OUR IDENTITY CRISIS
I am not really sure why God has so convicted me to write these papers. Writing papers and grammar were never my favorite things to do in college and the same is true today, some forty years later. The one thing I have learned studying the Bible is that God sometimes uses the most unlikely people to move His agenda forward but at the end of the day it could be all about my journey. I have grown up hearing the terms Christian and or Reborn Christian to describe a person that has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The problem is that those terms Christian and or Reborn Christian are not well defined in scripture, which therefore causes a lot of confusion to what they really mean. Therefore, I agree with Bruce Hogarth and Andy Stanley Senior Pastor of North Point Church and prefer the term Christ’s disciple because scripture does define the rights, privilege and responsibilities in detail.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, I have tried not to take any scripture quote out of context, but I encourage everyone reading this to do his or her own research to confirm the meaning. Some of the questions that I hope this paper will address are:
1. My personal journey to salvation and what I believe it took for to become Christ’s disciple.
2. Correct Biblical definitions of “believe” (pistevo), “love” (agape) and “flesh” (sarx).
3. What does it mean to be truly a new creation and is my sinful nature (flesh) really put to death?
4. What does Romans Chapter 7 really mean?
5. What does Scripture say about willfully sinning and are there negative consequences for Christ’s disciples/Christians if we continue to willfully sin?
6. What spiritual gifts do I inherit as Christ’s disciple?
7. Am I really at war with Satan and his evil spirits 24/7 and how does he attack us?
8. If scripture is correct and the gift of the Holy Spirit is capable of defeating Satan here on earth, why do I continue to sin just like all the nonbelievers?
9. As Christ’s disciple are we, right now, sons and daughters, true heirs to the most high God, with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities?
10. Is it possible to truly love (agape) God and Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior more then anything this natural world could ever offer?
I pray that by the end of this paper most will have a better understanding of their new spiritual identity. Knowing the truth will allow us to glorify God and Lord and Savior Jesus Christ even more. I have had some Christian brothers and sisters discuss which translation they prefer. I personally find myself using a variety of translation including King James, New International, English Standard and Amplified. For me being in the word no matter what translation gives the Holy Spirit the opportunity for divine revelation to occur to me. I am convicted that my revelations (Biblical truths) have grown exponentially because I listen to the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit was powerful enough to create the entire universe it is powerful enough to allow me to understand God’s meaning and His will.
This is the second paper of a series describing my journey in faith. The first paper titled, “My Journey to Enlightenment and Salvation”. Looking retrospectively, it felt like went through a three-step process to be saved and become Christ’s disciple.
The first step was concluding that no matter how hard I tried I was not able to be obedient to God’s commandments. My true motivation for confession and requesting forgiveness had more to do about not wanting to be punished or go to Hell then any true Godly sorrow. Again taking a hard and honest look at my life, I concluded I was motivated really about pleasing me, my self-interest. The amount of time pleasing God (doing God’s will) was very small in comparison. The Bible states in Romans that all men, from the beginning of time, have been given awareness of God’s divine nature and right and wrong, so that no one could claim to God they did not know. Even without consciously knowing it God was working in me. My Godly sorrow did eventually grow and gnaw at my heart, mind and soul eventually leading me to true repentance. For the first time, I wanted to turn away from what I thought I enjoyed doing and become obedient in order to stop grieving (offending) God. Talk about an eye-opening gut-wrenching revelations at fifty years of age. All the pretense that I was living a good and Godly life come tumbling down right before my very soul.
Romans 1:19-20 reads, “19 since what may be known about God is plain to them because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
Romans 2:5 reads, “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath.”
In the beginning, fear of God’s wrath on judgment day might have helped me understand the consequences if I continue my stubborn and unrepentant way, but once saved, fear in my heart is replaced with reverence and love.
2 Corinthians 7:10 reads, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” This scripture was a pivotal point for me in my walk and convicted it is only way that leads to salvation.
Luke 5:32, reads, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance”.
Secondly, realizing what a wretched self-absorbed man I really was I came to the blood stained feet of Jesus Christ asking for mercy and grace. I needed a Savior. God and Christ fulfilled Their promise as written in the OT (Ezekiel 36:25-26). Not only am “I cleansed of all uncleanness” I receive a “new heart and new spirit”. Christ death did not just atone (postpone God’s wrath) but paid in full the penalty for all my sins (propitiation). I completely avoid the wrath of God that would surely be mine on that final judgment day. Now if that was not enough my Lord and Savior imputed His righteousness’ into me.
