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Firstfruits of the Spirit

Firstfruits of the Spirit

In my last post, I talked about the fact that the world system is waiting for the church to be revealed in God’s glory. That’s a body of believers who are walking in maturity. This is the goal Paul is bringing us to in the book of Romans.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

Romans 8:22

According to this verse, the whole system is doing two things. The first word Paul uses means to be groaning together. This is a moaning because of the place we find ourselves in.

It speaks of a very narrow place. The world understands that there should be more to life than the petty things they’re chasing after.

The second word Paul uses means to be in birth pains together. Picture this in the spirit…the entire world filled with pregnant, groaning, women. That’s what God sees in regards to His destiny for the church.

In my last article, we saw that the world is desperate to be liberated from its bondage to decay. That’s the physical law that everything goes from new to old and decayed. It’s also known as the Third Law of Thermodynamics for all of us science geeks.

However, the kingdom of God – the church – should be a place where that law has no effect. We should be experiencing healing, prosperity, and joy – in spite of all that’s going on around us.

It’s just like Israel when they were in Egypt. When the plagues came, the land of Goshen, where the Israelites lived was unaffected. I believe this is what we’ll experience in the final days before the return of Christ.

Then, those with eyes to see and ears to hear will run to the kingdom of God before it’s too late. I believe that will be the final harvest before the coming of wrath and the return of the Lord.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Romans 8:23

Now we see another groaning that the apostle talks about. The world system is groaning under the weight of decay. But we, as the body of Christ, are groaning too.

Who is it that’s groaning? It’s those who have the firstfruits of the spirit. That’s an interesting term. I understand the Fruit of the Spirit. That’s the result of the cultivation of the spirit walk.

In Old Testament times under the Law, you could plant fruit trees. According to that Law, you couldn’t touch the fruit for the first three years. Then, in the fourth year, all of the fruit belonged to God.

Then, from the fifth year on, it was considered a mature tree and all the fruit belonged to the owner. Now he could begin to give a firstfruits offering.

The Scripture didn’t say how much to bring for the firstfruits. So, the priests came up with some guidelines which became part of the traditions of the elders.

They said that the least anyone should give is one-sixtieth. However, if you want to be liberal with your offering, you could give one-thirtieth.

That reminds me of how the Lord blesses when we plant the seed of His Word. He blesses thirty, sixty, and even a hundredfold on His Word. He goes above and beyond all we can ask or imagine.

The fact is that those of us who are starting to see the work of God in us begin to groan inwardly. We’re waiting for the full adoption – the complete ransom – the deliverance of our body.

We’re starting to see the first of God’s work in us through the Fruit of the Spirit. But we’re groaning for the whole thing to be accomplished.

Question: How much of the Fruit of the Spirit do you see in your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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They’re Waiting for Us

They’re Waiting for Us

In my last post I talked about the suffering that we’re all called to endure. It’s brought on by making the flesh do things that it doesn’t want to do.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Romans 8:18

I sometimes think that I’m the only one with these problems. The fact is that Jesus had to go through the same things that we do. Even though His flesh wasn’t sinful, the Lord still had to bring it under the Holy Spirit’s control.

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Hebrews 5:8-9

It’s interesting to note that Christ learned obedience from what He suffered. Now we’re called to obey, so it only follows that we learn obedience the same way that He did.

How did Christ deal with this?

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

Hebrews 5:7

Please understand that this is not talking about the Garden of Gethsemane. This is the suffering that took place during His life.

Think about the football player in my last post. He went forward with loud cries and tears. He screamed, “It hurts, it burns,” yet he kept going.

This is what we are sharers of. According to the verse in Romans, this is for the glory about to be uncovered in us.

The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.

Romans 8:19

This is the intense anticipation of the creation. The whole system of life on this planet is waiting for the unveiling of the sons (and daughters) of God. The Lord’s endgame is for the church to become a full-fledged son.

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Romans 8:20-21

Actually, this is probably why we’re so hated by the world. The system wants liberation and they expect it to come from us. But, they look at the church, and compare us to what we promise. The result is frustration and hatred.

It’s like being a fan of a baseball team that keeps losing. Even if their team doesn’t win, the fans keep coming out. They hope for the best, but remain angry and frustrated.

