Posts filed under 'Legalism'
A few years ago I was attending a conference near Chicago. Some people were very kindly providing accommodation to us in their beautiful home at no charge. One evening we decided to go to watch a baseball match. The baseball match was quite an event, but the home team won, so it all worked out fine. However, by the time we got back home after dropping off all our passengers, it was around midnight. Our hosts had given us a front door key so that we wouldn’t have to wake them, so it should have been quite simple for us to sneak inside. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. We put the key in the lock, but it wouldn’t turn…
Paul’s Letter to Philemon
1:1 From Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon, our dear fellow worker, 1:2 and to dear Apphia, to Archippus, our fellow soldier, and to the church which meets in your house. 1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1:4 I am always grateful to God as I mention you in my prayers. 1:5 I hear about your love for all the believers and your faith in the Lord Jesus. 1:6 I pray that you will fully understand every good thing which Christ provides for us so that your sharing with other believers is effective. 1:7 We derive great joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the believers have been revitalised by you, brother.
1:8 That is why I am bold enough in Christ to tell you what you should do, 1:9 but instead for the sake of love I plead with you. I, Paul, an old man, and now a prisoner of Christ Jesus, 1:10 plead with you for my child. In my imprisonment I have become a father to Onesimus, 1:11 who once was useless to you, but now is useful to you and to me. 1:12 I am returning him, that is, my own heart, to you. 1:13 I wanted to keep him with me, to serve me on your behalf in my imprisonment for the Good News. 1:14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that your generosity would not be forced, but voluntary. 1:15 Maybe the reason why he was separated from you for a while was so that you would have him forever, 1:16 no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a dear brother, especially to me, but even more so to you, both as a person and as a follower of the Lord.
1:17 If then you consider me to be a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 1:18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 1:19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it, not to mention that you owe me your own life. 1:20 Yes, brother, do this favour for me for the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. 1:21 I write to you with full confidence that you will comply, knowing that you will do even more than what I ask.
1:22 Please prepare a guest room for me, because I hope that in answer to your prayers I will be returned to you.
1:23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends his greetings, 1:24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. 1:25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
April 22nd, 2007
If you decided to become a follower of Jesus, what should happen next? Is it more important that you should apply yourself to studying everything you can about the Christian faith so that you come to know everything that there is to know, or is it more important that you do the things that Jesus told his followers to do, so that you act more like Jesus? To put the question another way, who is a more mature follower of Jesus: the person who knows the Bible better, or the person who lives in a more Christ-like manner?
Paul’s Letter to Titus — Chapter 2
2:1 You should say only things which are consistent with correct teaching. 2:2 Teach older men to be self-controlled, respectable, considerate and correct in faith, in love, and in patience. 2:3 Similarly, teach older women to live in a godly manner, not as faultfinders or slaves to drink, but teaching others what is good. 2:4 They should train young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 2:5 and to be considerate, pure, taking care of their home, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s word will not be discredited. 2:6 Similarly, encourage younger men to be considerate 2:7 in everything. Be an example for them of how to do the right thing. In your teaching demonstrate integrity and dignity, 2:8 using impeccably correct words, so that anyone who opposes you will be too embarrassed to say anything bad about us. 2:9 Teach slaves to be submissive to their masters, trying to please them, not arguing with them, 2:10 not misappropriating their goods, but demonstrating proper fidelity, so that they will be a credit to the teaching of God, our Saviour, in all respects.
2:11 The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people, 2:12 teaching us to reject ungodliness and worldly pleasures, and to live considerately, righteously and in a godly manner in this present world, 2:13 in expectation of the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, 2:14 who gave himself for us, to rescue us from everything that is evil, to wash us clean and claim us as people who belong to him, enthusiastic about doing what is right. 2:15 Teach these things and encourage and correct people in an authoritative manner. Do not allow anyone to disregard you.