Galatians 3:24-25 reads, “24 So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law”
John 14:6 reads, “Jesus saith undo him, I am the way the truth and the life, no man cometh into the Father but by me.”
John 3:35 reads, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him”
Romans 5:8-9 reads, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him!”
Thirdly, I receive the empowering gift of the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:27). As Christ’s disciple, (Believer, reborn/saved Christian) the Holy Spirit resides and becomes a part of the new me. My new cleansed body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. This now allows me to understand, it is my spiritual rebirth, not my natural birth that determines my true identity. I choose now not only to profess but also possess and use the gift of the Holy Spirit as God and Christ intended. Let us review just a few verses that describe God and Christ’s gifts to all Christ’s disciples.
1 Corinthians 6:17 reads, “But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.”
Galatians 4:6-7 reads, “6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba", Father." 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”
Ephesians 1:4 reads, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love”
Ephesians 2:6 reads, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,”
Colossians 2:10 reads, “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power”
2 Corinthians 5:17 reads, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature(creation): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
I want to emphasize that I did not deserve or earn these gifts. All true repentant sinners receive them freely from a loving and merciful God and Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Ezekiel 36:25-26 allowed me to reestablish a mutual Agape Love relationship much like Adam and Eve had before the fall but Ezekiel 36:27 gives me new supernatural/superspiritual powers because of the Holy Spirit now becoming part of me. Now as Christ’s disciple I now have the ability to; comprehend just how guilty I was, the price both God and Jesus paid for me, understand I have absolute authority over Satan and his demons here on earth (all principality and power), appreciate and better comprehend the value of what has been given out of pure agape love and best of all I have the ability to agape Them back. I am truly a new creation and accept all the rights, privileges and responsibilities afforded a co-heir with my brother and Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Satan, the great deceiver, confuses most Disciples/Christians, as he did me, understanding the value of these gifts. Reading the first paper might give you more insight to my journey. If you read both papers, you will see I duplicated some of the same material. But make no mistake this paper will touch on deep Biblical principles and go much deeper into our new identity. Both papers can also be found on my Dental web page “goaheadandsmile.com”
I pray that Holy Spirit will open hearts, minds and souls, of every one reading this paper so that their true identity and their new glorious Grace relationship with God will be revealed or confirmed. By the power given by the Holy Spirit I bind all of Satan’s evil spirits of fear, doubt, confusion and all other spirits that would stop someone from finishing this paper and command them to go into the abyss in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior.
So let us get started by seeing what the Bible has to say. You can never go wrong by starting with the most quoted scripture in the New Testament
John 3:16-17 reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
I discussed in my first paper the importance of understanding the original Biblical meaning of some very foundational words such as believe, faith, and love. I am so convicted of its importance that I feel it is the first subject worth repeating from my first paper. We must never assume that we understand any verse unless we know the correct contextual meaning the words. Knowing when and who is speaking, to whom he is speaking to and why he is speaking will give a far greater opportunity understanding of the text. Just look how complicated it can get if we do not know the correct biblical definition of the verb “believing”. We see in English the word “believe”, often defined using the noun faith “having faith”. When defining “faith”, it is stated those who “believes”. Neither word is defined from another source; the result is confusing, leaving it completely up to each individual to decide. I used the Hellenic Communication Services to do a word study on “believe”. They stated, “The Greek word pistevo (believe) comes from the noun pistis (faith). Pistevo is a good example where the English translation could not do justice to the original Greek meaning. What is normally conveyed by this rich Greek language could get lost, and, without careful study, the word of God loses it original Biblical concept.” That is exactly what happened to me. In the past believing in Christ just meant that I acknowledged Christ as the Son of God, and He indeed came to earth and died for my sins.
