Posts Tagged ‘sin’

Romans 11:32-36

In Romans 11:32-36 Paul give us the idea that God has shut up both Jew and Gentile and locked them up as lawbreakers. God offers mercy to these prisoners, based on the person and work of Jesus. Everyone is guilty of disobedience. Or if we call it what it truly is, and Paul told us earlier in Romans, we’re all guilty of sin. “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.” Sin carries a consequence for all of us. Paul told us that earlier in the chapter – the wages of sin is death. So God came up with a plan to have mercy for all of us – the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross.

What God has done doesn’t make sense. We choose to sin. It isn’t His fault. He doesn’t have to fix our bad choices and failure to live up to His standards. But He has a plan and put it into motion on the cross. As Paul considers God’s great plan of the ages, he breaks into spontaneous praise. Paul realizes that God’s ways are past finding out, and God’s wisdom and knowledge is beyond him. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” There is great wisdom and compassion in His plan for us.

Paul quotes some words from Job that emphasize both God’s wisdom and sovereign conduct. God doesn’t owe us anything. “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” We’ll never truly understand why God loves us like He does. And you can try all you want – but you will never make God a debtor to you. You can’t out-give God. He will never need to repay a debt to anyone. “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” We’d be in debt for eternity, but God chose to fix our sin problem with a free gift available to all through faith – we just need to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Paul summarizes God’s plan in a simple yet profound verse. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

  1. From Him – This plan came from God. It wasn’t man’s idea. We didn’t say, “I’ve offended God and have to find a way back to Him. Let’s work on a plan to come back to God.” In our spiritual indifference and death we didn’t care about a plan, and even if we did care we aren’t smart enough or wise enough to make one. It is all of Him.
  2. Through Him – Even if we had the plan, we couldn’t make it happen. We couldn’t free ourselves from this prison of sin and self. It could only happen through Him, and the great work of Jesus on our behalf is the through Him that brings salvation.
  3. To Him – It’s not for me, it’s not for you, it’s all to Him. It is to the praise of the glory of His grace

The fact that Paul can’t figure out God makes him glorify God all the more. When we understand some of the greatness of God, we worship Him all the more passionately.


Romans 8:33-39

In Romans 8:33-39 Paul reminds us that we are secure from any charge that might be brought against us. God alone is the determination of justice. No one else has any say. “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” With Jesus as our advocate, nothing else matters. “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” He sits next to God and is there making our case for us. He’s got the inside track and His intercession is all we will need to be justified and allowed to spend eternity with Him.

How much does Jesus love us? A lot. An awful lot. In fact, nothing can get between us. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” We may face all sorts of challenges and suffering and pain and sorrow – none of it will ever separate us from Jesus’ love. He went to the cross and sacrificed all He was for our benefit. His love is deeper and wider and higher and will last longer than all the things that bombard us. We are His and can never be pulled from His love. Not for a minute. No, not ever!

We are under attack and the world and the evil in it want to believe we are being destroyed. But we aren’t. We can’t be. “As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” We have Jesus which makes us a conqueror. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” How is the Christian more than a conqueror?

  • He overcomes with a greater power, the power of Jesus
  • He overcomes with a greater motive, the glory of Jesus
  • He overcomes with a greater victory, losing nothing even in the battle
  • He overcomes with a greater love, conquering enemies with love and converting persecutors with patience

Paul wraps up this chapter with a list of all the things that may come at us to try and separate us from the love of Christ. None of them have that power or authority. All of them are subject to God and Jesus and they are mere annoyances, not determinations to our fate. Jesus paid the price. He won the war. He has given us eternal life and the assurance that His love will be with us forever. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Amen and Amen!

Romans 8:29-32

In Romans 8:29-32 Paul continues by connecting the dots to the prior verse where God promises to use all things to work together for good. Why? Because God is working in us and through us to conform us to become like Jesus. This verse tells us God ‘foreknew’ us. Other versions say we are predestined, called, justified, or glorified. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” God doesn’t do it for us however. It’s his eternal plan, but we have to participate and do our part.

