NOT I BUT…

Have you ever done something and afterwards thought, “Why did I do that? that’s not who I am.” If that wasn’t you who was it?

The Apostle Paul discovered it was sin in him but not the real “him.” He said, “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” (Romans 7:20).¬†Once Paul discovered this he cried out for deliverance saying, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). Then it’s as if he remembered he was already free in Christ, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25).

After seeing that it was not really “he” but “sin” in him, he remembered Christ had already set him free. Now, Paul says, “It is no longer I but Christ who lives” (Galatians 2:20). Either way it’s not only “I” ever, because we are always joined to another. We are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:18). We are either producing fruit for death or fruit for God (Romans 7:4-5). We are joined to the True Vine or another but we are always a branch (John 15:1-5). We are operating according to “the spirit of truth” or “the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6).

We were not created to operate independently. We humans are built for union with God. In the fall, that union was severed but it doesn’t mean we are independent, it means we were deceived. The Satanic lie is, “You can be like God.” In other words, you can be independent like God. This is what Satan wanted all along (Isaiah 14:12-15) so he tricks man into being in union with him but he can’t do it openly for fear of being discovered. So, the father of lies, lies! He deceives us into thinking we’re in charge of ourselves when the reality is we are simply doing his bidding all along. He speaks to us in the first person so we think it’s our ideas when the truth is we “are doing the lusts of our father the devil” (John 8:44).

We are his slave, producing his fruit and getting to share in the consequences. Once we hear the Good news that Jesus Christ became “sin” so we can become the “righteousness” of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21), we are freed! We by faith claim we have died to sin! (Romans 6:7) We have been rescued from the dominion of darkness! (Colossians 1:13) We have been forgiven, freed from Satan’s dominion and have received an inheritance among those who have bee sanctified by faith in Christ (Acts 26:18).

The Cross worked!!

Louie

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CAIN’S PROBLEM IS OUR PROBLEM TOO – PT. 1&2

THE SIMPLICITY AND POWER OF THE GOSPEL

Many people have heard the gospel message in part but when they hear it fully they seem shocked. This past week I have had the privilege to share the gospel during our weekly Bible study on Wednesday, our monthly visit to prison on Saturday, Sunday School class and in our local jail Sunday night. During each of these opportunities there was at least one person truly enlightened through the sharing of the full gospel message. There is nothing better than getting to be a part of what God is doing in people’s lives and the joy of watching the lights come on in their eyes as they begin to understand God’s love for them on such a deep level.

As I prepared for bed on Sunday night, I found myself reflecting on the past five days and was simply amazed. Since I’ve been teaching the Bible I have had many memorable moments but this week has really been extraordinary. Wednesday night Bible study found us discussing Galatians 2:20 and Romans 6. For those unfamiliar with these verses let me just say I think they are the core of the gospel message. They establish for us that through the cross we, that place our faith in Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, are to consider ourselves as having been joined with Him. In other words, we too have been crucified with Christ! While this is plainly taught over and over throughout the letters of the Apostle Paul, I saw clearly this week many have never really heard this. One lady in our Bible study was so effected by this understanding she chose to stay with us rather than go to a meeting she previously planned to attend. She simply couldn’t tare herself away from the scriptures.

On Saturday night I shared Romans six with the ladies in prison and the response was the same. All but maybe one of them never took their eyes off of me as I talked. I joked with them saying, “Isn’t it amazing how this has been in your Bible the whole time?” You see while many may have read Romans 6 not many really believe what it says. For instance one of the ladies made the comment that “We, meaning Christians, still sin everyday.” While she’s not alone in this view, I simply asked her the same thing the Apostle Paul asked in Romans 6:2-3, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” As our time at the prison came to an end, a few of the ladies excitedly said, “I’ve never heard preaching like that before!” While I’m not sure what she specifically meant, I think it’s because we didn’t berate them to do more, and try harder, instead we shared with them that God loves them so much He has done it all through His Son Jesus Christ and by faith we have become one with Him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17). As we left them one lady said, “You need to tell everyone that message, I know that’s what I’m going to do right now!” as she made her way back to her dorm.

For the sake of any who misunderstand, let me just say, no one is advocating that a Christian can’t sin we are simply saying we don’t have to. While the gospel to many means we have come to God in repentance and He has forgiven our sins in order for us to enter Heaven one day, the gospel message is really much more remarkable than that. According to the scriptures, we who have received Christ have been joined to Him in an inseparable, eternal union. God sees us as having died in Him and been raised back as a brand new creature in Christ. This is not just an old sinner who has been washed off, patted on the back side and told to try a bit harder this time. This is a creature in which God’s Spirit is joined to your human spirit in a way that has never existed before.

One reason many have such difficulty with counting themselves as dead to sin is because we far too often live from our natural senses rather than simple faith in the Word of God. What the Bible calls walking in faith or walking in the Spirit is a foreign concept to the natural man. In fact the Bible tells us the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Maybe we’ll discuss that a bit more some other time. For now I pray God will clarify for you what being born-again really means according to the scriptures.

Louie