FREE TO DANCE IN THE MUD

I just want to lie down in the mud.

That is what I wrote in my journal the other night. Not a very sanctified thought for a Christian.
My next thought was, “Where did that come from?” That came from bondage.

Jesus said you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. What truth is that?

Jesus said he was the way, the truth, and the life.

Truth is Jesus.

Jesus is truth.

The Gospel is truth.

We are sinners by birth, because of our parents in Eden. They desired to be like God and questioned his goodness. That betrayal plunged us into a sinful, broken world where Adam’s posterity is born sinful and we delight to act out our sinful nature.

In the middle of all that mess, 2000 years ago, God sent his Son into our world as a man, like us, but sinless. He lived a life impossible for us, sinless, and then evil thought it had won and crucified him. While on the cross God the Father laid on his Son the sins of all his people, so that God’s wrath might be absorbed by God the Son.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When Jesus, on the cross said, “It is finished.” It meant my sins and yours were paid for. And to show God was pleased and atonement was accomplished, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day as had been prophesied.

So, when the Holy Spirit gives us a new heart and a new spirit, he makes us a new creation. We become children of God, adopted into his family. Not based on anything good in us, but based solely on God’s good pleasure.

Now, he calls us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).

With all your mind means learning everything you can about him. Jesus is calling us to theology – the study of God.

It seems these days, thinking is hard for us. It is hard to think in a whirlwind of noise and instant gratification. As Christians, Jesus calls us to come away with him to quiet and his word.

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

In his word, led by his Spirit, we find true freedom in this life. The freedom to live free from guilt, shame, despair, disgrace, depression, deceit, and on and on; whatever keeps us bound in sin, Jesus came to set us free from all of that.

His only two commands are to love him with our all and to love our neighbor as our self.

He has given us everything we need to do that.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3).

So be free, the Truth has set us free.

Let me end by saying freedom doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want. If knowing the Creator of the universe who is our Rescuer, doesn’t lead to striving to be holy as he is holy, then something is dreadfully wrong. Jesus changes our “want to”. We want to be like the one we love with our all.

Freedom lies in the path of obedience to love.

This is what I remember when I feel like lying down in the mud. I preach the Gospel to myself.
I remind myself that I am free in Christ. Jesus bought my freedom for me.

Free people are happy people. They don’t lie down in the mud. They rejoice.

Photo by JACK REDGATE on Pexels.com

So, instead of lying down I do a little jig in the middle of the mud.

Happy heart, happy feet!

8 0n 8

Lesson 1

Verse 2

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Paul has made the astounding statement to the Roman believers in verse 1: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Now he goes on to clarify his point. He starts with the word “For”, so we know he is referring back to verse 1. The word law used twice in verse 2 means principle. It is not referring to the Mosaic Law.

Q. The Spirit of Life is the ____________________. (See: 2 Corinthians 3:6).

Q. What has the Spirit of Life set us free from?

Set you free means to cause someone to be freed. It is a one- time event. We cease to be a slave. We are free from the yoke and tyranny of sin and death. We are unfettered, unyoked, and unshackled. This new freedom does not give us the right to sin and do as we please, and because of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Life, within us, we don’t want to. We are now under the law of love. We love God with all our hearts, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as our self.

Q. What do you learn about the law of sin and death from Romans 6: 14, 23; 1 Cor. 15:56; Romans 5:12?

Q. In Romans 7: 21-23 Paul describes a battle. What is the battle between?

Q. Read Gal. 5:17. What is the battle between?

Q. What are the desires of the flesh trying to do?

Q. What are the desires of the Spirit trying to do?

Q. According to Romans 7:25 who delivers us from our body of flesh (sin)?

Q. In the same verse, what does Paul serve with his mind?

And what does he serve with his flesh?

Q. The Spirit gives _________sin gives __________.

Romans 8:2 says we have been set free from the law of sin and death meaning we have been set free from its power and dominion in our lives. We now have the Holy Spirit power to say no to sin. In verse 1 we are free from condemnation and in verse 2 we are free from the power of sin. But, as Paul described in Romans 7 and Galatians 5 the power of sin is still residing in our unregenerated bodies and the battle will continue until we are Home and all sin is removed. Right now we live in the in between; the now, but not yet. We are new creatures with new spiritual lives, but still housed in a body tied to this cursed earth. So, we must reckon or consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).

So, live free. Free to love God and your neighbor. Free from condemnation, sin and death.

Rejoice!

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Next time in verses 3 and 4 Paul will clarify verse 2. Paul is building.

You are loved

8 0n 8

LESSON ONE

Verse 1

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus

Last time we looked at Paul’s, the author of Romans, transformed life. So, we have confidence that Paul not only knows what he is talking about because the Holy Spirit has given him words to write, but also because he has lived it. Testimonies are powerful.

Let’s begin with verse 1.

