Romans 12:6-21 Spiritual Gifts

This is a short chapter on spiritual gifts. How did Paul explain the spiritual gifts? I’m not asking how people, churches, or modern society describes spiritual gifts. What was Paul inspired to write about spiritual gifts? How did Paul describe each of those spiritual gifts? What are spiritual gifts supposed to be used for? How are people trained to use spiritual gifts? Who trains people to use spiritual gifts? The answers shouldn’t surprise you. A list of those spiritual gifts is found in that we refer to Romans chapter 12. That is near the end of Paul’s letter. Common sense should tell us where to look for answers. Paul used 11 chapters to build his audience up to the introduction of spiritual gifts. Before listing the spiritual gifts, Paul had to be confident people reading about spiritual gifts knew how to serve God. People had to know who Jesus was. People had to know how the Holy Spirit communicated with them. People had to know how to interact with the world. And people had the know the difference between a message from this world and one from Heaven. All of that and more had to be in place before any of those spiritual gifts could be used.

Romans 12:6-21 NLTse In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. (7) If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. (8) If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. (9) Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. (10) Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. (11) Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. (12) Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. (13) When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. (14) Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. (15) Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. (16) Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! (17) Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. (18) Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. (19) Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD. (20) Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” (21) Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

When we read Romans chapter 12 in its entirety, it makes more sense than what the world has been teaching about spiritual gifts. Paul intentionally introduced spiritual gifts by telling us, we need to give ourselves up. We have to put everything the world has taught us aside, prepare to listen to God’s Spirit, learn to follow directions, and get ready to learn details we have never seen or considered before. Paul referred to that as a living sacrifice. What else would you call a complete change in your life?

Paul gave Christianity the best advice this world could imagine. Pert near anything we could think of crept into the Hebrew religion and somehow filtered its way into Christianity from the beginning. It was like trying to make a soup from a wide variety of vegetables pulled from the ground and thrown into a pot before they were cleaned. What kind of soup would you get from vegetables covered with dirt? It wouldn’t be a very healthy or tasty mixture. No matter what you added, it would still have that dirty look, smell, and taste.

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Some churches think it is their role to clean those vegetables before throwing them into the pot of soup. We term that indoctrination. You have to learn and memorize a certain set of rules and standards before you can be baptized into the church, stand up front, deliver a prayer, or assist in any capacity. In other words, you have to become like the cult before being granted special privileges. Most people never stop long enough to consider the fact, all of those church privileges are spiritual gifts. Those churches are exercising their control over God’s Spiritual Gifts. Why? There are a number of reasons. Men have a need to take control. Men need to feel like they are in control. Woman have that same drive when it comes to religious issues. Even though Paul told this world to be a living sacrifice, place your life in God’s hands, and let the original manufacturer transform you, people had to think of new ways of getting their hands in the mix, and attempt to do God’s work to the best of their ability. Which can never be up to God’s standards.

The names may have changed, but teaching is still a spiritual gift. Today teaching may be referred to as a church role, office, or other term, but it is still a Spiritual Gift. When people teach inside of a church, wouldn’t the students want a teacher with the spiritual gift of teaching? Doesn’t that make sense? Then why not call it a Spiritual Gift, and go over the standards of the spiritual gift of teaching? Why does this world measure the spiritual gift of teaching by worldly standards? How long have they been teaching? What institution did they graduate from? What books have they read, and a series of other questions have replaced Paul’s simple letter to the Romans. God’s simple plan has been replaced by an ever increasing set of human standards designed to reach God’s level. In a sense, that is building a spiritual tower of Babel. And that has happened to all the spiritual gifts.

Teacher free iconThe sad part about how churches handle and what churches teach about spiritual gifts is the fact, a lot of people walk away thinking those gifts are used only inside the church structure, and are shared with only Christians like themselves. That has spread into the thought that God only listens to people in a particular structure, or series of structures people loosely term a church. That has spread into the concept, God only accepts people who belong to a particular church. Which spread its own roots into the belief that to be saved, you have to belong to a particular church. That crept into the belief that all you need to do to be saved is join the right church. In other words, those concepts have been attacking and trampling the simple concept of spiritual gifts Paul, John, and other apostles recorded at Jesus’ command. Why are those spiritual gifts such a target?

When we look at the original Greek meaning of each spiritual gift, we find that each gift requires our presence in front of God’s throne. That is what needs to be taught about spiritual gifts. Our classroom is in Heaven, not a meeting room inside a church. Our Teacher should be Jesus, the One who came to this planet to leave a lasting impression, and put us on the proper path. Those things should never changed, altered, or tinkered with. What happens when we take one little detail or lesson out of God’s hands and try to place it in human hands? It gets mixed up with who knows what, then leads to who knows where. The only certain path for any spiritual gift placed in human hands and taught by human standards is that new concept will lead souls away from God.

Paul pointed out a very important aspect of spiritual gifts. “God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.” Not to our standards, but the standards in Heaven. We can’t hope to learn the depth of those standards based on worldly concepts, and what we’ve learned from this world. Paul went onto explain how the ability to share each gift comes from God.

Each spiritual gift is supposed to be given or delivered with super human effort. Where do you suppose we receive those supper human effort, skills, and abilities from? Only from Heaven. That is what we are reaching people for. To join the ranks of Heaven, not to conform to one human club, group, or society.

Paul listed love as a spiritual gift. Isn’t that proof enough, or at least a hint, we have to approach the feet of Jesus for instructions? Has the world experienced any other love like Jesus? Has any book been written to capture the essence of that love? There have been millions of books written about how to love in this world, how to get along with others, and how to get ahead in love. None of them have achieved anything close to what Jesus achieved. Not one of those books has been able to explain love like prophets in the Bible have been to explain messages, warnings, explain gifts, or let this world know how much, how long, and in how many ways God has been trying to reach out to this world. That only touched the tip of the iceberg in the subject of love. The majority of that information and feeling lies deep below the surface. And can only be experienced by a one on one relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual gifts bring genuine love, which brings peace, confidence, patients, endurance, enthusiasm, hope, awareness, and affection. With all those benefits only a prayer away, why would anyone settle for a counterfeit?

Honor, blessings, harmony, and victory are also a package deal included with spiritual gifts. Why are so many people wallowing in fear, mistrust, anguish, and pain in this world? Have we forgotten the spiritual gifts, or has the world been misled into a less than stellar explanation of those spiritual gifts? What do you know about those spiritual gifts? Where did you gather your information from? When was the last time you talked to God about your spiritual gifts? When was the last time God told you to correct this or that error in your life so you can get to the next level in your spiritual journey, or receive a spiritual gift someone near you, or a stranger you will meet by chance needs? How many lives can you change, after Jesus spends a little time changing your life when you commit yourself to being a spiritual sacrifice?

When Paul quotes scripture, we need to look it up. Paul pointed people to scripture to get a clearer view on what he was writing about. That was one of the spiritual gifts Paul was given, and we need to respect that gift if we expect to perfect any of the gifts we are given. Here Paul sends us back to the Old testament to find out what that day of vengeance is all about.

Who is this who comes from Edom, from the city of Bozrah, with his clothing stained red? Who is this in royal robes, marching in his great strength? “It is I, the LORD, announcing your salvation! It is I, the LORD, who has the power to save!” Why are your clothes so red, as if you have been treading out grapes? “I have been treading the winepress alone; no one was there to help me. In my anger I have trampled my enemies as if they were grapes. In my fury I have trampled my foes. Their blood has stained my clothes. For the time has come for me to avenge my people, to ransom them from their oppressors. I was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So I myself stepped in to save them with my strong arm, and my wrath sustained me. I crushed the nations in my anger and made them stagger and fall to the ground, spilling their blood upon the earth.” I will tell of the LORD’s unfailing love. I will praise the LORD for all he has done. I will rejoice in his great goodness to Israel, which he has granted according to his mercy and love. He said, “They are my very own people. Surely they will not betray me again.” And he became their Savior. In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years. But they rebelled against him and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he became their enemy and fought against them. (Isaiah 63:1-10 NLTse).

It’s not by accident Paul sent us back to another prophecy about Jesus. This reminded the Jews in Rome how the priests goofed up every single one of those prophecies, had no idea who the Messiah was, and actually killed God’s Son. The track record for the Levitical priesthood was stained in blood, misunderstanding, deceit, and a reckless way of looking at scripture. The last thing Paul wanted to see was those new Christians following the same path, or trying to invent a new man made path to God’s throne. There has always been only one path. Few have been able to find or follow that path. Jesus came to explain that path. After His resurrection, Jesus earned the right to oversee spiritual gifts, pay the redemption price, call and hold His flock, teach, and protect them. No one else on earth has earned that right. No one on earth has gathered enough knowledge or wisdom to guide anyone along that path. Much less themselves. With all the evidence in the world. All those stories in the Old Testament, and all the New Testament explanations, people still want to adopt bits and pieces of the old Levitical priesthood, claim a higher understanding, and forge new concepts that may appear to parallel God’s plan, but in essence, veer off course as men add more and more rules, ideas, concepts, instructions, and cliches to the mix. Where will all this stop?

Paul wanted Isaiah to emphasize the point he made in his own letter. People will stray from God’s concept on spiritual gifts. People will prefer man made concepts over Paul’s inspired instructions. It will get to the point, Jesus will have a difficult time finding anyone with any real understanding. When Jesus looks down from Heaven in the last days, He will see a world much like the world of darkness He witnessed just before the Holy Spirit transferred Jesus to this planet in the form of a few human cells. Jesus grew in the security of the womb during some of the darkest days this planet has seen. Jesus is the expert on being reborn. Why would we trust that transformation to inexperienced human hands?

