Tainted Mirrors


America-Divided

We have allowed agitators; men with selfish agendas, delinquency and greed for political power take away the validity of our cry. We are lacking the spiritual force to inspire true change. We lack intellectual clarity to give meaning to our historical tears. America is divided, everybody knows that and everybody says that! America is wounded with an infected wound.

         America needs to go beyond images and fancy rhetoric and take a deeper look at the result of things. America needs to go beyond money and find satisfaction beyond material possessions. The Scripture asks the question, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”[1]I celebrate the success in the economy, low unemployment rate and job creation; but we can’t loose our souls in the process; we can’t loose ourselves as a nation and we definitely can’t loose our faith in God.

         We, as Christians, must be anointed and equipped to articulate the Gospel, to teach God’s principles and to walk in power. God is good and the ONLY hope for mankind. We, as Christians, must expose doctrines of devils and those who are hijacking our faith in the name of a conservative ideology. Christ is Christ all by himself!!!!        Beloved, it does not start with the government or the system; it starts with us! We must get done what we have the divine ability to get done. We must love God… FIRST and, we must love us SECOND. We have allowed the historical injustices that our ancestors suffered, to bring down the value of the appraisal of our souls. We are bringing down our own value through our music, as we celebrate murdering one another, through violence and the degradation of our women and neglecting of our own children.

         Beloved, we are valuable; we are royalty and sons and daughters of the King of all kings.  CNN is not America; Fox is not America and Hollywood is not America… they are tainted mirrors of what they want us to see… open your eyes and see for yourself.

[1]Mark 8:36 (NIV)

Golf and the Way I Think


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Nothing has challenge the way I think like the game of golf. To be a successful golfer you must be optimistic and confident. That’s is not going to guaranty that you will be successful in every single shot you make; but without optimism and confident you won’t go too far in this sport.

            Dr. Bob Rotella, in his book, Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect, stated, “People by and large become what they think about themselves.” This is not an original thought; it is actually a Biblical principle. In Proverbs 23:7 the Bible tells us, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…” New King James Version (NKJV). We truly are what we think. As I work on my swing, club selection, the short game and all of the aspect of golf, I must keep in mind optimism and confidence. This is not a call to endorse arrogance; but a reminder of the power of our own minds; the power of the way we think.

            I am now reading a second book by Dr. Rotella, this one is entitle, The Unstoppable Golfer: Trusting Your Mind & Short Game to Achieve Greatness. Dr. Rotella makes the point that the successful golfer is psychologically strong. He explains that even as golfers do make bad shots; they do not dwell in them. He explains by stating, “Psychological hardiness is, more than anything, a choice. You decide how you are going to think, how you are going to perceive what happens in your life. You may think this is difficult, but it is one of the things that great golfers do. They remember their good shots and their triumphs.”

            I could use brutal force in any other sport; I can get angry and react accordingly and it may help me. That kind of approach does not work in golf. I must get rid of any frustration, anger, fear, insecurity, etc. and visualize greatness at all times. If I don’t, is going to cost me greatly; my shots will be consistently be in the woods or over water. On the other hand, If I do hit my ball deep into the woods or into the water; whatever the situation may be, I must stay cool; look for a way out, recover and move on. The quicker I get those horrible shots out of my mind, the better. I argue that this is a parallel with life itself. The Bible specifically tells us what to think about, Philippians 4:8 tell us,

      Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (KJV)

            The Bible encourages us to focus our minds in very specific concepts. As you can see, there is a list in this Bible verse. Our focus should be on 1) the truth. The word True means, “…real, conformed to the nature and reality of things.”[1]I am fully aware that there are many opinions out there; that it seems like the good seems to be judged as bad and the bad seems to be judged as good. Nevertheless, we know the truth. It is that truth that makes us free (John 8:32). We should not focus on the arguments; the distortions of truth or hatred against the truth; our focus should be on truth itself. 2) We must focus on whatever things are honest. The word honest means, “…to worship, venerate. Venerable, reverend… represents not only earthly dignity, but that which is derived from a higher citizenship, a heavenly one, which is the possession of all believers.[2]We must focus on God; what could be more honest? To focus on what is truly honest is an act of worship to God; it is the highest expression of our citizenship as believers. 3) We must focus on what is just; the word Just means, “Righteous, just… that which is right, conformable to right, pertaining to right, that which is just.[3]As believers our focus should be on what is right; in doing the right thing and in trusting God as our judge. God will judge all things and he will give out proper justice. When we focus on injustices we grow frustrated and bitter.

