“Will I Really Go To Heaven?” (Romans 10:1-13)

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3dee01750f7df93f4a57c70555df56ad1Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. 2For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4For Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Observation #1: Saving faith relies on Jesus’ perfect behavior alone, not our own

–What will happen to the Jewish people who believe in God but not in Christ? Since they believe in the same God, won’t they be saved? If that were true, Paul would not have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to teach them about Christ. Because Jesus is the most complete revelation of God, we cannot fully know God apart from Christ; and because God appointed Jesus to bring God and people together, we cannot come to God by another path. The Jews, like everyone else, can find salvation only through Jesus Christ (cf. John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Like Paul, we should pray that all Jews might be saved and lovingly share the gospel with them.Life Application Study Bible notes, Romans 10:1

–Rather than living by faith in God, the Jews established customs and traditions (in addition to God’s law) to try to make themselves acceptable in God’s sight. But human effort, no matter how sincere, can never substitute for the righteousness God offers us by faith. The only way to earn salvation is to be perfect–and that is impossible. We can only hold out our empty hands and receive salvation as a gift.Life Application Study Bible notes, Romans 10:3-5

–Christ accomplished the purpose for which the law was given in two ways: He fulfills the purpose and goal of the law (cf. Matthew 5:17) in that he perfectly exemplified God’s desires on earth. But he is also the termination of the law because in comparison to Christ, the law is powerless to save.Life Application Study Bible notes, Romans 10:4

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

–When someone gives you a gift, do you say, “That’s very nice–now how much do I owe you?” No, the appropriate response to a gift is, “Thank you.” Yet how often Christians, even after they have been given the gift of salvation and even our faith are gifts, we should respond with gratitude, praise, and joy.Life Application Study Bible notes, Ephesians 2:8-9

–We become Christians through God’s unmerited grace, not as the result of any effort, ability, intelligent choice, or act of service on our part. However, out of gratitude for this free gift, we will seek to help and serve others with kindness, love, and gentleness, and not merely to please ourselves. While no action or work we do can help us obtain salvation, God’s intention is that our salvation will result in acts of service. We are not saved merely for our own benefit but to serve Christ and build up the church.

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we did in righteousness, but in accordance with His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He richly poured out upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior, (Titus 3:5-6)

–Paul summarizes what Christ does for us when he saves us. We move from a life full of sin to one where we are led by God’s Holy Spirit. All our sins, not merely some, are washed away. Washing refers to the water of baptism, which is a sign of salvation. In becoming a Christian, the believer acknowledges Christ as Lord and recognizes Christ’s saving work. We gain life with all its treasures. We have renewal by the Holy Spirit, and he continually renews our heart. Non of this occurs because we earned or deserved it; it is all God’s gift.Life Application Study Bible notes, Titus 3:4-8

5For Moses writes of the righteousness that is based on the Law, that the person who performs them will live by them. 6But the righteousness based on faith as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will go up into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” 8But what does it say? “The Word is nar you, in your mouth and in your heart”–that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13for “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Observation #2: Saving faith agrees Jesus is God-in-Charge who died and rose again to gift His righteousness.

–In order to be saved by the law, a person would have to live a perfect life, not sinning once. Then why did God give the law since he knew people couldn’t keep it? According to Paul, one reason the law was given was to show how guilty they are (cf. Galatians 3:19). The law was a shadow of Christ–that is, the sacrificial system educated the people so that when the true sacrifice came, they would be able to understand his work (Hebrews 10:1-4). The system of ceremonial laws was to last until the coming of Christ. The law points to our need for a Savior.Life Application Study Bible notes, Romans 10:5

–Paul adapts Moses’ farewell challenge from Deuteronomy 30:11-14 to apply to Christ. Christ has provided our salvation through his incarnation (God in human form) and resurrection. God’s salvation is right in front of us. He will come to us wherever we are. All we need to do is respond and accept his gift of salvation. The “abyss” as used here refers to the grave or Hades, the place of the dead.Life Application Study Bible notes, Romans 10:6-8

–Have you ever been asked, “How do I become a Christian?” These verses give you the beautiful answer: Salvation is as close as your own lips and heart. People think it must be a complicated process, but it is not. If we believe in our heart and say with our mouth that Christ is the risen Lord, we will be saved.Life Application Study Bible notes, Romans 10:8-12

whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is all, God blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 9:5)

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, your faith also is in vain. Moreover, we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ only in this life, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:13-19)

–The bodily resurrection of Christ is the center of the Christian faith. Because Christ rose from the dead, as he promised, we know that what he said is true and that he is God. The resurrection affirms the truthfulness of Jesus’ life and words. The resurrection confirms Jesus’ unique authority to say, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Because he rose, we have certainty that our sins are forgiven. Because he rose, he lives and represents us before God. Because he rose and defeated death, we know we also will be raised. Christ’s resurrection guaranteed both his promise to us and his authority to make that promise. We must take him at his word and believe.Life Application Study Bible notes, 1 Corinthians 15:13-18

