Sunday, May 03, 2015

Kept Securely in Christ (Part 1)

Eternal security

Romans 8:1-4
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has 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 did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 

In a real sense, Romans 8 is the conclusion of the Apostle Paul’s treatise on Salvation, answering the question, “How does God save sinners?” In Chapters 1-3, the whole world was shown condemned and lost in sin. In Chapters 3-5, the condemned sinners were seen as justified and declared righteous, if they believed on Jesus Christ. Then in Chapters 6 and 7 the method of sanctification was explained. The Climax is in this chapter.

In our last series, we treated God’s method of justification and sanctification where we discussed three words: know, reckon and yield. After Chapter 7, which is the wrong method of justification and sanctification – by obedience to the law, there remains just one more question that can arise: ‘will this divine method of justification and sanctification last?’ Chapter 8 of the Romans is an answer to this question and the whole burden of this chapter is “If you are in Christ Jesus you are safe. Justification and sanctification in Christ will endure!”

The theme of this chapter is security or preservation in Christ or in other words, in line with our present thought – What are my benefits in walking with Christ? One phrase which is in the opening and closing verses of this chapter is “in Christ Jesus”. If we combine the theme and this phrase we have “security or preservation in Christ Jesus.”

The teaching of this chapter is based on the Lord’s statement recorded in John 5:24 “He that hears My word and believes on Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation,   but is passed from death into life.”

This chapter of Romans starts out with these two ideas – first of all that there is now no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus. Christ taught this truth and Paul developed it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The second verse says “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” and that idea is developed down at least to verse 11 dealing with the passing from death unto life.

When Christ prayed concerning His own, He said, as He spoke to His Father “The glory which You gave to me I have given to them” (John 17:22). He spoke in the past tense. “I have given to them” not “I will” but “I have”. The whole central section of Romans 8 from vv 18 -30) is permeated with the idea that Christ expressed in John 17:22. Paul begins with reckoning “that sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory” down to verse 30 where he says, “whom He called, them He also justified, and whom He justified, them He also glorified.”

One other statement of Jesus “they shall never perish” (John 10:28) contains a concept that is worked out in Romans 8. One thing very difficult about this chapter of Romans is to develop a study outline that is suitable and contains all the truth. Out of about five outlines I have chosen two to use. I am not sure that they are the best.

There is this view point that takes “No condemnation” as the key statement. It views the chapter as setting forth the theme: “in Christ Jesus” and so we can divide the chapter as follows:
  • There is no condemnation because Christ died for us
  • There is no defeat, because the Spirit of Christ indwells us
  • There is no fear, because God has become a Father to us
  • There is no despair because we know that our very sufferings will reap the glory
  • There is no calamity because we know that all things work together for good
  • There is no adversary because God is for us and nobody can be against us
  • There is no separation in Christ because God in Christ has set His love on us.

I have however chosen to use the outline that looks at the chapter as comprising of new things in Christ Jesus:
  • We have our new position in Christ Jesus- vv 1-4
  • We have our new life in Christ Jesus – vv 6-13
  • We have our new relation in Christ Jesus – vv 14-17
  • We have our new hope in Christ Jesus – vv 18-25
  • We have our new help in Christ Jesus – vv 26-27
  • We have our new knowledge in Christ Jesus – vv 28-30
  • We have our new assurance in Christ Jesus – vv 31-39

Paul said in his second letter to the Corinthians, “If any man is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold all things have become new” (Second Corinthians 5:17) In Christ Jesus, everything is new. We have a new position, a new life, a new relation, a new hope, a new help, a new knowledge and a new assurance. Today we shall consider our new position.

Our New Position in Christ Jesus

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus” If we are in Christ Jesus we can say without the slightest feeling of presumption – there is now no condemnation nor ever any condemnation. This is our new position; position of no condemnation, both now and in the future. Paul quickly passes on to give us the evidence that there is no condemnation: “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” In the physical world, there are laws that operate all the time like the law of gravity; the law of motion and the law of thermodynamic etc. In the Spiritual realm also there are laws. Paul here says, the law of the Spirit of life has freed him from the law of sin and death. He does not say that it freed him from sin and death, but from the law of sin and death. This is important, because he is talking of actualities here. Can a believer sin? Can a believer die? Contrary to popular beliefs in our society today, Paul’s answer is yes. If the Lord does not come, if the Lord tarries, we shall all die. But the point is that sin and death can never hold the law as a fixed law (like the physical laws we had earlier spoken of). Christ has broken the law of sin and death forever. He has rendered that law inoperative in its final sense. Your body may be separated from your spirit at death, but God says He will raise that body some day and it will again be joined with your spirit. So the law cannot any longer exercise full authority over you. That is the evidence of our new position, the evidence that there is now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus.

But what is the cause, the ground, of our new position? Let us look at verse 3. Paul does not seem to be talking about the same law as he mentioned in v. 2. The law in v. 3 is the Law of Moses. “For what the law could not do” – it would not justify us; it could not sanctify us. It was weak through the flesh. Nothing was wrong with the law – it was holy and good; - but our flesh was weak and therefore the law could not justify nor sanctify. So God sent His Son. Did Paul say in sinful flesh? No! The Apostle was quite accurate – “in the likeness of sinful flesh”. In the one word “likeness” lies the whole message. There was never any sin in Him so Paul’s message here is “God sending His Son as an offering for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” At the Cross He condemned it forever. Therefore there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.

Yes, that is good. I now have the evidence and the cause or ground for my new position of no condemnation. So whatever I do, I cannot be condemned. Does this then mean, I have the license to live as I please? Not by any means, but rather “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us” It does not say that we might fulfil the law, but that it might be fulfilled in us. It introduces a new dimension. We are not the active part, we are rather passive and God is the actor who fulfils the law in us. The only thing we need to do is “to walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit” and while we are doing that, God fulfils the law in us. 

I have heard people say and I have myself said it several times that when you become a Christian God gives you the power to overcome sin. What Paul is saying here contradicts that. Paul seems to be saying No, He does not. If God did, we would surely be self-righteous, proud and self-sufficient. What God does is that He comes into us and overcomes sin as we yield to Him. The moment we do not yield to Him, we are in the mess and mire. Why does God do that? He does that to make us cling to Him in trust –second by second, minute by minute (John 15:4-5). This is so that our praise and boasting will not be about ourselves but about the Lord. Paul seems to confirm this position when he wrote to the Corinthians in First Corinthians 1:29-31 “that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. That according as it is written; he that glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

This is our new position – the position of no condemnation. In the other parts of this message, we shall see the other new things we have in Christ Jesus. 

May His grace abound towards us all.

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