There are people in fundamental religiondom that teach their believers needn’t go through the pain and suffering the remainder of creation must go through. If a person has sufficient faith, these people believe that God will remove those untoward circumstances in response to the prayer of faith. But, as these people insist, in order to have God take them away, one must first have the faith that he can and will take them away. We can see the expression “name it and claim it” and the expression “the power of a positive confession” comes from. These are the people that talk about casting out evil spirits and binding Satan. Of course, insufficient faith means no healing, thus the answer to prayer for those of insufficient faith would be NO, end of story. Show your faith - God will show you his miracle. Faith that God can and will heal is an absolutely essential component if that healing, that resolution is to take place in their life. And of course, these people often seek out “faith healers” in that God obviously works through these people of such great faith. You’ll also hear about the benefit of being able to pray in a special prayer language that they don’t even understand from these people, which is another beneficial avenue to having their problems resolved. This is how they believe God is working today. This group and it’s a large group and it’s expanding is actually the fastest growing movement on Planet Earth. You may have thought Islam was. No, this one is surpassing Islam. This is the one that will be in operation, the apostle Paul tells us in 1 Timothy Chapter 3 in the last days of this Age of Grace.
Another group in fundamental religiondom, they teach their believers there’s a power resident in the prayer itself “the power of prayer” such that in certain situations God will deliver certain people from certain suffering situations that for reasons known only to God. He allows other believers, as well as non-believers, to endure. But, if you go back to Israel’s program, you will see the prayer of faith. James 5:15, there James leaves no doubt about the power of prayer in Israel’s program. They walked by sight. God allowed their prayer life to work in connection with sight as that earthly kingdom was on their doorstep. The word SHALL didn’t leave a whole lot of wiggle room in this promise when it came to the power resident in what James called the prayer of faith. When we come to the apostle of the Gentiles during this age of grace, we see a shift in the manner in which God worked in time past and the manner in which he is working in the lives of believers today. From Paul we never hear the prayer of faith shall save the sick. Paul never states “whatsoever you shall ask in my name, that will I do - ask anything...and I will do it.” Rather, according to Paul, God made this statement in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for thee.” Rather than outward, God took an inward direction. And that’s where he is working today. Philippians 4:6-7
1 Corinthians 6:9-10, if Paul had ceased writing after going through this list of deplorable practices then we could safely assume that continuing to do these things after believing the good news message would result in a reversal of the offenders salvation or as some teach perhaps even a lost with a connect with God that must somehow be restored. But that isn’t what Paul is saying here at all. Paul is telling these carnal saints at Corinth that the reason these detestable deeds had not and could not result in a lost of their salvation or their fellowship with God for that matter is because as carnal as these Corinthians happen to be they had a holy standing with God through their identity with his son. And the gift decree of righteousness belonging to the son had been totally and permanently credited to the account of these carnal believers to their account in heaven at the point of their belief. Little wonder that right after listing all these deplorable sins the apostle Paul follows up immediately in verse 12 with these words “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. So while none of the things on Paul’s list either 1 Corinthians chapter 6 or we might even say Galatians chapter 5 where Paul presents a similar list...none of these things can send a believer to the second death. They are definitely things all believers should avoid.
Romans 12:2, separation from the world means growth requires something where the believer and the world is concerned. Stop serving the idols to whom the world pays homage to. Lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh. Identity in the last Adam will get you into heaven, practical sanctification is that which will get you rewarded at the judgement seat of the Savior. Practical sanctification is the hallmark of maturity. Knowing your complete in the Savior, how would agape (love) operate, knowing I have perfect righteousness in the son, how should I then operate positively on behalf of others. You must serve the earthly manifestation of the Savior’s body. Knowledge finds expression through our behavior. Agape will never show up empty handed where where the judgement seat of the Savior rewards are concerned. Agape always edifies and unifies. Relationships is both sides of the growth process. One without the other is entirely useless. Knowledge and agape application of that knowledge is the idea behind growth. Sin is not the issue at the judgement seat of the Savior, service is the issue.
