that our life is safe with him. The streams of this living water flow into the soul by the influences of the Holy Spirit, through faith. Christ lives in the believer by his Spirit, and the believer lives to him in all he does. At the second coming of Christ, there will be a general assembling of all the redeemed; and those whose life is now hid with Christ, shall then appear with him in his glory. Do we look for such happiness, and should we not set our affections upon that world, and live above this?

2. To mortify all corrupt affections. (Col.3:5-11)

Col.3:5 Put to death, then, your members that are upon the earth—whoredom, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and the covetousness, which is idolatry— 6 because of which things cometh the anger of God upon the sons of the disobedience, 7 in which also ye—ye did walk once, when ye lived in them; 8 but now put off, even ye, the whole—anger, wrath, malice, evil-speaking, filthy talking—out of your mouth.
9 Lie not one to another, having put off the old man with his practices, 10 and having put on the new, which is renewed in regard to knowledge, after the image of Him who did create him; 11 where there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, foreigner, Scythian, servant, freeman—but the all and in all—Christ.

It is our duty to mortify our members which incline to the things of the world. Mortify them, kill them, suppress them, as weeds or vermin which spread and destroy all about them. Continual opposition must be made to all corrupt workings, and no provision made for carnal indulgences. Occasions of sin must be avoided: the lusts of the flesh, and the love of the world; and covetousness, which is idolatry; love of present good, and of outward enjoyments. It is necessary to mortify sins, because if we do not kill them, they will kill us. The gospel changes the higher as well as the lower powers of the soul, and supports the rule of right reason and conscience, over appetite and passion. There is now no difference from country, or conditions and circumstances of life. It is the duty of every one to be holy, because Christ is a Christian’s All, his only Lord and Saviour, and all his hope and happiness.

3. To live in mutual love, forbearance, and forgiveness. (Col.3:12-17)

Col.3:12 Put on, therefore, as choice ones of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humble-mindedness, meekness, long-suffering, 13 forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any one with any one may have a quarrel, as also the Christ did forgive you—so also ye; 14 and above all these things, have love, which is a bond of the perfection, 15 and let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also ye were called in one body, and become thankful.16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing each other, in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, in grace singing in your hearts to the Lord; 17 and all, whatever ye may do in word or in work, do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus—giving thanks to the God and Father, through him.

We must not only do no hurt to any, but do what good we can to all. Those who are the elect of God, holy and beloved, ought to be lowly and compassionate towards all. While in this world, where there is so much corruption in our hearts, quarrels will sometimes arise. But it is our duty to forgive one another, imitating the forgiveness through which we are saved. Let the peace of God rule in your hearts; it is of his working in all who are his. Thanksgiving to God, helps to make us agreeable to all men. The gospel is the word of Christ. Many have the word, but it dwells in them poorly; it has no power over them. The soul prospers, when we are full of the Scriptures and of the grace of Christ. But when we sing psalms, we must be affected with what we sing. Whatever we are employed about, let us do every thing in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in believing dependence on him. Those who do all in Christ’s name, will never want matter of thanksgiving to God, even the Father.

Summary:
“Right hand” . This is the traditional symbol of royal power. In being raised with Christ we have been given vast power for godly living.
“Things above” . A heavenly orientation is the believer’s ultimate concern in his or her relationship with Christ. As Paul will soon go on to show, our focus on things above is to make a significant difference on our life below.
“You died” . Since we died and were raised with Christ, anything foreign to Jesus should be foreign to us.
“Put to death” . As those who have been raised with Christ we must let our old life wither away and die. Everything evil is under God’s wrath, and everything evil in us was punished in Christ’s death for us. We’re to let it die.
“The new self” . The image of a new creation is common in Paul. We died with Christ and were given new life by Him. We are still our conscious self, the same person. But at the same time we are new persons. The old in us died, now something new and holy is planted deep within.
The Creator’s image . Paul saw God’s image “is being renewed.” A constant process of reshaping us is going on. And as our “knowledge”—perspective, understanding, attitudes, and outlook—grows the effect is to become more and more like our Creator.
Clothed with compassion . How does God’s life in us express itself in practice? In the way that Christians relate to each other, showing the compassion, kindness, humility, and readiness to forgive that Jesus demonstrated when He was here on earth, revealing God in His own way of life. In a real sense, the church as the body of Christ is a continuing incarnation of the Lord, to whom we are all intimately linked.
Let peace rule . A beautiful calm and harmony emerge as Christians focus on living as God’s new people. As God’s people assemble and worship Christ together both unity and peace will result. Unified and confident, God’s people will focus on what is really important in the Christian life—doing whatever we do in Jesus’ name and giving God thanks through Him.
“Admonish” . The Gk. word means to “warn or advise.” It reemphasizes the practical dimension of Christian teaching. The series of instructions Paul gives in Col.3:18-4:1 are examples of admonitions.

