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Who’s in Control?

Who’s in Control?

We’re continuing our look at Paul’s letter to the Roman church. He’s showing the differences between a law of righteousness, and that which comes by faith.

Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.”

Romans 10:5

When it comes to trying to live righteously by keeping the law, the Bible is very clear. The person who does these things will live in them. It’s all about living in the law. James told us that if you keep it all, and miss it on one point, you’ve blown the whole thing (James 2:10).

How does the righteousness by faith describe itself?

But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming…

Romans 10:6-8

Paul starts with what this righteousness doesn’t say. You really need to understand the Greek to get the full scope of what’s being said here.

The first thing we see is that true righteousness is a matter of the heart. What’s your heart saying? There are two parts. Your heart either wants to bring Christ down, or bring Christ up. What does that mean?

Actually, the two Greek words used for bring down and bring up are technical sailing terms. Bring down literally means to moor a ship in the harbor. Bring up means to launch a ship on its voyage.

The bottom line – It’s all about who’s in control. Too often believers act like they’re in control of the Lord. They tell Him to come or go according to their good pleasure. That’s not the God I serve.

Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Yes, He calls me His friend. But that doesn’t negate the fact that this is still His universe, His plan, His agenda, and His church. I’m the one who needs to get in line with what the Lord desires.

Too often we try to put God into our own little box. We think we have Him all figured out. We know what the Lord should and shouldn’t do. We know who Christ should love, and who He should pour out judgment on.

When we live like that, we’re headed toward frustration. God breaks out of the box every time. Then, we end up looking foolish.

Instead, Paul talks about what true righteousness actually says. This is what the verse says if you take out all of the “don’ts”.

But the righteousness that is by faith says: “…The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming…

“It” is the righteousness by faith. Scripture makes it clear that the rhema word is near you – in your heart and in your mouth. He also calls it the rhema of faith. Remember that rhema speaks of the Word we hear directly from the Holy Spirit.

We know that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. That’s why we must spend quality time with God – praying in the spirit.

As I do that, He puts His rhema in my heart, and then it overflows from my mouth at the right time. The modern church has yet to learn to use this powerful weapon. The early church used it to turn the world upside down.

The rhema of God is a necessity. We can’t fulfill God’s plan without it.

Question: How has God’s rhema Word changed your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Zeal is not Enough

Zeal is not Enough

In our journey through the book of Romans, we now find ourselves in chapter 10. Paul is continuing to explain the place of Israel in God’s plan. However, a lot of what he says can be applied to us. He’s speaking out against self-righteousness.

He starts chapter 10 with a brief summary of what he’s been saying.

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.

Romans 10:1-2

Here we get a look into Paul’s heart for Israel. Paul’s greatest prayer is for Israel’s salvation. That’s an important statement. The assumption is that they’re not saved. They have no spiritual exemption simply because they’re the physical seed of Abraham.

We need to take that to heart. Our children are not saved simply because they grew up in church. There are some who call themselves “Christian” merely due to the fact that they attended Sunday School throughout their childhood.

That’s not enough. Every individual has to choose to serve Jesus Christ for themselves. I’m a prime example.

I grew up in a Christian home. I was a third generation Italian Pentecostal. From my earliest recollection, I never missed church on a Sunday. My parents even took us to church when we were on vacation!

I knew all the Bible stories. I memorized all the verses I was given. I never rebelled against church. But, that wasn’t enough – I was still not saved.

There came a day when I had to make the decision for myself to serve Jesus Christ. In July of 1966 I was sent to a Christian summer camp. It was called Camp Woodhaven in West Boylston, Massachusetts.

They would have a service every night and a prayer meeting directly after it. We were in the boy’s bunkhouse. I was kneeling next to my bed. My counselor came over to me and asked if I had ever made Jesus the Lord of my life.

He then explained to me God’s plan for salvation. He tailored it to my level. That’s when I said “Yes” to Jesus Christ and my counselor led me in a prayer that forever changed my life.

Even before that day, I was zealous for God. But, as Paul says in the above verse, zeal for God is not enough. I had to know and agree to God’s plan for my life.

That’s also how it is for the Jewish people. They need to recognize and follow God’s truth. What is it that they need to recognize?

Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Romans 10:3-4

They needed to come to an understanding of God’s righteousness. It’s a righteousness that’s by faith in Him. They zealously sought to stand in their own righteousness. While at the same time refusing to put themselves under God’s righteousness.

Here’s the problem with that kind of thinking. The second verse literally says that Christ is the end of the line for the law. The law stops with Christ – He’s the focal point of everything in the Old Testament.

Think of it as a train ride. All who believe get off at this station. The station is righteousness by faith in the finished work of Christ. But, there are some who refuse to leave the train. Among them are the Jews, and some who call themselves Christians.

That’s why we need to constantly be on guard against self-righteous legalism in our lives. It can destroy our walk with God. We need to be aware of God’s work in us – the only way to true righteousness.

Question: How did you choose to follow Christ?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2021 in Faith, Israel, Legalism, The Gospel

 

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Pursuing By Faith

Pursuing By Faith

Going through Romans, Paul has been talking about the place of Israel in the plan of God. He has been using Old Testament prophecies to explain it.

It is just as Isaiah said previously: “Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.”

Romans 9:29

Here Paul quotes another prophecy from Isaiah (Isaiah 1:9). This verse tells us that Israel is not totally gone. There remains a seed. This seed was protected by God. And, from what I can see through history, they remain protected.

So in talking about the Jewish people, they have a special place in God’s heart and in Paul’s as well.

However, their salvation is the same as ours. It can only be through faith in Christ. Right now, their calling and ours is the same. We are called to salvation in Christ, then, we submit to the Holy Spirit to as He brings us to mature sonship.

What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it.

Romans 9:30-31

Now Paul summarizes what he said so far. The Gentiles did not pursue righteousness, yet, when given the chance, they eagerly seized and possessed it. But what kind of righteousness is it? It’s a righteousness that has its origin in faith.

Israel, on the other hand, pursued a law of righteousness, yet never arrived at it. The Gentiles grabbed righteousness as it was springing out of their faith. But, if you chase it by law, you can never catch it.

Here’s the reason…

Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.” As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Romans 9:32-33

Their righteousness was not coming from faith. They were pursuing as if it could spring up from their works.

This is also a problem many Christians have. We expect the blessings of God to spring from our works. If I just try harder, then God will notice my efforts and reward them.

That’s what tripped them and it trips us as well. It’s what Paul refers to as the stumbling stone.

In Paul’s quote of Isaiah, he actually uses two verses (Isaiah 8:14; 28:16) The first gives us an interesting word picture. He literally says that it’s a stone of stumbling and a rock of trapping.

The picture of a trap is of a bent tree with a rope trap. The rock holds the tree down until the trap is sprung.

The second verse deals with a perfect foundation stone. I believe that Paul put these two Old Testament verses together by the Holy Spirit. He’s actually giving us three choices.

It could be a little rock that causes you to trip and fall, making you embarrassed. Or, it could be a large rock that traps you and you’re hanging upside down, again embarrassed. Finally, it could be a foundation stone that you stand on, secure, and never put to shame.

The real question before us is; what is he talking about? It’s all about pursuing a righteousness that originates in faith. That’s the only way to please God.

Any other way brings shame and disappointment. When I try to please God with my own efforts, I end up frustrated and without hope. I have to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about change in my life.

Question: How have you tried to serve God in your own strength?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2021 in Faith, Israel, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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Our Spiritual Position vs. Our Walk

Our Spiritual Position vs. Our Walk

In my last post I talked about women and sonship. Now I want to talk about sonship in a more general way.

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.
Romans 8:15-16

This is a great truth of the New Covenant. When we came to Christ and received His salvation, we also received the Holy Spirit within us. At that point we were adopted into the family of God.

This is the foundation for the concept of sonship. But we need to understand it. In listening to what a lot of people are teaching, it sounds like a son is a son is a son. There’s no difference in any of our relations to God.

While the relationship of a son to a father is constant, what we fail to realize is that the dynamics of that relationship change over time. The Bible speaks about different levels of sonship. There are Greek words for adoption, son, infant, toddler, child, and fully matured adults. We miss the full impact of the Gospel when we treat all the levels of our relationship with God as the same.

