Here is Love: Here is Power – Romans 8:13

The Zombie King by *Rhazcrossbones
The Zombie King by *Rhazcrossbones

Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

How are you going to live?

So what if you live according to your emotions, thoughts, feelings, and instincts? I feel like this is the right thing to do. This is the wrong thing to do but I am in love. This is what my heart is saying.

There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
1

The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
2

You don’t need me to hand-picked Scriptures to tell you that we are all going to die. So is this what Paul is referring to, a physical death? Not likely because the context of all of Romans. Paul was not contending for your physical bodily health. Paul didn’t do it and neither did Christ.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” 3

Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 4

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 5

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him. And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 6

Even when Christ dealt with physical death when he raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11, notice that he didn’t command Death to stand down. No! He calls out Lazarus from Death. He doesn’t dismiss Death directly but he overtakes Death by giving life unto death. All of John 11 is a parallel between physical death that we know here on earth and the reality of our spirit without God.

In order to have life—and not just ‘life’ marked by a pulse in our necks or air in and out of our lungs—but rather to be truly alive and abundantly alive we are going to need the same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead and gave Him life. You can have Him., that is, if you believe in the One who was raised from the dead.

This is a hard saying. Right now, kids call this truth just a “story about zombies and their zombie king.” Some people think it’s ha-ha funny. I don’t mind the extremely weak parallels for some good yucks but be extremely careful that your mind has reduced this incredible, weighty, absolute truth into funny bit—that you ended up searing your conscience, hardening your heart, or worse still, inoculating yourself to the gospel of God like so many of our younger generation has done.

So what can do? We can do nothing.

Try to live by your own power? One, it’s impossible. Two, if it appears that you are succeeding on your own, then you will be filled with pride and that is an abomination to the Lord. Then try to present your self-righteousness to the Almighty God and don’t be surprised when he dismisses you as he never knew you as you sit there holding a pile of filthy rags. 7

Our only hope is to trust in the one who gives power. Your sin, your iniquity, your transgressions, and your wickedness will lay nearby waiting to overtake you and devour you. Sometimes that’s why when we don’t struggle with recent past sins, we think we have beaten it. Maybe. In my experience, it only comes back stronger and more hardcore.

Paul cries out, “Wretched person that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” It is until we are standing face-to-face with Christ or He comes to take us home, that is when will be completely free from the bondage of corruption. Is there any hope now? Yes, most assuredly, yes! Praise be to Christ Jesus, who fulfilled His promise that He made to us. That is, when Christ went back to the Father, he sent the same Spirit of God who was with Christ as He lived in power; the same Spirit of God that was with Christ with great exceeding joy made his way to the cross; the same Spirit of God that raised Christ from the dead and the same Spirit of God that ascended Christ to the right of the Father. Christ sent the Holy Spirit to those who believe and trust in Christ.

By all that God has done, we get this same Holy Spirit. By receiving Him, we now have the power to live and not die. We have the righteousness of God and not the corruption of sin. We have the holiness of God because God has declared us to be holy by the person and finished work of Jesus Christ marked by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

Not only do we have life but we have been given the power to live. That is love.

Series: Intrigued by the postmodern oft-used answer of “God is love”, by just by digging a little deeper, what I have learned is that people usually mean, “Love is God”. But this begs the question: what is love? To that end, I began writing a series that answers that question.

Notes:

  1. Proverbs 16:25
  2. Jeremiah 17:9
  3. John 11:25-27
  4. John 14:19-20
  5. John 3:16
  6. John 6:51-69
  7. Proverbs 16:5; Matthew 7:21-23; Isaiah 64:6

Here is Love: You Can’t Give a Dead Man Anything – Romans 8:12

r_shockwave027Romans 8:12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.

What is the debt?

In other words, what is there to give to our old life. What do we owe to our former cold hearts of stone? How can you give dead man anything? Paul said it already in Romans 6:

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 1

You now desire God. God has exchanged your death for his life because he took his Son’s life and gave him your death.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2

You no longer have death. You no longer have sin. You no longer have that old self. You no longer have that cancer-filled heart of stone and ice.