Keepng the Truth May 3

I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.

Keeping the Truth
Col. 2:8-23 Col. 2:8-23 May 8 2011

The apostle expresses concern for the Colossians . He repeats it again . He cautions them against false teachers among the Jews , and against the Gentile philosophy . He represents the privileges of Christians . And, Concludes with a caution against the judaizing teachers, and those who would introduce the worship of angels .

1. He cautions against the errors of heathen philosophy; also against Jewish traditions, and rites which had been fulfilled in Christ. (Col. 2:8-17)

Col. 2:8 See that no one shall be carrying you away as spoil through the philosophy and vain deceit, according to the deliverance of men, according to the rudiments of the world, and not according to Christ, 9 because in him doth tabernacle all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, 10 and ye are in him made full, who is the head of all principality and authority, 11 in whom also ye were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh in the circumcision of the Christ, 12 being buried with him in the baptism, in which also ye rose with him through the faith of the working of God, who did raise him out of the dead.13 And you—being dead in the trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh—He made alive together with him, having forgiven you all the trespasses, 14 having blotted out the handwriting in the ordinances that is against us, that was contrary to us, and he hath taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross; 15 having stripped the principalities and the authorities, he made a shew of them openly—having triumphed over them in it.16 Let no one, then, judge you in eating or in drinking, or in respect of a feast, or of a new moon, or of sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of the coming things, and the body is of the Christ;

There is a philosophy which rightly exercises our reasonable faculties; a study of the works of God, which leads us to the knowledge of God, and confirms our faith in him. But there is a philosophy which is vain and deceitful; and while it pleases men’s fancies, hinders their faith: such are curious speculations about things above us, or no concern to us. Those who walk in the way of the world, are turned from following Christ. We have in Him the substance of all the shadows of the ceremonial law. All the defects of it are made up in the gospel of Christ, by his complete sacrifice for sin, and by the revelation of the will of God. To be complete, is to be furnished with all things necessary for salvation. By this one word “complete,” is shown that we have in Christ whatever is required. “In him,” not when we look to Christ, as though he were distant from us, but we are in him, when, by the power of the Spirit, we have faith wrought in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are united to our Head. The circumcision of the heart, the crucifixion of the flesh, the death and burial to sin and to the world, and the resurrection to newness of life, set forth in baptism, and by faith wrought in our hearts, prove that our sins are forgiven, and that we are fully delivered from the curse of the law. Through Christ, we, who were dead in sins, are quickened. Christ’s death was the death of our sins; Christ’s resurrection is the quickening of our souls. The law of ordinances, which was a yoke to the Jews, and a partition-wall to the Gentiles, the Lord Jesus took out of the way. When the substance was come, the shadows fled. Since every mortal man is, through the hand-writing of the law, guilty of death, how very dreadful is the condition of the ungodly and unholy, who trample under foot that blood of the Son of God, whereby alone this deadly hand-writing can be blotted out! Let not any be troubled about bigoted judgments which related to meats, or the Jewish solemnities. The setting apart a portion of our time for the worship and service of God, is a moral and unchangeable duty, but had no necessary dependence upon the seventh day of the week, the sabbath of the Jews. The first day of the week, or the Lord’s day, is the time kept holy by Christians, in remembrance of Christ’s resurrection. All the Jewish rites were shadows of gospel blessings.

