Romans 7 Struggle: Part 2
Last week we spoke of Corinth and the fact that while they were abounding in gifts, they were failing in fruit. The behavior of many there was carnal at best.
I used part of this as an opportunity to point out that we've had Pentecostals and Charismatics in the past that have spoken about the fact that they have a baptism of power or gifts; however, they're lacking fruit: still struggling with sin and still struggling also with producing Christ like behavior.
I can tell you that the baptism John spoke of (Matt. 3) where Jesus was the baptizer was a baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire. The Holy Spirit is an all consuming fire. When he comes in, chaff gets burnt up! That's what the word says. I don't believe this is just another comparison of goats and sheep or wheat and tares. This is a separation of flesh from Spirit. The Holy Spirit wants to come in and produce His holiness in us.
So Corinth was in the midst of physical adultery and we transitioned last week and began discussing the struggle of Romans 7, discussing how within this chapter, we see the concept of spiritual adultery taking place, a struggle that’s incited when the believer moves his faith from Jesus to Law.
For I was alive without the law once:but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
As explained in the Romans notes, this time-frame of Paul's life seems to represent a season after he was first persecuted after his conversion in Acts 9, after he had entered the Arabian wilderness (Galatians 1:17), and before Barnabas went looking for him to do ministry (Acts 11:25).
Nevertheless, Paul explains that he was alive once without the Law (as Romans 7:4 explained, we die to Law and come alive to God when we get saved), but the commandment came, sin revived, and I died (the idea is that he added Law to his faith, the power of sin, which was dormant, after death in Christ, revived-- came back to life, and he died).
Obviously, Paul is speaking of spiritual death. Have you ever been in a spiritual condition where you had previously placed your faith in Christ, but now sin is reigning in your life and you find yourself dead to the things of God?
Essentially, Paul added Law of some sort to his faith and it resulted in spiritual calamity in his life.
There is an unquestionable process that takes place in the journey of all believers. We all fail in our walk with Him at some point. When we fail, this results in the conviction of the Holy Spirit, which should bring us to a place where we recognize we must repent: ( be remorseful/ broken over our sin,  come to the place where we realize we were wrong and God was right [a mind change],  and turn through God's grace in the opposite direction). Anything else isn't repentance it's just, "I'm sorry."
So we must repent of our sin, and because we don't want to fail again, or be righteous with God, we put trust in a plan, hoping it will result in victory.
Remember the context of what Paul is saying in Romans 7:9...the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
We would do well to remember that the Law required that Israel constantly perform in a way that was pleasing to God. In other words, they had to eat different, dress different, wear their hair and beards different. They had the covenant and the circumcision, but what allowed God's presence to dwell with them was the blood of the sacrifice applied upon the mercy seat because that alone provided a covering over the broken Law.
Unfortunately, Israel began to look upon their performance: eating, dressing, laws, and circumcision as what made them right with God instead of the blood of the innocent lamb, which had to be shed to pay for their guilt; this transitioning of the object of their faith resulted in self righteousness.
In a similar fashion, Christians also change the object of their faith for righteousness from His cross, His blood, and His work to their performance. Even beautiful ways to spend time in His presence, seek His face and grow in our understanding of Him such as: reading the Bible, prayer, church attendance, fasting and witnessing, can become hindrances when they are approached from the wrong perspective.
When a believer thinks that his performance, faith in what he does, pleases God and makes him righteous instead of continued faith in what Jesus has already done, he changes his faith for victory from Christ to self; he moves from trusting in the Spirit of God for power to trusting in the flesh (in this case, flesh equals, fallen man's attempt to fight evil through his power and performance instead of God's); finally, he has brought himself out from under the environment of grace back under a system of law or legalism.
Religion built upon law, rules and legalism is fueled by self-- resulting in defeat; whereas, biblical Christianity is built upon faith, I said FAITH in the righteous one, the victorious one, the resurrected one and His victory over evil, which results in the believer becoming more than a conqueror in Christ (Romans 8:37).