For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 3

If that be true, then what do we owe to our old selves? Nothing.

And since you are fully and truly alive, that means you have already received this good and gracious gift of life from God. Listen, receiving Jesus Christ is not the same as getting Shockwave for Christmas back in 1987. As awesome as Shockwave is, this is a gift that can never be broken by your kid brother or anybody else in all of creation.

You have the love of the Only True God who thought of you before all of  creation, who was mindful of you for all of eternity, who loved you, who had his heart set on you, who created you, who paid your debt of sin (which is death), who pursued you, who called you, who saved you, who is nurturing you, and one day, will bring you to him and be with him forever.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 4

You were once in Adam. In Adam, you were an enemy of God and you sat under his just wrath.

You are now in Christ. In Christ, you are a friend of God and you sit under his banner of love, life, joy, and pleasures forevermore.

They went each to his own house, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” 5

Go and sin no more.

Notes:

  1. Romans 6:6-8
  2. 2 Corinthians 5:21
  3. Romans 6:10-11
  4. Galatians 2:20
  5. John 7:53-8:11

Here is Love: Logic – Romans 8:11

Thinking-Mind_of_Man

What is certain?

This is certain: if you have the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from dead, dwells in you, you have life.

How can we be certain that we have the Spirit of God in us? How can we know? Can we know?

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. 1

Wait, what about now? Is Jesus Christ glorified now? A little while later in John’s Gospel, we read:

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 2

So how do we get this Spirit? How do I have the Jesus-Christ-raising Spirit of God in me?

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 3

So, if I change my mind about my sin and about sin itself, and turn to God, I will receive this gift of the Holy Spirit. Is it possible that God would say, “No” to me because I have sinned too greatly?

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” 4

Wait a second! What about blaspheming the Holy Spirit? Christ said that blaspheming the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin. (Matthew 12:31-32) Is it possible that I blasphemed the Holy Spirit?

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 5

You were ignorant of the Holy Spirit. How can you blaspheme someone you do not know? First, you would have to know the Holy Spirit and specifically attack and blaspheme the Holy Spirit. Did you do this? Did you know the Holy Spirit or thought you did?

However, you ask these questions. Do you think these questions come from your intelligence, emotions and will or from God on high?

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 6

Here is logic:

  1. For you to live, you must have the Spirit of God in you.
  2. For you to receive the Spirit of God, all you need to do is turn to God and ask Him.
  3. If you ask Him for His Spirit or in other words, if you go to God, ask for God, you are going to get God.

God, in his infinite power and awesome might, does not possess the ability to deny Himself to those who have turned to Him ask Him for Him. We could call that ‘inability’ to deny Himself to those who would ask for Him. However, instead of inability, the correct term would be love. In other words: Because God is love, God will not and cannot deny Himself to those who turn to Him and ask for Him. You are going to get Him. What else can we say to that? That is love.

Notes:

  1. John 7:37-39
  2. John 13:31
  3. Acts 2:38
  4. Luke 11:9-13
  5. 1 Timothy 1:12-14
  6. Matthew 16:15-17

Here is Love: Our Sin is Death, Our God is Life – Romans 8:10

mr_perfectRomans 8:10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

What is righteousness?

Righteousness is when you are constantly, consistently, always perfect. It is continuous thread of how God is able to do everything: love, create, judge, save, redeem, rescue, glorify.

None of us, any human being, born of Adam, is able to claim righteousness as our own. In other words, we cannot stand before the Perfect Judge and declare ourselves “INNOCENT!” when our experiences, actions, decisions, thoughts, ideas, intentions, and those around us would betray our proclamation. Even if the conscience is seared and the mind is willful to forget or downplay our misdeeds, the deeds are still done and death is all around us.

