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What does it mean to be dead to sin?

Romans 6 (NIV)

Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

 19 I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21 What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death!

22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life inChrist Jesus our Lord.

Now, if we are dead to our “human failure to measure up”, we cannot then live as “human failures” (the word translated as sin means missing the mark, failure, frailty). Neither can we decide to do it on purpose. There is no guilt to being human, and in error. Unfortunately the old English word, sin, does have that meaning.

But, you say, sin is sin. If you do it on purposed, you have become a slave to it, like Paul says.

Well, Paul is not saying that. He is showing how we were before Jesus died to sin.

We who believe in Jesus are also dead to sin – because we died with Him. And as He is alive, we are alive in Him.

Now, we are free from sin. If we are dead to it, we have no relation to it, just as a dead man can neither run nor observe a stop sign.

So, what about when we do something we think is bad or wrong?

First of all, we do not know sin except by the law, and we are also dead to it.

In fact, the law was for the Jews, not the Gentiles. Most believers have never been Jewish. Those who are Jewish are still not under law, because Jesus did away with it, establishing a new covenant.

So, again, how do we know something is bad or wrong? What is the standard? There would seem to be none. We have conscience, but can’t the conscience be seared, and let us do things that are against it?

Grace teaches us godliness. It is our new “conscience”, for it is the influence of God on our hearts.

Now we have the tree of life, which is Jesus, and we have a new kind of guidance system. It does not operate from a list of rules, or what we just feel is good or bad.

Grace operates through the Holy Spirit, in which we walk. We, who are Christ’s, walk in the spirit. He is the new “default” setting. Did you know that the fruit of the spirit looks a lot like the many facets of grace?

Anytime we look at what someone does wrong, we are looking at law.

When we look at law, that is all we see, and it condemns us. It is a downward spiral. We cannot win. However, Jesus has won the battle, and He has lifted us up with Him out of condemnation. We are free!

Look with His eyes, which never condemn and always lift up. He looks at our hearts and works in our hearts. It’s intensely personal and subjectively varied. If you think someone is in “sin”, it is not for you to judge.

If you think you are in “sin” you have forgotten you were forgiven, once and for all time.

For the believer there is no such thing as living in “sin” or continuing in it. You can’t have it both ways. You are either dead to sin or you are not.

And you are dead to sin. You do walk in the spirit.

To repeat, if you judge someone as being in sin, you have just put yourself under the standard of sin and have lost the benefit of grace. Personally, I have tried to drop the word “sin” from my vocabulary, which proves to be difficult. It’s very ingrained into our minds and culture.

Operate out of grace. That is ministering life.

Now for the third, and hopefully the last,  in a related series of posts.

The first epistle to Timothy is one that is trotted out these days to condemn homosexuality. Let’s read it, with some emphasis added.

1 Timothy 1:5 -11 (Amplified Bible)

…Whereas the object and purpose of our instruction and charge is love, which springs from a pure heart and a good (clear) conscience and sincere (unfeigned) faith.


But certain individuals have missed the mark on this very matter [and] have wandered away into vain arguments and discussions and purposeless talk. They are ambitious to be doctors of the Law (teachers of the Mosaic ritual), but they have no understanding either of the words and terms they use or of the subjects about which they make [such] dogmatic assertions.


Now we recognize and know that the Law is good if anyone uses it lawfully [for the purpose for which it was designed], knowing and understanding this: that the Law is not enacted for the righteous (the upright and just, who are in right standing with God), but for the lawless and unruly, for the ungodly and sinful, for the irreverent and profane, for those who strike and beat and [even] murder fathers and strike and beat and [even] murder mothers, for manslayers,


[for] impure and immoral persons, those who abuse themselves with men, kidnapers, liars, perjurers–and whatever else is opposed to wholesome teaching and sound doctrine as laid down by the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

The Message Bible says this: 1 Timothy 1:9 -11 It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God.