–Why does Paul say believers “are of all men most to be pitied” if this life is all there is? In Paul’s day, faith in Christ often brought a person persecution, ostracism from family, and, in many cases, poverty. There were few tangible benefits from being a Christian in that society. It was certainly not a step up the social or career ladder. More important, however, is the fact that if Christ had not been resurrected from the dead, Christians would not be forgiven for their sins or have any hope of eternal life. If what Christians believe is a lie, we would be pitiful because we would be going through such suffering for no purpose. Fortunately, that is not the case!Life Application Study Bible notes, 1 Corinthians 15:19

Application: Jesus is God-in-Charge who died and rose to gift His righteousness–saying so out loud!

“Is God A Moral Monster?” (Romans 9:18-33)

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is god a moral monster

18Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. 19One of you willsay to me: “Then why does god still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'” 21Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purpouses and some for common use? 22What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath–prepared for destruction? 23What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory–24even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” 26and, “In the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.'” 27Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. 28For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.” 29It is just as Isaiah said previously: “Unless the Lord Almighty has left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.” 30What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. 32Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. 33As it is written, “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”
–About seven hundred years before Jesus’ birth, Hosea told of God’s intention to restore his people. Paul applies Hosea’s message to God’s intention to bring Gentiles into his family after the Jews rejected his plan. Verse 25 is a quotation from Hosea 2:23 and verse 26 is from Hosea 1:10.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 9:25-26
–Isaiah prophesied that only a small number–a remnant–of God’s original people, the Jews, would be saved. Paul saw this happening in every city where he preached. Even though he went to the Jews first, relatively few ever accepted the message. Verses 27 and 28 are based on Isaiah 10:22-23; and 9:29 is from Isaiah 1:9.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 9:27-29
–Sometimes we are like these people, trying to get right with God by keeping his laws. We may think that attending church, doing church work, giving offerings, and being nice will be enough. After all, we’ve played by the rules, haven’t we? But Paul’s words sting–this approach never succeeds. Paul explains that God’s plan is not for those who try to earn his favor by being good; it is for those who realize that they can never be good enough and so must depend on Christ. We can be saved only by putting our faith in what Jesus Christ has done. If we do that, we will never be ashamed or disappointed.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 9:31-33
–The Jews had a worthy goal–to honor God. But they tried to achieve it the wrong way–by rigid and painstaking obedience to the law. Thus, some of them became more dedicated to the law than to God. They thought that if they kept the law, God would have to accept them as his people. But God cannot be controlled. The Jews did not see that their Scriptures, the Old Testament, taught that salvation depended on faith, not on human effort (cf. Genesis 15:6).Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 9:32
–The “stumbling stone” was Jesus. The Jews did not believe in him, because he didn’t meet their expectations for the Messiah. Some people still stumble over Christ because salvation by faith doesn’t make sense to them. They would rather try to earn their way to God, or else they expect God simply to overlook their sins. Others stumble over Christ because his values are the opposite of the world’s. He asks for humility, and many are unwilling to humble themselves before him. He requires obedience, and many refuse to put their wills at his disposal. Have you stumbled over this rock, or have you chosen to build your life on it?Ibid

The Bumper Of Mercy

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, (1 Timothy 2:3-5)
–Though some people think there are many ways to God, in practice, each person must choose a single way. We can stand on one side o a gorge and discuss the possibility of many bridges across the abyss, but if we are determined to ross, we will have to commit to one bridge. Those who insist that there are many bridges to God usually fit one of the following categories: 1) They have not personally committed to any “bridge.” They are surprised that their belief in multiple ways does not exempt them from having to chosoe one. 2) Their belief in “many ways to God” hides their true belief that finding God doesn’t really matter at all. 3) They are convinced that arguing for “many ways to God” will insure that they won’t be wrong. If there is only one way, they generalized belief will presumably have included it. 4) They have decided that believing in “many ways to God” requires less work than going to the trouble of actually considering the claims of various religious systems. The facts remain: We human being are separated from God by sin and we need a Savior–a way across the abyss of sin and back to God. Only one person in the universe is our Mediator and can stand between us and God and bring us together again–Jesus, who is both God and man. Jesus’ sacrifice brought new life to all people. Have you let him bridge the gap between you and God?Life Application Bible study notes, 1 Timothy 2:5-6

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. (Acts 17:26-27)
–God is in his creation and close to every one of us. But he is not trapped in his creation–he is transcendent. God is the Creator, not the creation. This means that God is sovereign and in control, while at the same time he is close and personal. Let the Creator of the universe rule your life.Life Application Bible study notes, Acts 17:27-28

Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? (Ezekiel 18:23)
–God is perfect love, but he also dispenses perfect justice. His perfect love causes him to be merciful to those who recognize their sin and turn back to him, but he cannot overlook those who willfully sin. Wicked people die both physically and spiritually. God takes no joy in their deaths; he would prefer that they turn to him and have eternal life. Likewise, we should not rejoice in the misfortunes of nonbelievers. Instead, we should do all in our power to bring them to faith.Life Application Bible study notes, Ezekiel 18:23

The Bumper Of Truth

But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? (Romans 3:5-6)
–Some may think they don’t have to worry about sin because 1) it’s God’s job to forgive; 2) God is so loving that he won’t judge us; 3) sin isn’t so bad–it teaches us valuable lessons; or 4) we need to stay in touch with the culture around us. It is far too easy to take God’s grace for granted. But God cannot overlook sin. No matter how many excuses we make, we will have to answer to God for our sin.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 3:5-8

For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people. who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only sovereign and Lord. Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling–these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgmenet on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 4-7)
–Many first-century false teachers were teaching that Christians could do whatever they liked without fear of God’s punishment. They had a light view of God’s holiness and his justice. Paul refuted this same kind of false teaching in Romans 6:1-23. Even today, some Christians minimize the sinfulness of sin, believing that how they live has little to do with their faith. But what a person truly believes will show up in how he or she acts. Those who truly have faith will show it by their deep respect for God and their sincere desire to live according to the principles in his Word.Life Application Bible study notes, Jude 4
–Many people don’t want to believe that God sentences people to “eternal fire” for rejecting him. But this is clearly taught in Scripture. Sinners who don’t seek forgiveness from God will face eternal separation from him. Jude warns all who rebel against, ignore, or reject God.Life Application Bible study notes, Jude 7

Then death and Hades were throne into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14-15)
–Death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire. God’s judgment is finished. The lake of fire is the ultimate destination of everything wicked–Satan, the beast, the false prophet, the demons, death, Hades, and all those whose names are not recorded in the book of life because they did not place their faith in Jesus Christ. John’s vision dos not permit any gray areas in God’s judgment. If by faith we have not identified with Christ, confessing him as Lord, there will be no hope, no second chance, no other appeal.Life Application Bible study notes, Revelation 20:14

Does God Really Know Everything?

Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ (Isaiah 46:9-10)
–Israel was tempted to waver between the Lord God and pagan gods. Isaiah affirms the sole lordship of God. God is unique in his knowledge and in his control of the future. His consistent purpose is to carry out what he has planned. When we are tempted to pursue anything that promises pleasure, comfort, peace, or security apart from God, we must remember our commitment to God.Life Application Bible study notes, Isaiah 46:8-11

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand–when I awake, I am still with you. (Psalm 139:16-18)

This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands–a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.” (Daniel 2:45)

Does God Know Contingent Events With Certainty?

Again David asked, “Will the citizens of Keilah surrender me and my men to Saul?” And the Lord said, “They will.” So David and his men, about six hundred in number, left Keilah and kept moving from place to place. When Saul was told that David had escaped from Keilah, he did not go there. David stayed in the wilderness strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands. (1 Samuel 23:12-14)

And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. (Matthew 11:23)
–Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom were ancient cities with a long-standing reputation for wickedness (cf. Genesis 18-19; Ezekiel 27-28). Each was destroyed by God for its evil. The people of Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum saw Jesus firsthand, and yet they stubbornly refused to repent of their sins and believe in him. Jesus said that if some of the wickedest cities in the world had seen him, they would have repented. Because Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum saw Jesus and didn’t believe, they would suffer even greater punishment than would the wicked cities that didn’t see Jesus. Similarly, nations and cities with churches on every corner and Bibles in every home will have no excuse on judgment day if they do not repent and believe.Life Application Bible study notes, Matthew 11:21-24

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. (Luke 10:13)
–Chorazin was a city near the Sea of Galilee, probably about two miles north of Capernaum. Tyre and Sidon were cities destroyed by God as punishment for their wickedness (cf. Ezekiel 26-28)Life Application Bible study notes, Luke 10:13

Is God Really Fair?

Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? (Romans 9:21)
–With this illustration, Paul is not saying that some of us are worth more than others, but simply that the Creator has control over the created object. The created object, therefore, has no right to demand anything from its Creator–its very existence depends on him. Keeping this perspective removes any temptatoin to have pride in personal achievement.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 9:21

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– (Ephesians 1:4-5)
–Paul says that God “chose us” to emphasize that salvation depends totally on God. We are not saved because we deserve it but because God is gracious and freely gives salvation. We did not influence God’s decision to save us; he saved us according to his plan. Thus, there is no way to take credit for our salvation or to allow room for pride. The mystery of salvation originated in the timeless mind of God long before we existed. It is hard to understand how God could accept us. But because of Christ, we are holy and blameless in his sight. God chose us, and when we belong to him through Jesus Christ, God looks at us as if we had never sinned. All we can do is express our thanks for his wonderful love.Life Application Bible study notes, Ephesians 1:4
–“Predestined” means marked out beforehand. This is another way of saying that salvation is God’s work and not our own doing. In his infinite love, God has adopted us as his own children. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, he has brought us into his family and made us heirs along with Jesus (cf. Romans 8:17). In Roman law, adopted children had the same rights and privileges as biological children, even if they had been slaves. Paul uses this term to show how strong our relationship to God is. Have you entered into this loving relationship with God?Life Application Bible study notes, Ephesians 1:5

Conclusion: God is not a moral monster, but a Sovereign Savior.

who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knoweldge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4)
–Both Peter and Paul said that God wants everone to be saved (cf. 2 Peter 3:9). This does not mean that all will be saved, because the Bible makes it clear that many reject Christ (cf. Matthew 25:31-46; John 12:44-50; Hebrews 10:26-29). The gospel message has a universal scope; it is not directed only to people of one race, one sex, or one national background. God loves the whole world and sent his Son to save sinners. No one is outside God’s mercy or beyond the reach of his offer of salvation.Life Application Bible study notes, 1 Timothy 2:4
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In his love (Ephesians 1:4)

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the widsom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18-24)
–Paul summarizes Isaiah 29:14 to emphasize a point Jesus often made: God’s way of thinking is not like th eworld’s way (normal human wisdom). And God offers enternal life, which the world can never give. We can spend a lifetime accumulating human wisdom and yet never learn how to have a personal relationship with God. We must come to the crucified and risen Christ to receive eternal life and the joy of a personal relationship with our Savior.Life Application Bible study notes, 1 Corinthians 1:19
–Many Jews considered the good news of Jesus Christ to be foolish, because they thought the Messiah would be a conquering king accompanied by signs and miracles. Jesus had not restored David’s throne as they expected. Besides, he was executed as a criminal, and how could a criminal be a savior? Greeks, too, considered the gospel foolish: They did not believe in a bodily resurrection, they did not see in Jesus the powerful characteristics of their mythological gods, and they thought no reputable person would be crucified. To them, death was defeat, not victory. The good news of Jesus Christ still sounds foolish to many. Our society worships power, influence, and wealth. Jesus came as a humble, poor servant, and he offers his kingdom to those who have faith, not to those ho do all kinds of good deeds to try to earn salation. This looks foolish to the world, but Christ is the power of God, the only way we can be saved. Knowing Christ personally is the greatest wisdom anyone can have.Life Application Bible study notes, 1 Corinthians 1:22-24

Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– (John 1:12)
–All who welcome Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives are reborn spiritually, receiving new life from God. Through faith in Christ, this new birth changes us from the inside out–rearranging our attitudes, desires, and motives. Being born makes you physically alive and places you in your parents’ family. Being born of God makes you spiritually alive and puts you in God’s family. Have you asked Christ to make you a new person? This fresh start in life is available to all who believe in Christ.Life Application Bible study notes, John 1:12-13

He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” (John 6:65)
–The Holy Spirit gives spiritual life; without the work of the Holy Spirit, we cannot even see our need for new life. All spiritual renewal begins and ends with God. He reveals truth to us, lives within us, and then enables us to respond to that truth.Life Application Bible study notes, John 6:63,65

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
–You are free to choose between two masters, but you are not free to adjust the consequences of your choice. Each of the two masters pays with his own kind of currency. The currency of sin is eternal death. That is all you can expect or hope for in life without God. Christ’s currency is eternal life–new life with God that begins on earth and continues forever with God. What choice have you made?Life Appliction Bible study notes, Romans 6:23
–Eternal life is a gift from God. If it is a gift, then it is not something that we earn, nor something that must be paid back. Consider the foolishness of someone who receives a gift given out of love and then offers to pay for it. A gift cannot be purchased by the recipient. A more appropriate response to a love one who offers a gift is graceful acceptance with gratitude. Our salvation is a gift of God, not something of our own doing (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9). He saved us because of his mercy, not because of any good things that we have done (cf. Titus 3:5). How much more should we accept with thanksgiving the gift that God has freely given to us.Ibid

Application: Humbly celebrate God’s wisdom in executing salvation and wrath as best reveals His power, glory and mercy.


