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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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Transferring Ownership

Transferring Ownership

In this post we start our journey through the book of Romans.  I love the way Paul starts this letter.  It says a lot about how he viewed himself.

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God

Romans 1:1

Paul uses some interesting language in this verse.  He calls himself a servant of Jesus Christ – literally a slave.  It’s interesting, because on various occasions Paul made a point of proving his freedom.

Once he was arrested and he asked the guard why he was being denied his right to a trial as a Roman citizen.  The guard explained that he, personally, had to buy his freedom.  Paul, on the other hand, said that he was born a free Roman citizen.  (Acts 22:25-29)

At that time, if you were born a slave, you were expected to be a slave forever – there was no escaping it.  Under Roman law, a slave could find out his “sale price” from his master.

Then, if he saved enough money, he could pay the buying price to his master and have the ownership transferred to one of the many Roman gods.  Then, as a slave to that god, could serve as a free man.

I believe this was in the back of Paul’s mind as he penned these words.  We’re all born under slavery to sin.  That was our unfortunate lot for the rest of our lives.

Jesus Christ paid the “slave price” for us.  Now, just as Paul did, we need to transfer the ownership of our lives over to God.  As God’s slaves we can now serve as free citizens of the kingdom of Heaven.

We have to live under this knowledge if we’re to have a fulfilling life in Christ.  We don’t own our lives.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:5-8

Christ, Himself, set the standard of living that we need to follow.  He said that He came to live a life of service.  That should be our attitude as well.

The Apostle Peter also understood this truth.

Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

1 Peter 2:16

In the first verse above, Paul said that as a slave, he was called to be sent forth as an apostle.  Once we’ve transferred the ownership of our lives to God, our callings will open up to us.  We’re now free to serve Him to the best of our ability.

Paul finished off the verse by saying that he was set apart to the Good News.  That literally means that we’re set off by a boundary.  The Good News is our field of service.

This is the attitude that will push you to great things in the body of Christ.

Question: Have you transferred the ownership rights of your life to the Lord?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2020 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Gospel Beginnings

Over the last year or so, I’ve been systematically teaching through the New Testament in the order that it was revealed to the church.  Today, I’m starting the fourth of what I call the foundational books.  They are James, 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, and Mark.

I believe they are the foundation on which the rest of the New Testament is written.  The Gospel of Mark is the foundation for all that we know about the life of Christ – the Messiah.

The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Mark 1:1

I think that it’s clear the way the Holy Spirit inspired Mark to open this Gospel account.  This is the beginning; literally the commencement, of the gospel of Christ.  This is where our knowledge of how Jesus lived gets its formation.

But who is this man, Mark, which paints this picture of Christ?  We don’t know much about him.  Most of what we believe comes from various church traditions.

I think that the best explanation is that he is John-Mark, from the book of Acts.  He was a relative of Barnabas and traveled with him for a while on a missionary journey with Paul.  He was young then and wasn’t prepared for this type of ministry.  He soon abandoned Paul and Barnabas.

Many believe that when he left the traveling life, he settled down as one of Peter’s helpers.  The Apostle mentions Mark in the greeting of his epistle.

She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark.
1 Peter 5:13-14

Since he traveled with Peter for so long, it’s believed that most of Mark’s gospel comes from the preaching of Peter.  He gives very brief stories and an immediate application of truth.  It sounds very much like how a “street preacher” would talk to a crowd.

That Mark grew and matured under Peter’s mentorship is without question.  He left the missionary life when he was younger, and actually caused a split between Paul and Barnabas.  However, later on, even Paul saw the change that had taken place in his life.

Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.
2 Timothy 4:11

As we read through this Gospel, my desire is that you get a clear foundation of who Christ is and how He lived.  God in the flesh.  Yet he humbled Himself to function as a man led by the Holy Spirit.

In the Gospel of Mark, we see Jesus Christ as the conquering Savior.  We also see Him as a humble Servant of God the Father.  It’s a contrast that we should be striving for in our ministries.

This is the beginning of the Gospel.  It’s the first glimpse that the Holy Spirit gives us into the life and ministry of Jesus.  Let it speak to you in the coming weeks.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to this blog, I encourage you to do so.  In that way, you won’t miss any of the teachings in this series.

Question: How has the Holy Spirit brought you to where you are today?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2017 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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