How to Walk in Newness of Life 3

Romans 6:19-23 (NKJV) 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Today we come to the end of Romans chapter 6. As we look at the results of the grace of God in Romans, we have found a progression.

1. All mankind is in a state of unrighteousness because of the fall.

2. There is no law we can keep nor price we can pay to overcome this condition.

3. Faith in the sacrifice of Jesus is the only way we can be made right with God. Salvation is the product of God’s grace.

4. What God did in Christ overturned what Satan did in Adam. Since all are under the affects of Adam’s fall, all can partake of redemption in Christ. Faith is the way we partake of what Jesus did.

5. In Romans 6 Paul brings a balance. The salvation we receive by grace through faith does not negate the toxic nature of sin. We still must live according to the principles and ways of God. If we do not we become slaves to sin which will release the power of death in our earthly life.

Today let us finish looking at Romans 6. Paul was accused of preaching a message that gave people license to sin. This was not true. Paul did believe deeply in the grace of God. He did not believe that because we have God’s grace we were free to sin without affect.

What grace did for us is bring us salvation. Salvation changed us inwardly. This inward change gives us a power called “new life” which enables us to live above sin. When we allow this life to flow through our whole being it will drive out all the power of death. This includes giving us an inside out ability to resist temptation and sin.

The law was God’s way of giving access to grace to those who were not changed inwardly. In Romans 8 Paul tells us what the problem is with the law.

Romans 8:3 (NKJV) 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,

The law could never be a vehicle for the salvation God wanted to bring to humanity by his grace. It was weak because it was based in the flesh. God gave the law as a means for a fleshly people to control the flesh. That is always going to fail.

Salvation is strong because it changes man in the spirit. It overrides the flesh. It taps into a power that is as far above the law as Heaven is above earth. That power is available to us in a real way if we walk in it by faith. If we do not access this power, the flesh will reassert itself and we will once again be under the dominion of death.

I want to make it clear that I am not talking about losing salvation. That is another question. I am talking about how much my salvation affects my daily living. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words defines salvation as “all the blessings bestowed upon men in Christ by the Holy Spirit.”

Salvation includes everything promised in the Old Covenant and all that God promises in the New Covenant. How much we see those promises at work in us is determined by how much we allow the life of God within to influence our life without.

That is the message of Romans 6. He concludes this important chapter by saying, “I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh.” I think Paul is amazed at how people seem to misunderstand what is to him a very clear truth. I have been in ministry 40 years and I have been a Christian for 50. I have seen both personally and in the lives of the believers I have dealt with that we have a real problem not allowing the flesh to dominate us.

To me Paul is saying, “This is not rocket science. You used to yield yourself to the flesh and it brought bad things. God provided good things for you but to walk in them you have to yield yourself to righteousness!” That is not complicated.

Paul addresses this problem by pointing out something we should all remember. When we were not saved we all allowed sin to rule our lives. Sin produced a lifestyle that led us away from God. Paul says that the result is death. In today’s section of Romans 6, he reminds them that slavery to sin was not a good way of life.

Verse 20 is an interesting statement. When you were slaves of sin you were free in regard to righteousness. You did not have to be concerned with God’s ways or his nature. You were not right with God, but you did not care. You could do whatever you wanted. The problem with that was the fruit it produced. That fruit was an earthly life to be ashamed of and eternal death in separation from God.

Paul finishes chapter 6 by telling his readers what they now have. They have everlasting life. Hell in not in their future. Their physical lives can produce fruit that is holy to God. That is ours positionally because of salvation through grace. When we allow the new life of God to flow through us it is also true in our daily living. All we need to do is live as slaves of God. A slave has no choice about what he will or will not do. A slave is totally at the command of his master. Like it or not we are totally at the command of our Lord if we are Christians. We are slaves to God.

Finally Paul makes one more summing statement. The wages or payment for sin is death. Eternal death for those who never receive the sacrifice of Jesus in salvation. Sin is an open door for death in our physical lives if we yield our members to it. If we choose daily to yield our members to righteousness, rejecting sin by the power of the inward life we received at salvation, we can have heaven on earth.

