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Ephesians– overview of 3:1-9; The Secret of the Ages, part 12 (Overcoming sin and suffering ).

length: 65:41 - taught on Aug, 15 2019
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Thursday, August 15, 2019

We saw last time in Hebrews that Jesus is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted by sin; He sympathizes with our weaknesses and with that grace and mercy calls us to the throne of God to find help; and He invites us to fix our eyes on Himself when we are challenged to lay aside the sin that so easily entangles us since He was able to endure and has promised that both He and His power are in us to do the same.


There is a connection between Christ’s suffering and our own, even though He only suffered undeservedly.


For us; temptation (HEB 2:18), weakness (HEB 4:15), and powerful sin (HEB 12:1), and no matter how mature and faithful we grow up to be, we are never perfectly and consistently sufficient to overcome.


Our repentance from certain categories of sin does not guarantee consistently perfect success, but because of Christ we do not fear this. The repentance from God is without regret, says Paul, but why is that?


The believer needs to change his mind concerning sin.


The Corinthian mistake was to conclude that the forgiveness of sin through the death of Christ took away the consequences of sin, and if at least the physical and psychological consequences remained, that sin became okay with God. This was a grave error. Paul wrote that some of them were weak and sick because of it, and that some even died.


We who are dead to sin should no longer live in it, wrote Paul in Rom 6. Therefore, there must be a change of mind concerning sin. It is no good, off limits, very damaging, and hated by us.


ROM 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?


ROM 6:2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?


It is not enough to just acknowledge this.


Repentance is more than admission. It is turning.


John the Baptist spoke of the fruit of repentance and Paul wrote that godly repentance leads to deliverance. It is an actual about face to embrace God’s will.


To do it, to repent, one has to surrender, submit, suffer, and die.


Surrender and submit we all agree, but what about suffering and death? I do not mean as penance. We could no more pay for our sin than we could make stars in heaven.


We suffer the loss of sin - the temporary pleasure, comfort, and fulfillment of lust it gave to our lives.


After all, we did it because it gave us some kind of temporary relief or pleasure, or fulfilled a desire, and by turning we are going without. Simply, I suppose we could look at it as after a good meal that has thoroughly satisfied by hunger that I want more to taste or I want dessert, but for health reasons I turn from the table. My body suffers some buffeting, to take a phrase from Paul, as I make it my slave. The flesh doesn’t ever go along quietly and easily, and sometimes it fights tooth and claw. If I buffet it even harder, I experience suffering accordingly and proportionally.


Death - I walk away from sins grave and say farewell forever.


Death is similar to the suffering. I am not to say to the dessert, “I reject you now, but I’ll be back in an hour.” If I’m going to be healthy, I must consider the dessert dead to me. The same is true of sin, and most especially the categories of sin that most easily entangle me. The body, or the flesh, will often allow us to make a deal with it. “I will not allow you to partake now, but if you wait, I will let you later.” The flesh will accept this and you will feel somewhat powerful, though you are not, which the flesh also likes. The addict remains calm, even when his craving is very intense, if he knows for sure that the fix is certain to come to him. He freaks out, even when his craving has not reached a great intensity, if he comes to know believe that he will not be able to get the drug at all.


The death is a farewell to the sin(s). It is not a “see you later,” or, “goodbye for now,” but a funeral completed and you walking away from the grave. This is suffering as well, for we are saying a final goodbye to the pleasures, comforts, and satisfying results of sin.


There’s one problem - we can’t do it perfectly and half measures are no good with God. There’s another problem - there’s nothing in God’s nature that can do it at all.


Nothing in God’s nature corresponds to this process at all - surrender, submission, suffering, and death. God can only share what He has, and what we need He does not possess.


We need to repent, but we’re flawed and can’t do it. God is perfect and does not need to repent ever.


But supposing God became a man - suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God’s nature in one person - then that person could help us. He could surrender His will, submit, suffer, and die because He was man and He could do it perfectly because He was God.