Romans 6:16 - Now if you’ve completed a logical conclusion and you’ve said, “Sin leads to death.” What would obedience lead to? Life. Is that what Paul said? He didn’t use life in opposition to death. We might have expected Paul to say “Life” because we think of death as being the opposite of life. If sin leads to death, obedience would lead to life is what we would conclude. But that’s not what Paul said. Paul is being very careful here so that we don’t get the idea that we are saved by our works. That’s not the point Paul’s making here. Notice the word “sin.” Don’t we think that has to do with our activities, our actions? But, notice the contrast. First of all, why does Paul say “Whether of sin unto death?” Is it possible for a believer to sin and have those sins lead to death? Yes! And death can come in many different ways. But we need to be very careful here. We know that an unbeliever's sin leads to death, both physical and remaining having their identity in the first Adam. So, that universal principle that sin leads to death is true. How then can a believer die? They can die physically. If I decide every morning before my cereal that I’m going to coat my cereal not with milk, but with a fifth of whiskey, what am I going to do to my body? A believer can die functionally in that they can serve no further useful purpose here on earth, no heavenly purpose on earth to those to whom they become an ambassador. Galatians 6:8
The natural tendency of the flesh is to set our affection on the things of the earth and the things of the flesh and allow those things to rule our mind. The cause of depression is almost always related to fleshly circumstance, people, things and worry over those three. We’re told a chemical imbalance is the chief cause of a serve case of depression. Not trying to take away from that aspect of a depressive state of mind. But when it comes to joy which is the opposite of depression, Paul doesn’t take us to the medicine chest. You see, if we base everything on chemical imbalance we remove personal responsibility for the refocus Paul is directing us to here in Philippians. When it comes to a mind set of joy, the opposite of depression, Paul takes us to a re-direction of thought and its up to each of us individually. Its our responsibility to focus our own minds appropriately and according to Paul its a redirection of thought based upon the accomplishments of Jesus. Were not to hold the things on the earth so near and dear so as to rule our minds. Paul telling us that depression is a rush of negative attitude that results from a vacuum of joy. Joy is the opposite of negative attitude. Depression is negative attitude based on fleshly happenstance in the absence of hope.
The Gentiles had a law of their own design. The Gentiles had an inner sense of right and wrong and through that inner sense called “the conscience,” they developed for themselves their own code of ethics, when it came to dealing with one another. Unbelievers and believers alike struggle with that innate sense of right and wrong and they’re drawn toward that desire to fulfill the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. That’s the sin nature working in opposition to the conscience to have a person go in a direction contrary to that inner sense of right and wrong that’s common to all humankind. A believer can relate in some sense to the struggle Paul is talking about in Romans 7:14-19. We must always use rightly divided doctrine to prove the validity of our experience. Emotion can lead us down the path and will oftentimes, most likely lead us down the wrong path when emotion becomes the governor of our intellect rather than the doctrinally governed intellect becoming the ruler of our emotions. Emotion should never be the fuel. We should never be emotionally driven, but doctrinally driven. Everyone with a conscience struggles with an inner sense of right and wrong.
Did God not already know about Abraham’s faith? Would God have to test Abraham’s faith so that God would have to know about Abraham’s faith? No! God surely knew all about Abraham’s faith. But, God putting Abraham’s faith to the test afforded God the opportunity to demonstrate to all who would be later reading his Word that justification unto eternal life comes by way of faith. Abraham believed God and Abraham’s belief, his faith was counted unto him for righteousness. (Romans 4:3) Abraham’s testing was for the purpose of proving Abraham’s faith, that we might understand the criteria that God has always used to count a person righteous. God was proving Abraham, not enticing Abraham. God would never entice anyone.
