Addiction, Compulsion, and Sin.

pilgrim's progress burden

We, knowing our own sin, and the power of temptation to keep drawing us in. We should be the first to have mercy, and demonstrate grace to others who don’t even know the Savior. Just like us, they know in their hearts, they don’t deserve mercy or grace from us or God.

The Word of God says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (NASB) Romans 5:8”

Some of us know addiction. There is a compulsion to do something that goes against every intent of our minds, but is so overwhelming. With obese people it is the compulsion to overeat. With drug/alcohol addicts, they need the high/drunk. With adulterers they crave what they shouldn’t have. With the homosexual/porn addict/pervert, they want what is wrong. How can they know freedom from their sin, and the punishment of it? How can they fight against it? How can we preach the gospel if we are only condemning them?  How can they ever know forgiveness if we only act in as self-righteous hypocrites?  

” Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any  affection and compassion,  make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from  selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;  do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but  emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (NASB) Philippians 2:1-11

So be like Christ to the world.  People are suffering in hopelessness, resigned to the notion that they will forever be a slave to their addictions, compulsions, and sins.  Do the most loving thing, and preach the gospel of Jesus to them.  

If they hear the gospel and get saved, what do they do if the temptations are still there? What does it mean if they sin again, and their hearts are being broken each time they give in to what the compulsion to sin is driving them to?

The gospel can set them free from their sinful compulsions. It doesn’t always happen immediately, but through repentance and faith, God will sanctify them, and give them victory over their sinful compulsions. His grace is sufficient. How long are you willing to stay in the fight against your sin? How many times are you willing to allow the shame and guilt to drive you to the feet of Christ to ask Him to forgive you?  Don’t give up on coming to Him.  Don’t let your loss of a battle, or many battles shake your faith in Jesus.  He has won the victory for us.  Trust in His victory.  

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. “(NASB) Philippians 1:6

God will forgive everyone who repents of their sin, and believes in the work of Jesus Christ alone. Don’t trust in your own righteousness, because it is filthy to God. Don’t trust in your good deeds, because they are tainted by your sin. Don’t trust in ceremony or rituals, they just tire you out. Trust in the God/Man Jesus Christ. He will demonstrate grace to you based on His love and goodness, not on any thing you might think deserves favor from Him.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” (NASB) 1 John 1:9-10

May God grant you faith to believe in the work of the Savior, and repentance from sin. Put your faith in His finished work, and trust only in Jesus for your salvation. God will deal with you sins and justify you. He will keep dealing with your sins, and sanctify you. He will finally deal with your sins, and give you a glorified body to live with Him forever. In that eternal life you will never desire sin again. You will finally be free to only the will of God without temptation.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified  by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved  by His life.  And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (NASB) Romans 5:8-11

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.  Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (NASB) 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “ But the righteous man shall live by faith.” (NASB) Romans 1:16-17

So live by faith!  Believe that Jesus will do what He says.  Believe He is who the Bible says He is.  Believe the gospel, the good news preached in his name.  He will demonstrate His grace to you if you repent and put your faith in Him.

Struggling With Doubt, or Not a Care in the World?

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None of us are sinlessly perfect.  Everyone of us is aware of a specific sin in our lives.  Some of us wonder if we are even saved because of that specific sin that is in our lives.  Some of us are at war with the sin, while others are complacently allowing for it.  Which group are you in?

We are endangered when we count on our own efforts to fight the sin, and then failing time and time again, only to have doubt come in and rob us of our assurance, or we justify our sin away as if it is only a trifle, no big deal, everyone does it, and we allow for it instead of fighting against it.  We count on grace to keep us safe.  Both ways of thinking are wrong.  We should be at war with our sins, knowing that Christ has won the war against sin once and for all.  It is our lot to stand in front of the enemy before us and engage in the fight with all we have, resting in the knowledge that the outcome of the war has already been secured even if we fail in our battle time and time again, but with practice and provision from the Holy Spirit, and God’s word, we should be strengthened.  God will sanctify us, and mature us out of that fight into another fight.  We will keep fighting sin until we die, and are resurrected into a glorified body, that will only do that which is pleasing to God.

