13.5 Romans – Relationship

Not only did Jesus Christ come to this world to save us, but He also came to open the door to a new relationship with us.  It is actually a very old relationship, but one that we elected to break in the garden of Eden.

When you look at the contact between God and man throughout the rest of the old testament it is, well, a bit terrifying.  God shows up in fire, in smoke, in a hurricane in storms in ways that time and again cause people to fall to their face in the dirt out of wonder and awe and fear of His majesty.

God hasn’t changed, there isn’t a God of the Old Testament that is a different God than the New Testament.  God is God, unchanging.  But Jesus changed everything about us.  We now can be priests and saints.  We are not outsiders but invited members into the inner courts of our King.  We are family not enemies.

Through not only His act but the reason for His act, our relationship with God changed for all time for all who believe.

We have the ability, the invitation, to return in to a right and good relationship with God.  The same relationship that the Trinity enjoys with itself.  We don’t compete with God or try to be “like God”, we, instead live for all eternity in complete community and communion with Him.

The Holy Spirit’s presence in believers is not just a metaphor, it is the intimacy of the relationship that we now have with God.

My Answers:

11.
Conformed to the image of Christ:
Sonship, ability to call the Almighty God, Abba Father. Testimony of this fact by the Holy Spirit. Heirs of God and co-Heirs with Christ. Share in His suffering and also share in His glory.

12.
God knows us, knows what we want and need (will even pray for us when we do not have the words), worthy to God, loving discipline for development and growth and for our good. We are being transformed, even now, into a holy nature like Jesus Christ, being purified.

13.
It should amaze us and humble us. It should also recognize this isn’t just Good News, but amazing news. We have been saved and elevated beyond anything we can imagin.

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13.4 Romans – Rotten Food

As a child of God we have entered everlasting life as a member of the family of the King of Kings.

Isaiah 25:6 prophecies the banquet on God’s holy mountain and Jesus discusses how we will sit at the table with the patriarchs of old.  Whether we eat or drink to nourish our heavenly bodies, I do not know, but I know that Jesus also used food as an analogy for the nourishment that comes from God.  After working with the Samaritan woman at the well Jesus commented, “my food is to do the will of Him who sent me.”

I bring all of this up to point out that we need no longer eat scraps from dumpsters and trashcans.  We are now the adopted children of the King.  Why would we partake of rotten food and trash?  We wouldn’t.

In the same way, Paul calls us in our verses today to get rid of the other trash that we have consumed in the past and that we may have stored up in our lives.  Get rid of the misdeeds of the body.  He doesn’t say to kill them as one would kill an animal in hunting to provide food, instead, he uses the same terminology of putting them to death as one who is convicted of a capital offense and sits on death’s row in prison awaiting execution.

This is not a loss to us.  Do you eat rotten food?  Do you drink spoiled and rotting milk?  Of course not.  You through it away and have no desire for it.  It does not nourish or help you it only brings harm.  The same can be said of our sin nature and misdeeds.

Do not get confused in our questions in this section of Romans.  We are not discussing sacrificial works giving in.

My Answers:

9.
To be a child of God, to be unknown to the world because I no longer adhere to the desires of the world (or am growing out of them to a higher calling). to know Christ to become Holy and seek more light. To shine that light to others.

10.
a.
By serving, by loving others and being obedient to God. Walk by the Spirit (be a spirit with a body instead of the other way). Bear fruit. Cloth yourself in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. forgive one another. Let the peace of Christ rule

b.
it isn’t manage sin or resist sin or tolerate sin, it is put it to death in us. We can be a witness when our words and actions match. Actions speak louder than words, but they both should carry the same message. Let others know we are Christians by our love.

13.3 Romans – Mindset Matters

Robert Redenmeyer once wrote in regard to giving, “There are three kinds of giving: grudge giving, duty giving and thanksgiving.  Grudge giving says, ‘I have to’; duty giving says, ‘I ought to’; thanksgiving says, ‘I want to.’”

As we looked at the contrasts by those living by the flesh and those living by the spirit Redenmeyer’s words came to mind.  Someone living by the flesh is not excluded from living what others would view as a good life.  They may donate time and money to charitable causes.  They may help those in need.  They may be pillars of the community, servants, judges and others held in high respect and regard.  In the same way, Christians are not those who are perfect, they are simply those who are saved.  To outward appearance we often do not look decidedly different, unfortunately, than others.  We yield to temptations.  Our eyes stray.  The words that come from our mouth do not always bring glory and praise.

But God’s focus and training is not solely on outward appearances it is first and foremost on the mindset.  What is in your heart?  Do you work for My glory or for your own?

Paul teaches us that such a mindset is not native to mankind.  Our flesh desires to serve itself.  But the spirit of God calls us to thanksgiving.  We no longer need to cling to things for hopes of remaining afloat and alive.  We are secure in our salvation and one with God through the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, working and shaping us to a life of holiness.

My Answers:

6.
Those who live according to the flesh, set on desires of the flesh, death, hostile to God, does not submit to God’s law, cannot please God
Those who live in accordance with the Spirit, set on what the Spirit desires, life and peace, submit to God – Belong to Jesus!

