Archive for July, 2014

The Saviour’s Answer

O wretched man that I am!  who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  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.

Romans 7:24-25

Yesterday we looked at “the Christian’s plea.”  That was the statement and question in verse 24, “O wretched man that I am!  who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  If the chapter stopped with that, it would be a depressing thought indeed.  We can see and we can fully understand that we are wretched men.  And we desperately want to be delivered from “the body of this death.”

Fortunately, the chapter has one more verse.  And, in it, we find the answer to the question “who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, can deliver us from the body of death.  Jesus Christ can give us victory over our own sinful flesh.  He can give us victory over the old man inside of us that is always wanting to do wrong.  He can help us to overcome sin and to overcome temptation.  I John 4:4 tells us that “Ye are of God little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.”

He overcame sin, temptation and even death Himself.  And He can help us to overcome those things too.  In fact, He has promised to help us overcome those things.  So, no matter how powerful and influential that old nature is, we can have victory over it – through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Are we trusting Him to give us the victory or are we trying to fight our flesh by ourselves?

The Christian’s Plea

For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:  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.  O wretched man that I am!  who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

Romans 7:22-24

After a lengthy passage on the inward struggle between the new man and the old man on the inside of a Christian, Paul ends verse 24 with a powerful statement and question: “O wretched man that I am!  who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  He understands just how weak he is and how hard it is for him to do the things that he wants to do and knows he should do.  We, as Christians, all want to do right.  We want to do the things we know we should.  But, sometimes, doing even the simplest right things is a challenge.  Our flesh challenges us at every turn.

That is what Paul is talking about when we makes the emphatic statement “O wretched man that I am!”

That is what every Christian means when he or she, after some stumble or failure, utters the statement “O wretched man that I am!”  Have you ever uttered those words or something like them?  I know that I have said that or something like that many, many times.

Paul asks a question at the end of the verse that we can all ask too, “who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”  As Christians, we get tired of fighting the flesh.  We get tired of failing.  We get tired of stumbling.  We get tired of sinning.  We want victory and we are desperate for a way to get that victory.  Fortunately, the next verse gives us the answer to that question!

Every Time

For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

Romans 7:18-20

As we will continue to see, the apostle Paul takes great pains in this chapter to differentiate between the spirit and the flesh.  He takes great pains to differentiate between the new man and the old man.  And, in doing so, he gives us some timeless truths that will be a help to us.

In verse 20, Paul makes the statement “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.”  Does that sound familiar?  Is that something that you have ever experienced in our life?  Of course, that is something that all of us have experienced.  Most of us have experienced that quite often.  The Bible is an excellent judge of human nature and human character and it hits the nail on the head here.

Whenever we want to do something good, our flesh rebels against it.  Whenever we want to follow the Lord and do what He wants us to do, we find that the Devil is very opposed to it.  The opposition comes from all sides, but be assured that it will come.  Any time we want to do right, we find that our flesh is still there and we will find that our flesh has no interest whatsoever in doing anything right.

It is a hard truth, but one that will help us to rely more on the strength of our Lord instead of on our own strength.  Evil is present with us – every time.

 

Willing and Doing

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

Romans 7:15-18

Verse 18 of this chapter gives us an important truth that is readily seen if one will observe human nature for about five minutes.  “for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”  Paul shows us here that there is a distinct difference between wanting to do something and actually doing it.

If you were to ask just about any person if they wanted to eat healthy food, exercise, and get plenty of rest, almost every person in the world would say that they want to do those things.  But if you were to then ask if they actually do eat healthy good, exercise, and get plenty of rest, there would likely not be nearly as many positive responses.

We all know from our own lives that being willing to do something and even wanting to do something does not always translate into getting that thing done.

Paul here laments the fact that he has the will to do good, but he has trouble actually performing that good he wants to do.  And if the apostle Paul has trouble with that, surely we do as well.  Fortunately, there is an answer to this problem.  The answer comes in the form of the help of the Lord.  With His help, we can do the things we know we should do!

 

My Flesh

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

Romans 7:15-18

The part of this passage I would like to focus on today is this: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing.”  Paul understood two things and gives them to us in this verse.

First, Paul understood what was in his flesh.  Paul understood himself and what “he was made of.”  He understood that there was nothing good in his flesh.  And, there is nothing good in our flesh.  Even after we come to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, we still have our flesh.  And our flesh is not improved in any way.  It is still evil to the core – there is still nothing good in it or about it.

Second, Paul understood his salvation.  Notice how he words this: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing…”  He was careful to make the distinction that “in my flesh” dwells no good thing.  Paul, being a Christian, did have something good in him – he had the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within him.  Because of that, he couldn’t just say “in me dwelleth no good thing.”  Instead, he was careful say that “in my flesh dwelleth no good thing.” That is an important thing for us to remember.  Our flesh may be rotten to the core, but, as Christians, we do have the Holy Spirit in us and with us to help us.  We don’t have to follow or obey the our flesh.  We can follow and obey Him!

 

 

Rest for the Weary (Hymn)

Rest for the Weary
William Hunter (18??)