Some people point to Paul’s own writings to make their case that salvation depends upon a continuance of the do’s and abstinence from the don’ts or, at least an honest commitment and attempt at the same. All due to a failure to understand a passage in the context it was written and what Paul was teaching. If they hold over the heads of their congregations a little law mixed with the possibility of losing their salvation, they can keep people in line. They’ll get them saved and then they’ll feed them a little fear of missing heaven. Frighten them a bit with the possibility of hell fire and brimstone and they’ll keep on doing the do’s and avoiding the don’ts. That’ll keep them straight. They’ll live properly in order to merit heaven and miss hell. When you break this down to its lowest common denominator, do you know what you end up with? Salvation by works. That’s really what it boils down to. Salvation by works rather than be grace.
The sin question was settled. We’ve got to have this established upfront or we’ll confuse the judgement seat of the Savior and we’ll confuse being praise worthy of God with that which the judgement of the Savior is not. You see, the only issue remaining on the table of God’s justice today is the issue of belief. The Pastors roll is to prepare their people for the judgement seat of the Savior that’s what teaching and pastoring is all about. What is the laboring then of 2 Corinthians 5:9 and 1 Corinthians 3:13 all about? Well, it all has to do with being reward worthy. The context of laboring Romans 14:10 is the judgement seat of the Savior as the context of 2 Corinthians 3:13 is the judgement seat of the Savior as well as Philippians 2:12.
2 Timothy 3:6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Titus 1:11 Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. Personalize blessings that’s called worshipping at the altar of the miraculous. Worshipping at the altar of the miraculous is to worship at the altar of the flesh. To worship at the altar of the flesh is to allow experience to trump truth and to allow experience to trump truth is to allow emotion to trump truth. And when experience becomes king in a person’s life, experience is determining that person’s doctrine rather than that person’s doctrine determining the validity of their experience. Emotion not only becomes the fuel but the pilot of that person’s life. When you see this occurring and Paul tells us it indeed will be occurring whether spoken or not, the worshippers will be paying homage to that man. (Ephesians 5:16; 2 Timothy 3:4) A person can be spiritual. They can claim to be spiritual. They can claim to be religious. But according to 1 Timothy 4:1, being spiritual is absolutely no guarantee of the direction of ones spirituality. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15.
The earthly union of husbands and wives today are to be a reflection of the new oneness identification that all believers have with the Savior. God allows for no space to come between believers and his son. And, that’s how closely husbands and wives should safeguard their union with one another. Two minds working together being in unison. The fact is that most marriage partners don’t begin on the same page to start with. There are many areas of life, from a counselor’s perspective where marriages come apart at the seams...areas that those anticipating marriage should discuss before a marriage relationship is entered. Unfortunately, the love-bug holds the mind’s of a couple captive, in a sense that they fail to reason through some of life’s more serious issues where it’s vital a couple be like-minded if the train cars are to remain coupled on the marriage track. The issue is more about discussing these areas up front, and coming to terms with where each person stands, where compromises can be made that are satisfactory to both partners, and how conflicts are to be resolved when they do arise, in order to avoid a separateness of mind of such magnitude that it might lead to marriage termination. Resolution is always better than dissolution. Children witness some form of domestic violence annually and how does that picture remain in their minds and impact their actions later on in life?