In the original language of the above verse, the Holy Spirit was called the Spirit of Adoption. The concept of adoption into the family of God is very important for the believer. The word adoption literally means to place in the position of a son. When we received Christ as our Savior, and He placed His Spirit within us, we were brought immediately into the position of a son of God.

Remember – Jesus Christ is THE only begotten Son of God. However, we’ve been placed into the position of a son of God. This gives us all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of the family of God. At that point we’re saved from our sin and on our way to Heaven. But we have to realize that we’re only in the very early stages of our relationship with the Father.

Knowing your position in Christ is important. We’re placed in the position of being righteous before God. This means that we can come into His presence at any time, for any reason.

We’ve also been placed into the position of being holy before God. That means that we have been set apart by God for His purposes. This is great news, because in my own works I could never even hope to attain to such a high calling.

The problem comes when we fail to understand that there’s a vast difference between the position of righteousness and holiness – and the walk that is characterized by those qualities. I cannot assume that I’m living a holy life just because God calls me holy by position. The Apostle John makes it clear as he talks about the walk of righteousness.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
1 John 3:7

Many are being led astray in this generation, thinking that because they have been placed in the position of righteousness, it also means that they are walking in righteousness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your position and your walk are two different things.

It’s the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to make the position of righteousness and holiness a present reality in our daily walk. That’s what Paul is dealing with throughout the book of Romans. This is why I feel the importance of understanding this book.

It’s because of this that I had to clarify the concepts of adoption, sonship, spiritual position, and daily walk. Knowing these foundational issues are crucial as we go forward with the Apostle Paul’s teaching.

Question: How does the walk of righteousness differ from the position?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2021 in Revival, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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A Testimony of God’s Work

A Testimony of God’s Work

As we continue through the book of Romans, I’ve been talking about the spiritual walk. As we pray in the spirit, we’re affecting the natural. We looked at a few verses that tell us that it’s through the spirit that we overcome the flesh.

There are those who spend their entire lifetime trying to master the fruit of the spirit by their own strength and will power. I’ve found that those who are able to do this are easy to spot. The older they get, the deeper the frown etched on their faces.

They’re quick to tell you how hard it is to stay committed to the Lord. Doing this work on your own is very detrimental to your joy and I don’t recommend it for long periods of time.

Another observation actually had me upset at God for a long time until I understood what was really going on in the spiritual realm. The problem is that sometimes we have an experience in God and try to explain it based upon our observances instead of searching the Word. I’m thinking specifically about my grandparents, who were the first in our family to receive Christ.

Back when they first immigrated to America from Italy, they were rough, unlearned people. At that point, an evangelist came from Chicago to Boston to bring the Gospel to the Italian community. That’s when my grandparents heard the Good News and submitted their hearts to Christ. The church I grew up in was the Italian Pentecostal Church that grew from that evangelist’s work.

Growing up, I heard all the stories of how God moved in those days. I heard about the power, the healings, and the miracles. I learned all about the righteous lives that these “old folks” lived. Their conversion became legendary.

“If we would only live like they did…”

This is why I was upset at God. I was told that when they were saved, they were really saved. Their lives were changed instantly. There was suddenly no more profanity, stealing, or fits of rage. They began walking in love, joy, peace and the rest of the gifts.

I knew my grandparents well enough to know that what was said about their lifestyle was true. They lived close to God. They loved like Jesus did. They evangelized everyone they met.

That’s what upset me. I felt that I had been short changed in my salvation experience. I wanted to know why I was still wrestling with my sin. Why did their lives change so radically, and mine seemed to be a never ending process?

What I was taught about this did little to help me. I was told that God just works differently in different people. Some people He cleans up in an instant and in others the Lord takes His time. I just resigned myself to the belief that I was one of those that would take a long time to see the changes occur in my life. All this, because we based our theology on observation rather than the Word of God.

Here’s what actually happened to my grandparents, based on what we’ve just learned from the Scripture. When they heard the Good News of the Savior, they submitted to His Lordship in faith. They were saved and immediately baptized in the Spirit with the evidence of their prayer language.