When we look at Isaiah chapter 63, we can see two distinct time lines. One at Jesus’ birth and ministry here on earth. We can also see a time line aligning with the closing days of this planet. Both times are dark. Jesus was rejected in both time frames. Very few people knew anything about the Messiah, and very few people know anything about Jesus. Who the real person is, who their real King is, what His role in Heaven is, His role in the judgment process, the plan of salvation, redemption, sanctification, and the spiritual gifts. This world may have been spoon fed a little on each subject, but one line verses from scripture, and a long winded earth based explanation will never cut it.

Chapter 12 Romans 8:9-39

Romans 8:9-17 MKJV But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. (10) And if Christ is in you, indeed the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (11) But if the Spirit of the One who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised up Christ from the dead shall also make your mortal bodies alive by His Spirit who dwells in you. (12) Therefore, brothers, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. (13) For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die. But if you through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body, you shall live. (14) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (15) For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba, Father! (16) The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. (17) And if we are children, then we are heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; so that if we suffer with Him, we may also be glorified together.

Paul leaves the Romans with a choice. They can either choose to have Christ in them, or leave Him behind. That seems like a rather simple choice. But what does it mean? We have to look back to the previous chapter to see how Paul led into this choice.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. But the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2 MKJV).

Paul’s main theme concentrates on finding and following Jesus’ Spirit. There is a general rule of Bible Study that tells us, the introduction to a chapter tells us the main theme in that chapter. That’s the way the Bible was broken into chapters. That rule is true from one end of the Bible to the other. We also notice, this section of Romans begins with the word, “but.” But what? To answer that question, we have to look back at the previous verses. There is no other way to answer that question. If we try to answer that question based on our own knowledge, we are bound to miss important details Paul recorded. If we try to answer that question based on personal experiences, thoughts, ideas, doctrines, or a story we heard, there is no way of knowing what kind of tangent we can go off on.

The word, “but,” established a choice, or a comparison. To find out the choice, or what Paul is comparing, we have no other choice than to read what Paul wrote. We also notice, Paul began chapter 8 with the word, “therefore.” That word also established a link to the previous chapter. In simple terms, Paul is telling the Romans, they cannot understand this part of the letter until they understand the previous part of the letter. But do people read or study Paul’s letter as a whole? Most times people take out a sentence or two from Paul’s letters, then proceed to explain what Paul is talking about. When people do that, are they certain the people they are talking to understand the previous part of Paul’s letter? How does the speaker or teacher know what their students know, and what they don’t know? There is not doubt Paul’s letters were inspired. Each letter was written to a particular group with particular needs. Each group was on a particular spiritual level, and each group needed to move from a particular earthly rut. Paul had the Spirit to guide him. That’s what makes his letters inspired. Here in Romans Paul is trying to explain that connection with the Spirit.

Paul makes it clear, he does not have a monopoly on Jesus, or His Spirit. Paul wrote about how Jesus forgives sins, and has covered our sins. There is a little effort involved when we ask to be forgiven. We are supposed to move forward, not get stuck in the same rut we grew up in, but move away from sin, and the dangers sin comes with. The fact of the matter is, we can’t change on our own. We don’t stand a chance against the devil and his temptations. We need help. Jesus was the only one able to defeat the devil, and now He is offering His knowledge, experience, and power through the Holy Spirit to guide us on our journey.

Paul boiled it down to a choice between life and death. It is that simple. Being personally lead by the Spirit of God is a prerequisite to being one of God’s sons. That requires a bit of proof. We have to see a change. That change leads to witnessing. Which is the first step to bringing more people into God’s family.

Saved by Hope

Romans 8:18-25 MKJV For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed in us. (19) For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. (20) For the creation was not willingly subjected to vanity, but because of Him who subjected it on hope (21) that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (22) And we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. (23) And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the firstfruit of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, awaiting adoption, the redemption of our body. (24) For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen is not hope; for what anyone sees, why does he also hope for it? (25) But if we hope for that which we do not see, then we wait for it with patience.

The subject of hope seems to confuse people. Paul terms hope as something that is unseen. What is unseen? What is Paul referring to? We have no idea what Paul is telling us that we cannot see until we look back in this chapter. What is unseen in the previous verse? The Spirit. Can we see the Spirit Paul is referring to? Not in the physical sense, but we can feel the Spirit work in the spiritual sense.

Overall, Paul is comparing the physical world familiar to the Romans, to the Spiritual world Paul is introducing. This was a new concept in Paul’s day, and to a large degree, unfamiliar to many Christians. The subjects of faith and hope to a large degree have been reduced to simple, one line definitions. Those definitions have become clichés, with no depth. The use of clichés has taken away the personal experience Paul wrote about.

It is rather strange to research the word hope and find it is a subjet the Jews should have been familiar with. We find hope discussed in a number of David’s Psalms. “I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Psalms 16:8-11 KJV).

David wrote about the same subject Paul seems to be introducing to the Romans. How could such a simple subject seem so difficult to explain? Hope is a private place David went to whenever the world seemed too much to deal with. David also tied the word hope to the choice between life and death. In this case, the choice between hell and life. This should not have been a new concept to the Jews, and hope should be something Christians should be able to explain. It may help to look at the definition of hope in the Hebrew dictionary.

HOPE

H983 בֶּטַח beṭach beh’-takh

From H982; properly a place of refuge; abstractly safety, both the fact (security) and the feeling (trust); often (adverbially with or without preposition) safely: – assurance, boldly, (without) care (-less), confidence, hope, safe (-ly, -ty), secure, surely.

H982 בָּטַח bâṭach baw-takh’

A primitive root; properly to hie for refuge (but not so precipitately as H2620); figuratively to trust, be confident or sure: – be bold (confident, secure, sure), careless (one, woman), put confidence, (make to) hope, (put, make to) trust.

David used the word hope to describe the refuge, a place of safety he found in God. Do we use the same definition for hope today? Hope means different things to different people. Some hope for fame, glory, money, winning the lottery, a new car, a house, and countless other things in this world. Can they be seen? In some cases, they can be viewed, and still hoped for. How do Christians define hope in God? In most cases they have the part about not being able to see God in the proper perspective. What about the promises and safety David wrote about? How does the definition of hope David wrote about align with the Greek definition of hope?

HOPE

G1680 ἐλπίς elpis el-pece’

Fromἔλπω elpō which is a primary word (to anticipate, usually with pleasure); expectation (abstract or concrete) or confidence: – faith, hope.

Some how the word hope was changed from a refuge in the Old Testament to an expectation in the New Testament. How did that happen? Are the two related. Often times we can get a clearer definition of a word when we look at how the author used that word in a sentence, or explanation. There is no doubt, David’s hope was in the refuge God provided for him. When Paul wrote about hope the Romans should have been looking for, he defined it as, “the glorious liberty of the children of God,” and , “the redemption of our body.” Paul placed hope in this world, in the unseen adoption into God’s family, and the redemption provided through Jesus. In other words, the hope in the New Testament is not that far from the refuge David looked forward to.

Paul wrote about a transformation from the old world of sin into the new world of hope established by Christ. That was the concept Paul was writing about, and he wanted the Romans to learn about. When we look at the beginning of this chapter, we see how that unseen hope is revealed, and explained by the Spirit. It all works together. What is unseen by us is clear from Heavens view. The refuge David wrote about is Heaven. Protection from this world is provided by God and His angels in Heaven. Redemption comes from Heaven. Everything originates in Heaven, and we have no hope of seeing, or understanding any of those concepts without a direct connection with Heaven.

The Spirit Intercedes

Romans 8:26-31 MKJV Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (27) And He searching the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (28) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (29) For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be the First-born among many brothers. (30) But whom He predestinated, these He also called; and whom He called, those He also justified. And whom He justified, these He also glorified. (31) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

It seems Paul knew the Romans had trouble praying. Don’t we all? Paul told the Romans about a solution to that problem. When we pray, our prayers are taken by the Holy Spirit, interpreted, or translated before being delivered to God. Why would God do that? It seems we are supposed to be developing a personal relationship with God. How are we supposed to do that when we have access only through the Holy Spirit? Why does it work that way? I’m not sure why it works that way. How can we be sure how prayer works, when prayer is one of those unseen entities of God where hope leads us. Paul may be trying to over emphasize the point, we are not going anywhere with the Spirit. If we want to talk to God, we need the Spirit. When we want relief from this world, we need the Spirit. If we want the eternal life Paul wrote about, we need the Spirit. When we look at the process the way Paul recorded it, it does seem rather simple. There are steps we need to take, and things we need to learn to enter into any kind of understanding of that unseen spiritual world and life.

It seems, God is the one calling His children. Of course Jesus plays a part in that call, and so does the Spirit. How they work together is somewhat of a mystery. But let’s face it, they are not of this world, and living an eternal life in this world may be a bit more than people could handle. On the other hand, when we talk about an eternity in Heaven, we should have some idea on what will be different.

