Friday, August 28, 2020

Be Not Defeated

Good morning, afternoon, or evening friends – whenever you are reading this. It certainly is beautiful here today in West Central Florida. Welcome to the Church of Jesus Christ Online Ministry, I’m Leonard V. Johnson.

Friends, have you ever felt defeated by sin!? Does sin get the better of you – sometimes!? And you feel betrayed by your own failure!? It’s an occurrence that happens to us all and can indeed weigh heavily on the mind of someone who is trying to live a godly life.

When you become a Christian and are converted – and God’s Way of righteousness is revealed to you, you begin a new life trying to live a righteous life. It’s a moving experience when you’re baptized for the first time and you become very aware that all of your sins have been washed away. I myself will never forget standing in the cold gulf water at Fort De Soto Park, North Beach in St. Petersburg, Florida at the tail end of winter shivering and realizing that Almighty God had forgiven me of all of my sins. Truly a time in one's life when you know that you are absolutely clean before God. You stood there in the water before God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the holy angels, clean. The day before my baptism was also a very moving experience – as I was praying and meditating God allowed me to feel just a small portion of the love that He has for me, and in my mind whispered, ‘I cannot let you feel all the love I have for you because your physical body wouldn’t be able to handle it.’ And the very next day being baptized and hands laid upon me. And so we ride this high of spiritual enthusiasm. There’s a new goal now that you seek. The energy, the strength, and the courage you now possess. And it’s so evident that even your family and friends become annoyed at your new-found zeal – as your wife says to you, “Oh, you’re serious about this!”

But as time goes by some of the initial zeal wanes. Life moves ever forward after so many unsuccessful attempts at opening all the minds of your relatives and friends, business associates, and yes – even strangers – the desire to try becomes somewhat futile.

Friends, it is at this point that there is the temptation to slip back into the shadows – to recoil back into a comfortable place and to let your once strong defense fall away. All around you is every temptation. Like a child in a toy store, all these delightful things are available to catch the imagination, to satisfy the senses of taste, sight, hearing, touch, and smell. Things that may be contrary to what you once held to be holy and righteous, now seem to be somewhat acceptable again. And, they may seem small and insignificant, but they are still sin. You find yourself hanging there between righteousness and a life that could be full of sin – once again. It’s here we often find Christians struggling with enormous guilt and fear, with no way to reconcile or deal with this conflict.

I’d like to address this very issue today. Because not only is sin something which separates us from Almighty God as we read in the Book of Isaiah, the 59th chapter, where he wrote, “And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear you.” But also to deal with the guilt and fear as a result of sin that can paralyze a Christian. And, all of a sudden, a Christians spiritual growth comes to a halt.

How do we escape the clutches of this guilt and fear!? How do we recharge our batteries, to rekindle something that is more important than anything else on this planet!? We must first understand what happens – and why. How does sin re-enter our life after we’ve been converted and what can we do about it!?

This sermon comes from thoughts that I’ve had recently. You are like the person who was on death row, and now all of a sudden you find yourself walking down the road completely free. Certainly, you can look up just how many people currently are sitting on death row – maybe in the state of Florida which is 338 as of 8/27/20. Or, the executions of the past who were on death row. So, now you find yourself free – but what was it that put us there!?

Let us begin in the Book of Romans, chapter 6 – where Paul had just been explaining how sin came from and through Adam. And salvation came through the Second Adam – Jesus Christ. He tells us this in the previous chapters here.

Verse 1 – he explains how we were freed from the power of sin – or the power that sin had over us. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” And of course, he, in the previous chapters describes how sin actually generated God’s grace. And it was out of His grace and His love that He sent His Son to die – to save us.

God the Father and Jesus Christ knew “from the foundation of the world” that They would need a Savior for mankind – Revelation 13:8; Ephesians 1:4. GOD – before the foundation of the world – saw mankind as lost and in need of a Savior; and the details of the Work of redemption were planned out. Before all of this – God our heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ – had our transformation into His holy Family in view – (See: 2 Timothy 1:9).

And Paul asks the question – “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” 2) Certainly not! …” Here Paul uses the statement, ‘God forbid’ (KJV). He uses this about sixty times throughout his writings. And, he uses the term like it's an unthinkable horror – here. “Don’t think that!” “Completely DO NOT think that!” “ … How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” The term here for sin is not specifically talking about one particular sin. He uses this term sin in this chapter here as more as the element of sin or the nature of sin that exists in human beings.

