RSS

Tag Archives: sin nature

You Are a Weapon

You Are a Weapon

In my last post, I talked about the choice we make to count ourselves dead to sin in Christ. This allows us to see ourselves alive to God.

The Apostle Paul continues with this thought.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.

Romans 6:12

Paul tells us that as a result of everything he’s said so far, we must not allow sin to rule as a king over our bodies. That sounds like a choice not to let my body obey its evil desires. Of course that’s easier said than done.

The first question is; how does sin reign? Back in chapter five, Paul told us that sin reigns in death. He also told us that we reign in life.

Because of this, we have to understand what kind of body we have. Paul calls it a mortal body. That word, mortal, means your body is susceptible, liable, or under the influence of death.

So, I have a problem. I have a body that’s under the influence of death. And that’s the very place that sin reigns.

The good news is that our salvation is a process based upon a number of faith-choices. When I was saved, I was baptized into the name of Jesus Christ. I became a part of the family of God – identifying with Christ outwardly.

Then, I must see myself crucified with Him. Just like the thief on the cross, who I talked about in an earlier post, I need to see that’s right where I belonged. Then, I can count myself dead with The Lord.

As a result, I see myself buried with Him so that the reign of sin can be broken in my body. In all of this, Paul is preparing us to understand what he’ll talk about in chapter 8. Here’s a preview…

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

How is this accomplished? Is it done through an outward baptism? No, it can only be by a spiritual work that I have to submit myself to. Only then can I break sin’s reign in my flesh.

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

Romans 6:13

Jesus Christ has brought us over from death to life. The problem is that sometimes, because of our flesh, we’re more comfortable with death. We allow things into our lives that are killing us.

Paul gives us the bottom line. He literally tells us, don’t even stand beside and offer your body parts as weapons of unrighteousness. If you’re wondering about my choice of words, weapons is the major meaning of the Greek word Paul used.

Instead, we need to stand beside ourselves and offer yourselves to God as alive from the dead. Then, we can offer our body parts as weapons of righteousness to God.

Have you ever thought of your body as a weapon? That’s exactly what it is in this war against sin and death.

Over the next couple of chapters in Romans, Paul is going to show us the way to control it for God’s glory. You won’t want to miss what he says about it.

Question: In what ways can your body be used as a weapon of righteousness?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 19, 2021 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Dead to Sin

Dead to Sin

As we continue through the book of Romans, we’re talking about how Christ freed us from sin on the cross. In the salvation He purchased for us, is our identification with Him on the cross. Because of that, death and sin don’t rule us anymore.

The apostle makes it clear that we’re no longer slaves to sin. We can apply the death of Jesus Christ to our own bodies.

In my last post, I talked about how we sometimes fight against this work. In their experience, there are many believers who still act as slaves to sin. So this death over the flesh is something that must be sought after. It doesn’t just happen.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

Romans 6:8-10

Paul now begins to talk about the implications of us dying with Christ. That’s why he uses the word, “if” in this passage. It requires an understanding of what has taken place in the spirit.

If we truly understand that we’ve died with Christ, then that should direct our faith toward living with Him. This means a common life together. His life and our life are melded together.

The reasoning is simple. In His death, He died to sin for all of us. Now Christ lives toward God. That’s the new direction that our lives should take on.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11

Here Paul tells us that in the same way we trusted Christ in baptism, we must count or literally take inventory of, conclude yourself to exist dead, in fact, to sin.

This goes right along with our baptism. In verse 3 of Romans chapter 6 we were baptized into His death. Now in verse 11, there’s something that Paul is hoping you’ll move into by faith. Paul describes this step to the Colossian church.

In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
Colossians 2:11-12

This is what Paul is trying to describe to us – the putting off, or dying, of the sinful nature. According to Paul, this is a surgical procedure that can only be done by Christ.

It isn’t a work I can perform. It doesn’t matter how much will-power I put forth. Only Christ, Himself, can bring it to pass in my life. I must submit under the blade of the divine Surgeon.