April 20th, 2007
One of the skills that you learn as a lawyer is the ability to examine all of the facts of a situation with a fine tooth comb. You identify and highlight everything that supports your client’s case. And it’s amazing how in almost any situation you can find at least some facts or features which will support your client’s case. You then present your client’s case in a compelling manner, and anyone who hears only your presentation is sure to conclude that your client is in the right. Quite often you succeed in convincing yourself about the strength of your client’s case. The problem comes when another lawyer undertakes the same exercise on behalf of your client’s opponent…
Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy — Chapter 2
2:1 My child, grow strong in the grace of Christ Jesus. 2:2 You have heard from me the accounts of many eye-witnesses. Pass these on to reliable people, who will be capable of teaching others. 2:3 Participate in our hardships, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 2:4 A soldier on duty avoids entanglement with everyday matters, in order to please the enlisting officer. 2:5 And anyone competing in athletics is not crowned without competing according to the rules. 2:6 A farmer who works should be the first to get a share of the crops. 2:7 Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand everything.
2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David. This is my Good News, 2:9 for which I suffer hardship and even imprisonment as a criminal. But God’s word is not imprisoned, 2:10 and I put up with everything for the sake of the chosen ones, so that they can also get salvation in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 2:11 This is a reliable saying: “If we died with him, we will also live with him. 2:12 If we persevere, we will also reign with him. If we deny him, he also will deny us. 2:13 If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful. He cannot deny himself.”
2:14 Remind people about these things, telling them in the presence of God not to argue about words, because it brings no benefit and harms the people who hear.
2:15 Try hard to present yourself in a way that is approved by God, a worker with nothing to be embarrassed about, interpreting the message of truth correctly. 2:16 Stay away from godless gossip, as it leads to greater ungodliness, 2:17 and the words eat away at you like gangrene. Hymenaeus and Philetus do this. 2:18 They have missed the mark concerning the truth, claiming that the resurrection has already happened, and sabotaging the faith of some people. 2:19 However God’s foundation remains firm, stamped with this message: “The Lord knows who belongs to him,” and, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord must stay away from unrighteousness.” 2:20 In a large house there are containers made out of gold and silver, but there are also containers made from wood and clay. Some are for special uses, and some are not. 2:21 People who clean themselves from unrighteousness will be like the containers for special uses, made holy and suitable for the master’s use, ready for every good work.
2:22 Run away from evil desires that appeal to young people. Chase after righteousness, faith, love, and peace, together with other people who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2:23 Avoid stupid and uninformed controversies, knowing that they generate strife. 2:24 The Lord’s servants must not quarrel. They must be gentle towards everyone, able to teach, and patient. 2:25 They should gently correct people who oppose them, and perhaps God will cause such people to repent and come to understand the truth, 2:26 saving themselves from the devil’s snare, in which they have been held captive by him, subject to his will.
April 16th, 2007
I recently sat in a school classroom while a teacher was teaching students a lesson on English grammar. The lesson involved breaking sentences down into nouns and verbs and adjectives and prepositions. All seemed to be going well until it became apparent that the teacher had no idea what she was doing. She was firmly of the opinion that the word “is” was a preposition and not a verb. It started to occur to me that she probably really didn’t care whether what she was saying was right or wrong. Perhaps she didn’t even care whether the students learned anything useful. All she wanted to do was get through the class and collect her pay cheque.
Paul’s First Letter to Timothy — Chapter 1
1:1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Saviour, and Christ Jesus our hope, 1:2 to Timothy, my true child in faith. Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
1:3 I urged you, when I was leaving for Macedonia, to stay in Ephesus to prevent certain people from teaching half-truths 1:4 and paying attention to myths and endless genealogies, which cause disputes, rather than God’s work, which is about faith. 1:5 Your goal in preventing them from doing these things is love, arising from a pure heart and a clear conscience and sincere faith. 1:6 Some people have missed the mark and turned aside to empty talk. 1:7 They want to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they say, or what they stridently declare.
1:8 We know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately, 1:9 but at the same time, the law exists not for righteous people, but for lawless and recalcitrant people, godless people and sinners, unholy and irreligious people, people who kill their fathers and mothers, murderers, 1:10 sexually immoral people, homosexuals, slave-traders, liars, perjurers, and anything which goes against proper teaching 1:11 of the Good News of the glory of the blessed God, which was entrusted to me. 1:12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who gives me strength, because he considered me to be faithful and chose me to serve, 1:13 although I used to be a skeptic, a persecutor, and a bully. However, I received mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 1:14 The grace of our Lord overflowed for me with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 1:15 It is true to say, and this deserves to be fully accepted, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — and I am the worst of them. 1:16 The reason why I received mercy was so that in me, the worst of sinners, Jesus Christ could demonstrate all his patience, as an example for people who were going to believe in him for eternal life. 1:17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.