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Who Shall Separate Us

Romans 8:32-39 MKJV Truly He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? (33) Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God who justifies. (34) Who is he condemning? It is Christ who has died, but rather also who is raised, who is also at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. (35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (36) As it is written, “For Your sake we are killed all the day long. We are counted as sheep of slaughter.” (37) But in all these things we more than conquer through Him who loved us. (38) For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans chapter 8 may contain some of the most famous verses in the New Testament. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” This may be one of the most used, verses in Christian circles. But let’s be blunt. This may be one of the most profitable verses from the Bible. It is found on stickers, carvings, jewelry, charms, and other marketable products. Now think about this a moment. Paul is encouraging a personal vision of Heaven. What do people do? They take a few verses out of Paul’s letter, and hit the general public with it over and over again, until it becomes a part of who they are. People like to identify with God’s power. But what does that one line teach us about what Paul has been teaching? “If God is for us, who can be against us?” What does that teach us about the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ sacrifice, prayer, or the safe place David wrote about, referring to that place as hope? What does one sentence taken from one of the most important chapters Paul penned do for us? Like praying for money and other favors, the true message is lost when we get sucked up into this world.

Another famous saying from Romans chapter 8 is, “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This is another phrase that has been coined all over the globe. People like to quote it. Retailers love to spread it over every type of article. But what is that phrase telling us? For one thing, it is the last sentence in the chapter. That sentence sums up the entire chapter. What do we get when we compare the last few verses in this chapter to the first few?

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. But the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2 MKJV).

Of course we see the same theme. We see how to understand the main theme Paul was writing about in this portion of his letter. With Christ, we have power, the Spirit, eternal life, redemption, and the only thing we are going to be separated from is sin and death. As we draw closer to Christ, we leave parts of this world behind. We are changed. Some to one degree, and some people to a variety of degrees.

Paul again brings up the point that Jesus had to die to continue His ministry. That is a lot coming from a man who spent time persecuting Jesus’ followers and dong his best to put an end to the new movement sweeping the world. We have to stop and think about how Paul was changed. His change shows only a glimpse of God’s love, and what Jesus’ sacrifice was for.

When looking for references to explain what a Bible writer is talking about, there is no better reference than the Bible text the writer recorded. If anything else, we all should adopt the rule telling us, when an inspired writer quotes scripture, look it up.

Our heart is not turned back, nor have our steps turned aside from Your way, though You have crushed us in the place of jackals and covered us with the shadow of death. If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god, shall not God search this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart. Yea, for Your sake we are put to death all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Awaken! Why do You sleep, O Jehovah? Arise! Do not cast us off forever. Why do You hide Your face, and forget our affliction and distress? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly holds fast to the earth. Arise for our help, and redeem us for the sake of Your mercy. (Psalms 44:18-26 MKJV).

The first thing we should do is look for connections, words the author weaved into the letter he wrote. In this case we see the words death and search. In his own words, Paul pointed out the penalty of death, its results, and how we can avoid that penalty. Paul also explained God’s power to know our thoughts. Paul described it as a searching of the heart. God knows what is on the inside, and how to deal with it.

     David pointed out how we are stuck in this world. Aren’t we all? We look at the physical things of this world and try to explain what God and Heaven are like. We forget that God knows each of us better than we know ourselves, and He knows how to fix the things that aren’t right. We don’t even have the ability to talk to God about the things we want, or want to learn. We need the Spirit to interpret our needs and desires. We could go on forever about what we don’t know. Or we could fool ourselves into thinking the explanations we’ve been offered are enough. Has anyone ever known enough about God to explain infinity, eternity, the vastness of Heaven, where it is located, when the devil was restricted to this world, or what his real motives are? Many of us are satisfied with thinking the devil has one plan to deceive the world. That says little about what is really happening. That one deception belief discredits much of what Paul and David wrote about when they told us, God is here to help us. We have to know the Spirit to find out what is wrong with us. In other words, to see the deceptions we’ve already fallen for. Or better yet, what deceptions the devil is placing in our paths. Paul knew how the Jews in Rome spent more time examining mistakes the rest of the world was making, and not paying attention to the mistakes they make everyday. That included a long list of sins they failed to mention in prayer. No wonder why we need the Spirit to intercede for us in our prayers. We have no focus on what the devil is working on for later today, or tomorrow. Angels can see the devil and his agents working in the back ground. We can’t. We think we can make it through the day. We think we can work through our problems. We think we have the answers. We think we have control over our lives. But have you ever considered the fact, when Paul refers to being slaves to sin, there is much more than our own sins that control us in this world. Satan forces people to lay traps in our paths. We become slaves to the sins others commit to make living more difficult. We are slaves to thieves, fear, taxes, over pricing, profiteering, scams, and so many other sins. We may not commit those sins, but we are still slaves to those sins when they steal our time, money, mislead family members, we are forced on worry, and forced to carry burdens against our will. It is sad to think, angels are all around us to help, but we have no idea how to accept their help.

Quotes from Romans 3:5-18

Romans 3:5-18 NLTse “But,” some might say, “our sinfulness serves a good purpose, for it helps people see how righteous God is. Isn’t it unfair, then, for him to punish us?” (This is merely a human point of view.) (6) Of course not! If God were not entirely fair, how would he be qualified to judge the world? (7) “But,” someone might still argue, “how can God condemn me as a sinner if my dishonesty highlights his truthfulness and brings him more glory?” (8) And some people even slander us by claiming that we say, “The more we sin, the better it is!” Those who say such things deserve to be condemned. (9) Well then, should we conclude that we Jews are better than others? No, not at all, for we have already shown that all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin. (10) As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous– not even one. (11) No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. (12) All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” (13) “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.” “Snake venom drips from their lips.” (14) “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” (15) “They rush to commit murder. (16) Destruction and misery always follow them. (17) They don’t know where to find peace.” (18) “They have no fear of God at all.”

This is getting into Paul’s part of the letter people love to debate. So I thought this would be a good place to begin another chapter. I did that to illustrate a simple point. This is how people prefer to debate, or can I go as far as say, study Paul’s letters. Let’s take a look at the usual, main stream views of Paul’s letter. Then we will look at where Paul directed us.

Normally people will take one little part of Paul’s letter, like one sentence out of Romans 3 verses 5 to 9, that seems to align with their views on God’s law. Some people say, the law is gone or nailed to the cross. Other people insist it is all gone, except for the Ten Commandments. Other people think every law is still in force. And there are all types of combinations in between. Who is right? There is one thing many people have in common. They actually call it Bible Study. They have an opinion, find a stating point, then create their own personal chain reference with a collection of texts that support their opinion. Is that a proper way to study the Bible?

I refer to context a lot. Context is a collection of all the sentences around a particular statement. That is the easy definition. To get a little deeper into the context of a statement in scripture, we have to take a look at the entire chapter looking for road signs, other verses that are designed to point us in one particular direction. They could point us to the Concordance to look up the definition of a particular word, or group of words. They could point us back to the beginning of the story, or to the end to see how a decision turned out. Or they could point us to a particular story in the Bible.

No one is going to argue the point, Paul was an inspired writer. That goes without saying. This is where I’ve learned to measure people, by the way they study, or decided to present scripture. At the very beginning of his letter, Paul identified where he got his information from. Jesus Christ. This should conjure up images or memories of Paul’s life recorded in the the previous book, Acts. That is the Spirit talking to you, establishing a direct link to Romans and the previous book, Acts. Give the Spirit credit for putting the Bible together the way it should be read.

Since Paul is an inspired writer, why don’t more people look at what he wrote, how he wrote it, and where he pointed readers?

The first thing we notice is, Paul listed a few human concepts or ideas. He uses the words, “some might say, this is merely a human point of view, someone might still argue,” and other statements telling us, those are opinions from people, not a message from God, or any of God’s commands. But some people want to treat statements made by people as direct commands from God. “After all, if it is in the Bible, it must be true.” That is one problem I often see.

The next problem is the personal links to other text people make. How do we really know those other texts are related to the subject at hand? When people make up their own references, do their personal references really parallel the thoughts, or can we call them the directions the inspired author was given by God? Now we are entering a sort of fork in the road when it comes to Bible Study. I’ve debated with dozens of people holding actual degrees in Bible Study as well as people who are self taught. They seem to have quite a few things in common. For one thing, they don’t seem to see anything wrong with picking and choosing their own path during a Bible Study. Ask them how their next proof text is related to the subject at hand and what kind of answer do you normally hear? The usual response is to make you feel foolish for asking. A little change of the subject to belittle you, whittle you down, make you feel dumb for asking. Or something like the usual, “it just is,” or the ever faithful, “everyone knows that.” But no direct answer explaining how one piece of scripture is related to another. They make it sound like everyone in the world was born with that wisdom, and you must have been absent when God passed it out. In other words they are trying to say, “don’t ever question me.”

Now lets get onto what I refer to as living proof within the Bible. The most reliable method of study I have found. It never ceases to amaze me. I think of this simple method as living proof the Bible was written by God. It is the standard all books in the Bible should be measured by, at least the New Testament. For this study method all you need is a Bible with a good chain reference. Of course you will need time, patients, and a direct connection with the Spirit The best and only reliable Teacher in the world. A serious student of the Bible will see the links Paul placed in his letters and use those. They will look them up, read, and compare Paul’s references. That is relying on inspired scripture, as opposed to relying on yourself, or some third party.

As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous– not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.” When Paul begins a statement with, “As the Scriptures say,” shouldn’t we pay attention? How much clearer could Paul have been? Where is Paul, the inspired writer pointing us?

Psalms 53:1-6 NLTse Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good! (2) God looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God. (3) But no, all have turned away; all have become corrupt. No one does good, not a single one! (4) Will those who do evil never learn? They eat up my people like bread and wouldn’t think of praying to God. (5) Terror will grip them, terror like they have never known before. God will scatter the bones of your enemies. You will put them to shame, for God has rejected them. (6) Who will come from Mount Zion to rescue Israel? When God restores his people, Jacob will shout with joy, and Israel will rejoice.

