The flesh is capable of behavioral change, but the flesh is never capable of performance to the standard of the perfection belonging to God himself, no matter how set apart we try to become. When we profess to believe Christ as having resolved the justice of God for our sins and in that alone for our salvation, we should not be so anxious to discount our salvation because of performance observation on our part. We need to look at sanctification from the standpoint of who is doing the setting apart, God has already set every believer apart as holy. To be perfectly righteous is to be perfectly holy, every believer stands justified according to God’s gift declaration of righteousness. Our being setting apart is not contingent upon the degree to which we set ourselves apart.
The pathway of rules and regulations for righteousness, otherwise called religion in the word of God, seems right to a lot of people today, yet when we look at the Scripture, we find it used in negative sense. Where do most people’s minds immediately take them, the believer’s behavior, to the conduct of the Christian. People think Paul has left his context here in Romans 8:1, and he is moving into the area of practice. The law did not work within the religious system God gave to Israel to prove to them the law would not make them righteous. We find that rather than something that worked to produce what the natural mind thought could be produced through the law; the law worked to produce the opposite.
Some would say an unsaved person would never chose Christ in the first place, a person would be to dead to make a decision as to whether to believe gospel. So this person would have to be made alive, before that person can even make a decision, a person has to be saved in order to be saved. The idea some people have is that God has to do a work in a person before belief by the person is even a possibility. God gives faith only to those he’s so chosen to be believers, saving faith, in order for a person to believe. When Paul refers to us as the called, he is referring not just to the fact that God is extending a call to us, an invitation or summons. Paul’s also referring to the fact that God’s calling us to participate in that to which we have been called, the Body of Christ, participation in that which we have been called to. God influences unbelievers through the life giving message of the gospel, the call today comes through the words relayed by Paul to us in his written letters. Romans 10:17
God did not establish a new law for the age of grace and place believers under that law, so that he would have a new way to measure people’s righteous performance for the purpose of permitting a heavenly entrance. Paul knew that his position in Christ was not based upon his performance, he also knew that his position in Christ was not based upon his success at loving others. Paul exercised himself according to what Paul called the law Christ, preferring others above self. We can thank God that our position with him is based solely upon our union with his son, and not upon our success at loving others. While Paul was not under the law of Christ, he willingly placed himself under the law to Christ, when it came to his love for others, there is a difference in the two.
Even though we are not under the law in this dispensation of grace, the law can still serve as valid function today for those who have yet to believe the gospel, and are dealing with God according to law principle. Understand, being delivered or set free from the law as the program whereby God is dealing with people today, does not mean that the law no longer stands as a perfect picture of what it would take to earn a perfectly righteous standing with God, if our performance was part of that equation, and if that were a possibility, which it is not. Paul shows how sin actually makes great use of that law against an individual, with a proper understanding of the two, we find that there is nothing at all wrong with the law. The problem lies with sin and with the nature that is in us given the first Adam’s decision.
God calls all today, and does his call come by way of circumstance or does he call today to believe the message given thru the apostle Paul, the proclaimer of that message of which we are to be ambassadors. God predetermined the outcome for all those he foreknew would come to belief. God predetermined that he knew about all along who would be conformed to the imagine of his son. God’s call in time past came through creation itself, and after that through a man name Noah. God’s call went through the prophets that made known to the nations what God wanted those people to know about his name. No matter the dispensation in mind or the dispensation at hand, God’s call went out, it’s just that not all were willing to accept God’s call.
The body of doctrine Paul taught renews our thinking, but regeneration takes place when we believe the gospel and we become part of the new creation. The word of our salvation washes away any notion of self-cleansing for righteousness as an approach to God. Paul’s gospel rinses any notion of man’s production as the basis of a right standing before God and leaves the believer standing only in the purified state of Christ’s righteousness. It’s not how we perform in a different way, or make commitments to perform differently, it all has to do with our being placed into Christ, that’s the new creation. When a person believes in the reality of reconciliation, that person becomes an instantaneous member of the new creation called the Body of Christ.
We should be very grateful that we are saved by the faith of Jesus Christ, his faith accomplished our salvation. So, being freed up from all these suffering circumstances is not just liberty, it is a glorious liberty. The sufferings of this present lifetime are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us, that is HOPE. God is not causing bad things to happen to bad people and good things to happen to good people. God is not raining down suffering circumstances to bring bad people in line and he is not raining down similar adverse circumstances on good people that have gone bad to keep those people in line. If we could pray these circumstances away, what hope would we need, our hope would reside right here in praying them away. When Christ returns in the air to catch us up to be with him, our suffering situations will forever be a thing of the past.
Why would God want the offense to increase, the offense was already there and God gave an opportunity through that law program for it to really come out, and show itself for what it was and for what it is in us. So, the sin nature used the law to bring forth fruit unto death. From God’s judicial point of view, we are no longer in that position, we have a new position. Would more righteousness be needed than the Savior’s righteousness, or is God requiring that we add our righteous works to Christ’s righteousness that we might become righteous indeed, or is Christ’s righteousness the only righteousness from God’s perspective, his saints will ever need?
