THEREFORE, BRETHERN, WE ARE DEBTORS, NOT TO THE FLESH, TO LIVE AFTER THE FLESH. FOR IF YOU LIVE AFTER THE FLESH YOU SHALL DIE, BUT IF YOU THROUGH THE SPIRIT DO MORTIFY THE DEEDS OF THE BODY YOU SHALL LIVE. FOR AS MANY AS ARE LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, THEY ARE THE SONS OF GOD. (Romans 8:12 – 14)
We are told in God's Word that we are presently living in perilous times. There are many observable factual events that seem to bear that out. We have professing Christians stating that good Muslims, Hindus, Buddhist, Jews, and other various and sundry sects all go to heaven. This is in direct defiance of God's Holy Word. The Lord Jesus Christ said, “I am the way the truth and the life and no man comes unto the Father but by me". (John 14:6) The Lord Jesus Christ also said, “but as many as received Him to them gave He power to become children of God." (John 1: )
There are also professing ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ who are preaching another gospel. Some are preaching a form of Marxism which more or less 50 years ago was known as liberation theology. Others are preaching and teaching a form of universalism that everyone will be saved. Others are promoting redistribution of wealth and pleasure seeking in lieu of preaching and teaching God's Holy Truth and the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the 8th Chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul began the 8th chapter by saying, “therefore, there is no condemnation now to those who are in Christ Jesus". (Romans 8:1). Here is the beginning of the application of the gospel truths set forth in the first 7 chapters of Paul's letter to the Church of Rome. In those first 7 chapters in Romans, the Apostle Paul had set forth that it is the gospel of Christ that is “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek”. He set forth that there is none righteous, and none that seek after God. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. He has set forth the proposition that by the works of the law no flesh shall be saved. He has set forth that we are all born sinners, justly deserving God's wrath and stating clearly that the wages of sin is death. But he has also set forth that the free gift of God is life eternal through Jesus Christ our Lord.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”. (John 3:16 ) For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. He that has the Son (believes on the only begotten Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ) is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already for he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16 FF) In the first verse of the 5th chapter of Romans, the Apostle states: “therefore, being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we also have access into this grace wherein we stand in the hope of the glory of God". He makes clear that all who have repented from their sin and placed their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ died when Jesus died, and when Christ was resurrected we have the hope that we also were resurrected with Him.
Nevertheless, today there are many, including some professing preachers and teachers in the Church Universal, claiming and preaching another gospel. These are the very ones that the Lord Jesus Christ warned about in the 24th Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew to “take heed that no man deceive you for there are many false prophets and false teachers”. In the verses set forth above, we see this great argument by the Apostle Paul, to wit: because we have been given eternal life by the Lord Jesus Christ “who was made sin for us who knew no sin,that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”, and have therefore received this sheer gift of everlasting life from God Himself, we are debtors not to the flesh to live after the flesh!
A brief look at these holy truths, I pray, will help each reader to increase in holy conversation, and godliness, looking for and hasting the coming of the day of the Lord as we see the time of the return of Christ drawing near.
I. DEBTORS NOT TO THE FLESH
The Apostle Paul tells us categorically that we are not debtors to the flesh. He has said in the 6th chapter of Romans in verse 14 that “sin shall not have dominion over us; for we are not under the law but under grace”. Here he is saying we are no longer debtors to live after the flesh because of specific reasons. One who is professing to be a Christian, but living after the flesh, is living like hell. The Apostle Paul states in verse 13 that if one, even a professing Christian, is living after the flesh, he will die – meaning go to hell. In other words, if one is living like hell, that's where they are going. Therefore, the call is to mortify the deeds of the body. We do this through God's Holy Spirit who is given unto us. He said earlier if you have not the spirit of Christ you are none of His, but if the spirit of God dwells in you, the body is dead because of sin but the spirit is life because of righteousness. Therefore, he calls us to mortify the deeds of the body through the spirit and live.
II. SONS OF GOD
According to the great expository preacher of the 20th century, Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the great theme of the entire 8th chapter of the book of Romans is assurance of salvation, or, to put it another way, the absolute certainty of the “final perseverance of the Saints”. All those who are truly justified in Christ Jesus, by faith, can be absolutely certain of the final, complete, and entire salvation of the believer, even including his body.
The Christian believer is done with any aspect of condemnation. The ground of this absolute assurance is that God's Holy Spirit is dwelling in us. It is because of this absolute certainty that the Apostle Paul can state: “therefore, brethren, we are debtors not to the flesh to live after the flesh”. Living after the flesh, after we have been in fact born-again by the spirit of the living God, would be inconsistent with our position. For, this same Apostle tells us in the letter to the Church at Ephesus that we have been called to be holy, therefore, we are to mortify through the spirit the deeds of the body. The fact that we are sons of God is explained further in a corresponding chapter in Paul's Epistle to the Church at Galatia. In chapter 4, he says, “now I say, that the heir as long as he is a child, differs nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But, when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that are under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you were sons, God has sent forth the spirit of His Son into your hearts crying, Abba, Father”. (Galatians 4:1-7).
One conclusion in looking at these two passages of scripture together is to realize that the terms “sons" and “children” are really interchangeable. Of course, a son is a child. The term children really comes from the word meaning in fact “infant". This “infant" is as much a child as a grown-up adult, however, the understanding and knowledge differs. Here, Paul is really talking about our relationship to God. We are forgiven, justified, and reconciled, and we have been adopted into the family of God. We have been made heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. Hallelujah, what a savior! We are sons of God! Therefore, having been born again, we are not to allow sin to reign in our mortal bodies. That would be the ultimate contradiction. Paul has destroyed the question that he anticipated some asking, “if grace abounds where sin abounds should we not sin all the more that Grace may abound all the more”? Paul answers with the resounding “God forbid"! We have been “saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves it is the gift of God not of works lest any man should boast. For by the works of the law no flesh will be saved. Though we were all sinners, children of wrath, by nature, God, who is rich in mercy with His great love wherewith He loved us has made us alive in Christ Jesus: “by grace are you saved”. Receive Him. Hear Him. Receive His word, memorize His word, meditate on His word. Endeavor by God's grace and in so far as possible to intend to do God's Word and to actually do His will in every matter as He gives you the grace to do it.
These magnificent truths are all embodied and embraced by the wonderful grace of God in the hymn written by Chris Rice. The following lyrics help encapsulate this grace.
“Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it Mount of thy redeeming love”
We see that we are in fact debtors – not to the flesh to live after the flesh for if you live after the flesh you shall die – but to grace!
O’ to grace, how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be
Let thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it
Seal it for thy courts above".
Purpose in your heart not to live after the flesh. Purpose in your heart to remember that we are no longer debtors to the flesh, to live after the flesh. Purpose in your heart to remember that sin shall not have dominion over you for we are not under the law but under grace. Purpose in your heart not to let sin reign in your mortal bodies. Finally, purpose in your heart to remember that we are a great debtor to God's marvelous, wonderful grace. We are constrained to be a debtor to God's grace, tell others, including your children, perhaps your grandchildren, that “there is therefore, now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit”. Tell them of God's Holy Truth and the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. Tell them of Jesus who is mighty to save and is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. Ask God to take their hearts and ours and seal them for His courts above.
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen
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