Romans 8 is a summary of Romans 1-7, we will let Romans and Paul, from his other books, interpret Romans 8.

  1. According to Romans 5:1:

How are we justified?

Faith in whom?

What is the result of this justification?

How does Romans 5:1 relate to Romans 8:1?

Read Colossians 2:13-14.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Imagine your favorite courtroom scene from your favorite lawyer TV show or John Grisham novel. The courtroom of God isn’t like that. He is the judge, prosecutor, and jury. In this courtroom there is only God, your accuser, yourself, and your lawyer.

Oh, and also, the law you have broken is God’s law. And the thing about it is — you are guilty.

Totally and completely guilty.

The Judge raps his gravel. All eyes on are him. But, it’s the prosecutor who speaks, “Judge, Bobbie Carnes is guilty of breaking all of your laws. You said if she broke one it was as if she had broken them all. She is a guilty sinner. Vile! Should receive the full punishment of the law! Death!

The Judge nods in agreement.

Now at this point, all your hope is gone. You have nothing to say in your defense. You stand there head down, waiting for the Judge to pronounce your sentence. But then, your lawyer, your advocate, your representative stands. He smiles at the Judge, points at you and says, “Judge, Father, (Oh yes, I forgot to tell you, your lawyer is the Judge’s Son.) She is not guilty. I took her punishment on the Cross. All of her sins”, He looks at the accuser, “were piled on me and I already absorbed all the wrath your holy law demands. Her sentence of death was paid by me and I will vouch for her. Please Father, set her free. Let her live. And also, Father, will you put on her record all the righteousness I possess? That way not only is her criminal record wiped clean, but it has all the goodness I have done written on it.”

The accuser is pulling his hair out and cursing because he knows what that means. If the Judge’s Son, sets you free, you are free indeed! And there is nothing the accuser can do about it.

The Judge bangs down his gravel again. “Acquitted!” He declares, smiling at His Son.

“Also, Father, may I take her home to live with us that where we are she may be also?”

“Yes, my Son! I will adopt her and be her Father, too.”

Bet you never saw a TV show like that before! But, what I have described is reality. It will happen and the outcome will be as I have described if your trust, hope and faith is in Jesus Christ as your Savior.

If not, the accuser will get his way and the outcome will be you are a lawbreaker with no defense. The outcome is eternal and spiritual death.

So, take a moment now and check over your spiritual criminal record. Is it wiped clean? Then thank Him. But, if it is indicting you as a breaker of God’s law, call upon the perfect lawyer, advocate, representative, redeemer, Jesus, to take care of it.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

Based upon what we have discussed so far, who are the “those” and how did they get in Christ Jesus?

As a summary, read Romans 3:21-26 where Paul has already explained Romans 5:1 and Romans 8:1.

3. How do we know we are in Christ according to Romans 8:9-10? (Note: the Spirit, Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ, and Christ are interchangeable. There are not three different Spirits, but only one Holy Spirit.)

Why are believers (those in Christ Jesus) not condemned?

The Gospel.

We were helpless to make ourselves good enough to be in God’s presence. So, God sent His Son who lived a perfect life, died the death we deserved, rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father, who forever more makes intercession for us.

Okay, but how does this flesh out in practicality for me?

Whatever is going on in your life, dear Christian sister, you are under NO condemnation. You are at peace with God. You are forgiven! Be free! Free to love Him and those around you. Free to laugh at your washer that won’t wash because the King of Glory has your back and is working all things out for your good. Freedom starts in your spirit and works its way out in your thoughts and actions.

Freedom is from Christ. He came to give you abundant life with or without a washer.

Next time Paul will clarify in verse 2 what he has said in verse 1. He wants to be sure we get the incredible truth of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, In Christ alone.

You are loved

8 on 8

I am starting an eight part series on Romans 8.

I am way out of my depth here, but will you wade into the deep waters of this most wonderful chapter in the wonderful book of Romans with me?

Photo by Bas Masseus on Pexels.com

If you have been in church for any time at all, you have heard sermons on this doctrinally filled chapter. It is full of God’s sovereignty, goodness, grace, and mercy.

Let’s just skim through the chapter and list all the truths Paul hurls at us.

-No condemnation
-I have been set free from the law of sin and death
-I am in the Spirit
-He will give life to my mortal body by the Spirit
-I am an adopted heir
-The Spirit intercedes in prayer for me
-I have confidence and security in Christ
-Nothing can separate me from the love of Christ

These are freedom-generating truths! These are deep theological foundational truths. And I know you would agree with me, but some of you don’t really buy into it. You don’t see what difference it will make to you when your boss threatens you job, or your child is sick, or your dryer dries its last load, or your car won’t start in the morning, or your husband leaves you, or … surely, one of these hit home.

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

God speaks to us in His Word. He has things to say to us. Do I access this vital resource only on Sunday or when I have an extreme crisis? Or, do I daily turn to His word to see the wisdom that awaits me there? Theology is practical. It speaks to the issues of daily life. It impacts every part of my life.

