Sunday – December 19, 2021 Romans Week 34 Romans 8 Overview “From Agony to Ecstasy”

Sunday – December 19, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 19, 2021

Romans 8:3-4
For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

There is an expression that goes something like this: only two things in this life are certain, death and taxes. Now this may be true for the unbeliever, but for the true believer in Jesus Christ we must add at least one more thing—sanctification. That is the force of Romans 8. All of the struggles, all of the turmoil, all of the agony, is a part of God’s plan to conform us to Himself.

We gain a clue to the importance of this chapter simply by contrasting the conclusion of chapter 7 with that of chapter 8. Chapter 7 ends in agony, with the apostle describing the constant struggle going on within as he attempts to live a life which is pleasing to God in the power of the flesh. Those who can identify with the agony of Paul in Romans 7 will rejoice with him in the ecstasy of Romans 8. Do you desire to serve God and to obey His commands and yet find it impossible to do so? If not, then you should go back to the beginning of Romans and start reading again. If you have come to that point of despair of which Paul speaks, then you have come to the point of dependence upon God.

Paul’s approach to the spiritual life is so different from that of many today. Paul does not seek to motivate Christians by questioning their salvation or by suggesting that, by sin, they can lose it. He does not suggest that unspiritual living is the result of failing to possess the Spirit but bases his teaching on the certainty that every Christian is indwelt by the Spirit. And he does not appeal to guilt or fear but to grace and assurance. Paul assumes that his readers are genuine Christians. If they have been justified by faith, then they have the Spirit dwelling within. Christians, according to Paul, do not need to receive the Spirit, but to respond to the Spirit, in faith and obedience for assurance, guidance, empowerment, and a host of other ministries.

The Christian’s walk according to the Spirit is a walk of obedience, based upon our obligation to God, based upon His goodness and grace to us. There are no harsh words, no dictatorial commands. Paul is not a sergeant here addressing new recruits but a brother reminding us of the goodness of our Father. God’s Spirit is a gift from the Father to every Christian. He reminds us that we are sons. He leads us and empowers us so that we may act like sons to the glory of the Father.

Sunday – December 12, 2021 Romans Week 33 Romans 7:14-25 Pt 2 “This is War”

Sunday – December 12, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 12, 2021

Romans 7:24-25
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

I tend to think of Paul as the man with all the answers. If anyone can understand sin and my struggle with it, it would be Paul. But in our text Paul is the one struggling, and he does not offer a quick or easy explanation. This is because sin cannot be understood. Sin is irrational. We try to rationalize our sinful actions to make it appear that we have reasons, good reasons, for our sin but there is no good reason for sin. Sin is an irrational act which has no easy, rational explanation.

We have little difficulty believing we struggle with sin or that others like Peter struggled, but Paul somehow seems above it all.  Yet Paul’s struggle is a deeply personal struggle, with sin and with his own flesh. It is a war within, the result from his conversion to Christ, that did not exist until he was saved. However, Paul’s despair was legitimate and even necessary. Until we hate sin, we will not turn from it. Until we reach the end of ourselves, we will not look to God. Just as unsaved person must come to the end of themselves in order to receive God’s gracious provision of righteousness, by faith in Christ, Christians too must come to the end of themselves to find the solution, once again, at the cross of Calvary.

If coming to the end of ourselves is essential to turning to God for our deliverance, then many Christians will never turn to God for victory over sin because they do not recognize their true condition or take it seriously enough. It was the self-righteous Pharisees who did not come to Jesus for forgiveness simply because they did not think they needed it. It is the “smooth-sailing saints” who do not come to the cross for deliverance from the power of sin in their lives because they do not agonize over their condition as Paul did.

How great is our struggle? My concern is that I lack the kind of agony that Paul has. If our struggle is as great as Paul’s, we will in desperation give up all self-help efforts and turn to the cross. God has provided a righteousness through the power of the Spirit. The answer is to come in Romans 8- the very Spirit that raised the dead body of Jesus Christ from the grave is the Spirit that dwells in you and will give life to your mortal bodies. The solution for Christians is the walk of the Spirit, but we will never get to that point until we have come to the desperation of Paul in Romans 7. My prayer is that we begin to grasp the immensity of the struggle with sin and forsake all efforts to serve God in the strength of our flesh.

