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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Monday, November 17, 2008
The Body of Sin, distilled...
How one understands Romans 6:6 will either turn the closing remark of Romans 7 into a jarring and confusing statement by Paul, or it will be an underscore to which one can heartily add their own AMEN to. The last part of verse 25 reads: "I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin."

A poor understanding of Romans 6:6 will cause Romans 7:25 to be, as I said a moment past: jarring (at best) - it will leave one going huh? I don't follow you an hundred percent here... I mean, how can you say that with your flesh you serve the law of sin?

Remember from my previous post that I made a distinction between the body that sin owns, and the old self? Well, I think I made the distinction, I should really read it again to be sure. The point was that sin owns the body; hence: the body of sin (i.e. sin's body). If sin owns the body, and the "I" that I truly am (to borrow Paul's metaphor) is "married" to my body, then what my body does and what I do are one and the same. I am, bound to a body that sin owns. I call it my body, but it is just as much sin's body as it is my own - perhaps more so.

But if the "I" that is truly me really did die in Christ, then the union between me and this body that sin owns - this body that I reside in - has been severed.

That is, the "I" that makes all the decisions for my body is no longer bound to a body that sin owns. Sin still owns the body, but having been set free from that union, sin no longer owns me - it used to own me through my body, but no longer has any claim on me.

Sin still owns the body - that is why no matter what I do I can't stop myself from desiring sin - because it is my body that desires to sin, and always will. It cannot help itself, it is entirely corrupted by - owned by - sin. But when I died with Christ on Calvary, I was set free from the law of sin and death - the law that was akin to a marriage between myself and the body of sin. I died and though my consciousness continues to reside in a condemned body ; though it continues to reside in a body that is owned by sin - yet I am owned by sin no longer, for I am owned now by Christ - connected to, married to another.

The picture is this: The believer is saved from sin directly through death in Christ; this death severs the former union between the believer and "the body of sin" - so that the believer, no longer bound by the dictates of that marriage, is free to marry another: Christ.

The OT is rife with the imagery of these very things. The point is that if you are in Christ, you really have been set free from sin's power through your crucifixion with Christ so that you no longer have to obey sin, and having been set free, you can now obey God.

Yes, the "flesh that sin owns" will continue to demand your obedience, but frankly, you are not its servant anymore, and though long standing habit inclines you to obey it, you don't have to obey the flesh - you are free to obey Christ. Obeying the flesh will only produce what sin produces: death; but obeying the spirit that you have been set free to obey - this will sanctify and lead to life and righteousness.

That is why Paul says, "with my flesh I serve the law of sin" - because that is whom his flesh serves, the law of sin. He doesn't obey the flesh however, and teaches the Christian to deny the flesh as well. This is what putting to death the deeds of the flesh is all about - denying that thing that sin owns, but you are no longer wed to. Denying it is the same as taking up your cross daily - recognizing that you are no longer wed to it, but to another, recognizing that it's power over you is broken.

The problem here is that you have to be real with these things. If the flesh no longer has power over you (and if you are in Christ this is true), then you must understand that the reason you go on sinning is not because "you can't help it" - rather it is because you have hardened yourself into someone who always obeys the flesh. There is no cure for it but real repentance. Stop doing whatever it is that you shouldn't be doing. Just stop it. You can, if you are Christ's - you must. The Israelites had to use their swords in Canaan for a reason - God could have killed every Canaanite in the land the moment the first Israelite two touched the other side of the Jordon - but he didn't. Their victory was assured, for it was God who was fighting for them - but they still had to go in and do it. So too, Christian, strap on your armor and get at it. Victory is there, but you have to be serious about repenting, and you can't let yourself be crippled by telling yourself that sin owns you - it doesn't Not'neemore.

Grace to you.
posted by Daniel @ 12:01 PM  
  • At 4:49 PM, November 17, 2008, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, I really like this post. You have painted a very graphic word picture of the true nature of our relationship to the flesh.

    If we can see this clearly, we will begin to abhore the flesh and its evil desires.