Another version:

(J B Phillips New Testament) 1 Timothy

1:3-4 – I am repeating in this letter the advice I gave you just before I went to Macedonia and urged you to stay at Ephesus. I wanted you to do this so that you could order certain persons to stop inventing new doctrines and leave hoary old myths and interminable genealogies alone. They only raise queries in men’s minds without leading them to faith in God.

1:5-7 – The ultimate aim of the Christian minister is to produce the love which springs from a pure heart, a good conscience and a genuine faith. Some seem to have forgotten this and to have lost themselves in endless words. They want a reputation as teachers of the Law, yet they fail to realise the meaning of their own words, still less of the subject they are so dogmatic about.

1:8-11 – We know, of course, that the Law is good in itself and has a legitimate function. Yet we also know that the Law is not really meant for the good man, but for the man who has neither principles nor self-control, for the man who is really wicked, who has neither scruples nor reverence. Yes, the Law is directed against the sort of people who attack their own parents, who kill their fellows, who are sexually uncontrolled or perverted, or who traffic in the bodies of others. It is against liars and perjurers – in fact it is against any and every action which contradicts the wholesome teaching of the glorious Gospel which our blessed God has given and entrusted to me.

This epistle echoes what Paul says in Galatians chapter five. It’s not about sins but about selfishness, lack of scruples. It’s the attitude of the heart. Whether in a religious code or a civil one, some people need to be restrained under law.

The people who love God do not need laws – they are governed and taught by grace, and led by the Holy Spirit. The people who love God are not in bondage to law, but are free in grace. They are not bound by paganism, but constrained only by the love of God. Much of the immorality and perversion in the world of the early church was directly part of pagan worship.

God detests mixing of paganism with true worship, as well as mixing law with grace.

There shouldn’t be any more to say. In fact, I have come to a place where I am tired of words. Instead of presenting a case, try looking at the spirit in which the New Testament is written.

It’s written by grace. Grace. Grace. Grace.

So, this is a different sort of article. I just don’t care what the experts on either side will have to say, in particular, about what kind of sexual acts are involved. Personally, I hold to the temple ritual and human sex slave/pederasty view. But I don’t care to debate it and won’t.

I also will not use this or any other passage to condemn people. Condemnation comes back on your own head, for that is fruit of the law. But we are dead to the law, and therefore dead to sin. It’s over. It’s finished. Love won.

 

If you want a detailed look at this and other scriptures used to clobber homosexuals, go here  CanyonWalker Connections

 

This is a follow up to the preceding post. They belong together, as they are commonly misunderstood together.


Galatians 5 (Amplified Version)

In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off].

[Who is free? Those in Christ. ~ my note]

Notice, it is I, Paul, who tells you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no profit (advantage, avail) to you [for if you distrust Him, you can gain nothing from Him].

I once more protest and testify to every man who receives circumcision that he is under obligation and bound to practice the whole of the Law and its ordinances.

[The one who puts himself, or anyone else, under obligation of the law, likewise is bound to practice the whole Law and it’s ordinances. ~ my note]

If you seek to be justified and declared righteous and to be given a right standing with God through the Law, you are brought to nothing and so separated (severed) from Christ. You have fallen away from grace (from God’s gracious favor and unmerited blessing).

[Fallen from the benefits of grace, but still Christ’s. ~ my note]

For we, [not relying on the Law but] through the [Holy] Spirit’s [help], by faith anticipate and wait for the blessing and good for which our righteousness and right standing with God [our conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action, causes us] to hope.

For [if we are] in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith activated and energized and expressed and working through love.

[In other words, we are in Christ.  ~ my note]

You were running the race nobly. Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the Truth?

This [evil] persuasion is not from Him Who called you [Who invited you to freedom in Christ].

A little leaven (a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers) leavens the whole lump [it perverts the whole conception of faith or misleads the whole church].

[Who was unsettling them? It was the Judaizers – law keepers. If any are putting law on others, they are law-keepers too ~ my note.]

[For my part] I have confidence [toward you] in the Lord that you will take no contrary view of the matter but will come to think with me. But he who is unsettling you, whoever he is, will have to bear the penalty.