If you find yourself in the other group, using grace as a license for sin, sitting back in defeat, without a hope of ever growing, don’t give in.  Now is the time to stand up and fight.  Don’t prove you were never saved at all.  Don’t harden your heart to the calling of the Holy Spirit to get in the fight.  Don’t have a false assurance of your conversion.  “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you [a]fail the test?” 2 Cor 13:5  You might experience a pleasant surprise.  If you get back in the fight, repent and ask Christ to forgive you, He will.  You can have assurance of your salvation.  You can know you are saved.  You can know through the fight, successes and failures, that drive you back to the cross again and again for grace.  Don’t focus on you and your fight.  Focus on Christ and His fight.  Focus on His victory over sin, death and the grave.  Focus on His victory imputed to you by faith and enjoy the peace between you and God in the midst of the violent war against sin in your life.

Grace

Unmerited favor

curried for me

In eternity prior

By God sovereignly.

 

I failed to want His grace you see

Certainly not required for me

No thoughts of shame or guilt to ply

The focus of my dimmed eye.

 

What use is grace to me?

I am good, certainly.

I need no pardon or reprieve.

For I am great don’t you see.

 

In my own mind I’m a saint.

Suffering no sinful taint.

No sins solely mine.

No need of the divine.

 

Until the day of my rebirth

When i lost my carefree mirth

Self-righteous deception

In blindness did

Manifested its debt prior, well hid.

 

My countenance fell

With deep regret.

Sorrow O my soul!

How could I’ve been so blind?

To give God no mind.

 

Now humbled

I seek some peace

In reverence I beseech

Forgive this wretched beast?

 

This foul dreg, now pardoned saint

Impassioned now for what was quaint.

Eyes quickened with life’s blessed gleam

Surveying what was once unseen.

 

Thanks to the Spirit

who is making me whole

O glory to the Holy One

Who has saved my soul

And blessed be my Jesus

His praises I extol!

Hurt Puppy and Angry Jihadist.

Ok, picture this, a cute cuddly puppy with an injured paw.  Not his dad, but his foot.  

Your first emotion wouldn’t be to go over and stomp its brains out.  You would feel compassion for it.  You would want to help it if you could.  We’ve all seen the commercials that use emotional manipulation to make you feel guilty and send money.  Now picture a person you hate, look down on, or disgusts you.

 



If you are a Christian, you should feel the same feelings for these people that you feel for the puppy.  It is easy to hate people.  It is easy to feel superior to others.  It is hard to be humble and serve people who would kill you.  All of the lost people are slaves to their sin and are headed for hell.  They are under the condemnation of sin.  We have Christ as our Savior, not because of something about us, but because of Him.  We know what it is to be at peace with God, yet we somehow think it alright to hate these people.  Imagine that you are holding the nails in one hand and a hammer in the other.  Imagine that you have just nailed Jesus to the cross of His crucifixion.  Imagine that you killed Jesus with your sins.  Now stop imagining it and realize the truth of it.  How much more disgusting are we when we see ourselves as better than the lost in the world?  We need to repent and ask God to humble us.  We need to give grace to those who don’t even know they need it.

Toxic People, Toxic Relationships, a New Age Cop out.

toxic relationship
How many times have you heard from one of your married friends who is being left by their spouse, “We were just toxic together.”  Probably as many times as you’ve heard, “He/She was just toxic for me.”  People complain, “I’m just not happy.  I deserve to be happy.”  So many of my friends, as of late, have had these things said to them, usually followed by, “I don’t love you anymore.”  For good measure they might even throw in a, “You are controlling and abusive, I never loved you.”  These are some of the most selfish, and injurious accusations I’ve heard in a long time.  These are also very sinful and rebellious.  They are definitely not Christian sentiments.  I believe they are selfish and used as a cop out.  It is the lie they tell themselves, and others to not put in the hard, sanctifying and gospel exemplifying work that is needed for a life-long covenant between them and God.  