The law of God exposes this brokenness. There was a time when we didn’t need the law. But the law is necessary because of the sin in our lives and the lives around us. This world is jacked up. It is impossible for you to say, “it is not” when you have a gunman walk through an elementary school and gun down school children. In light of that, for you to say, “It is not” is the suppressing of truth and the searing of your own conscience. This alone is sin. This alone is unrighteousness.

Furthermore, the law of God goes beyond what you have done wrong or what you failed to do right but it actually reveals the perfection of God himself. The law exposes those things that are true on our hearts. What if we never knew the law of God? Are we to be judged still? Paul says so in Romans 2 that those without the law still have a conscience and that conscience can speak to what is right and wrong.

In ourselves, in our own might and in our life, we have no way to be righteous before God and yet, God’s very presence demands righteousness. Some would contend,  “I don’t want God so why would I contend to be with him?” This is true. But to say you want nothing to do with God is to agree with his judgment upon you and agree to be apart from him forever. Sin has broken us all. Sin has shattered our lives. God is far above and apart from sin. He alone is the refuge and safe place from the brokenness around us.

Here’s the hope of the Christian: all that is broke will now be fixed. For a moment, if you think that the Christian simply wanted unrestricted gun laws, abortions to be illegal, or a Republican president, then how shallow must our thinking and lives must be. But the Christian hopes in Christ alone because life—eternal life filled with joy and endless pleasures—was the way things should have been.

In other words, you might say to yourself, “Perfection is impossible—Even I started right now, there is no way I can be perfect.” You are right. Furthermore, if you have deluded yourself thinking you can be perfect for the rest of your life, think about this: Then why are you still going to die? Righteousness is perfection not because of a high mark to achieve but it is the bare minimum standard to abide by for life itself. It is not that we have all missed the high mark, as though it is a world record to be beaten, but rather all of us fail to meet the minimum requirement of life:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 1

That is a crushing, despairing truth.

However, the gospel of Christ is not reduced down to what we have done or not done but all because of Christ has done for us. Our failures and sin is surrounded, covered, and washed away by God’s righteous, perfect love:

Romans 3:21-26 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

You might be asking yourself, How do I get this righteousness? I need someone else’s righteousness.

You and I and we need someone else’s righteousness. in order to live. In order to live, we are going to need someone else’s life.

God speaks. He has spoken and it was recorded in the Scriptures.

And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. 2

Believe what God has said and He will give you His own righteousness so that you can be with Him and enjoy Him forever. Enjoy the source of all truth, all good, all satisfaction, all life, all peace, all joy, and all pleasures forever.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 3

The question bares to be asked: Is Christ in you?

If Christ is in you, then you have life. If you have life, then you have God. That is love like none other.

Notes:

  1. Romans 3:23
  2. Genesis 15:6
  3. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Here is Love: Never Alone, Can’t Do It Alone – Romans 8:9

"Winter Loneliness" - Dominique Jost
“Winter Loneliness” – Dominique Jost

Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

In modern times, we tend to talk about mankind’s achievements and possibilities. To the modern mind, humans have achieved so much and therefore, mankind’s possibilities are endless. Likewise, to the individual, we can achieve anything. All we need to do is to work hard enough and get a good education.

Did your mom tell you that? My grandmother certainly did: “You can do anything if you set your mind to it.” We can all becoming the President, lawyers, doctors, or millionaires or whatever we want.

But once we stopped thinking like a child, we quickly realized that we can’t do whatever we “set our minds to”. I could have been in hockey all of my life but that would have not turned me into a NHL player. We have all quickly figured out that individuals have gifts, talents and desires and this coupled with focus and will is what shapes us into what we want for ourselves.

But what about absolute truth? What about knowing who God is or even, if there is a God? What about being saved to God apart from this God? Can we achieve even these things?

Ah, the modern yet broken mind falls tragically short of being able to actually know God. This is where our free wills lack the power to close in on the infinite distance between us and God. This is where the highest IQ or EQ gets you no closer to God than one crippled with a brain injury that left him with the mental capacity of a two year old.