Let this mind be in you, which is in Jesus our Savior. Jesus wasn’t thinking, “I’m superior!” “I’m superior!” “I think I’ll start throwing my weight around and bossing those for whom I’m dying!” What about it ladies? What if your believing husband made himself of no reputation, humbled himself, and loved you as Jesus loved? Would that not be a grand thing? Would that not motivate her to serve you as you’re serving her? What if that believing wife made herself of reputation, humbled herself, and loved her husband in the way that all believers are to love the Savior? How about it, husbands? Would that not also be grand? What we’re doing is waiting upon the other to begin the process...each side making their service to the other side contingent upon the service of the other to them. It’s an amazing thing that for believers and that’s the only people to whom Paul is writing, there is a judgment seat of the Savior that husbands will not be judged by how well their wives responded. It will be how well they led. Wives will not be judged as to whether their husbands were leading correctly, but in their role in serving the husband. Someone might say that Paul doesn’t tell the wife to love her husband, in the first place, and that this is a directive he gives to the husband. Paul tells the wife to reverence her husband. (Titus 2:3-4) When it comes to doctrine concerning the age of grace, Paul was in a leadership position. Did Paul consider himself to be above the saints of this dispensation? Did he consider himself to be superior to those who he was leading? Ephesians 3:8 answers that, quite well. Ephesians chapter 5 has to do with two marriage partners, both being desirous of aligning themselves with God and his Word rightly divided, serving one another in the manner in which God intended they are to serve one another. When it comes to the husband being the head of the wife, it has to do with the husband aligning himself to serve his wife in the manner that God intended him to serve her. The same is true when it comes to the wife and her role in the marriage relationship.
Sowing one thing and praying for another is foreign to the mind of the apostle Paul. That’s not how it works. That’s not what Paul’s talking about in trusting in God. There are people who sow nastiness then they expect kindness to just sprout up all around them. A lot of people trust in God to alter the circumstances of the moment. They think he’ll somehow magically rekindle the fire of a lost love after they’ve chose a life incorrectly. Or he’ll bring them the right job after they’ve sown an attitude at their previous place of employment that caused everyone around them to want to avoid them. There are those who sow to bad health only to pray that God will guide and lead the hands...provide the wisdom to the doctors they hope will heal them. That’s not what this passage in Philippians 4:4-7 is all about. When the circumstance of the moment is a happy circumstance, lets say things are going well health wise...things are going well for the children, grandchildren...the monthly bills are paid, the job is secure. We know the details of life. When everything is well on the home front that’s when we can say a person might very well be happy. Of course, happiness is fleeting. Circumstances can go south. If joy were dependent upon the situation at hand, it would be uncertain as a match lit on a windy day. The joy Paul is talking about has no relationship to the transient nature of life. So the believers attitude needn’t to become victim to uncertainty or adversity. Joy is a trust issue. Joy for a believer is a state of mind independent of surrounding circumstances. Rejoicing is the exhibit of that inter-state of mind.
Those who were familiar with law would have immediately understood what Paul was getting at here in Romans chapter 7 as he brought the issue of marriage into the picture. His point was simply this: just as a death must occur according to Roman law in order for a woman to be married to a different husband, a death also had to occur in order for sinners today to be married, or we might say, legally joined to the Savior, the death had to come first. You see, the Law of Moses had a relationship claim on every member of the human race. God absolutely refuses to share those who are joined to his son and the law, with the law husband. If you’ve been maintaining your relationship with the law in connection with your righteousness before God, in your mind, he’d have you come out of that realm of thinking. You are either under the jurisdiction of the law which requires performance for righteousness or you are under the jurisdiction of the Savior and your identity in him is your righteousness, but you can’t have it both ways. Grace and Law are polar opposites and God will share no one joined to his son with the law. If the law has a rightful claim on you, God cannot have a rightful claim on you. If the Savior has a rightful claim on you, the law has no rightful claim on you whatsoever. To be joined to the Savior and joined to the law at the same time would not only be bigamy, it would be adultery according to Paul.
Is Paul telling us in Romans 6:14 that as believers, we’ll never again have the propensity to sin, or sin shall not have dominion over you because now you are capable of beating it? Is Paul telling you that you are now capable of never committing another sin as long as you live because sin shall not have dominion over you? Is Paul saying it is possible for a believer to live a sinless life? All believers, we’re all alike in this respect, we all continue to struggle with that issue of sins in our lives. Not only do we continue to have the propensity to sin, we do in fact do those things that come short of the glory of God far more often than any of us would like. Sin shall not have dominion over us because we’re not living under the law program, we’re living under grace. The victory has already been won and who won it? Jesus won it. Sin shall not have dominion over us because believers are not under the law, but under grace.