The expectation is that there will be liberation from the effects of sin. This liberation should come through us, as believers.

The system is waiting for us to bring freedom. We need to rise to our feet as sons and daughters of the living God.

This could be the final harvest that’s talked about in Scripture. This will happen when the church becomes fully mature.

This is why we need to learn the lessons that Paul lays out in the book of Romans. We need to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Question: What would it look like if the church was fully mature?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Our Spiritual Maturity

Our Spiritual Maturity

As we continue through the book of Romans, I’ve been posting about the spiritual growth process. In the last article, I talked about the childhood phase. The Lord wants us to move on from there.

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:16-17

We share in His glory when we walk as mature sons and daughters of God. There are many verses that talk about what this level of maturity looks like. Here are a few.

…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:13

Becoming like Christ is the goal. Our desire should be to minister, love, and encourage as He did. Obviously, we need the ministry gifts for this level of maturity.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:4

Maturity doesn’t just happen. It’s something you have to persevere and strive for. The struggle, however, is worth it. Scripture teaches that when you’re mature, you’re complete and don’t lack anything.

We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.

James 3:2

The word, perfect in this verse is the Greek word for mature. When I’m walking in maturity, my speaking and doing are in line with God’s Word. That’s a big indicator. We know that our mouth speaks out what’s stored in our hearts. So, clean speech shows a clean heart.

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

Colossians 1:28

This was Paul’s goal. He wanted everyone under his influence to walk in the maturity of Christ. That should be our goal as well.

Unfortunately, we don’t seem to know what maturity is in this generation. Many of us are like little kids looking up at their teenage brothers and saying, “I want to get there!” We need to go beyond that point.

It’s all wrapped up in the progression of sonship. The Holy Spirit wants to bring us from the initial adoption papers to the glory of revealed sons.

What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.

Galatians 4:1-2

We think that just because we have the spiritual position, we can do whatever we want. No, not if you’re a child. We need the walk of maturity to open up a new world of spiritual freedom.

In this section of Romans, Paul is getting us ready to learn adulthood. That’s why this teaching is so important. The next section of Romans is the key to operating on the level of a revealed son or daughter of God.

Question: How mature do you see yourself right now?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2021 in Revival, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Our Spiritual Childhood

Our Spiritual Childhood

I’m continuing my look at Paul’s letter to the Roman church. For the last few posts I’ve been laying a foundation of side issues that needed to be explained in order to go further.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Romans 8:15

This verse is why I felt the need to explain the concept of a progressive parent-child relationship. It tells us that we’re not a slave to fear, which is what we experience living under the law. Instead, when we’re saved, we received the Spirit of adoption.

It’s by that Spirit, that we cry Abba, Father. You have to understand that Abba is what a little child called his Father. It’s the Aramaic equivalent to our word, daddy.

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

Galatians 4:6

This verse confirms the truth that it’s the Holy Spirit who cries out “Abba, Father” from within us. This tells me that it’s only in the spirit that we cry “Daddy Father”.

The fact is, that we’ve received adoption in Christ – the standing of a son. We have to understand that adoption is merely the paperwork. It’s not the completed work. That’s where Paul is taking us to in this letter.

Just to see where Paul is leading us to…

The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.

Romans 8:19

Paul wants us to go from the adoption paperwork to become the revealed sons of God. This means that we’re all adopted sons, but not all of us are revealed sons. We need to go through the Holy Spirit’s training program in order to progress to this point.

The next couple of verses reinforce this truth.

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:16-17

Because of our salvation, the Holy Spirit and our spirit jointly agree that we are God’s little children. Verse 17 says that if we’re His little children, then we’re also co-heirs with Christ. That also means that we’re co-sufferers with Him so we can share in His glory.

So, we’re adopted as infant sons of God. We start out as “baby Christians”. What does that mean?

I Corinthians 3:1 tells us that infants are still worldly. According to Galatians 4:3, they’re still in slavery to the principles of the world. Ephesians 4:14 says that infants are tossed back and forth by winds of teaching. Hebrews 5:13 explains that these believers are not acquainted with the teaching of righteousness.

What I’ve found is that many Christians in our generation are in this condition. Paul is calling for us to progress in our walk. We need to be moving on to maturity.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many who teach this progressive relationship between us and the Father. We need to be submitting to the Holy Spirit and His training program for us.

