Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Week in Review

II Chronicles 20
Taught at Langley Avenue Church of God
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Verse 18 & 19 – Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with very loud voice.

Jehoshaphat bowed himself and worshipped. And all of Judah worshipped God for his answer to their situation. What they were doing was thanking God and praising him for the victory that had not come in the natural but they were accepting in the spiritual realm. A miracle is simply the physical reality (what we see) and the spiritual reality (what is true) coming together because of the power of God. We have to begin now thanking God for the victories in our lives, for the miracles we do see yet, but are soon manifesting themselves to us. We want to wait until the battle is over and then thank God, but we have to begin before we even see the answers to praise him. For we walk by faith and not by sight. And as we praise what happens is, we bring the spiritual reality closer so that the physical reality (what we see) and the spiritual reality (what is) become one. And at the moment we experience the miracles of God.

Verse 20 – Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, "Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.

So the people rose early in the morning and trusted in what the prophet had told them. A note, do you realize a lot of scripture talks about how individuals rose early after getting an answer that means, “move quickly” when God gives you directions. Move early in the situation, move quickly before the enemy comes and tries to convince you the answer is not truly from God. See had they waited, they may have begun to doubt the answer for it was indeed a strange one. The scripture also says, believe his prophets and so shall ye prosper. Ahab had refused to listen to the word of God and because of his disobedience he died. But Jehoshaphat was listening and heeding the word of God and because of it he would prosper. Disobedience and sin leads to death, but trust and faith in God will prosper the soul of man. Who do you want to be? Do you want to be Ahab calling on God, but having no intention of heeding and therefore setting yourself up for a spiritual death? Or do you want to be like Jehoshaphat and not only seek God, but obey all that he commands and therefore, prosper in the ways of God? Do you want the message of God coming to you as a rebuke or do you want the word of God to come to you as a word of encouragement? Then you must chose to do either as Ahab did and die or as Jehoshaphat and live.

Verse 21 through 24 – After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: "Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever." As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another. When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped.

We know the rest of this story; the singers go out before the army and sing songs of praise to God. God sets an ambush against the enemy and they win the battle. There are a few things that are important to note here. All that had come against Judah were destroyed. Not one enemy was left. And the amazing part is the people did not have to lift one finger to do anything. Image if you will what it must have been like to think about going into battle without any weapons. No sword, or shield. Yet the people did have armor. Their armor was praise. One of the greatest weapons we have in our spiritual warfare is our prayer and praise. We cannot even enter into the king’s court without praise. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise (Psalm 100:4).

What does this mean? When we enter into our battles following God’s directives, we can come through to the other side of the battle without carrying the scar of the battle. The men of Judah came through this battle without being wounded, scarred or tired. In the fight with Ahab, the men were tired, bruised and defeated from the battle, because God was not in the battle with them. Jehoshaphat however had God with him and he was given the victory. God will give those that are obedient to him, victory in the battles. And we can come through more than conquers. We can come through our battles without the scars of what we have gone through. And not only that but the enemy is destroyed on every avenue with no trace left. So the battles we face are not half won, but completely won with no trace of the enemy left to defeat us in this battle.

The Week in Review

God's beauty is evident in everything we see when we look around at his creation. Do you see His hand at work.

The Nature of Holiness
Written February 2006

The apostle Paul wrote several letters to encourage believers on their Christian journey. His letter to the Romans was one such letter that gave instruction to believers on how to live the Christian life. However, chapter 7, verses 14 – 25 will be examined more closely to find out what the apostle Paul wanted the believers of his time to understand. The next step to understanding his writing is to considerate how it applies to the believer of today.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

When the verses of scripture are read, it is difficult to understand if Paul is speaking about himself in the past, his current situation or someone entirely different. This has been a debate between theologians for a very long time. In Newness of Life, Richard Howard states, “It is true that this portion of Romans 7 (14-25) has been a theological battleground since the days of the Reformation and even back to the Greek and Latin fathers. The crucial question is the status of the person identified as “I”. Is Paul talking about himself – is it autobiographical? Most New Testament scholars agree that this deeply personal language could be nothing else. If Paul is indeed speaking of himself, then what period of his life does he refer to? Is this his experience as an unregenerated Jew under the law, or as a newborn Christian struggling against sin?” (51).

In Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Matthew Henry states, “Here is a description of the conflict between grace and corruption in the heart, between the law of God and the law of sin. And it is applicable two ways: - 1. To the struggles that are in a convinced soul, but yet unregenerated, in the person of whom it is supposed by some, that Paul speaks. 2. To the struggles that are in a renewed sanctified soul, but yet in a state of imperfection; as others apprehend” (2209).

This picture of Paul is most likely how he viewed himself when he lived under the law but now sees through the eyes of his life in Christ. “It was also argued that Rom. 7:14-25 is a picture of the enlightened Jew struggling to save himself by the law (autobiographical of Paul as seen through the eyes of faith) and thus does not describe the new man in Christ” (Howard, 163). “Regardless of how this crucial passage is understood, there can be no doubt that it portrays total enslavement to sin” (Howard, 51).

