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Run Through Romans (ch 5.18-21)

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18Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.

 19For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

This is a wonderful continuation of what the word taught us in Romans 5.17: through Adam we were all made sinners, but through Christ’s life of perfect obedience that was offered up to the Lord for us, many people shall be made righteousness.  On the cross, Jesus was made sin so that we could be made righteous (2 Cor. 5.21) – to make it more real, I like to say it like this: Jesus who knew no sin became sin with our sin so that we who knew no righteousness could be made righteous with our righteousness.

That is one powerful realization: Jesus took our sin and became our sin on the cross.  Everything you have ever done wrong, every impure thought you have ever had, every lie you have ever told, every sin you have ever committed, every time you crossed the line, every time you acted like there was no line but you knew there was a line – every sin was placed on Him and He became sin with your sin.

No wonder He told the Father: if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.  No wonder as He died He yelled “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”  No wonder the sky was black and the earth was shaking.  He took your sin.  He took my sin.  He took the sin of the world.

Adam disobeyed and his nature became the nature of wrath, he was a child of satan and therefore took after his father, satan (read John 8 – I will post some articles expanding this at some point).  Adam’s whole nature changed – he was spiritually alive created with the spirit and breath of God inside him (Genesis 2.7) , and on the day he sinned he spiritually died losing his communion and love and life, and becoming bound with fear and guilt and shame and blame.

Since then every child of Adam (that is, every single human) has been born dead in their sins and trespasses, unable to please God, unable to serve God, unable to live in victory.  The only solution for this sin issue was if someone completely righteous, someone who never sinned, someone who was born differently so they were born spiritually alive.  Someone who lived their entire life without ever sinning and therefore never dying spiritually. 

And then that someone would have to offer up their life on our behalf, to take all of our sin, to carry it all into their body, and pay the total penalty for all of our sin.  And that is what Jesus did.  Because all the price has been paid for our sin, then we can be made righteous – not by doing anything right – but by believing in Jesus and realizing what He did and then receiving His righteous and His life which then transforms our spirit.   This experience is so life shattering it is called in the Bible being born again (John 3.3,5) – your whole inner nature changes from being dead to being alive, you stop having the nature of death and satan; and start enjoying the nature of God – being a partaker of the divine nature.

 20Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

This is Paul re-iterating that this salvation, this life of abundance, this partaking of the divine nature, this being born again, this being made totally righteous and being able to stand before God without sin, without fear, without a sense of judgment or sense of inferiority – being able to come boldly to the throne of grace has NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR MERIT.  The purpose of the law is not to make righteousness abound, but to make offence abound.

The rules and regulations that were in the Old Testament were not to make the people good, but to show them how bad they were.  The Ten Commandments are not to make you good, they cannot make you good, they just make you want to disobey them, they just show you that you fail.  They have no power to change your heart and your attitude.

What is wonderful about this verse is that the more you sin, the more grace there is.  The more you have disobeyed, the more goodness God extends to you.  It is not your goodness that causes God to move towards you and bless you, it is His grace.  Even if you have broken all 10 commandments, and sinned in huge massive ways: God’s grace is more massive.  It is greater.

If you go back to the law and try and obey God and try and be good and try and obey God, the more you do that the more you will fail, the more you will mess up, the more you will offend against God’s holy law.  However, if you come to God and just accept that He is good, that He loves you, that He blesses you – not because you have been good but because He is good and He is kind and He is lovely, you will find that His grace is greater than your sin.  As soon as you stop trying to be good and start to trust in the fact that God is good, then you will be more holy and more loving by accident than you have ever been on purpose.  Say it outloud until you believe it from the core of your being: “God’s grace abounds more than my sin.”

 21That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

You see sin rules over your life before you are a Christian.  You are dead spiritually and sin is your master.  Because sin is your master, satan can come into your life whenever he wants.  You were the tail and not the head – just following around the circumstances of life.  Whenever you managed to succeed in one area of your life, you started to fail in another. 

But when grace entered your life because you heard and believed your entire nature changed, your entire life changed.  You stopped being spiritually dead and started being spiritually alive, you stopped being a sinner and started being righteous.  You started enjoying eternal life, you started enjoying a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

You stopped being the tail and started being the head – you can speak to mountains and they move, you can walk in victory, you can rule and reign and love life.  That is the joy of being born again, that is the fun of being a Christian: being in right relationship with God (His Son), being in right relationship with the world (it’s dominator) and being in right relationship with satan (your foot on his head, not the other way around).

Now you might read this and say: hold on Ben – I am not experiencing this.  This does not describe my life.  Well it should.  It is what you are in the spirit.  If that is not manifesting and not flooding out of you then you need to do three things:

1. Think it.  Spend time in the Bible reading Scriptures about you reigning in life. 

2. Believe it.  Let your mind paint pictures of you reigning, of you enjoying a great relationship with God, about you walking in health and wealth and victory and joy.

3. Say it.  Mark 11.23: For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 

You need to speak to everything in your life that is in your way, and you shall have what you say.

Next time we will begin to answer one of the most important questions that a study of Romans 5 brings up: if we have peace with God because of what Jesus did, and no matter how much we sin, God’s goodness and graciousness is more than our sin, can we live however we want and sin as much as we want?  The answer will probably not surprise you, but the Biblical reasons for the answer probably will.

If this has blessed you or if you have any questions, please comment on the post and I will respond to all comments.

Blessings and love,

Benjamin

Run Through Romans (ch 5.17)

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17For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.

Romans 5.17 is one of the most powerful truths in the Bible.  Adam sinned.  The consequences of this action was that he died spiritually and eventually died physically.  However, Jesus Christ gave us two things: abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness.