The bible is a book of choices. Even in the Old Testament God tells us the kind of life we live is based on the choices we make.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NKJV) 19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

Paul sets the same choice before us in Romans 6. We can obey him and his voice and have life and blessing or we can choose to obey the sin and the flesh, and the result will be death and cursing. Grace made the choice available. The choice is ours.

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How we Walk in Newness of Life 2

Romans 6:15-18 (NKJV) 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

As we continue to study what grace did for us we find ourselves in Romans chapter 6. Yesterday we laid out how Paul makes the case throughout Romans for a salvation that is neither based on law nor on works but on faith in the grace of in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The beginning of Romans 6 shows us that salvation did not simply cause us to have a change of doctrine or religion. Salvation changed us inwardly.

Paul says that because of what God did in Jesus we can walk in a new kind of life. We are “born again” and made “new creations.” When I received Jesus, that part of me that was created in the image of God was once again joined to him. I may look the same on the outside, but I am not the same on the inside. I now have access to something that gives me the power to walk in real victory. Paul calls that something newness of life.

This “newness of life” does not make sin less sinful. It makes me capable of eradicating it from my behavior from the inside out. Yesterday we read the method for applying this new inward life to our outward lifestyle. We must consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. When I begin to see myself in that light, I realize I do not have to sin. I can walk in the light and power of the commandments that reveal God’s nature to me.

By faith in God’s grace I choose not to yield my members as “instruments of unrighteousness” or sin. What are my members? Paul is talking about our bodies. There are all kinds of temptations in the world. To say they do not apply to me is foolishness. It is my choice what I will yield my mind and body to. When I experience the revelation of the grace of God, I have the power to resist that temptation by faith. I do not just try really hard not to sin. I do not sin because I have a power to overcome it.

The more I see the revelation that I am dead to sin and alive to God, the less sin has dominion over me. This is not a onetime thing. It is a process that every believer must go through. However, Paul is clear that it begins with the understanding of what God did and continues with our decision as to what we are going to “yield our members.”

In today’s scripture Paul begins to make a compelling case for me to walk in this process. Paul says again what he said in the first two verses of this chapter. “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!” He says this because people thought that was what he was teaching. If I am not under law and grace has paid the price for my sin, then sin no longer matters. Paul saw the idea that he preached such a thing as an insult.

Paul’s letters were written to specific people, but God was really speaking through Paul to every believer. Paul makes some very strong statements to reveal how foolish it is to think that we do not need to worry about sin because of grace. Whomever you obey becomes your master and you become their slave. If you choose to obey sin you are a slave to sin. If you choose to obey righteousness you are a slave to righteousness.

We do not like the thought of being a slave. Satan loves to point out that if you obey righteousness by obeying God and His ways, you are a slave to God and his ways. That is true. He makes it seem that if you rebel against God and his ways you are free. He even tells us we are choosing to live our own lives and be our true selves. This is the same argument he has used since the garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:2-5 (NKJV) 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

“Come on Eve. God is just holding out on you. He knows that if you eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you will be free. As a matter of fact, he does not want you to know that if you eat that fruit you will be equal to him!”

That is exactly the same logic Paul is exposing in Romans 6. The result of Eve’s choice to be “free” from God’s requirements in the Garden was bondage for the human race. Paul says that when we choose to sin we make ourselves slaves to sin which opens our life to the bondage of death. Grace does not change that.

In verses 17 he makes a wonderful statement of faith about us. “Thank God that although you were slaves to sin you obeyed from the heart the Word of God that led to your deliverance.” Paul wants it clearly understood. You could not just “feel” the truth. You could not just understand the truth of salvation. You had to obey it. According to Romans 10 you had to believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess with your mouth Jesus as the lord of your life.

Salvation is twofold. You must believe in his sacrifice as the sacrifice for you past life. That is where it begins. If there is no faith in Jesus’ sacrifice, there can be no salvation. But Romans 10 also makes it clear that we must confess Jesus as Lord. This is not just saying some words religiously. We must yield to Jesus as the Lord and master of our lives.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV) 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

What a wonderful promise I find in verse 17. I am no longer a slave to sin. I have been set free by grace. Hallelujah! I do not have to suffer the consequences of sin. I am not subject to the death that sin can bring into my life. Because I am not a slave to sin, I am not a slave to sickness, poverty, failure or discouragement. I am free from everything that sin brought upon humanity.