Can we obtain absolute truths? This is where the post-modern starts off right. We can’t. However, they like to throw their hands up and quit trying. Absolute truths are held by God who is the source of all truths. Absolute truths include God, his love, his being, his purpose, and his will. And the only way for you or I or any of the billions upon billions of people who have lived or will ever have lived know the absolute truth of God is if God and God alone reveals Himself to us.

The wise and the foolish.
The strong and the weak.
The rich and the poor.
The black and the white.
Nothing of what you were born into or achieved in this life will obtain God.

However, to his imagebearers.
To the ones he created in the image and likeness of Himself.
To ones who were led astray.
To the ones who were born under His wrath.
To the ones who are far from him—

He sent His Son Jesus Christ to live as we should have lived—by the power of the Holy Spirit—and died, buried and rose from death in our place for our sins. It is the same Spirit that descended from God himself and rested upon Christ is the same exact Spirit that reveals the love and glory of God. It is the same Spirit that opened up your eyes to see God. It is the same Spirit that opened up your ears to hear God. It is the same Spirit that unclouded your mind in order to know God. It is the same Spirit that removed your heart of stone and gave you a new soft heart from God so that you would have new desires and your new desires are for Him.

Apart from God, we cannot get God. I sincerely hope you know that. Not many people do know that or they live their lives in such a way that they can achieve God as though He is some sort of endboss in a video game. God alone has to reveal Himself to you and you cannot possibly dwell on God and want God without God giving His Spirit to you.

Without Him, we are apart from Him. With Him, we get to have Him and enjoy Him forever.

Stop thinking and doing things in order to achieve Him. In order to receive God, all you got to do is ask for Him. If you ask Him for Him, he will always say, “Yes”:

Luke 11:9-10  And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

Here is Love: I Cannot Go On Without You – Romans 8:8

disconnectedRomans 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Is this true?

We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
1

as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside;
together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
2

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 3

Would it not be the very definition of love if God would let us decide how to be saved apart from His just wrath? Would it be lovely of the Father that we got to choose which path we got to go to God? That within the brokenness of our minds, in the rottenness of our bodies, and in the death-nay, the non-existence-of our spirits, that we possessed the right amount of goodness in order to choose God and approach God to ask God to save us?

Logically, think about it. If you are trying to get to God, then how can you do that without God? In other words, if the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, how is that possible if your spirit is dead? Who can the Spirit of God bear witness about when there is nothing to bear witness about in the first place? Furthermore, if we do not have His Spirit, how can we understand the gifts that are given to us by God, namely, His Son, Jesus Christ? If we have no spirit but just the flesh, then we cannot comprehend the Spirit.

There are many spirits of this world. But that’s just it, these spirits are of the world and they do not point back to God. There is one Spirit that is not only of God by God for God but much more, He is God and that is the Holy Spirit.

What hope do we have without the Spirit? Our only hope and the hope of the entire world rests upon whom the Spirit descended from heaven and rested upon and that man is Jesus Christ.

Do you want to speak about love? In the greatest love ever, God sent His begotten Son, Jesus Christ, in order through him the world might be saved. Not might as in mere possibility but might as in “now they will be saved”. For all those who would believe in Christ Jesus and call upon His name, He has been mindful of them, loved them from forever, thought about them, yearned for them, and fell in joyous love with them as He paved a way to the cross so that He could go back to the Father and that the Father would send His Spirit to them who believed in Him.

The Father knew that even if the humans had infinite IQs, they would never be able to figure out how to get to God.

The Spirit knew that all of our good works could not overcome the depths of sin with our hearts and that there would be no way we could commune with God.

The Son knew all of this and being the Only God with the will, love, and power to save, He saved us according to His own mercy and by His great love.