7.
It bears fruit for God, We use the gift of the Spirit that is brought to us for God’s glory, focus is on eternity not the worries of this world. It does not mean we are immune, but have a different focal point and direction.

8.
In the realm of the Spirit, Belong to Christ, Spirit gives life because of righteousness, God gives life, Jesus gives life
I am not dead but alive. By an amazing act of our Lord and by His invitation and grace even I am set free and adopted to Him.

13.2 Romans – The New Reality

Paul left us at the end of chapter 7 and with the discussions leading up to it divided.  I do not do what I want to do and do that which I don’t want to do.  I acknowledge and accept Jesus as my master, but my flesh still feels as if I’m churning on the side of sin.  But, I am saved.  I am redeemed by Jesus Christ.  I am not perfect or holy or righteous on my own, but I am also not the one I was before being saved.  So, what now?

And this is where Paul starts chapter 8.  “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  We are free.  We are safe.  If God is for us, who can stand against us?  If God declares us not guilty, who would have greater authority to overrule the verdict?

But, as with most things Paul has written, there is depth in this explanation and that depth tells us a lot about the character of God.  By this I mean, the real God, not the gods that men create or want God to be.

I’m reading a book by Timothy Keller called Hidden Christmas and he explains the reason for the Christmas, which is the reason for a savior to be born, in a way that supports Paul’s depth in our modern world views.  He writes, “Neither the god of moralism nor the god of relativism would have bothered with Christmas.  Moralism is essentially the idea that you can save yourself through your good works. And this makes Christmas unnecessary. Why would God need to become human in order to live and die in our place if we can fulfill the requirements of righteousness ourselves? Relativism is essentially the idea that no one is really “lost,” that everyone should live by their own lights and determine right and wrong for themselves. The “all-accepting god of love” many modern people believe in would never have bothered with the incarnation. Such a god would have found it completely unnecessary.”

As Paul states it, “the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us.”  This comes not by us but by the work of Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, coming in to us and fulfilling the requirement for us that we cannot fulfill. God is just and God is compassionate.

My Answers:

3.
a.
We are saved by faith not works, we are dead to sin and having been made so, through grace and faith we are alive in Christ Jesus, the law is fulfilled and no longer the measure of our righteousness. NOW, there is no condemnation. We are declared righteous not because of our works or adherence to the law but because of the work of Christ and His fulfillment of the law

b.
Free from sin and joyfully indebted to my savior. I’m humbled that the one who by a single word created all there is and that He would want a relationship with me. To seek God not as an advisor by as my savior and Lord.

4.
The Father God sent His own Son to be a sin offering because He is just. The Spirit lives in us and we live in the Spirit not as slaves to our flesh. Christ Jesus is the giver, the one who saves.

5.
The requirement is still present (God is Just), but paid by Jesus through His sacrifice and conquering of death and ascension to heaven. We have righteousness fulfilled through the seal of the Holy Spirit marking that we are in Christ and Christ is in us in Spirit, Word and Power

12.5 Romans – Distress

The key repeated word in our lesson today is distress.  Synonyms to distress are anguish, torment, pain, suffering.  Distress is not the same as fear or anxiety, it is not doubt or uncertainty, but it is physically and mentally hurting.  Another synonym is heartache.

Why?  Why is Paul in such agony and pain?  What is it that is bringing this wise and well educate man anguish and distress?  In large part it is the confirmed realization that he is not in charge.  He is not the king of anything, the master of anything.  He does not even have control of his own actions and emotions.  He wants to do one thing and he does the opposite.  He wants to fill his thoughts with one thing and he is filled by the opposite.  He is utterly incompetent at controlling any ongoing dynamic of his spiritual life and has little control of his physical one as well.

The reason this matters is because, the thing that separates man from any other living creature is supposed to be reason and self-control.  We are not mere animals caving to every animalistic yearning.  But, Paul finds his own mastery lacking.  This is something we all find as well if we honestly assess our situations and power.

Which leads us to the fact that we cannot free ourselves from the bondage of slavery.  We do not have enough control to be right and pure.  We do not have the power to resist sin.  We don’t have the strength to stand up to temptation.  The waves of life crash over us and we are cast about like a ship without sail or anchor.  A shipwreck is eminent.

Who will save us?  Who will redeem us?

At the answer to this question Paul pivots the discussion he has carried us through in the past 7 chapters into a new direction and new realization.  We need a Lord of our life.  We need a Master who is in control.  We would prefer that Lord and Master be one who is compassionate and desires to help us and save us and grow us and not one who is set on our destruction.  In either case, the fact is we do not have the power or ability to be the master ourselves.  Our master is another, it is either the author of salvation of the speaker of lies, the source of light to the world or the purveyor of darkness.

Paul expresses his choice in whom he gives thanks.  “I give thanks to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  In that sentence, he acknowledges and gives thanks that Jesus is his Lord because Paul knows that Paul himself is not Lord of anything.

But, like anyone who has spent time in rough seas, the fact that he has been rescued and now stands on solid ground has not stopped the sea sickness raging in his body and continuing to feel the churning of the waves in his head.  His equilibrium is still off.  He is unbalanced.  His senses and desires are not yet acclimated to this new reality because they carry the remnants of the prior situation.