Abundance of grace means completely undesevered access to God.  Abundance means more than enough.  God’s grace is His goodness that we don’t deserve.  Grace is the power of God to enjoy Him and His goodness.  Everyone of us through Jesus’ death on the cross has received utter and total access to God.  An angel cannot keep you away from God’s presence.

It is totally undeserved which means it doesn’t matter how you have lived today, it doesn’t matter what you have done wrong, all that matters is that Jesus paid the price.  You have free unlimited access to God.  Whatever you ask for in prayer will be done for you.  Whatever you say, He will hear.  Whatever you call for, He will answer.  You can walk in His presence and life every single day.

And if that wasn’t enough, we also are given the gift of righteousness.   The gift of righteousness according to Romans 5.17 means we can reign in life.  According to the dictionary, reign means “Exercise of sovereign power, as by a monarch”.  You can reign in life.  Do you get that?  In every area of your life you can exercise sovereign power – you can act like a king and a queen.

Is sickness bothering you?  Act like a king and command it to leave you alone.  Is poverty making living month to month difficult?  Act like a king – command it to leave, command money to come in.  Walk into your place of work like a king, work hard and expect payrises and promotions.  Is there a habit in your life you are trying to kick?  Command your body to not enjoy it anymore.  Boldly declare your freedom.  You can reign in life.  Say outloud: “In every situation in my life, I AM A KING, AND I REIGN”  Start to enjoy life – you don’t think kings enjoy being in charge?  You should enjoy life because you are in charge because Jesus has made you righteous.   You can calm storms, you can heal the sick, you  can ask what you will and  it will be done.

Run Through Romans (ch. 5.13-16)

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Dear All,

I am going to continue our run through Romans series.  I apologise in advance that it has been a couple of months since the last post on this, but I have been really busy with the church and with work and with planning the gospel crusade.  I would love for all of you to be at the gospel crusade in August – I know we are going to see so many signs and wonders, healings and salvations and it is going to be absolutely awesome.

I am really looking forward to continuing this series as well, especially as we are about to look at Romans 6-8, which is easily some of the most neglected teaching in the whole of Christianity about how we can live holy and why we should live holy.  Most Christians are still mixed up in the law and do not realize we are under grace.  But before we reach those chapters, we are going to hammer the message home that Jesus Christ has paid the complete price for all of us and we are under grace and not law:

13(For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

This is so important for all of us to realize: where there is no law, sin is not imputed.  Imputed means held against.  You have to realize that there are two categories of consequences to sin.  Most Christians never ever realize this.  There are resultant consequences to sin and legal consequences to sin.

Resultant consequences are the things that happen when we sin: if you steal something and are caught, you will be fined or jailed. If you offend someone you care about, you will never have the joy of their company again.  If you swear a lot and are lazy, you will not be promoted at work.

This things have always happened.  As we will find out in Romans 6.23, the wages of sin is death.  If you sin, death will always result.  Adam and Eve sinned and death resulted.  Sin is stepping away from God and His glory and His goodness, and if you sin, you leave that life and wonder and beauty, and you end up in death, and ugliness and loneliness.  God cannot make you make a choice, but if you choose sin you choose death.

When God told Adam and Eve that they would die spiritually and that Eve would be in pain in childbirth and that Adam would be in toil working the ground, God was not cursing them: He was simply explaining what the resultant consequences of sin would be.  God was on their side, He loved them, He clothed them and He looked after them.

Legal consequences to sin are much worse.  A legal consequence to sin is when God judges you for your sin.

When Cain murdered his brother Abel, God didn’t strike Cain dead, He actually offered to protect him.  This is because the law had not been given.  When there is no law, sin is not imputed.  In other words, before the law was given by Moses there were no legal consequences to sin.  God did not judge Cain for His sin, God simply protected him.

After the law of Moses was given, people had their sin imputed to them.  In other words, there were now legal consequences for sin.  A man was stoned to death for picking up sticks on the wrong day of the week!  If you lied you would be stoned to death.  Achan stole some precious metal and was stoned to death.  Read through the laws of Moses and look at what you would be stoned to death  for: almost everything.

However, what most Christians still don’t realize is that Jesus Christ on the cross completely dealt with every single legal consequence for sin.  God is not angry with us, God is not after us, there is no more wrath of God for us.  Hallelujah!  We could kill our own brother and God would not judge us.  That is what it means to be righteous by faith.  It is entirely through what God has done that we are righteous, not by anything we have done.  Any and every sin we commit has no legal consequences whatsoever.  It won’t make you lose your salvation, it won’t affect your fellowship with God at all.

14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

Even though there were no legal consequences to sin, there were resultant consequences to sin.  Adam died.  Every one of Adam’s descendants died. This is before the law.  Death is a resultant consequence to sin.  If you sin, you will die.  The more you sin, the faster you will die.

15But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

This verse is telling us first of all that the gift of righteousness is different from Adam’s sin because it is better.  You see because of Adam’s sin, the resultant consequence is that we all die.   But because of Jesus’ redemptive, we all live.  Grace triumphs over sin.  Jesus’ death means that death does not lead to hell for us anymore!  We can enter heaven when we die because we are righteous right now.

16And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.

This verse is telling us the second difference between Adam’s sin and Jesus’ redemption.  It only took one sin from Adam to lead us all to death – but Jesus’ death and redemptive gift of righteousness erases many offences.  It doesn’t matter how many sins you have committed, how many you are committing right now, and how many sins you ever commit Jesus Christ has completely and totally paid the price for them all on the cross.  If that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will.

Sin has no more legal consequences for the Christian.  You are not under the law of Moses anymore.  You don’t have to worry about sin causing God to be angry for you, you don’t have to worry about hell, you don’t have to be concerned about losing fellowship with God ever again.  He paid the price!  Hallelu Yah!