We can’t just assume that because we’ve been given the position of righteousness, then we’re automatically walking in righteousness. It’s the same with holiness and other concepts of Scripture.

Make it your goal to move on to maturity, if you’re not already there. In my next post, I’m going to explain what it means to be mature in Christ. That way we can see how far we need to go down this road.

Question: At what level do you see yourself in Christ?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2021 in Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Our Adoption in Christ

Our Adoption in Christ

In my last post we talked about the authority that our spirit can have over our flesh. We were continuing through Paul’s letter to the Romans. I explained how praying in the spirit brings about a change in the way we live. Indeed, both miracles and the walk of righteousness come from spending time in the spirit.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live…
Romans 8:13

In the last post, I was only looking at the concept of righteousness. It was the context that Paul started us with.

Now, I want to move on to the next verse which brings us deeper into this truth. As a matter of fact, I may take a few extra posts to deal with these verses, because they contain so much truth that we need to understand fully.

…because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
Romans 8:14

The Word of God is clear. Those who are led by the Holy Spirit are sons. Understand this – if you’re saved, then the Holy Spirit is leading you. As a matter of fact, the Spirit of God is leading even if you’re not following. He’s gently waiting for you to catch up with Him. Why is this?

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:26-29

Now, reading this, I find it interesting that Paul tells us that we’re of the seed of Abraham, and not Moses. Abraham followed God in a walk of faith that worked righteousness in him. He allowed himself to be led by God. So Abraham operated as a son of God. This is because “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Romans 8:15-17

The word, sonship, in this verse, actually means adoption – the placing as a son. This tells me that in Christ, I’ve been placed in the position of a son of God with all the rights and privileges that goes with it.

This is an incredible truth. Sonship is how we explain the relationship of “ever increasing glory”. Because the Holy Spirit is working in us, leading us from glory to glory, we are seen to be sons of God.

Please understand that even though we are adopted as sons of God, Jesus Christ is THE only begotten Son of the Father. We are not equal in position or authority to Him. He is the Head of the Church. That needs to be made clear.

However, even in our position as adopted children, Sonship is a position of power. This is because the Holy Spirit Himself testifies that we are sons. He does this as He bestows the power of God upon us. As the Spirit does His work in us, we have the likeness of Christ ever-increasing in us.

Question: How is the relationship of Sonship different than that of a slave?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2021 in Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Holy Spirit – Life Giver

The Holy Spirit – Life Giver

In my last post, I talked about what it takes to please God. That should be our number one desire.

We saw from Paul’s writings in Romans, that the flesh can never please God. The apostle continues with this thought. However, even though I normally use the NIV, for this verse I believe that the NKJV is the more accurate translation.

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

Romans 8:9, NKJV

This verse simply states that everyone can access the Spirit of Christ if they’re saved. It’s not a special level of achievement only attained by a few highly spiritual people..

If you are His, then you have the Spirit of Christ.

But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

Romans 8:10

Here’s a statement of fact. There are two results of having the Spirit of Christ within you. The first is that if Christ is in you, then your body is dead through sin. Secondly, if Christ is in you, then your spirit is alive through righteousness.

What does Paul mean by saying that your spirit is alive? Furthermore, what does it mean to be spiritually dead? This is a concept that many people have no understanding of.

Remember back to the Garden of Eden. When God created Adam, He said that if you eat of this tree, you will surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17) Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, yet their bodies didn’t stop working at that point.

That’s because in God’s terminology, death is the loss of fellowship with Him. Because of sin, communication ceases between Adam and the Lord. Humanity lost the relationship that they were created for.

The fact is, I’m going to live eternally somewhere, so death doesn’t mean my body stops working. A good picture of this truth is found in the parable of the Prodigal Son.

The younger of two sons took his inheritance and left home. Father and son were no longer able to have fellowship. When the son came to his senses, he returned home. Look at the response of the father.

But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

Luke 15:32

His return was a change from death to life. That’s the same with us when we’re saved.

Your flesh cannot fellowship with God. Your spirit, because you’re now in Christ, can live in relationship with God.

Even though your spirit existed before salvation, it couldn’t commune with God. That’s why believers now need to learn to communicate with God.