Paul didn't write Romans until AD 57, but he wrote Galatians much earlier in AD 48. Some sources think he was saved around AD 34, so his Arabian struggle might have occurred from AD 34-35 to maybe 3 years later when he went to see Peter in Jerusalem (Galatians 1:18).
He wrote Galatians, once again, after his first missionary journey. While he didn't plant the churches in Galatia, he had ministered and preached Jesus very vividly there for quite some time, but now, after the trip is over, he has received correspondence, whether through the mouth of a person who was coming back, or through a letter that was delivered; the news received is that the Judaizers have made their way to Galatia and are attempting to convince the Galatians that they need to circumcise themselves in addition to faith in Jesus.
This is the same mistake that Paul made as an early Christian while in the Arabian wilderness. This is the same reason why he chose to write about it and tell his story of struggle when he wrote Romans. More than likely it continued to plague the church until he died, because in a way legalism for righteousness still plagues the church today.
So I wanted to review what happened in Galatia as an exposition to describe what happened to Paul in Romans 7. While the Galatians incident is specifically circumcision and Paul would have already been circumcised, the point I'm trying to make is that law vs. grace is a mindset of where someone keeps their faith. In other words, the believer either focuses their faith on the work of Jesus or their own performance.
Paul combats this thought forcefully by repeatedly pointing out they (Galatians) are moving towards a perverted false gospel that will result in bondage instead of freedom:
Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver [pluck out] us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
This is what Paul preached, and the next couple examples show he was combating heresy:
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
For if I build again the things which I destroyed [previous life trusting in Law], I make myself a transgressor [committing sin].
Here, Paul is saying if I go back to the Law, which was destroyed to me when I put faith in Christ, then I'm becoming a transgressor. The idea here is very similar to what is occurring in Romans 7:9; when we change faith from Christ to works or law, we commit sin, which gives power to more sin.
How was the Law destroyed in Paul's life to begin with, or all of our lives for that matter?:
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
The Law was contrary to us or against us because we were guilty of breaking it. But Jesus kept the Law and offered His righteousness as payment for our sin, resulting in us now being righteous, but also destroying the Law's power over our lives because He nailed it's demands to the cross. That doesn't mean we can go around being law breakers. It means because He kept the Law and satisfied its demands; our faith in Him makes us righteous in God's eyes, and gives us access to God's grace, which empowers us to live a life of obedience through Him.
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
The word foolish being used here is 'anontos'. Previously, I have pointed out that the prefix "a" in the Greek means "without." The word nontos comes from the word nous, meaning mind. Therefore, the meaning is just as Paul said, "foolish ones, ones without exercise of the minds, ones that can't comprehend the truth of the gospel even though it was clearly preached to them."
While what I'm about to say will undoubtedly be offensive to many in the modern church, it most certainly MUST be said! Starting in the 40-50's, there was a change that occurred in the theology of Charismatic Christianity. A movement called the Word of Faith came on the scene. Within this movement, there was an extreme change in the emphasis of what "faith" means. While the movement started with an emphasis on healing; I would like to remind the readers that Pharaoh's magicians also produced miraculous signs and that Satan himself will continue to produce lying wonders:
2 Thessalonians 2:9
Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,...
Ultimately, this movement was taken over by a voracious appetite for material blessings, where suddenly material blessings became the validity of a true believer's fruit. What a lie from the pit of hell! What contradiction of the scriptures! What blasphemy against the words of the one who died and shed His blood so we could live:
24 No man can serve two masters:for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Mammon is the god behind money it's a spirit like lust, addictions, or any other bondage that demands allegiance. Yes, Jesus spoke elsewhere of making friends of it, in the sense that we were supposed to utilize its resources for kingdom business while we journey as pilgrims on this fallen earth. Many may think, well isn't that what the Word of Faith preachers do—kingdom work? I suppose you could think that if you think they're preaching the truth.
Jesus also said:
19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
But yet I have seen, with my own eyes, services where some of the most popular "money" preachers have their people throw all the money up on the stage and they walk through it and exalt it. They say things like, "Money cometh." God help us! If we can't see now, what will we do when deception is really unleashed, and even now is beginning? The Holy Spirit moves upon the hearts of men to preach the gospel and moves upon the hearts of the people to compel sinners to come to the cross, so their souls might not perish. The compulsion of God is not sending man to be hungry for money but souls!