Smith talks about our being foreknown this way. “Of course I believe in predestination, since it’s plainly taught in the Scriptures. The doctrine could be assumed, even if the word was never explicitly used. It’s a thrilling truth that doesn’t upset me at all. The fact that He chose me and began a good work in me proves that He’ll continue to perform it. He wouldn’t bring me this far and then dump me.” God helps us conform to Christ’s image with our cooperation. He doesn’t do it for us. He doesn’t do it to us. He will do it with us. And that gives us quite a great outcome. “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

If all we had were the first few chapters of the Book of Romans, some might believe that God was against us. Now that Paul has shown the lengths that God went to save man from His wrath and equip him for victory over sin and death, who can doubt that God is for us? “ What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Most all men say or think that God is for them – terrorists commit horrible crimes thinking that God is for them. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit guards this statement with an “if,” so we may know that just because a man thinks God is with him does not make it so. God is only for us if we are reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ.

God has already given us the ultimate gift when He sent Christ to the cross.  There should be no question that He will provide all we need be it big or small. God held nothing back when it came to making a way for us to be in an eternal place with Him. He didn’t have to. Our future could have been based on how we lived in comparison to His law. But we would have all failed the test and missed the mark. So He made a way. It cost Him His Son, but He gave it for us gladly. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”  We can trust Him to take care of all our other needs based on His faithful love for us.

Romans 8:19-23

In Romans 8:19-23 Paul reminds us that creation is waiting to find out who are truly children of God. Why? Because all of us were created by God in His image and should have been on a path to eternal life with the Father. But a big rock got in the way – this thing called sin – which derailed the plan and because of the free will God gave us – now our redemption is dependent on our relationship with Christ.  It is through His shed blood and the forgiveness of our sin that we become sons of God and will experience all God has created for us for eternity. “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.”

God has subjected creation into a period of waiting and hope to find out who are truly children of God. He could have dictated we love and obey Him.  But He didn’t – He gave us the ability to choose how we live and because of that our future and fate waits until we stand before Him at judgment day. “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” Those who know Christ will be set free from sin and experience God’s glory.

But until that time, creation waits. Some believe that this passage refers to their ‘super-Christian’ group of special people.  That isn’t what it says. All creation waits for God’s revealing of His children, not some specific group of followers. And as creation waits, it is undergoing birth pains.  Some misread this verse and think it is death pains, but in fact that’s not what is meant here. There is anxious anticipation as creation waits for those who are sons of God to be revealed and made known. “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”

This waiting is more than creation. We too can wait with anticipation for that day when we will be adopted as sons of God. Certainly there is a sense by which Christ Followers have already been adopted, but when this day comes, it’ll be like having all the t’s crossed and I’s dotted and we’ll have our forever paperwork complete. We can rest assured it will come to completion along with God redeeming our earthly bodies. “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies

Romans 8:15-18

In Romans 8:15-18 Paul reminds us that we are children of God, not slaves to sin or the law. Living as a child of God means an intimate, joy filled relationship with God, not the bondage and fear demonstrated by the law. A child of God can have a relationship with God so close that they may cry out ‘Daddy’ as they think about the adoption we have as His son or daughter. “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  We are in Christ and we have the privilege of relating to the Father just like Jesus Christ does.

Paul says that those who are God’s children, born again by the Spirit of God, know their status because the Holy Spirit is in us and gives witness to us that we are God’s own. There are some who assume or think they are God’s children but are wrong because they have no testimony from the Spirit within them. “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…”There are others who may be fighting spiritual warfare and have a hard time recognizing the Spirit’s witness, but that doesn’t change their heritage.

We don’t have to wonder if we are really Christians or not. God’s children know who they are because the Spirit tells us so. Along with being in that relationship with God, we also are heirs to the Kingdom. Our place as a child of God makes us an heir as well. Because we are in Christ, we have the privilege of relating to the Father as Jesus does. Therefore, we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. But there is a catch – being an heir is not without some cost. “….provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” We get all the goodness, but we also have to endure some suffering. Because we are in Christ, we are also called to share in His suffering. God’s children are not immune from trials and suffering.