We don’t have a lot of choices for a joy-filled, endless pleasurable life. In fact, there is only one Way and that is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. It might be the only Way but think about this: it is the sure-fired Way. It is such a rock-solid guarantee that not even the omnipotent God himself can undo the Way because order for God to take away that Way, he would have to undo or remove Himself. Logically, He set it up so that you know there would never be any way of God going back on what He has done. Some would call that genius. Others would call that relief. For the entire world, that is what we call love.

Notes:

  1. Isaiah 64:6
  2. Romans 3:10-12
  3. Romans 3:23

Here is Love: Despite Our Limitations – Romans 8:7

healingthebrokenmindRomans 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

What is Paul suggesting here? That the mind that is not renewed by the Spirit of God cannot possibly obey God’s law? So does that mean we are not breaking the law of God and therefore sinless before God?Absolutely, not!

The mind of man is broken. It is cracked. It does not think as well as it can.

At one time, the mind of man could think to its potential. However, when sin entered into the cosmos, everything shifted from eternal life to destiny of death. We know this because all of nature corrodes and dies. We know this because we drop a glass on a harden floor and it shatters into a thousand pieces. We know this because our bodies get older and weaker if we are so fortunate. For some, we are wrecked with sickness and disease. For some, we do not make it out of the mother’s womb alive.

If that is the case for all of nature and mankind, why it would not be so for our minds? Why wouldn’t our minds be just as broken?

Have we sat and thought about our thinking? Do we know how we know things? How do we know things?

For those who know God, how do you know God?

Is it through some sort of intelligence quotient? If so, what is the minimum IQ for knowing God? Already we see the absurdity of asking such a question, as though anyone with such little intelligence cannot possibly know God. But we know that God has taken the “foolish of the world in order to shame the wise.” 1

To that end, by the absurdity of such a question, we can easily dismiss any notion of studying or education in order to become a Christian. As C.S. Lewis so aptly says that “Christianity needs no special education to be a Christian is that Christianity is an education itself. That is why an uneducated believer like Bunyan was able to write a book that has astonished the whole world. 2

For the foolish and the wise, for the not-so-smart and the smart, and for the handicapped and the savant, our salvation rests not in our intelligence (which was given to us by God) but rather, rests in the finished work and person of Jesus Christ by the will of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit alone.

But we are born with these broken minds, are we not? Some have accepted this and take one step closer to knowing God. There are some who have been blessed with a wealth of intelligence, knowledge, or wisdom might find that truth pill a bit hard to swallow. But if the will can override the wealth that you have been given and swallow the truth, then you might find the poison of pride and arrogance starting to be purged from your soul.

Your understanding of the God’s law will not save you. Your understanding of the Scriptures will not save you.

For if you understood the Scriptures, you would know that they point to the only One who gives life after death:

John 5:39-40  “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

Our minds, apart from God, cannot think on God. Not rightfully so. The world and its greatest minds have tried to find another path to God either by denying him, saying the lack of proof that he is real, or proclaiming lies and half-truths about Him.

The truth is that there are an infinite number of ways to get to God but every single one of them goes through and suffers His incredible wrath. All paths lead to God’s wrath. But there is one singular way in which that wrath is absorbed by the person walking the and that is God Himself in Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior.

Here is the incredible grace of God: if you accept that to be true, know that to be true, believe that to be true, and have staked your life on that truth, then my beloved, you have been given the Holy Spirit, which has given you the understanding of the gift of God. No studying, no books, no degrees and no amount of education could ever produce faith in God. For it is that the Holy Spirit gave you the ability to understand and now your eyes now see, your ear now hears, and your new heart now loves. 3

What kind of foolishness is that? That is love.

Notes:

  1. 1 Corinthians 1:27
  2. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity. HarperSanFrancisco, 2001. 78.
  3. 1 Corinthians 2:6-16

Here is Love: Despite Us For Us – Romans 8:5-6

Broken worldRomans 8:5-6 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

What is the flesh?

Is it something inherently evil? Is it that this body cannot do anything right? As it is written:

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 1

No. It is not the fact that the flesh—our bodies, our thoughts, our hearts, our wills—are evil and therefore incapable of doing good. Our bodies were created by God and God himself declared His creation to be good. But it is that our flesh is apart from God and separated from God which makes our bodies incapable of doing good.