Mercy simply withholds that which we deserve. Grace on the other hand bestows freely that which we could never earn and could never deserve. Mercy shows leniency. Grace shows magnanimity. Mercy says, I’ll show you compassion. Grace says, I’ll make you complete. Mercy says, I’ll let you off the hook this time. Grace says, I’ll let you live in heaven. Mercy says, I’ll acquit you. Grace says, I’ll glorify you. We are identified at the point of our belief with Jesus’ death just as if we were hanging there on the tree of crucifixion right along side Jesus. Did we pay for our sins? No. Jesus alone satisfied the sin issue. We are as fully identified with Jesus’ burial as if we were placed right along side him in the tomb. We are also fully identified with Jesus’ in his resurrection from among the dead that God sees those who have trusted the saviorhood of Jesus as already ascended with Jesus to the Father. Colossians 3:3, all the Father has in store for the son, he has in store for us.
The Israelites were boasting in their ability to discern the things that differ. We must always give thanks to God for the light that we’ve been given in rightly dividing the Word and that light comes as we study his Word. On the other hand, we must never place so much confidence in our enlighten understanding that we become sufficiently comfortable to believe we already know all there is to be learned and there’s nothing else we have to gain from the Word. You’ve probably met someone like this. If you fail to dot your i’s and cross your t’s precisely as they do, these people get angry and some want nothing more to do with you. The first thing on the mind of such a one is separation. If you are absolutely convince of a truth, how will you most likely be able to effectively communicate the truth? Would your answer be through agape love and patient forbearance in teaching? Or would you say, through dogmatism that demands others adopt the position on which you stand less you write them off as ignorant nincompoops? Would you demand they know what you know or would you demand that they respond to you letting you know that you were right all along? Grace believers would do well to get some of what we’ve learned in the left hemisphere of our brains over into the right hemisphere. We need to apply some of what we’ve learned and allow it to affect the way we deal with those around us.
The Gentiles were never promised a Messiah. “But Now” marks a great change. The very blood that was to initiate Israel’s New Covenant, we have a fellowship in that. We have a communion with the second Adam’s blood. It’s the blood that redeemed us as well. God wants believers to all think the same way, to all think along the same lines, to be on the same page when it comes to what’s happening in this Age of Grace. What God is doing today and how’s he doing it. Truth compromised for the sake of getting along. All under the name of love. The only problem with that option is love never compromises truth. The ones who love us enough to be honest with us, we can learn from those people. Sometimes it hurts. We can grow if we’re willing to accept truth and learn by it. What happens, the pride nature swells up and division comes into play. Another option is abandoning doctrine for the sake of getting along. We need to be working together for agreement. We need to be working together to see where those disagreements come in and driven back to study our Bibles. So we can understand what God’s doing today and why a change has taken place. That is the only option that moves us in a proper direction.
A person who has been sanctified is a person who has simply been set apart or separated, plain and simple. Exodus 40:10-11, here we can see that objects are to be sanctified. Did the objects themselves have anything to do with their sanctification? You see, sanctification depends upon the one who is doing the setting apart. Exodus 19:22, the priests here were told to sanctify themselves. Did this mean that the priests were to become progressively more holy or progressively less sinful, or to become instantaneously sinless? Sanctification depends upon the one who is doing the setting apart. Exodus 19:10, if you think that Moses made the people progressively more holy when he was given this command, or progressively less sinful, or that God told Moses to instantaneously remove their inherent sin nature, consider the fact that those very same sanctified people before Moses ever came down from the mountainside, what were they doing? They were worshipping the golden calf and taking part in abhorrent immorality. We are called saints today, set apart ones. Saint is God’s word for a believer. God sets us apart. Paul even called the carnal believers at Corinth saints or set apart ones because even though they were carnal, they had believed Paul’s good news message.