1:18 I am giving you these instructions, my child Timothy, in accordance with the prophecies which were once made about you, so that you can use them to fight the good fight, 1:19 keeping faith and a good conscience. Some people have thrown these things away and made a shipwreck of their faith, 1:20 including Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, to be taught not to dishonour God.
April 9th, 2007
If you want to find something wrong with another person, all you have to do is go looking hard enough. There are some people who run “discernment” ministries, in which they publicise the faults of any prominent Christian leaders they can set their sights on. They claim that they are protecting people from false teachings. However, it often seems to be more a case of someone trying to elevate themselves by tearing someone else down. This is not helpful. As Paul said in today’s reading, “If you keep biting and devouring each other, be careful that you are not destroyed by each other.”
Paul’s Letter to the Galatians — Chapter 5
5:1 Stand firm in the freedom for which Christ set us free, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 5:2 I, Paul, can tell you that if you are circumcised, Christ will do nothing for you. 5:3 I can also say that every man who becomes circumcised is required to obey the whole law. 5:4 You are alienated from Christ, you who want to be justified by the law. You have fallen away from grace. 5:5 But we are eagerly awaiting the hope of righteousness through the Spirit, by faith. 5:6 In Christ Jesus circumcision or uncircumcision counts for nothing. All that matters is faith working through love. 5:7 You were running well! Who persuaded you to stop obeying the truth? 5:8 Such persuasion is not from the one who calls you. 5:9 A little yeast infiltrates the whole lump of dough. 5:10 I am confident in the Lord that you will not disagree. The person who is bothering you will be punished, whoever he is.
5:11 Friends, if I was still preaching that circumcision is necessary, why would anyone be persecuting me? The stumbling block of the cross would have been removed. 5:12 I wish that those who are bothering you would cut themselves off. 5:13 Friends, you were called to freedom. Do not use your freedom for selfish indulgence, but through love become servants to each other. 5:14 The whole law is summarised in one sentence: “You must love your neighbour as yourself.” 5:15 But if you keep biting and devouring each other, be careful that you are not destroyed by each other. 5:16 Walk by the Spirit, and you will not give in to sinful cravings. 5:17 The cravings of human nature are opposed to the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are opposed to human nature. They are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing the things that you want. 5:18 If you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 5:19 The activities of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, bickering, jealousy, anger, rivalry, disunity, factions, 5:21 envy, drunkenness, carousing and similar things. I warn you, as I have in the past, that people who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
5:22 The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 5:23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 5:24 People who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, we should follow the Spirit’s leading. 5:26 We should not become conceited or provoke or envy each other.
March 16th, 2007
Christians are supposed to be born free. We used to be slaves to the elements of the world, a lifestyle of rules in which each person goes through a lifetime of daily grind and then dies, but Jesus came to set us free. If we’re no longer slaves to the rules and rituals, why do we go about setting up new rules and voluntarily subjecting ourselves to the same slavery from which we are supposed to have escaped? Why do people wear uniforms to church? Why are there so many unwritten rules about the behaviour of church members? Where has our joy gone? We need to throw out the old spirit of slavery, and instead embrace freedom.
Paul’s Letter to the Galatians — Chapter 4
4:1 While the heirs are children, they are no different from slaves, although they are owners of everything. 4:2 They are under the authority of guardians and trustees until the date specified by the father. 4:3 It is similar for us. When we were children, we were slaves to the elements of the world. 4:4 But in the fullness of time, God sent his Son, born to a woman, subject to the law, 4:5 to redeem people who were subject to the law, so that we could be adopted as children. 4:6 Because you are his children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Dad, Father!” 4:7 You are no longer slaves. You are God’s children, and if you are God’s children, then you are heirs of God through Christ. 4:8 In the past you did not know God, and you were slaves to things which are not real gods. 4:9 But now that you know God, or rather are known by God, why do you want to go back and be enslaved to weak and pathetic elements, all over again? 4:10 You are religiously observing days, months, seasons, and years. 4:11 I am afraid that I have wasted my efforts on you. 4:12 Please, friends, be like me, because I became like you. You did nothing wrong to me. 4:13 As you know I first preached the Good News to you because of a physical infirmity. 4:14 Although my illness was inconvenient for you, you did not despise or reject me. Instead you welcomed me as if I was a messenger of God, or even Christ Jesus.