Then they began to attend meetings on almost every day of the week. Some of these were services and some were prayer meetings. Here’s the key. No matter what kind of meeting it was, they always spent hours praying in the spirit.

I know from watching her, that my grandmother prayed hours a day. By observation, people saw that when someone was saved and baptized in the Spirit, their life changed. It seemed to be instantaneous.

But looking back, I can see through the filter of the Scriptures, what really changed their lives was that they spent hours a week praying in the Holy Spirit. There was not one particular work of holiness – it was the ongoing process of putting to death the misdeeds of the body through prayer in the spirit.

Then, over the course of time, the prayer meetings stopped being attended by the next generation. Instead of using the power of the Spirit, they learned to serve God using will power alone. Holiness became a thing of the past, “the stuff of legends”.

We just looked back and said, “Those old Italians knew how to serve God.” What they learned was that power was only accessed in that secret place of intimacy with the Holy Spirit. This is how we must receive the power as well. To the extent that we worship God in His language, at His level, we will experience His power.

At one point the Lord impressed us to start having a prayer meeting only for prayer in the spirit. We met for one hour a week to pray in our heavenly language. During that time I observed that people who spent even moderate amounts of time praying in the spirit started to change at an incredible rate.

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace…
Romans 8:6

The good news is that you don’t have to know how it works for it to affect you. But, you do have to walk in it for the effects to be realized. Don’t just use the gift of the heavenly language as a once in a while plaything. It’s the access key to the release of the power of God in your life. You should use this gift daily. If you choose to do this, your life will never be the same.

Question: How have you seen the effects of praying in the spirit?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Planting in the Spirit

Planting in the Spirit

I’ve been taking a few posts to talk about setting our minds on the things of the spirit. Paul told us that was the key to overcoming the desires of the flesh.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Romans 8:5

I ended the last post by showing that our New Covenant ministry brings life and righteousness. That is, if we minister this life-giving covenant correctly. How exactly does it bring bring about God’s righteousness in us?

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18

It comes by spending intimate time with the Holy Spirit. It’s by the Spirit that we’re transformed. That’s the point I’ve been consistently trying to make. Our strength and will-power have nothing to do with it.

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

Galatians 5:16-18

Don’t turn this around like so many self-righteous believers do.

“If you can stop gratifying the flesh, you will be walking in the spirit.”

Absolutely not!!! The Pharisees were not anywhere near walking in the spirit. Yet, they had an almost perfect track record in regards to outward sin.

Legalism is not the answer. The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount don’t change you. It’s living by the spirit that brings righteousness.

According to this verse, if you “spirit-walk” you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. What is this spirit-walk? Obviously it doesn’t involve my flesh or my mind.

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.

1 Corinthians 14:14

Do you really hear what this verse says? When my spirit prays, my mind bears no fruit. And, for sure, my flesh bears no fruit.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Galatians 6:7-8

The Bible is clear; you reap what you sow. Actually, the original Greek does not have the words, please, in it. It tells us that if you sow to your flesh, you reap destruction from your flesh.

If, on the other hand, you sow to your spirit, you reap eternal, perpetual life.

How do I reap perpetual life? By sowing into my spirit. I believe that’s talking about prayer in the spirit. It’s my spirit praying and bringing me into God’s presence. That’s how I sow into my spirit.

This is made abundantly clear if you read Galatians 5:19-23. In that passage you can clearly see the difference between the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit. I believe that prayer in the spirit is the key to seeing this fruit in our lives.

Question: How much of the Fruit of the Spirit is evident in your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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It Starts in the Mind

It Starts in the Mind

We’re continuing our study through Romans. Paul is explaining how to apply the victory God’s given us over the flesh. Following a set of rules is not enough.

For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:3-4

Once again Paul repeats the fact that the law was powerless because it was weak through the flesh. Now for the Good News. The Son of God came resembling sinful flesh. Christ may have looked like a normal human being, but His flesh had no sin nature.

By His life, the Lord pronounced a sentence against sin in the flesh. He did this for a reason. So that the righteousness of the law would be fulfilled, completed in us. So, is this righteousness totally completed in all of us? Not exactly.