Run Through Romans (ch. 5.12)

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 12Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 5.12 introduces a new topic for Paul. 

Paul’s topic from Romans 1.18- Romans 5.11 has been consistent: how God has completely dealt with the fact that man has sinned.  You and I have done unrighteous things, and we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  However, God has dealt with the problem of your sins by placing them on Jesus.  Jesus bore your sins and now you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  The correct theological term for this is “justification”. 

Justification is the process where God declares an unrighteous person righteous by virtue of the fact that Jesus died for their sins.  You cannot be justified by any action or any religious ritual, but only by believing in Jesus Christ.  This is called justification by faith.

Romans 5.12 introduces another section of this book, which continues to the end of Romans 8.  The topic of Romans 5.12-Romans 8 is not justification as much as sanctification.  What this word means and how it applies to a Christian shall be explained as we work through the next few chapters.

By now I want you to realize that in addition to the problem of your sins, you have a second problem.  A far worse problem: the problem of sin.

Sins and sin.   It is a subtle difference but one that is so important for you to live in victory.  In the previous 5 chapters Paul has expertly explained that Jesus has paid the price for your sins.  Now he is going to show you how to deal with sin.

So what is the difference between sins and sin.  A good analogy, and I am greatful to Watchman Nee for this analogy, is to imagine a factory making a product.  The product is the same as sins, but the factory is sin.  Even if you went all throughout the country destroying the product, you wouldn’t ever be able to complete your task as the factory would still be making the product.

Even, in the same way, you have committed sins.  The work of Jesus has completely dealt with your sins, by placing them all on Jesus.  Jesus paid the price for your sins.  Every single action that was selfish, unrighteous, destructive, disobedience to God, dishonouring to God, disrespectful to other humans: Jesus paid the price.    And we are declared righteous because Jesus paid the price, not because of anything we have done or could ever do.

But the fact is this: inside your heart, before you became a Christian, was nothing short of a sin-factory.  All the sins you ever committed came from somewhere: and they came from your heart.  You acted selfish because you were selfish.  You lied because you were a liar. 

This is contrary to much of modern thinking about psychology and behaviour.  Many people today will determine your behaviour by your actions: if you lie, then that makes you a liar.  That is not true: you are a liar, that is why you lie.   There are clinics and self-help programmes all over the place that are dealing with behaviour and managing behaviour.   But people do these programmes and after a few months are doing the same things again and again.   The product has been destroyed, but the factory is still there.

The beauty of the gospel message is that Jesus doesn’t just deal with the product: he destroys the factory.  He doesn’t just forgive all your sins, He gives you a new heart.  So many Christians are told that Jesus forgives, but are then left to struggle to live right and live a life of victory and joy.  Paul outlines the full gospel in Romans, and in the next few days and weeks we are going to learn how not just to know that you are righteous, but how to live a righteous life in the world.

 12Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world

Like he does with the problem of sins, Paul starts in Romans 5.12 by introducing the problem.  The problem is this: by one man (Adam – who was a real person made by God in His image just as the Bible says), sin has been brought into the world.  Adam sinned. 

and death by sin

Death is brought into the world by sin.  Sin always leads to death.  If there is no sin, there is no death.  You are going to die because you sinned.  If you don’t believe in Jesus, you will be going to hell.  That is the reality of the situation.  Sin leads to death and hell, and without Jesus paying the complete price, you would die and enter hell.  But because Jesus dealt with your sin, you can enter heaven and enjoy heaven on earth.

and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Adam sinned.  Adam, like every human, was made up of three elements: spirit, soul and body.  When Adam sinned against God, immediately his spirit died.  Adam could no longer communicate freely with God without fear, without shame.  From that moment, gradually his soul started to die.  He has his first argument with his wife, one of his son’s murdered another, his thinking and his emotions became darker.  Eventually at the end of this death process, his body died.

That happens now to every son of Adam.  Adam’s entire nature changed due to sin.  It happened to you and it happened to me.  We were born on the planet spiritually dead.  We do not care for God, we do not seek God.  Over time our soul – our emotions and our thinking and our decision making power – dies.  We lose the ability to think, we lose the ability to empathize.  We start getting pleased and having positive emotions at negative and sinful situations.  Eventually our body will die, and our sin-filled dead spirit and soul will descend into hell for eternity.The fact is that you were by nature a child of wrath.  By believing in Christ, you have been made righteous, and you can now enter heaven.  All your sins have been forgiven.

The only escape from this is to be born again.  Being born again means that your dead spirit is reborn and is now a living spirit.  Now you can hear the voice of the Lord, your conscience is restored.  Your living spirit will start to influence your soul, and your thinking will become clearer.  And when your body dies, you will ascend to heaven and enjoy heaven.  At an appointed day, your body will be re-created as a sinless and incorruptible body, and you will enjoy a new heaven and a new earth, in the presence of the Lord, forever.

 

But you don’t have to continue living the same way when you become a Christian.  Becoming a Christian isn’t just God wiping the slate clean so you can get into heaven when you die: it is God throwing the slate away and giving you a brand new life: a resurrection life, the life of Christ.  How this works and how you can enjoy this life is the theme of Romans 5.12-Romans 8.  And in the next few days and weeks, we will unpack this for you.

I hope it excites you as much as it does me,

Blessings,

Ben

Run Through Romans (5.6-11)

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6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

This emphasises the point of the law: to show you that you have no strength.  To show you that you could never achieve righteousness on your own.  Because you could never achieve it on your own, Christ died for you.  He died in your place, becoming your sin, taking your death, bearing the punishment that should be on you.  How wonderful!