4:15 Where has your joy gone? I can tell you that, if you could, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. 4:16 Have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? 4:17 Those people pursue you keenly for unhelpful reasons. They want to alienate you from everyone else, so that you become fanatical with them. 4:18 It is a good thing to be enthusiastic for a good cause at any time, and not only when I am present with you.
4:19 My children, I am suffering birth pains for you until Christ is formed in you. 4:20 I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am unsure about you. 4:21 Tell me, those of you who want to be subject to the law, do you not hear what the law says? 4:22 It is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman, and one by the free woman. 4:23 The son by the slave woman was born through human effort, but the son by the free woman was born through promise. 4:24 These things provide an illustration, representing two covenants. The slave woman Hagar represents the covenant from Mount Sinai, bearing children to slavery. 4:25 Hagar represents Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the Jerusalem that exists now, because she is in slavery with her children. 4:26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 4:27 It is written, “Rejoice, you barren one who bears no children. Break forth into shouting, you that do not suffer labour pains. The children of the desolate one are more numerous than those of the one who has a husband.”
4:28 Friends, we are children of the promise, just as Isaac was. 4:29 But just as the son who was born through human effort persecuted the son who was born through the Spirit, the same thing happens now. 4:30 What does the Scripture say? “Throw out the slave woman and her son, because the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the son of the free woman.” 4:31 So friends, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
March 15th, 2007
Many people experience a progression in their relationship with Jesus. When they first encounter Jesus, an amazing transformation happens in their life. Their hearts become filled with a mixture of wonder, awe, passion, love and devotion. But if they do nothing to build the relationship and stoke the flames, then the passion can cool and the relationship can become mechanical. The joy that once existed gets transformed into obedience to a series of rules. A relationship which was originally founded on the spontaneous inspiration of the Holy Spirit has now been reduced to a daily or weekly grind.
Paul’s Letter to the Galatians — Chapter 3
3:1 Naive Galatians, who has cast a spell on you? The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was clearly explained to you. 3:2 I just want to find out this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by obeying the law, or by believing what you heard? 3:3 Are you so naive? After beginning in the Spirit, are you now trying to finish using human exertion? 3:4 Have you suffered so much trouble for nothing? Is it really for nothing? 3:5 Does God give you the Spirit and perform miracles amongst you because you obey the law, or because you believe what you heard? 3:6 Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” 3:7 People who have faith are the children of Abraham. 3:8 The Scripture anticipated that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the Good News beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you all the nations will be blessed.” 3:9 So people who have faith are blessed along with Abraham who had faith. 3:10 People who rely on obeying the law are under a curse. It is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not keep doing everything written in the book of the law.” 3:11 It is clear that nobody is justified by obeying the law before God, because, “The righteous will live by faith.” 3:12 The law is not the same thing as faith; instead, “The person who obeys the laws will live by them.”
3:13 Christ rescued us from the curse of the law, after becoming a curse for us. It is written, “Everyone who hangs on a tree is cursed.” 3:14 The blessing of Abraham came to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, and we received the promise of the Spirit through faith. 3:15 Friends, to use an everyday example, once the terms of a contract have been finalised, no-one can set it aside or add to it. 3:16 The promises were communicated to Abraham and to his seed. It doesn’t say, “And to your seeds,” as if there were many, but, “And to your seed,” as if there was only one, who is Christ. 3:17 This is what I’m saying: The covenant which had previously been confirmed by God was not cancelled, so as to render the promise ineffective, by the law which came four hundred and thirty years later. 3:18 If the inheritance comes through the law, it no longer comes through the promise. However God gave it to Abraham by a promise.