Galatians 3:13 (NKJV) 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),

We must understand that the promise of verse 17 also includes the truth of verse 18. I am not longer a slave to sin. However, I am a slave to righteousness. I cannot have one without the other.

What Paul needs us to see is that we will be a slave to one or the other. Grace bought us the right to choose which one we will serve. When we choose to make Jesus the savior and Lord of our lives, we chose Jesus as our absolute ruler. We are not our own. We are bought with a price. That is the precious blood of Jesus. Does that not make us a slave to righteousness?

Once I make that choice by genuine faith, heaven becomes my eternal home. I no longer have to worry about a hell of separation from God. However, what of my life on earth. I must make a choice which master I will serve today. Will I serve unrighteousness, sin, and find that death is working in my life here? Or will I choose to be a slave to righteousness and reap the benefits of the life God has for me.

What determines my slavery? It is what I do with my members. My body, my emotions and my will are those members. When I choose slavery to God and his ways, life is the result. When I choose to serve sin and my flesh, I am going to find death working in me, my work, my body and my family. Grace gives us the choice, but it does not change the consequences we face in this life. What will you be a slave to?

How we Walk in Newness of Life

Romans 6:11-14 (NKJV) 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

We are taking some time this year to look at the topic of grace. There is much teaching on this in the church right now. Some if it is good and some may not be so good. My tact whenever I hear things that I am not sure about, is to go back to the Word of God. I try to do so without preconceived ideas. All I want to know is what the bible says. If we focus there, we cannot go wrong. The key to this process is to be open to changing what we thought was true.

At this point in our study, we are looking at Romans 6. There is a progression in the book of Romans that lays out perfectly the truth about grace. In chapter 3 we find that all are under sin. There are no exceptions. One of the key verses of Romans 3 makes this clear.

Romans 3:10 (NKJV) 10 As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;

The other dominant theme of chapter 3 is that the law cannot make anyone righteous or right with God. There is another way to become right with him. That is the sacrifice of Jesus. Through that sacrifice all who come are made righteous. There is nothing to pay and nothing to earn. How do we access this free righteousness? Chapter 4 tells us.

I like to think of Romans 4 as the “quick start guide” to faith. It lays out in detail how Abraham received the promise that he would be the father of nations in the face of impossibility. Any faith operation we undertake works the same way. However, there is another truth in this chapter that is actually more relevant to the revelation Paul is giving us in Romans. We can only access the “law free” salvation by faith in God.

Some say the opposite of law is grace. That is not exactly correct. Law was the vehicle that God used to enable man to access what limited grace he could provide under the Old Covenant. Under the New Covenant we have a much more complete and powerful grace available to us. If law was the way to access grace under the Old Covenant, how do we access it under the New. The answer is Faith.

The New Testament answer to the Old Testament law is not grace but faith. Grace has always been available. Instead of keeping the law to be right with God, today we access grace by faith.

Ephesians 2:8 (NKJV) 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

There is no amount of keeping the Law that can save you. Keeping the law gave the Israelites under the Old Covenant as much relationship as possible until Jesus came. It gave God a channel through which he could bring the Messiah. When He came, He did not do away with the law, he fulfilled it (Matthew 5:17.) His sacrifice provided in reality for all what the Law provided in type and shadow for Israel. The only way we can access this true righteousness of grace is by faith.

We have already talked about chapter 5 in previous posts. To summarize, chapter 5 tells us that Adam brought death to all, but Jesus brought life to all who will receive it. It reveals to us that the grace manifested in Jesus Christ gave man the power to overcome the reign of death through sin that had come upon all at the fall.