There are two prerequisites to this surgery. The first is baptism and the second is faith in the power of God. This means that I can’t look to myself and how well I can obey God. It’s all about how much I trust His power working in my life. How much am I willing to surrender to Him?

It’s the same as in the natural world. If I don’t trust the surgeon in a medical procedure, then I will not allow them to put me under the anesthesia. I’ll only let someone I trust have that much power over my body. Do we trust Christ enough to consent to His life changing work in us?

That’s a choice we all have to make. If I want to see the victory of God over my sin nature, then I have to do it His way. It’s a decision I have to make on a daily basis. It’s the basis for a victorious life in Christ.

Question: How has counting yourself dead to sin changed your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Resisting the Cross

Resisting the Cross

In my last post I talked about the ongoing work of the cross in our lives. It affects our past, present and future.

We all want to experience the resurrection power of Christ in our lives. We just don’t like the road that it takes to get there. Paul understood what needed to happen to walk in the power.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Romans 6:5-7

The original text of this verse says that our old, antique, worn out man is crucified with Him. What does that mean to you? How do you see this taking place on a daily basis? More importantly, what’s your reaction to it? These are the important questions we all need to deal with.

Actually, we can gain some insight into it by looking at the scene of the Lord’s death on Calvary. There were a couple of people who really were crucified with Christ. What was their reaction?

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
Luke 23:39

Here’s the first response. “You’re the Christ.” It sounds like there’s some level of belief. But the plea is, “Save yourself AND ME!”

The unfortunate thing about this is that many believers do the same thing. They’ll try everything possible other than crucifying the old nature.

“Lord, surely there must be some way to keep the things I enjoyed about the old man.”

What we need to realize is that it’s because of our sin nature that Christ went to the cross. That’s exactly where our flesh needs to hang. It needs to be done away with, never to be heard from again.

It was the second criminal that got it right.

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:40-43

He understood that the cross was where he belonged. But that wasn’t the end of the story. He was also looking forward to the resurrection power of Christ.

There are two responses to being crucified with Christ. Which do you choose? Keeping the old man as long as you can, trying to make him be good. Or will you nail him to the cross with Christ and open yourself up to the power of the risen Lord.

I want to experience the manifestation of the kingdom of God during this life. To do that I need to make sure that my sin nature is right where it belongs – nailed to the cross with Jesus.

Question: What does it take to crucify the old sin nature?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 15, 2021 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Baptism and Faith

Baptism and Faith

In my last post, we looked at the sin package. Remember. It’s not just evil, but any departure from God’s best. Now we’ll see how we handle sin as we live in Christ.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

Romans 6:1-3

At the end of chapter 5, Paul wrote that when sin increases, grace increases even more. That could lead to a false conclusion. The apostle brings this argument to light.

If grace increases to cover my sin, then I can continue in sin to get more grace. That’s what some would get from this verse.

As a matter of fact, this is the fear that some have about preaching a message of grace. Some teachers think that if they talk too much about God’s grace then people will use it as a doormat. Play all day in the mud of worldliness and wipe your feet off on God’s grace.

Paul makes it clear, that’s not the purpose of grace. The goal is to live free from sin. Sin is part of the death package, and death is the enemy.

Paul gives us a great truth – in Christ we’ve died to sin. In the waters of baptism we’ve identified ourselves with the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord. So, we shouldn’t want to live according to our old life.

But, by the very question he asks, he implies that it’s possible to live in sin even though we died to it. How can we get the victory over this sin?

It all starts with our water baptism. This is where we identify with Christ. This is where we begin the process of removing the old man. Peter agrees with Paul’s assessment.

…and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also — not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…
1 Peter 3:21

The word pledge in the above verse means the asking, desire or demand. When we allow ourselves to be baptized in water, we’re placing a demand on God for a good conscience.

Because we desire to live rightly before Him, we take this step. It’s how we start down the road to remove the old sin nature.

It’s unfortunate, but there are many believers who look at baptism as purely a tradition of the church. They think that if you want to join the church, then you need to be baptized in water.

