Release from The Sin
WHEN GOD RAISED THE LORD JESUS from the stronghold of death—actually He was birthed from the tomb as though it were a womb—an energetic force took its release in the earth. God set that energy free to work in Christ’s body, the Church. Early believers knew this. Early ministers preached and saw miracles out of that release of divine energy. They knew the dynamics of the Resurrection and with great power gave witness of it (Ac 4:33). And—we can add from that same verse—great grace was upon them all.
From the early chapters of Acts, we see that Peter and John were foremost among those trailblazing witnesses. But soon we see a mantle fall upon Paul. He was the first of the Apostles to encounter the Lord Jesus after He was raised from the dead and ascended back to His Father. Paul knew Him according to the Spirit and not the flesh. Amazingly, he perceived things about the Resurrection the others did not quickly learn. From the Book of Romans we find how he discovered that Christ’s death was our death, His burial was our burial, His Resurrection was our resurrection—and—His ascension to the right hand of the Father was our ascension too. This is Ephesians Truth. We are learning now that we are to live out of the understanding these Epistles sets forth. What a source for an abundant Life!
Before we go on with Ephesians Truth, there is something we learn from Paul in Romans I want to lay out briefly. An understanding here will be beneficial to our becoming open to a light that will shine in us to overcome the darkness remaining in so many. I will not lay out particular verses, but will try to state simply the understanding we find evolving from this first Epistle.
In all early collections of New Testament Scripture, the Epistles of Paul always occur in the same order, although they are not exactly in the chronological order in which he wrote them. Romans is always first. It lays out the most basic understanding for us with regard to our Redemption from sin. As I’ve observed this through years of beholding the Epistle in its Original text, I’ve found that Paul deals with sin in three dimensions. First, there are sins, those acts of disobedience in the eyes of God that have become the bane of the human race. Second, there is sin, that inward principle that activates every human being toward committing acts of sin. Third, there is The Sin, introduced into the world by Adam and from which no person can be free except through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus.
PAUL INTRODUCED THIS MATTER OF “THE SIN” IN ROM 5:12. Wherefore, as by one man (“the”) sin entered into the world, and death by (“the”) sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. From the Original, we find that both times the word sin (hamartía) occurs in this verse Paul precedes it with a Definite Article, making it clearly “the sin.” Specifically, it is The Sin that entered the race through Adam. As Paul’s thesis develops, he continues to speak of sin in this manner. He reaches a high point in Rom 6:10, 11.
For in that He (Christ) died, He died unto (“the”) sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto (“the”) sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. This passage is one of the most important in the New Testament. When we read its context we find that Paul wants us to know this (Rom 6:1-6), then reckon upon it. This means “put it down to your account.” This is core to some of the most important understanding we can gain from the New Testament. When the Lord Jesus died, He took upon Himself The Sin, broke its power and opened the way for us to know the Life released for us when God raised Him from the dead.
If we continue on our own, even through rigorous religious means, trying to deal with sin within us —the sin that makes us all commit sins—we will wind up frustrated losers before God. Through Jesus Christ we must become free from the downward pull of The Sin. It is here the word reckon becomes so important.
Let us consider it yet a little more. In the Original it occurs as a Verb in its Present Active Imperative form. This means we are to continually reckon, never ceasing to put it down to our account that when Christ died, we died. A dear older sister in the Lord, now passed on, used to say to me, “Brother Corley,”—and she would stomp her foot at this point—“it’s perpetual reckoning!” Every day, in every situation, we learn to put it down to our account that when He died, we died. Perhaps Paul stated it best of all for us. 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—Gal 2:20.
Jesus was not a sinning sinner. Rather, He took upon Himself The Sin infecting all humankind. His death became the propitiation (“full payment of the penalty”) for our sin. Through Him we have perfect atonement with the Father. By Him we are justified, reconciled to God, fully forgiven. In Him our redemption is complete. As we learn the truth Paul laid out for us, particularly in Romans and Ephesians, the testimony that was his can become ours.
IN THIS SERIES OF ARTICLES I WANT EVENTUALLY TO LOOK as intently as possible into the words in Eph 1:15-23. But first, we should see what led to the understanding Paul was embracing as he prayed the prayer of this passage that has proved so beneficial to us for years. If we can see from whence he was coming, it can help us in our understanding and we can enter new depths in our own prayer and faith. The truth and light shining in Paul is ready, now, to shine in you and me.
