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By Edward O’Hara
First, I want to wish everyone a happy resurrection day! Our Lord is risen! He is alive! He is risen indeed! And because He has risen we who have believed in Him and His resurrection have eternal life. Because we are no longer just flesh and blood mortal beings. We are spiritual beings who inherit a spiritual kingdom. Hallelujah!
In today’s message I want to show how our thinking must change in order that we understand and know the God who made us and His deliverance from death to life. After all, Paul taught that we are to renew our minds in Rom.12:2. And Isaiah said in Is.55:8 that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. And neither are God’s ways our ways. So changing the way we think is a priority if we are to know Him and the power of His deliverance. Because we do now want to be as those who Paul said have a form of godliness but deny it’s power.
For this to happen we must learn to think as God does about sin and righteousness. We must stop thinking like the “old man”, the “carnal man”, that Paul says was “crucified with Christ” if we have believed in Jesus. And begin thinking like the “new man”, the “spiritual man”, since we have been raised with Him. This means we must not think in terms of the law with it’s temporary ordinances in regard to sin and righteousness. We must now begin to think in terms of God’s love and grace when we define things like sin and righteousness.
And we will do this mostly by understanding the law’s place in history. Paul says in Gal.3:19 that the law was given because of transgressions. And while this does address all the transgressions the law defines, in this context Paul was specifically addressing the transgressions that would interfere with the coming of the promised Messiah by affecting the bloodline that He was to be born through. This is why he said the law was given “till faith came”.
So in this context Paul taught that the purpose of the law for Israel was to keep their purely human bloodline purely human. Done so by keeping Israel from marrying people who practiced idolatry from the nations that were around them. Because in their idolatrous practices they were having relationships with demons just as Gen.6 says was happening that brought the flood. Something God describes as “iniquity” that when it came to the full caused God to send Israel to destroy every last last living thing of them. As God warned in Gen.3 saying the seed of the serpent would be at enmity with the seed of the woman. And as we see later that it was this enmity that was the cause of the flood in Noah’s day. And the destruction of the cities in Lot’s day. And the reason the law was given to Israel.
Like I said, all this was to insure a purely human bloodline for Jesus to come into the world through. As Heb.2 shows that only one who is a fully human being could die the same death all humans do. And only by dying a man’s death could God through Jesus Christ conquer man’s death by the resurrection. Which is the reason Jesus came.
So the law was not for the purpose of defining God’s character as many would have us believe. It was a temporary provision given to keep Israel’s bloodline pure “till faith came”(Gal.3:19). And now that faith has come Paul says Israel is no longer under the schoolmaster of the law. But, now just as it is for all men all who have come to a saving faith in Jesus, all who are truly saved are now led by God’s Holy Spirit that lives inside of every believer.
So there is no more need for the law for God’s people. And with the added bonus that we find in Rom.5:13 we see that the sins defined by the law are not imputed because there is no law. Because those who were once under the law are now under grace. And being now led by God’s Holy Spirit, and not the law, those who were once under the law are now God’s children under grace as Rom.6:14 and 8:14 plainly says. Because they who were under the law are now under grace. So that they are no longer kept shut up unto the faith as Gal.3:23 says they were while under the law. But, now being born of the Spirit are His children who are now heirs to God’s kingdom.
But, what about where Paul says “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord”? Isn’t Paul saying that sin is breaking God’s law? And that if we commit these sins the wages of that is death? Or what about where John says “Sin is the transgression of the law”? Isn’t John saying sin is breaking God’s law? And that those who do so are of the devil?
I can see how someone may mistake what these apostles taught here to mean sin is defined as law breaking. But, this is far from the intent of either Paul or John here. To the contrary, they are showing us the difference between how sin was defined when they were under the law. And how sin is defined now that they are under grace. And what sin men are accountable before God for now since all men are now under grace.
Beginning with what Paul said in the ensuing verses we see he is speaking to Israelites who know the law. And Paul compares a relationship to the law in the Old Covenant with a relationship with Jesus in the New Covenant. So when he says “The wages of sin is death” he is explaining their relationship to the law when they are under it when they are in the Old Covenant. But, when he says “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus” he is explaining their relationship with God in the New Covenant.
He goes on to show them that as long as they are joined to the law by being schooled by it to keep it they are not free to be joined with Christ. And that only after the law is dead to them as a husband must be dead are they free to marry another. “Even Him who is raised from the dead”. Rom.7:4.
In 1John we see a similar defining of a relationship to the law compared to a relationship with Jesus under grace. John says “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” So just as Paul said “the wages of sin is death”, so John is saying whoever transgresses the law sins and is under it’s judgment. This is in reference to when they are under the law.