            Paul continues with this list by encouraging us to, 4) focus on whatever is pure. The word Pure refers to what is innocent or blameless. This is indeed hard to do, as we are surrounded by wickedness all around us. However, our minds must raise above all the evil in the world and focus on what is pure and blameless. In golf we must visualize good shots; we must visualize the ball going in, in our minds, we must see ourselves playing well, etc. We should not be focusing on the hazards, the sand bunkers, the water or the woods. There is no limit in our minds; we must spend time closing our eyes and see ourselves doing well. Again that will not guaranty that you will make every shot, but you will make more and more of those. Visualizing yourself doing poorly will indeed manifest in course very, very quickly. 5) We must focus on those things that are lovely. The word lovely means, what “is dear to someone, beloved. In the NT, used of things, acceptable, pleasing.[4]The mind should focus on things that are not only pleasing, but most importantly, acceptable. Focus on the good and not on the bad. It sounds simple, but how many of us have been guilty of focusing on totally unproductive things? 6) We must also focus on those things that are of good report. The word report means, “Well–spoken of, of good report, praiseworthy, laudable.[5]Sadly, in the world we live in today, bad news sells more than good news. Negative talk has become normal amongst us. However, the apostle Paul is telling us to focus on those good things that are happening. As I said before, we should not be dwelling on our bad shots, but on the good ones. Many of us continue to focus too much on our mistake of the past and are unable to focus on the good things God has done in us and through us; we must start doing so.

            Paul also speaks of our need to focus our minds on 7) Virtue, this word means,  “…moral excellency, perfection, goodness of action.[6]With the sharp decline of morals in our society it is extremely difficult to focus on such virtue. However, that is where our minds should be. We should not be conformed to the culture and fall into the mentality that justifies evil in the name of, “everybody else is doing it.” Lastly we must focus our minds and look for what is 8) Worthy of Praise, that is, anything worthy of “Applause, commendation, praise, approbation.”[7]

            When you put this list together and take a close look at it, there is no doubt that Paul wants God’s people to be optimistic; we should be the most optimistic people on earth. Golf is a game that helps us apply these principles as we play against the course’s degree of difficulty and against ourselves. Every course is different; every course has its own challenges and beauty. My newfound love for golf is challenging the way I think because I cannot be successful in golf unless I embrace optimism. Dr. Rotella in his book Golf is not a Game of Perfect states, “The correlation between thinking well and making successful shots is not 100 percent. But the correlation between thinking badly and unsuccessful shots is much higher.” We can say the same thing about the game of life.

[1]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[4]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[5]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[6]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[7]Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

WOE TO THEM!


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You judge and condemn until the mask of your hypocrisy is torn off by the blow of your miserable reality. So easy to point our fingers at others; deny others the opportunity of redemption. So easy for others to zeal and defined who we are by the stupidity of our youth. No room for growth and no room for mistakes. The more they repent and the more they change, the more they are judged and condemned.

My God blesses the merciful. There is no forgiveness for those who do not forgive, for those whose arrogance is such that they position themselves as judges of everybody else. They do not judge in accordance to God’s requirement centered in God’s love and his desire for reconciliation. They established their own ways and become modern day Pharisees, placing yokes on people that they themselves cannot follow.

They are ambassadors of liberal agendas whose passion is to resist God and to kill, to steal and to destroy everything and everybody that gets on their way. And… in doing so, they become targets of God’s hate, for God hates those who bear false witness. This is the generation that judges what is evil as good and what is good as evil. Woe to them who do so, says the Lord!

 

Missing Christ Over Politics


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“Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” John 6:15 (NIV)

            Is interesting to me that when Jesus was presented with the opportunity to become a political leader He simply disappeared through the crowds. Think about this for a minute; here is Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the Alpha and the Omega, but some Israelites were so politically incline that they could only find hope through politics.  They missed the Savior over politics.

            I believe this is exactly what we are witnessing in America and all around the world today. We are missing Christ over the Republican Party, over the Democrat Party, Socialism and so on. Beloved, stop assuming that a Conservative automatically is a follower of Christ and that a Liberal is automatically an atheist. Both of these ideologies and all ideologies are human ideas; therefor, they are filled with ungodliness and plenty of hypocrisy.

            So my message is simple… Follow CHRIST! Through HIM you will find peace, you will find joy, restoration, a prosperity that starts with your soul and eternal life… Yes… follow Christ!

Taking a Look at Family and Ministry


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When you are young you think you know it all, when you are old you realize you don’t and when you are older you realized what is valuable. As I write these words I am disgusted in many ways and for many reasons.

         I am 50-years-old. I am not young, but not too old either. I see things, some times, beyond the surface. To have any kind of discernment or any prophetic insight these days is not easy. If I am in the Spirit I can handle what I see better; but if I slip into the flesh I become very negative and complaint about everything… that is the truth!