7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Before you ever tried to do anything good, before you ever prayed, before you ever fasted, before you ever read your Bible, before you tried to walk in love, Christ died for you because God loves you.  Never, ever doubt the love of God for you: while you were still unrighteous and while you were cursing His name and disrespecting His people, He sent Christ to die for you.  He loves you.  He loved you when you were a rebel.  Now you have tried and failed, do you honestly think he doesn’t love you anymore?  He loves you.  He adores you.

You determine God’s love for you not by your feelings or experiences.  If you try that you will be a yo-yo Christian up and down with your moods and your feelings.  You determine God’s love for you on whether Jesus died or not. 

You commit a sin.  You don’t feel loved by God.  Did Jesus die for you? Yes – then God loves you.

You do something great.  You feel loved by God.  Did Jesus die for you? Yes – then God loves you.

You try to do something and make a mistake.  You feel unloved.  Did Jesus die for you?  Yes – then God loves you.

You have a row with someone.  You disobey the Holy Spirit.  You let everyone down.  You lose control.  Did Jesus die for you?  Yes – then God loves you!

9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Follow Paul’s argument here because it is so powerful and will bring you so much confidence and peace.  Paul is saying that when you were a sinner and a rebel and there was nothing good in you, God loved you so much that He sent Jesus to take your sin and swap it for His righteousness. 

Now you have believed in the love of God and the death and resurrection of Jesus you are righteous.  If God loved you when you were a sinner, how much MORE – now you are justified (made righteous) by Jesus’ blood – are you saved from His wrath.  God will never punish you for sin.

Do you understand that: God will NEVER punish you for your sin.  You could go out and sin right now and God will not punish you for it.  You are righteous because of what Jesus did and are completely free from the wrath of God.

The wrath of God is the element of God’s justice and goodness that demands God punish sin.  Now when you were unrighteous, you were what Ephesians 2 calls “a child of wrath”.  Your whole nature was unrighteous and you deserved the judgment of God.  You lied, you stole, you blasphemed.  You were selfish.  When you died and were judged by God you would have gone to hell.

Now, because of your faith in Jesus you have been given a new nature.  You are not unrighteous anymore, but righteous: this change in your spirit is so monumental that Jesus Himself calls it being “born again”.  God punished Jesus for all your sins and He died on a cross taking your death.  He descended to hell, suffering your punishment.  Now you are now made righteous when you believe in Jesus.

Because you are righteous, you are not under the wrath of God.  In fact, it would be wrong of God to punish you for your sin.  God has already punished Jesus fully for every sin you have committed or ever will commit.  If God punished you for your sin, He would be unjust.   If Jesus has legally taken all the punishment for every sin you have ever committed you are not under the wrath of God.

Put in simple English: God is never going to punish you.  He is not mad with you.  He is not angry with you.  You are righteous.  The Lord God loves you.

Isaiah 54.9 says: For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

Ask any Christian: do you believe that one day there will be another worldwide flood?  They will tell you not a chance – God has promised He will not judge the world with water again.   Ask any Christian: do you believe that God will ever be angry with you or rebuke you again?  They will most likely say: probably lots of times. 

Why? They are basing God’s love for them on their performance and not on the work of the cross and the grace of God.  Read Isa. 54.9 again carefully: as surely as God has promised that there will be no more worldwide floods, He will NOT be angry with you or rebuke you.  Ever.  That is what the Bible says.

You are righteous.  You are right with God.  You are at peace with God.  God is not angry at you.  Stop running away from God, He loves you.  He is not judging you for your sin, He is not holding your sin against you – He already held it against Jesus.  You are free and delivered and safe from the punishment of God.

This is the good news of the gospel!10For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

11And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

If you realize this, you would joy in God too.  When you were God’s enemy and you hated God, He didn’t wipe you out: He sent His Son to die for you.  Now you are God’s friend, you shall be saved by the life of Jesus.  Jesus lives in you, and God loves you as much as He loves Jesus.  You should be shouting about now if this is sinking in.

We have now received the atonement.  Atonement is a terrible translation of the Greek word katallagē. It should be translated: exchange or reconciliation. 

You have received the exchange: Jesus took your sin and gave you His righteousness.  Say it out loud.  Get used to thinking that you are righteous with the righteousness of God.  That is the truth.  God is not angry with you, God is not going to punish you because you have received the exchange – the greatest exchange in history.  His righteousness for your sin.  God will never, ever deal with you according to your sin.  Most Christians don’t believe that, many ministers don’t preach that but it is the message of the gospel.

You have received the reconciliation: you and God are no longer at war.  The sin issue has been dealt with by Jesus.  You and God are at peace.  God is not about to punish you or rebuke you and that is sealed in the blood of Jesus.

So start to joy in God.  The word for joy here in verse 11 means to boast gladly about.  Boast gladly that you are saved, not because of yourself, but because of Jesus.  Boast gladly that God will never punish you, not because of yourself, but because of Jesus’ blood.

Praise His name forever,

Ben

Soundly Saved (Kirk Cameron)

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http://www.wayofthemaster.com/mp3/KirkHBKS.m3u

http://www.wayofthemaster.com/mp3/KirkHBKS.zip

I was listening to this sermon this morning when I was stranded on the tube train for 45 minutes.  It was so powerful.  It linked up all the things I have been thinking about as I have been doing the Run Through Romans about the point of the law and how we can be righteous and why Romans is written in such a logical order.  Kirk is easy to listen to, clearly a very humble person, and uses some of the most clear illustrations.  I wish I could communicate this well!

The top link will allow you to listen to the sermon, the bottom link will allow you to download it.