Are you worn out by trying to obey all the commands you find in Scripture? Worn out by the dos and don’ts? Worn out by trying to be good enough? Wise enough? Bold enough? Worn out by trying to be enough, enough, enough! Stop! Let God’s word set you free!

As I was writing this a song lyric kept buzzing unwelcomed through my mind: “I gotta be free. I gotta be me.” I couldn’t remember who sang it or what song it was from, and it kept bugging me. So, I googled the words.

I was surprised at how many different songs over the years have a title that talks about wanting freedom. There are scads of them. I found my song. It was sung by Sammy Davis Jr in 1968.

Why are there so many songs written about freedom? What is it that we seek? What is this freedom that human beings seek after, write songs about, and in some cases die for?

What freedom were the patriots of early America seeking? The Declaration of Independence gives us an answer.

Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The dictionary’s meaning for freedom is:
(1) The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.
(2) The power or scope to act as one pleases

Isn’t this what two year olds are after?

Yes, from our beginning we are seeking to be free. This is why the teenager runs away from home. This is why the drug addict does it again, the alcoholic takes another drink. Why the unhappy woman divorces for the third time.

And we call it the pursuit of happiness. But that is not what Thomas Jefferson meant by it.

What did Jefferson mean by “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”?

He meant we make choices everyday. We were made to by our Creator to make choses. But, not all choices are good. Some, made on impulsive behavior, turn out not for our happiness, but for our determent. But, if I say no to drugs, alcohol, or that creamy chocolate eclair because I know it will be bad for my health, I have made a choice for my long-term good. That is the pursuit of happiness Jefferson had in mind. Not the “if it feels good do it” pursuit of happiness that came out of the sixties and still flourishes.

So, why do we all seek the freedom to be happy?

We want to be happy.

But, the problem lies in that on our own we do not know what will make us happy. Even when we have done everything within our power to put ourselves in a happy bubble, in the darkness of night when we are awake and alone we will wonder is this all there is? We may not speak it aloud. We may not dwell on the thought. But it is there brushing through our minds, unasked for, unwanted.

Have you been there? I have. I’ve sung those songs. I want to be free. Gotta be me. Then, God gave me a new song.

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see.

This is the freedom Romans 8 is talking about, our freedom in Christ. And we are going to see it echoed throughout the chapter. Jesus said it Himself, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

So get ready! Paul is going to share with us truths so astounding, so unbelievable, and so glorious that I hope we will be overwhelmed with awe and so be set free in Christ.

Until next time

You are loved

FREE

John 8:31-32

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

My aim in this four part series is that we, dear Christian sister, not be swept away by the cultural deception that there is no absolute truth

Free is the last word in these powerful two verses that we want to dig into. We have already seen that abiding disciples know the truth and it is a liberating truth that sets us free.

Today, we will ask the question: free from what?

A few verses later in John 8 Jesus says:

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36).

I don’t know about you, but this is what I want: to be free indeed.


So, once again we ask what does Jesus intend to set us free from?

As we go further into the passage we see Jesus is talking about the power of sin to control us and the power of the devil to deceive us.

Let’s look at some verses that confirm these two crippling powers have no place in the life of a Jesus follower.

Let’s start at what happened at the cross.

Colossians 2:13-15

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

We are the sinners Christ died for (Romans 5:8). God caused us to be born again (1 Peter 1:3) and forgave us all our sins. How? By nailing our record of debt, a debt of sin we could never repay, to his cross, thereby paying for it himself in our place.

When he did this, look what happened to Satan and his cohorts! He disarmed them and shamed them!

The power of sin in our lives is done for because all of our sins past, present, and future have been paid for.

So, because of this, Paul tells us:

Romans 6:11-14

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

We are free from the dominance of sin in our lives.

Christ came to destroy Satan and his works so we could be free of him. 

Hebrews 2:14 

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.

His hold on us is gone so James tells us:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

Remember who you are in Christ.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2).

When the devil tries to pile condemnation on you say, “I am a forgiven child of God. You’ll have to take that condemnation up with Jesus.”

Watch him flee!

As a side-bar, we see in John 8 that people rarely want to hear the truth and it will not make you popular. Jesus caused a riot when he told the Jews the truth about their spiritual condition.

Perhaps you have experienced something similar when you have tried to tell someone about Jesus and how He is their only hope to overcome sin in their lives. Expect it.

Matthew 10:24

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.

If they rejected Jesus, they will reject you. But, fear not. All authority has been given to Jesus and we stand in His authority (Matt 28).

But, we are not finished. Jesus freed us from the wrath of God.

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God (Romans 5:9).

.Relax, dear Christian sister, eternity with Jesus is yours.

Read Ephesians 2:1-10 often and rejoice!

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com