I occassionally post some blog entries about my faith and family or both. These posts may or may not touch on SQL Server and this is one of them. I discussed this when I first blogged about Jesus’ last words on the cross (Tetelestai). I welcome you to read or skip and I won’t be offended either way. I hope and pray that folks find something useful but even if not, I tend to find something useful on the infrequent times I write a post like this. Most of these are directed at me and I share in hopes others have same needs.
The Crutch that was Romans 7
I have been a Christian going on 8 years now.
let’s back up… What do I mean by Christian? – This term gets used in many different ways to mean many different things. I mean I am saved from the punishment that I deserve (hell) for the wrongs I commit and how far short of God’s glory I fall (sin). It means I put my hope for eternal life in Christ’s death on the cross and the glorious truth of his resurrection from that cross. It means that I followed what the Bible says in Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”. (KJV)
Continuing on… I have been a Christian for almost 8 years now. In that time I have also been a human. I have been a sinner, but now a sinner saved by grace. A redeemed sinner receiving a gift I don’t deserve that Jesus bought for a price He didn’t deserve to pay. I have had struggles, I have had times where it felt like I was living the victorious Christian life, giving into the will of God, diligent in Bible study and prayer. There have been deep valleys also. Dark valleys. Where the world has ensnared me (don’t see that as me claiming passivity while the world somehow attacked me.. I was in the driver’s seat) in its offerings. There have been, it seems, more consistent times of me not being in the Word and not being in Prayer than vice versa.
I am a sinner. I don’t go a day without sinning somehow, someway. I wish it wasn’t so. I am challenged on three fronts each time I do… On the skyward front, I think of the blood Christ shed for me, the pain He endured for me. At my feet I think of my children and someday maybe theirs if the Lord’s return should wait. I think of the stern warning in the Bible about the sins of a father cursing children and their children (with the guilt of the potential promise that the blessings of the father will bless many generations). I also think of others, my wife who should look to me as the spiritual head of the house, the people I go to church with, my coworkers who sometimes see me not that differently than their friends who are not saved.
I am secure in my salvation and I am secure in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (KJV). I know I am forgiven and in God’s eyes He sees me as He sees Jesus – pure white. Even still I sometimes beat myself up over my shortcomings, my sins of commission and omission. When young in my Christian walk I heard a sermon on Romans 7 once and read the passage and found solace in it.
Starting in verse 14, Paul is agonizing over his sin and he is asking the question that every Christian (at least I have) asks them self from time to time, “Why do I do the things I don’t want to do and why do I not do the things I want to do?” Without a lot of agonizing Bible study time or prayerful consideration, I took this as “Hey look here! This is the apostle Paul, he wrote much of the New Testament, he was used in mighty ways and look at that! He struggled the same as I do!” While this is true, this is where my study here stopped and I would use this more of a guilt quasher than a Christian growth verse.
Well through a great program called Faith Bible Institute my church has been doing, I heard some excellent sermons on Romans 6. I have read it before but it never sunk in, I was just reading the Bible to read the Bible, I guess? I wasn’t prayerfully looking for the Bible to be a mirror to my soul like I should have been. In retrospect, I was selfishly cherry picking for my own benefit. Looking for encouragement here, answers there but rarely searching and asking, “God, what are you trying to tell me at this moment, what do I need to change and what are your plans for me?”
The Beautiful Truth of Romans 6
You see, while I was searching for a manual on how to be better, how to flee from sin (notice a pattern? relying on me) the whole time there was a promise and a truth in Romans 6. On my last work trip, I spent a lot of airport and hotel time studying Romans 6, remembering the sermons and underlining some great truths.. I thought maybe I would share them and maybe encourage a brother or sister in Christ out there. This Bible is a NASB translation so that is where the scripture references come from. The words I underlined are bolded below.
Introduction –> This chapter starts off after Romans 5 talking about our justification (a great word picture I heard from more than one source.. To be justified means to be declared “just as if I’d never sinned.. Even more it means to be declared “just as if I’d always been as righteous as Christ”). Grace was being talked about in Romans 5 and how precious it is. It was talking about the worse off we were, the more grace abounded. Chapter 6 picks up and starts off with one of Paul’s “God Forbid!” exclamations, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may increase? May it never be!”
6:2-3 (A preview) – I thi nk these verses sum up a lot of what this chapter is all about. “2b How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” This is an important doctrine of Christianity to me. As we’ll see Paul reiterate later, if we have placed our trust in Christ we are dead. Our old selves are dead, we are risen in newness of life with Christ and we now live for Christ, born again, eternally alive with death having no more sting over us. When He died he took our sin natures with Him. We forget that and try to fight on our own power like we haven’t yet died and risen with a new nature. We give up on the promise and try to fight a losing battle with a deceptive enemy (and our own nature) and we have ceded defeat before even trying or knowing we have given up.
6:4 “Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism with death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life”
Have Been – it’s done, it isn’t happening continually. When we put our trust in Christ for our only hope of salvation we were buried. It’s done. We can’t undo it, we can ignore it and rely on our own “strength” or we can accept it and live it. “as Christ was raised” Are you sure of the resurrection? I am, I have pinned my eternity on it and am willing to lose any earthly relationships over (no matter how painful) or suffer for my Jesus who died for me. So as sure as I am of that, I am told right here that I can be just as sure that I too might walk in newness of life. So there is part of the “secret” that God’s Word plainly reveals in a moment, but we don’t even need to read further to see the truth: I am alive in and through Christ; my old nature (lazy, selfish, pleasure seeking, gluttonous,crass,etc) is dead and buried. If I am not choosing to walk in the newness of life, I am relying on the phantom pains of my old nature and using that as an excuse. God took care of my old nature, I just need to get ahold of it and live it.
To Be Continued (A formula emerges)
I will continue this next weekend, it is getting long here. I will discuss a formula that is seen in the next verses and then in that post or possibly a third we can talk about what it means to be free and where that freedom comes from and what the responsibility is (hint.. it isn’t just a freedom from something. It’s a freedom towards something also).
Sneak peak at the formula… I encourage you to read Romans 6, I encourage you to read any chapter in Romans, the whole book in context even. It is a great book in a great collection of love letters to us by God.
The formula we’ll talk about next time:
Knowing (that the old nature is dead and a new one is here)
Understanding (a heart knowledge, perhaps?, that the old nature is dead and we are new creatures)
Presentation (to which master?)
Obedience (As slaves in bondage to sin there was one thing we should all admit we were great at: obedience to the bondage. So we already know how to obey and we can do it quite well! Christ, through Paul’s hand and style, explains a simple principle)
More on this next week. Until then, God bless you. Thanks for reading and I hope you have that relationship with God and can know and trust that you are seen as white as snow in spite of our sin in God’s eyes. The Bible makes it clear that there is one simple way to that end: Romans 10:9 spelled it out above. Believe you are a sinner, ask Christ to lead you in the right direction, to pay for your sins, confess Him Lord of your life, believe He died for your sins and proved victorious over them and the grave at the resurrection. That’s a personal decision that you have to make for yourself. No one can force it, beat it or plead it out of you.