Sunday – December 5, 2021 Romans Week 32 Romans 7:14-25 “Who is This Wretched Man”

Sunday – December 5, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – December 5, 2021

Romans 7:19-20
For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

Paul describes in the Book of Romans a great struggle—one with which only Christians can identify and one with which all Christians can identify. The Christian’s agony comes from realizing that our sinful flesh refuses to respond to the requirements of God’s Law. Those things we as Christians despise, we find ourselves doing and those things we as Christians desire, we fail to accomplish. No matter how much we may wish to serve God in our minds, we find ourselves sinning in our bodies.

My body generally does what I ask it to do, although to my chagrin, it does it slower and not nearly as well as it used to do. It is a frightening thought that someday it may not respond to my requests at all. But it is one thing to have our body not do what we tell it to and quite another to realize that our body is very obedient to something else. Every Christian who reads Romans 7:14-25 should immediately identify with Paul’s expression of frustration and agony due to the weakness of his fleshly body: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). We are confronted with a dilemma as we try to live righteously. If there were no answer for this question, who would dare to press on with living a holy life?

Christians and non-Christians alike struggle, but they struggle with very different things. The non-Christian’s enemy is God and ultimately the struggle of the unbeliever is their struggle with God. Their distress and troubles are a manifestation of the wrath of God. We were born in our transgressions and sin; we were at enmity with God—sin is not the problem. For the Christian, sin is the enemy and that changes only at conversion. The struggle Paul is describing is his personal struggle with sin, as I understand it, as a believer.

Some of our most tender nerves are touched by Paul’s teaching in verses 14-25. The truths taught here could be taken as the most depressing and hopeless realities of our lives. But Paul does not dwell on the weakness of our flesh in order to discourage us. Rather, Paul exposes the weakness of our flesh as the root problem that prevent Christians from living the kind of lives God requires and which we, as Christians, desire in our innermost being. Paul exposes the weakness of our flesh to prepare us for God’s provision for godly living, the solution found in Romans 8. Those of us willing to honestly identify with the agony of Romans 7 will be ready for the ecstasy of God’s gracious provision for living righteously in Romans 8. Let us welcome these words of encouragement as a revelation from God, for these verses are God’s good news for sinners.

Sunday – November 21, 2021 Romans Week 30 Rom 7:1-6 “The Relationship Between Rules and Righteousness”

Sunday – November 21, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 21, 2021

Romans 7:4
So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.”

Throughout history, the two extremes of license and legalism have existed with each pointing to the other as the justification for their own error. To the legalist, grace was the cause of sin while the Law was the solution for sin. To Paul, legalism promoted sin while grace alone could overcome it. The Law did not save Abraham, for it was not given at the time he was justified, by faith alone. It was not the Law which saved Israel from Egyptian bondage, for the Law was not given until after God’s defeat of Egypt and Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea. Law-keeping would never save any Israelite but only faith.

When Jesus began His earthly ministry, He immediately distinguished His teaching and that of the Law from the false teaching and legalism of the scribes and Pharisees. The apostles and leaders of the church in Jerusalem had great difficulty concluding that the gospel was to be offered to the Gentiles and that Gentile saints were not to be placed under the yoke of the Law and made Law-keepers. The apostles had to battle against both license and legalism as contrary to the gospel and the grace of God.

Legalism is one of the great threats to the Christian of our day, not just to those of Paul’s day. It is certainly true that we can find ample evidence of license and liberalism in the church today. But the danger about which Paul warns us in our text is legalism. Legalism is not the cure for license just as grace is not an excuse for sin. It is not Law but grace which the church needs more of today because it provides the cure for sin. Yet the temptation to put Christians under rules and regulations, thinking rules will defeat sin and result in righteousness, still exists in the Church today. Legalism may look good but it utterly fails to produce righteousness.

Christianity has always had its hypocrites and its bad examples. There are those who would abuse the grace of God, making it an excuse for their sin. They are wrong! There are also those who would seek to put Christians under a long list of rules, usually Don’ts. These folks are wrong too. Justification by faith is God’s solution for sin and its consequences. Justification by faith is God’s provision of righteousness, so that men might be saved, and so that they might manifest His righteousness in their lives. If you would be free from the burden of your sin, receive God’s gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. Trust in Him as the One who died in your place, bearing the punishment for your sins. Receive from Him that righteousness which you can never produce by your own efforts.