         There are two things that disgust me, 1) to do ministry without intimacy with God, without discipleship and without fully honoring God’s Word and 2) when folks so comfortably give up their special time with family for careers, education, hobbies, social media and everything else. They sacrifice family as if that is the right thing to do, when in reality that is in indeed the wrong thing to do. Let me briefly deal with ministry first. In Mark 16:17-18 Jesus said,  

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (KJV)

         Why is it that I have seen very little of these signs in any ministry, including mine? These signs should be a normal part of the life of any believer. Now, I hear a lot of preaching and teaching; to that the Apostle Paul stated,

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. First Corinthians 2:1-5 (KJV)

         Where is our faith standing, in the wisdom of men or in the power of God? We listen to a lot of teaching; some of those teachings are actually good, well prepared sermons and long series, but when was the last time you witness the power of God?

         Let me make something clear, the Apostle Paul is not discouraging preaching and teaching, the Bible identify us as disciples; a disciple, by definition, is somebody who is learning. In our case, we are learning the ways of the Lord. However, the Apostle Paul is discouraging preaching and teaching that focus on the wisdom of men or men’s ability to put a sermon together. Preaching and teaching that only has value if the preacher has a doctoral degree or some kind of impressive title as if, that is the prerequisite to attain any kind of credibility.

         Paul is emphasizing that our faith should not stand on men’s wisdom, but in the power of God. A simple teaching is able to entertain our intellect, as we stay comfortably in our sin, as we continue to distance ourselves from our families and as we continue our prayerless lives, but the power of God is able to do something that we all desperately need and that is… to be changed.

         See beloved, not only that there are signs that should follow any believer, but we must also understand that what brings forth that power is indeed the teachings of our Lord and not this selfish and man-centered gospel we are teaching today. To this Jesus said,

“…to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33 They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.” John 8:31-37 (KJV)

         We can’t even be considered disciples of Christ if we are not committed to learning and following Jesus’ teachings. Jesus’ teachings are truth and it is that truth that makes us free. So the first step to deliverance is to get in God’s Word and learn the teachings of our Lord. There is no freedom, no deliverance if we remain in ignorance. When we resist God’s Word that means that there is no room in our hearts for his teachings; that means that we rather follow our own way and not the way of Christ. If the Word of God insults you check your spirit, something is terrible wrong.

         Is important to point out that a disciple is not just a student. A student goes to school, complete a degree in a particular career for a particular job or skill. A disciple focuses on how to live for Christ; we are supposed to be dying to self and looking more and more like Jesus. We are supposed to be changing, growing and going from glory to glory. If this growth and maturity is not taking place you are not experiencing the power of God.

         An effective ministry is a yoke-breaking ministry because it is anointed by God (Isaiah 10:27). The Job Description of an effective ministry is clearly stated in Isaiah 61; it is the portion of Scripture chosen by our Lord to officially start his ministry on this earth.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”Luke 4:18-19 (NIV)

         Ministry is a Godly instrument for change. An effective ministry leads us to dramatic changes as we die to self and become more and more like Christ. So in conclusion, as it refers to ministry, there should be tears, there should be repentance, there should be forgiveness and there should be physical and emotional healing. In general, there should be transformations taking place. Your ministry could be financially sound, your ministry could be growing in numbers, you could have the nicest building in the whole city, but if transformation is not taking place in the lives of those you are ministering to, your ministry represents a form of Godliness, but is clearly denying the power of God (2 Timothy 3:5). That means that you have become so sophisticated that you have closed yourself to the manifestations of the Spirit of God. Here on earth you may have honor, but in heaven your ministry is obsolete.

To be continued…

 

Romans 7:7-25


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BEYOND OPINIONS

Romans 7:7-25

by

Angel Casiano

March 2018

Table of Context

Introduction……………………………………………………………………………….3

Historical Context…………………………………………………………………………3

Literary Context……………………………………………………………………………4

Textual Analysis…………………………………………………………………………10

Application……………………………………………………………………………….16

Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………….18

Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………..20

Introduction

            I subscribe to the point of view that in Romans 7:7-25 the great Apostle Paul was talking about himself and his struggles; thus articulating the struggle of every believer. Paul voiced this harsh truth about himself and the rest of the world with refreshing transparency, admirable honesty, and uncommon humility. This portion of Scripture should be the foundation for the physiological reality of every believer: the dynamic between the flesh, the soul, and the spirit within us.

            In this portion of Scripture, Paul crushes any justification for arrogance and pride in our lives as he defines himself as a wretched man. Nevertheless, Romans 7:7-25 is not only describing the reality of our struggle, but also the reality of our redemption through Christ Jesus, a major theme in the book of Romans. This paper will briefly discuss the spirit, the soul, the body and the work of the Holy Spirit within us. Lastly, this paper will attempt to make the case for Christians to realize that there is more beyond salvation. Salvation is the door, but Christ’s redemptive plan for our lives involves the restoration of our souls even in the midst of a sinful world and an uncooperative flesh.