We can admit, Paul didn’t quote David word for word, or in the proper order, but he did get the main thought across. Most people do not quote the Bible word for word, or in the proper order, but they do quote enough to get the main point across.

To get off the subject just a little, I’d like to point out something I learned. When you look at the KJV, you can miss some of the sections of the Old Testament Paul quoted. Modern versions like the NLT I use paid attention to quotes, and included a set of quotation marks at the beginning and end of each quote, or Old Testament text New Testament writers quoted. You can see the quotation marks much easier when you look at verses one line at a time.

Romans 3:10-18 NLTse

(10) As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous– not even one.

(11) No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God.

(12) All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one.”

(13) “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.” “Snake venom drips from their lips.”

(14) “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”

(15) “They rush to commit murder.

(16) Destruction and misery always follow them.

(17) They don’t know where to find peace.”

(18) “They have no fear of God at all.”

Now you can see how Paul quoted from five different places in the Old Testament, and the only chance we have of knowing what Paul is talking about is to look up and read each story. First we will look at Paul’s first quote.

What does Psalms 53 have to do with what Paul was writing about? We see Paul used a rather loose interpretation of Psalms 53, using just enough of the key words for people to find the entire chapter. Because Psalms 53 is rather short, I copied the entire chapter.

Notice how David repeated a few choice terms, “Only fools, the entire human race, anyone, all, and those.” David covered a rather large range pf people, and Paul wanted the Romans to see that. The group David wrote about included all of them, do everyone would see all of the opinions Paul’s listed in verses 5-8. That group included Jews and Gentiles. Jews may know the laws, but Gentiles have them written in their hearts. God looked down and didn’t see anyone who understood those laws, or didn’t see anyone seeking Him. Just an observation here. Was God seeking people who understood His plan of salvation?

God saw groups of people getting into their own thoughts and ideas about God without ever meeting Him, praying to Him, or listening to Him. People look at what was recorded and try to figure it out by themselves, see a little bit of what they consider truth or wisdom, then go out teaching other people using their thoughts and ideas. God’s real personality is left out of everything they teach. People fell for that sort of teaching in David’s day, and still fall for it today. When we look at what David wrote, wasn’t David really referring to Bible Study? That’s what people were doing, taking a tiny part of scripture, looking at it like this is all you need to know about God, then going into the world with their ideas and concepts. They weren’t leading people to God, the scriptures, or to God’s Spirit. Teachers were leading people to themselves. David pointed that out as a major version of evil.

David pointed out, there is something far better on the horizon than what is being taught. People can’t see it, but it was coming. God has a plan, but like Sara, and Rebekah, people can’t wait to initiate their own plans, personal plans take the place of God’s plan. What was the result of Sara’s plan? Ismael is still a problem today. A lesson we should learn something from. Look what happened when a few people forgot how to wait on God and His plan, in His time frame. People are too busy pointing fingers at the problems to take time, look at how the problem originated, then ask God if He has a solution to the problem. They need a good, long look in the mirror to see the mistakes they make and what is holding them back from understanding major points about God’s plan. There has to be a reason for God to have a plan, and His chosen nation missed every detail of that plan. All the details were given by the prophets. All the details were in the Tabernacle. Which of course was replaced by a larger, more appealing structure. The sad part is, most of the original items from the Tabernacle were left out in a field, and forgotten. Other man made concepts took over, and of course, the entire vision was lost. Somehow we have to get back far enough to see one mistake, so we don’t repeat the same mistakes people have been making for generations.

Next Paul quoted Psalms chapter 5. Since that is a rather short chapter, we will take a look at the entire chapter.

O LORD, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness; you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked. Therefore, the proud may not stand in your presence, for you hate all who do evil. You will destroy those who tell lies. The LORD detests murderers and deceivers. Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe. Lead me in the right path, O LORD, or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow. My enemies cannot speak a truthful word. Their deepest desire is to destroy others. Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with flattery. O God, declare them guilty. Let them be caught in their own traps. Drive them away because of their many sins, for they have rebelled against you. But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy. For you bless the godly, O LORD; you surround them with your shield of love. (Psalms 5:1-12 NLTse).

The introduction teaches a lesson, we need to pray and seek God like David did. That ties in with Psalms 53 perfectly. No one seeks God, so we have to learn how to seek God. Does that make sense? See how the inspired writer ties together the perfect combination of scripture? Sure there is a problem, so how do we solve that problem? Anyone can tell people what they do wrong. It takes God to correct those situations. The solutions begin with prayer, that connection to God.

David pointed out, there are conditions to stand in God’s presence and learn from Him. Do you really think you can stand in front of God with the attitude, you know everything? I’ve heard people pray like that. “Oh God, show so and so they are wrong and I am right.” People pray like that. What are they telling God? “I have the solution figured out. All I need is you to set everything in motion.” Is that any way to address the Creator of the Universe? The first thing to do is admit you are a sinner. We all sin. We all fall short. That doesn’t stop God from listening to our prayers and offering advise.

We can see the type of battle David was facing at the time. He didn’t mention anything about a sword, shield, any weapons, or army he was afraid of, or wanted God to battle. The weapons David wrote about were words. It was the spiritual war of words David was talking to God about. How many of us try to fight that war on our own? Now we are beginning to see exactly what Paul’s was sending us back to read and learn.

Paul used more than one Psalm to express his thoughts on the subject. Why? There is a long explanation to the subject, does sin serve a purpose? Is sin good or bad, and how do we deal with it? How does God look at sin, and how does God deal with it? Paul raised a number of questions, and there are a number of ways of explaining the answers. Paul listed a few human ideas, then listed a few references to study. Psalms 10 is the next reference point.

 

At times God seems far away. Paul wants to follow up with as many examples he can list at this point in his letter. Some people know how to seek God, and some people look at God as a distant Creator who left this world on their own.

You immediately notice, David looked at some rather negative aspects. David wrote about evil people, what they do, and what is in store for them. That is what is known as a contrast. Why did Paul reference a contrast? When we look at any of Paul’s letters, they are filled with contrasts. The Holy Spirit looked down through history to see, one day people are going to take some of Paul’s contrasts and use them to create a few new doctrines. So the Bible was written with a few safety features. Follow one simple rule. Look up the text Paul quoted, and you see another set of contrasts. That should tell you something. Look back on Paul’s letter and see if he is using a contrast, or introducing some new law. Next Paul quoted from one of the most respected prophets, Isaiah.

Listen! The LORD’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore. Your hands are the hands of murderers, and your fingers are filthy with sin. Your lips are full of lies, and your mouth spews corruption. No one cares about being fair and honest. The people’s lawsuits are based on lies. They conceive evil deeds and then give birth to sin. They hatch deadly snakes and weave spiders’ webs. Whoever falls into their webs will die, and there’s danger even in getting near them. Their webs can’t be made into clothing, and nothing they do is productive. All their activity is filled with sin, and violence is their trademark. Their feet run to do evil, and they rush to commit murder. They think only about sinning. Misery and destruction always follow them. They don’t know where to find peace or what it means to be just and good. They have mapped out crooked roads, and no one who follows them knows a moment’s peace. So there is no justice among us, and we know nothing about right living. We look for light but find only darkness. We look for bright skies but walk in gloom. We grope like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. Even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark. Among the living, we are like the dead. We growl like hungry bears; we moan like mournful doves. We look for justice, but it never comes. We look for rescue, but it is far away from us. For our sins are piled up before God and testify against us. Yes, we know what sinners we are. (Isaiah 59:1-12 NLTse).

This is one reason we have to read the entire chapter or story. You can see how Paul quoted only one little part of Isaiah’s message. Paul quoted one little part about the problem. We find the solution in the first few verses of the chapter. God is never too far away to listen and help. That is why I find it so frustrating when theologians argue about this method of Bible Study and try to discredit it. Some people claim, “the Bible is easy to understand.” The Bible is easy to study when we follow a few simple guidelines, and paths marked out in scripture. Paths placed there by the Holy Spirit. But where is the Spirit in a study when people look at Paul’s reference, then insist, they know the answer. Sure people claim to be led by the Spirit when they make up their own explanations. But do their explanations agree with the prophet’s explanations Paul’s directed us to? The question I have is, why do so few people give this method of study a chance? What are they afraid of?

Isaiah said, “your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.” Does that sum up the popular study method people use when they rely on their personal knowledge and feelings to explain Paul’s letters? This is a serious issue. Isaiah tied in lies with murder. When people spread around false or misleading information, they are spreading around lies. Isaiah compared that to murder. Why? When people are lead away from God, are they in danger of loosing their lives? When God’s plan of salvation is hidden from them, can they ever be effective teachers?

Once people are taken of the road leading to God’s throne, they are lost. They may not know it. But who knows the path? Who is able to show other people the way to God’s throne? You either know the path, or you are lost. Isaiah introduced the symbols, light and darkness. He also used metaphors like blind. Something Paul went through and could explain on the spiritual level. Paul learned the path to God’s throne and was able to explain it. But explaining that path to people on their own road is not as easy as it sounds. Try it some time, and get ready for some heavy duty rejection. This world is filled with a thousand counterfeits for every word of truth.

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Isaiah expanded into a prophecy about Jesus. One of the many prophecies the Jews and everyone missed before Jesus was executed. Paul was a part of that pack that judged Jesus before He set foot inside a courtroom. Paul had to struggle with guilt for a time. Education was the only relief. Everyone in Paul’s time was guilty. Was ignorance of the facts suitable evidence in any courtroom? Was ignorance ever enough evidence to convict and sentence a person to death? There was a reason why Jesus was condemned by ignorance. Don’t we repeat that sin whenever we attempt to represent God, His personality, laws, plan of salvation, the path to His throne, or any other subject in the Bible based on personal opinions? I don’t want to scare anyone off, so let’s take a look at what the Bible said about witnesses in a trial.