Sunday – November 14, 2021 Romans Week 29 Romans 6:19-24 “Is There Win Over Sin”

Sunday – November 14, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 14, 2021

Romans 6:22-23
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

For those who have been saved, who have been justified by faith in Jesus Christ, the subject of good works is still very important. If God does not save men on the basis of their works, does this mean that the deeds of the Christian do not matter? The relationship between faith and works is an important one, and it is an issue which is presently causing Christians to disagree and debate among themselves. It is commonly known as the question of “lordship salvation.”

The fundamental issue is the relationship between faith and good works. On the one side are those who wish to stress that justification is by faith alone, “apart from works,” just as Paul teaches (Romans 4:1-6). On the other side are those who insist that salvation is “unto good works,” just as Paul teaches (Ephesians 2:10). The fact is, both “sides” are correct, but each stress one side of the issue more than the other.

Having established once for all that man’s works do not contribute to his “justification by faith,” Paul now sets out to show the necessity of sanctification. God does not justify men only to get them to heaven or to keep them from hell, God justifies us to make us righteous, not only in principle, but in practice. Those who would advocate “living in sin” would do so under the banner of “liberty.” Paul refutes this error by raising the banner of “slavery.” Freedom is a misnomer because in reality, everyone is a slave and must choose one of two masters. Unsaved men are the slaves of sin. They have no choice, though they think of themselves as free. In Christ, believers have the freedom to choose our master: God or sin. But we still have a master.

One’s choice to become a slave can be either conscious or unconscious. To continue to present oneself to sin is to remain a slave to sin. Very few people choose to become drug addicts. They begin by dabbling with them. They think they are in control, but soon the drug controls (enslaves) them, and they are no longer free. It is the same with sin. To dabble with sin is to become enslaved to it. And to be enslaved by sin is to put oneself on the road to death. Sanctification is not the “higher path” of the few, the committed, the dedicated; it is that path which is expected of every believer. Sanctification is the expected outcome of justification. We dare not excuse ourselves from pursuing this path. If we do, we will be very much like those who say, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?”

Sunday – November 7, 2021 Romans Week 28 Romans 6:12-18 “Stop It”

Sunday – November 7, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – November 7, 2021

Romans 6:13-14
Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Freedom is difficult to obtain and even more difficult to maintain. Political liberation neither immediately nor automatically leads to democracy. Once a dictator is overthrown and his government toppled, the newly liberated people often find they are not equipped to handle freedom nor the governing of themselves. The Christian life is something like this. Salvation brings immediate forgiveness for sin but not immediate freedom from sin. When a person is “born again,” or justified by faith in Jesus Christ, they are loosed from the bondage of sin. And yet sin soon seems to gain the upper hand once again and reigns in the life of the believer.

Romans 6 provides a biblical basis for turning from sin to godly living, from the practice of sin to the pursuit of righteousness. In this text, Paul provides evidence in support of godliness. Paul calls the Christian’s attention to their “baptism into Christ,” which unites them with both His death and His resurrection. Our union with Christ prohibits us from living in sin, because this would be inconsistent with and contrary to the work of Christ on the cross. In Christ we died to sin, and thus we must not continue to live in sin. In Christ, we were raised to newness of life, and thus we must live a new and different life in and through Him.

Sanctification is the lifelong process of spiritual growth which takes place in the life of the Christian resulting in the glorification of God. By inference, our text teaches us that sanctification is surely not automatic. Once we have been saved, we are not predisposed to always do God’s will. Growth does not occur by accident. The Christian is faced with decisions and choices. While there is boasting and great confidence, there is also agony and struggle. The struggles and tribulations are a part of the process.

Sanctification is not immediate, and it is not easy, but it is remarkably simple.  We do not struggle with sanctification because it is so hard to understand, but because it is so hard to do. Sanctification is rooted in the cross of Jesus Christ. We were saved from sin and unto righteousness. Our sanctification is grounded in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He died not only for sin, but to sin. Since we have been baptized into Christ, we must not live in sin; we must die to sin. Our lifestyle must radically change as a result of our union with Him and His work at Calvary. Our sanctification is necessitated by the cross, and it is provided for by the cross. The cross of Christ is the key to our salvation and our sanctification.