Paul explains it.

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

Romans 6:3

The original Greek of this verse is very interesting. Paul says that all of us who were immersed into Christ Jesus were immersed into His death. That sounds like a spiritual work to me. As we continue through this chapter, we’ll see that baptism is a spiritual work of God that we need to attach our faith to.

Question: Were you baptized in water? How was your faith released during your water baptism?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 8, 2021 in Faith, Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sin is Not Your Friend

Sin is Not Your Friend

As we continue our look at the book of Romans, we’re now beginning chapter 6. Here Paul starts to show us what Christ has done for us in regard to our sin nature.

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

Romans 6:1-3

Before we go further in this section, we need a basic understanding of just what sin is. Many have the idea that the words sin and evil are synonymous. That’s simply not the case.

The fact is, you can sin without doing anything considered evil. Let me explain.

The word, sin, in both the Old and the New Testaments is actually a word that means to miss the mark. You were aiming for a certain target, but you failed to hit it.

What we have to realize is that in life there are hundreds of things that fall into this category. Many of them have nothing to do with evil.

By not understanding the nature of what sin is, many have missed out on the blessings that Christ has purchased for them. The fact is that sin is a package deal. When Adam chose to sin, he embraced a package of “missing the mark.”

He chose the way of imperfection. Unfortunately, now that imperfection is passed down throughout all generations since then. We miss God’s best by not understanding what’s included in the sin package.

Anything that misses God’s perfect will for humanity is a part of the sin package. A good rule of thumb to know if it’s in the package, is to ask; was Adam originally created for it?

For instance, a number of years ago I did a series of posts titled Healing 101. In it I talked about God’s provision of healing for His people. One of the important points was the fact that sickness was a part of the package we call the sin nature.

Adam was not created to ever experience sickness. When he embraced the sin package, sickness entered our world. Sickness misses the mark of the health we were created to enjoy. To read this teaching click here.

Another thing Adam was not created for was poverty. God’s will was for Adam to live with his needs perfectly met. When I get the idea that poverty is somehow a virtue, then I’m getting friendly with sin.

Usually we don’t have a problem identifying the evil aspects of sin. It’s the other areas like sickness, poverty, depression, loneliness, etc., that we fail to recognize as missing the mark of God’s perfect will.

I realize that in context Paul is talking about evil sin. But because the Holy Spirit used the generic word, sin, in this verse it can apply to all the forms it takes, not just evil. This verse tells me not to get comfortable with it even though God can give me the grace to cope with it.

I’ve talked to some people with medical conditions who said that they’d decided not to seek God for their healing. They said that God was giving them the grace to work for Him in spite of their sickness.

Paul is saying here, “Shall we continue in sickness so that grace may increase? By no means!” We shouldn’t get comfortable with our sickness even though the Lord’s helping us cope with it.

We can’t get comfortable missing the mark of God’s best, whether it’s evil or not. Sin is not your friend. Attack it with everything God has given you.

Question: Can you think of some other forms of sin that aren’t necessarily evil?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 5, 2021 in God's Provision, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Attacking the Flesh in Water Baptism

I’m posting about our spiritual battle against the flesh – our old man.  In my last article, I talked about defending your mind against the attacks of the sin nature.  Now we want to go on the offensive.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24

We can’t live our whole life playing defense against sin.  According to Paul, the first thing we should be taught is how to put off the old self. Take the war to him.  We need to start seeing some forward momentum.

Paul wrote a lot about this subject. It’s from his writings that we can learn how to overcome the flesh. It’s in Romans, chapter 6, that he begins dealing with the subject of sin. He tells us that it’s the grace of God that covers our sins.

Paul goes on to ask a question that may sound a little foolish, but it’s one we deal with all the time. Should we sin more in order to get more grace? Obviously not. But he uses the following argument.