Enjoy,
Ben

Run Through Romans (5.2-5)

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2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

You see, when we know that we are righteous and that we have peace with God we have full access to the grace of God.  That means we can stand no matter what is going on around us.  Does it really matter who or what declares war on you when God is at peace with you?  You can rejoice no matter what happens because you know that God is at peace with you.

You might have done something selfish and stupid today, but God is at peace with you.  So rejoice!

3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

Not only can we stand no matter what happens, we can rejoice in tribulations.  What does this mean?  It means that when you know God is at peace with you, you can declare war on any situation or circumstance.

I remember a long time ago, when I was a little child about seven or eight, I was in the supermarket and I was causing trouble.  I had escaped my mother’s careful eye and I was peeling the oranges around the fruit section and having a right giggle.

This lady, I don’t remember if she worked in the shop or not, decided to tell me off.  In fact, she decided to try and put me over her knee and smack my backside.

I was very cheeky to her but I was actually very nervous, especially when she got a hold of me.  She was twisting my wrist and was about to smack me one when my mother came around the counter.  She yelled at this lady “don’t you mess with my son”, and the lady dropped me immediately.  Suddenly I felt safe again, and started making rude gestures at the lady who simply backed off.

Now my behaviour was wrong, and my mother dealt with it, but the point is this: I wasn’t that ladies’ son and she could not declare war on me because I was at peace with my mother.

You are at peace with God – so glory in tribulation.  People calling you names for being a Christian.  Get excited – what are they really going to do to you in eternity?  Nothing, because you are going to stand before God on judgment day and you have peace with God.  Gives you a chance to preach the gospel to them.

Sickness comes on your body and attacks it.  Glory because God is the Healer and you are at peace with Him.  Bills stacking up, glory because God supplies all your needs and you are at peace with Him.

What your tribulation – your troubles – do is work patience.  Patience in the New Testament simply means consistency.  Anyone can praise God for healing when they are well.  But patient people praise God for healing them no matter what their body feels like, and people like that don’t stay sick for long.  Patient people thank God for His provision before they see it, and see it they will.  There is such a joy in being consistent before the Lord.

4And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

This patience – the power of being consistent in praising God – always leads to experience.  You will experience your healing if you consistently praise God for your healing.  You will experience your freedom and deliverance if you consistently praise God for deliverance.

These verses are not about being patient in suffering, patient in barely scraping by.  That is a lie.  These verses are about being patient (consistent) in praising and glorifying God and thanking God and then experiencing what you are thanking God for.

These experiences then bring hope.  Hope is your imagination.  When you see one healing, you start to dream of other people being healed.  When you receive enough provision to meet your needs, you start hoping for the money to start meeting other’s needs.

Hope means you are a positive person.   When you know you are at peace with God you are positive.  Any trouble in your life just makes you consistently praise and thank God for helping you because you know you are at peace with Him and He is your ally and He will help you.  Your praise brings experience as you see your deliverance happen and then you are a hopeful person.

5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

When you have hope you are never ashamed.  No matter what you go through, you know that you are going through and not camping there.  And that means you are not ashamed.  It is no shame because your righteousness is based on the Lord and not your actions or your experiences.

And the other reason we are not ashamed: God has put His love in our heart.  Notice that this is present tense again: God’s love IS shed abroad in our heart.  Do you know that the full love of God is in your heart right now if you are born again?

There used to be a song sung in some churches: “More love, more power, more of you in my life.”  It has a nice tune, I grant that, but it is completely incorrect Biblically speaking.  If you are born again, the love of God is shed abroad in your heart.  If you are born again, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is inside you.  If you are born again, the Lord lives inside you.

How can you ever have more love, more power and more of God in your life?  It is nonsense.   It would be like if you gave me the keys to your car and I kept wandering around you begging you for the very keys you had already given me.  How would you answer a request like that?  You would be very confused.

I don’t think God is confused, but asking for things you already have is ridiculous.  You have the love of God inside you.

If someone near you is making you want to act unloving, don’t beg God to give you more love for that person.  It is a nonsense prayer – and if you have ever prayed like that (I have!) you will know it simply does not work!

What do you do then? Follow the Scripture: glory in your tribulation.  Notice the Bible says glory IN your tribulation, not glory FOR your tribulation.  Don’t thank God that there is someone you find difficult to love in your life, thank God that the love of God IS in your heart.  Your glory will bring patience: you will be someone who is consistency praising God.

Then your patient and consistent praising of God and thanking Him for the love that He has already put in your heart will become your experience.  You will start to feel the love that you know is inside you.  That will bring about hope.  That is how you deal with trouble in your life.


Run Through Romans (4.14-25)

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Now that Paul has shown us through the example of Abraham that there is nothing you need to do to become righteous but simply believe, he decides that it is important to keep emphasizing that it is important to realize that Abraham was made righteous by his faith:

14For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect:

Do you realize that if you are trying to impress God by obeying the law you are making God out to be a liar?  You are saying that his promise to justify you by faith alone is worthless and that you need to do something to impress God.

15Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

All the law does is work wrath.  This means that the law only makes you deserving of punishment.  Every time you try and please God by your works and your righteousness, you fail and you put yourself again in a position where you know you deserve punishment.

16Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all,

So we can only obtain righteousness by faith – because that way God gives it to us as a free gift, make available through Jesus completely taking our punishment on the cross.  And this promise is available to all who believe.

17(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

This is such a powerful revelation of God.  God calls those things which be not as though they were: you might never have done anything righteous, but because God still calls you righteous.  Abraham had no children, but God still called him father of many nations.  You might not feel healed, but God says that by the stripes of Jesus, you are healed.  You might not feel right with God, but God declares you are righteous.

18Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.

19And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb:

20He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;

21And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.

Paul is taking the opportunity of discussing the fact that Abraham was declared righteous by faith to explain exactly how faith works.

