Are the 10 just Suggestions?

Vol. 3, No. 30 – July 29, 2018

What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contreary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” Romans 7:7

A paraphrase might read: Am I suggesting that these laws of God are evil? Do you think me to be crazy? I would never know that coveting was wrong unless the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

Every human has their skeletons in the closet, and they do not always stay in the closet! It is good for us to look at our problems; our secrets. Temper? Impatience? Off color jokes, and conversations?

Being honest; or covering our own dishonesty by accusing others of being dishonest? Pride (it has a word in the middle, do you see it)? Laziness (now we are getting personal)? Sometimes we could well be diagnosed with a split personality, a regular walking in war type of person; one who is always the victim.

When Oscar Wilde’s homosexuality and other deviant behaviors was made public, he wrote: I forgot that what a man is in secret he will some day shout aloud from the housetops.

Along with the Apostle Paul in this seventh chapter of Romans, I am convinced it is not so much a question of how I get into some of my messes; the question is how to escape the messes I am in – not to cover it, but eliminate it through God’s grace and sovereign power.

Roy Laurin wrote that “people of the earth may be materially prosperous and spiritually poor. They may be physically strong and spiritually weak. They may be a material success and a moral failure. They may win in every battle except the most important one. It is possible to rule large empires, households, and churches and not rule oneself.”

The Law that says: “You shall not” has legal-power to convict of sin, but it has no life-power to deliver one from sin. Therein lies the struggle and state of despair.

The great portion of the book of Romans is in the shape of an autobiography. Paul wanted some object, perhaps an innocent desire in itself, but he desired (coveted) coveted it for himself. Perhaps for ego; for self.

When the Law said, “You shall not covet,” Paul seems to rebel. D.G. Barnhouse has a mental image of Paul. Barnhouse says it was an image of Paul seeing a man on a fine Arabian horse, thinking “that is a very fine horse. I would like to own that horse.” The Law says we should not covet someone’s Arabian horse!

Well, the image turned Paul’s attention to his heart; it was in rebellion. As if saying, “Don’t tell me not to desire that horse. I want that horse, and a stable, and a pasture. I want everyone to look at me, and bow down before me as if I were a king. After all, I am who I am and I want what I want, when I want it, and no discussion about it!”

There is a chain reaction to covetousness (sin) set in motion. It is like a brush fire; desire is fanned. The frustration of knowing what is right and failing to do it. You just want that horse.

Like a powerful, idling engine (think of a powerful Mustang that can hit 165 mph on the highway in mere seconds), it can roar into life and take over at the touch of the accelerator of the law. We can find ourselves helplessly under its control.

The negative becomes a positive. Defeat is turned into victory. The upset applecart is uprighted:

I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord (7:25)

Grace is Always Chasing . . .

Vol. 3, No. 29 – July 22, 2018

Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:20b-21

How about when your favorite team is losing? They were a three-touchdown favorite; yet, they are blowing  it! How could that happen?

Monday morning practice is full (sky-high) with tension as the coach gathers his team. He speaks: “OK gentlemen; today we are going back to the basics. Guys, look at this. This is a football!

Back to the basics. In football, it is blocking, tackling, running, passing, catching, kicking, and teamwork. To be successful all must be done with 100% abandon.

The Apostle Paul is taking the Church at Rome back to the basics; grace. It is not a teaching of being under the law, but under grace. Grace is the foundation of God’s salvation. Grace is the hallmark of Christianity. Grace is the unmerited favor of God. Grace is totally without a cause in the person who receives it.

Grace is more than simply getting everything good. It is mercy, the benefit of love. When one who deserves damnation, everything bad, is given everything good; and that for nothing on our part. That is our introduction to the grace of God.

In verse 15, Paul writes of grace: But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.

Those who receive Christ are “borne” (the word is “carried” in the language of the South), to the “Palace” and have the royal blood in their veins, exclusively through Christ. It is what He has done and who He is in our lives that alone makes reigning in life a possibility. With Him all things are possible; without Him, we can but fail.