Historical Context

            There is consensus that the book of Romans was written by the Apostle Paul. Cox describes Romans as, “The Longest and most intensely theological of the 13 NT letters written by Paul.”[1] Cox ads “this letter is also the most significant in the history of the church.” Martin Luther was studying Romans when he concluded that a person becomes righteous in the sight of God through faith alone. His discovery led to the Reformation battle cry, sola fide, “by faith alone.”[2]

            It is said that the Book of Romans was written in Corinth during the winter of A. D. 56 -57.[3] “Douglas identified the genre of Romans as a letter, but recognizes that the primary impetus of Paul’s effort is the development of key theological augments.”[4] “Morris, along with most commentators, assert that at the time of Paul’s writing, the church at Rome would have included both a large Gentile component and, due to the numerous references to the Old Testament, a significant Jewish element as well.”[5]

Literary Context

            The book of Romans has well defined themes. Its central team is the gospel, “the good news that God declares to sinners to be righteous when they trust in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on their behalf. It involves both the imputed righteousness of justification according to Romans 3-5 and the imparted righteousness of sanctification, worked out progressively through the power of the indwelling Holy Ghost (Romans 6-8). Other sub-themes, such as “flesh versus Spirit,” and “law versus grace,” relate this overall theme.”[6]

            It is precisely here, as we attempt to make sense of the literary context that Romans 7:7-25 seems not to feed. Piper articulated this seemingly contradiction this way,

Neither thinks that when Paul says, “I delight in the law of God, in my inner being (esō anthrōpon)” (Romans 7:22), or when he says, “I, my very self (autos egō) serve the law of God with my mind” (Romans 7:25), he is speaking for himself as a Christian. This is because Paul also says, “I am of the flesh, sold under sin” (Romans 7:14); “I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15); “I see in my members another law . . . making me captive to the law of sin” (Romans 7:23); “wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:24); and “with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:25). These statements of defeat do not sound like the person who says in Romans 8:2, “The law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”[7]

            Piper calls the transparency of Paul as statements of defeat. Piper can’t reconcile such statements in light of Romans 8:2 that declares the freedom every believer has found through and in Christ. Dockery also states, “The interpretation of Rom 7:14-25 has been problematic historically. Does the passage reflect Paul’s pre-conversion experience under the law? This was a major interpretation of the church fathers, or does this passage describe Paul’s tension in the Christian life?”[8]

            The reality is that, after taking a first glance at Romans 7 and attempting to take a look at the context by looking at the chapter before and the chapter after, there seems to be an unavoidable tension. This tension has been the cause of many diverse interpretations that are as different as day and night. Romans 7 begs the question, are we free from the guilt of sin, but not really free from sin?

            Even classical theologians such as Augustine struggle with this portion of Scripture. In an indebt study of the way St. Augustine interpreted Romans 7:7-25, Bounds states, “The history and development of Augustine of Hippo’s exegesis of this passage has received significant scholarly attention. In his initial forays into Pauline study in 394/395, Propositions from the Epistle to the Romans, Augustine interpreted Romans 7:14-25 as a human being “under the law, prior to grace. The “I” pictured here is the quintessential unregenerate person, who has knowledge of the law of God, senses true guilt for sinfulness, longs for deliverance, but is without the grace of Christ to overcome sin. In contrast, the Christian “under grace,” infused with the love of God, is victorious over sin and “ceases to sin.”[9]

            It should be noted that Augustine went as far as stating that the Christian under grace ceases to sin. However, by the end of his life, an Augustine view of Romans 7 was completely different. Bounds states, “In 327, three years before his death, Augustine, writing his Retractions, renounces again his earliest position on Romans 7 as a description of an unconverted person “under law” and reiterates his belief that this is Paul’s Christian testimony and the experience of every person “under grace.”[10]

            To get a deeper understanding of Romans 7, other portions of scripture need to be evaluated. The Apostle John tells us in 1 John 1:8-10, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” (NASB)

            Galatians 5:16-17 is another portion of Scripture that describes our inner struggles, Paul states, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” (NASB)

            This struggle can be better explained if we take a journey back to Genesis and what took place there. The sin of Adam and Eve had devastating consequences for humanity. 1) It brought physical death into the world; and had an even worse consequence, 2) spiritual death. From that moment on men started hiding from God, many still hiding from Him today. A person with a dead spirit does not have the ability to even hear the Gospel much less understand it (2 Corinthians 4:4). In John 3:3-6 Jesus explains to us the born-again experience by stating,

“…Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (NASB)

            The only part of us that is born again is the spirit in us. Neither the flesh nor the soul is born again. This is the root of the struggle found in Romans 7. We as humans are not only spirit, but we are also soul and body. The Apostle Paul explains this truth in First Thessalonians 5:23, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NASB)

            By reading Scripture we learn that the spirit in us is willing (Matthew 26:41). Paul states in Romans 7:22 “For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,” (NASB). The spirit is the part of us with the natural ability to cooperate with God. David understood the importance of his own spirit; in Psalm 51:10 he prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (NASB) It is with our spirit that we fulfill one, if not the greatest call as God’s people. With our spirit, with our innermost being, we are able to worship God. Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (NASB)

            In our soul we have our mind (Our mindset), our will (decision making) and the seat for our emotions. We know that our soul is not born again, but as born again believers we know that our mind has been renewed. Romans 12:2 tells us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (NASB) Psalm 23:3 and Lamentations 1:16 speaks of the restoration of the soul.