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rotting human heartI gave you my heart, wrapped in plastic

But the flies got in and laid their eggs

The maggots of depression bore their holes

The rot of self-loathing and despair

The sickeningly sweet stench of decay

Became too much for you to bear

Now my heart has been cast aside

Left to fester

The love once cherished now forgotten all too easily

Picked apart by the crows

(Copyright 2021 J. Milton Case, all rights reserved)

in which I mourn the passing of a friend…

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on the 7 year anniversary of her death, keeping her memory alive…

Confessions Of A Christian Freak

anderson lynn marYesterday was April Fool’s Day. Not a significant “holiday” that I really got into. I’m not the practical joke kinda guy, and traditionally the first of April has been promoted as the High Holy Day of merry pranksters everywhere…even though it was originally named that in Medieval times  by highfalutin types who celebrated on the New Year on January 1st and called anyone who celebrated the old April 1st as the New Year a “fool”, but I digress. Never really had much of an opinion either way about the non-holiday, and I’ve never known anyone personally who really relished wholesale pranking the way television and movies portray some. That’s not to say that I don’t appreciate a well-executed prank. I’ve just never really looked at April 1st as much more than the first day in April. And also the day to question everything I read in my Facebook news feed.

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Short Fiction: “The Fine Art of Existence”

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“Maximizing Mercy” (Romans 9:1-18)

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maximizing mercy1I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying; my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my countrymen, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and daughters, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple service, and the promises; 5whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

Observation #1: God is historically for the Jews, became a Jew, & desires their salvation.

–Paul expressed concern for his fellow Jews by saying that he would willingly take their punishment if that could save them. While the only one who can save us is Christ, Paul showed a rare depth of love. Like Jesus, he was willing to sacrifice for others. How concerned are you for those who don’t know Christ? Are you willing to sacrifice your time, money, energy, comfort, and safety to see them come to faith in Jesus?Life Application Study Bible notes, Romans 9:1-3

–The Jews viewed God’s choosing of Israel in the Old Testament as being like adoption. They were undeserving and without rights as natural children. Yet God adopted them and granted them the status of his sons and daughters.Life Application Study Bible notes, Romans 9:4

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. — John 1:1, 14

Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” … Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” — John 8:24, 58

who wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.— 1 Timothy 2:4

and to Apphia our sister, and to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house: … and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for the sake of Christ. … I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I fathered in my imprisonment, who previously was useless to you, but now useful both to you and to me. — Philemon 2, 6, 10-11

looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, — Titus 2:13

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, — 2 Peter 1:2

6But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “Through Isaac your descendants shall be named.” 8That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. 9For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come, and Sarah will have a Son.” 10And not only that, but there was also Rebekah, when she had consceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; 11for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13Just as it is written: “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.”

Observation #2: God’s children are born into His family through faith according to His sovereign plan.

–God’s word in the form of beautiful covenant promises came to Abraham. Covenant people, the true children of Abraham, are not just his biological descendants. They are all those who trust in God and in what Jesus Christ has done for them (cf. Romans 2:29; Galatians 3:7)Life Application Study Bible notes, Romans 9:6

–The Jews were proud of the fact that their lineage came from Isaac, whose mother was Sarah (Abraham’s legitimate wife), rather than Ishmael, whose mother was Hagar (Sarah’s servant). Paul asserts that no one can claim to be chosen by God because of his or her heritage or good deeds. God freely chooses to save whomever he wills. The doctrine of election teaches that it is God’s sovereign choice to save us by his goodness and mercy, and not by our own merit.Life Application Study Bible notes, Romans 9:11

–Was it right for God to choose Jacob, the younger, to be over Esau? In Malachi 1:2-3, the statement “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” refers to the nations of Israel and Edom rather than to the individual brothers. God chose Jacob to continue the family line of the faithful because he knew his heart was for God. But he did not exclude Esau from knowing and loving him. Keep in mind the kind of God we worship: He is sovereign, he is not arbitrary; in all things he works for our good; he is trustworthy; he will save all who believe in him. When we understand these qualities of God, we know that his choices are good even if we don’t understand all his reasons.Life Application Study Bible notes, Romans 9:12-14

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, — John 1:12

They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. … You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies. — John 8:39, 44

just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love — Ephesians 1:4

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. — 1 John 1:8-9

14What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? Far from it! 15For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I have mercy, and I will show compassion to whomever I show compassion.” 16So then, it does not depend on the person who wants it nor the one who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very reason I raised you up, in order to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the earth.” 18So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

Observation #3: God uses those most opposed to Him to ensure His compassionate mercy reaches as many as possible.