There is no question that grace accessed by faith is the answer that God was working towards since the fall of man in Eden. Salvation requires nothing else. You cannot earn salvation. You cannot buy salvation. There are no laws you can keep nor sacrifices you can make that will save you or make you right with God. Salvation comes by faith in Jesus Christ alone. Grace is the vehicle that provided salvation and faith is how we access grace.

This brings us to chapter 6. Again, we have looked at the beginning of this chapter in previous posts. Let me quote the first two verses again so we are absolutely clear on what Paul is saying.

Romans 6:1-2 (KJV) 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Paul’s revelation is not that sin is no longer sinful. Sin is toxic to man. Sin is what produced the fall. According to the last verse of this chapter, Paul makes it clear that the wages or affect of sin is death. He says in the same verse that the free gift God wants to give us is eternal life. Both statements are true. The wage sin pays are still death and the free gift of God is life.

Romans 6 reveals something that is key to the whole process. When I receive the sacrifice of Jesus as payment for my sins, I am not just forgiven. I receive a new life. Something changes inside of me. Jesus called it being born again. Paul called it becoming a new creation. The death that came into the spirit of all people was transformed into life. The power of God connected the Christian to the creator once again. All past sins were wiped away and we became “new creations” in Christ. We were born again.

Neither grace nor salvation changed the nature of sin. Sin is still a disease that, if we allow it to control us will produce death. All Christians sin. We all allow the flesh to dominate us from time to time. 1 John 1:8-10 makes that clear. I do not believe that the sin John is talking about will send us to hell. I do believe it opens up a door for the enemy to get into our lives and bring death. Not eternal death but death to our witness, our testimony and sometimes our physical lives, among many other things (John 10:10.)

What is the solution? Should I ignore the sinfulness of sin because grace has me covered. I say with Paul, “God forbid!” The solution is to walk in the new life God made available to every believer through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The question is, “How do I do that?” The answer is found in the whole New Testament, but we can find some important things at this point in the story of Romans. Todays scripture gives us the next steps.

We receive grace and salvation by faith. We accept the truth that we are new creatures in Christ. What must we do next? We must consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. We must not let sin reign in our mortal bodies by yielding our physical lives to its power. We must yield our bodies, our members, to God and not to sin.

We do not do this by law. We do it because we are no longer under law. We are under grace. Grace gives us the power to control our “members” from the inside out not the outside in. Nonetheless, we do control them. If we do not, we yield to sin which opens us to death. All of the negatives that came upon man because of the fall are wrapped up in death.

More tomorrow.

Traveling, Traveling, Traveling

Acts 1:8 (NKJV) 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

It has been quite a busy year for my wife and me. We have been doing our best to fulfill today’s scripture as we establish Living Word International as our primary ministry. Unfortunately, the travel has left us behind in posting to this space as well as in other writing we feel God has called us to do. For that I apologize.

However, as you pray for us and support us financially, the bible is clear that what we do is credited to your account in heaven as well. Please do pray for us. The doors are open. We need you to agree with us for the finances and the strength to go. God has been good to us and he will continue to be in the future.

As much as it would bless us to have your support financially, it is even more important that you pray. Over my nearly 40 years as a pastor, I often stood before our church and asked them to do their financial best but to agree with me that whatever we could not do, God would do supernaturally. We saw God move time and again as our faith was mobilized together. I would request that those who have been blessed by this blog would do the same. You may not be able to give but if you will really agree with me today, I know God will continue to provide. Thank you in advance.

I want to take a moment to give you a quick update. We spent the first 3 weeks of this year pouring into students at Blue Ridge Bible School in Rocky Mount Virginia. We really appreciate the trust of Pastors Phil and Gina Crandall as well the whole family at Blue Ridge for the opportunity to teach these fine students. We will be there again in January of 2019.

We left Virginia and spent a week with The Rock in Conneaut Ohio and New Beginnings in Erie Pennsylvania. The Rock is pastored by Pastors James and Michelle Friend and New Beginnings by James’ parents Paul and Anne Friend. We had a great time in both places. Thanks.

We then had our annual Unity Through Fellowship leadership conference at Living Word in Greene. From there we spent about 10 days in Costa Rica ministering with Pastor John Snyder, Dr. Eldon Wilson and Pastor Paul Friend in prophetic ministry to a group of pastors from a major denomination in that country. We also ministered to the local church in Aguas Clara, Costa Rica.