            The flesh, on the other hand, has no hope; the flesh will always resist God (Galatians 5:17). However in First Corinthians 9:27 the Apostle Paul states the following regarding the flesh,  but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (NASB) The word discipline here is the Greek word, hupōpiázō; meaning “To strike under the eyes, beat the face black and blue, give a black eye.[11] By this definition we can see that, as the spirit is the part of us that is willing to follow and cooperate with God, the flesh is the contrary. Romans 7 is the description of the doings of the flesh in the life of, even a believer.

            As we look at Romans 7:7-25, based on the overwhelming biblical evidence, by no means can we conclude that it represents a contradiction of Romans 6 or 8 or that it is a discouragement to any victorious declaration in Scripture. Romans 7, if anything, explains the nature of our struggle and is not unique to Romans 7. It can be seen all throughout Scriptures in the Old and New Testament. Romans 7 places a stamp and seal on what the work of Christ truly represents; his love, his mercy, his patience and his power to change us.

            To say that we no longer have the ability to sin as believers is lying, it’s deceiving ourselves and is evidence that the truth is not in us. This is a serious matter! Our weakness through the pages of history are well documented; I am sorry, I know that many would like to see themselves as so powerful and so victorious, and we are… but only through Jesus. If you are willing to accept all that we are in Christ and all that we are not in our own power, then you will have a problem with Romans 7; however if you recognize your dependency in Him for every aspect of your life, you will have no problem simplifying Romans 7.

            It is all about Jesus, without him we are simply nothing. Through Him we are free from the guilt of sin, through him we have power to overcome sin and through him we find mercy when we fail to access such power and our weakness overtakes us. His victory was announced from the very beginning after the fall of man. In Genesis 3:15 God the Father tells us, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” (NASB) That is the theme of the whole Scripture, that is the good news… that is the Gospel and the central theme of the whole book of Romans. Yes… Jesus is our Savior (Acts 13:23), but the Gospel goes beyond our salvation. Jesus is also our Lord (2 Corinthians 4:5), Jesus is our Intercessor, (Romans 8:34), Jesus is our Attorney (1 John 2:1) and Jesus is our healer (Matthew 8:16).

            The Holy Ghost dwells in me, He ministers to my spirit, He restores my soul and He fights off the flesh. I am not defeated, my victory is sure. I serve a God who is love and the Bible declares that love never fails. Is important to remember that we are going through a process, we are changing indeed; God is not wasting his time. 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (NASB) There are two powerful promises we must keep in mind 1) God will place that law that Paul was talking about in Romans, in our minds and in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33) and 2) God will successfully finish the work that he started in us (Philippians 1:6)

Textual Analysis

What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. Romans 7:7-9 (NASB)

            In the Garden, Adam and Eve were given permission to eat from every tree in the Garden, only one tree was off-limits, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Why did God place such prohibition? What is it about having knowledge of good and evil that is so bad? Everything was ok in the Garden until their eyes were open to the reality of evil. Without the knowledge of what is evil we were created to do right. Such knowledge must not be a good thing for us to have.

            Responsible parents, for example, do the same thing with their children; they protect their ears and eyes to keep them pure. Only God is able to know evil and not be affected by it. The knowledge of evil is never good for us, it sucks us into doing evil; the flesh rides in such knowledge. What happens when a child is exposed to domestic violence, bad language, pornography and so on? They lose their purity. That’s the reason behind the rating on movies, PG, PG 13, Rated R, etc. Without the knowledge of evil Adam and Eve would have continues to live a pure life.

            The law itself is not sin, that’s what Paul is saying here, but the knowledge of sin produces in us a desire for sin. That knowledge of what is evil, Paul said, produces all kinds of evil coveting. Those evil desires come from our flesh; that is the part of us that delights in sin.

9I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; 10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

            Without the command, what is out there to convict us of any sin? Nothing! That is because there is nothing to establish what is sin and what is not. However, through Moses God did give us the Law and clear definitions of what is right and what is wrong. So when was Paul apart from the law? This may be a general statement because we know for a fact that Paul existed way after the Law was given through Moses.

13 Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.