He says – Verse 3 – “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” – in other words – we died. We joined Jesus Christ in our belief of Him and in Him as a symbol of His death through our baptism. We understand that when we were baptized it was like going under the water or going down in the grave and we come back up again – as a symbol of the resurrection.

Verse 4 – “Therefore we were buried with Him …” – and he goes on to explain this here. “ … through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Let’s highlight that phrase there – “walk in newness of life.” We experience that initially. Especially after conversion – we’re so excited, we’re so elated that we’ve “discovered” this new discovery and have come to understand – God’s brilliant light has finally come to shine in our life! And we really want to share that with somebody else!

My question in regard to this Scripture here is – do we still hold to this feeling, this passion, for righteousness!? We should recall the words of Jesus Christ to the Church – “’ Nevertheless I have this against you. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place ̶ unless you repent.’” – Revelation 2:4-5 NKJV. We should have that same zeal and that same enthusiasm for God’s word, and for God’s righteousness, and for our conversion.

Verse 5 – “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.”

This, he is telling us to REMEMBER the promises that were made. And here are a few of them here from John 6.
  • “…’ that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.’
  • “…’ that everyone who sees the Son and believes [on] Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.’
  • ’ No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day.’
  • ’ Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.’
And, we recall the Book of Revelation which says, “’ To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.’

These are great PROMISES that Jesus made to us. And I believe Paul here is reminding us of those promises – when he says we will be “in the likeness of His resurrection.”

We will also be resurrected as well.

So – verse 6 – “knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” – that term being, like a servant. We are no more to be slaves or enslaved to sin. We’re not to be servants of sin. And, we don’t fall down and worship sin anymore.

Now, there was a point in our life when we did.

Verse 7 – “For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8) Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him.” – and he uses this term like, ‘we – just like Christ has died.’ We also died. And the symbol of that, of course, is our baptism.

Verse 9 – “knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10) For the death that He died, He died to sin ONCE …” – and of course, His death was ONE TIME FOR ALL HUMAN BEINGS FOREVER! – no matter what planet human beings may come to colonize in the future.  “ … for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.”

Verse 11 – “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So, we’re dead to sin, but we’re alive through Jesus Christ! We live unto Jesus Christ!

And then, he sums it up here in verse 12 – “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.” – obviously, this was a problem in the churches there in Rome. So, here he says, ‘Don’t let sin have control over you anymore.’ You’re free! Like the man that was on death row – now you find yourself walking down the road and you say, “How in the world did I get off of death row and now walking along here a free man!?” You’re not in the dungeon anymore! You’re not in chains, you’re not waiting for execution anymore! You’re out of prison – you’re walking freely down the road! That is the analogy that he makes here.

In 2nd Corinthians 12 – there’s a little bit of information that helps us understand that Satan at times can indeed afflict your health because God doesn’t stop him. Verse 7 – “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations [he talked about that early in the chapter], a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8) Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9) And He said to me, [this is Jesus speaking directly to Paul], ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak [with Christ’s help], then I am strong.” – and Paul, he’s a stronger man than I am. But it points out – and we can read in other places – such as Galatians 4 & 6 – you can pretty well figure out that Paul had problems with his eyesight. Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong often theorized, maybe he had cataracts or something. He just couldn’t see well. There is no indication in the Bible that Paul hinted at or explained that he had a sexually immoral problem which caused him to commit sin.

Verse 13 – “And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”

What person wouldn’t do that – that was on death row!? They found themselves free now, would they not now give credit to the person that freed them. Would they want to go back and continue what took them to prison and took them to death row!? Is that what they want to do again!?

Well, there may be some stiff-necked, hard-hearted creatures out there that would – after the fact – go back and do the things they did once before. But here, Paul is saying, ‘we need to yield ourselves under the righteousness of God.’