–The fallacy of gaining salvation by human effort remains as strong as ever–people still think good intentions are the key to unlock the door to eternal life. By the time they get to try the lock, they will find that their key does not fit. Others imagine that their efforts are building an invisible ladder to heaven made up of service, family, position, reputation, good work, and desire, although none of these rungs will support a feather. People are so busy trying to reach God that they completely miss the truth that God has already reached down to them. We cannot earn God’s mercy–if we could, it would not be mercy.Life Application Study Bible notes, Romans 9:16

–Paul quotes from Exodus 9:16, where God foretold how Pharaoh would be used to declare God’s power. Paul uses this argument to show that salvation was God’s work, not ours. God’s judgment on Pharaoh’s choice to resist God was to confirm that sin had hardened his heart. The consequences of Pharaoh’s rebellion would be his own punishment.Life Application Study Bible notes, Romans 9:17-18

They said to him, “Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the Lord your God; for we have heard the report about Him and all that He did in Egypt, — Joshua 9:9

For the wrath of mankind shall praise You; You will encircle Yourself with a remnant of wrath. — Psalm 76:10

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. — 1 Corinthians 1:18, 24

Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. — 1 Corinthians 6:14

But we have this treasure in earthen containers, so that the extraordinary greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; — 2 Corinthians 4:7

who wants all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. — 1 Timothy 2:4

Application: Rest in the confidence that all who can be freely saved, will be in God’s sovereign merciful plan.

“What’s Love Got To Do With It?” (Romans 8:31-39)

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light in the dark31What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Observation #1: God will not entertain charges against us, because Jesus is defending us.

–Do you ever think that because you aren’t good enough for God, he will not save you? Do you ever feel as if salvation is for everyone else but you? Then these verses are especially for you. If God gave his Son for you, he isn’t going to hold back the gift of salvation. If Christ gave his life for you, he isn’t going to turn around and condemn you. He will not withhold anything you need to live for him. The book of Romans is more than a theological explanation of God’s redeeming grace–it is a letter of comfort and confidence addressed to you.Living Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:31-34

–Paul says that Jesus is interceding for us in heaven. God has acquitted us and has removed our sin and guilt, so it is Satan, not God, who accuses us. When he does, Jesus, our advocate, sits at God’s right hand to present our case.Living Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:34

35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Observation #2: God’s loving approval of us cannot be canceled by anyone or anything.

–These words were written to a church that would soon undergo terrible persecution. In just a few years, Paul’s hypothetical situations would turn into painful realities. This passage reaffirms God’s profound love for his people. No matter what happens to us, no matter where we are, we can never be separated from his love. Suffering should not drive us away from God, but help us to identify with him and allow his love to reach us and heal us.Living Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:35-36

–These verses contain one of the most comforting promises in all Scripture. Believers have always had to face hardships in many forms: persecution, illness, imprisonment, and even death. These sometimes cause them to fear that they have been abandoned by Christ. But Paul exclaims that it is impossible to be separated from Christ. His death for us is proof of his unconquerable love. Nothing can separate us from Christ’s constant presence with us. God tells us how great his love is so that we will feel totally secure in him. If we believe these overwhelming assurances, we will not be afraid.Living Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:35-39

Powers are unseen forces of evil in the universe, forces like Satan and his fallen angels (cf. Ephesians 6:12). In Christ we are super-conquerors, and his love will protect us from any such forces.Living Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:38

Application: Revel in God’s unquenchable love and live fearlessly confident as you are being conformed into Christ’s image through suffering.

“Groaning With God” (Romans 8:18-30)

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sorrow18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

1. By eagerly focusing on our future hope instead of our current experience.

–Sin has caused all creation to fall from the perfect state in which God created it. The world is subject to frustration and bondage to death and decay so that it cannot fulfill its intended purpose. One day all creation will be liberated and transformed. Until that time it wains in eager expectation for the resurrection of God’s children.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:19-22

–Christians see the world as it is–physically decaying and spiritually infected with sin. But Christians do not need to be pessimistic, because they have hope for future glory. They look forward to the new heaven and new earth that God has promised, and they wait for God’s new order that will free the world from sin, sickness, and evil. In the meantime, Christians go with Christ into the world where they heal people’s bodies and souls and fight the evil effects of sin in the world.Ibid

–We will be resurrected with glorified bodies like the body Christ now has in heaven (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:25-58). We have the “firstfruits”, the first installment or down payment of the Holy Spirit as guarantee of our resurrection life. (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:14)Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:23

–It is natural for children to trust their parents, even though parents sometimes fail to keep their promises. Our heavenly Father, however, never makes promises he won’t keep. Nevertheless, his plan may take more time than we expect. What are we waiting for? New bodies, a new heaven and new earth, rest and rewards, our eternal family and home, the absence of sin and suffering, and being face to face with Jesus! Rather than acting like impatient children as we wait for God’s will to unfold, we should place our confidence in God’s goodness and wisdom.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:24-25

–In Romans, Paul presents the idea that salvation is past, present, and future. It is past because we were saved the moment we believed in Jesus Christ as Savior; our new life (eternal life) begins at that moment. And it is present because we are being saved; this is the process of sanctification. But at the same time, we have not fully received all the benefits and blessings of salvation that will be ours when Christ’s new kingdom is completely established.Ibid