I’d expect to hear this vitriol coming from the lost, but we often hear it coming from professing Christians.  I’ve even seen several articles on supposedly Christian websites that advocate divorcing a toxic person.  Have they forgotten that everyone is a, “toxic person?”  Have they forgotten the power of the gospel?  Have they forgotten that God hates divorce?  If they are saved, and acting/feeling like this then, they are in rebellion, and will be disciplined by God.  If they are false converts, they will receive their just punishment in Hell, where God will be just and right to pour out His wrath on them for all eternity.   

Of course you are in a toxic relationship.  You are a toxic sinner.  Of course your spouse is toxic.  They are a sinner.  When you put two sinners together in a room they are going to sin.  They are going to be selfish, prideful, arrogant, idolatrous, and petty.  Of course you aren’t happy.  You are expecting another person to make you happy.  Guess what…  a sinful person will always let you down.  You will never be fulfilled by another human being.  You can only find the contentment you are looking for in God and His gospel.

Oh, and here is another big shocker, regardless of what you’ve heard, you don’t deserve to be happy!  You are a sinner, like everyone else.  God is perfectly just, holy, righteous, and good.  You have broken His laws and are a guilty sinner.  You and I deserve to be punished.  We don’t deserve to be happy.  You and I deserve to be killed by God, and be sent to Hell for eternity, just like everyone else on the planet.  You see, it is a sin problem, not a relationship problem.  The only way it is a relationship problem is that as sinners we are enemies of God.  If we want peace with Him, we must repent and believe in the work of Christ on the cross, to justify us with God.

We read all of the New Age drivel on websites, blogs, and social media.  We listen to podcasts, and self-help gurus on the radio.  It validates, and justifies the selfish, idolatrous, sinful, thoughts.  Why do people consume these things?  I know why I am here.  I am here to combat the darkness that has been enslaving people, and ruining marriages, children, and families for far too long in this country.  Why are you here?  Are you here to flirt with the darkness?  Do you want to hear something that will give you permission to give up and give in to sin?  Are you being tempted by the New Age malarkey?  Are you setting up false teachers to tickle your ears?  Wake up!  We need to stop behaving like selfish children and truly understand what this means, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Do you think you are something special?  Do you think you deserved His love?  If it weren’t for His grace, we’d all be lost.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not telling someone who is getting physically abused to stay in the home.  If you are getting physically abused you should be separated.  “Separated” does no mean, “Oh goody, time to commit adultery.”  Being separated for a time can be necessary, but it is always supposed to be temporary.  If your spouse has committed adultery you may divorce them.  If your spouse is an unbeliever, and walks out on you, you may divorce.  If you really understand grace, even though you may divorce them, if they are repentant, you will forgive them and give grace to them, just like the way Christ gave grace to you, instead of what you deserve.

I don’t agree with the modern definition of psychological abuse.  Pretty much any difficult thing you talk about with a person can be deemed abusive anymore.  Obviously if you are a Christian you should not hurt your spouse emotionally.  You should not intentionally or maliciously hurt their feelings.  It is sinful to do so.  Your sin does not justify a divorce though unless it fits the criteria mentioned above.  Christ endured our scorn and ridicule while on the cross, dying for a bunch of sinners.  Do we think we deserve better than Christ?

We all want the romantic fairy tale marriage.  We all want to feel loved.  Some people are living the dream, but it might not have always been that way for them.  How do you think they got there?  It wasn’t by giving in and giving up that is for certain.  They had to fight against their own sin, and forgive the other’s sins, while loving God more than anyone or anything else.  They had to trust and obey God, not their ever-changing emotions.  If you give up you miss out on the sanctification that God has planned for you.  If you give up, you’ll just take your sin problems with you to another sinner and find some other reason to leave them.  You’ll never deal with the real problems as long as you use the cop out excuse of, “They were just toxic, it was a toxic relationship.”