Sunday – October 31, 2021 Romans Week 27 Romans 6:4-11 “Are You Alive to God”

Sunday – October 31, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 31, 2021

Romans 6:4
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

As Paul concluded his instruction on justification in Romans 5, he spoke of the identification of all mankind with Adam, with his sin, and with the penalty of death which God pronounced as the penalty for his sin. He also spoke of Jesus, the “last Adam”, and the salvation which He accomplished for all whose identity is found in Him, by faith. Paul now plays out the implications of the Christian’s union with Christ, which is initiated by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, publicly professed in water baptism, and which is to be lived out in a radically different lifestyle.

Fundamental to understanding Paul’s teaching in verses 3-11 is knowing what he means by baptism in these verses. By and large, the New Testament writers speak of baptism in two ways. First, there is the physical rite of water baptism. John the Baptist required men and women to be baptized as an outward evidence of their repentance. Jesus’ disciples likewise baptized men, those who repented of their sins, in preparation for the coming kingdom of God (John 3:22). Those who came to faith in Jesus as the Messiah were baptized as a testimony to their repentance and faith in Jesus.

Baptism, according to Paul here, brings about identification or union with Jesus Christ, in His death, burial, and resurrection. To be baptized into Christ is to be baptized into His death. The “old man”—the person we once were in Adam—died in Christ. Our body, in bondage to sin, was rendered ineffective by our death in Christ. Our Lord’s death at Calvary was not only a death for sin, but a death to sin. His death for our sins accomplished propitiation and the forgiveness of our sins. His death to sin achieved a separation from sin. Sin has no power over one who has died. We died to sin in Christ, and thus sin has no claim on us.

The death of Christ ended an era in our lives. It closed that ugly chapter of our lives marked by sin and destined us for death. It was but one event, ending the death-grip of sin on our lives. But the resurrection of Christ commenced a whole new and eternal life. The death of Christ was one event in history, a death to sin “once for all.” The life of our Lord is for all time, an endless succession of living toward God. This is why living in sin is entirely inconsistent with the work of Christ on the cross of Calvary. Just as we must receive the atoning work of our Lord as His act accomplished for us, personally, so we must also accept His death to sin, resurrection, and life toward God personally. We must regard ourselves as dead to sin and alive toward God. To continue to live in sin is inconceivable, in the light of our death to sin and resurrection to life, in Christ.

Sunday – October 24, 2021 Romans Week 26 Romans 6:1-4 “Are You Dead to Sin”

Sunday – October 24, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 24, 2021

Romans 6:1-2
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

As we have seen in our study of Romans 5, God gave the Law, not to defeat sin, or even to reduce it, but to cause it to increase. The Law made sin more evident, and it increased the problem faced by mankind. But it also meant that the grace by which sin was to be dealt a death blow was also to increase. Since grace always surpasses and exceeds sin, the greater sin is, the greater grace must be. While we can be confident in the principal that grace always outruns and exceeds sin, we need to be aware there is a corollary to the principle and it is this: SIN ALWAYS SEEKS TO USE THAT WHICH IS GOOD TO PROMOTE EVIL.

The question Paul raises in verse 1 is an illustration of this. Paul’s answer makes it clear this is not something he would suggest or promote, but that some do. Paul asks the question, “Are we to continue in sin, that grace might increase?” If God caused sin to increase by the giving of the Law, with the result that grace abounded all the more, why should His children not do likewise? “May it never be!” is Paul’s response, and as always, it is an expression of shock, horror, and disappointment. It is an expression of dismay that someone could take a valid truth—grace always outruns sin—and make it an excuse for doing evil. For a Christian to continue in sin, because his sins are forgiven and because grace will abound, is an abominable thought to Paul—and it should be to us.

Justification was not intended as a license to sin, but as liberation from sin. It is God’s provision not only to be declared righteous but to live righteously. Sin blinded us as unbelievers, but it also distorts our vision and perspective as believers. Paul’s words in our text serve as a strong caution, reminding us of the effects of sin which remain in us. We must beware of the danger here. How easily doing what is wrong can be justified as serving the purposes of God. We must constantly be on the alert to this danger.

The gospel of Jesus Christ does not offer forgiveness for those who would continue in sin, but salvation for those who would be delivered from their sins. When you read through the Bible, you will discover that God never proclaimed the gospel as a means by which sinners could continue to sin, but the means to have the assurance of forgiveness and eternal life. The gospel begins with a condemnation of sin and sinners, by a righteous and holy God. It offers men the solution for sin in Jesus Christ, a solution which includes both forgiveness of sin and freedom from sin.