2. By joining God in groaning for redemption through prayer with the Spirit.

–As a believer, you are not left to your own resources to cope with problems. Even when you don’t know the right words to pray, the Holy Spirit prays with and for you, and God answers. With God helping you pray, you don’t need to be afraid to come before him. Ask the Holy Spirit to intercede for you “in accordance with the will of God.” Then, when you bring your requests to God, trust that he will always do what is best.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:26-27

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

1. To receive God’s greatest blessing in becoming like Jesus.

–God works in “all things”–not just isolated incidents–for our good. This does not mean that all that happens to us is good. Evil is prevalent in our fallen world, but God is able to turn every circumstance around for our long-range good. Note that God is Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:28

–God’s ultimate goal for us is to make us like Christ (cf. 1 John 3:2). As we become more and more like him, we discover our true selves, the persons we were created to be. How can we become like Christ? By reading and heeding the Word, by studying his life on earth through the Gospels, by spending time in prayer, by being filled with his Spirit, and by doing his work in the world.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:29

2. To be included in God’s new family to the praise of Jesus.

–Some believe these verses mean that before the beginning of the world, God chose certain people to receive his gift of salvation. They point of versus like Ephesians 1:11, which says we are “predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will”. Others believe that God knew in advance who would respond to him, and he set his mark on (predestined) them. What is clear is that God’s purpose for people was not an afterthought; it was settled before the foundation of the world. People are to serve and honor God. If you believe in Christ, you can rejoice in the fact that God has always known you. God’s love is eternal. His wisdom and power are supreme. He will guide and protect you until you one day stand in his presence.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:29-30

Called means “summoned or invited.”Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:30

Application: Replace a focus on current sufferings with our ultimate hope, groaning in agreement with the Spirit to be made more like Jesus.

“From Condemnation To Confidence!” (Romans 8:1-17)

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true freedom1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Observation #1: Through our union with Christ in the Spirit, His achievement becomes ours.

–“Not guilty; let him go free.” What would those words mean to you if you were on death row? The fact is that the whole human race is on death row, justly condemned for repeatedly breaking God’s holy law. Without Jesus we would have no hope at all. But thank God! He has declared us not guilty and has offered us freedom from sin and power to do his will.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:1

–This life-giving Spirit is the Holy Spirit. He was present at the creation of the world (cf. Genesis 1:2), and he is the power behind the rebirth of every Christian. He gives us the power we need to live the Christian life.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:2

–Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice (“sin offering”) for our sins. In Old Testamet times, animal sacrifices were continually offered at the temple. The sacrifices showed the Israelites the seriousness of sin: Blood had to be shed before sins could be pardoned (cf Leviticus 17:11). But the blood of animals could not really remove sins (cf. Hebrews 10:4). The sacrifices could only point to Jesus’ sacrifice, which paid the penalty for all sins.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:3

5Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. 9You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also gie life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

Observation #2: The Spirit gives us His perspective and enlivens us so we can please God.

–Paul divides people into two categories: those who are dominated by their sinful nature, and those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit. All of us would be in the first category if Jesus hadn’t offered us a way out. Once we have said yes to Jesus, we will want to continue following him, because his way brings life and peace. Daily we must consciously choose to center our life on God. Use the Bible to discover God’s guidelines, and then follow them. In every perplexing situation, ask yourself, “What would Jesus want me to do?” When the Holy Spirit points out what is right, do it eagerly.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:5-6

–Have you ever worried about whether or not you really are a Christian? A Christian is anyone who has the Spirit of God living in him or her. If you have sincerely trusted Christ for your salvation and acknowledged him as Lord, then the Holy Spirit lives within you and you are a Christian. You can be assured that you have the Holy Spirit because Jesus promised that he would send him. Since you now believe that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and that eternal life comes through him (cf. 1 John 5:5), you will begin to act as Christ directs (cf. Galatians 5:22-23); you will find help in your daily problems and in your praying (cf. Romans 8:26-27); you will be empowered to serve God and do his will (cf. Acts 1:8; Romans 12:6-21); and you will become part of God’s plan to build up his church (cf. Ephesians 4:12-13).Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:9

–The Holy Spirit is God’s promise or guarantee of eternal life for those who believe in him. The Spirit is within us now by faith, and by faith we are certain to live with Christ forever (cf. Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14; 1 Thessalonians 4:14)Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:11

12Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation–but is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. 14For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the Children of God. 15The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received bought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father. 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Observation #3: The Spirit proves we are God’s by fueling our witness in light of eternity!