Our only hope in marriage is Jesus Christ.  Our only hope in life and death is Jesus Christ.  If we have been saved from our sins by Christ, then we are obliged to demonstrate the same type of sacrificial love for our spouse.  We love them without any expectations of return on our investment.  We love them because Christ loves us.  Our sins put Christ on the cross.  It is as if we had the hammer and nails in our hands and put Him up there ourselves.  He died for us, knowing that we hated Him.  He got nothing worth having in saving us.  By God’s sanctifying work, the Holy Spirit conforms us to the will and word of God, to be Christlike to the world, including our spouse.  We love them even though they don’t deserve it.  We demonstrate grace to them when they don’t deserve it.  Marriage is a covenant with God, you, and your spouse, for the rest of your life.  It is a picture of the gospel, to be lived out in front of the world.  The husband is the head of the wife, the way that Christ is the head of the Church.  Christ died to save the Church, His bride.  The wife is the representation of the Church, submitting to the Bridegroom who saved her for Himself.  So love one another sacrificially, and stop all of this selfish carnal nonsense.  Obey God and glorify Him in your marriage.

All arguments in favor of gay marriage are invalid.

Regardless of the revisionism that is going on with the liberal, “ahem… theologians” a gay marriage is not an acceptable marriage according to God Himself and His word.  In this few verses spoken by God Himself, incarnated as the Word made flesh, He said in Matthew 19:3-6 in the New Testament, “…3 Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?” 4 And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5 and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? 6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”…” Oh and if you’re curious that is God/Jesus quoting Himself when God spoke in Genesis.

In Genesis 1:27-28 God says that He created male and female for the purpose of reproduction and that for His glory as more humans equates to more image bearers. Genesis 1:27-28, “…27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” …”

In Genesis 2:24 we have the definition of marriage ordained and officiated by God, “…24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh…”

So any union devised by the darkened heart of sinful humans that isn’t the God ordained and defined union of one man to one woman for life is by Biblical definition not a marriage. You can call it what you want, but it isn’t marriage.  Since Biblical marriage is a religious union the government has no business in it other than protecting our 1st amendment rights.  We should never be forced to condone homosexual marriage or facilitate one, be it in business or our personal lives.  It is an obvious abuse to do so.

Any sexual relations outside of a Biblical marriage are sinful. Homosexual desires are sinful.  Heterosexual lusts are sinful outside of a heterosexual marriage.  Desiring your spouse in a heterosexual marriage is not sinful.  Desiring someone outside of your heterosexual marriage is sinful.  These are very simple concepts people.  God is very clear in His word people.

So since you can’t be married unless it is a heterosexual marriage, and all sex and lust outside of that marriage are sinful, you can see that homosexual lusts and unions are sinful and not to be condoned or in any otherwise facilitated by the Church.

The only people that have problems with this are the ones who want to condone, endorse, and otherwise approve of perversion. “Hey! I don’t like being called a pervert or thinking of myself as a pervert!  I know!  I’ll twist God’s word around or completely disregard it and live in disbelief of Him.  That way I can justify my perversion instead of repenting and being forgiven.”  Wow! What a mess.

Listen folks every Christian is no better than the vilest offender. The Bible says we all deserve to be killed by God, sent to Hell, and to have God’s wrath poured out on us for all eternity because we are sinners.  Romans 3:23, “…23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, …”Even just a lie makes you worthy of hell.  Revelation 21:8, “…8 “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”…”  Proverbs 12:22, “…22 Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, But those who deal faithfully are His delight…”  God sees a lustful thought as adultery.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “…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…”

We don’t hate liars and we don’t hate homosexuals. There are Christians who were once liars, and homosexuals, but they have repented of their sins and put their faith in Jesus to save them.  1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “…9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. …”

Why would anyone being saved by grace hate a person who hasn’t been? Maybe you haven’t experienced hate from a Christian; maybe they have just told you the truth in love?  Proverbs 27:6, “…6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy…”  We don’t want you to die and go to hell for being an unrepentant sinner.  We just want you to experience saving grace through saving faith and repentance given by God.