How could I be so blind to the full meaning for so long? I do not have to be a Biblical scholar to see the word believe can have multiply meanings in English as shown by these examples; “I believe George Washington really existed”, “I believe in the US dollar” or “I believe the instruction sequence to be correct.” Since I never knew or saw George personally my belief here is about did he really exist. Could George just be a fictional character made up in History? My belief in Jesus Christ was not much different than stating that George Washington was a real person and was the first President of the United States. The question of belief in the dollar really existing is not the issue because I see and touch them daily. The meaning of “believe” here has to with can I trust the dollar to be of value now and in the future. Believing in the sequence of complicated instructions would mean relying on and adhering to them. You would not change anything that they instructed you to do or you might not achieve the desired outcome. I submit to you that the definition of “believing in Christ” combines all those concepts. Therefore I concur with Hellenic Communication Services that the correct Biblical definition for “believe” is, “trust in”, “adheres to” and “relies on”. I would strongly suggest that every one do there own word study. When you replace “believe” in John 3:16 with the better Biblical meaning, you get an entirely different concept. “16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever trusts, adheres and relies (believes) in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. Do you agree that it completely changes my original concept and gives a deeper truer Biblical meaning to the verse?
The whole concept of salvation changed from not only acknowledging Christ for who He is, to giving up all pretense that I could save myself using my own natural abilities, to complete reliance, and trust in Him. Believing in Him now sounds very much the same concept to Christ being my Lord. I have to confess I liked the Savior part but missed that Christ is my Lord and I am His servant. I am convicted that our willingness to accept the wrong definition does not happen by accident and that Satan plays a larger role than originally thought. See what happens to your Biblical understanding if you replace “trust in, adhere to and rely on” everywhere you see the words “believe” or “faith” in scripture.
Is Satan also responsible for why is there so much confusion over the fact that this word is an action verb? One must continue to do what ever the verb tells us to do in order to receive whatever outcome it describes.
What is the Biblical meaning of “Love” in Matthew 22:37-39, “Love the Lord your God with my whole heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”? Is it important that it says the same thing in the Old Testament? Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” and Leviticus 19:18, “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD(Jehovah).” How can we possible fulfill God’s greatest commandment (not an optional request) if we do not know the true biblical meaning of love (agape)? The Greeks had many different words describing different kinds of love (Eros, Philia, Storage and Agape). This potentially can cause a huge problem when translating scripture from Greek to English. English just does not have that kind of variety to choose from. Individual translators have “Love” and maybe “Charity” to pick from. There fore without even knowing we may accept very much water down English definition.
Hellenic Communication Services defined Agape as; “deeply devotional, loyal, self sacrificing and total commitment. To the Greeks Agape was the highest expression of love. It is unrelenting; it cannot and will not fail, even at the expense of his own life. Love is more about an outcome then what I do.”. What do we learn about the definition of love from, 1 Corinthians, 13:4-8, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”? Are we not told in Romans 13:10 “Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law”. Could comprehending the meaning of “God is love” in 1 John 4:8 “8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” be the cornerstone of our faith? Have we truly comprehended the significance of what it states in 1 John 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.”?
Flesh is primarily translated from two Hebrew words: basar and se'er and one Greek word sarx. In the King James NT sarx is used 151 times with Romans having the highest usage 23 times. Confusions comes because flesh is another one of words in scripture that has multiple meanings depending on context of the sentence. Some examples would be:
1.The flesh of a man (living creature). The soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood of both man and beasts as found in;
Luke 24:39, “Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself ! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."
John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
1 Corinthians 15:39, “All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men , another flesh of beasts , another of fishes, and another of birds.”
Judges 8:7, “Then Gideon replied, "Just for that, when the LORD has given Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, I will tear your flesh with desert thorns and briers."
1 Kings 21:27, “And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.”
2 Corinthians 10:3, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh”
Philippians 1:24, “But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”
It can also denote the opposite where the whole refers to the part, especially when referring to the sexual organs such as the circumcision of the flesh Genesis 17:14, “Any uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."
Galatians 6:13; “Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh.
2. Used of natural or physical origin, generation, humanity or relationship as found in
Romans 1:3, “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;”
Luke 3:6, “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
Acts 2:17, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy , and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams :”
3. The sensuous nature of man, "the animal nature" without any suggestion of depravity as found in
Ephesians 5:31, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”
The use of flesh one, two and three is not describing or imputing anything sinful in us. It is not describing anything that indices or gives us a reason to be disobedient to God’s will.
4. The one that causes the most controversy is “flesh” (sarx) as describing what we inherited (was imputed) from Adam? Do we believe in the concept of original sin? Exactly what consequences did Adam’s sin cause all mankind?
Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—“. I am convicted that in some passages it denotes what we inherited from Adam. I submit it describing; our human earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, unaided human effort, an unrestrained and ungoverned lifestyle dominated by satisfying the desires of this world (all about self reliance). As a consequence of Adam’s sin I am born with this inherited sin and it this sinning and shame cycle that caused me to move away from Their agape relationship. I absolutely understand now that God’s love never ends it was I that moved away. I stopped valuing and accepting Their most precious gift of relationship. Bruce Hogarth during one of his Saturday Bible studies asked this insightful question “Was it Adam and Eve’s shame that caused them to hide from God after they were disobedient and ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?” I realize now when I do not trust, rely on, adhere to, value or appreciate God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit’s agape love with my whole heart, mind, soul and strength I became more prone to be disobedient. Leading me not to wear the armor of God, nor concentrating on the spiritual and clearly not taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Without even realizing it I can start to accept Satan’s lies as my own or worse that they are God’s. Which then leads me to sin, which in turn leads to more shame and moving further away from Them. In retrospect not a very pretty picture. Clearly that scenario caused me to value my worldly desires and concerns more and completely forgot the Spiritual gifts already offered by God the Father, God the Son or God the Holy Spirit. Talk about being an ungrateful and unappreciative son.
This opposition to God, this inherited nature I believe is what is being described in these verses.
Romans 8:4-9, “4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Colossians 2: 13 “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;”
Galatians 5:24, “ And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
Our life for Christ is certainly lived in the flesh (Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”) But it does not and should not be lived for the flesh. So "the flesh" here is describing the old self-reliant, faithless me. So the flesh is the old "me" who used to rebel against God. In the flesh I was hostile and insubordinate. In the flesh I trusted my wisdom not God's. So nothing I did in the flesh could please God, because "without faith it is impossible to please God"
Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. And the flesh does nothing from faith.” My flesh is what died when God saved me (Gal. 5:24).
When you agree to the notion that there could be multiple meanings for the same word (which occurs in English as well) you can appreciate the controversy that accrues in Romans, because one most discern which definition to use. The NIV translator substitutes the word “sarx” with sinful nature in Romans to help the reader better understand the context. In King James “sarx” is translated as “flesh” and leaves it to each individual to decide its proper Biblical meaning based on the context of the sentence. I know this in part, causes controversy with Theologians about which translations are better. I realize now that I must do my due diligence to understand that many words have multiple meanings. One must not underestimate the inherent difficulty in translating correct meanings from one language to another. Many times just the use of different sentence structure from one language to another makes it impossible to do word for word translation. I know some of you are thinking boy this guy is slow if it has taken him fifty plus years to figure that one out. I realize now just how easily I was fooled and that I had accepted Satan’s definitions not God’s. I am so very thankful for God being so patient and not giving up on me. I believe with my whole heart that part of my exponential spiritual growth these last several years is directly related to understanding the true Biblical meaning to these words.
I am still trying to work out why it appears most if not all English translation do such a poor job in these critical translations. Why is there not more open discussion about the potential different meanings, which could lead to confusion and misinterpretation? These words are the cornerstones to understanding our new relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This confusion will always give Satan an excellent opportunity to steal or hide the truth. For me I am convicted that it was only through the power of the Holy Spirit that these potential problems have even come to light for me. Please do the research for yourself. It will forever change your understanding of what is really being conveyed in scripture. I feel like I could just rename the paper “Biblical Definitions of Believe, Love and Flesh” and stop here. I submit the implications of just what has been said already are huge and may take time to sink in as it did me.
But I am convicted to move on. So what does scripture says about becoming a new creation, inheriting a new identity, what happened to our old sinful self and does God really expect me to stop sinning? These concepts are so intertwined in scripture almost have to approach them together.
2 Corinthians 5:17, reads, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature(creation): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Galatians 2:20, reads, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Galatians 5:24, reads, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh (NIV sinful nature) with it passions and desires.”
Galatians 6:19-20, reads, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body”.
Romans chapter 6,7 and 8 so definitively answers those questions concerning sinning, how our old self died, how we became a new creation and does God expect us to continue to sin it is worth quoting the entire chapters.
Romans 6: 1-23 reads, “1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with Him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with Him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-- 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. 10 The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. 19 I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So let recap “no longer slave to sin” (verse 6), “ we become slaves to obedience which leads to righteousness” (verse 16), “which leads us to holiness” (verse 19), “which leads us to eternal life” verse 22).