The Bible is really the story of two men and the people who are related to these two men. The issue for life everlasting is not what church you attend or to which denomination you belong or how religious you are or even whether or not you are a good person in the worldly sense of the word good. The issue in eternity will not be how many sins you’ve committed or how many sins you have promised God you will abstain from committing. It will not be whether you’ve walked an aisle, recited a particular prayer, or asked Jesus into your heart. The issue in eternity will be to which man are you related? Do you have your identity in the first Adam, or do you have your identity in the second Adam, Jesus our Savior. You have to believe that the second Adam died, and not just died for your sins, but what was accomplished when he died for your sins; what was accomplished where those sins were concerned. You cannot be related or identified in both.
What if Paul were found in the Savior having his own righteousness? What if that was the only way Paul could stand before God was to stand before God in his own righteousness? How did Paul end up Romans chapter 7? Oh wonderful Christian that I am? Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am. Paul wanted to be found before God not bearing his own righteousness for his purpose in being there, but having the Savior’s righteousness attributed freely to Paul’s account. That’s what he wanted. Understanding the truth of Romans 7:23 is not something to overcome but it’s a reality to be understood. We’ll never escape. You see, this is not something we could overcome, this is something Jesus had to overcome on our behalf and he did so on the tree of crucifixion. The battle within Paul proved to him that absolute impossibility of performance based righteousness. Paul always found himself a do short and a don’t late.
One way God’s chosen to exercise his power on behalf of believers in this Age of Grace, stabilizing power. Romans 16:25, “Power to stablish you” you can’t be stabilized by any other gospel. You say there’s another gospel in the Word of God? The 12 apostles preached the reality of the resurrection of Jesus ‘the messiah’. The 12 apostles had preached the necessity of Jesus ‘the messiah’ being raised from among the dead, in order to sit on the throne of David in the promised kingdom. Acts 1:4 - That promise had to do with being baptized with God’s energizing power from on high. This is not John the Baptizer’s baptism, this is a special identification of God’s power for the purpose of empowering those kingdom saints for the tribulation period at their doorstep and the millennial reign to come. God was in a very real sense giving Israel a taste of their promised earthly kingdom. Seven years stood between Israel and them gaining their earthly Kingdom. You’re not going to be stabilized by that message today. Paul taught what that resurrection meant to the Gentiles.
The reality of reconciliation is the good news that Satan would gladly give up his pitchfork to keep people from believing today. And he’s been very successful through what Paul calls ministers of righteousness in doing that very thing. If he can keep that glorious truth hidden by blinding people’s eyes to it through a message that keeps sin on the table of God’s justice where that sin has already been put away by Jesus according to 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, the other components of Paul’s good news message will have no bearing whatsoever for individuals. To keep those sins on the table of God’s justice. That turns Paul’s glorious good news message into a not so glorious good news message after all. It turns salvation into probation. And many people are living in their minds today with probation rather than salvation. Has Satan not been busy usurping the glory that belongs to God? And there is no shortage of ministers of righteousness who are doing his bidding, deceiving as they are being deceived Paul tells us.
One way God’s chosen to exercise his power on behalf of believers is this Age of Grace is in Romans 5:5. We reckon ourselves to be dead unto sin and alive unto God through Jesus our Savior. God’s deposited power works within us, empowers us to yield ourselves to the one who yielded himself up for us that being Jesus. Our service to others, not coming from any power you or I have in the flesh. The power of our service to others comes not from our human flesh. It comes from where Paul tells us it comes. This is an empowerment in an inward sense that comes from God’s power working inside those it indwells. Maturity is about the degree you participate in the increase of the body unto the edifying of it’s self in love. The degree in which you participate in that which brings unity to the body and edifies other believers to that degree you can concern yourself to be mature. Living out what we believe...the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Savior. But pride and performance are linked, they’re joined, not only at the hip but at the heart. Pride insists upon attributing success to self.