2. Against worshipping angels; and against legal ordinances. (Col. 2:18-23)

Col. 2:18 let no one beguile you of your prize, delighting in humble-mindedness and in worship of the messengers, intruding into the things he hath not seen, being vainly puffed up by the mind of his flesh, 19 and not holding the head, from which all the body—through the joints and bands gathering supply, and being knit together—may increase with the increase of God. 20 If, then, ye did die with the Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances? 21—thou mayest not touch, nor taste, nor handle— 22 which are all for destruction with the using, after the commands and teachings of men, 23 which are, indeed, having a matter of wisdom in will-worship, and humble-mindedness, and neglecting of body—not in any honour, unto a satisfying of the flesh.

It looked like humility to apply to angels, as if men were conscious of their unworthiness to speak directly to God. But it is not warrantable; it is taking that honour which is due to Christ only, and giving it to a creature. There really was pride in this seeming humility. Those who worship angels, disclaim Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man. It is an insult to Christ, who is the Head of the church, to use any intercessors but him. When men let go their hold of Christ, they catch at what will stand them in no stead. The body of Christ is a growing body. And true believers cannot live in the fashions of the world. True wisdom is, to keep close to the appointments of the gospel; in entire subjection to Christ, who is the only Head of his church. Self-imposed sufferings and fastings, might have a show of uncommon spirituality and willingness for suffering, but this was not “in any honour” to God. The whole tended, in a wrong manner, to satisfy the carnal mind, by gratifying self-will, self-wisdom, self-righteousness, and contempt of others. The things being such as carry not with them so much as the show of wisdom; or so faint a show that they do the soul no good, and provide not for the satisfying of the flesh. What the Lord has left indifferent, let us regard as such, and leave others to the like freedom; and remembering the passing nature of earthly things, let us seek to glorify God in the use of them.

Summary
“Philosophy” . Hollow and deceptive philosophy depends on human tradition. The whole system presented by the false teachers in Colossians was mere “basic principles of this world”—an ignorant child’s play with ABC’s—not the advanced truth they claimed.
“Fullness” . Earlier too Paul spoke of Christ possessing the fullness (pleroma) of God. In this chapter Paul means simply that all God can be and is for us is summed up in Jesus. We don’t need a “better way” because relationship with Jesus provides us with all of God.
Real circumcision . Jewish elements in the “deceptive philosophy” of the false teachers emphasized circumcision—an external rite. But faith unites us with Jesus, and this baptism accomplishes a circumcision which “puts off” the sinful nature. This is the “fullness” we have been given in Christ and find only in Him.
“The Cross” . The phrase is frequently used in the N.T. as a term for the Gospel.
“Canceled the written code” . Because we could not meet the Law’s demands it was “against us.” But it is no longer. The Gk. word means to “wipe out’’ or “wipe away.” The blood of Jesus washed all that was written against us off the bill of indictment, and we are free.
“Powers and authorities” . The reference is to hostile angelic or supernatural powers.
“Worship of angels” . Developed Gnosticism supposed that a long row of angels stood between the material universe and the immaterial God. The most powerful angels were the furthest from the material. Many worshiped and sought to contact these angels.
Asceticism . Paul says do’s and don’ts are of no “value in restraining sensual indulgence.” People who “don’t” get proud, and condemn folks who “do.” And these sins are as much an expression of the flesh, or sin nature, as the action the person is proud of refusing!

Expressing The Truth

Expressing the Truth
Col. 1:21–2:7 May 1 2011

“Alienated from God” . The word here is apallotrioo, found only here and in Eph. 2:12 and 4:18. It indicates a desperate state of utter separation and isolation, which in lost humanity’s relationship with God is also marked by hostility. It is our own evil which makes us hostile to, and which alienates us from, God. The Gnostics downgraded the role of Christ, assuming that if He took on a material body He must have been very distant from God. But not only was God fully present in Christ, the death of Jesus was the means God used to bring man and the universe back into harmony with Him. The actual, literal death of Jesus is the means God used to save us and make us holy.