            Again we see Paul defending the Law and pointing out what is the real problem… sin! He then continues the theme of defending the law by stating,

14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. 17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

            There is an argument regarding the verb between Romans 7:7-13 and Romans 7:14-25. Dockery points out that

            “The first six verses of the chapter assert strongly the fact of the believer’s death         to the law. This is done by a somewhat imperfect analogy with the husband and          wife. The following verses demonstrate the character of the law, i.e., it is “holy,  just and good.” This is done by expressing the character of the law and its relation   to Paul in his transitional experience before his conversion (7:7-13). This can be demonstrated primarily by the past tense verbs. The shift to the present tense in vv    14-25 is indicative that this section describes Paul’s struggle with sin as a believer. Vv 24 and 25 form a conclusion to this difficult section.”[12]

            While we can subscribe to the idea that in Romans 7:7-13 Paul could have been referring to his life before becoming a believer; it is very clear that in verses 14-25, he is indeed confessing his struggles as a believer as the past tense transition into a present tense.

            As we continue our analysis we go back to establishing that we are spirit, soul and body. We see these three components of who we are in the following verves. In Romans 7:21 Paul tells us, “I find then the principle that evil is present in me…” This is the flesh in action. In Romans 7:22 he adds, “For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man…” This is the spirit in us; the one who is willing and capable of cooperating with God as previously established. In Galatian we are able to see that the flesh fights against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. The flesh also attacks the soul. In Romans 7:23 the Apostle Paul tells us, “but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. The word mind here is Greek word, “νοῦς noús; meaning mind, the organ of mental perception and apprehension, of conscious life, of the consciousness preceding actions or recognizing and judging them, intelligent understanding. (I) As the seat of emotions and affections, mode of thinking and feeling, disposition, moral inclination, equivalent to the heart (Rom. 1:28; 12:2; 1 Cor. 1:10; Eph. 4:17, 23; Col. 2:18; 1 Tim. 6:5; 2 Tim. 3:8; Titus 1:15); firmness or presence of mind (2 Thess. 2:2); implying heart, reason, conscience, in opposition to fleshly appetites (Rom. 7:23, 25; Sept.: Is. 10:7, 12).[13]

            As you can see there is a brutal fight taking place in the inside of us. In Romans 7 Paul goes beyond describing the struggle, he confessed that he is in the struggle also. As established before, Romans 7 is not the only place in the Bible that speaks and makes this struggle obvious. A study of the seven churches in Revelation are another large portion of Scripture that also illustrates how our sinful nature can find its way in our lives and even in our doctrines. However, Romans 7 is not a contradiction of the rest of this book or the Bible for that matter. Verses 24 and 25 establishes our condition, but also our one and only hope… Jesus Christ! 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (NASB)

            Why are so many theologians alarmed and suspicious of Romans 7? Why do so many go as far as twisting Scripture to accommodate a doctrine that does not exist? We often say, I am not perfect, nobody is; so why are we having such a hard time reconciling the fact that we have victory over sin, and at the same time, there is a nature in us that is a slave of sin? Why are we having such a hard time understanding that we are going through a process? Why are we having such a hard time accepting that through Jesus we are victorious and through the Holy Ghost he is transforming us and changing us from glory to glory?

            It is not that Paul was fornicating; it is not that Paul was stealing, lying or murdering people, etc. after becoming a born again believer. What we are dealing with is a man who understood the power of God, but also understood sin. See, we have the tendency to divide sin between the big sins and the small sins and we know that not every sin is an abomination before the Lord; however there is no sin acceptable by God. We can’t enter heaven without the forgiveness of all of our sins.

            In the famous Sermon of the Mount Jesus said,  “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.19 Matthew 5:17-19 (NASB)

            Every commandment is important. Also, do we not remember that we don’t have to actually commit an act in what we know as, our time and space, for that act to enter the realm of reality? In that same Sermon of the Mount Jesus states, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28 (NASB) How many sins are hidden in our hearts? Nobody can see them, we have not acted on them, but before God, they are just as real as if we go out and actually commit these acts. All of those folks that have a hard time with the transparency of Paul and refuse to accept our sinful nature as a reality in our Christian life fail to understand or accept that truth, so they walk either in great denial or, great hypocrisy. The Apostle Paul, on the other, understood his victory in Christ, who he was in Christ, his dependency in Christ, and his daily struggle with sin. Paul states that he dies daily (1 Corinthians 15:31). Jesus goes as far as telling us, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26 (NASB)

Application

            Interpretations regarding Romans 7:7-25, as you can see, are all over the place. If I embrace the conclusion that Paul’s statements in Romans 7:7-25 are those of a non-believer and that it is impossible for a Christian to experience such struggle, I must then question my own salvation. I have experienced the struggle described in this portion of Scripture my whole life as a believer. It seems to me that some Christians cannot fathom a Christian living in such struggle. However, if we are honest, to prove that even born again Christians struggle with sin, all we have to do is take a sincere look at our own mirrors and look at our own stories, not before, but since becoming born again believers.