So are we really a new creation (reborn Christian) free from sin or is scripture just playing with us, or have we overlooked these passages with help from Satan? There is an old saying “if you think you can or if you think you cannot your correct”. Satan absolutely had me convinced I was not expected to stop sinning here on earth. In my past, sinning was just considered backsliding, and we all did it. Just confess and God will continue to forgive and forgive and forgive and forgive. God and Christ did all the hard work we are not really expected to change, were we? Is there any doubt now what scripture states about sinning? Did you notice the similarity in verse 1 and 15? Just another reason why Satan would prefer we did not read the Bible (Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth). How can we meet Jesus Christ on judgment day and explain away all these verses? Can you picture me telling Jesus Christ on judgment day that it was entirely His fault I continued to willfully sin my entire life. Even though scripture states I am no longer a slave to sin, I have a greater power within than the outside world (1John 4:4) He must have lied and allowed that original sinful nature (flesh) to remain in me. He only gave me some control over sin and I must only be a partially new creature. I have heard many a brother explain that somehow their sinful flesh mortal bodies are still ultimately in control. Therefore they will never stop sinning here on Earth. Does that excuse sound strangely like what Adam stated to God about it being God’s fault because God gave him Eve, never acknowledging that he disobeyed God’s command? That did not work well for Adam; I really do not think we have much of a chance with that argument either. Do you? How do you think this would work, “Yes I knew there was this book called the Bible but Christ you never forced me read or understand it”? Our God given free will allows us to choose to obey the spirit or the flesh (worldly desires not influenced by God, depend on my natural worldly abilities). Verse 16 states perfectly what happens with either decision “Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey--whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?”.
There appears to be three different theological interpretations arising out of Romans Chapter seven. The first two interpretations believe that Paul is in present tense and therefore describing himself as a disciple of Christ’s (reborn/saved Christian). They rely on his statements in verse 18, “For I have the desire to do what is good” and verse 22. “For in my inner being I delight in God's law” could only be said from a disciple of Christ’s. They conclude therefore if Paul cannot keep from sinning because of this evil thing that still lives, we too will not be able to stop sinning while here on earth. The first group calls it “the dual nature of man ”. They believe they are both saints and sinners at the same time. The second group calls it “indwelling sin”. That is to say as Christ’s disciples there is something left in their flesh or some call it our humanness. This remaining humanness (worldly desires flesh) still entices us to sin. For many reasons already discussed and more that I will share I am in the third camp. That believes Paul is continuing his systematic theological teaching of the new covenant of faith in Jesus Christ and “Freedom from Sin” for Jew and Gentile (chapter six) and now specifically “Freedom from the Law” for the Jews in chapter seven. That nothing remains as a disciple of Christ’s (reborn Christian) of the flesh (sinful nature) inherited from Adam. I am a complete and totally a new creation in Christ.
Scripture that has multiple interpretations must be challenged to determine the truth. I am convicted that these differences exists in large part because some miss the many tense (past, present or future) changes that occur in this chapter. Whether Paul is describing himself as a disciple of Christ’s or a Jew will have profound consequences to the interpretation of the same verse. A more sinister reason could be that some are trying to find scripture to support why it not their fault they continue to sin. Let us never forget Adam’s excuse why it was not his fault he sinned. The old blame game is still unfortunately alive. Whatever the reasons for these various conflicting views let us look carefully at the entire chapter and watch for the tense changes. Then let us with help of the Holy Spirit take a closer look at their conclusions that only disciples of Christ’s (reborn Christians) could make such claims no less what would also have to be accepted as truth if either the first two explanations are correct. Is it important to see that Paul starts with stating he talking to men who knows the law? As I already stated it is critical to know when and who is speaking, to whom he is speaking to and why he is speaking to properly understand scripture.