    There is the possibility that man could attempt to suppress the flesh in a human way...leading to acestism. Only walking by the Spirit can truly empower us to crucify the flesh and its lusts and live a life pleasing to the Lord.

  • At 5:39 PM, November 17, 2008, Blogger donsands said…

    So can one live a sinless life? My older brother says he doesn't sin. I told him I sin all day long, in thought, and in word, and in deed, yet not as i did before, because I now love Christ, because He first loved me, and gave Himself for me to become my wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification.

    The big difference in me is that i now hate that i love sin at times. I do hate that I don't hate it as the evil it truly is.

    For me it's the flesh wars against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, so that we can not do what we want to.
    But when I am walking in the Spirit, which does happen in my life, then I'm not under the law, and I am actually bearing fruit for God, and for his glory, through His grace and power and Holy Spirit.

    I ask the Father every morning to give me the Holy Spirit, so that I can serve Christ, and bear fruit for His kingdom.
    But there are those days that I run into great spiritual opposition, and am hindered, and sometimes even give in to the flesh.
    But repentance is there for the child of Christ, and readily grants it when we ask Him.

    That's sort of how I am living these truths out.

    I wish i could live a life of pure holiness as Jesus did. Can anyone imagine what that would be like?
    Yet I fall so short of Christ's sinless obedience to His Father.

    I am a wretched man, and need to be free of this body of death. And the lord has broken the power of my flesh, so that i can serve Him, and love Him, and love my fellow man.
    And one day I shall be living and never sin, and that is something I can't even fathom.

  • At 5:25 AM, November 18, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    Don said, So can one live a sinless life?

    I don't live a sinless life, and I haven't met anyone who has. But I do have victory over sin - not all sin mind you, but the fault in that is not my Lord's or His promises, rather it belongs to me since I have a long standing habit of obeying the flesh, and I fall into habit by default. I battle with sin every day, and in any given day there is both victory and defeat.

    The one thing that the body that sin owns tells me daily is that every other Christian sins, so sin must be normative - that all that matters is that I put up a fight, however half hearted it is - and even that is probably more than most Christians are willing to do, so I am pretty much a super-Christian if I bother about sin in anything deeper than a superficial way.

    But I can't say that God's Spirit is saying that to me through the word. What I see in scripture is that Christ died to save me from sin; that Christians are overcomers, and that being born again is something greater than the Jews had. Even a man like John the Baptist - great as he was, pales when compared to the least one who has entered the Kingdom.

    I know, or at least I think I know, that Christ set me free from the body that sin owns - free not only from its condemnation, but from its control - and though I am inexperienced at walking in the benefits derived from that truth - yet I plan to pursue them. Paul explains how we are to live and foremost in his teaching is that the Christian does not continue in sin, and stops obeying the flesh, having a new master - Christ. If I have been set free from that which produces only death, then it behooves me to obey Him who grants life, and has bent down and loosed me.

    If that leads to sinlessness, I will let you know. ;)

  • At 9:36 AM, November 18, 2008, Blogger donsands said…

    "..and that being born again is something greater than the Jews had."

    Did the Jews love the Lord and serve Him in the flesh, without being born again?

    I thought we could not please God if we were not regenerated-- Whether the Jews or those of us who are Christians today, gentiles & Jews?

    Jesus said to Nicodemus, "You must be born again, and you should know these things, being a teacher."

    To be honest, the way the Holy Spirit operated within the chosen people of God, throughout the history of His people is a deep and difficult portion of Scripture for me.

  • At 11:48 AM, November 18, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    I don't believe that scripture teaches that the OT Jews were born again.

    It isn't that Jews were not justified under the old covenant, it is that they were not saved from their sin. They were justified by faith just as we are justified by faith - the gospel hasn't changed - but they were saved into the old covenant, and we are saved into the new. Being born again is a new covenant experience.

