“Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7:4-6, ESV).
Some interpret these verses and others in Romans 7 describing how the Law aroused sin in our bodies to mean that God’s Law was a temporary or provisional arrangement–a relic of Old Testament times.
They suppose that since Christ came there is no Law binding upon us. (When we say God’s Law we mean the ethics or ethos of God’s character typified in the Ten Commandments and other Old Testament moral and ethical regulations.)
If I may use a theological term, such thinking is a form of antinomianism.
Antinomianism refers to the belief that having received grace, Christians are ethically free to live whatever lifestyle they choose.
“But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:10-11, ESV).
Do you ever want to get past all the doctrine and opinions and traditions of Christianity and get to the basics of what it means to be a Christian?
Well, here it is! The bottom line. The who, what, how, and why of being a Christian rolled into a couple of verses!
Two verses that in just a few words and phrases provide such a profound and succinct explanation about Christianity.
“For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s trespass…. For if, because of one many’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus,Christ” (Romans 5:15-17, ESV).
I have two friends whose backgrounds and Christian experience are completely opposite from one another. One of my friends yielded to God at a young age and has always lived for Christ as long as he can remember. My other friend ignored God and lived a very degenerate lifestyle well into his adult life. His degenerate way of life led him to despair and his despair eventually led him to Christ
Which one of my friends is more guilty before God when he came to Christ? The one whose personal sins are the greatest?
Sometimes, we think that to become a Christian or “get saved” a person needs to repent of all their personal sinfulness. If that is true, then the more sinful you are before you get saved, the more you need to repent, which would mean, conversely, that the less sinful you are before you get saved the less you need to repent.
The fact is that it cost God the same to redeem both my friends. God has the same investment in both of my friend’s salvation–the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.
“We have thought on your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple” (Psalm 48:9, ESV).
At any given time the human brain with its over 100 billion neurons is performing at least one of two functions: acquiring information or processing information–except possibly when it’s sleeping.
In other words, human brains do a lot of thinking!
So what do you think about? Do you think about your family, your job, your next vacation, a tv show, a book you are reading, a sporting event?
In all the thinking you do every day, do you think about God? Do you meditate on God’s love?
I mean, do you really think about God and your relationship to Him, what you are to Him, what He is to you? How you fit into His plans and purposes.
“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance”
(Psalm 16:5-6, ESV).
“Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him! Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword, from men by your hand, O Lord, from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their womb with treasure; they are satisfied with children, and they leave their abundance to their infants. As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psalms 17:13-15, ESV).
There’s a very important theological distinction in these two Psalms that can be used as the measure for the lives of human beings on this earth. The Psalmist distinguishes a life in which “the Lord is my chosen portion” and has a heavenly inheritance from the lives of “men of the world whose portion is in this life” and have no lasting inheritance.
For the men of the world their only reward is in this life (their wealth and their children of their lack thereof). Because, they leave all their wealth and their children behind when they die. But, the Psalmist confidently expresses in vs. 17:15 anticipation of eternal fellowship in God’s presence (when I awake is generally taken as implying from the sleep of death).
What’s implied theologically from these contrasting inheritances is that our life in this world is preparation for our life to come in God’s eternal kingdom.
God created us as creatures of eternity—eternal in union with Him or eternal in separation from Him. The inevitability that all human beings will enter eternity bound for life or condemnation should be factored into every person’s life.
“But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’” (Luke 10:40, ESV).
I have written on these verses in a previous post. In reading again through my previous post and this story from Dr. Luke’s gospel, I think I may have overlooked an important point.
It’s not that my former exposition was inaccurate. It’s not that my theology was incorrect.
It’s that there is just another element to the story that I need to emphasize….
Martha was taking care of Jesus and His entourage while they were visiting in her home, but her sister Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to His teaching. When Martha complained to Jesus about Mary’s irresponsible behavior, Jesus responded that Mary was doing what’s really important (vs. 42).
Although we want to be spiritual Mary’s, we’re really superficial Martha’s. We busy ourselves in doing good works and then don’t have have the time or energy to fulfill our spiritual calling.
“I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously, and his children become a blessing” (Psalm 37:25-26, ESV).
Psalm 37 is one of my favorite Psalms because it has so many memorable sayings:
- “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (vs. 4).
- “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act” (vs. 5).
- “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (vs. 7).
- “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way” (vs 23).
- “I have been young and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsake or his children begging for bread” (vs 25).
But one of the most interesting sayings in this Psalm is the declaration in vs. 26 that a righteous person is always “lending generously.”
We all know you should be generous in your giving, but being generous in your lending takes being generous to a whole different level!