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Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4
Welcome back to HBS. If you’re a new visitor, thanks for stopping by.
FYI: please know this is simply a straightforward Bible study and by that I mean it exists to promote the Word of God and we stand by what it says.
No religious organization is supporting me and I don’t teach according to any church denomination’s beliefs, guidelines, or tenets. I teach the Bible as it’s written and not as it’s interpreted by man; and this is not as difficult as some make it out to be.
Keep this thought in mind. The main purpose of the Bible is to reveal Jesus Christ and His gospel. If one does not understand the gospel, one will not understand the Bible.
The book of Romans is the most important book in the entire Bible when it comes to understanding church doctrine, especially chapters 5 and 6. If you do not understand these two chapters, chances are you will not have a handle on the gospel.
The other thing I want you to remember before we begin today’s lesson is this.
God is trying to communicate with you. His primary means of communication is the written word. But the act of communication requires more than one willing person. God has shown He is able, passionate, and willing to do His part (Romans 5:8).
How about you?
A Bible sitting on the shelf is of no use to anyone especially its owner (Mark 4:9).
Now I trust you have your Bible with you. If you’ll please turn to Romans, chapter 7 we’ll drop in at verse 13.
Romans 7: 14-20 – Paul’s conflict of mind and body
Romans 7: 21-25 – Deliverance through God and Christ Jesus
Remember, in chapter 7 Paul is addressing the Jewish members of this church community who may be reluctant to embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified out of fear. They may be thinking that by doing so they would be renouncing the Mosaic Law thereby severing their allegiance to God.
13: Therefore, did that which is good (the Law) become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment (THOU SHALL NOT COVET) sin would become utterly sinful.
14: For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
Verse 14 completes Paul’s statement which he started in verse 13.
The Law is not just a system of external rules and ceremonies. As Paul states, the Law is spiritual; and because of this it is capable of reaching to the very center of the heart, leading the individual to Jesus Christ. But the Law also reaches to the center of our desires, bringing us the awareness of sin and an understanding of God’s commandment, “THOU SHALL NOT COVET.”
With these words the Apostle Paul describes a conflict, “…the law is Spiritual; but I am of flesh (unspiritual), sold into bondage to sin.”
Webster’s defines the word “conflict” as: a sharp disagreement or opposition, as of interests or ideas; a clash; an emotional disturbance resulting from a disagreement of opposing impulses or from an inability to reconcile impulses with realistic or moral considerations.
Paul said that he died to sin and he is no longer its slave and this principle is true for him and for every Believer. But here he describes himself as being “of flesh” (unspiritual) and a slave to sin. What’s going on?
Paul is linking a struggle between two powerful forces within him.
The Conflict of Two Natures
15: For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
In this verse, Paul gives an account of his struggle, “I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do,” but I am doing the very thing I hate.”
The Law has made Paul aware of sin so he wants to do what’s right but in reality he breaks God’s law; this confuses him.
The conflict within Paul is this, he has a mind that wants to be obedient; Paul wants to be right with God. But Paul has a body (his flesh) that is occupied with every type of sinful desire imaginable and it demands to be satisfied. You see, there is another power at work within Paul and within us. Let’s read on.
16: But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.
Paul doesn’t approve of his sinful behavior. This shows that he approves of the Law.
17: So now, (after my salvation experience) no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
Paul figuratively splits himself in two to explain this problem to us.
He notes, there is the “real me” and then there is “sin” living in me.
Paul says all the blame goes to sin. The “real me” is declared not guilty!
What Paul seems to be saying by distinguishing the “real me” from the “sin” living within me is the “real me” is the person in Christ Jesus. He confirms this with these words, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” “Sin” receives the blame for my wrongdoings and not the “real me;” for I am a “new person” in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Believers have the wrong perspective if they are of a mind that obeying God gets easier once they become a “new person” in Christ Jesus. I would say the opposite is true.
As we’re reading here, “walking with the Lord Jesus Christ” produces an inner struggle between good and evil. You and your mind may be set on the things of God, your heart’s desire may be to obey God’s laws, but your flesh intends to take you in the opposite direction.