Verse 14 – and he gives us here the beautiful example of his own life – and I am so grateful and thankful to the apostle Paul for being so transparent here about his own life. I mean – think about who Paul was. He was a man who was struck down on the road to Damascus. Here was a man who talked personally with Jesus Christ! Now, he had a lot of things to brag about – but look at what he says. “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”

Here, a lot of people use this Scripture to do away with God’s Law (the Ten Commandments) – they say, “Ah! There it is, you’re not under the Law anymore but under grace!” Well, look again at what he says here – he doesn’t say that the law doesn’t have dominion over you, does he!? What does he say!? That “sin shall not have dominion over you.” There's a huge difference there! Sometimes when Paul uses the word “law,” he’s talking about the Old Covenant or the law of the Levites and the temple people – as he is here. He’s talking about that law or that collection of practices of which we would normally label under the umbrella as the Old Covenant. We’re under grace – we’re under the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, under the priesthood of forgiveness, and hope, and help, and love. And you know, that’s what we should do to people. I believe Paul is speaking of the law of the Old Covenant, or the law of the Levites and the temple elite - here.

Verse 15 – “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!”

Here again, he says, “Don’t even think it! It’s absolutely ridiculous to think such a thing!”

Verse 16 – “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”

So here he makes this comparison. He’s asking you – which master are you going to serve!? Sin or righteousness!? One leads to death and the other leads to obedience unto God.

Verse 17 – “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, …” – and we all were in the past. “ … yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.” – and of course, he’s talking about the Gospel that finally reached our ears! And we began to read and we began to understand and we became converted, and we repented and we were baptized and received God’s Holy Spirit. And so he’s talking to CHRISTIANS. People that were converted.

Verse 18 – “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” – that’s the difference there. You once were the servants of sin, now you’re servants of righteousness.

Verse 19 – “I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”

And, of course, he goes on down there in verse 23 to explain what sin is. And, as I said, we were sitting on death row and then we find ourselves walking down the road free – absolutely free!

Now, I feel we should be reminded here of this - some Protestant groups misinterpret, they misapply, they misrepresent the term ‘God’s grace,’ and they make it into the incorrect concept of ‘once saved always saved’ – of which they call “eternal security.” You know, “Give your heart to the Lord, and it’s all said and done!” Well, that’s not correct! Many ministers from the outreaches of the churches of God continue to avoid or detour completely around God's holy grace because they think the word "grace" sounds too Protestant. And yet, the term ‘God’s grace’ – my friends, we have no chance unless God is gracious to us! Almighty God and our Lord Jesus Christ forever be praised - Amen!

“For the wages of sin is death, but …” – and we always quote this first part here – ‘THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH!’ That is certainly true. But look at the second part of this – I want to focus on that part here. “ … the gift of God is eternal life [through] Christ Jesus our Lord.” That is the grace that God gave! That is the glory of God being expressed through His love – through Jesus Christ – by giving us His Son! ‘ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH JESUS CHRIST!’

Without Jesus Christ God’s righteous Law, which He put in place – of which He will never compromise – it demanded our death. Because of our sins. So, He fulfilled the Laws demand which required death by giving us His own beloved Son. What a marvelous act of love, grace, and mercy that was!

What was it that put us on death row!?

Was it the Laws fault that we got the death penalty!? That’s the question. Paul addressed this with Christians because a lot of people would say, “If there weren’t all these stupid Laws, then we’d be a lot better off!” “If God didn’t have so many Laws then we’d all be righteous people!”

The apostle Paul addresses this in Chapter 7 of Romans.

Verse 7 – he addresses this problem of thinking that the Law (summed up with the Ten Commandments) is the problem. People still think that the Law is the problem – and it has to be done away. “What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? …” – was there something wrong with the Law!? “ … Certainly not! …” – ‘Don’t think that!’ “ … On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the Law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the Law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’” – you wouldn’t know not to covet except that in the Ten Commandments it says, ‘You shall not covet …’

Verse 8 – “But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the Law sin was dead.”

And that – I like to describe it as – before conversion you’re out on the town having a good ol’ time, drinking and partying, and you think – boy life is so fun. And then all of a sudden along comes God's Law, and it reveals in you what sin is – what lawbreaking is. What things are against God’s will. And it is a striking comparison. And Paul describes it here. He says, “Without the Law I was alive! I was having a great time, and then all of a sudden here comes the Law!” And what happened!?

Did the Law bring life!?

Did the Law bring salvation!?

Look what Paul says – verse 9 – “I was alive once without the Law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” – all of a sudden he realized he had been breaking God’s Law his whole life and the penalty – as we read earlier – is death. He found himself all of a sudden on DEATH ROW!