In the Christian’s home in glory
There remains a land of rest;
There my Savior’s gone before me,
To fulfill my soul’s request.

Refrain
There is rest for the weary,
There is rest for the weary,
There is rest for the weary,
There is rest for you.
On the other side of Jordan,
In the sweet fields of Eden,
Where the tree of life is blooming,
There is rest for you.

He is fitting up my mansion,
Which eternally shall stand,
For my stay shall not be transient,
In that holy, happy land.

Refrain

Pain and sickness ne’er shall enter,
Grief nor woe my lot shall share;
But, in that celestial center,
I a crown of life shall wear.

Refrain

Death itself shall then be vanquished,
And his sting shall be withdrawn;
Shout for gladness, O ye ransomed!
Hail with joy the rising morn.

Refrain

Songs about Heaven are always encouraging and this one is no different.  Sometimes this life just seems to wear us down.  Sometimes we just get tired, even exhausted.  But we have something to look forward to.  We can, and will, have rest.  Pain, sickness, and death will be vanquished and we will have rest, glorious rest.  What a joy Heaven will be!

Psalm Saturday (7)

O Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me: Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.  O Lord my God, If I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands; If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy: ) Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust.  Selah.

Psalm 7:1-5

This Psalm is one that I don’t know if I would pray or not.  The first verse I would definitely be willing to pray.  “O Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me…”  That is a classic beginning to a Psalm.  But then the Psalmist says something a little different: “If I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands; If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me…”  If the writer of this Psalm has done any of those things, he wants the Lord to allow his enemies to destroy him.  That is a hard saying.

I don’t know if I would be that confident in my innocence to pray something like that.  I know that I should be that confident, but I also know that I am a sinful man and that my heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.

These are powerful prayers that the author of this Psalm is praying.  Could we pray the same today?  It’s something to think about.

Sound Familiar?

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

Romans 7:15-16

Do these verses sound familiar?  In this chapter, Paul is dealing with the subject of the law and its relationship with the Christian.  But these verses really do give us a glimpse into ourselves.

“…that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not.”  How often do we want to do something and then never get it done?  I can think of several things at my house that I want to do, but never seem to get them done.  Am I the only one who has numerous “unfinished projects” around the house?  More importantly, are there things that we know we should do and still never quite seem to get them done?  I think we all have things in our lives that we know we should do or could do and just haven’t done them, for whatever reason.

“…but what I hate, that do I.”  On the other hand, do we ever do things that we either don’t want to do or know that we shouldn’t do?  To use a silly example, I know that I should eat healthier.  I hate all of the grease and artery clogging fat on pizza.  But guess what I find myself eating fairly often?  Spiritually, as Christians, we hate sin.  But do we ever find ourselves sinning?  Yes, we do.  I think all of us would admit that we sin and that we sin far too often – even though, deep down, we hate sin and don’t want to sin.

If nothing else, the apostle Paul shows us in these verses that we are not the only ones who fight these things.  We are not the first nor will we be the last to live with these battles every day.  But we can win them through the strength of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Which Do You Prefer?

What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?  for the end of those things is death.  But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:21-23

Romans chapter six closes with a great verse, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  That verse has been used countless times over the last two thousand years to convince people to come to Christ and to put their faith and trust in Him.  It summarizes the entire chapter, which has been all about contrasting the old man and the new man.  The whole chapter has been about who we are going to serve and it ends with a clear contrast of what is going to happen if we serve sin and what is going to happen if we come to the Lord.

“For the wages of sin is death.”  Sin brings death.  It is as simple as that.  Death is the end result of sin.  In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve’s sin brought their death and the death of the human race.  In our lives, our sin results in our death.  Even in the life of Jesus, it was our sin that resulted in His death.  Sin brings death.  Is that what we want?  Is that what we want to follow in our lives?

On the other hand, “…the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  We “earned” our death through our sin.  But God offers us eternal life through Jesus Christ and He offers it freely.  There is nothing that we can do to “earn” it.  We simply must accept what He has offered us.  What a wonderful Saviour!

What Fruit?

I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.  For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.  What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?  for the end of those things is death.

Romans 6:19-21

Verse 21 of this chapter asks us an important question, “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?”  Every person in the world should ask themselves that question.  The true answer to that question would send a lot of people straight to the Lord Jesus.

When we were servants of sin, we sinned.  We now look back at those things and are ashamed of them.  We all probably have things in our past that we are ashamed of.  We have all sinned and we all regret those sins.

When we served sin, we did things we now regret.  When we planted those seeds of sin, we thought they would make us happy.  But now that we have seen those seeds bear fruit, we can look at the whole picture.  We regret those things.  The only things that serving sin gave us are regret, shame, and death.  Why would we ever want to go back and serve those things again?  Why would we ever want those things back in our lives after we have been freed from them?

The Bible tells us that “the end of those things is death.”  What fruit do we want in our lives?  In Galatians, we find the fruit of the Spirit contrasted with the works of the flesh.  What fruit do we want?  Who will we follow?