            How can I finish a paper on Romans 7 and just keep moving on to my next assignment without pausing and reflecting on my own life as a believer? The reality is that every time I read Romans 7 I am deeply touched and moved, even to the point of tears. So I turn this portion of my paper into a heartfelt and sincere prayer:

Father, today, like everyday, I need your help, I need your guidance, I need your forgiveness, I need the cleansing and healing power of the Blood of Jesus and the activity of the Holy Ghost in my life. There is a journey I am in Lord; it has been a tough journey, a journey filled with filth, mistakes, sin, errors and everything in between. I see myself as a wretched men, my victory is in Jesus and in Jesus alone. I thank you for all that I am through Christ and I thank you that through your Holy Spirit you are working in me. I am innocent through Christ; without HIM I am guilty. I am righteous through Christ, without HIM I am unrighteous. I am holy through Christ, without HIM I am a filthy man and I am victorious also through Christ, without HIM I am a looser. The condition of my flesh makes me a slave to sin; my soul is going through a process of restoration. I am changing the way I think, I am getting better with my decision making and better in connecting my emotions to the reality of who I am IN CHRIST; to allow joy and peace to decorate my soul and brighten my days. I thank God for the born-again spirit within me; God has created an upright spirit within me, a spirit who is willing to cooperate with God every day. Oh I thank God for the indwelling of the Holy Ghost and how He ministers to my spirit, how He restores my soul and how he fights my flesh. I praise you today oh God… Wash me and make me white like snow. I desire holiness and not a lifestyle of sin. Thank you for your precious Law that is being formed in my heart… Yes Lord! Thank you that the good work you started in me… YOU will complete! In Jesus’ name… Amen!

Conclusion

            In Romans 7:7-25 we see the great Apostle Paul talking about himself: those were his own words. Not only did he describe his own condition and struggle with sin, but the condition and struggle with sin of all of us. Paul gave us an example of transparency and humility; something very hard to find amongst many of our brethren today. They don’t understand themselves as spirit, soul and body because they were presented with the idea that we could be perfect and unable to sin. They would rather answer to the questing of, “How are you doing?” By stating, “blessed and highly favored.” They were told that to accept that there is a part of us that is a slave to sin is the same as denying their own salvation. So they lie, they embrace hypocrisy and run from transparency.

            Romans 7:7-25 crushes any justification for arrogance and pride in our lives, even as believers and brings us to the point of facing the reality that without Christ we are indeed a bunch of wretched men and women. Romans 7:7-25 establishes that Jesus is everything and ONLY HE deserves the glory. There is no reason for pessimism, Romans 7:25 is not only describing the reality of our struggle, but also the tangible reality of our redemption through Christ Jesus, this is an undeniable theme through the entire book of Romans. Paul closes Romans 7 confirming the power of such redemption by stating, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. Romans 7:24-25 (NASB)

            Thank God that Romans 7 did not end with the reality that we are wretched, but with the announcement of Jesus who will indeed set us free from this body of death; from this sinful and disgusting nature that lives in us. That, my friends, is the Gospel, that is indeed… good news!

            I believe that Romans 7 helps us understand the magnitude of the evil that is in us. However, Romans 7 also teaches us that the death and resurrection of Christ gave us more than taking away our guilt. Christ is making us free by the power of His Spirit and by the power of his blood. Christ stands as our Saviour; soon we will all go home with him. Christ stands as our Lord; he is dealing with us. The devil’s accusations have no power over us. God disciplines us when he needs to, gives us mercy to hold back the judgment we really deserve; gives us grace that we don’t deserve, empowers us to do right, stands as our Attorney when we mess up, and is our number One intercessor to guaranty our victory. When everything is said and done, one thing is for sure; God will restore our souls in the midst of a sinful world and in spite of our uncooperative flesh. This flesh has no hope; this flesh will die, but the true me, the “I” in the inner man that Paul spoke about, will be glorified. That’s good news!