“Never sacrifice sick or defective cattle, sheep, or goats to the LORD your God, for he detests such gifts. “When you begin living in the towns the LORD your God is giving you, a man or woman among you might do evil in the sight of the LORD your God and violate the covenant. For instance, they might serve other gods or worship the sun, the moon, or any of the stars–the forces of heaven–which I have strictly forbidden. When you hear about it, investigate the matter thoroughly. If it is true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, then the man or woman who has committed such an evil act must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death. But never put a person to death on the testimony of only one witness. There must always be two or three witnesses. The witnesses must throw the first stones, and then all the people may join in. In this way, you will purge the evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 17:1-7 NLTse).

Of course we are going to look at more than a single sentence of proof text. Notice how that death sentence was linked to religious issues. There was a link between a proper trial and religious issues. On the spiritual side, who is qualified to call those witnesses? In the case of Paul’s letters, is Paul, the inspired writer qualified to pick and choose his own witnesses, or is a theologian allowed to ignore Paul’s witnesses, and replace them with his own line up? When Paul calls authors and prophets like David and Isaiah as witnesses, shouldn’t we have enough respect to look at those witnesses, before they are replaced with a new set of witnesses, or proof text? What kid of trial are we conducting when we control the words of any witness? Look at Isaiah, and how he tied lies with murder. Then look at how Moses linked religion with the death penalty. This is a serious issue and I have no idea why some theologians create arguments to silence the witnesses Paul’s chose to represent himself. Paul chose one more reference. Paul went back to David, who summed up the entire picture.

Sin whispers to the wicked, deep within their hearts. They have no fear of God at all. In their blind conceit, they cannot see how wicked they really are. Everything they say is crooked and deceitful. They refuse to act wisely or do good. They lie awake at night, hatching sinful plots. Their actions are never good. They make no attempt to turn from evil. Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O LORD. How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. You feed them from the abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your river of delights. For you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see. Pour out your unfailing love on those who love you; give justice to those with honest hearts. Don’t let the proud trample me or the wicked push me around. Look! Those who do evil have fallen! They are thrown down, never to rise again. (Psalms 36:1-12 NLTse).

Talk about a contrast. David presented us with a choice. We can either follow sinful people who care only about themselves, or we can choose to follow a God so full of love. It is difficult to explain. David presented the closing argument at a trial. Who is on trial? Is God on trial, or are sinners on trial? It seems to be both. In this particular case, it seems like you are the judge. You have to make a choice. Which is where compromises and other forms of tradition come into play. We find ourselves right back at the beginning of Paul’s argument when he made a of list of excuses people us to avoid a decision. People want to avoid a decision. They want to choose the world. Or want to choose the world for a time, then change their minds. What they don’t want to admit is, they don’t want to choose God. They want to pick and choose what parts of God to accept, which parts to use, when to use them, and which parts to reject. Another form of human tradition.

When we look at Paul’s letter to the Romans the way it was written, we see how Paul presented a series of human arguments and excuses. Finally it was time for Paul to present his side of the issue. Paul didn’t offer his own ideas, concepts, thoughts, or conjectures. Paul didn’t rely on the human reasoning he learned in the institutional form of religion he was once a prisoner of. Paul called upon the prophets he identified as having the answers, and presented a series of testimonies from those prophets. Paul’s was telling the Jews, “if you’re supposed to know this, then look up these stories and see what they had to say about the subject.” When we rely on our own standards to present God, and in this case, the new view of the Messiah, we fall short. When the Spirit guides us to evidence recorded long before Jesus came to this world, we see a little bit of information on the plan of Salvation. And a little more of God’s personality Jesus came to explain to this world, in the proper light.

Romans 14

This chapter looks at what Paul recorded about being a living sacrifice for Christ. I have to admit, I was pretty mixed up about Romans until I sat down to look at this book chapter by chapter, verse by verse. Now it all makes sense. Paul wrote a manual about being a living sacrifice. Now I see why people avoid the real issue in Paul’s letter.

Romans 14:1-6 RSVA As for the man who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not for disputes over opinions. (2) One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables. (3) Let not him who eats despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgment on him who eats; for God has welcomed him. (4) Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand. (5) One man esteems one day as better than another, while another man esteems all days alike. Let every one be fully convinced in his own mind. (6) He who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. He also who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; while he who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Once we realize Paul is writing one long explanation about being a living sacrifice, there shouldn’t be any questions on his advice here. When we look at chapter 13 in the proper light knowing the chapter is about God as the authority we are to follow and be obedient to, we can see why Paul followed up with advise on how to treat a Christian weak in the faith. Chapter 13 also told us to respect God’s ministers. Everyone who ministers for God is supposed to be a good example. They are supposed to put away the old things of this world and cloth themselves with Christ. In other words, to become a living example of Christ. Now this letter is beginning to make sense. Once you become a living example of Christ, your life is designed to be more like Jesus. Your actions and reactions are more and more like Christ. You are ready to accept the challenge of dealing with those who are weaker in the faith. You are ready to face people with some rather strange and different beliefs and interject the respect they deserve. After all, those people are seeking God. God has been hard at work trying to reach them for years. God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and every being in Heaven has been paying attention to the life of that soul, observing their trials, seeing how success has changed them, how they reacted to every situation, and the Host of Heaven knows what that person will do when faced with the next step that will change their life forever. Heaven knows what that individual needs to draw them into the light, to see the open hand from Heaven, to feel the warmth of the SON, and finally realize the difference between temporary security the world offers and true happiness found only in Heaven. There is one ingredient missing. People are difficult to reach and slow to learn. People wait and pray for that one miracle to happen. Evidence that God really exists, and cares about them. People can see, hear, touch, and feel the security this world offers. They know that security by heart. They cling onto that security, embrace it, depend on that security, and love it. That security may be as little as some money in the bank, a retirement fund, their children who break every rule in the book, parents with a drug or alcohol addiction, abuse issues, or other addictions. Security in this world can be as simple as a cup of coffee in the morning, a drink at night, a little pot to smoke to sooth the nerves, or a pill to pop. Security in this world comes in many forms that can be hidden in the dark recesses of the closet, like pornography, sex addiction, eating habits, a needle, and a thousand other forms. Shopping addictions, fancy cars, boats, jewelry, and others forms of show are also security blankets this world offers. It can be difficult for any minister of God to identify those addictions and know how to deal with them.

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That is why Paul told us to cloth ourselves with Christ before we step out of our homes into the world of addictions and false security. For one, it may be too easy for us to get drawn into those dark worlds people find security. Jesus could be sending us into a trap the devil has set for us. It is a dangerous world we live in filled with pitfalls, open graves, dark corners, and dangers down every path. Jesus would never place us in a position He has not personally prepared us for, or send us to a person we are not totally prepared and trained to deal with. Paul knew what he was talking about. But is that true today? What is the difference between a person trained by Jesus, guided by the Holy Spirit, protected by God, and a person who was trained by an institution? There is a world of different. A professor earning six figures exudes an influence of worldly dependence on that type of security. Institutions train people to minister on a limited level at best. Institutions teach ministers to rely in what they have been taught, come up with a plan B in case the first attempt doesn’t work, or identify the problem and refer that person to a professional trained in a particular field. Every step of the way the wayward soul meets new people that display their own insecurities, lack of faith, and reliance on worldly security blankets. As the addict climbs the ladder from one professional dealing with the chemical addiction and the emotional problems faced, the addict is slammed to the ground by every painting on the office wall, every $300 suit, every fancy car in the parking lot, and every nick knack on the desk. Everyone of those items are idols designed to chain people to this world. Satan wants his people in a short leash.

Read the Gospels. Jesus dressed with simple cloths. His disciples ate from the fast food chain growing along the roadside. Jesus often fasted, and spend hours in prayer. What do you think Jesus was doing during those hours of prayer? He was being instructed by His Father, and learning about the people He was about to minister to. When Jesus met people, He knew where they were from, the restraints this world placed on them, how to deal with those restraints, and how to get those people one step closer to God. Jesus knew how to introduce the concept of the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew how to deal with diet issues, wrong concepts on love, reliance on money, addictions, sickness, and every other issue the devil used to entrap and confine people. Jesus had a view of the secret life people led, and knew how to help them out of the deep, dark, homemade graves they dug for themselves. That is the life style we are supposed to be clothed in before we reach out to the first individual we are to minister to. That is what Paul has been explaining over the past few chapters in this letter to the Roman Christians. Why is it, the early Christians understood Paul’s letter, but today they call Paul, a difficult man to understand?

Its no wonder why the devil looked at every word Paul penned and found a handful of words he could easily change, hide, and steal from this world. Replace God;s authority with that of the state, and the next few lessons Paul wrote about are hidden under a blanket of deceit. The devil is crafty, and when we choose to put on the garments of this world, we fall into the ditch Satan dug.

