Monthly Archives: May 2015

When in Rome (a Look at Romans) – Part 6

Ahh, sin. How many times has this been covered in the church? The problem is that I still don’t think that we understand what it is all about. Read Romans chapter 6, and then take a look at my thoughts.

The first thing that I would like to draw your attention to, is the very first sentence. If we’re saved by grace, can we keep on sinning? It is not so much the answer that I’m talking about, but the question itself. Paul is asked this question a few times, twice here and in other locations too. Do you preach the gospel? Do you ever tell anyone about what Jesus has done for us? If you do this, and no one has ever asked you if they can keep on sinning, then maybe you haven’t explained it properly. I’m not saying this as a judgement, I am merely saying that the gospel sounds almost ‘too good to be true’. If we understand that we are completely forgiven for all of our sins, past, present and future, then this question should come up. Very often, we preach against sin, what not to do. We make such a big fuss about doing the right thing, and repentance, that we very seldom have people actually asking us this question. This is a problem. Now please don’t get me wrong, I am not condoning sin, not by any stretch of the imagination. I am merely making the point that our sin has been forgiven, and we are preaching an accurate gospel message, we should get the same question asked that Paul did.

So what is the deal with sin. We WERE sinners, we are now a NEW CREATION. By default this means that we are no longer sinners. This is why it irritates me when we refer to ourselves as ‘sinners saved by grace’. If we are sinners then we have not been saved by grace, and if we have been saved by grace, then we are no longer sinners. Does this mean that we don’t sometimes give into sin? No, we do still actually sin, but we are no longer ‘sinners’. Verse 14 says that we are no longer slaves to sin, but verse 12 tells us not to give into sin. You see we used to be controlled by sin, we almost had no choice, but now we are covered by grace. This means that we are now in control of our sin that the other way around. We now have the power to turn our back on sin, we have the power to choose not to sin. Not in our own power, but because of what Jesus has done for us, but we have the ability none the less. Sin still kills, it still causes us harm and it still gives the devil a foothold. It is still something that needs to be rooted out of our lives, make no mistake about this. Having said this, it has lost its power. We now have the power. Power in the name of Jesus. We have been given the grace and power to root sin our of our lives, in order to take the power from the enemy. Use the opportunity.

Take a look from verse 20 to the end of the chapter. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. This is what I am talking about, we need to do the things that lead to holiness, not things that will give the devil and his helpers a foothold in your life.

So there you have it. When I get asked if I believe in grace or works, I say, “both”. We are saved by grace, no amount of works will earn us salvation, trust me. Having said that, sin is never good, it is always to our detriment. We don’t need to earn our salvation, and there is no condemnation for us, but we do need to root sin out of our lives.

Identify any sin in your life, and get rid of it.

Richard

When in Rome (a Look at Romans) – Part 5

Today I take a look at Romans 5, and I am glad that I am doing so. Since I wrote about faith last week, I have been under some fairly heavy attack from the enemy. The words of the people who said that faith does not matter, and that God will do what He has planned to do, regardless of our response, have been ringing through my head. Not in an encouraging way, but to try and bring me down, to try and make me give up. Romans 5 once again states the importance of faith, and what Jesus has already done for us. Let’s take a look.

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. Now please don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that it is all up to us, we would have nothing to have faith in if Jesus hadn’t first died for us. Also, this faith is talking about accepting Jesus as our Saviour, but it doesn’t end there. It says that we are now in a place of undeserved privilege. Is that privilege only the fact that we will go to heaven, or is there more to it than that? We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. This is talking about more than just being saved, it talks about life. This piece of scripture says that we can rejoice when we run into problems and trials, but I need to clarify here, as this is widely misunderstood. We are not accepting the problems, we are rejoicing because God will use the problems to make us stronger. I don’t believe that God sends the problems, He merely uses them to our advantage. Please don’t think that you’re in a mess because ‘God wants you there’. I don’t believe that He does. When we go through trials and problems, we develop endurance, which develops strength of character, which builds faith. This faith does not lead to disappointment, because God is faithful to complete what He has started in us. The big question is, do we believe this, do we act like we believe it? This is why I believe that faith is so important.

If you’re getting a bit big-headed by now, thinking that it is all up to us and that God is merely a ‘puppet’ in our story, let me set the record straight. God loved us first, without Jesus, we wouldn’t have a choice. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God. God is the one that makes this all possible, our response to Him is not showing how wonderful we are, but how wonderful He is. Us accepting His gift is the least that we can do in response to what He has already done for us.

The chapter then goes on to show us how Jesus fixed the issue that Adam (humans) caused. This is a rather interesting passage as, once again, it shows us that the law was only there to show us what sin was, and to show us what Jesus has offered us salvation from. Why then do we go on trying to obey the law? Yes, we want to root sin out of our lives, but what is your motive? If you’re rooting it out because you don’t want to give the devil a foothold, then great. If you’re doing it to try and earn salvation, then you’re wasting your time. God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We’ll look at this some more next week, I just want to encourage everyone to keep on having faith. Keep stepping out in faith and trusting in God. I know that it is not easy, especially when you don’t see the results that you are believing for as quickly as you would like, but we serve a faithful God.

Until next week.