Paul qualifies it by saying that righteousness is only fully completed in those who don’t walk after the flesh, but who walk after the spirit.

We need to understand that Paul isn’t talking about the position of righteousness here. Anyone in Christ is righteous in the eyes of God. Many people are confused over this point. This position of righteousness gives us total access into God’s presence.

There is, however, another level to righteousness. That’s the walk of righteousness. This is what Paul is referring to.

He tells us that we can’t attain to a fully completed walk of righteousness by working with the flesh. Trying to follow a set of rules – right and wrong, good and evil. This doesn’t work.

The only road to victory is by cultivating our spiritual walk. This includes things like prayer in the spirit and renewing the inner man. The fact is, that if you cultivate the spirit walk, God will never hold you accountable for the written law.

Paul goes on to explain further.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Romans 8:5

Simply put, if you’re all about concentrating on the flesh, then your life is flesh driven. If, on the other hand, you direct your mind toward the spirit, you’re cultivating a spiritual walk.

So, in essence, it all starts with the mind. This is the key and I want to go into this in more detail. But, to do so we need to understand how the Apostle Paul viewed himself.

As I’ve said before, many people erroneously think that Paul was always falling into sin. They base that on some of the things he said in chapter 7. They miss the fact that he was merely speaking from a baby Christian’s perspective.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

1 Corinthians 13:11

Paul definitely sees himself as a spiritual adult. To get there, he had to progress like anyone else. That means he had to go through infant-hood, childhood, and adolescence.

There are no free rides in the body of Christ. Paul is perfectly suited to show us the road to maturity. He actually writes about it in many of his letters. In my next post, I want to look at Paul’s description of this spiritual journey.

Question: Why is our mindset so important in the Christian walk?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Weakness of the Flesh

The Weakness of the Flesh

We’re continuing through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. He’s bringing them, step by step, through the process of salvation, from sinner to a deep spiritual walk.

At this point he’s dealing with the possibility that although Christ set you free from slavery to sin, you can still sin voluntarily.

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.

Romans 6:19

This is a very important verse in understanding our problem with sin. Paul is talking on the human level about the choices we make.

The phrase, natural selves, is really the word, flesh or sarx in the Greek language. He makes it clear that our flesh is our weakness. This begins a new level of teaching at this point in his letter.

So far, Paul has been talking about our body or soma in the Greek. There’s a distinction between these two concepts – body and flesh. In the battle against sin, our flesh is the area of our weakness.

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

Galatians 5:16-17

As in Romans, the phrase sinful nature is the word flesh in this verse. The flesh is the nature and will of the body. It is contrary to everything God wants for you. That’s our greatest weakness.

So in the pages of Scripture, the term, flesh, refers to the wants and desires of the body. That’s why Paul has referred to it as the body of death.

Getting back to Romans, chapter 6, Paul says that our new life should be the same as our old life. The only difference is who we’re offering our body to as a slave.

Exactly like you offered up your members to serve impurity, going from lawlessness to lawlessness, now offer them to righteousness.

We find that once we take first step, it’s easier to take second. So I must offer up my members as servants of righteousness. That will lead me toward holiness and deeper into a walk of righteousness. The fact is that I can force my body to obey God even if my flesh doesn’t want to.

When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 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. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:20-23

Now Paul asks another question. Looking back, what fruit did you hold by the things you’re now ashamed of? At that time in your life the point you were aiming at was death.

Now you’re liberated from the reign of sin. You can be a voluntary servant of God. Now the fruit that you produce leads you toward holiness. More than that, your life is now aimed at a perpetual, forever-life.

In the last verse, Paul summarizes what he’s said so far. The wages paid by sin are death. Please understand, wages are not paid immediately. On the other hand, God’s gift is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Question: What are the difficulties in voluntarily serving God?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2021 in Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Grace is Life

Grace is Life

We’ve been looking at Paul’s letter to the Roman church. In my last post, we talked about the battle between life and death.

Paul obviously understood the importance of this principle. He continues to talk about it in the next few verses..

Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.

Romans 5:18-19

Because of Adam’s sin, everyone is now under the same guilty verdict. Because of that, we deserve the death sentence.