When we look at $300 suits, decorations designed to attract the eye and excite the senses, expensive sound and video systems, air conditioning, heating systems, parking lots, fancy cars, dressing to impress, and formal settings, we are pretty much describing the church on the corner. Do lushes lawns, ceiling fans, spotless carpets, padded seats, and video aided presentations on big screens really represent an atmosphere clothed with Christ? Or do they represent addictions of the world? You have to make that choice. Paul is telling us not to judge people. That included institutions. One church teaches this on one subject and another church believes that. This is what Christianity has grown into and is comfortable with. They wage war with words while attracting new members with shinny ornaments designed to make the church appear successful. Churches offer man made comforts, then try to weave a new type of security blanket with a custom blend of the Bible, news stories, video and sound sensations, and other aspects to show off success in every manner a boardroom can imagine. Then they say, “this is the pathway to Christ.” They pay little attention to what Christ gave up to come to this world in the flesh. No mind can imagine the comforts of Heaven, the security of being next to God’s throne, or one second of life in Heaven. No one has any idea what that is like. So they take the best this world has to offer, spend a fortune on it, constantly improve it, and call that religion. No wonder people are so confused, and have such a difficult time hearing that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. Addictions in every form have blocked out the voice of the Spirit. High priced institutions, six year degrees, and fancy titles have replaced the classroom at Jesus’ feet Paul experienced and wrote about. Editing, censorship, and personal preference has replaced the advise and words of wisdom found only in Heaven. The world of Christianity has become an ivory tower slapped together with the souls of millions of people led to believe this world has answers, knows the direction, and is able to produce its own light from the knowledge one generation has been able to accumulate.

Paul knew there would be differences of opinion creeping into the infant Christian community. Paul knew there would be divisions. I wonder if Paul knew, the Christian church would loose sight of the real Jesus, and loose contact with the Holy Spirit. That is true to one extent. But let me assure you, the Spirit is alive and well, and is reaching out to individuals 24/7. But are people looking for the Spirit on an individual or corporate level? Mistrust within churches has turned the individual journey into a boardroom meeting. We can’t trust one person, so form a committee. Use little terms like, “where 2 or 3 are gathered,” to weave a new security blanket. Forge a new god out of an understanding and hope a committee can be trusted because there is security in numbers. If one person begins to stray, the others will certainly point out those faults. Enoch never needed a committee. God on a one on one basis was all Enoch needed. God appreciated that so much, He took Enoch to Heaven. We should never allow mistrust to form a new security blanket. Put in Christ and begin your own personal journey. And let other people follow their own path to Christ at their own speed.

None of Us

Romans 14:7-12 RSVA None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. (8) If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. (9) For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. (10) Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; (11) for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” (12) So each of us shall give account of himself to God.

No not one of us. That includes the drunk in the gutter and the PhD on the pulpit. In God’s eyes we all failed. Not one of us has lived up to the expectations and perfection of Christ. But God will work with us anyway. He has no one else in this world to send out as that living example of Christ. So God sends out the best He has to work with. But with what message?

There is no one answer for every person in any situation. No committee has been able to accomplish that task. That’s not saying the world isn’t full of committees claiming to have that powerful message or one line cliché that will save the world. There are more one line messages in this world than we can count. That doesn’t make them right. That just makes Jesus’ job more difficult.

There is nothing we can accomplish on our own. Christ’s death brings that fact to light. Then men began placing restrictions on the reasons Jesus had to come to this planet to die. Hence, the simple explanation was born. Jesus was placed in a tomb, and instantly, people began to cover up with story, think of lies, try to take over security of the tomb, pace doubt in their minds, and use riches to cover up the truth. All of those are simple object lessons. Jesus walked around for three years to show His disciples how to ministry to people. Jesus talked about the Holy Spirit, prepared the small minority of this world that would listen to what to expect when the Spirit came in full strength, and set an example this world was supposed to follow. When Jesus came out of that tomb, He explained a million details His disciples missed. Then a new man made priesthood stepped in to stuff the majority of those lessons back into the tomb. With the simple concept of satisfy the masses with one shred of the fullness of Christ and we will be famous for creating a new one cliché god, a new religion was born. The cliché, “Christ died for your sins,” has replaced the lessons Jesus came to this world to teach. Gone is the simple dress, the simple life, total reliance in God, the other sacrifices Jesus made during His life here in earth, the love, compassion, understanding, lesson and example concerning the Holy Spirit, and every other aspect of Jesus’ ministry on this planet. All have been swept back into that tomb with one little cliché. And where does that leave us? With a total misunderstanding about what Paul recorded, and all the other Gospel writers and prophets. But don’t worry, we are still accountable to God on an individual basis. No committee has earned the right to call any one of us saved.

For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it a chaos, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the LORD, and there is no other. I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness; I did not say to the offspring of Jacob, ‘Seek me in chaos.’ I the LORD speak the truth, I declare what is right. “Assemble yourselves and come, draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save. Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. By myself I have sworn, from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.‘ “Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed, all who were incensed against him. In the LORD all the offspring of Israel shall triumph and glory.” (Isaiah 45:18-25 RSVA).

Isaiah placed judgment, or presenting your case to God, as an individual effort, or a one on one encounter with God. Who in their right mind would trust another human being with their salvation, not to mention, eternal life? Isaiah described God as the Creator. There was no other Creator. God created this world in perfect form. Perfect in law, acts, atmosphere, food, and everything a person could ever want. At Satan’s direction this world was changed, transformed, altered, modified, and ruined. Why would anyone go to this world, or a tainted, misguided individual for salvation, to present their case to God, or as Paul wrote about, to experience that rebirth? If men changed your life, would it be a perfect living sacrifice to God? Are you about to lay your faults at the feet of a man educated in worldly institutions? Like it or not, there is a big difference between concepts this world has developed and everyday life in Heaven. They are as different as the atmosphere, ground, and water on this planet. Each has been polluted and raped by mankind, who has no idea how to correct those mistakes.

Paul on Food

Romans 14:13-23 RSVA Then let us no more pass judgment on one another, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. (14) I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for any one who thinks it unclean. (15) If your brother is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. (16) So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. (17) For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; (18) he who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. (19) Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (20) Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for any one to make others fall by what he eats; (21) it is right not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother stumble. (22) The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God; happy is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves. (23) But he who has doubts is condemned, if he eats, because he does not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

How do we know when we are helping or hindering people? We often think sharing information about the Bible is often beneficial to all people, one way or another. Some people present the Bible in a very authoritative manner. Some people are rather forceful in their presentation of the Bible. For the most part, they present the Bible, the written words with little to no affirmation showing their life or growth in Jesus. No wonder Paul went into a long explanation about loving your neighbor before adding details about how to love them. Paul is teaching a subject people think they know, but really have no idea what love from Heaven is like. Paul knows this and is teaching in baby steps.

We don’t know if we are actually helping people or becoming a stumbling block. We won’t know the answer to that question until we find out about that aspect of love Paul told us to learn about. Why worry about the little things? In a normal relationship, people tend to overlook faults. That is a part of love you either understand, or completely miss. If overlooking faults is brought to your attention, it could be a long learning curve to change habits developed over years. Can it be done? Can old habits be changed. Jesus talked about the battles between old and new habits we face.

He told them a parable also: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it upon an old garment; if he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new; for he says, ‘The old is good.'” (Luke 5:36-39 RSVA).

It is human nature to blend the old with the new. People decorate new houses with old antiques. We like to cling unto the past. People spend years going over old relationships, remembering the good old days, reliving the past, and finding new ways to regain youth. On the other hand, older people often try to mimic the younger generation. The same is true when people undergo the transformation of being born again. A part of them always wants to cling onto the past, that old worn, torn, and dirty garment. And the old wine that fogs their minds. No one sees the danger in mixing the old life with the new life Jesus holds out. It is human nature to compromise.

That brings us to the fact, when people learn something new, and they finally move to a new level of spirituality, they expect the world around them to rise to that level in a heartbeat. Angels may have worked on that individual for years. But people give little credit to the Spirit for the changes they experience. People heap credit on themselves, and that is what forces them to misrepresent just about every subject in the Bible.

This part of Romans chapter 14 centers on food. We know there was one diet for Jews, and another for Pagans. Biblically clean and unclean foods are one aspect. Pork tends to be at the center of the debate since Paul’s day. Today there are Christians who decided to become vegetarians. That is fine. There is nothing wrong with a healthy diet. But how healthy is any diet when telling people about it becomes an obsession? What good does a diet do when people worry about what other people eat, get upset about Internet articles showing how animals are slaughtered, and people become nitpickers? Don’t those people know worrying is as harmful as any poor diet? Why try to improve your health on one level, then send it into the sewer on another level?

Romans 13:1-5

Romans is a manual Paul wrote with the step by step process to become a living sacrifice for Jesus. This book takes in in depth look at some of the key words used throughout the Christian world and how they have been changed over the years to misrepresent the details Paul emphasized in his letter. This book also takes a look at how a few verses have been taken from Paul’s letter and used to make the process of a Christian rebirth either contrary to the instructions Paul recorded, or incomplete.

Romans 13:1-5 KJV Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (2) Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. (3) For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: (4) For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (5) Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

It may be rather rough to agree that God appoints all state authorities. This is telling me to take a look at the KJV and a Concordance to look at a few words here.

Romans: I Want to Live. Now you can download the eBook from the author page.

Subject

5293 hupotasso hoop-ot-as’-so

from 5259 and 5021; to subordinate; reflexively, to obey:–be under
obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to,
unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.

Higher

5242 huperecho hoop-er-ekh’-o

from 5228 and 2192; to hold oneself above, i.e. (figuratively) to

excel; participle (as adjective, or neuter as noun) superior,

superiority:–better, excellency, higher, pass, supreme.

Powers

1849 exousia ex-oo-see’-ah

from 1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, i.e. (subjectively)
force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery
(concretely, magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control),
delegated influence:–authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right,
strength.