Next up was a trip to the Philippines with Pastor Ron and Lorraine Estep of Havre de Grace, Maryland. We had a great time ministering to a group of churches and a bible school on the island of Palawan. We traveled the length of the island visiting churches and teaching in a conference for their leaders and people at the school in the city of Narra.

Next it was back to the Bible School in Virginia for graduation and a visit to our oldest son in Nashville and some dear friends in Michigan. We will finally have some time at home from the middle of May through July.

Next up is a short trip to Mamaroneck, NY in June and then our annual visit to Kenya and Uganda. We will spend 2 months there from mid-August to mid-October. This is a major focus for us so please pray.

Finally, we end the year with a trip to Columbia in December with my son-in-law, Louis to visit a pastor friend of his named Julio Valandia where we will minister to pastors and leaders in the city of Bogotá.

Continue to pray for us. Visit https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=bill+KIefer to purchase our books. The proceeds will help finance our travels. There are many more doors open and we are praying about what the Lord wants us to do to meet the tremendous need we see in the world.

If any would like to help with the costs of travel, we would appreciate it. Checks can be made out to Intercession Ministries and you can give electronically through PayPal using the email address wkiefer@aol.com.) (Intercession Ministries is our personal incorporation that pre-dates our church, Living Word Christian Center. Giving through Intercession Ministries makes the bookkeeping easier and gives tax credit for those who ask.)

Thanks again for reading and for supporting us. You are a blessing to us even though we may never have met.

Newness of Life

Romans 6:4 (KJV) 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

In our last post I talked about one of the most important topics in the bible. The fact that we have been made the righteousness of God in Christ is what I call one of the grand truths of scripture. Understanding this can change everything. When we received Jesus as Lord, our nature was changed. We were made right with God. All the requirements of the Law were fulfilled. We cannot earn this righteousness. However, now it is our responsibility to walk in what God has done for us.

1 Corinthians 15:34 (NKJV) 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.

Paul is not saying that we should not sin so we will be righteous. He is saying that if we understand what God has done in making us right with him, we will have the power to overcome sin. Sin is a disease. It produces death everywhere it touches. Righteousness does not make sin less sinful. It does not make it less of a disease. Waking up to the fact that God has changed our nature and made us right with him gives us the power to live above sin.

Romans chapter 5 is one of the greatest chapters in the Word of God. It tells us about the power released in Jesus sacrifice and how it changed us. In this mighty chapter, Paul points out that through one man death came into the world. Because sin changed Adam’s nature, death passed on to all who were born of his race. He goes on to say that through one man, Christ Jesus, God gave the gift of Grace.

Romans 5:16 (NKJV) 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.

Paul sums up this chapter this way:

Romans 5:19-21 (NKJV) 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. 20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul reveals to us that grace produces righteousness in everyone who receives Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10.) If one man’s disobedience causing him to sin could bring death to all then one man’s obedience to die for sin can bring righteousness to all. This is just and it is logical. Verse 21 is how Paul ends this chapter.

It is important to understand that Paul did not write in chapter and verse. He was writing a letter to the Roman church. The chapters and verses were added later. Paul has not changed the subject. He continues in chapter six what he was talking about in chapter 5. It is vital that we begin with what Jesus did. If we do not understand that our righteousness is a gift that was paid for by the blood of Jesus, we will live our Christian life trying to earn what we already have. That does not mean that we have no part to play. Look at chapter 6 verse 1 through 5.

Romans 6:1-5 (NKJV) 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,

Does the fact that I have been made right with God by grace mean we should feel free to continue in sin? Paul had been accused of preaching that very thing. Some today are preaching that very thing. I love Paul’s answer. In this case I like the King James Version better than the New King James.

Romans 6:2 (KJV) 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Paul cannot even understand how anyone who has been rescued from sin could think that way. Only those who do not understand could come to that conclusion. Righteousness by grace means we are dead to sin. We no longer have to be subject to its power. In verse four we find out what God has enabled us to do. We can walk in “newness” of life.

