Daily Archives: April 5, 2021

TWO REALMS

TWO REALMS

“So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” Romans 7:4-6.

Two realms – the natural, physical realm and the realm of the unseen – are operative in the universe. The physical realm is more real to us because we function in it in our everyday lives. However, with the harnessing of the energy waves, for example, microwaves, wireless, light etc., we have become much more aware of the unseen realm. It amazes me how, with a single touch on the screen of my android tablet, I can order a book from an internet company anywhere in the world and in a few minutes, via energy that I can neither see nor understand, the book appears on my device and I can begin reading!

It is not difficult for us to understand, then, that we can live in two realms spiritually. We have bodies that relate to and function in the world. We eat food from the ground, and our bodies convert it into energy which drives our systems, but we also function in an unseen dimension which is just as real. The world we live in is immersed in the presence of its Creator. The Bible says that He fills heaven and earth. He is fully involved in what happens on earth, and that includes us.

The very breath we breathe is His breath – life. When He removes our breath, we die. We have no life apart from Him. If it were possible, scientists could put all the elements of a human body together but they cannot produce life because both physical life and spiritual life come from God.  That means, of course, that if life comes from Him then we are dependent on Him and accountable to Him whether we acknowledge it or not.

Therefore, He has the right to dictate the way our lives are to be lived. When we confirmed our forefather’s disobedience by our own, we suffered the same consequences as he did, alienation from God. However, God did everything to put us back on track and to restore the connection between the seen and the unseen realms.

So, Paul says, we were cut off from the power of the sinful world to influence us when we died with Jesus. It is a fact. It’s real. It happened. God did it in the unseen realm when we turned to Him through Jesus. We died to our old lives and the power of sin to keep us enslaved but the reality of it is activated by faith, that unseen power, like the unseen waves of energy that network our planet and our universe, has connected us to a new power, the power of God.

From what were we cut off? Paul said we were cut off from the power of the law. Why the law? The law has the mysterious power to arouse sin in us. We know how this works. Just tell a kid not to do something and he will do it! Before you told him not to, he didn’t even think about doing it but, the moment you said, “Don’t,” he wanted to do it! Take away the prohibition and the desire to do it goes as well. That’s how we were wired by the sin nature in us with which we were born “in Adam”.

However, Jesus destroyed that perverse nature by His perfect obedience to all God’s “prohibitions”. He killed the desire, then they killed Him but He rose again and would never be subject to temptation again. Now, through faith, we are in Him, and have the potential to live as He did. In addition, He took away the necessity to have rules and regulations, and replaced them all with one “rule” if you like, the law of love. Then, just to make sure that we would follow that law, He gave us His Holy Spirit to produce His love in our hearts…

…which makes it all about Him and not about us. Paul said, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This means that Jesus in us by His Spirit makes it possible for us to reflect His character in the way we live. The old, rotten fruit of self-centredness and greed has been replaced by a new life of pleasing God by caring for others.

It’s the power of heaven breaking into the earthly realm and showing us what God is really like. It’s about having God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven. It’s about us being mirrors of Jesus. It’s about living in the realm of the Spirit while we are still in the flesh.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

DECEIVED BY SIN

DECEIVED BY SIN

“What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life, actually brought death.” Romans 7:7-10.

How can we ever say that God’s law is sinful?

The law expresses both God’s character and His requirements for a holy life. God’s law is not the problem, but the rebel nature in us that rises up as soon as God says, “Don’t!” We were not created with a natural bent towards disobedience. We inherited it from Adam when he changed allegiance and decided to step out from under the covering of righteousness and go it alone. When he chose to make his own rules, it was necessary for God to establish His boundaries so that man would know wherein his safety lay.

Unfortunately, God’s law has the opposite effect on man’s fallen human nature. Instead of providing protection for him, the law provokes his rebellious nature to go the opposite way. Wherever God says “Don’t!” man says “I will!” and deliberately steps outside his safety zone and into the death zone. The law has exactly the opposite effect to what God intended. Instead of protecting us, it provokes us.

Why did Paul choose the last of the Ten Commandments as an example? Why not murder or adultery or theft? I think he chose coveting because coveting is where it all starts. Sin begins in the mind and coveting is the motive for outward acts like murder and adultery that come from coveting. Covetousness is inward sin. Only God knows what goes on in our hearts. Even though we may not steal or murder, the driving force behind these sins is already in our hearts.

Our natural bent is towards selfishness and greed. To change that, God had to intervene and take active steps to change our hearts in order to change our nature and our attitudes. We are not naturally contented. We are dissatisfied with what we have – we want more or we want what others have. Have you ever watched two toddlers playing together? Even though they might have a room full of toys, they will fight over the one toy that they both want! It’s in the heart. It’s in the disposition and the bent from the day that we were conceived.

It frustrates us to see the selfishness displayed in children and the disharmony that it produces in the little ones, but we don’t recognise coveting in ourselves. We call it ambition, or progress or getting ahead or some other cover-up word but, bottom line, it’s just plain coveting. And where did it come from? From our response to God’s law, written on our hearts, “You shall not covet.”

“For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment, put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment holy, righteous and good.” Romans 7:11, 12.

What was Paul’s conclusion? God’s law is holy. It was given to His people to show them the path to Himself. If they walked His way, they would surely arrive at the destination He intended for them. Unfortunately, the law has the opposite effect, because of built-in rebellion. Everyone, since Adam, thinks that he knows better than God. Sin is so deceptive that it will persist in making its own rules in spite of the fact that the outcome is always chaos and destruction.

An alcoholic knows that his drinking is destroying him and his family but he is driven by it and can’t stop. He refuses to acknowledge that he has a problem. He knows he cannot help himself but he keeps telling himself that he is okay and that he can stop drinking at any time if he so chooses. Why is he so foolish and stubborn? Sin has deceived him.

So it is with every form of sinful practice. We are foolish enough to believe that we can keep doing the same things and expect a different outcome! The problem lies with us, not with the standard by which God measures us. Paul is going somewhere with this explanation. He is building up a case for our utter helplessness without the intervention of God’s mercy and grace.

Stick with me. We’re getting to the exciting part.

Acknowledgement

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.