Forgiveness of sins is available to you. Jesus, being fully God and man, lived a perfect sinless life, one that you could not live.  He earned all righteousness by obeying the law of God.  He went to the cross and there was crucified, enduring the horrendous torture.  Upon the cross the wrath of God that has been stored up for you upon the Day of Judgment was poured out on Jesus.  He paid your penalty.  Justice has been satisfied for you so that you don’t have to go to Hell and suffer, Jesus suffered for you.  Only He could take the suffering of infinite punishment and survive until it was complete as He is God.  The man Jesus then died, was buried, and resurrected of His own power, thus conquering death and sin.  All we must do in response is to admit that we are sinners who deserve Hell, turn from our sins and begin to fight them, turn towards Jesus, and believe that His work of atonement on the cross paid our sin debt, and set us free to live for Him.  Repent, and believe!  It is that simple to be born again and made into a new person.

Luke 9:23-26

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Luke 9:23-26 (NASB) And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Who has crucified their own flesh daily?  Who truly follows Christ?  What does it mean to follow Christ?  We all want to save our lives.  None of us want to die.  To crucify yourself you must take up your cross and follow Jesus all the way to Golgotha.  When you rise in the morning, see the sinful desires of your selfish flesh.  See how they would entice you to do things to appease them?  Wage a violent war against the natural man who is tied to you.  He is dead already if you are saved, but his corpse is always before you.  We fight what he used to revel in.  Put those desires to death.  Crucify your worldly desires and have them supplanted by the new affections of the regenerated heart.  As this occurs, you’ll praise God for the loss of your old life and the gift of your new one in Jesus.  To do His loving will, to carry it out in the world that is perishing, to show grace where it is not merited, to have mercy on those in need, to give to them the words of life, the gospel message of Christ Jesus, the Lord, Master, and Author of our faith, granted to us along with repentance while we were yet sinners, enemies of God, under the condemnation of sin, freed by His grace and imputed righteousness.  Proclaim salvation from sins in Him to all the world.  What good is earthly pleasure on this temporal plain when such a thing as an ageless age exists, where time is not marked?  Our lives are short compared to such an existence.  What is discomfort or tribulation here, even much of it, compared to eternity with God?  Be bold in preaching His word and the gospel of His redemptive work on the cross.  Be bold in the preaching of His resurrection from the dead.

I’m really rotten

I’m really rotten. When I am weary, people can catch a whiff of the corpse that is with me. I can try to perfume my corpse and cover it with ornate raiment, but that stench permeates and exudes forth in my futile efforts to conceal my corruption. It might not be evident to all, but it is ever before me, haunting my conscience with the knowledge of all I’ve done wrong and failed to do good.  Only the continual washing of grace can cleanse the festering corruption. One day that rotten body of death will no longer be with me. I will be glorified in Heaven with God. I will be finally free from sin in all of its forms.  By the obedient loving work of Jesus on the cross and the Holy Spirit in my regeneration in accordance with the Fathers will, I will know what it is to be free from sins corruption for all eternity, an ageless age!  O how I love Jesus!  Praise His name!  The one who saves the hopeless and gives victory over sin!

Faith or Works, Why Do People Keep Arguing About This? It Is So Obvious!

A Quick look at Romans 4

 

Abraham-looks-at-stars1

So let’s look at Romans 4:4 out of context first and see what it says, “…Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.…”  Out of context we see that this verse is talking about receiving what one has earned for himself.  This seems pretty obvious.  When we add context we can infer so much more than a vague sense of getting what you deserve.  So let’s add some context now.  Here is Romans Chapter 4;

“  1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 4Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

7“BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN,             AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED.

8“BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.”

9Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 10How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; 11and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, 12and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.

13For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; 15for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.

16For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17(as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. 18In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.” 19Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. 22Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 23Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”

In the first two verses we read,

““  1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.”

This tells us that we cannot be justified by our works and that trying to cite them as justification before God is not.  To back this up Paul quotes scripture in verse 3,

3For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.””

And then in verses 4 and 5,

4Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,”

Now we have Paul explaining that the sinner who does works to attain righteousness can never do enough to remove their guilt and that they have earned for themselves condemnation.  This is in response to the Jews at the time who were attempting to put the gentile believers under their same yoke.  Then he explains that the ungodly sinner who puts his faith in Jesus for the fulfillment of righteousness has that righteousness from Christ.  In the next few verses Paul backs up what he said by quoting scripture again,

6just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

7“BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN,             AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED.