3:19 So, why do we have the law? It was added because of sins, until the seed to whom the promise had been made arrived. It was put into place through angels by a mediator. 3:20 A mediator acts between more than one party, but God is only one. 3:21 Does the law contradict the promises of God? Certainly not! If a life-giving law had been given, righteousness would indeed have come from obeying the law. 3:22 But the Scriptures say that everything is imprisoned under the power of sin, so that the promise can be given to people who have faith in Jesus Christ. 3:23 But before faith came, we were imprisoned under the law, shut away from the faith which was about to be revealed. 3:24 The law has become our teacher to bring us to Christ, so that we can be justified by faith. 3:25 Now that faith has come, we no longer need the teacher. 3:26 You are all children of God, through faith in Christ Jesus. 3:27 All of you who have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ. 3:28 There cannot be Jew or Greek, slave or free person, male or female, because you are all one in Christ Jesus. 3:29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.
March 14th, 2007
If you look at the teachings of Jesus and compare them with how Christians are commonly viewed, and how a lot of people claiming to be Christians actually behave, you can be amazed by the disparity. Jesus taught a radical and innovative message about love and forgiveness and mercy and self-sacrifice. How is it that Christians have come to be perceived as conservative, reactionary, angry, unforgiving, unmerciful and self-righteous? One of the main thrusts of Jesus’s ministry and indeed the whole the New Testament is against legalism, so how is it that today Christians are perceived as the guardians of the moral rules and regulations?
Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians — Chapter 5
5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, a level of sexual immorality that does not even exist amongst the Gentiles, with one man having relations with his father’s wife. 5:2 You are arrogant, rather than being sorry enough to remove the man who did this deed from amongst you. 5:3 Although I am absent in body I am present in spirit, and I have already judged the man who has done this thing, as though I was present, 5:4 in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. When you are gathered together, and my spirit is there together with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5:5 you must hand such a person over to Satan for the destruction of the sinful nature, so the spirit can be saved on the day of the Lord Jesus.
5:6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens all the dough? 5:7 Clean out the old yeast, so that you can become a new batch of dough, because you are unleavened. Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 5:8 We must observe the feast, not with old yeast or with the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 5:9 I told you in my letter not to associate with sexual sinners. 5:10 I did not mean that you should not associate with with any sexual sinners in this world, or with greedy people or profiteers or idol worshippers, because then you would have to leave the world. 5:11 Instead, I told you not to associate with anyone who is called a believer who is a sexual sinner, or greedy, or an idol worshipper, or a slanderer, or a drunk, or an profiteer. Don’t even eat with such a person. 5:12 What business do I have in judging people who are outside the church? Don’t you judge those who are inside? 5:13 People who are outside the church are judged by God. “Remove the wicked person from amongst yourselves.”
February 15th, 2007
The Israelites had received the first round offers in the kingdom of God, but many of them had rejected them, preferring their own brand of legalism. So now the Gentiles were getting the second round offers. They were being offered places in the kingdom not based on their original merits because they were not the original chosen people of God, but based on God’s free gift. Like university students who obtained their places on the basis of second round offers, they had to be careful to ensure that they did not fail to meet the standards required of them, which would have resulted in their expulsion from the kingdom.
Paul’s Letter to the Romans — Chapter 11
11:1 I ask then, did God reject his people? Certainly not! I am an Israelite too, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 11:2 God did not reject his people, whom he knew in advance. Or are you unaware of what the Scripture says about Elijah? He pleads with God against Israel: 11:3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have broken down your altars and I alone am left, and they want to kill me.” 11:4 But how does God answer him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand people, who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 11:5 Similarly there is now also a remnant, chosen according to God’s grace. 11:6 If by people are chosen by grace, then it is no longer by what they have done; otherwise grace would not be grace.
11:7 Where does this leave us? Israel failed to obtain what it was looking for. The chosen ones obtained it, and the rest became resistant. 11:8 As it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, unseeing eyes and unhearing ears, to this very day.” 11:9 David says, “Let their table become a trap and a net, a stumbling block and a retaliation to them. 11:10 Let their eyes be darkened, so they cannot see, and keep their back always bent.”