In the grand scheme of things, those sufferings are nothing compared to the glory of being an heir. Paul was not ignorant or blind to the sufferings of human existence; he experienced more of them than most any of us today. Yet he still considered that the future glory far outweighed the present sufferings. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Life comes down to perspective and keeping things in balance. Glory exists in us right now, but there is a coming glory that we’ll experience that will be far beyond what we can comprehend!  Are you a child of the King?

Romans 8:12-14

In Romans 8:12-14 Paul reminds us that there is a big difference between the human flesh and the Spirit. The flesh doesn’t give us anything good. Our debt is to the Lord, not our flesh. “So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.”  Paul constantly reminds us that living after the flesh ends in death. We need the reminder because we are often deceived into thinking that the flesh offers us life. The way we are able to put the flesh to death is not by our own power or might, but by the Spirit working in us. We can’t deal with the flesh on our own. It will conquer us.

What happens if we continue to live by the flesh. It’s pretty direct and simple – death. “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” And the opposite is true as well.  If we live by the Spirit, it is also simple and direct – we have life. And that life is not merely of this world but eternal. The change that happens when we live by the Spirit is that we become sons of God. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Being led by the Spirit is not a pre-condition to being a son of God. Instead, we become sons first and then the Spirit of God leads us.

Paul didn’t say, “As many as go to church, these are the sons of God.” He didn’t say, “As many as read their Bibles, these are the sons of God.” He didn’t say, “As many as are patriotic Americans, these are the sons of God.” He didn’t say, “As many as take communion, these are the sons of God.” In this text, the test for sonship is whether or not a person is led by the Spirit of God. How does the Holy Spirit lead us?

  • We are led by guidance
  • We are led by drawing
  • We are led by governing authority
  • We are led as we cooperate with the leading

How the Spirit leads us is critical. But we also can know where the Spirit will lead us:

  • He leads us to repentance
  • He leads us to think little of self and much of Jesus
  • He leads us into truth
  • He leads us into love
  • He leads us into holiness
  • He leads us into usefulness

The Spirit is the mark that defines us as a child of God.

Romans 8:7-11

In Romans 8:7-11 Paul continues to explain the battle that we face in our efforts to deal with the flesh. We can try to do good in life without being subject to the law of God. We may hope to put God “in debt” to us by good works, thinking God owes us. But it doesn’t work. We will never be able to stay the course of good works on our own. In the flesh we cannot please God, even if the flesh does religious things that are admired by men. “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” Because the Holy Spirit is given to each believer when they are born again, every Christian has within themselves a principle higher and more powerful than the flesh.

Without the Spirit guiding us as a Christ Follower, we will fall short. Our sin nature will ultimately win out. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” However, many do miss out on living the Christian life in the constant fullness of the Spirit because they are not constantly being filled with the Holy Spirit as Paul commanded in Ephesians. “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” The Spirit is in us as Christ Followers, but we have to submit to Him constantly and continue to allow the Spirit to guide our every step.

Because Jesus lives in us, the old man (body or nature) is dead, but the Spirit lives and reigns, and will live out His salvation even through our mortal bodies through resurrection. But there is a big ‘if’ – we have to choose to allow the Spirit to have control and not fall back to our old sinful ways. Our human nature still pulls us toward sin. We don’t have to give in, but without choosing continually to be filled with the Spirit we’ll lose the battle. “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”  We’ve been set up for a victorious life and only we can make bad choices that will derail God’s plan for victory in our life.

Every believer has the Holy Spirit. It is a misnomer to divide Christians among the “Spirit-filled” and the “non-Spirit-filled.” If a person is not filled with the Holy Spirit, they are not a Christian at all. And because of that, we have eternal life as Christ Followers. “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” How does one know that they have the Spirit? Ask these questions:

  • Has the Spirit led you to Jesus?
  • Has the Spirit put in you the desire to honor Jesus?
  • Is the Spirit leading you to be more like Jesus?
  • Is the Spirit at work in your heart?
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