Bibliography

“An Exegesis of Romans”. A Discipleship and Coaching Services, accessed February 18,   2018,   https://www.livestransforming.com/an-exegesis-of-romans-77-      25/?doing_wp_cron=1519003891.9462900161743164062500
Berding, Kenneth, “A Key Insight about Romans 7 from a Conversation with J. I.             Packer.” The Good Book Blog Talbot School of Theology. Accessed February 18,           2018, https://www.biola.edu/blogs/good-book-blog/2012/a-key-insight-about-       romans-7-from-a-conversation-with-j-i-packer
Bounds, Christopher. “Augustine’s Interpretation of Romans 7:14-25, His Ordo Salutis   and His Consistent Belief in a Christian Victory over Sin.” Asbury Theological    Seminary. (2009):
Dockery, David S,. Romans 7:14-25: “Pauline Tension in the Christian Life”. Grace          Theological      Journal. (Fall, 1981): 239-257.
Garlington, Don B. “Romans 7:14–25 And The Creation Theology Of Paul.” Accessed     February 18, 2018. http://www.galaxie.com/article/trinj11-2-04
Lesson 1: Romans: The Gospel of God (Romans 1:1, Introduction), accesses March          9, 2018, https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-1-romans-gospel-god-romans-11-         introduction
Mathew Henry’s Bible Commentary. Accessed February 18, 2018,           https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=45&c=7
Piper, John. “Clarifying Romans 7:24-25 As Christian Experience”. (October, 2014).
Quarles, Charles. “Romans, Letter to The,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated        Bible Dictionary An Introduction to the Book of Romans, accessed March 9,       2018, https://bible.org/article/introduction-book-romans
Schreiner, Thomas. “Romans 7 Does Not Describe Your Christian Experience.” The          Gospel Coalition. Accessed February 18, 2018,             https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/romans-7-does-not-describe-your-         christian-experience/
Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga,     TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).
[1] Charles L. Quarles, “Romans, Letter to The,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1409.
[2] Charles L. Quarles, “Romans, Letter to The,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1409.
[3] An Introduction to the Book of Romans, accessed March 9, 2018, https://bible.org/article/introduction-book-romans
[4] “An Exegesis of Romans”, A Discipleship and Coaching Services, accessed February 18, 2018,             https://www.livestransforming.com/an-exegesis-of-romans-77- 25/?doing_wp_cron=1519003891.9462900161743164062500
[5] Ibid.
[6]Lesson 1: Romans: The Gospel of God (Romans 1:1, Introduction), accesses March 9, 2018, https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-1-romans-gospel-god-romans-11-introduction
[7] John Piper, “Clarifying Romans 7:24-25 As Christian Experience”, (October, 2014).
[8] David S. Dockery, Romans 7:14-25: “Pauline Tension in the Christian Life”, Grace Theological            Journal, (Fall, 1981): 239.
[9] Christopher Bounds, “Augustine’s Interpretation of Romans 7:14-25, His Ordo Salutis and His             Consistent Belief in a Christian Victory over Sin.” Asbury Theological Seminary. (2009):            20
[10] Ibid. 21
[11] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).
[12] David S. Dockery, Romans 7:14-25: “Pauline Tension in the Christian Life”,
[13] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

Are You Doing God’s Will or Your Own Thing?


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There is one characteristic of a man or a woman of God that brings all characteristics together and that is to be faithful to God. To be faithful to God means that we trust Him; to be faithful to God means that we obey Him and to obey God means that we love Him (John 14:15). To be faithful to God means to learn to die to self; that is because, being faithful to God does not mean doing the same thing year after year; being faithful to God is doing what He tells us to do faithfully.

            If I consider that God’s ways are higher and different than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9) we most also conclude that to be faithful to God forces us to deal with one little scary thing called, “Change”. There is no way to be faithful to God and remain in our comfortable zone… absolutely no way! The Bible tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

            As we look at Abraham having to leave his hometown and his people; as we look at Moses wondering in the desert for forty years; as I see the children of Israel fighting giants to conquer the promise land and, as I look at the Old Testament prophets risking their lives every time they spoke God’s truth, I realize, very quickly, than being faithful to God will always take us out of our comfortable zone. The same can be said about the New Testament characters. John the Baptize was decapitated six months after he started his ministry announcing the coming of the Lord. All of the original disciples were murdered with the exception of John. Don’t think for a minute John got it easy, they did tried to kill him, he did suffer persecution, but most of all, the pain of seen all of his friends dying. The Apostle Paul was also decapitated.

            When I look at how comfortable many of our lives are as Christians I wonder, what are we doing wrong? We want the glory, but we don’t want to change; we want the anointing, but without having to leave our neighborhoods and our jobs. In other words, folks refuse to let go of their identity, that place where everybody knows you, where you have a degree of expertise and where you are comfortable. Very few are willing to “start all over”; they just want to continue the status quo. I am sure when they die, somebody will call them faithful for working in the same place for 20 or 30 years; my question is, did God called them to do the same thing for 20 or 30 years? I am not too sure!

            Matthew 7:21 tells us  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” It seems like we take God’s will very lightly. I remember hearing a deacon in a church stating that God follow us and bless us as we do our thing. In other words it is God following us and not us following Him? I confronted this deacon with his stupidity, but I wonder how many even noticed the heresy of his statement.

            Jesus is not only our Saviour He is also our Lord. He becomes truly our Lord when we surrender our will to his. We can’t say that He is our Lord when in reality we exclusively follow our will. There are some special words from our Father that are only reserved for a very prestige group. These words are not reserve for those who call themselves Christians, but for those who were faithful in doing God’s will. We see those words in Matthew 5:23, “…Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 5:23 (NASB) On the other hand, for those who were unfaithful to God and follow their own will and ways, they will hear a different set of words, “…I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” Matthew 7:23 (NASB) Are you doing your own thing? Beloved to do our own thing is to practice lawlessness.