20/03/2008

Some quotes on Romans 7

There have been a number of comments on my previous post, concerning the nature of Romans 7. I realise that that I will be disagreeing with many learned people, and so I do not want to present a "final answer" to debate on Romans 7 - rather I just want to share some quotes from good commentators.

"Whatever else, this passage does not describe a struggle within the believer between his or her flesh and the Spirit but rather describes what it is like to be under the Law and in the clutches of sin and the flesh... The absence of the Spirit in this picture affirms that Paul is not describing life under the New Covenant." (Gorden Fee, God's Empowering Presence, p513)

"I do not then deny that Christians struggle with sin - I deny only that this passage describes that struggle. For while the believer continues to be influenced by both 'realms', Paul makes it clear he belongs to the new realm." (Douglas Moo, Romans, p449)

"My own view is that Paul's purpose in the text is not to delineate whether believers or unbelievers are the subject of the discussion. His purpose is to communicate the inability of the law to transform human beings." (Thomas Schreiner, Romans, quoted in Terry Virgo, God's Lavish Grace, p56)

"The argument supporting a reference to Christian experience is exegetical but existential... I agree with those who detect a future deliverance from sin in 7:24 but this should not exclude present victory as well. Believers experience substantial, significant and observable victory over sin." (Thomas Schreiner, Romans, p384)

"I am about to make a statement which is almost certainly to be misunderstood. I make it in order to expand the passage. I shall be 'slanderously reported' for having said it even as the Apostle himself was. I put it like this: it doesn't matter how deeply, how violently you may sin as a believer, you should never again come under condemnation. If you do it is because you have not understood your relationship to the law and have put yourself back 'under law' again... I say again that however much you may sin and whatever the charactter of the sin you must never put yourself back 'under the law': you must never have that sense of condemnation again." (Lloyd-Jones, Romans 7, p10)

06/03/2008

The mirror


I believe today that the Lord his given me an illustration of the apparent tension between our righteous standing as children of God (2 Cor 5v17) and our sanctification (that is the living out of His righteousness). While every child of God is a saint, a holy one, set apart for Him (we are NOT sinners anymore - the old has gone, all things have become new, 2 Cor 5v17), we do still sin (hence John reminds us "if we sin we have an advocate with the Father", 1 John 2v1).

But what about this sin? While I am beginning to get into my heart the reality that nothing changes my standing before God, I still get disappointed with myself, and I still get disappointed that the testimony of my life (before others) is not as good as it could be.

But today a picture dropped into my heart - of a mirror. We have all stood in front of a mirror. Sometimes you might have been to a fun fair or carnival where they had a "hall of mirrors" with different kinds of mirrors that distorted your reflection. The real you is still the same, unchanged, but the reflected you is distorted.

The moment you became a Christian, the real you became a brand new person. Your old self and ALL your sin, past, present and future, was crucified with Christ (Gal 2v20). You died and your life is now hidden with Christ (Col 3v3) - the real you is clothed with Jesus is all His perfection and glory. A sacrifice was made that made you, once and for all perfect forever (Heb 10v14). You have been justified, declared righteous so that there is NO condemndation (Rom 8v1). The real you now is now the righteousness of God, and you can't get more righteous than He.

But just as 2 Cor 3v18 says we behold Him as in a mirror, so in 1 Cor 13v12 we are told that "now we see in a mirror dimly." But what is Paul talking about - part of what he is saying is to do with himself -

"For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall now just as I also am known."

The picture is this - the real you is in Christ - but the way you see yourself, and the way others see you, is like through a mirror. And because we are growing and we still do sin, the mirror is dirty. So people see a weak reflection of the real you - and you yourself see a weak reflection of the real you.

So if you sin, it is important not to look at the reflection and see the failure and attack yourself "look at how bad I am, I look terrible". Remember that the mirror is not perfect yet. The reflection is distorted, it is imperfect - BUT the real you is still 100% righteous.