–When we turn away from sin’s appeal in the Holy Spirit’s power, regarding sin as dead, we can ignore temptation when it comes (cf. Romans 6:11; Galatians 5:24)Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:13

–Paul uses adoption to illustrate the believer’s new relationship with God. In Roman culture, the adopted person lost all rights in his old family and gained all the rights of a legitamate child in his new family. He became a full heir to his new father’s estate. Likewise, when a person becomes a Christian, he or shee gains all the privileges and responsibilities of a child in God’s family. One of these outstanding privileges is being led by the Spirit (cf. Galatians 4:5-6). We may not always feel as though we belong to God, but the Holy Spirit is our witness. His inward presence reminds us of who we are and encourages us with God’s love.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:14-17

–We are no longer like fearful slaves; instead, we are the Master’s children. Wht a privilege! Because we are God’s children, we share in great treasures as co-heirs. God has already given us his best gifts: his Son, his Holy Spirit, forgiveness, and eternal life; and he encourages us to ask him for whatever we need.Ibid

–There is a price for being identified with Jesus. Along with being “heirs of God”, Paul also mentions the suffering that Christians must face. What kinds of suffering are we to endure? For first-century believers, there was economic and social persecution, and some even faced death. We, too, must pay a price for following Jesus. In many parts of today’s world, Christians face pressures just as severe as those faced by Christ’s first followers. Even in countries where Christianity is tolerated or encouraged, Christians must not become complacent. To live as Jesus did–serving others, giing up one’s rights, resisting pressures to conform to the world–always exacts a price. Nothing we suffer, however, can compare to the great price that Jesus paid to save us.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 8:17

Application: Walk with confidence in Christ, enlivened by His Spirit, while pleasing Him in anticipation of eternity!

“The War Within” (Romans 7:7-25)

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inner conflict7What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. 9Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

Observation #1: The Law reveals and diagnoses our true condition.

–Where there is no law, there is no sin, because people cannot know that their actions are sinful unless a law forbids those actions. God’s law makes people realize that they are sinners doomed to die, yet it offers no help. Sin is real, and it is dangerous. Imagine a sunny day at the beach. You plunge into the surf; then you notice a sign on the pier: “No swimming. Sharks in water.” Your day is ruined. Is it the sign’s fault? Are you angry with the people who put it up? The law is like the sign. It is essential, and we are grateful for it–but it doesn’t get rid of the sharks.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 7:9-11

–Sin deceives people by misusing the law. The law was holy, expressing God’s nature and will for people. In the Garden of Eden, the serpent deceived Eve by taking her focus off the freedom she had and putting it on the one restriction God has made. Ever since then, we have all been rebels. Sin looks good to us precisely because God has said it is wrong. When we are tempted to rebel, we need to look at the law from a wider perspective–in the light of God’s grace and mercy. If we focus on his great love for us, we will understand that he only restricts us from actions and attitudes that ultimately will harm us.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 7:11-12

13Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. 14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Observation #2: Our old nature desires sin, while our new nature desires Christ.

–Paul shares three lessons that he learned in trying to deal with his sinful desires: 1) Knowledge of the rules is not the answer. Paul felt fine as long as he did not understand what the law demanded. When he learned the truth, he knew he was doomed. 2) Self-determination (struggling in one’s own strength) doesn’t succeed. Paul found himself sinning in ways that weren’t even attractive to him. 3) Becoming a Christian does not stamp out all sin and temptation from a person’s life. Being born again takes a moment of faith, but becoming like Christ is a lifelong process. Paul compares Christian growth to a strenuous race or fight (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 2 Timothy 4:7). Thus, as Paul has been emphasizing since the beginning of this letter, no one in the world is innocent; no one deserves to be saved–not the pagan who doesn’t know God’s laws, not the person who knows them and tries to keep them. All of us must depend totally on the work of Christ for our salvation. We cannot earn it by our good behavior.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 7:15

–This is more than the cry of one desperate man–it describes the experience of anyone struggling against sin or trying to please God by keeping rules and laws without the Spirit’s help. We must never underestimate the power of sin. We must never attempt to fight it in our own strength. Satan is a crafty tempter, and we have an amazing ability to make excuses. Instead of trying to overcome sin with human willpower, we must take hold of the tremendous power of Christ that is available to us. This is God’s provision for victory over sin: He sends the Holy Spirit to live in us and give us power. And when we fall, he lovingly reaches out to help us up.Ibid

21So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Observation #3: The antidote to our inability is the grace of God.

–The “law at work in me” is the sin deep within us. This is our vulnerability to sin; it refers to everything within us that is more loyal to our old way of selfish living than to God.Life Application Bible study notes, Romans 7:23-25

–There is great tension in daily Christian experience. The conflict is that we agree with God’s commands but cannot do them. As a result, we are painfully aware of our sin. This inward struggle with sin was as real for Paul as it is for us. From Paul we learn what to do about it. Whenever he felt overwhelmed by the spiritual battle, he would return to the beginnings of his spiritual life, remembering how he had been freed from sin by Jesus Christ. When we feel confused and overwhelmed by sin’s appeal, let us claim the freedom Christ gave us. His power can lift us to victory.Ibid

Application: Admit in prayer that apart from God’s grace you cannot obey Him!

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