But, John goes on to say “And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.” Here John agrees with what is taught in Hebrews. He shows that because Jesus took away sins they are no longer under the law that defines sin and it’s penalty death. Because Jesus’ death gave power to a New Covenant that defines sin as “They believe not on me”. This is why John continues saying “He who is born of God can not sin”. And that “He who sins is of the devil”.
Are you confused by this? Do you think John is saying that a Christian can not steal, or commit adultery, or even murder someone? If you are still thinking in these terms you show that you are still thinking as those who are under the law. Because like Paul in Rom.6:23-8:14 John is showing here the contrast between the two covenants. Not that the two covenants are the same or to be joined together in our thinking in some way.
John is saying that sin in the Old Covenant is the transgression of the law. So he first defines for them sin as it is understood under the law. But, when he says “He who is born of God can not sin” he is not saying that he who is born of God can not do something that would violate the law. He is showing us that the transgression of the law is not how we define sin we are held accountable for under this New Covenant of grace.
Heb.7:12 tells us it is because there has been a “change of the priesthood” with Jesus now our priest that there has been a “change also of the law”. Because Jesus was not made after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life(Heb.7:16). And since the law has changed the definition of sin has changed as well. Jesus gave us the definition of sin for those who would be under the New Covenant of grace when the Holy Spirit would come in John16:7-13. Saying in vs.9 that the definition of sin under grace is “They believe not on me”.
This helps us to understand what Paul and John were teaching. They were both saying what Jesus said by defining sin as no faith in Jesus. So that when John said in 1John3:6-9 that “He who sins is of the devil” he was referring to the sin that Jesus said the Holy Spirit, and not the law, has been sent into the world to reprove it of. And that those who have believed the Holy Spirit’s reproof and are truly saved can not commit this sin as defined by Jesus. So that the sin of the world the Holy Spirit is here to reprove it of has nothing to do with what the law says. But, only with what they do with Jesus.
In 2Cor.5:19,20 Paul says that God was in Christ not imputing trespasses to them. And that this is the word of reconciliation those who are ambassadors for Christ are to take to the whole world. But, how many who claim to be Christians are doing this? Not many. Because most who have claimed to be Christians are telling the world that they need Jesus because they have broken the law given through Moses. Instead of giving them the message the Holy Spirit was sent to give.
Saying instead that they need Jesus because God isimputing their trespasses to them and the wages of those trespasses is death. Instead of saying that God is notimputing trespasses to them and all men were forgiven 2,000 years ago by the taking away of the law. And they need Jesus because knowing Him is eternal life. He is the way, truth, and life. And now all they need is to turn from idols to serve the living and true God by believing in Jesus and His resurrection.
To do this we must learn to do as Paul and the rest of the apostles did by ceasing to define sin by the law. To do this we must purge our conscience from those dead works as Heb.9:14 says by learning to define sin as Jesus and the apostles defined it under the New Covenant of grace. Knowing that the sin of the world is “They believe not on me”. And that this is the only sin that keeps a man from God. And from eternal life and the inheritance of God’s kingdom.
If we do we will never again have as a reason for not doing bad things that it is because the law says not to. But, because the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit guides us in what we must do. Love is our schoolmaster and guide. Love gives us our direction because God is love. So that now when we are faced with a decision we do what love demands. Not what the law demands. Which Jesus showed in the parable of the Good Samaritan are not the same thing.
Jesus gave the perfect example of love vs law in His parable about the Good Samaritan. The law told the Israelite to pass by the man who was attacked and robbed and beaten. Even when every fiber in his being was probably screaming at him to help. But, love instructs the believer to help him in any way we can no matter what the law seems to be saying. Which will you be? Will you be the man who works his way to heaven being led by the law? Or the man who trusts in Jesus for eternal life and led by the love of God shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit? The choice is yours.
It must begin by understanding that the law of sin and death does not guide us. But, we who are truly saved are guided by the Spirit of life that is in Christ Jesus. And that sin is no longer to be understood by the law. But, by grace. And that because sin under grace is defined as “They believe not on me” no truly saved person can ever commit sin. And only those who are of the devil ever commit this sin. Because as John so plainly said,
“Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”1John3:6-10.
Will you be led by God’s Spirit by being set free from the “ministration of death” that was the law given through Moses? Will you trust in Jesus for eternal life? If you will then please pray with me now.
Dear Jesus, thank you for joining with me in death. So that I can join with you in eternal life. Thank you that I am not under law but under grace. Thank you for giving me your Holy Spirit now to lead and guide me in the truth. Help me learn to love as you do. Thank you for saving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you prayed with me then praise God for His deliverance. And now as you read the Bible believe what is plainly written. And let the Holy Spirit lead you into the truth. Let Him change your ways and thoughts to God’s ways and thoughts. And be not conformed to this world. But, be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
See you there or in the air!
This message can also be heard at: Rumble
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