Richard

When in Rome (a Look at Romans) – Part 4

Today’s passage is quite a timely passage for me. I really needed to read this today. People have prophesied over me and called me a ‘man of faith’. Although this is interesting, and gives me focus, it is not always particularly evident in my life. Having faith is not easy, we see that in Abraham’s life. He was told that he would have children, yet he still grew impatient and slept with his servant, so did he really have faith? The main way to grow your faith, is to have faith and see what you are believing for. Yet the longer you wait, the more your faith is tested, and then strengthened. What about all of the time that you are waiting to see your prayers answered? Do you feel like a ‘man of faith’ then? This is the time when you ‘earn your stripes’, but this is also the time when the devil throws everything at you. Anyone can believe when everything is going as planned, but if you want to be a ‘man of faith’, you need to believe when everything appears to be going wrong. You need to believe that you can walk on the water when the waves are crashing around you. “Lord, I believe, help me with my unbelief.”

There are a few things in my life that I am believing for. Promises from God that I have not seen come to fruition… yet. I don’t feel like a ‘man of faith’, as I have not seen my prayers answered. I have not given up believing though, so maybe I am, but the unbelief lurks. This is the time when the devil tries to stop you. This time, the ‘attack’ was ‘friendly fire’. I have been told twice in the last week that having faith has no effect on what God does in our lives. I was told this by two Christians. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that they are doing the work of the devil or anything, I am merely saying that their theological stance is different to mine. The problem is that the devil (or his little helpers) will use this to try and get into my head. I’m not having it.

Romans 4:20-25. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.

Without going into heavy theology here, this passage implies that having faith brings glory to God. It says that when we fully believe that God is able to do what He has promised, it is not just for our benefit, but to reassure others that God will do the same for them. Whether you believe in Calvinism, Armenianism or anything inbetween, without believing that Jesus died for our sins, we wouldn’t accept Him as Lord. Even our salvation comes down to faith. Faith + Action = Result. Do your actions show what you believe, or do they counteract your faith? For example, saying that you believe that God will supply your needs, and then not tithing because you ‘won’t have enough money if you give’. It is not only down to money though. I am working to get my actions in line with my faith, and my faith is based on what God says in His Word. The passage shown above is a huge encouragement for me, especially after being told that my faith doesn’t matter.

What do you believe? What promises are you believing and waiting for? Do your actions support what you say that you believe? Be encouraged. Abraham was chosen because of his faith, but he still had to wait to see his prayers answered. He still struggled with unbelief. Jesus told us to tell the mountain to move, and then believe and not doubt, then the mountain will move (Mark 11:23). He doesn’t say how long you have to believe for.

Be encouraged. Believe in the promises of God. That brings glory to God! Remember, you are not a person of faith because you see what you are believing for, you are a person of faith because you keep believing for that which you have not yet seen.

Richard

When in Rome (a Look at Romans) – Part 3

Today we take a look at Romans chapter 3, read it and then have a look at my thoughts.

This is one of my favourite chapters of the Bible, as it highlights why my answer is “No” to the question, “Are you religious?”. We as Christians tend to spend so much time trying to do what is right. We spend way more effort to ‘not do what is wrong’ than we spend on doing what Christ has called us to do. Let me explain. Jesus told us to go out, heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. He told us to freely give as freely as we have received! (Matthew 10:8). Now, here is my question, “How much time and effort do you spend on this, and how much time and effort do you spend trying not to sin?”. Ouch. Yes, it hits me too. There are so many discussions about what sin is, we try to justify our sins and point fingers at others who sin. The world is constantly having a go at us because we call something a sin, which they want to do. The bottom line is that we have ALL fallen short. The whole reason for the law, was to show us that we could never fulfil it on our own. The whole reason for the law was to show us that we are all sinners. Why then do we spend so much time trying to live by it?

People get upset with me when I ‘disregard’ scripture because it is in the Old Testament, but I do this because the function of the Old Testament is not to try and follow, but to show us what we have been saved from! Romans 3 sums this up nicely. Most churches spend so much time trying to make people do the right thing, and not do the wrong thing. Most churches are so concerned about whether we are sinning or not. Do you honestly think that the devil is more upset by us ‘refraining from sin’ than he is about us doing what Christ has called us to do? I seriously doubt it. I can honestly say that most Christians (including myself) underestimate what Jesus did on the cross. We underestimate the power and authority that we have in the name of Jesus. We limit the cross to whether or not we will sneak into heaven (if we behave ourselves). It is so much more than this, but that is for another blog post. Today we need to realise that salvation is all about what Jesus did, and whether or not we will accept His gift to us, not how well we behave.

“So does this mean that we can go on sinning?” I am so glad that you asked that question! I heard someone saying that if you never get asked this question, you’re not preaching the gospel correctly. Paul got asked this question a few times, so we’ll get to it at some point, but here is the short answer. No. Sin has its down side, trust me, I’ll go into this in greater detail in the future. The gift of salvation is not based on our sin, it is based on our faith in Jesus. Sin can give the devil a foothold in your life, it can cause us to think that we are outside of God’s love, but it can’t separate us from God. If we have a relationship with Jesus.

Romans 3:27-28. Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. There is is, clear as mud, what else do you need? Here is my challenge to us as believers. Let us spend more time doing what we aught to be doing, and not trying not to do what we aught not to be doing. Does that make sense? Let us do what Jesus has asked us to do, let us concentrate on our relationship with Jesus. If we do this, we will naturally want to avoid sin, we won’t just avoid it out of duty. This also means that we will get a lot more done, than just trying desperately not to sin!

Keep up the good work.

Richard