But, brethren, if I still preach circumcision [as some accuse me of doing, as necessary to salvation], why am I still suffering persecution? In that case the cross has ceased to be a stumbling block and is made meaningless (done away).

I wish those who unsettle and confuse you would [go all the way and] cut themselves off!

For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another.

For the whole Law [concerning human relationships] is complied with in the one precept, You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.

But if you bite and devour one another [in partisan strife], be careful that you [and your whole fellowship] are not consumed by one another.

But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).

[Walking by the Spirit applies to those who are in Christ. ~ my note]

For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.

But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law.

Now the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear (obvious): they are immorality, impurity, indecency, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies), envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

[Who? Those who are not led by the Spirit but who are subject to Law.

Believers do fleshly things, but grace teaches them godly things. They are righteous and the “sins” that they commit are not imputed to them. ~ my note]

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].

And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires.

If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit.]

Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another.

[Paul is talking about how the world lives, which is not in Christ and not free, but is in bondage to the flesh. He is not saying that members of the body of Christ could or are doing things that would or could keep them from the kingdom!

He is actually talking about selfishness versus serving one another.

We are dead to the law, and therefore to sin.

This passage cannot legitimately be used to put any under condemnation or say they are not saved. It’s not about actions proving anything. It’s about what the flesh selfishly does and how in Christ we are walking in the spirit and are not controlled by the flesh.

 Again, we believers do fleshly things, but they are not counted against us.

 Further, fleshy things are not bad. Things are neutral, and all are lawful. But all are not expedient.  Why? Some things we do are abusive and harmful to others and that is not profitable or expedient, nor is that godliness.

Love is not selfish!

~ my note]

What is Paul talking about in Romans chapter one?

Jesus said that all the law and the prophets were based on two things. We must love God with our whole being, and love our neighbor. And an overview of God’s acts throughout the scripture shows, among others, this theme:

God loves us.

God hates idolatry.

God hates mankind’s abuse of one another.

Now, since Paul is the apostle of grace, when he talks about sin and judgment, we have to understand the context and see his statements in light of grace. If we don’t, we have Paul saying two contrary and mutually exclusive things.

We are either forgiven, and dead to law and sin, or we must keep confessing sin and obeying the law to keep ourselves on God’s good side. It’s is not both.

Paul clearly says that having begun in the spirit, we cannot continue in law.

If we do, we are fallen from grace – meaning we have left grace and its benefits in our walk with Jesus. (It doesn’t mean we have lost our salvation. He does not un-adopt us.)

When we read Romans 1, particularly verse 26, we have become accustomed to the understanding that he is talking about homosexuality. But traditionally it was not understood that way.

Romans 1:26 says this: (King James) For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature

Traditionally, the understanding is that Paul is talking about pagan, idolatrous, practices and rituals.

The Adam Clarke Commentary says, Verse 25. Changed the truth of God into a lie. In the place of the true worship of God, they established idolatry. In various places of Scripture, idols are termed lies. Isaiah 44:20; Jeremiah 10:14; 13:25. The true God was known among the primitive inhabitants of the earth, those who first became idolaters literally changed the truth of God into a lie: they did know the true God, but they put idols in his place.

Verse 26. For this cause God gave them up; idolatry necessarily produced all kinds of impurity. How could it be otherwise, when the highest objects of their worship were adulterers, fornicators, and prostitutes of the most infamous kind, such as Jupiter, Apollo, Mars, Venus, abominable evils with which the apostle charges the Gentiles in this and the following verse. I could produce a multitude of proofs from their own writings; but it is needless to make the subject plainer than the apostle has left it.

Verse 27. Receiving in themselves that recompense, the women and men, by their unnatural prostitutions, enervated their bodies, so that barrenness prevailed, and those disorders which are necessarily attendant on prostitution.

The whole context of this passage is men leaving their knowledge of God and creating their own gods to worship.

They got progressively more depraved in that worship, which employed temple prostitution, involving both males and females.

