Monday, May 9, 2016

"A Better Hope"

"A Better Hope"

     The 7th chapter of Romans contains the Apostle Paul's autobiographical account of a time in his Christian life when he succumbed to the temptation to return to a law-based means of relating to God, as opposed to the power of God's grace and truth in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    "I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died" (Romans 7:9).

    The death of which Paul writes involved not the loss of his relationship with God, but rather the vitality of the grace through faith dynamic whereby the indwelling life of Christ leads and enables us to consistently walk in faith and faithfulness.  The experience of Israel under the law of Moses revealed that human beings cannot successfully relate to our Lord in the context of rules, rituals, and regulations - "by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in His sight" (Romans 3:20).  The law rather kills us, that is, it exposes our complete inability to relate to God in and of ourselves (II Corinthians 3:6).  As was the case with many first century Jewish believers, Paul confesses that he responded to the allure of legalism at some point during his Christian life.  For a time, it nullified the living power of God in his experience and practice.  "To will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good, I find not" (Romans 7:18).  Thankfully, he didn't permanently succumb to the paralyzing deception, returning to "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus", and thus to the God-enabled "how to perform" that constitutes our only hope for a life lived for our Lord's glory and will (Romans 8:2).

   We must constantly emphasize in our thoughts, beliefs, and convictions the relational nature of our walk with God.  He made us and redeemed us through Christ for living fellowship with Himself - "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent...I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:3; 26).  Even if we could somehow fulfill a rule, regulation, and ritual-based contract with God, He would never be satisfied with such a stark, barebones bond of obligation.  He rather made us for a Heart to heart fellowship of love, as birthed and maintained in us by the grace of the Lord Jesus received by faith.  Only such a personal relationship pleases our Heavenly Father.  And only such personal relationship fills our hearts and leads to the "how to perform" power of God whereby we genuinely trust and obey Him.  "The law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did, whereby we draw nigh unto God" (Hebrews 7:19).

    "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under that law, but under grace" (Romans 6:14).  As Paul discovered, problems with obedience to God originate in problems regarding His grace in the Lord Jesus.  That is, we do not know God's freely given favor and enabling in Christ well enough to avail ourselves of its overcoming power.  Thus, we seek to heed the Apostle Peter's command - "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18).  Only thereby will we so personally relate to God that His character, nature, and way manifests itself in our own (II Corinthians 3:18).  Again, our Heavenly Father will not be satisfied with anything less than the living and personal fellowship with us for which He sacrificed the life of His Son.  Let us join Him in the same dissatisfaction with anything less than this bond of love , and…

"Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear."
(Hebrews 12:28)
"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, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
(Romans 8:2-4)

Weekly Memory Verse
    "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body."
 (Hebrews 13:3).


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