I know with my head and heart that I belong to Jesus and He is my Lord and Master, but there is also a part of me that is still churning in the rough waters and tempted to grab ahold of all the wrong things to rely upon other than God.

I’m looking forward to how Paul continues this dialogue into the next chapter.

My Answers:

11.
He has looked in the mirror after witnessing and seeing Christ and sees more clearly the presence of unmitigated sin in his life. This happens each time one of the prophets came into the presence of God. We see our unclean lips, our wicked tongues, our stiff-necks and our sin.

12.
a.
God delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord.

b.
There is no other deliverer than Jesus. We cannot save ourselves.

13.
I felt overwhelmed with family struggles last week, heavy weight on shoulders and inability to do anything to affect change and lasting improvement. Prayer brought peace. Nothing changed, but I no longer felt in charge.

12.4 Romans – Wasted Resources

Following on my masonry analogy related to the law as a plumb and level from yesterday’s lesson, I thought I would stay with building projects today.

In every building project there is some scrap.  There are raw goods and materials that get thrown away.  A board is cut down and the remainder is unusable.  Concrete is mixed in excess of what needs to be poured.  Nails are bent, metal is bent and cut, glass is cut to size or broken.

One of the roles of a builder is to minimize excess waste.  It is not to eliminate it all together, because that would simply create wastes in other areas, but scrap thrown away has a cost and efficiency is good stewardship.

The gift we are given of being alive can and is also divided into building blocks which we call moments of time.  We all will have a fixed amount of time between birth and death.  It will be different for each of us, but we can’t purchase more at the end of our days.

My answer to the question of what do you do that you don’t want to do is that I waste time.  I’m not talking about the time spent sleeping or doing things that enhance or strengthen my body.  Some of that time may be considered scrap to my mission in living, but it is scrap that was built in to the budget, calculations and expectations.  Instead, I’m talking about the time spent sinning.

My revelation in this study is that time spent sinning is time that is dead in God’s eyes.  As one who is saved by Jesus Christ, it is not held against me as if I was still being measured against the law trying to earn righteousness.  However, it is also not counted for me, either.  One way of thinking of it is that out of the 60 or 80 or 100 years of my life, only 40 or 20 or 10 may show up in materials that actually end up in the building project I have been given, the rest is in the scrap pile hauled off to be burned away.

What building project am I working on?  It is the same mission we are all given as Christians, to reflect the light of Christ into the world, to make disciples and to share the good news, to serve and support and to be salt and light.  The reward for a completed project is a bigger project and the desired words from our foreman, “well done, good and faithful servant”.

My Answers:

8.
Sin is a noun and represents the infection that permeates our physical selves. I am, by nature, sinful and unclean because I have inherited this status from the sin that is in the world and inherited to all mankind.
The law is from God. It is a foreshadowing of holiness and was only fulfilled by one man, Jesus Christ.
Paul is pointing out the obvious… although saved and born again, we still live in human bodies born of sin

9.
Welcome to the club. This is the defining, self evident, fact that works will not bring holiness. Being more and more devout does not reduce our temptation to sin, in fact it may magnify it because we move the bar to a higher standard by understanding more what it means to be fully dedicated to God.

10.
I waste time. I participate in idle thoughts and actions that do not refresh me in body or spirit and do not produce anything of value for anyone. I do not give enough or with enough joy to strangers. I do not see all people through the eyes of God. I’m greedy and covet things.

12.3 Romans – Plumb and Level

In our verses for today, Roman 7:7-13, Paul presents another perspective of the law and sin.  The law is a tool, presented by God, that is used as a true and correct measurement of how our lives stack up.

Without a plumb line or a level, our only guide for our life would be other lives around us.  As anyone who has tried masonry, or even stacking a cake, our eyes are very poor measures of what level actually looks like.  In our lives, which consist of moment upon moment, decision upon decision, or, metaphorically, brick upon brick, even a slight variance from straight and level leads to great imbalance which leads to weakness and ultimately to a failing and falling structure.

The law doesn’t make our lives out of kilter any more than the plumb line makes the structure crooked.  It simply and truly identifies the variances and faults.

Its right use is not as an after the fact measuring tool, as was the perspective given in yesterday’s lesson, instead, it is a tool to be used during the building process so that we stay true and level with God’s design.

If I have the plumb and level available to me and still stack the blocks of my life crooked it is not because I want to but because of the imbalance and weakness that are still an element of my knowledge and skill.  In the same way, when I sin as a Christian it is not because as a Christian I want to sin but because I am still developing the knowledge and skills and holiness to overcome the weakness and imperfection of my sin nature and prior training.

My Answers:

6.
The law draws a line separating right from wrong, righteousness from sin. Sin uses the line to tempt us to cross over the line or to lie about where the line is until after we have sinned. It brings us to work in sin receiving our due wages of death.

7.
It is an unfulfilled lie. It cannot satisfy and only lures one into more and more. Nothing outside of God brings true satisfaction. Nothing of this world will give us spiritual food. A promise of a path that makes me my own god, is a lie.