The good news is that we are being changed from glory to glory. I believe that day by day, the Lord is washing the mirror. He is not washing you - you are already clean - but He is washing the mirror. His glory that is untainted and totally righteous, that is in your heart, that is upon you, is gradually day by day being reflected more and more clearly. The mirror is getting cleaner.

And if we fall, some dirt does end up on the mirror. And we can beat ourselves up and say "well, I've ruined my testimony now, people will never believe now." But God keeps on washing the mirror. Day by day. And we can have confidence that the mirror will become more clean. God is faithful; He has begun a good work and will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ (Phil 1v6).

The real you - equal to God in righteousness - is being manifest more and more. You haven't got to strive to keep the mirror clean, but to rest in who you are. Don't keep looking in the mirror, stand as the real you. And God will clean the mirror. You will see His glory and holiness more and more worked out in your day to day life; people around will see His glory more and more visibly in your day to day life.

This is liberty. This sets free from self-righteousness. This sets us free from people looking at us and seeing a "holier than thou" attitude. Its not "holier than thou" but the holiness of heaven itself, which is already yours as a free gift, being seen more clearly - because God is cleaning the mirror.

So no more striving, no more condemnation, no more looking at the dirt on the mirror. You are in Christ and the righteousness of God, and praise God that more and more that glory is being, and will be, manifest, because God is cleaning the mirror that displays your life to this world.

Life in the Spirit messages

A week or so ago, I published a short post from one of Sam Storms' messages from Life in the Spirit.

Someone asked if the messages were recorded. The answer is "yes"!

The messages were all recorded and sold in support of the charity Teamwork, which supports local churches and aid projects, mainly in Kenya. If you would like to purchase any of the CDs, then please contact them directly by e-mail.

To help your chose, here is an outline of the messages:

Session 1 - Sam Storms - Don't Quench the Spirit! A wonderful exposition of 1 Thess 5v19-22.

Session 2 - Clive Calver - Understanding the Times 1. A challenge not to look back, but to move forward. This is not a time for looking back, or standing still.

Session 3 - Dave Campbell - Prophetic Anointing 1. Looked at 1 Sam 16-17, and how the anointing of God enabled David to fulfil his destiny.

Session 4 - Bernard Thompson - Moving in the Prophetic. Some excellent practical teaching on the importance of the prophetic. The headings of this message were: The prophetic is a Holy Spirit Production, a Holy Spirit Provision, needs Holy Spirit Prompting, Holy Spirit Propulsion, and Holy Spirit Penetration.

Session 5 - Clive Calver - Disappointed with Jesus? This was an honest exposition of the the road to Emmaus account, including personal testimony from Clive. He expressed the reality that we do get disappointed, but how Jesus came alongside, brought the scripture, and revealed Himself.

Session 6 - Sam Storms - A Prophetic Church Now and at the End of Time. A truly masterly exposition of Rev 11v1-13.

Session 7 - Dave Campbell - Prophetic Anointing 2. Practical and challenging teaching concerning what the prophetic is. I have posted some quotes here.

Session 8 - Q & A on the Prophetic. Sam Storms answers lots of questions on prophecy and some on eschatology.

Session 9 - Dave Campbell - Impartation of the Anointing. A really powerful explanation of what happens when we are filled with the Spirit, including some hilarious disarming of many of the arguments against physical manifestations of the Holy Spirit. After this message God moved in power and I was just overwhelmed with His goodness.

Session 10 - Clive Calver - Understanding the Times 2. What is this the time for? From Acts 28v17-28 - it is a time for expansion, retaining hope, when the church will be spoken against, and for witnessing. We were challenged to build into the next generation, and not to stop witnessing. He wants to take us beyond renewal. If God sets fire to the church, we can set fire to the community and then to the nation. Don't let it stop with us.

So, if you would like to hear more, do get in touch with Teamwork. If you have Outlook, then this link should put "Life in the Spirit CDs" in the subject line; if not you will have to put it in manually. Happy listening!

Indescribable

This amazing video was shown at the Life in the Spirit conference. Just let your heart be free and worship Him who is indescribable.



{HT: Already Not Yet.}