However, because of the work of Christ on the cross, that sentence has been nullified. According to this verse, we now have been given access into a not guilty life through Christ.

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Romans 5:19

Paul finds another way to tell us the great things that God has done. Adam caused us all to become sinners. But, by the love of the Lord, His sacrifice has now made us righteous in God’s eyes.

These are wonderful truths that we need to be meditating on. Don’t let the enemy lie to you. Never convince yourself that you’re unworthy of God’s love. Jesus Christ has made you worthy. You can be clothed in His righteousness.

The law was added so that the trespass might increase.

Romans 5:20a

As we continue along this line, we see where the villain of the story comes in. Remember, it’s the law that empowers sin.

I like the way this verse reads in the original Greek. It tells us that the law sneaked in so that the sins would increase. The law is very stealthy. You would think that it’s trying to help you. But instead, it’s trying to trip you up.

In actuality, the law is the word of death that the devil stands upon. The law’s goal is to increase sin and the reign of death.

I’m grateful to God that this isn’t the end of the story.

But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:20b-21

The truth is that where sin abounds, the grace of God super-abounds. Nothing can outperform our Lord. Sin, no matter how great, cannot outdo grace.

Christ won a great victory. So now, just like sin reigned in death, grace now reigns through righteousness, being focused on eternal life.

God’s grace is now carrying out the agenda of life. At the same time, sin is carrying out the agenda of death. It’s up to us to decide who’s reign we want to submit to.

Personally, I want to choose life. But the question becomes; how do I walk in this life that Christ has purchased for me? That’s a good question, and over the next couple of chapters in Romans, Paul deals with that very thing.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to this blog, take the opportunity now. You won’t want to miss this important teaching.

Question: How have you messed up in trying to follow the law?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Two Gifts

The Two Gifts

We’re continuing our walk through the book of Romans. Paul has been explaining to us, the reign of death that has taken the earth because of Adam’s sin.

Now he wants us to understand what Christ has done to overcome this.

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.

Romans 5:15-16

This is an amazing passage of Scripture. However, if we’re going to fully understand it, we need to know a little Greek.

The reason for this, is that there are two different Greek words for gift used in this section. They are charisma and dorema. While they both mean a gift or a present, they have slightly different uses.

The word, dorema, is a gift that I give you with no strings attached. It’s given free and clear. Charisma, on the other hand, is a gift that the giver retains the right to tell you how you’ll use it.

For example, if I give you a fifty dollar bill for your birthday, that’s a dorema. You can do whatever you want with it. If I give you a fifty dollar gift card to Starbucks, that a charisma, because you can only use it where I want you to use it.

Usually in Scripture, when someone gives an offering, it’s dorema because we’re giving with no strings attached. But, when talking about the gifts of God, it’s usually charisma because God is very clear how He wants us to operate in these giftings.

So, this passage is saying that the gift God gives (charisma) is not like what happened because of Adams sin. Now through Christ we can receive God’s grace. It also literally says that the gift (dorema) that overflows to many people is in the grace.

The way the original Greek puts it in the second half is that the one sin gave us the gift (dorema) of judgment. But now, after many sins have been done on the earth, Christ came, and through His obedience, brings us the gift (charisma) of spiritual life.

This is a wonderful truth. Death and judgment was given to the entire world through Adam. But now, as a result of the cross, we can receive everlasting life through the Lord Jesus Christ.

This opens the door to a whole new way for us to live.

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:17

This is Good News! When I come to Christ I receive God’s grace and the gift (dorema) of righteousness with no strings attached. This gives me a new outlook on life.

Formerly death reigned over everything because of sin. Now, because I’m in Christ, I can reign in life. I don’t have to walk in fear of anything that’s happening around me. I can walk in the authority of Christ as I submit to Him.

Too many believers walk around with bad attitudes. You would think that serving God was the hardest thing they could ever imagine. Their faces usually reflect fear and frustration. That’s not how the Lord wants us to live.

We have to realize that Christ places us over all the situations in our lives. We may not know exactly how things will turn out, but we know that it will be for our best and for God’s glory. What more could we ask for?

Question: How have you experienced the grace of God at work in you?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2021 in Encouragement, Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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