The eighth century B.C. Prophet Isaiah foresaw what the later Apostle saw, without doubt longing to know it in fuller measure than was then afforded him. See the Prophet’s words: Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee (Is 60:1, 2). What powerful insight into the coming glory! After nearly three thousand years, it remains as a Word waiting for us to embrace into our hearts. He spoke of a glory that was to come. But, for us today, it has come.
Oh, know this! Then begin to reckon on it. For me, the reason I am willing to know it is because I see it written in the Word. That’s enough. We don’t need to “know” it because our finite understandings can grasp it. Simply—you and I can “know” it because we are willing to read it in the Word of God, receive it into our hearts, act upon it by putting it down to our account, and then allow it to bring forth its Life in us.
Jesus gave warning lest we miss this glory. For verily I say unto you, that many Prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them—Mt 13:17.
I WANT US TO STOP AND PRAY ABOUT THIS. The Lord put forth a warning in the words preceding the above verse. As He observed some of the religious people around Him, He said, For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. A heart that has waxed gross has become dull and unfeeling.
Jesus was speaking to religious people, but something had happened to them that made their inner man fat and unyielding to God. Maybe it was pride, envy, bitterness, unforgiveness, coupled with the idea that they were better than the “sinners” around them. Maybe it was guilt or anger. Whatever it was, it could have been put away by the grace that was revealed in the Lord Jesus. The ears that were dull of hearing were not their outer ears, but the ears of their inner man. They could hear the Word of the Kingdom but never with any perception of what they were hearing. Willfully they had shut their eyes so they could not see. Willful blindness, upon many today, is a deadly sin against the Lord.
Let us now pray that we who read this shall be set free from this condition of the inner man. Then the Lord can say to us: Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear (Mt 13:15,16).
DEAR FATHER, I lay the heart of my inner man before You. Please work in me so it may no longer be gross—fat with wrong, insensitive to others, unyielding to You. You created me to hear You in my inner man. Please set me free from the deafness that has overtaken me. Open my eyes to see the wonderous things of Your Word—and of Your grace. Open my eyes and my heart to behold Your glory, and to know the power of Your beloved Son’s Resurrection. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
IT IS FROM PAUL THAT WE LEARN HOW THE DYNAMICS of the Resurrection are available to work in us, today, while we yet remain in this present age. The Epistle to the Ephesians is our great source regarding this as he gives a statement in chapter 1:3-14 that could only have come through divine inspiration. So deep and powerful is this statement regarding the Resurrection that it must be followed by the prayer that concludes the chapter—Eph 1:15-23. We’ve looked at this together over and over, and still it remains a jewel of inspiration that continues to breathe new life every time we consider it—which we intend to yet do more. Please remember it is here Paul leads us to pray that the eyes of our heart, or of our understanding, might be flooded with light. It is then we can know, in a way that defies contradiction, what is the exceeding greatness of that power which brought Christ from the dead and works now to release us from our death, both spiritual and physical. If it seems we’re stretching this a bit too far, wait till we see more of the insight that came to Paul. Rather sadly today for many Christians, the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection has been assigned to one day a year, called Easter. This is more associated with bunnies, eggs and bright clothes, brought over from paganism in an attempt to keep early Christians associated with their familiar past. But won’t you please let us move away from this concept and let the energetic power of the Resurrection come over on you—for every day of the year. No matter how deep into sin and darkness a soul may have plunged, the force that came when God raised Jesus from the dead can get beneath the sin in anyone of us. It will bring us into the wonder of the new life God made available for us through His beloved Son when He raised Him from the dead.
We could look at this in many ways. It will take quite some time to do so. But I am trusting as these words get into your hands and hearts, many will begin saying, “I know Christ was raised from the dead because He is alive now in me.” Word after Word from Scripture waits to guide us. With the help of the Holy Spirit they will lead us into an ever-increasing awareness of His Life, till one day we will know the fulness of Him that filleth all in all (Eph 1:23).
I often go back to the first time this Life of His became real for me. I’ve reminisced of this time and again, probably with you. But please let me do it again. That early encounter with Him sealed the fact with me the Lord Jesus is alive—indeed! I’d been born again several months. I was about seventeen, attending a little Gospel church where we sang, sometimes at the top of our voices, the old Gospel hymns. One that rang over and over in my heart was called He Lives. Its chorus had this refrain: “He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.” Then, it went on to say: “You ask me how I know He lives. He lives within my heart.”