8“BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.””

In verses 9 through 12 we see that the circumcision was the outward working and seal of the righteousness credited to him by faith before he was circumcised.  This is how we can know that saving faith that justifies and imputes righteousness can be for the gentiles as well, because it was done to Abraham before he was circumcised.

9Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 10How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; 11and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, 12and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.”

“      13For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; 15for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.”

In 15 people have used this inappropriately to justify not sharing the gospel, but this is not what this is about at all.  This is about someone who by faith has been justified and is no longer subject to the condemnation the law brings.  That is the point being made and is supported in context by the rest of the scriptures.

Verse 16 says quite a bit so we will look at it by itself for a moment,

“      16For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all,”

This verse unpacks the doctrine that elect people of the Jews and gentiles alike are part of the true faith that Abraham had from God Abraham and that through faith in the work of Jesus and by His grace to us all who believe and repent are part of the covenant of the true justifying faith.

In the following verses Paul sums up the doctrine of saving faith verse works righteousness,

17(as it is written, “A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU”) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist. 18In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “SO SHALL YOUR DESCENDANTS BE.” 19Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. 22Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 23Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, 24but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.””

Abraham’s faith that God would make him a father of many nations even at his old age was credited to him as righteousness and then we can see how it is extrapolated out to his descendants who include the Jews and the gentiles.  This is made clear in verses 24 and 25 as those who have faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection to save us from our sins.

Freewill?

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Why don’t we have a problem when God chooses people in some scriptures, but when it comes to salvation we say, “God is a gentleman and would never force us to choose Him against our freewill!”

For instance in Acts 40 we don’t have a problem with God choosing who would see Him after the resurrection.  “39“We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. 40“God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, 41not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.”  (Acts 10:39-41)

But, in Ephesians 1:3-5 when Paul tells us how God chose who would be saved by Jesus before He made the world everybody gets all offended about having their precious sinful, I mean ahem, “freewill” getting violated.  Excuse me, but I’d much rather have a divine intervention and go to Heaven than have a, “freewill” any day.  That is because I understand that before regeneration and justification my will is a sinful will, a curse from the fall, a will that is enslaved to do nothing but evil continuously.  After all aren’t we supposed to pray that the will of the Father be done?  Aren’t we supposed to become more like Jesus and less like ourselves?  Aren’t we supposed to die to ourselves daily and take up the cross of Christ?  It sure seems like our wills should be replaced with God’s will.

I think the problem lies in the sin of pride.  People think to highly of themselves and their abilities to please God, they don’t see how sinful their sin is, and they definitely don’t contrast it with the holiness and righteousness of God.  They need to see God as completely transcendent, totally other, instead they have to elevate man and lower God to protect their notion of freedom.  We should magnify God and humble ourselves.

I’m not saying that we are not responsible for our sin either.  People try to say that it is a mutually exclusive statement.  They say if you don’t have our brand of freewill then God can’t hold you responsible for your sin.  It seems to make sense.  Of course you would have to lower God and elevate man.  We are still morally culpable for sin because we are born sinners and choose it continuously because of our state of being dead in our sins and being slaves to our sin natures.  When God saves someone of His grace and mercy it is exactly that way.  He saves them by His grace (unmerited favor).  They did nothing to deserve salvation.  Matter of fact, everything they have done has come from a corrupted heart.  If God planned it this way then we as creatures have no right to judge Him or His plan.  He owns us and has all rights to us.  He would be just in destroying all of us whenever He wants to.  The fact that He saves any of us is wonderful news.

We make choices that are consistent with our natures.  God is consistent with His attributes.  God cannot be unjust, or evil, or untrue.  In the same way a sinner cannot be desirous of God while yet a slave to their sinful nature.  (Romans 5:8) “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  In their sinful nature they make all kinds of choices that are consistent with that nature.  These choices are allowed by God in His sovereign will to be used by Him for good in accordance with His will.   I would remind you that the problem is pride and how we see God, ourselves, and sin.  He ultimately has ownership rights over all of us as Creator and can do with us as He sees fit.

19You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. (Romans 9:19-24)