Paul shows us that Biblical faith works with four simple steps:

1. Against hope believe in hope (v.18)

Hope is your vision and imagination for the future.  When we hope for negative and evil things to happen in our life, it is called worry.  Worry is simply imagining all the bad things that could happen to you.  Hope is simply imagining all the good things that could happen to you.  Abraham started to develop his faith by refusing to imagine bad things in his future and deliberately imagining bad things.

Stop imagining your own funeral.  Imagine yourself standing in the front of your church testifying to your healing.  Stop imagining your children on drugs, rebellious, promiscuous.  Imagine them witnessing, laying hands on the sick, worshipping the Lord.

The first step to strong faith is to change what you are imagining.

2. According to what was spoken (v.18)

The next step to strong faith is to focus on what has been spoken.  Get yourself into the Word of God.  Don’t believe that you are going to stay sick – believe by His stripes you are healed.  Don’t believe you are going to go bankrupt, believe that God will supply all your needs.  Get yourself into the Word.

3. Considered not his own body(v.19)

Abraham refused to consider his own body.  He absolutely refused to think about the evidence of his senses that his body could not have a child.  He accepted the Word of God and rejected the testimony of his own senses.

If you are sick, and your body is yelling at you that it is sick: don’t consider it.  If you are in debt and your body is yelling at you to worry: don’t consider it.

Refuse to consider any testimony that contradicts the Word of God – even if it is your own body.

4. Gave Glory to God (v. 20)

One of the best ways to develop strong faith is to give glory to God.  Praise God.  Worship God.  Exalt His name.  If you are sick, don’t beg God to heal you.  Thank Him that you are healed.  Praise Him for being the healer.  You cannot stay in doubt while glorifying God.

Abraham was praising God for his children before he saw them.  Praise God for your healing before you see it.  Praise God for your husband coming to the Lord before you see it.  That is strong faith.  That is how faith works.

22And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

Faith like that is what makes you righteous.  If you feel unrighteous, if you realize that you have sinned and your actions are not good, then you need to realize as well that you can be right with God by faith.

Start to imagine the Lord accepting you and welcoming you into heaven.  Start to meditate on Scriptures that say you are righteous (2 Cor. 5.21 is a great place to start).  Don’t consider the sins you have committed – don’t even think about them.  And thank and praise God that you are righteous.

23Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;

24But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

25Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

And you, as well as Abraham, can be right with God, can be righteous with the righteousness of God, just by believing that God raised Jesus from the dead.  This is glorious news.  This is the gospel.

Praise His name forevermore!

Ben

Run Through Romans (4:1-8)

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So far Romans 1 has shown us that immoral people are unrighteous, and that God must punish all unrighteousness.  These people have no excuse because they have a conscience and can see creation.

Romans 2 has shown us that moral people are unrighteous as well – they do not keep the laws they have been given.

Romans 3 starts by emphasizing that by works and actions there is no one righteous.  When we finally realize that even our most righteous work is worth nothing to the Lord due to our impure motives, the sins we have committed and our inability to change, then Paul lets us know that there is another way to be righteous: by placing our faith in the work of the Lord Jesus.

This is the great truth of the Protestant Reformation: salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone.

Ephesians 2.8-9 say it like this:

8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9Not of works, lest any man should boast.

You are saved and made righteous only because Jesus Christ bore all your sin and iniquity on the cross.  2 Cor. 5.21 says:

21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Jesus, who never sinned – never did anything to make himself unrighteous, became unrighteous on the cross.  He literally became sin on the cross with your sin.  All of the sin you have ever committed and ever will commit was laid on the Lord Jesus.  All of the righteousness He committed was laid on you.

He became sin with your sin so that you can be righteous with His righteousness.  This is the central truth of Romans and the central truth of the entire New Testament.  Yet there are still so many Christians trying to work for their salvation, to earn God’s merit, to strive hard enough that they can be healed, be assure of heaven, be this that and the other.

But the gospel message is this: you will never be good enough for God.  But that is ok – He is good.  And in His goodness sent a man to die on the cross and take the punishment for all of your sin.  If you put your faith in Him, that completes the exchange and you will be made the righteousness of God.

Do you realize this: believing in Jesus makes you the righteousness of God.  You are as right with God as Jesus is.  You can stand before God without fear, without inferiority, without shame.  Not because of anything you have done – not that you can boast (Eph. 2.9), but because of what Jesus has done.

If you are a Christian, you are righteous.  You do not have to go to hell when you die and you do not have to endure hell on earth.  You can go to heaven when you die and you can enjoy heaven on earth.  If you are not a Christian all you have to do to become righteous is believe – Romans 10.9-11 says:

9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

11For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

All you have to do is believe that Jesus rose from the dead and say out loud that Jesus is Lord.  Then you are saved and you are righteous.  Then you shall never be ashamed.  You might feel ashamed – but that is because you are trying to approach God on the basis of your actions and your actions are not enough to be righteous.  If you approach God on the basis of Jesus’ actions, you will not feel ashamed because you never have to be ashamed because the work of Jesus is complete.

Let’s look at the first few verses of Romans 4.  Here Paul is writing to the Jewish people, but the principles apply just as much to people from any religion.  You can only be righteous by faith, not by what you do or don’t do.  Stop thinking about what you have done and what you have not done – and start thinking about God’s grace and what He has done.

1What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?

Paul here brings the Jewish people back to Abraham.  He is making the clear point that Abraham lived before God as a righteous man, but that contrary to what some people might have thought, Abraham was not considered righteous because of his actions.  He was righteous because He believed God.

2For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.

3For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Paul is saying that Abraham was not good enough to be righteous by his actions.  You must realize that even the most moral people are not good enough to be righteous by their actions.  They have to believe God and that He makes people righteous by faith.

4Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

5But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

If you are still working and doing good works to make God impressed with you, then you are saying God owes you something.  That you deserve every blessing you have.

This is nonsense – it is pure pride.  Yet so many Christians talk and act like this.  Even word of faith people act like this.  It is not true.  You cannot work for any blessing.  Every blessing you have – righteousness, peace, joy, health, wealth – came because Jesus Christ took the curse on the cross, bore your sin on the cross, and made the blessing freely available.  All you have to do is believe and receive.

God makes the ungodly righteous by faith.  Say it out loud.  Write it on a piece of paper, learn it, meditate on it.  Get it into your heart – you are righteous because of Jesus Christ, not any good works you have done.  When you look at your works and feel righteous, you are not righteous because of your works, you cannot boast.  You are righteous because of Jesus.

When you feel unrighteous because of your works, you are not unrighteous.  You are righteous because of Jesus.  Your righteousness never changes because what Jesus did never changes.  You can always approach God by fiath in His grace.

6Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,

7Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

8Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Even King David sinned, as any student of the Old Testament is aware.  David did not say that you were blessed because you never sinned.  He said you were blessed because the Lord will not impute sin.  Impute is an accounting term which means not put into the account.

Because Jesus took all of your sin, then every sin you commit if you put your faith in Jesus is not put into your account.  No matter what you have done wrong, no matter what you ever will do wrong, no matter what sins you have committed, no matter what you have done.  It doesn’t matter because it will not be put against your account.

It was put against Jesus’ account.  He was punished for you.  He died your death because of your sin so you could live His life.

Many Christians do not accept this powerful Scripture because they think it is too good to be true, but it is true.  If you are a Christian, then no sin you have ever committed and no sin you ever commit will EVER be laid at your account.  You will never have to be stand before God on the basis of your sin, because Jesus Christ has completely dealt with the sin issue.

You can stand before God right now as if you have never sinned, with no sense of fear, no shame.

That indeed is a place of blessing and there is nothing you can do to earn it, you cannot boast about it.  God has given it to you freely.  That is what grace is: you have been given what you do not deserve: complete forgiveness of sins.

You are the righteousness of God in Christ.

A few months ago I was talking with a Muslim man.  He has committed a number of sins that are disturbing his conscience.  He feels guilty – and he should he is guilty.  He has broken the commandments of God and is unrighteous.

He told me that he prays, that he fasts, that he goes to mosque, but feels no relief.  I told him he wouldn’t, that makes sense to me.  That surprised him because he felt that religious rituals and prayer would assuage his guilt.

I told him it couldn’t deal with his guilt.  I said if he was in a court of law he couldn’t claim innocence of the crimes he had committed because he has prayed or done other rituals.  Rituals cannot make you innocent.  I understood his anguish as I showed him that there is none righteous not one.

It is important to show people the futility of having any faith in their ability to do right and be righteous, because they are then open to the good news that there is another way to be righteous.

I then said that what he needed was someone to live a perfect life and then offer up that perfect live as a sacrifice for him, then – and only then – could God count him as righteous.  Only then could he have peace with God.

He said that no one would ever do that for him, so I told him all about what Jesus did.

He did not became a Christian that night – the peer pressure of his family being part of the issue – but he knows the gospel now.  And one day he will receive the love and mercy of Jesus and put His faith in the work of Jesus.

But, although this was a Muslim man, there are many in the churches that are not Christians or are Christians but because they do not know why they are righteous, are condemned, lacking peace, feeling defeated and unloved because they know that according to their actions they are unrighteous.

Listen – according to your actions you are.  But you are blessed – every sin you have ever committed or ever will commit is not being put against your account.  You can approach God as if you have never sinned.  You can stand before God as a righteous man.

You can pray and have your prayers answered.  You can lay hands on the sick and have them healed.  You can do the works Jesus did.  You can be a force of life on the world.

Bless God forever!

Ben

Run Through Romans (3.22-31)

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So far Paul has proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that every human being has the same basic problem: our actions have made us guilty before God. This guilt is called unrighteousness. It means that when we die, we shall be judged by God, found guilty and be sentenced to hell. It also means we shall endure hell on earth as we have life without a relationship with the living God.

It has not been the most positive experience reading and studying Romans up until this point.  This is why many Christians can quote Romans 5 and Romans 8 a great deal, but they simply do not understand the context.  The context is this: Paul shows beyond the shadow of a doubt that you cannot be righteous yourself either by a good life or by religious rituals.

So when Paul now introduces a new way of becoming righteous –  a new way of becoming accepted by God and declared not guilty; a way of going to heaven when you die and enjoying heaven on earth –  when Paul introduces this new way of being righteous we jump at it.

The only way we will jump at righteousness by faith is if someone takes the time to explain and prove to us that we cannot be righteous by works.

Ray Comfort explains this by using the analogy of an aeroplane.  If you give someone on a plane a parachute and make him wear it for the journey, he probably will not because it will be uncomfortable and make the journey more difficult.  If however you take the time to explain to the person that the plane is about to crash and is completely unreliable, he will put the parachute on and be glad to wear it.

If you convince someone to put their faith in Jesus Christ for righteousness, without first showing them that their righteousness by their works and rituals and self-opinion is utterly worthless then they will eventually backslide right out of a relationship with Christ.

Before you tell a person to accept Christ by faith for righteousness, for entrance into heaven, you first must show them that their righteousness is worthless as Paul has done in Romans 1-3.  Some people are already convinced – they know that nothing good dwells in them.  People like that you simply share the gospel with and encourage them to trust the Lord Jesus Christ.  Other people still think that God owes them a favour or that God will judge their deeds with a giant set of scales and they think that the scales are tipped in their favour.  These people need to hear the message of Romans 1-3.  But once they have realize that they are unrighteous and nothing they could ever do will make them righteous, they will ask just one question – though it might be expressed in different forms: how can I be righteous?  how can I be saved?  how can I know God?