Late one afternoon, as I walked down through the cow lot to bring in the cows for their evening procedure, I was singing that song with all my might. Although that was over fifty-five years ago, I could still take you to the spot where suddenly I knew it was so. Christ’s life became real in me. From then I’ve never doubted the reality and wonderful power of His Resurrection. There remained much for me yet to learn about all of this because life has its ways of pushing us toward death, often without a hope we can lay hold on. The grim sentence seems always to hang over us. But through God’s grace—particularly as it was revealed in Paul’s writing—with the help of the Holy Spirit and the faith God releases in us, we come time and again to know, in ever increasing measure, the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus was our resurrection too. Paul put it this way: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead—II Cor 1:9. Oh, how many times I’ve had to relearn, and see the faithfulness of, this wonderful reality of a believer’s life! And, the truth is, we’ve hardly begun. We’re touching upon something that reaches into eternity.
YOU KNOW I AM COMMITTED TO THE WRITTEN WORD OF GOD, with firm belief in its verbal inspiration. In this, I find greatest satisfaction by going into the original texts, as much as possible, to discover what are the exact words, with their meanings, used by those men of old who wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
We have the same Spirit to guide and enlighten us as those early men. If we allow their Word to pour over us, we can soak in its inspiration, and let its energy find release in us. I’ve found this secret: when there is something I cannot understand in the Word of God, I wait before the Lord with it. I ask for His inspiration and find the Word come to its own life in me. Handling the Word, without necessarily going to other writings and commentaries, we can find that the Word itself has its own germ of life that will release its roots in us. Also, we find that Scriptures lending themselves to other Scriptures tend toward the release of great inspiration.
Seeing this, before going on with Paul in the revelation given him in other parts of Romans and Ephesians, we should go to a testimony of his in Rom 7. Here he tells of a struggle he went through to know a righteousness that would make him acceptable in God’s eyes. Paul knew the Law of God, but it was failing to bring him to the heart of God. Instead, it revealed his utter failure and left him connected with The Sin.
As a young believer I too struggled with sin, not just acts of sin but with the principle of sin in me as it ever sought to draw me toward spiritual death. I found a great deal with which to identify with Paul in Rom 7. As I pondered Paul’s testimony to see what was at the heart of his struggle, I began to be impressed with the number of times he used the First Person Pronoun I. That began to be a giveaway as to where his trouble lay. It was in his own ego.
HERE LIES A LITTLE LESSON IN NEW TESTAMENT GREEK. It was not necessary to use the Greek Pronoun
égo, which means “I,” when speaking of some action in the First Person. A remnant of that Pronoun was built into the Verb to make it clear who was speaking. That is, it was not necessary to use the Pronoun unless there was to be an emphasis placed on it. Well, in this passage, Paul made use of the Pronoun over and over, something he was nowhere else prone to do. Finally, he came to an amazing statement in verse 24, translated thus in the King James Version: O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? This is an intriguing verse in the Original, very revealing.
The word wretched actually has reference to a person who is “miserably tired from overwork.” Quite clearly the verse could, and should, be translated: “O miserably tired ego man! Who will rescue me from the body of this death?” We will come back eventually—in succeeding articles—to the powerful words of Eph 1:19 and the text surrounding them. For the present, however, let us see more of Paul’s testimony.
Romans 7 :
14 For we know (instinctively) that the Law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin (under the slavery of The Sin).
15 For that which I do I allow not (what I am working out I don’t actually know): for what I would that do I not (what I don’t want to do is what I am putting into practice); but what I hate, that do I.
16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the Law that it is good.
17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me (as a principle of my fallen nature).
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do (the evil that I do not want to do is what I put into practice).
20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but (the) Sin that dwelleth in me.
21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
22 For I delight in the Law of God after the inward man:
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 (the ruling principle of The Sin) which is in my members (which has taken over the rule of my inner man).
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (O miserably tired ego man! Who will rescue me from the body of this death?)
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord... (My deliverance comes through our Lord Jesus Christ.)
Paul continues soon with Rom 8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after (according to) the flesh, but after (according to) the Spirit.
It is amazing there is no more First Person Pronoun in the verses that follow in Rom 8. Instead, we see the conflict enter another realm—between the flesh and the Spirit. After Rom 8:13, there is no more mention even of the flesh. The Holy Spirit wins and we see a son of God emerge, a new person in Christ governed by the Spirit of God.
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