But what of the people who do good who have no love, no knowledge, and no faith in Christ? Don’t they do good? Don’t they adopt orphans? Don’t they give to the poor? Christians don’t have exclusive claims to good. No, we don’t but God does. God is good and all things from him are good. God sets the standard of what is good. But that standard, God’s law, is beyond any mere checklist—do these things and you can be with Him. Anybody can do a checklist. But the question is, “Do you want to be with God?  Do you love God? Do you trust God? Do you believe God and take him at his Word?” Those are not mere matters of the flesh but those are the matters of the heart.

Good deeds are messed up in our fallen, broken world. The end result might be good but why do we do things that we do? If I do good in order to do things my way, or to buy into false notion that I am the one in charge, is it still good? The immediate end is good. The orphan is adopted. The homeless are home. The hungry are fed. But all good things come from God and even to those who believe and do not believe he still does good to them. But what about the eternity good?  Let me ask it in another way, “What about the eternity good for you?” You do good things but you despise or at worst, apathetic, towards the source of all good? You give mercy but you don’t want anything to do with the Being who defines mercy? You bestow grace but you ignore the lavisher of amazing grace? You love others but you have separated yourself from the One who is Love?

This is the mind apart from God. This is our bodies apart from God. This is our souls apart from God.

And something inn our minds thinks that we are the source of good, mercy, grace, and love.

My friends that is death. To think of us as the source of these good things is death. That is the mind that is set upon the flesh—the mind that is set upon itself. Here is logic: anything that is the sources for itself will die. Here is reason: anything that has separated itself from the source of life will die. Here is fact: we are separated from God and we are clueless and powerless to connect ourselves back to God.

Yet, here is goodness, here is mercy, and here is grace:
And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. 2

From birth, our minds, our wills, our hearts, our flesh are focused on one destiny: death. We are turned away from God, set ourselves apart from, want nothing to do with God, and do not love God.

But here is love: God’s mind was thinking you long before the human race came into existence. Before the mountains were formed and the formation of the stars in the sky, God thought of you and had his mind made up about you despite what you thought or what you would do.

And here is love: God knew your mind and your heart unto death, and made the decision to step into our lives to give us life and do so abundantly.

And here is love: God’s heart is for the fatherless, the husbandless and the homeless. In absolute truth, if we are without God, we are orphans, widows, and strangers. Yet God, in his sweet mercy, and loving-kindness, comes after us in the darkness, brings light to our dying lives, calls us His own children, brings into the warmth of bosom, and never lets us go forevermore.

Our world fails to live up to the God who is love.  But the God who is love does it all to give us life and has, is, and one day, make all things new and right with Him—including this cosmos, including this world, and including our flesh, our minds, our hearts, and our bodies.

Certainly, that is love.

Notes:

  1. Romans 7:18
  2. Exodus 33:19

Here is Love: No One Else Can Do – Romans 8:3-4

Romans 8:3-4 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

What is the law?

The world wants to look upon the Bible and see how hard it is to be a Christian.  I guess in a way that is fair. Over 600 laws to follow? Yes!  (No, not really.) Some tell you how to worship or not worship. Some tell you what you can’t and can’t do on certain days. Some tell you when you can have sex or with whom you can have sex with. It is really fair to say that each of those laws, for any number of reasons, really grates against any number of cultures for any given period of time. Not only do we have laws of the land, but we have these additional laws that looms over us given to us by some Divine Being that may be real or not real.

But okay, there many, many laws and yet I don’t see any of my Christian neighbors sacrificing bulls or goats or pigeons.  So, there are laws we get to pick and choose? That is rather convenient.

It is convenient but when we know the entire story, we know it is not that convenient.