And, later on, we know that Paul wrote that the purpose of the Law was to lead us to Jesus Christ (cf. Galatians 3:21-25). Because He’s the only way out of the condition we find ourselves when we’ve broken God’s Law.

Verse 10 – “And the commandment, which was to bring life, …” – he thought. “By keeping God’s Law, I’m going to have salvation” That’s what the Jews believed during his day.  And, of course, the Orthodox Jews of today have 613 commandments added, plus the original Ten Commandments. On, how to keep the Sabbath day, and how to keep the holy days, and how to walk, talk, eat, drink, dress, wash your hands up to the elbow – whatever it is – they think that perfectly keeping the Law is going to bring life. Paul thought that at one point, and he said, “And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.” It brought about the death penalty.

And, a short sideline here - Just recently a very good Jewish friend said to me (when he heard that I don't eat pig meat (cf. Leviticus 11) - “What, your prayers are not powerful enough to turn pork into chicken!?” Do you think he had 1 Corinthians 10:31 in mind when he said it!?

Verse 11 – “For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.” – he thought that the Law was going to bring salvation, and instead, it brought the death penalty.

So, as he goes on here in verse 12 – it’s not the Laws fault. “Therefore the Law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.” The Law actually magnified sin. It made sin look in all of its ugliness and brought it to bear and showed it what it really is. You can’t see sin until the standard of God’s holy Law is brought into view. And the comparison is made between these extreme opposites. That is why the Law is holy. And Paul explains that – it’s not the Law.

So, these two things here: How we got off of death row, and what it was that brought us to death row, doesn’t explain the third item.

How is a Christian who is struggling with guilt, with fear, and frustration, and indwelling sin, deal with these issues?

Romans 7:13 – Paul begins to explain this. “Has then what is good [the Law] become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.” – as I said, the Law magnifies sin and shows just what sin is.

Verse 14 – “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.”

Here is the apostle Paul who spoke personally with Jesus Christ and spent a great deal of time with Him – who wrote the fourteen books of the Bible – and he is saying, “I am carnal, sold under sin.” That is the problem!

This is the reason we find ourselves in the predicament often times as Christians. WE ARE CARNAL.

Look at Paul’s own experiences here in verse 15. As I mentioned earlier. He could have bragged about all of his accomplishments, but look at what he says here. “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate that I do.” Look at the conflict that is within him – the problem with what he has going on inside of his own mind and body.

Verse 16 – “If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the Law that it is good.” – he recognizes again that the Law is good.

Verse 17 – “But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” – this is the apostle Paul talking here.

Verse 18 – “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.” – ‘I want to do what is right, but I often find myself doing what is wrong!’

Verse 19 – “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.”

How many of you experience that!? You want to do what is right, but you find yourself doing exactly the opposite. Is it just me, or does everyone share in this experience!? I know the apostle Paul did. He’s owning it up to himself – here. He’s saying – ‘this happens to me.’

Verse 20 – “Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” This is the heart of the matter – today.

Christians may have sin in their life that can cause them to be paralyzed spiritually out of guilt and fear. What I want to bring to bear today is that even the apostle Paul had sins that he was dealing with in his own life. But he did not shelter down in a state of fear.

Look what he says – verse 21. “I find then a law, that evil is present with me, …” – there is that struggle there.

Verse 22 – “For I delight in the Law of God according to the inward man.” – talking about the Spirit of God that dwells within him – in his mind.

Verse 23 – “But I see another law in my members, warring against the Law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

I think it’s IMPORTANT to realize that. Remember he said a few verses earlier – ‘I am carnal.’ And yet, he was a converted man. So, he’s describing here a battle – a war – that is going on inside himself. Between the Spirit of God that is within his mind and the physical – fleshly – appetites of a carnal fleshly human being. That’s the war that is going on!

And he says, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

That – I believe – describes Paul’s own feelings and shortcomings, and failures, and maybe somewhat – a fear. Paul looks at his own experience, his own struggle with sin that exists in his flesh.

We too have the same nature within us - it strives to please itself, and to satisfy the fleshly appetite. That is why we have within us the proclivity for sin even after we have been converted. But there is no reason brethren to fear. And, no reason to give up and let guilt stagnate your spiritual growth because we come to the next chapter – which I call “the beautiful answer.”