11:11 So I ask, did they stumble so as to fall? Certainly not! But as a result of their wrongdoing salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make Israel jealous. 11:12 If their wrongdoing enriches the world, and their loss enriches the Gentiles, how much more will their full recovery? 11:13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Since I am an apostle to Gentiles, I talk up my ministry 11:14 in the hope that I can provoke my blood relations to jealousy and save some of them. 11:15 If rejection of them results in reconciling of the world, what would their acceptance be but life from the dead? 11:16 If the first portion of dough given as an offering is holy, so is the whole batch of dough. If the root is holy, so are the branches. 11:17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive branch, were grafted in amongst them, and shared with them nourishment from the root of the olive tree, 11:18 do not boast over the branches. If you boast, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root supports you. 11:19 You might say, “Branches were broken off for me to be grafted in.” 11:20 True, they were broken off because of their unbelief, and you stand because of your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear, 11:21 because if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you. 11:22 So you can see the goodness and severity of God: severity towards those who fell, but goodness towards you, if you continue in his goodness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 11:23 As for them, if they do not continue in their unbelief, they will be grafted back in, because God is able to graft them in again. 11:24 If you were cut out of a wild olive tree, and grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more easily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? 11:25 I do not want you to be unaware, friends, of this mystery, or become conceited. Part of Israel has become obstinate, until the full complement of the Gentiles has come in, 11:26 and so all Israel will be saved. It is written, “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and he will turn ungodliness away from Jacob. 11:27 This is my covenant to them, when I will take away their sins.”
11:28 With regard to the good news, they are enemies for your sake. But with regard to being chosen, they are beloved for the ancestors’ sake. 11:29 The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 11:30 Just as you were previously disobedient to God, but have now obtained mercy as a result of their disobedience, 11:31 they also have now been disobedient, so that as a result of the mercy shown to you they can also obtain mercy. 11:32 For God has imprisoned all people in disobedience, so that he can have mercy on all. 11:33 Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How immeasurable are his judgments, and how untraceable are his ways! 11:34 “Who has understood the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his adviser?” 11:35 “Or who has given to God, that God should repay him?” 11:36 From him, and through him, and to him, are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen.
February 5th, 2007
Increased freedom cannot enhance the purpose or value of our lives unless we have a purpose or value in our lives to start with. If you have meaning in your life, a reason to live, some rationale for your existence, then you can harness different freedoms to assist in achieving your meaning or reason or rationale. But if you have no purpose, then each new type of freedom is simply a new type of potential slavery. Choose your poison, it doesn’t much matter. You can be a slave to a brickmaker in India, or you can choose to be a slave to mindless soap operas on your television set. The result is a wasted life in either case.
Paul’s Letter to the Romans — Chapter 6
6:1 Should we continue to sin, to make grace more plentiful? 6:2 Of course not! We died to sin. How could we live in it any longer? 6:3 Are you unaware that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 6:4 We were buried with him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too can live a new life. 6:5 If we have become united with him in his death, we will also be part of his resurrection. 6:6 Our old self was crucified with him to destroy the body of sin, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. 6:7 Someone who has died has been freed from sin. 6:8 But if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 6:9 Christ has been raised from the dead, and will never die again. Death no longer has power over him! 6:10 When he died, he died once to defeat sin, but now that he is alive, he lives to God. 6:11 You also should regard yourselves as dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
6:12 Do not let sin prevail in your mortal body, to make you obey its desires. 6:13 Do not allow the parts of your body to be used as weapons of wickedness. Instead, offer yourselves to God as people who were dead but are now alive, and offer the parts of your body to God to be used as instruments of righteousness. 6:14 Sin will have no power over you, because you are not subject to law, but subject to grace. 6:15 Should we sin, because we are subject to grace and not subject to law? Certainly not! 6:16 Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey: slaves of sin leading to death, or slaves of obedience leading to righteousness? 6:17 Thank God, that, although you were slaves of sin, you became sincerely obedient to the training into which you were placed. 6:18 You were freed from sin, and became slaves of righteousness.
6:19 I speak in human terms because of your human limitations. You used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and wickedness, so now offer yourselves as servants to righteousness so you can become holy. 6:20 When you were slaves of sin, you were free from worrying about righteousness. 6:21 What benefit did you gain at the time from the things about which you are now ashamed? Those things result in death. 6:22 But now that you are free from sin and have become servants of God, you gain the benefit of growing holiness, and the result of eternal life. 6:23 The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.
January 31st, 2007