I like the Message Bible on this:

Romans 1:24-30 So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them–the God we bless, the God who blesses us.

Oh, yes! Worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either–women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men

– all lust, no love.

And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it–emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches. Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating.

Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way.

I have emphasized the part about all lust, no love. Whether someone is gay or straight, debauchery is universally condemned (for it abuses God’s creature – mankind).

Whether gay or straight, loving God and one another is the thing.

I would rather have to account for loving too much than putting burdens on people that no one can stand under. That’s what the Pharisees did. Not for me, thanks. Goodness and love win.

Which takes us back to what Jesus said to do.

The short of it is that there are “experts” on both sides of this. I have chosen to draw a big circle and be inclusive. Now that I’ve done it, a huge weight has lifted. The judging, and dragging the law around, was a heavy burden. I lost the benefit of grace.

Jesus said His yoke was light.

Come to think of it, LOVE is the long of it too.

Because love never fails and love remains. The greatest thing is love.

 

I am sharing a Facebook note by a friend:

The Old Testament Law… FULFILLED

by André van der Merwe on Monday, July 11, 2011 at 2:56am

People who claim that the Old Testament law still applies to believers, can be divided into several groups:

1)    Those who believe that all the Old Testament laws still apply.

2)    Those who believe that believers will not be judged according to the Old Testament law, but that it still serves as a moral compass that will help them to avoid falling into sin.

3)    Those who believe that the law can be split up into two different sections, namely moral laws and ceremonial laws, and that the ceremonial laws have passed away, but that the moral laws still need to be obeyed.

Group 1

For those who fall into the first group, the Bible unfortunately bears disappointing news:

For whoever shall keep the whole Law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (Jam 2:10 MKJV)

The punishment for sin is extremely severe, namely death (Romans 5:12 & 1 Corinthians15:56). The Bible also tells us that no man is ever able to obtain right standing with God through their level of obedience to the law:

God doesn’t accept people simply because they obey the Law. No, indeed! All the Law does is to point out our sin. (Rom 3:20)

But the apostle Paul then continues and shows us how to stand forgiven and justified before God:

Now we see how God does make us acceptable to him. The Law and the Prophets tell how we become acceptable, and it isn’t by obeying the Law of Moses. God treats everyone alike. He accepts people only because they have faith in Jesus Christ. (Rom 3:21-22 CEV, emphasis added)

 The law provided a physical standard to measure a person’s level of holiness by. It was a contract which God had sealed in blood with the nation of Israel – only with them. How do we know this? Because we see in numerous instances how God acted in favor of Israel against other nations (the Moabites, Philistines, Syrians, etc).

In today’s world, when the terms of a contract between two parties have been fulfilled, the contract is finished. The contract isn’t abolished or destroyed, it is fulfilled. This is exactly what Jesus meant when he said:

Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to destroy but to fulfill. (Matt 5:17 MKJV)

 And since Christ fulfilled the law and ended that contract which God had made with Israel, the consequences for failing to observe the clauses of that contract (the laws) are now irrelevant. God does not judge people by their ability to uphold the requirements of a contract which has already been fulfilled.

Group 2

The law is not a tool to assist us with moral direction. It cannot and has never helped anybody to stop sinning because it was never intended for this purpose. The purpose of the law was to make mankind aware of their inner sin problem (their sinful nature) so that when they realize they’d never be able to obtain eternal life through their own level of holiness, it would point them to Jesus for salvation. This sinful nature would then be circumcised (cut) out of them spiritually (Colossians 2:11) and be replaced by a brand new born again spirit which is 100% perfect, righteous and holy. The law was only a signpost that pointed to Jesus – it’s pretty silly to set up camp next to a signpost, isn’t it?