I looked up the word translated newness in the Greek. It means just that. It can also means a renewal of life. What is Paul telling us? When we received Jesus as savior and Lord, we were made right with God. However, there was much more than that. Our nature was changed. We were put back into union with almighty God. He did something inside us. We died in Christ. Our spirit was made alive in him. A new kind of life came into us when we were born again. It was not a change of philosophy or religion. It was a change of what we were.

In weeks past, I talked about man’s creation. In Genesis 2 we learned that man was different from all other physical beings. Their life came with their creation. However, man’s body was formed without life. It did not become “a living soul” until God breathed into it. Man came alive from the inside out. The source of his life was direct union with God. When Adam fell, that connection was lost and he was instead connected with the devil by nature. He was still alive from the inside out by the source of his life was not the purity of God. It was the evil of the Satanic nature. It was spiritual death (Ephesians 2:3 and Romans 5.)

What happened to us at the new birth? We were made right with God! Our nature was changed! We became children of God in spirit once again. THE SOURCE OF OUR LIFE WAS CHANGED! We no longer draw our life from the sin nature. We have “newness” of life. We have something in us that is so much more powerful than the sin nature that we never have to give in to temptation again. I am not talking about law or will power. That is the Old Covenant. I am talking about the power and victory that grace bought for me.

I am free from sin by the blood of Jesus. I no longer have to walk in it and I no longer have to endure the earthly consequences of sin. The eternal consequences are taken care of when I receive Jesus as Lord and savior. However, the wages of sin is death. When we allow sin to reign over our mortal bodies, our lives, we open the door to things God does not want for us. We no longer have to do that.

The law could not keep it from happening but the righteousness of God by grace can. Not by making sin no longer deadly. The righteousness of God by grace gives us access to that newness of life that Adam enjoyed in the Garden. When we access and walk in that life, sin is not longer a problem. We walk above it. We do not have to pay the legal price because we just do not sin. How do we access this newness of life? Let us hear what Paul has to say.

Romans 6:11-14 (NKJV) 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

The Problem was the Nature not the Sin

Ephesians 2:1-3 (NKJV) 1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

We can never understand unmerited or undeserved favor, also known as grace, unless we understand why we did not deserve God’s favor and what he had to do to give it to us. We have looked at creation, the problem God faced and his solution. We have seen that God took upon himself the consequences of Adam’s sin and made a way for us to come back into relationship with the Lord.

Let me show you a timeline of how the process has played out.

1. God chose to create man. In order for man to fulfil his purpose as the focal point of fellowship, he had to have the capacity and the right to choose love.

2. Man chose to rebel against God in the Garden of Eden. When he did, he was separated from God. His nature changed and became like Satan’s nature. Hell was created for Satan and his angels, but because man was now identified with Satan, that became his eternal spiritual future as well

3. God chose not to leave man in this condition. He chose to come to earth as a man, Jesus. He chose to become the propitiation or sacrifice for the sin nature of man, returning to him choice

4. Man must now choose to receive what God has done for himself. If he does, he is saved by grace through faith. He will pass into eternity as a child of God and live forever in God’s presence. If he does not, he remains bound to Satan and must share Satan’s eternal punishment.

5. Death is the dividing line. Once that line is crossed, the person has made their choice and cannot change it.

The book of Romans is Paul’s revelation of this to the believer. We are not saved by understanding. We are saved by believing. We hear the Gospel preached and something inside awakens. When we respond to the drawing of God, we are saved. Nevertheless, we need to learn what happened to us so that we will be able to walk in it and so that we can become a conduit of salvation to the world.

We have already begun in the most important place, Genesis. Let us look at man’s condition from a slightly different perspective. Why did man not deserve God’s favor? What is favor? The English noun means approval, support, or liking for someone or something. The Verb means to feel or show approval or preference for someone or something. Why was humanity underserving of God’s approval? They were created to be God’s family. Why was he unable to show them preference over Satan?