There is a harlot, who is riding a parallel course with God. She plans to hijack God's bride. She is full of all that glitters and is of gold:
And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
Furthermore, one of these well known preachers, I should say his name, but then many people would start tearing their clothes, has connected himself, like many of these people to Oprah. If I have to spell out what that means, then you better do your homework Christian because your Pastor is either greatly deceived also, or he's unwilling to tell you the truth in the open for fear over losing your fanny more than fear over your eternal soul. Oprah is part of the occult for God's sake. She's teaching a doctrine of finding the god within and it ain't Jesus!
This is new age occultism, the very spirit of antichrist that will soon usher in the ecumenical one world religion of the lying angel of light. He's called that because of what he transforms himself into (light), but in reality is the opposite, which is (dark), hello it's deception! Now, go research the preachers that have aligned themselves with her (Oprah) and run Christian! Run in the other direction back towards faith in the finished work of Christ, or don't! But you've been warned!
Back to the previous thought, the shifting point of faith that occurred through the Word of Faith Movement had to do with the object of faith. It doesn't matter to me whether you agree or not I'm telling you what happened, and this can either result in freedom for you or you can go on pretending you have victory in your life when there isn't any, because I can assure you victory won't come through this garbage. But the choice is yours, whoever you are.
The object of faith that changed was a transition from faith in what Jesus did on Calvary as the access point to what I receive on earth from God to faith in my positive confession. What happened is that now everything I'm going to receive from God became contingent upon the positive confession that came out of my mouth.
There is so much heretical doctrine that came from these people's teachings that I couldn't even scratch the surface-- the main one was that Jesus died spiritually, and there is too much there to get into, but I recommend a book that could at least open your eyes to the occultic connection and roots of the Word of Faith. The book is called A Different Gospel, it's a scholarly work documented so thoroughly that anyone who tries to refute it is simply blind. It was written by a man named Hank Hanegraff.
Please understand that I'm in no way saying that we shouldn't have a positive confession because we should. We are children of the living God. We've been bought with a price. Jesus shed His precious blood to purchase me out of this sin riddled world. You better believe I have something to confess!
But I have seen this doctrine put people under fear to the point that they can't even say they have a cold without being rebuked by someone. "Man, I have a cold...," and before I can ask the brother or sister to pray for me, they're rebuking the words coming out of my mouth. Somebody has snot running out of their nose, and they can't say they have a cold because that is going to prevent them from getting their healing. Whatever that's ludicrous! The woman with the issue of blood got her healing!
The next thought to discuss from this Galatians passage is: "...who hath bewitched you?"
The word bewitched here has the idea of slander connected to it, and the Judaizers were definitely slandering Paul's apostolic anointing; nevertheless, the word explicitly speaks of a curse or even a spell being placed upon people, even within the definition is the thought of the occultic "evil eye," which is used to direct dark "energy" through the use of magic.
So the false doctrine of the Judaizers has resulted in a spell being cast upon the church of Galatia; more specifically, the "evil eye" has diverted their eyes away from the cross.
The bewitching of false doctrine has resulted in the movement of the church in Galatia's faith from the truth: "...bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth,..." The truth that had been set before them was: Jesus and His cross preached so vividly that: ....before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
It was as though they had a video of the spiritual victory the cross procured, but now they've been moved away from it.
This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
The reason that Paul can't agree or walk in unity here is that these men are perverting the gospel and corrupting people's faith. Once again, verses two and three show us that the same Spirit we received in the beginning when we got saved is the same Spirit we need (through faith) to be with us every day as we grow:
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Once again, this is a very similar occurrence to Paul adding a commandment to his faith, which allowed sin to revive and allowed him to begin a spiritual death because grace is of faith-- not of works. And the believer who transitions to law or performance for righteousness will frustrate- neutralize or annul the grace of God in his life.
God's answer for sinful man is: Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ:nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Man's refusal to go God's way results in: Galatians 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God:for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.