By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Romans 6:2-3

Here is a truth – in Christ we’ve died to sin. In the waters of baptism, we’ve identified ourselves with the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord. So, we shouldn’t want to live according to our old life. But by the very question he asks, he implies that it’s possible to live in sin even though we died to it. How can we get the victory over this sin?

It all starts with our water baptism. This is where we identify with Christ. This is where we begin the process of removing the old man. Peter agrees with Paul’s assessment.

…and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also — not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…
1 Peter 3:21

The word pledge in the above verse means asking, desire, or demand. When we allow ourselves to be baptized in water, we are placing a demand on God for a good conscience. Because we desire to live rightly before Him, we take this step. It’s how we start down the road to remove the old sin nature.

By faith, we see our old self dead and buried under that waters of baptism.  That’s got to be our attitude.  When we rise out of the water, by faith we assume that our old flesh stays under.

This is the first battle in a major campaign against the flesh.  It’s also a major victory.  By your act of obedience, you’ve placed a demand on God, and He completed the work.

Romans chapter 6 continues this thought. The first 10 verses describe our identification with Christ through water baptism. Then, in verse 11, Paul brings out the next step in the process.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11

The words, in the same way, let us know that this is a new truth. You were baptized, and by faith identified with the death of Christ. In the same way that you trusted God for this, now go on to the next step of faith. I’ll talk about that step in my next post.

Questions: Were you baptized in water?  How was your faith released during your water baptism?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 31, 2020 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Spiritual Warfare

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Battlefield of the Mind

In my last post, I started talking about the war that we wage against our own flesh – our sin nature.  We saw that the flesh wages war against our soul.

Your soul is your mind.  It’s who you are.  It’s your soul that decides your course of action.  So, if your flesh can gain victory over it, you’ll carry out the desires of that nature.

Scripture clearly teaches that this is where the first battle is fought.

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Romans 13:11

Before we ever commit a sin, we begin thinking about it.  That’s where we start losing ground.  It all rests upon our thought-life.

I know from experience that it’s nearly impossible to simply stop thinking about something.  Actually, the more you try to “not think about it”, the more you do.

Instead, I’ve found it more effective to start thinking about something different.  The Apostle Paul agrees.

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

Where you set your mind determines the direction that you head toward.  The word, set, in this verse means to be mentally disposed toward or to interest yourself in.

The direction of your life is determined by the direction of your thoughts.  While you probably won’t be able to stop thinking about something, you can replace it with other thoughts.  You can start thinking in a new direction.

There are so many things to think about.  We need to start disciplining our thought-life.  Stop obsessing over tonight’s basketball game.  Instead, think about what God’s done for you, a Scripture you’ve memorized, or what you expect the Lord to bring about in your life.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

The Bible is very positive.  It usually doesn’t tell you to stop doing something without giving you something to replace it with.  In this case, it’s applied to our thoughts.

There are enough good things to think about without opening our minds to the desires of our sin nature.  However, this requires discipline.  And disciplining ourselves is not usually something we enjoy doing.

The battle against the flesh starts in our minds.  This is the first area of conflict because it’s where the flesh strikes first.  If my old man can get my mind on his side, then that sets the course of my life.

We need to take control of our thought-life.  It may be difficult at first, but it is doable.

From there we can go on to the offensive strikes against the flesh.  I’ll be posting about them as we continue this series.

Question: What do you see as a difficulty in controlling your thought life?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Spiritual Battle #1 – The Flesh

The spiritual war that we find ourselves in has many fronts.  Over the next few posts, I want to talk about them.  The first, and probably the fiercest, is the battle against our own flesh.

The truth is that our flesh puts a ceiling on what we can do for God.  It doesn’t matter how much you want to do God’s will.  Your flesh is your greatest hindrance.

Too many Christians want to take on the devil before they even have a victory on their home turf.  I believe that the enemy gets blamed for some things that we bring on ourselves.  This is the first struggle that we need to face.

Look at how the Apostle Peter describes it.

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

This is actually a verse that’s rich in description.  We miss it in the English translation.  It literally reads, hold yourself away from the longings of the flesh which is on a military campaign against your soul.

