Sunday, November 6, 2016

"God's good news for believers … present and future!"

Day #312

Scripture Reading:  Romans 7 - 8 ...

All that God is doing in this world is for His purposes and for those who are HIS people … chosen, called, predestined by God to be conformed to the image of His Son for God’s glory.  "And we KNOW that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to HIS purpose" (8:28).  And here's the good part:  God TELLS us what His purpose is!!  "For those God foreknew (those He chose in Christ before the foundation of the world - Ephesians 1:4) He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son" (8:29).  All that God is doing today is designed to accomplish His purpose in you and me who believe in His Son, in order that we will exist, now and forever, for God’s glory.

Most people today have no concept of this God who sovereignly orders all things according to a plan He determined and ordained before He even created the world.  God’s grace in Jesus Christ is amazing for all who trust in Jesus and not in their own righteousness precisely because we know the truth of our sin and of God’s judgment.  When you understand sin and its consequences, you realize that our only hope is in the salvation that God promised through the Savior, the One promised in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), the “offspring” of the woman, the “promised Seed of Abraham” (Genesis 12:3), the King from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), the “Son of David,” the “Messiah,” God’s “Anointed One!”  His name is Jesus!!

Chapters 7-8 of Paul's letter to the Romans continues Paul's explanation of the Gospel and its impact on the lives of those who are born again by the Spirit of God and united to Christ by faith.  A key verse in Chapter 7 is verse 6:  "But now, by dying to what once bound us (the power of the written code to condemn us) we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code."  This does NOT mean that believers are not called to a life of obedience.  Remember, Paul wrote at the beginning of this letter, “we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith” (1:5).  Now here he says that we serve in the “new way of the Spirit.”  So what does that look like?  What does that mean for the life of the believer?

The law pronounces judgment on all who do not keep it - perfectly!  But Jesus kept the law perfectly in our place and bore God's wrath against our sin, satisfying God's justice and freeing us from the just condemnation of God's law.  His righteousness is now "credited" (Chapter 4) to our account.  I don't have to try to keep God's law now to avoid condemnation.  I don't have to try to obey because I have to - or else!  I am free - not only from the guilt of the law, but also, by the work of God's Spirit in me, from the POWER of the law to condemn me and from the power of the sinful nature that takes the law and rebels against it.  I am free to do as Paul wrote in Chapter 6, to become “a slave to righteousness” (6:18).

As one who has been born again by the Spirit of God, I now "delight in God's law" (7:21).  In my mind, I WANT to obey God - I really do!!  This is the mark of the true believer that cannot be faked.  Every true believer has a heartfelt desire to live in obedience to God, to all He has commanded, knowing that God’s will is always good.  So long as we live in this world we continue to struggle with sin in our lives, as Paul expresses when he writes, “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (7:18).  This is the same struggle Paul writes about in Galatians 5:16:  “The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.  BUT, if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.”

Ah, but “thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (7:25).  That leads to the good news of Chapter 8:  "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!" (8:1).  Further, Jesus gave Himself as a "sin offering ... in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in US" … IN ME ... and IN YOU ... "who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit" (8:3-4).  I am no longer controlled by the flesh, but rather, by the very Spirit of God who dwells within me.

Life "in the Spirit" means I can pray, "Abba, Father," and know that I am one of His children and that He is going to finish what He began.  I can look forward to the future with a sure and certain hope!    When I get down on myself and feel like I am so far from where I want to be spiritually, in my walk with Christ, I can rest in His love and grace, knowing that NOTHING can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, my Savior and Lord (8:37-39).  “God is for me, who can be against me?!” (8:31).

God's plan to have a people who are conformed to the image of His Son will happen - it will take place ... and I am one of God's children, an "heir of God and co-heir with Christ" (8:17).  All of creation awaits the day when this process is completed at the resurrection of the dead.  Until then I desire to live for my "Abba, Father," to live for Christ as His Spirit lives within me.  I thank Him that I see His power at work in me and I draw near to Him, praying, believing that He will never let me go.

May this hope be yours as you place your faith in Jesus Christ and live as a disciple of Jesus to glorify your Father in heaven.  Joyfully serve Him, giving thanks for His salvation in Christ and living in the obedience of faith, in the freedom of the Spirit! 

"Heavenly Father, the promises of Your Word and the work of Your Spirit within me cause me to live with hope today as I serve You no longer under the old way of the law, but in the new way of the Spirit, who lives within Me.   THANK YOU for delivering me from my bondage to the sinful nature, for giving me new life in Christ, and for Your promise to MAKE ME LIKE JESUS!!  I am Yours - now and forever.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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