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

Romans 8:11

Every Christian has the Spirit of Christ living in them. Because of that fact, communication and fellowship with God is now possible. This means that the Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead in you, and He will give life to your body that submits to death.

What did the Spirit do for Christ? He awakened Christ from the dead. What does He do for us? He will give life to our dying flesh.

That’s the bottom line. It’s the Spirit that works on our flesh, not the mind.

Question: Why is it better to rely on the Holy Spirit rather than will-power?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2021 in Faith, Legalism, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Pleasing to God

Pleasing to God

As we continue on in the book of Romans, Paul shows us the clear choice that we’re faced with.

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

Romans 8:6-8

The choice laid before us is death vs. life and peace. It’s clear from Scripture that this has always been the choice throughout history.

We need to understand that peace is the total blessing of God. In opposition to that, the mind focused on the flesh is hostile toward God. Therefore, it cannot submit to God’s law because it doesn’t have the power to submit.

It’s a simple fact that a mind focused on the things pertaining to the flesh cannot please God. That’s because God isn’t impressed by our rules, feelings, logic, or will-power.

What exactly does the Bible say about pleasing God?

On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 2:4

This verse makes it clear. The only way to please God is through the condition of our heart. If that’s the case, than what does it take to have a heart that’s pleasing to the Lord?

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…

Colossians 1:9-10

It takes spiritual wisdom and understanding in order to please God. On top of that, we must bear fruit. I assume he’s talking about the fruit of the spirit. These are not things that can be accomplished by our mind or our flesh.

This was evident in the life of Christ.

So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”

John 8:28-29

This is the foundation of how Jesus pleased the Father. He spoke as He was taught by the Father. That means His wisdom and understanding came from a spiritual source. Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit the same way He wants us to walk.

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.

1 John 3:21-22

When John says that we obey His commands; what’s he talking about? Is it the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on Mount? No, it’s the spiritual instructions we receive as we spend time in the presence of God.

That’s what pleases the Lord. It’s all about our spirit-walk. According to the verse in Romans, above, without my spiritual walk, I do not have the power to please God. Don’t neglect the most important part of your relationship with God. Spend some intimate time with the Holy Spirit.

Question: What has the Holy Spirit impressed you to do lately?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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No Condemnation!

No Condemnation!

We’re continuing our study through Paul’s letter to the Romans. In this post we’re starting chapter 8.

Remember, in the last chapter we saw that there’s a battle going on between my mind and my flesh. Each of them is submitting to a different law. But, we can get victory through Christ.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1-2

Here’s another one of those passages that people like to take out of context. It’s one of the favorite verses for people who hate correction. The least bit of constructive criticism causes them to respond, “Stop speaking condemnation over me!”

That statement shows a total misunderstanding of what this verse means. It literally reads that there’s no guilty verdict in Christ Jesus. We’ve been declared “Not Guilty” in Christ. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t miss the mark sometimes.

Jesus made a statement to a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. He couldn’t have made it any clearer.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

John 8:11b

We need to take this to heart. Telling someone to stop sinning is NOT the same as condemning them. It’s part of the assignment of Christian leaders to lovingly warn believers of the outcome of their actions.

Condemnation is the final verdict. That’s why the phrase, in Christ, is so important. It’s because we’re found in Christ that the law of the Spirit of Life liberates us from law of sin and death.

What, exactly, is this law that liberates us? It’s in Christ.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

John 15:7-8

Actually, what Jesus said here was for us to remain in His Word. His Word remains in me if I remain in Him. James talked about this as well.

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

James 1:21

He went on to say that we can’t just look into the Word, then forget it. We must continue in the Word. He concluded with an important statement of truth.

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.

James 1:25

Please understand that James is not simply talking about reading the Bible. He’s talking about remaining in Christ and allowing His Word to be planted in us. Notice that James equates the implanted Word as the perfect law that gives freedom.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom…

James 2:12

The truth is that we’re not going to be judged on the ten commandments. We’re going to be judged by the Word planted in us. This is the law of the Spirit of life that sets me free as I allow it to take root in my life.

Question: What’s the difference between condemnation and warning against sin?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Internal War

The Internal War

We’re continuing our walk through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. He’s been explaining the battle with sin experienced by immature believers.