If works were part of the salvation equation before we were saved by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, his sacrifice would never have been necessary. If works were necessary in order to keep a person saved and thus keep that person from facing condemnation from God, then Christ would have only had to die for part of our sins, the part before we began our maintenance for salvation program. The responsibility for keeping the slate clean after salvation would be up to us. If we could do it after salvation, we could have done it before our salvation! If we are not acting saved, we did not get saved, is the idea that is being promoted, Paul did not like that is his day, we should not fall for it in ours.
It is amazing that religious teachers would tell people that they have got that sin, and they preach a message to make people fell guilty about the indwelling sin, and then they would give those people rules to straighten up from the sin. The predicament of sin is that no person can escape it, and no person can beat it, there is not any fixing the sin-nature, the flesh cannot be repaired. People want to be saved by grace, and then they want their fellowship with God maintained by rule-keeping. In spite of Paul’s highest ambitions, and in spite of his most lofty expectations, he could never merit righteousness before God through the perfection of his flesh, that is called “religion.”
It is recited in churches across the country in our day, it is recited as though it is a prayer for today, it is recited like vain repetition as people stand up and uttering together what is commonly called: The Lord’s Prayer. At the time this prayer was given to the disciples of the earthly kingdom program, Gentiles did not have a father-child relationship with God the Father. Are we looking forward to the next event on Israel’s prophetic calendar - Christ coming to establish Israel’s promised earthly kingdom on the earth? Or, are we looking forward to the next mystery event - Christ’s coming in the air to catch his body, of which we are, up off of this planet?
What an identification God has given us, every believer’s sanctification comes by way of our union-identification with Jesus Christ. We find the amazing and comforting truth that God’s love for those who are joined to his son, is the same unalterable and unending love God has for his son. No sin, no circumstance, no member of creation, no amount of time, no measure of distance will ever be able to diminish God’s loving attitude towards those who are united to him by way of being in his son. Nothing past, present or future, shall separate us from the love of God. Sanctification is not a process, it is a past tense accomplishment that can never be revised, reduced, or retracted, we cannot lose the perfectly righteous standing we have, because it came by way of our sanctified position in God’s son.
We should never forget that God, in is omniscience, is able to determine people’s response to the creation manifestation of God that has stood since he spoke the creation into existence. God is just, and he knows all about the inner workings of people, and he knows their minds, their thoughts, and if God was able to make a determination as to whether people were responding positively or whether they were responding negatively to whatever they knew about creation itself, regardless of the mode of the message God gave to people in time past. God is able to make the same determination today, God knows all things real and potential, so we have to leave those things up to God, and trust God. God is fully capable of judging between belief and unbelief no matter the mode of the communication he has give to people from creation all the way through to Paul.
Here was a visual sign Israel could not refute, a visual manifestation opportunity of God’s power from on high was giving Israel’s religious leaders to solicit from that religious leadership, a change of thinking. People were getting healed, and people were coming to belief, and many people were added to that earthly kingdom promise to Israel in that day, but God was looking for the leadership, the representatives of that nation to make their confession. It was a national promise and it is a national rejection as far as God is concerned. Time is running out, Israel is very close at this point to being set aside, as God is on the threshold of ushering in a new and unprophecied program and a new dispensation with new truths associated with it for us, for the Gentiles.
God through his power from on high, is in fact leading every believer today. What believers need to understand today is that while God used his power, it has led believers in various ways throughout the course of human history. God has not always led the same way, he used his power in different ways through different dispensations. God’s power was with people selectively and conditionally, it was abiding with them, but that abiding was not guaranteed to be permanent, because God’s power could cease abiding with a person because of that person’s disobedience. The fact that God’s power from on high would indwell Gentiles as well, and totally apart from God’s program with the nation Israel, that was part of the mystery, not revealed until it was revealed to the apostle Paul. Those who have trusted in the justice-resolving accomplishment of Jesus Christ where our sins are concerned, not only do we have God’s power from on high resident within us, but it is indeed leading us and it is leading us in more than one way.
Is the lose of reward at the Judgment Seat of Christ, the same thing as Christ condemning the believer who is standing at the Judgment Seat of Christ, it is the value of the work itself that will be judged, not the believer. Christ will be able to judge, not only what is seen by the eye, but also the motivations of the heart, not only what was done, but why it was done in connection with each believer’s work of faith, labor of love and patience of hope. Many believers will indeed suffer the loss of rewards for those works that are not reward worthy, but again, is this the judgment Paul is speaking of in Romans 8:1? NO! The sanctification that comes by way of being placed into Christ is positional truth. A sanctified position in Christ comes not as a result of behavior, it comes as a result of belief.