I prefer to let Scripture do the talking so let’s turn to Galatians chapter 5.
17: For the flesh sets its (what) desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh for these are in opposition to one another (evidence of the conflict), so that you may not do the things that you please.
While teaching the book of Matthew some years ago I came to a realization concerning man’s desires and I taught this message to the class: God meets our needs whilst Satan satisfies our desires.
The gist of the lesson was this: God provides for our spiritual needs: i.e. salvation, sanctification, shelter, food, health, and the God of all comfort will meet our need in times of sorrow (Philippians 4:19).
In response to this our focal point should be heavenward and not earthward.
What does the book say?
1: Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, (now read carefully) keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
2: Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
3: For you have died (to the old self) and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
On the other hand, Satan is interested in satisfying your wants; your carnal desires – all those things you “chase after” or “covet” that are contrary to God.
Scripture calls these, “deeds of the flesh.” Please turn to Galatians chapter 5.
19: Now the deeds of the flesh are evident (clear as a bell), which are: (what’s first on the list - sexual sins) immorality, impurity (moral corruption), sensuality (doing whatever feels good),
20: idolatry, sorcery (drug usage and devil worship), enmities (hatred), strife (fighting), jealousy (obsessions), outbursts of anger (losing your temper), disputes (competitive opposition), dissensions (conflict), factions (rivalries),
21: envying (jealousy), drunkenness, carousing (partying), and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
You don’t have to wonder what these verses mean. The message is clear.
…those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Let’s return to Romans.
17: So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
Paul confesses, since I am not doing the things I want to do, there must be another force both dark and evil working within me. For it is not the “real me” performing these bad things but “sin” dwelling in me.
18: For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
The world is filled with people who are “unwilling.” There is an unspiritual force at work within them; controlling them and they are “blind” to the things of God.
Please turn to Ephesians chapter 2.
1: And you were dead (before you were saved) in your trespasses and sins,
2: in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan is the god of this world until Jesus Christ returns), of the spirit that is now working in the sons (and daughters) of disobedience.
This carnal spirit is unwilling to yield to the loving God and the gospel that saves.
So, when there are those whose hearts are opened to receive the gospel and are willing to follow the Lord Jesus Christ there is reason to rejoice. But we need to be realistic.
A willing mind and heart cannot by themselves achieve the goal we are striving for…this is why Jesus Christ sent us “the Helper.” (See Romans chapter 8).
Let’s return to the book of Romans.
19: For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
Paul is saying the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each another.
20: But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
The truth, says Paul, is that all the wrong things I do may be blamed on “old Adam” or my sinful nature which is still enslaved to sin.
21: I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
22: For I joyfully concur with law of God in the inner man,
23: but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
Paul summarizes in these three verses. As a Believer, he wants to obey God always but it’s a struggle. His mind “wars” against his body, which has been hijacked by sin.
Although he wants to be obedient, the “law of sin” or rebellion against God within him, sometimes causes him to do things he hates.
24: Wretched (meaning: desolate – bound for destruction) man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
Paul groans – but not in frustration or pain. His groan is an outward expression of having been weighed downed or overburdened. I imagine a similar groan has escaped from you when you tried to pick up a weight that was too heavy or when someone handed you a load that was too much for you to bear.
Paul has realized something significant. He has come to the end of “self.”
Note what he doesn’t ask here. He doesn’t ask, “How shall I be set free!”
What does he say? “Who will set me free…?”
Early on, we learn that cheating, lying, and stealing are bad. We think we understand what “the flesh” means and what God means when He speaks to us about such things.
So, we stop lying, cheating, and stealing. Then we encounter the inner turmoil.
We discover we don’t have the power to be obedient all the time. Although we want to obey God, sometimes we choose to break God’s commandments anyway.
What’s going on? Paul is admitting that his inner struggle has reached its pinnacle, and the man, finding no hope, and no power to change this situation in him, begins to pray.
Who will deliver me? When a person arrives at the “end of self,” there is Jesus Christ.
9: “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you…
Paul knows his deliverer's name. The next verse gives witness to this truth.
25: Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
(To be continued)
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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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