Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Title: Ephesians- overview of 3:1-9; The Secret of the Ages, part 27 (Overcoming sin and suffering).
ROM 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
ROM 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
ROM 8:3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
ROM 8:4 in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
ROM 8:5 For those who are according to [present participle - consistently] the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit [qualities of the Spirit], (set their minds on) the things of the Spirit.
ROM 8:6 For the mind set on the flesh [unbeliever] is death, but the mind set on the Spirit [believer] is life and peace,
ROM 8:7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so;
ROM 8:8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
ROM 8:9 However, you [the believers in Rome] are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
Verse 9 begins emphatically. Greek verbs carry their own person and therefore pronouns are not necessary, yet Paul begins the sentence with the second person plural pronoun humeis. Plus, word order in Greek is not necessary for meaning as it is in English because Greek is inflectional. Since that is true, you can put the word you want to emphasize first in the sentence.
ROM 8:9 Humeis de ouk este (second person plural)
“YOU” (emphatic use of the pronoun) are not in the flesh but in the Spirit.
“if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you,” - if the Holy Spirit has made you His home. Such a gift could never be the result of works. The Holy Spirit indwells every believer in Christ. Paul is making an emphatic appeal to the believers in Rome that they understand who God has made them to be through the death and resurrection of Christ.
The NT doesn’t use the phrases “in Christ,” “Christ in you,” “in the Spirit,” or “the Spirit dwells in you,” metaphorically as meaning simply that the qualities of virtue are in the believer, but these are used literally. Christianity sets itself far apart from all religions in that it believes that God literally dwells within the believer whom God has made His home.
“dwell” is oiko which means to inhabit as a house. The Holy Spirit has made each believer His very house. Hence the emphatic “you” in contradistinction to those who are in the flesh and are not homes for God the Holy Spirit.
2PE 1:1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:
2PE 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
2PE 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
2PE 1:4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers [koinonos = having in common; synonym of summetochos in EPH 5:7] of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
The Holy Spirit is in us to give us victory over sin and produce His fruit, GAL 5:16-25. That coupled together with us being made new, possessing a divine nature, as well as the fact that the power of sin over us has been broken; and we find that each of us are in the sphere of the Holy Spirit. Nothing besides ignorance of this sweet reality, the fulfillment of thousands of years of promises from God, is stopping us from experiencing His life, the life of Christ.
1JO 3:1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
“and such we are” - the title ‘child of God’ is not metaphorical. God’s call is effectual; people are what God calls them.
1JO 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.
This is a celebration of the fulfillment of God’s promise concerning man. God said in GEN 1:26 that He would make man in His image, in His likeness, and in this age it has begun to be fulfilled. Satan tempted us in the Garden, saying that we would be like gods knowing good and evil, but that in rejection of God’s command only made us to be very much unlike God, filled with hatred, darkness, and death. Christ gave us life, His life, eternal life, the life of God the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, light, and goodness.
In the fulness of time the image of God, undefaced by disobedience to His will, appeared on earth in the Person of His Son. In Jesus, life was manifested as light to the world. With His crucifixion it seemed that hatred, darkness, and death had won the day, and that God’s purpose was thwarted. But instead, the cross of Christ proved to be God’s chosen instrument for the fulfillment of His purpose.
The culmination of that purpose is when all of us are just like Jesus. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.
During time, all believers see Christ in a mirror. Imagine your understanding when you can see Him face to face.
2CO 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
The more we look into the word of God, the more we understand and place our faith in it, the more assimilated we become to His likeness. Maturing in the Christian faith is to progressively become more conformed to the image of Christ in thinking and conduct. But then, imagine seeing Him face to face and no longer through the medium of a mirror.
1JO 3:3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
1JO 3:4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.
1JO 3:5 And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.
1JO 3:6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.
1JO 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous;
1JO 3:8 the one who practices [present participle] sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
ROM 8:3, Christ condemned sin in the flesh, meaning that He killed it or dethroned it.
The false teachers that John had to deal with, who blended Gnosticism with Christianity, with their sophistry found that they were capable of not merely condoning sin, but of making it seem virtuous. They didn’t claim perfect morality, but they did claim that they had learned the heights of truth so deeply that no matter what they did, they were in essence sinless. This is a convenient non-truth for an immoral, heartless, arrogant man who does not love, but only loves himself and offers proof through his intellect.
It was obvious to the Christians in the area who held to the apostolic tradition that these false teachers lived in sin, but the brashness of their claim to be virtuous and sinless was unsettling. John is setting them straight and comforting their hearts.
The false teachers intellectually defined their sin as virtuous. John makes clear - all sin is lawlessness.
Righteousness is consonant with the character of Christ as sin is consonant with the devil, who has been sinning and rebelling against God from the beginning.
Just as in Rom 8, the one who practices sin is of the devil. He has not other choice than to be minded towards the flesh, perpetually according to the flesh.
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
The believer has been changed. Christ changed him. He is alive by the Spirit, in the Spirit, and in Christ. He is righteous and justified. His sin crucified. Though he will struggle with sin in various areas, and he may sometimes “look” like he has not changed, but he cannot be perpetually lawless. There is in every believer a fight against sin. To all judgers, give him time to wage that fight. It might take a while before victory is visibly manifest.
For the unregenerate, sin is natural, but for the regenerate sin becomes unnatural and opens the conscience to struggle against it.
1JO 3:9 No one who is born of God practices sin [present indicative], because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin [in the habitual and approving manner of the false teachers], because he is born of God.
God’s seed abides in the believer. God’s nature abides in the believer. And the Holy Spirit has made the believer His home.
These truths lead to a difficult statement, “he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”
This becomes a difficult statement because Christians sin, and sometimes they seem to sin a lot. Although, there is no way to compare the frequency of sin in a believer with what that frequency would have been if he was never born-again. In other words, if we were able to calculate the number of sins committed by a believer during his worst year, could we know how many more sins he might have committed in the same year if he was not a child of God? Certainly not.
The difficulty of the statement makes us want to weaken John’s words out of regard for human infirmity, but we must not. His words are sharp and uncompromising and we must keep them that way. They are not to be used to doubt our salvation or that of others, but to know that we have been made the new humanity in righteousness and sin is now as unnatural to us as breathing under water. This is the truth of those whom God has made to live in the Spirit and walk by the Spirit.