There is nothing that we contribute to our salvation except for the sin that made salvation for us an absolutely necessary. Salvation is not a self-attainable destination; salvation is not available through payment, church membership, creating a list of benevolences, serving as a deacon or church leader (even a pastor), giving to the church, or even teaching in the Sunday School (LifeGroup, or BGM). Salvation is a result of His grace (God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense).

There is an abundance of grace: For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ (5:17)

God expects us to operate in the basics: the gift, the abundance, and the reign of grace.
All too often we get busy playing football in our churches. We try the new stuff, and we fail. We try loud theatric music, new lighting, new formats of so-called worship, new titles, and new programs to attract the younger generation. We wonder why our approaches do not work; the younger generation wonders what is wrong with the church; why the church wants to play outside of the basics. So they only attend major events – and frown when the church never gets to the playoffs.

The thing Christians and Christian Leaders ought to do is reintroduce their team to God’s foundations.

OK, gentlemen and ladies, look at this. This is a Bible.

Ephesians 3:20-21

Free, free, a trip to Mars . . .

Vol. 3, No. 28 – July 15, 2018

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

I have always enjoyed reading signs as we travel; some are really funny: Free, free, a trip to Mars for 500 Burma Shave jars.

I have made Donna read signs and endure my comments; it is good our marriage is now 56 years along. She would probably have put me in my place 55-1/2 years ago (in a padded room).

Have you ever gotten a kick on the signs painted on barns? Originally, barns got painted because advertisers wanted to put a sign on the barn, and offered to paint the whole thing for free.

One time a fellow saw a sign on a weather vane, on a barn. Curious, he asked about it. The sign was: “God is Love!” Asking about it was a result out his curiosity. Why was the sign on the weather vane? The farmer, a German fellow, said: “Just to remind us that, whichever way the wind blows, God is Love. It is not about my love for God, but His love for me. It is just basic!”

Poured out, flooding, and shed abroad is how some of the translations handle this idea. It really does mean to be poured out; profusive, in abundance, overflowing, or in torrents. God’s love cascades toward people of the earth like the Chutes de Klone on the Mekong River in Laos; the volume of water passes over the seventy-foot waterfall at 410,000 cubic feet per second. Wow! Now that is a turbulent flow! God’s love, however, floods our hearts more quickly and in greater quantity than pictured by this great water fall.

When did this all take place: verses 6-10 tell us that while we, you and I, were without strength, while we were ungodly, while we were sinners. Yes, while we were indeed an enemy of Almighty God. The Lord did not wait for me to clean up my act, join a local church, start giving money, nor did He wait ’til I was a “good dude” and start loving Him.

In spite of my spiritual and moral bankruptcy, in a repulsive state of impotence, God provided His Son, Jesus Christ, to meet my greatest need. He poured out His Devine love on me (and also on you).

This is not a “dew” experience; it is a deluge!

His love has no limit, His grace has no measure, His power has no boundary known unto men; for out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again. –Annie Johnson Flint

Verse five has the first mention of love, and of the Holy Spirit, in Romans. Thus, a pivotal theme in Paul’s argument for this great love of God is seen to be our guarantee of availability of His eternal salvation. There is more, but this is essential.

It is ever sweet to rest on a love which is dated, not in time, but in eternity; because one can experience that God’s love did not originate in an unforeseen flash of excellence in us, and it will not be turned away by any unexpected outbreak of depravity; it did not begin because of what we were, and it will continue in spite of what we are. –F.B. Meyer

No matter which way the wind blows:

Jesus loves me this I know,
For the Bible tells me so,
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak but he is strong.
Yes, Jesus love me!

What strikes your curiosity? Is it a sign, or something you read in the Scriptures.

Free, free, an eternity in heaven, not by buying Burma shave, but bey kneeling at the Cross and accepting the finished work of Jesus.

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