    Said another way, until Christ sent the Holy Spirit after His departure to indwell believers (inaugurated at Pentecost), the Holy Spirit did not indwell believers - they were justified, but not "born from above" - that is, they did not receive a "down payment/Guarantee" in the person of the Holy Spirit. They were regenerate, every bit as regenerate as any new covenant believer - but they were by no means born again.

    Unless a person is able to make that distinction in their theology they will never understand what it means to enter into the kingdom of heaven here on earth.

    The full quote in John 3 runs like this: Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. . To put that into perspective, recall Matthew 11:11, "Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. John was certainly justified, but he was never born again - he was never "in the kingdom of heaven" while here on earth, because John was an OT saint. He was not born again, that is, he was not indwelt by the Holy Spirit according to the New Covenant promise.

    Unless one can see the distinction between what was true under the old covenant, and what is true under the new covenant, it will be terribly foggy trying to figure out why already justified Jews were receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (I am speaking of the Apostles) Were they just then justified? Of course not - all that changed is that they came under the new covenant.

    You see, when the new covenant came into effect, those who were justified had to come into the new covenant - they had to receive the indwelling Holy Spirit. If they refused to come, as it were, they demonstrated that they were never part of God's fold in the first place. His sheep heard his voice, and received the Holy Spirit as they entered into the long promised, and now manifest new covenant.

    That was a unique time in history because prior to Pentecost, a man could be justified without recieving the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has always quickened believers, always produced faith, etc. etc. but His ministry in the OT cannot be equated with His NT ministry, the latter being more glorious than the former. Believers under the OT schema were justified by the work of the Holy Spirit, but they were not indwelt in the same way as NT believers are.

    When a new convert entered into the faith under the old covenant schema, he was as justified as any Christian, but he was by no means indwelt by God's Spirit (Consider Saul, and examine closely David's prayer, "Take not your spirit from me"). He was justified by grace through faith just like every other believer on both sides of the cross - but the Holy Spirit's ministry under the old covenant was not as it was after Pentecost.

    You see, the mistake that people make is that they equate being born again with being justified because from the day of Pentecost onward, the moment you entered into God's covenant - you entered into the "new" covenant and not the old - the old has been replaced by the new. So that the moment you were justified, in that same moment you were "born from above". Being born from above is a new covenant thing - a better promise than the old covenant because we receive the Holy Spirit in a way that they did not under the old covenant.

    We rightly reason that you be justified without being born again, nor born again without being justified. You cannot have one without the other in the new covenant. But that does not mean that the two are one and the same thing. They are not. Justification heralded different blessings under the old covenant than it does under the new - and being born again is a new covenant blessing.

    If you can understand that justification does not equal being born again - but that being born again is a promise that was fulfilled in the new covenant - that being indwelt by the Holy Spirit is not an OT thing, but only a NT thing - you shall, I believe, benefit from the clarity that this truth brings.

    When the justified OT Jew loved the Lord, and served the Lord, he did so in the power of the Holy Spirit who worked that power in him from without. When the justified NT believer loves the Lord and serves the Lord, he does so in the power of the Holy Spirit who works from within - never leaving nor forsaking the believer. The OT Jew did not have the promise of "never leaving of forsaking" - he was not born from above, though he was certainly justified.

    That's how I understand it at least. I was told that being born again is the same thing as being saved when I was a new Christian, but I have never found that in scripture. It strikes me as a rather common (but never the less sloppy) theological presumption, that is made only because no one bothers to learn whether it is true or not - since for the last 2000 years people who are saved have all been born again - why make the distinction?

    I don't want to carry on too much here if you get it, but let me know if that helped at all.

  • At 3:50 PM, November 18, 2008, Blogger donsands said…

    "They were regenerate, every bit as regenerate as any new covenant believer - but they were by no means born again."

    " ..but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:5-7

    I always thought of being renewed by the Holy Spirit, becoming a new creation in Christ, as having a rebirth, and being regenerated.
    I never separated God regenerating a dead soul and spirit, with this same soul being reborn, but always concluded, they were different ways of say God makes a dead spirit alive.

