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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The good Law of victory

“Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” (Rom. 7:13).

Is the Law good or bad? “What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? God forbid.” (Rom. 7:7). The holy Law of God “is good.” Even still, “if there had been a Law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the Law.” (Gal. 3:21). Is it death or life? That depends on our current nature. Do we have the fallen human nature or are we “partakers of the divine nature” (2Pet. 1:4)?

What Paul is saying here is that the Law of God severely ruffles our feathers—even possibly lethally. But God doesn’t mean to kill His servants with His Law. “God forbid.” Our death is not His purpose by revealing His Law. “For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.” (Isa. 57:1).

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
He will not always chide: neither will He keep His anger for ever.…
For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.” (Psa. 103:8,9,14). It’s not His Law that kills us, “but sin.” (Rom. 7:13).

So what is His reason for crushing us with guilt and shame? Why then the tremendous hopelessness we feel when standing before the infinitely high mark of His will? It is so “that [sin] might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” (Rom. 7:13). “For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.” (Rom. 7:11).

Sin is what is working death into us. Sin despises goodness and purity. Rebellion hates submission and humility. Sin is the murderer, not God or His Law. But will we ever be submissive to goodness or surrender our pride and escape the death of sin? Aren’t those roots so deep that we will have them until we see Jesus on the mighty day of His return?

“Beloved,…it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.” (1Jn.3:2). “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1Co. 15:52). “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.” (Php. 3:20,21).
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1Co. 15:53,54).

Does this mean that we will go on sinning until Jesus comes? Until then, will we find our Christian experience summed up in the wail, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24). That doesn’t sound like the victory cry, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Rom. 15:13). No, “O wretched man that I am!” sounds like some poor ascetic flagellating himself for his never-ending plague of sin.

Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.  Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 69.

    Says the prophet: “Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” Malachi 3:2, 3. Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth. This work is more clearly presented in the messages of Revelation 14. 
     When this work shall have been accomplished, the followers of Christ will be ready for His appearing. “Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.” Malachi 3:4. Then the church which our Lord at His coming is to receive to Himself will be a “glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” Ephesians 5:27. Then she will look “forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.” Song of Solomon 6:10. Great Controversy, p. 425.

Paul says victory is possible for a certain people. “…That the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:4,5). While it isn’t fulfilled in everybody, victory over sin in this life must be possible for some. “Thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.” (Mat. 1:21).

“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed His people,…
That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;…
That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” (Luk. 1:68-71,74,75).
“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 24).

“Wherefore then serveth the Law?” (Gal. 3:19). “Sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” (Rom. 7:13).
 “For I was alive without the Law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” (Rom. 7:9). Because of the Law, the Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy, I died. My self perished; self-will, pride, hope based on self-accomplishment—all were slain by the powerful testimony of Jesus, His mouth like a two-edge sword.

“For we know that the Law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.” (Rom. 7:14). We are carnal; our fallen natures naturally crave the satisfaction and preservation of self on all levels to some degree. The best of us are capable of the worst, and will be until the day Jesus comes. If not, then why need glorification at His coming?

We are carnal, but the Law is purely spiritual. It is self-less. It requires faith and love to obey it. This is so because its Author is infinitely unselfish. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:9). His love is infinitely self-sacrificing. This Jesus came to prove.

“For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” (Rom. 8:3). His Father’s spiritual Law was demonstrated perfectly by Him, “who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth:
who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously:
who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1Pe. 2:22-24).

“And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luk. 23:33,34).
 “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mar. 15:34).
“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” (Luk. 23:43).
 “After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” (Joh. 19:28).
 “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and.” “He said, Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit: and having said thus, He gave up the ghost.” (Joh. 19:30;Luk. 23:46).
   “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).

The grace of God’s Spirit will sanctify us. But “the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Gal. 5:17). The war is on between my faith and my fallen nature, between the gift of Christ’s nature, His power to fight my battle of sin, and my choice to ignore Him and to parley with temptation; between His robe that covers my putrid rags; “I” versus “sin that dwelleth in me.” (Rom. 7:20). Between My heart-felt desire to overcome and the deeply rooted sin that dwells in me.

The Law can be kept. Christ proved that by taking our body and nature. In our situation and in the condition of our fallen nature, He “condemned sin.” (Rom. 8:3). He did it when He walked on earth so that He could show us how to do it as He did it. Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (Joh. 16:33). He overcame so that we might overcome; that by beholding Him “the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:4). “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Co. 3:18).

True, the Law cannot give us the power to overcome sin; the Law cannot save us. But God has left His Law in order to bring us to the need of His Son’s presence and power. Without the Law we could never need a Savior from our fallen nature. We would never even know we are so bad off that we should be destroyed when sin is destroyed at His coming. (Rom. 1:29-32;1Cor. 15:25).

Like Elijah and John the Baptist, before God sends His salvation, He sends His fore-runners to lift up their voices against us. “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” (Isa. 58:1). God must arouse our minds to our truly lost condition. And these servants faithfully present the Law in all of its force. “For I was alive without the Law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” (Rom. 7:9). Then He sends His Elisha and His only begotten Son, in whom alone He is well pleased, to heal the hearts that were broken, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.” (Isa. 61:2,3).

In all of the chaos that often arises from our resistance to God’s revelation, there is a method to the apparent madness; it is His science of salvation. Satan fights to keep his captives; he misrepresents and twists every word that God’s Spirit presents to our conscience. The demons call black white and white black. They “call evil good, and good evil;…darkness for light, and light for darkness;…bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20).

The devil puts on a real exhibition of resistance in us just like he did long ago. “And they brought him unto Him: and when he saw Him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.” (Mar. 9:20). Their repentings are,“That which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.… The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Rom. 7:15,19). “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Gal. 5:17).

But if we will hang onto the hope in God’s grace toward us, that “He will not always chide: neither will He keep His anger for ever,” that, “like as a father pitieth His children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him,” then He will bring us off more than conquerors. (Psa. 103:9,13). If we will “let patience have her perfect work,” then we will “be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (Jas. 1:4). To all who will endure the chastisement of their peace and all the confusion, then “blessed are all they that wait for Him.” (Isa. 30:18). Then we finally lose all self-sufficiency and all doubt, wholly depending on Christ to do what He promised He would, and we let ourselves crumble before Him, saying, “Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief.” (Mar. 9:24). Jesus rebukes “the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.” “Peace, be still!” Another cry and scream, another flailing about in the fire, and then there is a great calm. (Mar. 9:25;4:39). Jesus has won another battle.

All of this heartache, both ours and our Savior’s: “That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside Me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” (Isa. 45:6,7).

“Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?
But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.
And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.” (Isa. 49:24-26).

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