Learning and Living the God-centered life

One Biblical Doctrine at a time…

We are saved from sin...

Do you think of salvation primarily in terms of what you are saved from? The apostle Paul uses the word save in Romans about 75% in the future tense. If you are wondering why, it is because he wants to make sure you and I know that we are saved from sin and God’s wrath. We spend so much time convincing people of God’s love that we rarely mention God’s wrath. I was recently sent this picture from someone in our class. There is great theology in this sign.


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We must hate sin

How incredible it is that we do not hate sin more than we do! Sin is the cause of all the pain and disease in the world. God did not create man to be an ailing and suffering creature. It was sin, and nothing but sin, which brought in all the ills that flesh is heir to. It was sin to which we owe every racking pain, and every loathsome infirmity, and every humbling weakness to which our poor bodies are liable. Let us keep this ever in mind. Let us hate sin with a godly hatred. ~ J.C. Ryle

The effect of sin

From John MacArthur’s - ‘Man’s Biggest Problem’

This is vividly illustrated in a story told many years ago about Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo da Vinci was painting his great masterpiece known as The Last Supper. He sought long for a model for Jesus Christ. At last he located a chorister in one of the churches of Rome who was lovely in life and lovely in features, a young man named Pietro Bandonelli. He used him for the portrait of Jesus Christ. Years passed, and as the painting was still unfinished, all the disciples had been portrayed except one, Judas Iscariot.

And now after all of these years da Vinci began again the search for a face. He wanted a face that was hardened by sin, he want a face that was contorted by lust and evil desire, and at last he found a dissolute beggar on the streets of Rome with a face so villainous he shuddered when he looked at him. He hired the man to sit for him as he painted the face of Judas on his canvas and when he was about to dismiss the man he said, I have not yet found out your name, to which the man replied, I am Pietro Bandonelli. I also sat for you as your model of Jesus Christ. The sinful years had disfigured the face, and that’s the way sin does it.

Kill sin or it will kill you

Yesterday we studied the first two imperatives in Romans 6:11-13. We as Christians need to understand the battlefield and it is against our own sinful nature. Be patient as we teach through this section of Romans but this is a very important category for us to understand.

John Owen one of the great Puritan theologians said "be killing your sin or it will be killing you." There is more to teach on this but for now I have an audio clip for you on this subject. Allow Dr. John Piper to encourage you to make war on your sin. Simply click on this LINK.

Is sin in Romans 6 equal to the sinful nature?

This morning I am looking closely at the word sin (harmartia) in the Greek as it occurs in Romans and in Paul's other epistles. Have you ever heard about or used the phrase "sinful nature?" I think this is a very helpful phrase to provide for us clear understanding as to what Paul means when he says we died to sin (Romans 6:2). But upon further investigation the phrase sinful nature never occurs in any of the word for word translations such as the ESV, NASB, or NKJV. However the NIV and the NLT, which I consider both to be excellent translations, use the phrase "sinful nature." And the question that comes to mind is as we study Romans 6:1-14, would it be fair to equate "the sin" which occurs 9 times in 14 verses to "the sinful nature."

I want us to understand that "the sin" or "the sinful" nature Paul refers to is a noun, which by definition of a noun is either a person, place or thing. This thing called the sinful nature is what causes the sins to be manifested in our lives. The sinful nature being the root and the sins (verb) then become the fruit. Let me give you a word picture that is not perfect but I think can illustrate the difference. If you have ever done anything in the garden or the yard regarding a weed you can better understand the difference between "the sin" and sins. If you pull the head off of the weed all the way to the surface of the ground even though the weed is gone in a few days it comes back. We all know that in order to get rid of a weed the right way is to pull it up by the roots. In our Christian lives we need to continue to kill or put to death the sinful nature. Even though we are dead to sin in terms of its realm and power, which is very remarkable, it is not yet dead to us. Jesus died for sins meaning He has paid the price for the penalty of our sins past, present and future. But also Jesus has died to sin which means the very power of sin has been broken due to His death and resurrection. But the presence of sin or you could say the sinful nature remains in every Christian.

So as I continue in our study of Romans 6 I will be referring to "the sin" as the sinful nature. It is from the sinful nature that the very acts of sins take place in our lives. Too often we are trying to manage the sins (verb) instead of putting to death the sinful nature (noun). When you arrive at Romans 6:12 which is the second imperative or command Paul writes the following; "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts." The question is asked what does the word "its" refer to in this sentence. Does it refer to sin or mortal body? I will not go into the technical reason, but according the Greek rendering it refers to the mortal body. We can't see the sinful nature but we certainly can see the things that come from the sinful nature. So Paul is dealing with the root (sinful nature) by telling us not to obey lusts that try to express themselves through the members of our body like eyes, hands, feet, tongue and so on. The fullness in the Christian life happens when we learn how to work on the right end of the problem. In this case we need to be killing the sinful nature instead of trying to manage the sins that result from this nature.