From our human perspective we would say it was because of what Adam had done. We are geared to think in terms of “crime and punishment” or “right behavior and reward.” There is an element of both in God’s dealing with man. Justice demands payment. Love demands forgiveness. God is by nature both in the absolute sense. We have already pointed out in detail that God could not overlook the “crime.” His solution was to pay the price. The debt has been paid. All man must do is choose to accept it. However, he must choose to accept it. If he does not he is eternally separated from God. Why?

It is not because of God’s anger. It is not because God is legalistic. If that were the case, coming to salvation in Jesus would require confession of what a person had done. He or she would have to take responsibility for those things. Man would have to become worthy of being a child of God. That is impossible. No one has the ability to pay the price.

By grace all the sins of mankind have been forgiven. They are not forgiven when we receive Christ. They were already forgiven. They were forgiven the moment Jesus paid for them. Why must every individual receive the sacrifice for themselves? If the sins are forgiven and the price paid, everyone should be saved and go to heaven. There are two reasons each person must receive Jesus as their personal savior.

The first is the timeline I laid out. Choice is the engine that drives the whole process. God chose to create, man chose to sin, God chose to pay the price. When he did he restored choice to man. Before the cross, man’s choices were limited. God gave the law and the covenant to give man the choice of limited relationship. However, that was never what God wanted. He never wanted a relationship based on law. He wanted a love relationship. Under the Old Covenant that was not possible. The death burial and resurrection of Jesus restored man’s right to choose to love God.

The second reason is what keeps man from God. It is not his sin. That is paid for by the blood of Jesus. God has no problem forgiving sin. The thing that makes it impossible for God to give his favor to man is not what he does. It is what man became in the fall. Today’s scripture makes it clear. He became by nature, a child of wrath or the devil. God cannot favor man because of his nature. If he allowed that nature into eternity the results would be unacceptable. I do not pretend to know all of why. I simply believe that Bible and accept it as so.

What did grace do for us. It did not just forgive our sins. Grace, in the form of Jesus’ sacrificial life and death, opened the way for our nature to be changed. The new birth in 2 Corinthians 5 is not just about the forgiveness of sins. It is about the change of nature. That is what we must choose. God will not force it upon us. When we receive Jesus, we are made new creatures in Christ. Old things pass away and all things are made new. 2 Corinthians 5 never mentions the forgiveness of sin. That is a given. It was done by grace.

Romans 6:3 (NKJV) 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?

The truth of salvation is that there is a part of us that dies when we are saved. We are baptized into the death of Jesus. We become partakers of his death and are then “born again.” The me that was born in the sin of Adam died in Christ. Everything I ever did died with him. All of my sins were washed away because I died with Christ. The price for all that I did was paid for in the Cross.

Colossians 2:13-14 (NKJV) 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

The blood of Jesus wipes out the handwriting on the charges that were against us. When a person receives that for him or herself, a miracle happens. The old, corrupt spirit dies, and a new clean spirit is born. We are still the people God created in our mother’s womb, but we are also “new creations.” Old things have passed away and all things become new. Paul said it this way.

Galatians 2:20 (NKJV) 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

That is what grace does for us. It kills us and raises us up. That, however, is only the beginning.

Grace Made Us Right With God

Romans 3:21-26 (NKJV) 21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

As we study grace we find that grace does not make sin “OK.” Rather, grace gives us the ability to overcome sin. Paul makes an interesting statement in 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 15: 34 (NKJV) 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.

Paul says if we will “wake up” to the fact of righteousness in Christ we will be able to stop sinning. He did not say that once we awake to righteousness we do not have to be concerned about sin. The wages of sin is death. That does not mean we will die when we commit a sin. If that were true, there would be no Christians left alive. It means that we open the door to the power of spiritual death. This enables the devil to gain access to our lives and bad things happen.

What Paul is telling us is that if we would come to an understanding of the right standing with God bought for us in the sacrifice of Jesus, we would have the power to stop sin as a factor in our lives. That does not mean we would never sin. We are still human. However, the more we understand the righteousness of God, the less hold sin, and the flesh, will have over our lives.