1. And sets out his own character, as the apostle of the Gentiles. (Colossians 1:21-29)

Colossians 1:21 And you—once being alienated, and enemies in the mind, in the evil works, yet now did he reconcile, 22 in the body of his flesh through the death, to present you holy, and unblemished, and unblameable before himself, 23 if also ye remain in the faith, being founded and settled, and not moved away from the hope of the good news, which ye heard, which was preached in all the creation that is under the heaven, of which I became—I Paul—a ministrant. 24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and do fill up the things lacking of the tribulations of the Christ in my flesh for his body, which is the assembly, 25 of which I—I did become a ministrant according to the dispensation of God, that was given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God, 26 the secret that hath been hid from the ages and from the generations, but now was manifested to his saints, 27 to whom God did will to make known what is the riches of the glory of this secret among the nations—which is Christ in you, the hope of the glory, 28 whom we proclaim, warning every man, and teaching every man, in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus, 29 for which also I labour, striving according to his working that is working in me in power.

Both the sufferings of the Head and of the members are called the sufferings of Christ, and make up, as it were, one body of sufferings. But He suffered for the redemption of the church; we suffer on other accounts; for we do but slightly taste that cup of afflictions of which Christ first drank deeply. A Christian may be said to fill up that which remains of the sufferings of Christ, when he takes up his cross, and after the pattern of Christ, bears patiently the afflictions God allots to him. Let us be thankful that God has made known to us mysteries hidden from ages and generations, and has showed the riches of his glory among us. As Christ is preached among us, let us seriously inquire, whether he dwells and reigns in us; for this alone can warrant our assured hope of his glory. We must be faithful to death, through all trials, that we may receive the crown of life, and obtain the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls.

2. The apostle expresses his love to, and joy in believers.
(Colossians 2:1-7)

Colossians 2:1For I wish you to know how great a conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be comforted, being united in love, and to all riches of the full assurance of the understanding, to the full knowledge of the secret of the God and Father, and of the Christ, 3 in whom are all the treasures of the wisdom and the knowledge hid, 4 and this I say, that no one may beguile you in enticing words, 5 for if even in the flesh I am absent—yet in the spirit I am with you, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in regard to Christ; 6 as, then, ye did receive Christ Jesus the Lord, in him walk ye, 7 being rooted and built up in him, and confirmed in the faith, as ye were taught—abounding in it in thanksgiving.

The soul prospers when we have clear knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. When we not only believe with the heart, but are ready, when called, to make confession with the mouth. Knowledge and faith make a soul rich. The stronger our faith, and the warmer our love, the more will our comfort be. The treasures of wisdom are hid, not from us, but for us, in Christ. These were hid from proud unbelievers, but displayed in the person and redemption of Christ. See the danger of enticing words; how many are ruined by the false disguises and fair appearances of evil principles and wicked practices! Be aware and afraid of those who would entice to any evil; for they aim to spoil you. All Christians have, in profession at least, received Jesus Christ the Lord, consented to him, and taken him for theirs. We cannot be built up in Christ, or grow in him, unless we are first rooted in him, or founded upon him. Being established in the faith, we must abound therein, and improve in it more and more. God justly withdraws this benefit from those who do not receive it with thanksgiving; and gratitude for his mercies is justly required by God.

Summary :

It’s good to pray for those we know and love. But our vision needs to reach beyond this little circle to other brothers and sisters whom we may not have met, but whose needs we have come to know.
The Gnostics claimed a superior, hidden knowledge that was superior to the revelation provided in the Christian Gospel. In fact, the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are “hidden” in Christ. Here “hidden” does not mean concealed, but stored up, to be accessible to us.
Four participles describe how we relate to Christ to draw on His riches: (1) Rooted (errizomenoi). The tense looks back to that saving faith that initially united us to Jesus. Salvation always comes first. (2) Built up (epoikodomoumenoi). Here the tense emphasizes a continual process of growth. (3) Strengthened (bebaioumenoi). The present tense shows a continual process of deepening faith . (4) Overflowing with thankfulness (perisseuontes). Again a continual experience, abounding through the meaningfulness of our experience with Jesus.