Romans 6-8, Ephesians and Ezekiel

A Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith  
 in accord with the basic thrust of the Constitution of 1901
of the Presbyterian Church of Australia







We move from the international, and its squalors and wallowings, to the internal. Amid the internal, let us consider the blocking and the escape in life's challenges, the weakness that weeps and the work of God that leaps, the sin and the squalor or surrender to it on the grounds of special challenge, and what the Lord can do.

It is necessary to distinguish between two things. One is the perception of sin, of its kind, character and presence; the other is the perception of its potentially pulverising power.
IF you can see what it is, then you are in the realm of understanding about the topic. If you can further see its power to subdue you, incline you, make you decline, spoil or foil you, then you are advancing in responsibility.

If you then decide that it is hopeless, along the lines that Paul evokes in Romans 7, where you find sin in its very essence within you so that its advances are like those of Putin into Crimea, not only horrid and hapless but a take-over, then your responsibility, so far from declining, advances vastly. To decide that it is unrebukeable and incorrigible, that it cannot be broken, and to go in bitterness or weakness of soul therefore, this is more than weakness. It is a sort of drunkenness. It frequently appears as the chasm of cynicism or the acid lake of scepticism (cf. SMR Ch. 3).

It is not I, says Paul, in his reflective revelations, that do it, but sin which is in me. Hence comes his cry as in Romans 7:24, "O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from the body of this death ?"

If this world came from nothing, which like anything else from that source, is impossible, a mere contradiction in terms, then it would be a foul mess at this point. What would you expect ? Nothing can do nothing, so how could you do better, who impossibly are imagined to have had such a source!  But it did not, because it could not, do that. Hence you look to the actual source, to the pit from which you were dug, as Isaiah puts it, and when you done this, with more zeal than many spend on studying volcanoes, for example, that is with great zeal, then you find that the creation manual, called the Bible, has the answer, tested, verified and validated*1. Here is the centre for the pining, disquieted desire of the nations, though they get lost in the peripheries.

Consulting, instead of nothing, this source, we find that in Romans 8, the solution to the ostensibly or at least initially hopeless seeming task of overwhelming the innate crushing power which sin can provide, as if man were necessarily to remain outside the providential and even more, covenantal power and presence of God, we have answer to find. Then the predicament does not rule, but we come to the Prince of peace, not only offered to the world without, but received by His people within. It is not good to omit the main thing in any equation or set of correlatives; but to omit the INFINITE is infinitely mistaken. The results of such an omission would be sure to border on the ludicrous, at best.

Thus assuming a model which omits God, or a current naturalistic idolatry as a basis for investigation, as if it held resolution of a problem, is sheer abuse of terms. Cultural habituation in TV, in the internet, on radio, in newsprint is so vast, that when to this you add perhaps 13 or more years of academic indoctrination at the hand of a naturalistic and implicitly atheistic education system this, (in fact, though cosmetic admissions may be made, in the social hinterland cf. TMR Ch. 8), there is excellent reason for the confusion.

Instead, leaving the claptrap of confusion aside, and proceeding in the presence of the God whose power gave to the spirit of man the facility for analysis, for recognising forces and failures and principles and powers, needs and meanings, we find this. Just  as there is the cause for creation, so does it apply for resolution. The answer to the sin-sway problem, to the assured-failure scenario, like that of some beaten dog before a brute wolf, is not to dwell on the wolf, but to look for the Shepherd, not to surge into the irrational, but to find the author of reason. Just as it is the logical basis for the laws both of physics and chemistry, so it is for spirit and mind, which can investigate them with the same logos, as they themselves display, sourced in the very LOGOS of God (John 1).

You have to dissent. That is the first point. You do not find excuse to roll over like a simpering dog.

You do not agree with the sin, so you do not lie down and let it lick your lips before grabbing your mouth also. Next, you look to your Maker (Isaiah 51:1), and look for HIS salvation, for as with creation, this too He has made and provided, as in Isaiah 44:23, 45:16-24. You consider its vicarious atonement, the reconciliation available through Christ bearing sin as representative for man, and taking upon Himself the sin and guilt of those who would come to Him (as in Isaiah 53:1-6, bearing the sin of all who were healed by His stripes). If you do not come, then forget the healing of spirit. It is selective, but not in a love-short-circuit, but in a simple provision for the takers, whom God has indeed foreknown; for there are no surprises for God (Isaiah 46:8); for time itself is His creation, being part of the space-time assemblage, the writing pad for history.

In so turning to God, and to His salvation, as a creation, you turn to grace as in Ephesians 2:7-12, for it is all by grace through faith, and you trust Him. Not to trust your Maker in fact makes a rather specious wriggle, as if one were oneself more reliable than what is one's very and veritable source, so that instead of finding what is godly, there threatens only a godless and inglorious confusion.

Thus Ephesians 2:5-8 has this.

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love
with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses,
made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
and raised us up together, and made us
sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
that in the ages to come He might show
the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness
 toward us in Christ Jesus.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith,
and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God ..."

Since it is all the work of God, to fail is out of the question, though fake faith is not! as in Hebrews 6. A wife may trust her husband in normal spheres, a man his dog and vice versa, so that to trust in not some work of philosophic grandeur, but as simple as the heart of a child, in Him who is the Lord and Saviour, is not hard, but an affair of the heart, in it and of the power of God (John 6:29). Indeed, Christ made it clear that entry into the kingdom of heaven requires a directness that is too real for plausible subtleties (Matthew 18:1-5).