Ordained

5021 tasso tas’-so

a prolonged form of a primary verb (which latter appears only in
certain tenses); to arrange in an orderly manner, i.e. assign or
dispose (to a certain position or lot):–addict, appoint, determine,
ordain, set.

Resisteth

498 antitassomai an-tee-tas’-som-ahee

from 473 and the middle voice of5021; to range oneself against, i.e.
oppose:–oppose themselves, resist.

Ordinance

1296 diatage dee-at-ag-ay’

from 1299; arrangement, i.e. institution:–instrumentality.

Damnation

2917 krima kree’-mah

from 2919; a decision (the function or the effect, for or against
(“crime”)):–avenge, condemned, condemnation, damnation, + go to law,
judgment.

At first glance there doesn’t seem to be anything unusual between the Greek definitions and how the KJV was translated. But a question arises when we take a look at a modern translation.

Romans 13:1-2 GNB Everyone must obey state authorities, because no authority exists without God’s permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God. (2) Whoever opposes the existing authority opposes what God has ordered; and anyone who does so will bring judgment on himself.

Did you notice how someone, or a committee decided to change the word, “higher,” to “state.” Does it matter which authority Paul wrote about? How do we find out which authority Paul referred to? If we noticed that the majority of those words have in common, we can’t miss the fact, each word is made of of two root words. Let’s take a look at those root words.

Subject

5259 hupo hoop-o’

a primary preposition; under, i.e. (with the genitive case) of place (beneath), or with verbs (the agency or means, through); (with the accusative case) of place (whither (underneath) or where (below) or time (when (at)):–among, by, from, in, of, under, with. In them comparative, it retains the same general applications, especially of inferior position or condition, and specially, covertly or moderately.

5021 tasso tas’-so

a prolonged form of a primary verb (which latter appears only in certain tenses); to arrange in an orderly manner, i.e. assign or dispose (to a certain position or lot):–addict, appoint, determine, ordain, set.

Higher

5228 huper hoop-er’

a primary preposition; “over”, i.e. (with the genitive case) of place,
above, beyond, across, or causal, for the sake of, instead, regarding;
with the accusative case superior to, more than:–(+ exceeding,
abundantly) above, in (on) behalf of, beyond, by, + very chiefest,
concerning, exceeding (above, -ly), for, + very highly, more (than),
of, over, on the part of, for sake of, in stead, than, to(-ward),
very. In the comparative, it retains many of the above applications.

2192 echo ekh’-o, including an alternate form
scheo skheh’-o; (used in certain tenses only)

a primary verb; to hold (used in very various applications, literally
or figuratively, direct or remote; such as possession; ability,
contiuity, relation, or condition):–be (able, X hold, possessed
with), accompany, + begin to amend, can(+ -not), X conceive, count,
diseased, do + eat, + enjoy, + fear, following, have, hold, keep, +
lack, + go to law, lie, + must needs, + of necessity, + need, next, +
recover, + reign, + rest, + return, X sick, take for, + tremble, +
uncircumcised, use.

Powers

1832 exesti ex’-es-tee

third person singular present indicative of a compound of 1537and
1510; so also
exon ex-on’
neuter present participle of the same (with or without some form of
1510 expressed); impersonally, it is right (through the figurative
idea of being out in public):–be lawful, let,
X may(-est).

1537 ek ek
or ex ex

a primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence action or
motion proceeds), from, out
(of place, time, or cause; literal or
figurative; direct or remote):–after, among, X are, at,
betwixt(-yond), by (the means of), exceedingly, (+ abundantly above),
for(- th), from (among, forth, up), + grudgingly, + heartily, X
heavenly, X hereby, + very highly, in, …ly, (because, by reason) of,
off (from), on, out among (from, of), over, since, X thenceforth,
through,
X unto, X vehemently, with(-out). Often used in composition,
with the same general import; often of completion.

1510 eimi i-mee’

the first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of a
primary and defective verb; I exist (used only when emphatic):–am,
have been, X it is I, was

When we look a little deeper, we can’t ignore the sense, Paul is referring to God’s authority as the utmost importance, and the people He appoints here as a secondary authority. But that secondary authority must confirm and acknowledge God. Is that to say all people in authority are appointed or ordained by God?

We seem to have stumbled upon a rather strange difference in interpretations. One translation puts authority in God’s hands, while another translation puts authority in the hands of public officials. How can there be such a difference? I’m sure everyone has there own ideas on this subject. Let’s face it, this is a very controversial subject. How do we get to the bottom of this subject? Who really has the authority on this planet?

I’m sure no one would argue the point, God has ultimate authority. So why would anyone replace God’s authority with the government? Did Israel try that when they asked for a king? Who did God say they were rejecting? “Do everything they say to you,” the LORD replied, “for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. (1 Samuel 8:7 NLTse). We have to consider the fact, this is one translation out of one hundred compared to the KJV. But why would anyone change such a thing?

When it comes to Satan, one thing leads to another. There should be no doubt, whenever Satan can cast into this world, another doubt will follow. Followed by another and another. Whenever Satan can worm his way into one translation, he gains access to change a little here and there. That is one reason why it is dangerous to compare different translations to find one that suits personal preference. There are far better ways to study the Bible. When the Holy Spirit tells you to look up a word, look it up. When there are two or more words to look up, look them up in the Concordance. When those words are made up of compound words, look those up. Dig deep enough to find the root meaning.

We never know where deceptions will come from next. When we find out Bible translations can deceive us, where do we turn? To the story at hand in the Bible. Look back a few chapters in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Paul warned about putting too much emphasis on the law. So when we see the law mentioned later in his letter, we need to pay attention to all the facts involved.

I could go on for another chapter about how governments create laws, with loop holes for some, and additions or amendments to that law, but why? Governments are a testimony to God. Governments constantly change laws. That is a deception in itself. People see governments constantly creating and changing laws, then people begin to think God does the same thing. People have been trained by the prince of this world to think the way he wants people to think. The devil wants people think God is modeled after this world. That is backwards thinking. God never changed a single law. God’s law is perfect, constant, and consistent. But people have been trained to think, if governments change, so does God.

Then there is that constant search for authority. Everyday people look for the prefect leaders. They think governments are able to solve all the problems. People want to trust government leaders. Or blame all the problems on government leaders. In either case, governments stand in place of God and often act like little gods. Governments have become idols in the minds of their people.

Elected and appointed officials inside governments have an insane quest for power and control. Parties and people inside those parties often oppose one another not because one answer is right and the other wrong. Or one way of doing things is better than another way. They often oppose one another to make a point, or earn points. Publicity is a driving factor in modern governments. When we take a step back to compare any world government to God, we should see a drastic difference that should horrify us. But people as entrenched in the belief, nothing will ever change. So it is better to just live with a corrupt and mixed up government and try to survive.

When we see one Bible translation replacing God’s authority with state officials, where is that going to lead? We have to look at doctrines from that point. It is not uncommon for Christian churches to claim an equal or higher authority than the state. It is common practice for churches to place themselves between God and His people. It is so common, people are often ostracized for pointing out the direct connection with God written about in scripture. It’s not difficult to see how placing state authority on the top made it easy for church leaders to trump that move by placing themselves above and beyond state authorities. And it is not difficult to play the, “persecuted card.” Play the part of the humble servant to the state, which leads to an excuse to accomplish little or nothing, and you can sit back, relax, and use the government as a fantasy scapegoat for just about everything. There is no telling how far one little change to God’s Word will lead.

So how do we tell if people are ministering for God, or for themselves? We have to go back to the explanation of the Spiritual gifts Paul wrote about. We have to pay attention to the concept those gifts are presented and compare that to the actual Greek meaning of each word describing each gift. When we see churches and church leaders taking over control of those gifts, what does that tell us? Are they ministering for themselves, or for God? A true man of God never stands in God’s place. A true man of God knows the path to God’s throne, and is able to describe that path, share that path, provide directions, but never forge a new path that actually leads away from God’s throne with each and every step.

Romans 13:1-5

Romans 13:1-5 KJV Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (2) Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. (3) For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: (4) For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (5) Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

It may be rather rough to agree that God appoints all state authorities. This is telling me to take a look at the KJV and a Concordance to look at a few words here.

Subject

5293 hupotasso hoop-ot-as’-so

from 5259 and 5021; to subordinate; reflexively, to obey:–be under
obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to,
unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.

Higher

5242 huperecho hoop-er-ekh’-o

from 5228 and 2192; to hold oneself above, i.e. (figuratively) to

excel; participle (as adjective, or neuter as noun) superior,

superiority:–better, excellency, higher, pass, supreme.

Powers

1849 exousia ex-oo-see’-ah

from 1832 (in the sense of ability); privilege, i.e. (subjectively)
force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (objectively) mastery
(concretely, magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control),
delegated influence:–authority, jurisdiction, liberty, power, right,
strength.

Ordained

5021 tasso tas’-so

a prolonged form of a primary verb (which latter appears only in
certain tenses); to arrange in an orderly manner, i.e. assign or
dispose (to a certain position or lot):–addict, appoint, determine,
ordain, set.

Resisteth

498 antitassomai an-tee-tas’-som-ahee

from 473 and the middle voice of5021; to range oneself against, i.e.
oppose:–oppose themselves, resist.

Ordinance

1296 diatage dee-at-ag-ay’

from 1299; arrangement, i.e. institution:–instrumentality.

Damnation

2917 krima kree’-mah

from 2919; a decision (the function or the effect, for or against
(“crime”)):–avenge, condemned, condemnation, damnation, + go to law,
judgment.