Battling the epidemic of pornography

If you put a title on our reading today in Proverbs it would probably be "warning in regards to adultery." Jesus brings further clarity to this issue in the New Testament when He states from the "Sermon on the Mount" these words in Matthew 5:28; "but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Since this is a class focused on Bible doctrine there are a number of "hot topics" that we will probably never cover in depth. However I am utilizing these blog articles with you to cover at times that which we may not cover on Sunday morning.

As you probably already know the divorce rate in America is a little over 50%. And the trend has turned in recent years, as the churches divorce rate has actually exceeded that of those in the world. The reason is because many outside the Christian faith have agreed to live together and not enter into a marriage covenant. And therefore would not be calculated as part of the divorce statistics. I think today the most significant form of adultery that we see in America, is that which is being committed online through pornography. Recently a major university was going to do a study in order to track the effects of pornography on males between let's say 20-40. I don't remember the exact ages but this is fairly close. They were to take one group with no exposure and then set up another test group who had significant exposure over a certain number of years. The study was cancelled before it started because they could find no males that had not been exposed to online pornography. This is not just a problem but an epidemic according to those in the know and it embraces both male and female.

However we should not be surprised by this when we read what the apostle Paul teaches in Romans Chapter 1. He writes under the inspiration of the Spirit, that when a culture, community or individuals start to exchange the glory of God for the glory of man they enter into a descending staircase of sin. This begins with sexual immorality that leads to a culture of homosexuality then leads to a culture of depraved minds. God gives people over to the desires of their hearts. The message in this section of Romans 1 is as follows; If you want to exchange the glory of God for the glory of self and if you continue and maintain this to be your passion and treasure then God will give you over to it. Step back for a minute or two, look at the newspaper and headline news and then read Romans 1 in the context of what you are seeing play out in the American culture. Read More...

The danger and destructiveness of sin

This morning our reading is from 2 Samuel 10-14. As I read I meditated on the danger and destructiveness of sin. We can observe from the text that King David's feet took him to a place he should not have been. He is on the roof of his palace but this is a time of year where he should have been at war with his troops. His eyes looked where they should never have been. His thoughts then leading to words that came from his mouth as he sent for Bathsheba. His hands and arms holding onto the wife of another woman and getting her pregnant. Almost immediately my mind rushed ahead to the following verses in Mark;
  • Mark 9:43 “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,
  • Mark 9:45 “If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell,
  • Mark 9:47 “If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell,

John Owen the Puritan theologian was quoted as saying "be killing your sin or it will be killing you." Sin takes you to places that you shouldn't go, introduces you to thoughts you shouldn't think, desires the very things you shouldn't have, says the things you shouldn't say and does the things you shouldn't do. And Jesus teaches that we must be violent to the point where we are killing our sin.

When we are finished in the doctrine of God, the next part of our curriculum is to study the doctrine of sin. Just look in 2 Samuel 11 at the dangerous progression of this sin in the life of King David. First he sees with the eyes and then he lusts in the heart and then he acts on what he sees and desires. Does that remind you of another story in the Bible. How about Genesis 3:6 when Eve observes the food of the tree, which results into a desire for the food she sees and that leads her to take it and eat it.

In one chapter 2 Samuel 11, King David described as a man after God's own heart has committed adultery and murder.

Can you see an application? What sin is lurking or being tolerated in your life? Places that you may go, things you may see, thoughts you might think, and desires you might have that lead to actions you might take. Sin is so very dangerous and so very destructive. But for the Christian there is a strategy and it involves violence and war.

Listen to this short audio clip from Dr. John Piper, click on this LINK. (The context of this audio is Romans 8:12-17)

Principles for genuine confession

Occasionally I find articles that will help emphasize some Bible doctrines we have covered or will cover in the future. This deals specifically in the area of sin and we will cover when we get to the doctrine of sin. But I couldn’t resist when I read this principles for genuine confession.

From Peacemakers Ministries:

As God opens your eyes to see how you have sinned against others, he simultaneously offers you a way to find freedom from your past wrongs. It is called confession. Many people have never experienced this freedom because they have never learned how to confess their wrongs honestly and unconditionally. Instead, they use words like these: “I’m sorry if I hurt you.” “Let’s just forget the past.” “I suppose I could have done a better job.” “I guess it’s not all your fault.” These token statements rarely trigger genuine forgiveness and reconciliation. If you really want to make peace, ask God to help you breathe grace by humbly and thoroughly admitting your wrongs. One way to do this is to use the Seven A’s.

1. Address everyone involved (All those whom you affected)
2. Avoid if, but, and maybe (Do not try to excuse your wrongs)
3. Admit specifically (Both attitudes and actions)
4. Acknowledge the hurt (Express sorrow for hurting someone)
5. Accept the consequences (Such as making restitution)
6. Alter your behavior (Change your attitudes and actions)
7. Ask for forgiveness

See Matthew 7:3-5; 1 John 1:8-9; Proverbs 28:13.