Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Way of the Spirit, Not the Law - Romans 5-6

Through Christ's death, we are no longer tempted by the old Law to rebel against it. We are no longer required to believe in God because of fear, but to choose to believe in God because of faith in an awesome gift.

"1-2By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise."

Photo: Romans 3 :23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 3:24 But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 3:25 God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat accessible
 through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed. 3:26 This was also to demonstrate his righteousness in the present time, so that he would be just and the justifier of the one who lives because of Jesus’ faithfulness. 
Romans 3 23-26 God's grace is open to us at all times. He never closes his door to us, even when our door may be shut to him. All we have to do is enter through faith and be set right by God, all because of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. Ask, and you shall receive.

"9-11Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we're at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!"

 You aren't expected to be 100% perfect the rest of your life... you should strive to live a good life by God's standards,  but you are no longer tied to God's law like the OT - the punishment is no longer death, but the gift is life! Instead of giving us a spanking, God has decided to use positive reinforcement. ;-) 

"12-14You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we're in— first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. That sin disturbed relations with God in everything and everyone, but the extent of the disturbance was not clear until God spelled it out in detail to Moses. So death, this huge abyss separating us from God, dominated the landscape from Adam to Moses. Even those who didn't sin precisely as Adam did by disobeying a specific command of God still had to experience this termination of life, this separation from God. But Adam, who got us into this, also points ahead to the One who will get us out of it."

When Adam sinned, punishment was death instead of everlasting life. And this wasn't just for him, but for all mankind. But when Jesus went to the cross, the opposite happened. His sacrifice gave us the gift of life, through faith in him.

"20-21All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn't, and doesn't, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it's sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that's the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us into life—a life that goes on and on and on, world without end."

Many humans rebel against a bunch of rules by nature... we try to outlaw marijuana, people still smoke it... as teenager we go through that rebellious stage - the more rules our parents tried to enforce, the more we tried to break away and got in trouble. But if they apply grace, and use positive reinforcement - like we know we get to go out on Friday night with our friends as long as our room is clean, or when we were little we got a treat at the grocery for good behavior... God has done the same thing by sacrificing his son for our sins, and giving us the gift of grace.

Romans 6 - "1-3So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we've left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn't you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under the water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace—a new life in a new land!"

Well, we knew that if we screwed up, we didn't get to go out on Friday night or get a treat at the store... the same with sin and God. Just because he extends us grace doesn't mean we can just go live an intentionally sinful life. The gift is a reward for trying to live a good life through faith in Christ. And when we got saved, or baptized, we left our old ways behind when we asked forgiveness. The Law isn't completely abolished -the New Testament makes it abundantly clear that the believer in Christ is not any longer under the Mosaic law in its entirety… Indeed after having been delivered from the law, to deliberately place ourselves once again under its [control] is said to be “falling from grace.” - however to define sin there must be some sort of law. Just because we have grace, doesn't mean we can sin. Long before the law was given to Moses, it was utterly wrong to do evil things.

"12-14That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don't give it the time of day. Don't even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you've been raised from the dead!—into God's way of doing things. Sin can't tell you how to live. After all, you're not living under that old tyranny any longer. You're living in the freedom of God."

The ways of sin should not even be included in your life. Live in the new freedom you've been given. Strive to live by God's standards and love others. Don't criticize or judge, show compassion. Be tolerant and don't offend others. Don't lie, cheat, steal, kill ,etc... but do so because you know it is right and because a life in heaven is your reward for not doing evil. Plus remember, we are all on this earth together - God created us all. Treat each other with the same respect you wish to receive. And remember, no matter how hard you try you are not perfect - which is why God gives us grace. Extend that grace to others and don't pass personal judgement on another for their sins or mistakes in life.

And don't push your religion on another. If you are going to live by your religion, that is wonderful -  to fellow Christians - in order to justify yourself with the word of God you must educate yourself fully on his word and follow every aspect - and don't just take the word of preachers in the church - we are warned of false prophets. Don't loosely translate the word verse by verse - but listen to what the writers are telling you as prophets and disciples of God. If you use a single verse to backup your claim, make sure it still means the same thing in the original content you pulled it from. And don't use it to hurt others - God does not want us to hurt people, especially with his word! God's greatest command is love.

 "15-18So, since we're out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we're free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it's your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you've let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you've started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom.
20-21As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn't have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you're proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end.
 22-23But now that you've found you don't have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God's gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master." 

We are taught in the NT that the old covenant of the Mosaic Law was temporary, and has been replaced by the coming of Christ. This doesn't mean we are free to do whatever we want - a new covenant is established in the NT.

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