21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

After Romans 1.18-3.20, Paul is convinced that people will have realized that they are unrighteousness, that they are guilty before God.  So now, he explains the good news: there is another way to be righteous.  A way that has nothing to do with obeying the law of Moses.  In fact, in v. 21 Paul claims that this way is actually found in the law and the prophets – the Old Testament – which it is if you read it carefully.  Perhaps after we have run through Romans, I will show where the gospel is found throughout the Old Testament.  It is an interesting study to say the least.

22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

This is the revelation that Paul has being building up to – the crescendo of all the evidence that we are unrighteous and cannot be righteous by works – the fact that we can have the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus Christ.  If we place our faith in Jesus Christ, irrespective of our actions, our sins, our lifestyle, we become righteous.  We can stand before God as if we never sinned, as if we lived a perfect lifestly.  We can stand before God and be declared innocent.  We can go to heaven when we die and enjoy heaven on earth.  And it does not come by working for it, it comes by faith.

23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Nearly every Christian knows Romans 3.23 and knows that our sin, which everyone has committed, mean we fall short of the glory of God.  Very very few Christians know Romans 3.24 which says that we are justified (made righteous) freely by the grace of God through Jesus Christ.

Our sin cut us off from the glory of God.  Jesus Christ has now made us righteous if we believe in him, and we are now plugged back into the glory of God.

25Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

This is some of the much powerful and beautiful truths in the Bible.  The word propitiation means: a sacrifice that deals with wrath.  Can you understand how powerful this is?  Jesus’ sacrifice has completely dealt with the wrath of God.  The wrath of God is the element of the justice of God that demands that every act of unrighteousness must be punished.  Jesus, on the cross, bore the entire wrath of God, the entire punishment for the unrighteousness of every single human being in the entire world.

If you believe in Jesus you are declared completely righteous – no matter whether you have been religious or not, no matter your background, your history or anything.

26To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Remember that the word just means the same as the word righteous.  This verse paraphrased is saying: God is righteous and if you believe in Jesus, God will make you righteous too.

This is not a process.  This is an instant event the moment you place your faith in Jesus Christ you become totally righteous.  You become as innocent as God.  You become as right with God as Jesus was, as right with God as someone who has never sinned.  You will go to heaven when you die, and start to enjoy heaven on earth.

27Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

People who are self-righteous, the people Romans 2 was aimed at, boast.  They are people Jesus referred to who pray at night “I thank you I am not like…”.  But people who know the truth that they could do nothing to become righteous, but that they have received perfect righteousness by believing in Jesus don’t boast.

28Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

This is Paul’s argument and something that every Christian needs to meditate on: you are not right with God because of any deed or action, but only by faith.  Many Christians still feel that God does not love them because they have acted a certain way – rubbish! You are righteous because of Jesus, not because of your actions.

Many Christians are striving to do this and do that to make God love them, hoping that God will receive them.  Waste of time – God loves you and receives you on the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus, and only on the sacrifice of Jesus.  You are righteous because of Jesus.  When you lay hands on the sick, don’t think “well, I have done this wrong this week, and lost my temper this week and done this and that, so God won’t come through” – that is nonsense.  Rather think, “I am right with God because of what Jesus has done, I can live in victory because of what Jesus has done, I can ask and receive because of Jesus.”

The devil and your own flesh will accuse you and pressure you.  To be a good Christian, to get your prayers answered you have to live right, you have to do this and that, and not do that and this.  It is all a lie.  The truth of the gospel is that you are loved and accepted by God and declared and made righteous, totally innocent before God, because of Jesus.  There is nothing you can do that will make God love you and accept you less; there is nothing you can do that will make God love you and accept you more.

It has nothing to do with your actions: you are righteous right now if you believe in Jesus.  His shed blood has made propitiation and satisfied God’s wrath.  You cannot and will not be punished in any way for any sin you have committed or will commit.  You are righteous.

29Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:

30Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.

This process of being justified – made and declared right and innocent – is available to the Jew and to the Gentiles.  Whether you have been religious and a goody-two-shoes all your life, or whether you have been the most selfish scumbag who ever lived, you need and have access to the grace of God through Jesus Christ that makes you righteous before God.

31Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

Does this mean the law is now useless?  No – it means the law is in its right place.  It is not there to show you how to live right, it is there to show you that you cannot live right.  It is there to condemn you and show you that you are unrighteous no matter how religious you are.  It is there to shut your mouth and shut up all your bragging about how wonderful you are and to make you realize that you, just like me, just like every human on the planet, need a new way of being righteous.  The way of faith.

Tomorrow we will follow Paul’s argument as he convinces us from one of the most famous characters in the Old Testament that your actions have nothing to do with your right standing with God.  You are righteous due to the work of Jesus Christ.  You are completely righteous the moment you believe in Jesus and that cannot be added to or taken away from by what you do.

If you realize this truth, the truth will make you free.  Free from striving, free from fear, free from condemnation, free from feeling yucky, dirty and defeated.  Free to walk in truth and love.  Free to pray and know your prayer will be answered.  Free to lay hands on the sick and see them recover.  Free to be as bold as a lion.  Free to enjoy your relationship with God.  The price has been paid, the wrath has been satisfied.  You are declared innocent.

You will be in heaven when you die and enjoy heaven on earth.  Not because of anything you have done or ever will do.  But because of what Jesus has done on the cross 2000 years ago.

Praise His name forevermore!

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