What is it that made us right with God. It was not our works. It was not our religious fervor. It was not confessing all our pre-salvation sins. None of those things can make us right with God. Today’s scripture uses an interesting word. It is the Word “propitiation.” This is not a word we use every day. It is one of those bible words that we may have a vague idea of its meaning, but we do not really know what it means.

By the context, we know that it has something to do with our sins, but what exactly may be unclear. Propitiation means a sacrifice made to appease an angry God. We have all seen movies or read books where the uncivilized culture needed to sacrifice a virgin to the volcano god, so he would not destroy their land. The volcano was erupting because the gods were angry, and they demanded a sacrifice. The word in Romans does not mean that exactly.

Our God was not angry. Our God is just. We have looked in depth at the need and nature of the payment for the sin that separated man from God in the Garden of Eden. God was not angry at man, but the sin committed by man changed his nature. The absolute nature of God’s justice could not simply overlook it.

The payment was the life of man. Nothing else would satisfy justice. Here is where the idea of propitiation comes in. The propitiation is whatever the god requires in order to satisfy him and quell his anger. Our need was not that God’s anger would be appeased it was that God’s justice would be met. The propitiation was what God required to meet justice. Man did not have the price. God’s solution was that Jesus came as the propitiation. His sacrifice was all God required.

What is that called. It is called grace! We do not deserve it but Jesus came as the propitiation or full payment for the sin of all mankind. He perfectly met the requirement of justice so that could never meet. All we need to be made right with God is to accept God’s propitiatory sacrifice.

There is no other way we can be made right with God. We cannot do enough good works or penance to make ourselves right with God. We cannot offer any other sacrifice because none would be the “propitiation” required. No matter how much we work in the Kingdom of God, read the bible or pray it will never be enough. The only way to be made right with God is to believe in and receive for ourselves the propitiation that God provided.

The old hymn is still true. “Just as I am without one plea but that thy blood was shed for me.” There is no case I could make that will prove my righteousness. I was by nature sin. I could not work hard enough to overcome that curse. The only vehicle for me to be made right with God is the shed blood of Jesus. Nothing else will do.

Grace is what sent Jesus. Grace is what caused him to shed his blood. Grace is what made him a propitiation for my sin. It is hard for us to believe because we are so geared to paying our own way, but we cannot earn salvation. It can only come by God’s undeserved favor, grace.

If I wake up to the fact that I am made right with God by what Jesus paid, the result is that I can overcome sin. There is no where in the bible that says I am now free to sin because Jesus paid for all sin. Behavior is irrelevant to our becoming right with God. We are dead in Christ, therefore what we did before cannot be applied to us once we are new creatures in Christ.

I believe behavior cannot cause God’s grace to fail. After salvation sin does not make us no longer children of God. We have been born again. We are his children. My kids did things that were wrong growing up but that did not mean they were not my children. Depending on the sin it did do a number of things.

It strained our relationship. I always loved them, but sin put something between us. I believe that affects the child far more than the parent. Their sin made them vulnerable to dangers I knew about and they did not Sometimes they got away with no consequence but if they continued in that path the consequences would catch up with them.

Thankfully my children never experienced this, but their sin could have cause them to die. This has happened many times in the lives of other families. Traffic accidents caused by speed or driving impaired, drug overdoses and many other acts of rebellion against parents have taken the lives of multitudes of young people. In most cases, if they had listened to their parents they and those around them would not have died.

God sets standards for the behavior of his children. They are set forth in the Ten Commandments and throughout the bible including the New Testament. Jesus set standards. Paul set standards. All the New Testament writers set standards. They are not laws. They are the requirements of relationship. They are the words of an all knowing and loving Father who knows what is best for us.

What happens if I fail to walk according to these standards. I am not cast off. I am still God’s child. I am still in his kingdom. There are some scriptures that indicate we could lose our salvation, but I am not talking about that. I am talking about the everyday believer who fails. Jesus paid for that failure as well. He gives us a way to stop most of the consequences for our sin.

1 John 1:9 (NKJV) 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Jesus paid for our sin. When we confess what we have done wrong we take and that releases the power of grace to forgive our sin and cleanse the unrighteousness that it brings to us.