This verse says a lot.  The first thing I see is that my flesh has a will, with desires and longings.  As a matter of fact all the parts of my being – body, soul, and spirit – have a will of their own.

“But I’m not a bad person.  I don’t have any evil intentions.”

Please understand that evil is not the big problem.  That’s not all there is to this struggle.

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 5:17

Your spirit wants to serve and please God.  It wants the Lord’s best for you.  Your spirit desires to see you do great things in the name of Christ.

Your flesh wants just the opposite.  It doesn’t necessarily want you to do evil.  It only wants you to keep from fulfilling God’s plan for your life.  Distraction is one of its chief weapons.

Another thing I learn from Peter’s letter is that my flesh is actually on a military campaign.  Why exactly do you go to war?  Simply put, to win a victory; to dominate and crush your enemy.  That’s the goal of our flesh in regard to our spirit.

But even more than that, a military campaign speaks of something bigger than just a simple “hit and run” exchange.  My flesh is in it for the long haul.  I have to realize that this war is not going away until I receive my resurrected body at the return of Christ.

Too often we get complacent because we see a momentary victory over the flesh.  We think we have everything under control so we get a little lazy.  We stop doing the things that brought us to this level.  We quickly find out that the flesh wasn’t gone, just waiting for a better opportunity to rise up.

How do we overcome in this struggle?  First, I can tell you from experience what doesn’t work.  I’ve tried will-power, New Year’s resolutions, guilt, and self-discipline to tame the flesh.  These are all wasted efforts.

If we’re going to truly walk in victory over our sinful, human nature, then we have to understand the strategy.  Scripture is clear about how this is accomplished.  If we’re going to walk in freedom, then we have to do it God’s way.

Beginning in my next post, I’ll outline the scriptural way to attack and overcome the flesh.  But don’t expect a one-time, do it and forget it solution.  This battle must be fought with consistency for your whole life.

Question: What methods have you tried to overcome the desires of your flesh?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , ,

Do You Know the Two Kinds of Testing?

ClimberWe all go through challenging times in our lives. The Bible calls them trials or tests. None of us are exempt, so we need to be aware of how they function.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

Notice that James is not saying that the trial is a blessing. Our blessing is the result of coming through the test victoriously. If you remember from the first post in this series; it’s our faith that’s tried. This trial then brings perseverance and results in our faith being approved as genuine.

But what exactly are these tests all about? James goes on to explain it to us.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
James 1:13-15

First, we must understand the words being used. In the English Bible, the words temptation, test, and trial all mean different things to us. In the original Greek they’re all the same word. The translators used these different English words depending upon the context.

In this verse, James is only referring to one kind of testing – testing by evil. In this post I want to talk about the two kinds that are spoken of in Scripture.

The first I want to share about is testing by evil. This is usually called temptation by the translators. This is when we are given the opportunity to do something against God’s law or human law. It could also be troublesome, injurious, or destructive to us or others.

In thinking about testing, it’s important that we don’t get our theology from cartoons. There isn’t any little demon or angel sitting on our shoulder, whispering into our ears!

James makes it clear that usually the devil is not even involved. I think that we give him too much credit. It’s actually our own flesh that brings on the temptations that we face. We are tempted when our sin nature wants something that’s not God’s best for us. The only way to overcome consistantly is by a lifestyle of fasting and prayer in the spirit. (For more detail on these, click fasting or prayer)

The second kind is testing by God. James only says that God doesn’t use evil to test us, but there is a test that He sets up for us. This happened a lot with Jesus and His disciples.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
John 6:5-6

In this kind of testing, the Lord brings opportunities before us. Their purpose is to show forth the faith that has been produced in us as a result of hearing His Word. He wants us and others to see the growth that’s taking place in us. The result should bring glory to Christ working in us.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:6-7

Knowing these two types of trials will help us to be victorious no matter what challenges we face. As we rely upon the Holy Spirit, we can become mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Question: How has the testing process worked maturity in your Christian walk?

©Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,