Paul states in this first verse that the law is spiritual but he is not because sin rules his life (Roman 7:14). When sin rules one’s life that person is a slave to sin or in bondage to it. As stated by Henry, one struggles when they are not yet changed. They want to do what is right (as Paul states), but sin still has the control of their life, and sin controls their passions and behavior. Even the man that has been saved has to allow that which he now possesses to work within him or else he will revert back to allowing sin lordship in his life. Man is unable to live victoriously over sin and it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit he is able to do so. Howard states it this way, “While he, through self-discipline, can perhaps for a time resist the temptation to gross evil, as the demands of love come into focus, he increasingly discovers that such are possible only by the Spirit. This is why he cannot live victoriously in his own strength” (155). An example that comes to mind is the releasing of a prisoner from jail. He is guilty of his crime, but he has received pardon from it. Yet when he is released back into the society, he does not know how to live without doing the same things he did before. He has the temptations to go back to his old ways. He is going to need someone to intercede for him to get him into a new way of thinking and a new way of behaving. He still has a prisoners mind set and behavior. That is what Jesus does for those that are under the control of sin. Jesus fulfilled the law and set the prisoners free. Yet, the prisoner needs to have a different way of thinking and doing because that which is inside wants to do the old things. Therefore, God provided the Holy Spirit to help believers change their way of living.

Paul says he does not do what he knows to do, but he does what he does not want to do. Why is that? He says in verse 17 that it is not really him doing it but the sin that lives inside. Man is unable to do what he knows is right in his own power. It is only under the power of God that man is able to do what is right. Paul is not stating that man is not culpable for his sins. As believers this statement should no longer be used. Believers have the power of God to help them to do what is right. “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Galatians 5:17).
Paul says he knows that no good thing lives within that part of him that is earthly and sinful. It is from this part of man that all thoughts of evil, and sinful activities flow from. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Paul is acknowledging the sinfulness of man. Again Paul is pointing his readers to the point that man in himself is unable to live a righteous life, no matter how deep the desire is.
In verse 23, Paul states, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.” This causes him to cry out in the next verses about what a wicked man he is and ask, who shall deliver me? “Howard states, “In the revealing struggle portrayed in Rom. 7:14-25, conviction is seen as coming through frustration under the law, so that Paul could write elsewhere, ‘For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live to God’ (Gal. 2:19). Regardless of how it comes – and an all-knowing, all-loving God knows exactly how is best – there must be self-frustration and self-disillusionment before there can be self-realization in Christ” (83).

What is the clear message Paul is trying to give to his readers? Man is under the control of sin. Sins control cannot be broken with the simple wishes of man, but only by the power of God. Paul starts the book of Romans off with the example of marriage. He is using the example to show that in marriage, the law has a right over the person as long as both are living. They are not free to marry another. One does not have the freedom to do as they will without suffering the outcome of breaking the law. It is the same with men under the law of God. Even if man chooses to do as he wishes, he is still responsible for the outcome of disobeying the law. In the marriage example, they are not free unless one of the two dies. It is only through death that they are released from the bonds (law) of marriage. Therefore, Paul was trying to show man is not free from the bond of the law and the slavery to sin unless death has occurred. Howard states it this way, “Rom. 7:14-25 pictures total servitude to sin under the law…First, the law – in this case the law of marriage – has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives. Second, a man is discharged or freed from the law only through death. This is true in the case of the marriage law – and all the law…Paul’s meaning is clear. The believer’s death with Christ to sin brought freedom from the law and the slavery it had produced” (106).

After Paul gave the illustration of marriage to show how death can free from that law, he begins to show how man wants to do right under the law, but is unable to do so. He is not able to do it because he is still a slave to sin (under it’s bondage). Howard states, “His is a state of moral frustration and wretchedness” (161). Matthew Henry states it another way, “The remainder of indwelling corruptions which he here speaks of, to show that the law is insufficient to justify even a regenerated man, that the best man in the world hath enough in him to condemn him, if God should deal with him according to the law, which is not the fault of the law, but of our own corrupt nature, which cannot fulfill the law” (2210).

These verses are important because at the start of chapter 8, Paul says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). Paul was pointing the readers to the only one that could do what the law was incapable of doing. Under the law, man was condemned because he was not able to fulfill the requirements of the law. The law was meant to show men their sin, but it was only Jesus that could fulfill the requirements of the law.

Paul was also allowing the reader to understand the there had to be death for the releasing of the bond of the law. Men and women would not be released from the law without the death of Christ. Believers participate in Christ’s death and therefore, are released from the bondage of sin. No longer does one have to try and fulfill the law, when they are not able to do so. What man is released from is the burden of trying to live up to something they are totally unable of doing. Gone is the frustration of trying and failing. That is why there is no condemnation in Jesus. Paul is not however saying that once man releases his will to God he is perfect and sin is gone. What has been released is sins control over men. Believers in Christ will still face temptations but, they are no longer a slave unable to resist sin’s pull. As stated earlier by Howard, man is able to have a victorious life in Christ because of the enabling of the Holy Spirit (155).

Paul wanted believers to know it is not by ones on trying that they are saved. Man cannot will himself to do what is right before God. The law is righteous, but man is unable to follow without failure. Jesus came and gave men an escape route. Jesus died to fulfill the law. He then opened to all men the power to stand before a holy God. Paul was able to tell what God required of believers because he knew how to do it. Paul understood it was God’s strength and power that allows the believer to stand against the temptations of the flesh. Paul’s encouragement for the believers of his time as well as today is this, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:” (Romans 8:2-3).

Paul was encouraging the believers of his time to live by the Spirit of God. Do not try to walk after the flesh because it will only lead to sin. The message for believers today is the same. Follow after the Spirit. God gave to all, the ability through the Holy Spirit to have a victorious life. It is the grace of God that will help the believer even when he goes away from what is right. He can be brought back into a right relationship and not have to pay the price of the transgression. Jesus paid it all. So believers today can say as Paul did, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).

Work Cited

Howard, Richard E. Newness of Life. United States of America: n.p., 1975.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary On The Whole Bible. 9th ed. Peabody, Ma: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1991.

Thompson, Frank Charles, D.D., PH.D. The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible. 5th ed. Indianapolis, IN: B. B. Kirkbridge Bible Co., Inc., 1988.