Romans 8:1 – “There is therefore now …” – as a result of this understanding of what is going on within each human being – “ … no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2) For the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and [the inevitability of eventual] death.”

Note: In other words, Spirit is LIFE!

That’s the freedom that we have – the grace of God that was given to us. The freedom which we found ourselves released from death row. But, I remind you of Jesus Christ's living words - “ … ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.’” Indeed we are free - Christ came to free us from sin through His atoning sacrifice. Cf. Hebrews 2:14-15. And, free from the bondage of the Old Covenant.

Verse 3 – “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, …” 

Friends - I contend - the apostle Paul is talking about the law of the Old Covenant here. The law of the Old Covenant is an extremely physically oriented ritualistic grouping of ideas for people who were unconverted and very carnal, very physical – naturally human. But the Old Covenant, even though it had its place for a time, it ultimately could not solve man's problems, because there was never LIFE – there was never a promise of eternal life – contained in the tenants of the Old Covenant. The New Covenant, under which we now live with Jesus Christ being not only our Savior but now our living High Priest – who spiritualized the Ten Commandment. That’s an agreement that has the PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE!

 “ … on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4) 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.” – our whole demeanor changes. We don’t live after fleshly things anymore, we begin to live according to spiritual standards.

Verse 5 – “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”

Verse 6 – “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

And that is where we are trying to find. We’re trying to get away from this feeling of guilt, and fear, of failure. Here he’s telling us to live a life – to think of these spiritual things – and to grow spiritually. To dwell spiritually on the aspect of our spiritual conversion. To be spiritually minded – and we’ll have peace of mind.

Verse 7 – “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the Law of God, nor indeed can be.”

I told the folks at the Feast last year – you know, God created the human body. He created us with this nature in us. So He knows that we have this struggle. But He gave us His Spirit – His Holy Spirit – upon conversion, that we might begin to overcome this human nature and begin to live a life with this new nature.

Verse 8 – “So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9) But you [look at the comparison he says] are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10) And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” – and of course, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS. And we’re living to follow His example.

Verse 11 – “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

And, of course, he’s reminding us here again of the promises that He made – which I mentioned in the Book of John – that God gave us His Spirit, and that He is going to raise us up – He’s not going to fail us. He’s going to stay with us all the way to the end.

Verse 12 – “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors – not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13) For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.”

And, of course, as I mentioned in the Book of Revelation – ‘he that overcomes shall I grant to sit with Me on My throne, even as I overcame and sit down with My Father in His throne.’ That’s what Jesus said.

Verse 14 – “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” – what a positive aspect of Scripture here.

Verse 15 – “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, …” – that was the question I posed in the beginning. “ … but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’” – or Dad, Daddy – He’s that close to me!

However, once saved, if you continue marching down that progression of advancement – you have the Kingdom of God wrapped up, you’ve got your ticket. But if you just openly reject everything God says, and go, “Well, I have grace now, He’ll just forgive me.” And you do it with this disrespect of what He went through, His crucifixion, His torture. No, you can lose out on salvation!

Down in verse 35 – you can go ahead and read the rest of this.

I want to ask the question here: What could separate us from the spiritual life that we have in Jesus Christ!?

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” – of course, Paul experienced all of those.

Verse 36 – “As it is written: ‘For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.’ 37) Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38) For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39) nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I encourage you – brethren – to never give up. An enormous price was paid for our freedom. From the demands of the Law which required our life. Like being set free from death row – a beautiful reconciliation was made between man and God – between you and God. Don’t let sin – which is of the flesh – paralyze your spiritual growth. May we all fall down and confess our sins before our High Priest and ask for forgiveness from God.

Remember, we are carnal. But we are striving to live according to spiritual standards. We think on spiritual things, we pray for spiritual strength, we walk in newness of life – and don’t let sin reign over you or have dominion over you any longer. But let the Spirit of God, which is in your mind lead you as you overcome day by day the carnal nature which exists in each and every one of us. Don’t be in bondage of fear, but know that you have freedom as a begotten child of God and the life of Jesus Christ our Savior – to someday become a member of the family of God. You should never be defeated by sin. But we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us and rescued us by His divine grace, and through it, we shall never fail. □

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