Let’s rethink the law. What if the law wasn’t a bunch of rules to follow and if you break any one of them, you will suffer consequences. I know, that is quite true on one level. But what if the laws, in this case the laws of our spirituality, true essence, true purpose and true reality, were not just rules but rather a list that pointed back to the God of the universe.

Go back to Genesis 2.

Genesis 2:15-17 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

To the average person, that law is pretty straight forward: don’t eat from that freakin’ tree or you will die.

To the mind of the Spirit, that law serves to point back to the Creator God: eat from that freakin’ tree and you will be separated from the One who is life and who gives life.

That singular law, first given to Adam and then passed on to Eve, was not the glue that kept Mankind connected to God but rather, it was God keeping the connection to Man. Here’s the catch: God is without sin. In other words, God can do without traitorous acts against Him. Logically, that makes sense. You oppose God and God can and does do without your opposition. Furthermore, God cannot tolerate sin. It is affront to His character. It is like eating a piece of sushi that has been left out on the counter for 7 days straight. Would you put that into your body? Absolutely not. Likewise with God, sin has no place in his locale. It is not that he is afraid of it, or it’s too much for him to handle or even he is restricted by its power but for the simple fact, he doesn’t have to deal with it. It is not that God is holy because of sin but rather God is holy despite any ounce of sin left in the universe.

Sin is not natural. Therefore, God will move to (technically speaking, has already) eradicated sin. Long before sin was a part of our world and our lives and long after it is no more, God is still holy.

Sometimes we think that as messed up and jacked up as we are, God should let us be with him despite our condition. But by our very messed up nature, we don’t want any part of God or be with God. Be honest with yourself, unbeliever, do you want to be with God? Do you want to live with him? Do you want everything about him. Or do you want him to change even a little bit even though he is eternally perfect and you are far from? Or do you want any good stuff that he might have for you and then not have anything to do with him later on.

Born human, we all want God to change for our behalf. We all want God to give us good stuff and to leave us alone. But, God, in his amazing love, lavishes his love for us all. We all live in his wonderful grace. We get to go to the countryside and breathe in amazing clean air. We get eat delicious foods. We are entertained to our heart’s delight. We get to fall in love, be loved, and love others. We get enjoy sex! We get to marry whomever we want! We get to have kids or not have kids. We get it all.

All these good things come from God. That is his grace and we live in it. We all do.

Then, God sends his law through one man for the rest of the world to come back to him. The world responds, “This is way too hard!” God knows.

Funny thing is that we can treat the law as a giant checklist and we are still not saved. We are as empty as seashells. We might then rebel against the law and figure out something else to do and indulge in and still come up empty.

God sent the law but the law was never meant to save. Oh, it is holy. It is holy because every single one of those laws keeps pointing back to the God who is holy.

Yet, God saves. God sends someone to perfectly fulfill his own law—not for bragging rights but to live the life we were supposed to live and could not. The law only pointed to God. God sends Himself as His Son in the man Jesus Christ. Christ fulfills the law. Christ points to God. Christ tells the world, “This is the way, the truth, and the life. Come this way in order to get to God.1

In other words, in order for Man to get to God, God has to be the way to God by the way of God through God by God for God alone.

For the grandiose, lofty, weighty thing that is the law of God, it is terribly weak. On its best day, it saved no one. But then again, the law was never meant to save . But something more grandiose, more lofty, more weighty came into our history—that is the glory of Jesus Christ.

And in all of his splendor and majesty, he made himself to be just like the ones he wanted to save.  Not just the human part but everything that comes with humanity—humanity and their sins as well. That was key. Sins have to be removed. Because of the finished work of Christ on the cross, wrath was absorbed, sins were removed, Spirit was poured out, righteousness was made ours, peace was given, adoption was finalized, mercy was renewed, grace abounded, and love flowed freely to his people forever.

Not saved by law. Not saved by a bunch of rules. Not saved in our own power. Not saved by our own efforts. Not saved by our own strength. Saved alone by love—love of the only God who is love. That is love.

Notes:

  1. John 14:6