Then, coming to know the God who is there, available, creator and redeemer, ransom in Himself for each one of His repentant people, each believer, you call Him onto the weakness of heart, spirit, mind that is afflicting you and ask for deliverance (John 8:34-36). It is not as if you are merely studying a program instead of watching the relevant opera; in this case you are PART of it, but there is a program in the promises of God. As your heart is changed through the entrance of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus the Christ, so your viewpoint and perspective are moved to realise what is happening (John 3). Consider the input from Paul in Romans 6:8-14.

"Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more.
Death no longer has dominion over Him. 

"For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all;
but the life that He lives,
He lives to God. Likewise you also,
reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin,
but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

"Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body,
that you should obey it in its lusts.
And do not present your members
as instruments of unrighteousness to sin,
but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead,
and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
{Cf. Romans 12:1-2, Ps. 37:3-6.}
For sin shall not have dominion over you,
for you are not under law but under grace."

 Resolution ("sin shall not have dominion over you," Romans 6), and provision (what "the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did," as in Romans 8:3), these both flow into dynamic assistance "you are not under law but grace." The purpose here is not to show the dynamic of sin but to aid its overthrow. His provision has power and intimacy from His now close presence (Ephesians 2:22), and in His presence new motivations, capacities, desires, delights, understandings arise like the sunlight on multiple coves, as the dawn breaks. His death is not only purgative but purifying, not only a matter of for sin but with sin, not only a conqueror but a bearer. Therefore do not be borne by sin but born by Him (as in Ezekiel 18:30-32. And what does it say ? It is this.

"Repent, and turn from all your transgressions,
so that iniquity will not be your ruin.
Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed,
and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.
For why should you die, O house of Israel?
For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,"
says the Lord GOD."

"Therefore turn and live!"

It applies to those who repentant, through grace by faith are redeemed in His ransoming action. It drives like a forceful mountain stream through the surrounding earth, a channel to carry away, lively waters for living souls.

NOTHING that is discernible as right and wrong, spiritually acceptable or unacceptable in principle, is outside the scope for repentance or the power of God to restore; and in your thought, to leave Him out, as if His omission in considering were natural or normal, instead of a gross flirtation with fancy, what is this ? It is nothing less than an infinite error.

He may even help before conversion, since His mercy endures for ever and He delights in it (as in Micah 7:18ff.); but there is no assurance of that, before conversion. Indeed, He may even act as a prelude (Romans 2:4).

"Or do you despise the riches of His goodness,
forbearance, and longsuffering,
not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"

It is for Him to decide such things; but for anyone to decide that the case is hopeless, it is not only unwise, but unseemly, unsightly and both specious and sad; because omitting what is more important than being in existence oneself,  at all, the power, presence, promises and purity of that self-same  Maker who is also Redeemer, is like trying to walk without feet, natural or artificial, or to think without thought. He has not forgotten His creation, though His creation may forget Him!

"Can a virgin forget her ornaments, Or a bride her attire?
Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number,"
Jeremiah 2:32. 

This, if wise, you do not do. IN remembering Him you turn to Romans 6 and consider the way of wisdom as there depicted; and proceed by faith so to live IN HIS PRESENCE. Flout the obvious, aspire to the holy, pursue anti-robotic realism in disregard of sin's luring pathways, never construe enticement as necessity, or custom, convenience or lack of self-control as mandatory.

Consider. Your equipment is not your soul; your facilities are not your life. Your difficulties are not your spirit. Your DNA for example, is equipment, not goal or God. It may limit the good you can do (as with Joni Erickson, so almost entirely paralysed), but not eliminate your spirit, which instead may become intensely productive. Facilities do not control your spirit. Your piano may be painfully disorganised, but this does not direct the heart of the pianist. If you know God, He also is near to you, and communication, prayer and attitude count. WILL you trust in Him to overpower the dynamic of evil (knowing this is not the deficiency from format weakness as through DNA), or will you not ? If not, this is rebellion; for this done for this reason, is parallel to what millions do for the other reasons; and it brings the same result.

Do not therefore be disheartened, or make even mental limits your excuse for failure to trust and follow the glorious Lord who made you (John 5:24, Psalm 78:41). Your difficulty is your own; that of others may be almost incredibly challenging also to them;  but it is theirs. Let each person deal faithfully with the Lord, and NEVER say, my fault I can see, but I cannot correct. If you can see it, then you can think and if you can think you can call, and if you call then you have the same access (Ephesians 3:12). Call then! (Acts 2:21). He is more than default code, to come when you have no other selection; His is the faultless and faithful provision when one realising one's faults, come to Him, the everlasting salvation for man, and for him, everlasting life.

Salvation is not a poem but a performance, made by God, applied by the Holy Spirit, endorsed by promises, surrounded with grace, propelled by the power of God. But to make oneself irrelevant is not humility, but hiking in the opposite direction. Will DNA, or deformity, will habit or custom, will depression or disability separate from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus ? If you know Him, rely on Him. If you do not, yet surrender to Him (Luke 14). In Him is life, and from Him is the channel for the waters of wonder, the ever present grace of God (Romans 8:33-36).

Let then the Christian rejoice in the power available as in Ephesians 1:19; for the bodily resurrection of Christ proclaims God's own power on earth to the uttermost, His purity of promise and absolute capacity in all things, to the very uttermost Trust therefore to the uttermost, rely in intensive realism, on Him alone, who alone does wondrous works, whether in body or mind, wisdom or relay, in answer or in discipline, in outreach as in inreach, the all-sufficient God who is our sufficiency (cf. Psalm 71,16, 72:18-19).




*1 For this follow this link.