All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. (Rom 5:20a MSG)

What is the use of the Law? It was given later to show that we sin. (Gal 3:19a CEV)

The practice of trying to obey the demands of that ancient Jewish rule keeping system in order to overcome fleshly habits and lusts, is powerless and useless against the onslaughts of sin. Trying to overcome sin through adhering to the law will only have the effect of showing us how far we fall short of its decrees. The only way to overcome sinful habits is to be established in the revelation of how much God loves us and that He sees us as completely righteous. His grace took care of all our sins and He promised never to remember them ever again (Hebrews 10:17). When we know how much grace God has extended towards us, it will empower us to overcome any sin:

For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law, but under grace. (Rom 6:14 MKJV)

Group 3

Nobody in this group (those who claim that the “ceremonial laws” have fallen away) has actually gone to the effort of drawing up a list to show exactly which of the laws have remained. The truth is that God Himself also never made this kind of distinction between any of the laws when He handed them down. On the contrary, He said:

“Obey all the laws and teachings I am giving you. Don’t add any, and don’t take any away.” (Deut 12:32 CEV)

Yet we find all sorts of religions that are based on Judaism jumping up nowadays, with non Jewish people trying to go back to their supposed “Jewish roots”.

Israel never welcomed intimacy with God (which is really all that God wants from us), because they always sent Moses to talk to God on their behalf (Exodus 20:19). Similarly, it appears that when people can’t find any fulfillment in their relationship with God, they make up all sorts of theories to try and earn His approval through some kind of rule keeping system. The peculiar thing about this trend is that since the entire Old Testament law is far too wearisome and laborious to keep, they formulate their own version of it and decide by themselves which laws they want to keep and which ones they can discard.

From Exodus 20 up to the end of Deuteronomy there were a total of 614 laws passed down to the nation of Israel. Just as the law was very specific about what to do and what not to do, it also contained very specific instructions about how to avoid being punished when a law was transgressed. Dodging retribution was mainly achieved in the form of sacrifices and offerings. Most of the modern day variations of Judaism (including those groups who insist calling God and Jesus by their Hebrew names, but whose lives are void of the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit) have opted not to include these sacrifices as part of their man-made belief systems, yet they vigorously claim to be living according to God’s laws. Who’s fooling who here?

Nonetheless, to accommodate these people and to try and show to them that they are actually not only disregarding the sacrifices and offerings, but also breaking many of the other (moral) laws contained in the Old Testament, let’s take a look at some of the laws:

Only, you shall not eat these of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: …the swine, though he divides the hoof and is cloven-footed, yet he does not chew the cud; he is unclean to you. (Lev 11: 4, 7 MKJV)

 Any form of pork, including bacon and ham, are strictly off limits according to the law. There goes that nice English breakfast or that ham and cheese sandwich out the door!

You must not eat anything that lives in the water and does not have fins and scales. (Lev 11:12 GNB)

No calamari or squid allowed, no sir!

And if any man’s semen goes from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water and be unclean until the evening. And the woman with whom a man shall lie with emission of semen shall both bathe in water and be unclean until the evening. (Lev 15:16, 18 MKJV)

  Men and women ought to separate themselves from any other people for an entire day every time after they’ve had sexual intercourse. This would mean quite a lot of sick leave for most people or heaps of broken up marriages because of spouses abstaining from sex with each other.

Don’t cut the hair on the sides of your head or trim your beard. (Lev 19:27 MSG)

 All men would have to walk around with beards. If anybody who claims to be living according to the law shaves their beard, they are breaking God’s commands!

Don’t even build a cooking fire at home on the Sabbath. (Exo 35:3 CEV)

There will be no BBQ after watching that sports game with our friends on a Saturday, because strictly speaking the Sabbath is supposed to be observed on a Saturday.

Don’t wear clothes woven of two kinds of material. (Lev 19:19b MSG)

This would mean throwing out piles of our clothes, since a vast portion of the clothing found in anybody’s closet today is made from a mixture of cotton and polyester.

See how ridiculous it gets? But praise be to Jesus that He fulfilled all the requirements of that antique law keeping system, setting people free to live a life that is led by the Holy Spirit and not by rules:

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Gal 4:4-5 ESV)

In Grace

Andre van der Merwe

http://www.NewCovenantGrace.com 

 

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