Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dead to the World?

We’ve seen so far that when we died with Christ we died to sin and we died to the law. The third aspect of our death with Christ is that we died to the world. In Galatians 6:14 we read, “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

It’s interesting to me that this is written in the past tense as a completed act. The world has been crucified to me and I to the world. This is a fact and we need to believe God when He says so. However, we don’t always put into practice what is true. Even though we’ve died to the world, we still interact in ways that suggest that we really haven’t died to it. When we do this, it does not change the reality of what happened at the cross. As in so many other teachings of Scripture there are completed events which God then challenges us to live up to. Rather than having to reach some sort of perfection before He declares us righteous or dead to the world, he makes the declaration of fact first and then by His spirit works in us to move us toward what, in His eyes, is a completed reality.

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul uses this approach to challenge the Christians there not to subject themselves to the futile rules of human religion. “Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations?” (Colossians 2:20) In other words, since you’ve died to the world, don’t subject yourselves to its regulations.

In Colossians 3:2 we are told to “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” For what reason are we to do this? “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

So the message is that because we have died to sin, the law and the world, we are to work this out on a day to day basis in our lives We are to realize more and more on a daily basis the reality of what is already absolutely true of us.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder

I love this song by John Newton. It's an old hymn and hardly anyone sings it any more, but Jars of Clay has produced a modern version for this generation. Read and ponder the words carefully as you thank God for His abundant mercy.

Let us love and sing and wonder,
Let us praise the Savior’s Name!
He has hushed the law’s loud thunder,
He has quenched Mount Sinai’s flame.
He has washed us with His blood,
He has brought us nigh to God.

Let us love the Lord Who bought us,
Pitied us when enemies,
Called us by His grace, and taught us,
Gave us ears and gave us eyes:
He has washed us with His blood,
He presents our souls to God.

Let us sing, though fierce temptation
Threaten hard to bear us down!
For the Lord, our strong Salvation,
Holds in view the conqueror’s crown:
He Who washed us with His blood
Soon will bring us home to God.

Let us wonder; grace and justice
Join and point to mercy’s store;
When through grace in Christ our trust is,
Justice smiles and asks no more:
He Who washed us with His blood
Has secured our way to God.

Let us praise, and join the chorus
Of the saints enthroned on high;
Here they trusted Him before us,
Now their praises fill the sky:
“Thou hast washed us with Your blood;
Thou art worthy, Lamb of God!”

Hark! the Name of Jesus, sounded
Loud, from golden harps above!
Lord, we blush, and are confounded,
Faint our praises, cold our love!
Wash our souls and songs with blood,
For by Thee we come to God.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dead to the Law

Wow! I just looked back to see when I had posted my last entry in the Joshua study and it has been a month! I guess things have been very busy and I’m not as consistent as I would like to be in my blogging.

The last time we looked at the fact that in dying with Christ, we died to sin. The Bible also teaches us that we have died to the law. I think the key passage on this is Romans 7:1-6

The argument Paul makes here is that the law only applies to a person as long as he is living. That should make sense to all of us. He uses the example of marriage, pointing out the fact that to marry a second husband while the first is living would be committing adultery. But if the first husband has died, the woman is freed from the law and can marry the other man. The law against adultery doesn’t apply in that case.

The application is that in the same way, we have become dead to the law through the body of Christ so that we can be married to another, Christ, and consequently bring forth fruit for God.

The law has in its nature the ability to arouse sinful passions (vs 5) which then work in our bodies to bear the fruit of death. Paul addresses this further in verses 8 and 9. He says, “apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” In 1 Corinthians 15:56 we read, “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.”

So what we see then is that the law gives sin its power. Paul makes sure we understand that the law isn’t the problem. He tells us in Romans 7:7 that the law is not sin and then in verse 14 that the law is spiritual. It’s not the law but it’s us. Even so the spiritual law in contact with our fleshly nature is a combination that gives sin power and brings death to us.

So what is God’s remedy? The remedy is that when Christ died on the cross, we died with Him and in so doing, we died to the law. When we sin, the law responds, “The soul that sins shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:20) But when the sentence of death was imposed on Christ, it was our sentence. Therefore the law cannot be applied twice. If Satan were to try to bring charges against us pleading in court for the death penalty, God can look up the record and tell him that the person has already died! You can’t be executed twice.

Hopefully this is an encouragement to you as you think through what it means to be dead to the law.