Romans 7:1-25 reads,“1 Do you not know,[PRESENT TENSE] brothers--for I am speaking to men who know the law--*? 2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. 3 So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. 4 So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. 5 For when we were [PAST TENSE] controlled by the Flesh (sinful nature), the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now,[PRESENT TENSE] by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. 7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known [PAST TENSE] what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet." 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. 13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful. 14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my Flesh(sinful nature). For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. 20 Now 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. 21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will [FUTURE TENSE] rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”
We see verses 1- 4 are present tense and but verse 5 goes into past, “For when we were controlled by the flesh (sinful nature)” only to come back to the present tense in verse 6 “but now” then back to past in verses “I would not have known” 7 through first part of 24. If you miss the tense change I could see how confusion would arise because it would be assumed he was describing himself as a disciple of Christ’s (Christian). He is in fact just describing every Jew’s utter frustration and failure in trying to obey the law. This also happens to us as Christ’s disciples when Satan entices us back into our old self reliant, under the law old identity. But more about that subject later. I submit that verses 7-24 are just going into further painful detail what he stated in 6:17 (But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.)? What could also be missed is the purpose why God gave Moses the law in the first place. That is to expose sin for what it is as well as to entice and magnify sin causing us to know we need a Savior. Because Paul starts chapter seven by stating he is talking to those who know the law should we even question if Paul is primarily speaking to Roman Jews rather then Gentiles?
The book of Romans is a letter written by Paul to Church of Rome. Neither he nor any Apostle had yet visited there. The Gentiles and Jews that witness the Pentecost most likely started the Church in Rome. He states he is talking to Jews that knew the “Law” (Mosaic Law). Paul being a Jew was well aware of their desire and importance to obey the Law. The Jews had been taught for centuries that the “Law” was how they stayed in relationship with their God. Therefore it should be easy to understand why most Jews would have a hard time wanting to be free from the “Law”. Their sacrificial system would have reminded them that they were not able to stop sinning by their natural efforts alone. It also only gave them a temporary stay from the wrath of God and the “Law” never gave them any assurance of their own salvation. But if they needed reminding Paul verses 7:7-23 describes in detail his own failed attempts, his utter hopelessness to obey the law as a Jew. In doing so Paul explains as mentioned earlier that the purpose of the law was to reveal, arouse and magnify sin. The law showed them they needed a savior. Paul stated in verse 6 (present tense as a disciple of Christ’s) the law like sin, no longer has dominion over them “so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit. Compare how powerful Peter and John describes themselves as an disciple of Christ’s.
2 Peter. 1:3-11, “3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
1John 2:6, “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did”
1John 2:10, “Anyone who loves their brother or sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble (sin)”
Chapter seven Paul is powerless and will continue to sin, whereas here Peter and John describes someone with absolute authority over Satan. Do we really think they are describing the same person? If these few scripture do not convince you Paul is describing his life as Jew (non Christian) how do you explain away the difference in how Paul describes Disciples of Christ (reborn Christians) in chapter eight with all the rights and privileges of being a son or daughter of God and co-heir with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? More about chapter eight later.
Here are more of my reasons why I cannot agree with either group one or two. If no one could delight in God’s law or a desire to do good in the OT what motivated Abel, Noah, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Abraham, Joseph and Moses just to name few? Paul could never state, “I am still carnal sold under sin,” if describing himself as Christ’s disciple (reborn Christian). That absolutely died with Christ on the cross as clearly described in chapter six and Galatians 5:24. If Paul’s present body was the temple for the Holy Spirit and it was no longer Paul who lived but Jesus Christ in him, how could he state that nothing good dwells in him? He would no longer be a slave or any of his members exists as slaves to sin. The despair in the first part of verse 24"Oh, wretched man that I am!" seems far removed from the promise of Romans 5:1-2: "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." The question is asked, how can a man justified by faith be so wretched or still process indwelling or sinful nature no less be a Saint and sinner at the same time? In the last part of verse 24, Paul asks the question who will deliver him. If he had been already saved, he would have used the past tense and said who had delivered me from this body of death?
Another reason why I cannot accept either one or two’s interpretations is what it would imply if Paul is describing himself as a disciple of Christ’s (reborn/saved Christians). One that Paul, as a disciple of Christ’s could never stop sinning here on earth. Scripture already quoted says the direct opposite. How could we explain away 1John 2:6 or 3:6 and 9. Talk about creating controversy if we assume that there are conflicting revelations found in the Bible. Second would it not imply that God had to create Adam and Eve with indwelling sin or dual natured as a way to explain why they too were disobedient and ate the forbidden fruit? Does it not state in scripture that God was pleased with his creations? Do you believe God made them dual natured or have such a thing as indwelling sin? If the answer is no, God did not make them that way. The question needs to be asked why did Adam and Eve sin? Is Satan not trying to use the same tactic on Christ’s disciples today? Thirdly and potentially the biggest has to do with scripture stating Christ was tempted in every way we are.
