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Spiritual Death

Spiritual Death

We’re continuing our walk through the book of Romans. We left off talking about how the law puts a spotlight on sin. Here’s the verse we were looking at.

Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

Romans 7:13

In my last post, I said that when death came to Adam and Eve, it caused them to lose their relationship with God. I want to talk about that in a little more detail.

Remember, Adam was perfect before he fell into sin. That means that he functioned perfectly according to God’s plan for him. What does that mean?

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

John 4:24

This is something that Jesus said to the woman He met with at a well. A question we don’t usually ask is; did Adam worship God perfectly? I believe that he did. Adam and Eve worshiped God in spirit and in truth before they lost their perfect state.

If they worshiped with the spirit, that means that they didn’t have to use physical words. They talked and communed with God on His level. That’s what God created them for.

Does Scripture bear this out? I believe that it does. Look at what happened immediately after they sinned.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Genesis 3:8-10

This is the very first time a sound is ever mentioned in the Bible. This is the first time they hear God with their physical ears. That’s why they were so afraid.

Now sin had a spotlight, and serving God was by rules and the law. Right and wrong was now the rule of righteousness. In that sense they died – they lost their spiritual relationship with God.

This is the relationship that’s restored in 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

That’s the life we received in Christ. He renewed our relationship with God in the spirit. That brings us back to where we left off in Romans, chapter 7.

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

Romans 7:14

Paul is now explaining to us a new concept. He’s telling us that the law exists spiritually. We have to realize that there’s a spiritual law.

Yes, Adam served God in the spirit. But spiritual laws work differently than physical laws.

Paul wants to make it clear that even though there’s a spiritual law, he’s talking about the carnal, fleshly law. It’s because of this law that we’re sold into slavery to sin.

Wait a minute! What about Christians? In my next post we’ll see how this principle plays out in the lives of believers. It’s an important concept for us to understand.

Question: How do you cultivate your spiritual relationship with God?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2021 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel, Worship

 

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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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Don’t Return to Slavery

As we continue to follow Paul’s practical teaching through 1 Corinthians, he’s been talking about carnal Christians.  These are believers who love the Lord but are ruled by their feelings rather than the Word of God.  They’re saved people who act like the world.

In my last post, we saw that these carnal believers have no kingdom inheritance.  They’re missing out on many of the blessings that are ours in Christ.

As a matter of fact, there may have been some self-righteous Christians who got offended by my last post.  They would disagree with me when I say that carnal believers are saved.  My understanding of the grace of God will not allow me to so easily destine these people to hell.

I know that it’s very easy for worldly Christians to use the grace of God like a doormat.  They live like the world and “wipe their feet off” every so often to ease their conscience.  But the Bible does teach that this is a possible response to God’s grace.

However, living this way gets very little of the kingdom blessings.  There will also be no eternal rewards waiting for them.

Paul records their mindsets as we continue in his letter.

“Everything is permissible for me” – but not everything is beneficial.  “Everything is permissible for me” – but I will not be mastered by anything.
1 Corinthians 6:12

They say that they’re free to do whatever they want.  That much is true.  But as Paul comments on it, he makes it clear that certain behaviors come with a price.  This worldly lifestyle will bring no kingdom benefits.  And it will also come to the point where these sins are controlling you.

In telling His disciples about the last days, Jesus warned them of falling into this trap.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.”
Luke 21:34

Here Jesus tells us of three weights that can hinder us from fulfilling our destiny.  They are called dissipation, drunkenness, and anxieties.  We will never reach our true potential in Christ if we try to live with these hindrances.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1

We’re warned to throw off the things that hinder.  Probably the worst is dissipation.  We allow the best parts of our life to be dissipated.

The world has so many distractions these days.  Classes we could take, recreational opportunities, athletic events, and entertainment.  All of these things, in and of themselves, add to our enjoyment of life.  They’re good things.

Yes, they’re all permissible things, but they can become the masters of our lives. They dictate our schedules. They tell us what we can and can’t do for God.

We fill up our time with all these good things. Then, more often than not, God gets the leftovers.  Our leftover time, strength, and resources.

If left unchecked, the church can become a prisoner to our permissible things.  If we find ourselves in this condition, then we need to be set free by the power of God.

Question: What will it take to break free from a worldly lifestyle?

© Nick Zaccardi 2019

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2019 in Legalism, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Sons and Daughters are Free

SkateboardI have been posting lately about the Scriptural principle of Sonship. In my last article I mentioned the freedom we have in Christ.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
John 8:34-36

Sons are free in the house. If I truly grasped how deep the position of Sonship is, it would totally revolutionize my walk with the Father.

Think about it in an earthly way. I have three children who are adults at this point. They’re free in the house. If they want breakfast, they don’t need to ask me, “Dad, can I please have a bowl of cereal?”

They wake up, get the bowl, the cereal, and the milk all by themselves. That’s the freedom of maturity. In the spiritual sense it’s the same thing. Jesus said that healing is the children’s bread.

That’s a daily requirement for children. My children don’t even need to ask me for bread – they can take as much as they want, whenever they want. It’s my joy as a father to provide for them. It’s the same with our Heavenly Father. He enjoys bestowing His gifts upon His mature sons.

If we continue looking at what Jesus said in the above verse, we find that a slave has no permanent place in the house. Remember one of the verses we looked at in the first post of this series which said, “Don’t become a slave again to fear.”

You may not be a slave to sin anymore, but have you become a slave all over again to the fear of the law? I’ve found this to be the case in many believers’ lives. I’ve seen fear in their eyes that if they don’t tithe, they’ll suffer financial loss.

Sometimes it’s the fear that if they say the wrong thing they’ll lose the blessing of God upon their lives. It turns out that much of what’s done, is because of this fear and not out of love for the Lord.

Sonship is freedom from fear. When you truly understand your place in the household of faith as a son of God, then fear will dissipate. God does not want us to be captives to this fear. He desires us to walk in the freedom of His love.

We have to get beyond the childish way of thinking. God’s not looking for an excuse to hurt us.

“If I don’t keep my room clean, I won’t get my allowance.”

“If I don’t tithe, God will let the devil steal my money.”

That’s how children think. Adults have a different understanding. I tithe because I love God and I know it pleases Him. He blesses my finances because I’m a son and He loves me. That’s freedom from fear of the law.

Questions: Are there any areas where you’re still in bondage to fear? How can you overcome that?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2014 in Legalism, Sonship

 

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Have You Transferred Ownership?

contractPaul, 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.

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 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 are 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 are 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 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 are 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 are 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?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Encouragement, The Gospel

 

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