Sunday – October 17, 2021 Romans Week 25 Romans 6 Overview “The Necessity of Sanctification”

Sunday – October 17, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 17, 2021

Roman 6:1              
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?“

God created a world of wonder and beauty, a world at peace and harmony. As we read frequently in the first two chapters of Genesis, “… it was good.” But then Adam and Eve sinned. From that point on in time, ugliness, chaos, and devastation have been the rule of the day. No longer does the description “good” seem to fit in our fallen world.

Our passage reminds me of the great impact which Adam’s sin has had on our world and on mankind in particular. Everything which man touches, man corrupts, including the splendor of the salvation which God has provided in Jesus Christ. Our righteous God cannot tolerate sin, and so, in His holiness, He condemned sin and sinners. In His mercy and righteousness, He provided for man’s salvation, by pouring out His holy indignation on His Son, Jesus Christ. God provided unrighteous men with His own righteousness, and what does man immediately do? He seeks to turn God’s grace into a license for sin. God’s salvation is distorted, so that salvation now becomes an excuse, even a mandate, for sin. The questions Paul has raised in Romans 6 only remind us of how desperately evil our hearts are, that we would seek to excuse sin as though we were serving God.

Romans 6 teaches the gospel is not only the basis for our conduct, it is the standard. When the possibility of continuing to live in sin is raised, Paul refutes it by taking us back to the cross. Christ died to sin and was raised to newness of life. When we were saved, we were united with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection. How then can those who died to sin live in sin? The cross is the standard for our conduct. God saved unrighteous men, not in order that they could continue to live in sin, but to enable them to live in righteousness. We must live in conformity to God’s purposes and provisions and not in conformity to our former lusts.

Sin blinds the unbeliever, but it also distorts the vision and the perspective of the believer. Paul’s words in our text serve as a strong caution, reminding us of the effects of sin which remain, in us. Paul informs us that even the truth can be distorted and perverted so that sound doctrine is twisted to excuse and to advocate sin. Let us beware of the danger here. How easily we can deceive ourselves and excuse sin in our lives. How easily doing what is wrong can be justified as serving the purposes of God. We must constantly be on the alert to this danger.

Sunday – October 10, 2021 Romans Week 24 Romans 5:20-21 “Super Abundant Grace”

Sunday – October 10, 2021

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Word On Worship – Sunday – October 10, 2021

Romans 5:19
For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

We might say that the work of Adam was a bad beginning for the whole human race. But the work of our Lord Jesus Christ offers men a new beginning. Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection does much more than to allow us to go on living just as we have in the past, but knowing that the sins we commit are forgiven. The work of our Lord makes it both necessary and possible for us to begin living in a whole new way, not as the servants of sin, but as the servants of righteousness. The work of our Lord not only forgives the sins of our past, it wipes out our past, and gives us a new future. In Christ, God offers men a whole new life, a new beginning, a fresh start. What good news this is—to the ears of a repentant sinner.

Having summed up the impact of Adam and Christ, Paul returns to the subject of the Law. Already Paul has said that those who lived before the Law (from Adam until Moses, verse 14) died because they sinned in Adam. Sin is not imputed to men without law (verse 13). The absence of the Law, for those who lived before the giving of the Law, was a kind of blessing. Without the Law, sin, other than that of their sin in Adam, was not imputed to them.

The giving of the Law did not solve the problem of sin. The Law was not given in order to reduce or remove sin but to increase it. And the reason was so that grace could surpass sin, abounding to men in righteousness and salvation. The Law increased sin, our Lord Jesus bore the penalty of that sin, and the grace of God is multiplied. The Law was not to deliver men from sin but to declare men sinners so that the sin introduced by Adam could be remedied in Christ. The link between Adam and Christ is that both persons, though one man, have acted in a way that affects all men. Adam sinned, and his transgression brought condemnation upon all men. Christ’s act was one of righteousness, resulting in justification and life. Adam’s disobedience makes sinners of many; Christ’s obedience will make many righteous.

How differently things look now! It first appeared that God might be unfair, condemning us as sinners, in Adam. But now we see this was in order that He might receive us as saints, in Christ. If the imputation of Adam’s sin to all mankind resulted in condemnation, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness results in justification. The means for man’s justification is the same as the means for man’s condemnation—imputation. The work of one man both condemns and saves men.