Hebrews 2:14-18, “14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.”
If Christ the man had all same weakness as we do, was made like his brothers in every way and tempted every way we are. Would that not mean Christ our Lord and Savior would have to be dual natured if you think like group one or have indwelling sin if you think like group two? I know it is sacrilegious to think that. But I submit, would that not be the case if you accept one or two’s interpretations of chapter seven. How could scripture state Christ was tested just like us if He did not have all same imperfections as his disciples? I do not see anywhere in scripture that supports that Christ dealt with indwelling sin no less is dual natured. Christ was and always is the only human that is sinless and 100% righteous. So when you disprove the assumptions made by the theory do you not therefore disprove the original theory itself? Satan is a powerful adversary and has lead many astray. I see why it would help Satan’s plan if I agree with either group one or two position. But I do not need to give him a helping hand by giving him a stronghold that is not Biblically his.
But whichever way we want to interpret chapter seven, it should never be used to condone willfully sinning while here on earth. Just the limited scripture quoted in the paper shows that not to be correct. Is Paul just trying to expose how Satan will try to deceive and attack us? If we have to cross a mine-field (live in this fallen world controlled by Satan) would it not be nice to have all the land mines clearly marked? Most of my adult life I would have said what land mines. Unforgiveness, pride, lust and fear are not land mines they are maybe sort of little tiny firecracker. Just life, we are all expected to have them no big deal. For me being in the word allows the power of the Holy Spirit not only expose them for what they really are but to avoid them completely. I know Satan wants us to think that even when scripture points out these land mines you can not be avoid stepping on them. He would have us believe that as Christ’s disciples little old Satan cannot harm us. There are really no negative consequences as Christians if we continue to sin. We cannot allow ourselves to fall into his trap of lies.
Let us revisit more verses that conflict with the notion that we are expected to continue sinning. No less that there are no negative consequences for disciples of Christ if they fail to understand the war they are in and willfully continue to sin. Understand I accepted all of Satan’s lies most of my adult life. Therefore I was obedient to my worldly desires not my God given spiritual ones. My actions, like so many professing Christians, were exactly the same as non-believers. After reading the next verses, you might have to rethink some of Satan’s old lies. By the way, who told me, it was ok to willfully continue to sin? Was it God, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior or Satan?
1 John 3:6 reads, “6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning no one who continues to sin has either seen him or knows him”.
1 John 3:9 reads, “9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God”.
Luke 8:11-15, reads, “This is the meaning of the parable: the seed is the word of god. Those along the path are the ones who hear. And then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it and by preserving produce a crop”. Mathews 7:21-22, reads, “Not every one who says to me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me you evil doers!”
Hebrews 10:26-27 reads, “26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”
After reading just those few verses is there any doubt what God thinks about us continuing to sin. Is Christ not making it clear that with the parable of the seeds that Satan can enter the heart of an disciple of Christ and steal the truth and make him a non believer, that not every one who calls Him Lord or appears to cast out demons and perform miracles in His name will enter Heaven. The concern for all should be what those individuals did wrong to be rebuked by Christ. Should Hebrews not be a wake up call about what will happen if we keep on deliberately sinning? In Matthew 5:29-30 Christ is so concerned about our sinning that He states “29 So if your eye—even your good eye causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your hand—even your stronger hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” If we were following Christ’s suggestion should there not be quite a large number of reborn Christians with no eyes or hands? How is it possible with all this scripture did we become so complacent about sinning? On judgment day will it not be Christ determining if He knew me rather then me just stating I knew Christ? That is say was I in a true agape relationship or was it all about what I wanted God and Christ to do for me and nothing about doing God’s will here on earth? Scripture tells us to take account of our salvation while on earth so that on judgment day we too are not told “be gone I never knew you”.
So let’s see who benefits if these misunderstandings continue and we go on willfully sinning? Surely it is not us or God. So who is left? Surprise! It is the great deceiver himself, Satan. To win the war we must truly believe (trust, rely and adhere) in our new identity and to use our God-given powers, as clearly described in the Bible, to defeat Satan’s attempts to deceive us and steal the truth.