And then, greatest of all, He actually goes through death and resurrection and somehow takes us all with Him, all who believe in Him die and are then made alive - perfectly righteous.


God became a man so that He could submit, surrender, suffer, and die for me. Now I have all I need to repent from sin and have power to overcome the suffering it brings.


Because of what Christ has done in me, to me, I can repent from sin and evil and live unto Him. I have died because I have shared in His death and I am alive because I have shared in His resurrection. I can now clearly see life and death and choose life and reject death, walking away from its grave, saying farewell forever.


ROM 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?


ROM 6:2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?


ROM 6:3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?


ROM 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.


ROM 6:5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection,


ROM 6:6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin;


ROM 6:7 for he who has died is freed from sin.


ROM 6:8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,


ROM 6:9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.


ROM 6:10 For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.


ROM 6:11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.


Consider = sin is dead to me.


This is not some theoretical or illusory things that God says to us so we’ll feel better. They are a fact. And though I will sin again, it is only because I will have forgotten the truth at those times, being distracted and occupied with other non-important things. The more I mature the less often I will forget, having my senses trained, but that never guarantees sinfulness. And when I sin, it will always be my fault, but every time I can perfectly repent, because the death that I need was accomplished for me by the One who never needed to repent.


If you find that your mind struggles with the understanding of this, then you are normal. R. Winterbotham writes, “The Cross” is to him [Paul] the verbal symbol, not only of a crucified Savior, but of a crucified self. By it he is crucified to the world and the world to him. He is constantly assuming that all good Christians died, were crucified, with Christ in a very real sense. Doubtless there is something mystical in this teaching which it passes man’s wit to explain, which only faith can appropriate and experience make clear.” [The Kingdom of Heaven]


I agree with him totally. It is useless to simply give the best explanation in fine words of the life of freedom in which sin is overcome. Perhaps God has made this impossible in case we would be content to remain with our explanation, like having a map leading to infinite treasures and remaining content with the map and not heading out on the journey it reveals. In order to see this life, it has to be lived. Doctrines are our maps. Doctrines are explanations of the journey, which is why we find some of them need some adjustment when we are farther along on the journey. The journey is Christ Himself, who goes with us, for He alone knows the way.


Considering yourself dead to sin (ROM 6:11) is more than a mental exercise. Being dead to sin and alive to God, I become a servant to God’s will, whatever it may be, whenever, and wherever.


It is important to look for the opportunities in our lives where we can trust the Lord explicitly while rejecting all human endeavors.


Babylon has roughed up Jerusalem, but then had to leave to take care of other matters, but then they came back. In the meantime, Jerusalem had beefed up their walls, forged more weapons, and secured their water supply. Their thinking was that these human and earthly things were their only hope, and if they couldn’t save them, then nothing could.


ISA 22:8 And He removed the defense of Judah.

In that day you depended on the weapons of the house of the forest,


ISA 22:9 And you saw that the breaches

In the wall of the city of David were many;

And you collected the waters of the lower pool.


ISA 22:10 Then you counted the houses of Jerusalem,

And you tore down houses to fortify the wall.


ISA 22:11 And you made a reservoir between the two walls

For the waters of the old pool.

But you did not depend on Him who made it,

Nor did you take into consideration Him who planned it long ago.


ISA 22:12 Therefore in that day the Lord God of hosts, called you to weeping, to wailing,

To shaving the head, and to wearing sackcloth.


ISA 22:13 Instead, there is gaiety and gladness,

Killing of cattle and slaughtering of sheep,

Eating of meat and drinking of wine:

"Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die."


The attitude of the Israelites in the city was literally, if the walls or the water or the weapons fail then so be it, there is no other hope, so let’s party tonight for tomorrow we may perish.


Why look to God when you can look to your own resources? But the circumstances of the Lord’s people are not chance but design, and their resource is the Lord alone.

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