These Christians are at the point where they believe God’s law is right. They’ve determined to live for God habitually, but very often find themselves failing.

As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.

Romans 7:17

This is another important verse to understand. The context gives us the prerequisites for this. The verses just before this one show that I’ve determined to stop doing those things I now hate. This verse gives me hope for my future.

It lets me know that even if I fail, my sin is not going to drag me down. It’s covered by God’s grace. God does not count it as my fault. It’s no longer me that accomplishes it, but the sin that occupies the house in me.

This is actually the basis for Paul’s teaching in chapter 8, which we’ll get to at some point. It’s hard to preach this because people want to turn God’s grace into a doormat. That’s not the case here.

If you determine to continue in sin, this verse doesn’t cover you. But, if all the conditions are met – my desire is to serve God completely – then I don’t blame myself.

Why can I say this? Paul explains it in the next verse.

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Romans 7:18

The first sentence of this verse literally says I know by experience that nothing good lives in the house of my flesh. Nothing good at all.

The Holy Spirit lives in my spirit. The Word of God lives in my soul (my mind). But in my flesh there’s nothing good, only sin.

The next sentence reads, the intention or desire to do good is present with me, but I cannot find how to fully accomplish it. As a baby Christian, I haven’t figured out yet, how to fully live for Christ.

Now Paul summarizes everything he’s said so far.

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. 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.

Romans 7:19-20

Because of the sin living in my flesh, I see myself doing evil again and again. Remember, this is not the norm for a mature believer. Paul is speaking from the perspective of immaturity.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law…

Romans 7:21-22

Paul explains that there’s a law at work here. When I determine to do right, evil is present with me. The determination of my soul is different than the desire of my evil flesh. This is a tension that even the Apostle Peter wrote about.

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

1 Peter 2:11

Your soul and your flesh want two different things for your life. Your soul rejoices in God’s law, and that’s the foundation for the next step in your growth.

Question: How have you seen this war between your soul and your flesh play out in your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2021 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Spiritual Infancy

Spiritual Infancy

In my last post we were talking about the difference between spiritual laws and physical laws. Today I want to review a little bit, so we can see the progression through the book of Romans.

Here’s the verse we left off on.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.

Romans 7:14

Remember how Paul brought us to this point. In his letter, he started by talking about ungodly sinners with no knowledge of God. He also talked about those who were actively anti-God.

His next subject was religious people. These are the ones who think rules will get you to God.

He then shared about the principles of salvation. He explained how Christ set us free from death, sin, and the law.

At that point, everything he talked about was theoretical and positional. It was all about the finished work of Christ that He accomplished through His death on the cross and His resurrection.

But now, we’re getting to the important part. How is all of this applied to my life in practice?

Paul starts by talking about how we can offer ourselves as a paid volunteers of sin. We saw that when you offer to work for sin, sin will pay you wages.

In any job you’re selling yourself to the company for your paycheck. We basically say, “I’m yours, I’ll do what you tell me for a price.”

Actually, this wasn’t the normal lifestyle until the industrial age. Until then, most people worked for themselves.

So, we’re now at the point in Romans where Paul is talking about Christians who are working for sin. There’s a Scriptural word for that.

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

1 Corinthians 3:1-3

The word translated as worldly in this verse is actually the word, carnal or fleshly. It means that they serve God according to the dictates of their flesh.

The apostle equates this with being a spiritual infant. This tells me that every Christian goes through the carnal phase. But the real question is; for how long? The goal should be to get through this infancy as quickly as possible.

We need to understand that this is who he’s talking about at this point in Romans – infant Christians.

And that brings us to, probably, one of the most misunderstood and most misquoted passages of the New Testament. It’s used as excuse for all kinds of sinful lifestyles.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 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. 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.

Romans 7:15-20

Christians who want to stay in their infant stage pull this out of context and say, “Look at this! Even Paul didn’t do right. So don’t judge me.”

What they don’t understand is that Paul was talking from the perspective of an infant Christian. This is not supposed to be the normal Christian life.

In my next post, we’ll begin looking at this section of Scripture in great detail. We’ll see exactly what Paul was trying to get across to us.

Question: How have you seen your Christian walk progress through the infant stage?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2021 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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