    "John was certainly justified, but he was never born again"
    Yet he was filled with the Holy Spirit in his mother's womb.

    One more Scripture for you Daniel: "Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. ...Now we brethren, as Issac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now." Gal. 4:29

    Seems Ishmael was flesh, because he was born of the flesh, and Issac was of the promise, because he was born of the Spirit.

    I'll have to do some study Daniel. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • At 4:10 PM, November 18, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    Don, something happened at Pentecost that hadn't happened before - the Holy Spirit came to indwell believers. That is the "new" birth. Everyone who has ever been justified (OT and NT) has had the Holy Spirit poured out on them through Jesus Christ - this is the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, and not the new birth - this is justification, and the Holy Spirit plays a major role in that, and always has.

    The new birth (new heart if you prefer) is not regeneration, it is the new covenant promise.

    Paul commands Christians to be being kept filled with the Holy Spirit. (c.f. Ephesians 5:18), if the filling of the Holy Spirit equates to salvation, as you suggest, then Paul is suggesting that believers should stay justified. Which is only to say that the theological implications of equating the filling of the Spirit with regeneration, are many and profound.

    John the Baptist was certainly filled with the Spirit from his mother's womb, but are you suggesting that before exercising personal faith he was regenerate? Or are you suggesting, as scripture does, that God was working in John even in the womb - even before he was regenerate?

    These are good things to consider. I look forward to whatever instruction our Lord will give us in this matter. I am not above being taught.

    Thanks Don.

  • At 4:18 PM, November 18, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    To clarify, btw, What I mean is that no one is justified except according to the Holy Spirit, but being filled with the Holy Spirit is not the same as being justified, it only means that God is working in and through your life. Thus I do not think being filled with the Holy Spirit equates to salvation, nor do I think scripture even hints at such a thing - yet I recognize that the Holy Spirit, and only the Holy Spirit, is responsible for quickening anyone unto regeneration. That is, I think it is an error to say:

    "Because the Holy Spirit quickens people to salvation, a person is therefore saved when by being filled with the Holy Spirit." - that to me is to mistake the effect for the cause, and to couple the two in a way that scripture does not. Lest we forget that God spoke to Balaam through a donkey - that is, the donkey was moved by the Spirit to speak - filled, if you will, like a sail, and moved by the Spirit of God to pronounce words - but this donkey was by no means saved.

  • At 6:17 PM, November 18, 2008, Blogger donsands said…

    "John the Baptist was certainly filled with the Spirit from his mother's womb, but are you suggesting that before exercising personal faith he was regenerate? Or are you suggesting, as scripture does, that God was working in John even in the womb - even before he was regenerate?"

    I'm not suggesting anything really, except John the Baptist "will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ... to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

    Reminds me of Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
    Before you were born I sanctified you;
    I ordained you a prophet to the nations." Jer. 1:5

    "Thus I do not think being filled with the Holy Spirit equates to salvation, nor do I think scripture even hints at such a thing"

    I agree completely.

    At Pentecost they were all filled with the Spirit, and even Elizabeth was filled with the Spirit, when she prophesied over Mary. And her husband was filled with the Spirit as well. There were those who were even filled with the Spirit in the OT.Ex. 31:1;Num.11:25

    But to understand being born again, or born from above, or born of God the Spirit, I'll need to study up a little.

    However, we who are God's children, are not born "of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God". As I suggested Issac was born from above, and not Ishmael.

    Thanks Daniel for allowing me to discuss these deep truths.
    You always challenge believers to study the Word, and you are a fine example of a pastor of the Lord (Jer. 3:15).

  • At 6:30 PM, November 18, 2008, Blogger Daniel said…

    Don, I don't think I have met anyone who has been as consistently encouraging as you are.

    Indeed we who are in Christ are born of God, both OT and NT, and I am quite joyful that my full expectation in our complete agreement in the various equations mentioned, was likewise realized. It is a good study, whether I am right in my understanding or not - and I know the Lord will bless you in it.

    Grace and peace.

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