At first glance there doesn’t seem to be anything unusual between the Greek definitions and how the KJV was translated. But a question arises when we take a look at a modern translation.

Romans 13:1-2 GNB Everyone must obey state authorities, because no authority exists without God’s permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God. (2) Whoever opposes the existing authority opposes what God has ordered; and anyone who does so will bring judgment on himself.

Romans: I Want to Live Buy the eBook direct from the author.

Did you notice how someone, or a committee decided to change the word, “higher,” to “state.” Does it matter which authority Paul wrote about? How do we find out which authority Paul referred to? If we noticed that the majority of those words have in common, we can’t miss the fact, each word is made of of two root words. Let’s take a look at those root words.

Subject

5259 hupo hoop-o’

a primary preposition; under, i.e. (with the genitive case) of place (beneath), or with verbs (the agency or means, through); (with the accusative case) of place (whither (underneath) or where (below) or time (when (at)):–among, by, from, in, of, under, with. In them comparative, it retains the same general applications, especially of inferior position or condition, and specially, covertly or moderately.

5021 tasso tas’-so

a prolonged form of a primary verb (which latter appears only in certain tenses); to arrange in an orderly manner, i.e. assign or dispose (to a certain position or lot):–addict, appoint, determine, ordain, set.

Higher

5228 huper hoop-er’

a primary preposition; “over”, i.e. (with the genitive case) of place,
above, beyond, across, or causal, for the sake of, instead, regarding;
with the accusative case superior to, more than:–(+ exceeding,
abundantly) above, in (on) behalf of, beyond, by, + very chiefest,
concerning, exceeding (above, -ly), for, + very highly, more (than),
of, over, on the part of, for sake of, in stead, than, to(-ward),
very. In the comparative, it retains many of the above applications.

2192 echo ekh’-o, including an alternate form
scheo skheh’-o; (used in certain tenses only)

a primary verb; to hold (used in very various applications, literally
or figuratively, direct or remote; such as possession; ability,
contiuity, relation, or condition):–be (able, X hold, possessed
with), accompany, + begin to amend, can(+ -not), X conceive, count,
diseased, do + eat, + enjoy, + fear, following, have, hold, keep, +
lack, + go to law, lie, + must needs, + of necessity, + need, next, +
recover, + reign, + rest, + return, X sick, take for, + tremble, +
uncircumcised, use.

Powers

1832 exesti ex’-es-tee

third person singular present indicative of a compound of 1537and
1510; so also
exon ex-on’
neuter present participle of the same (with or without some form of
1510 expressed); impersonally, it is right (through the figurative
idea of being out in public):–be lawful, let,
X may(-est).

1537 ek ek
or ex ex

a primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence action or
motion proceeds), from, out
(of place, time, or cause; literal or
figurative; direct or remote):–after, among, X are, at,
betwixt(-yond), by (the means of), exceedingly, (+ abundantly above),
for(- th), from (among, forth, up), + grudgingly, + heartily, X
heavenly, X hereby, + very highly, in, …ly, (because, by reason) of,
off (from), on, out among (from, of), over, since, X thenceforth,
through,
X unto, X vehemently, with(-out). Often used in composition,
with the same general import; often of completion.

1510 eimi i-mee’

the first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of a
primary and defective verb; I exist (used only when emphatic):–am,
have been, X it is I, was

When we look a little deeper, we can’t ignore the sense, Paul is referring to God’s authority as the utmost importance, and the people He appoints here as a secondary authority. But that secondary authority must confirm and acknowledge God. Is that to say all people in authority are appointed or ordained by God?

We seem to have stumbled upon a rather strange difference in interpretations. One translation puts authority in God’s hands, while another translation puts authority in the hands of public officials. How can there be such a difference? I’m sure everyone has there own ideas on this subject. Let’s face it, this is a very controversial subject. How do we get to the bottom of this subject? Who really has the authority on this planet?

I’m sure no one would argue the point, God has ultimate authority. So why would anyone replace God’s authority with the government? Did Israel try that when they asked for a king? Who did God say they were rejecting? “Do everything they say to you,” the LORD replied, “for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. (1 Samuel 8:7 NLTse). We have to consider the fact, this is one translation out of one hundred compared to the KJV. But why would anyone change such a thing?

When it comes to Satan, one thing leads to another. There should be no doubt, whenever Satan can cast into this world, another doubt will follow. Followed by another and another. Whenever Satan can worm his way into one translation, he gains access to change a little here and there. That is one reason why it is dangerous to compare different translations to find one that suits personal preference. There are far better ways to study the Bible. When the Holy Spirit tells you to look up a word, look it up. When there are two or more words to look up, look them up in the Concordance. When those words are made up of compound words, look those up. Dig deep enough to find the root meaning.

We never know where deceptions will come from next. When we find out Bible translations can deceive us, where do we turn? To the story at hand in the Bible. Look back a few chapters in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Paul warned about putting too much emphasis on the law. So when we see the law mentioned later in his letter, we need to pay attention to all the facts involved.

I could go on for another chapter about how governments create laws, with loop holes for some, and additions or amendments to that law, but why? Governments are a testimony to God. Governments constantly change laws. That is a deception in itself. People see governments constantly creating and changing laws, then people begin to think God does the same thing. People have been trained by the prince of this world to think the way he wants people to think. The devil wants people think God is modeled after this world. That is backwards thinking. God never changed a single law. God’s law is perfect, constant, and consistent. But people have been trained to think, if governments change, so does God.

Then there is that constant search for authority. Everyday people look for the prefect leaders. They think governments are able to solve all the problems. People want to trust government leaders. Or blame all the problems on government leaders. In either case, governments stand in place of God and often act like little gods. Governments have become idols in the minds of their people.

Elected and appointed officials inside governments have an insane quest for power and control. Parties and people inside those parties often oppose one another not because one answer is right and the other wrong. Or one way of doing things is better than another way. They often oppose one another to make a point, or earn points. Publicity is a driving factor in modern governments. When we take a step back to compare any world government to God, we should see a drastic difference that should horrify us. But people as entrenched in the belief, nothing will ever change. So it is better to just live with a corrupt and mixed up government and try to survive.

When we see one Bible translation replacing God’s authority with state officials, where is that going to lead? We have to look at doctrines from that point. It is not uncommon for Christian churches to claim an equal or higher authority than the state. It is common practice for churches to place themselves between God and His people. It is so common, people are often ostracized for pointing out the direct connection with God written about in scripture. It’s not difficult to see how placing state authority on the top made it easy for church leaders to trump that move by placing themselves above and beyond state authorities. And it is not difficult to play the, “persecuted card.” Play the part of the humble servant to the state, which leads to an excuse to accomplish little or nothing, and you can sit back, relax, and use the government as a fantasy scapegoat for just about everything. There is no telling how far one little change to God’s Word will lead.

So how do we tell if people are ministering for God, or for themselves? We have to go back to the explanation of the Spiritual gifts Paul wrote about. We have to pay attention to the concept those gifts are presented and compare that to the actual Greek meaning of each word describing each gift. When we see churches and church leaders taking over control of those gifts, what does that tell us? Are they ministering for themselves, or for God? A true man of God never stands in God’s place. A true man of God knows the path to God’s throne, and is able to describe that path, share that path, provide directions, but never forge a new path that actually leads away from God’s throne with each and every step.

 

Romans 3:1-4

Romans 3:1-4 NLTse Then what’s the advantage of being a Jew? Is there any value in the ceremony of circumcision? (2) Yes, there are great benefits! First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the whole revelation of God. (3) True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? (4) Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him, “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.”

Of course it would do us no good to look at Romans chapter 3 without a review of Romans chapter 2. One of the best reviews is to look at how Paul closed the previous chapter. “No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.” (Romans 2:29 NLTse).

Let me show you a little study habit you will want to use whenever you see a verse or story someone explained to you, that just doesn’t seem to fit in with your view when reading a chapter or two. Look at the introduction and summation of the chapter. In this case, we will go back and look at the end of Romans chapter 2 before moving onto chapter 3.

You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. (Romans 2:1 NLTse).

Some people may ask, what does the judgment and condemnation at the beginning of chapter 2 have to do with circumcision at the end of the chapter? Everything. You have to realize, Paul wrote one long letter, not the short list of do’s and don’t’s we are normally spoon fed by theologians. I have no idea where or how they learned their study habits, but cutting the Bible apart to make a point is not found in scripture. Putting verses, letters, books, and stories together is part of Bible Study. Here we are putting Paul’s letter together the way it was written.

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Paul wrote about the wrongful practice of condemning people. Paul was focusing on the Jews and their attitude. Paul told them to look at themselves before condemning the world around them. Chapter 2 simply pointed out the fact, circumcision, an outward show, does not make them a real Jew. In the eyes of a Jew, God only recognized one race, one group of people Paul was trying to break that tradition. Paul had to show two sides to the story, the negative and the positive. Jews were fed the legalistic view of the scriptures, which placed the spotlight on themselves, and a rather dim view of God, and shut the lights off on the plan of salvation. To get to the Good News, Paul had to add a positive look at what the Jews had and build off of that. In this case, a positive relationship with God was the key. God was not the exacting, demanding, legalistic god the Jewish culture made Him out to be. They learned that from surrounding Pagan religions. Bits and pieces of Pagan gods fell into practice every time the temple switched sides between God, and all those Pagan religions some of the kings introduced. All of those stores were included in the Bible, and in fact, repeated for a reason. So we could see how the enemy introduces one small change at a time. One king brought a Pagan god and religion into the temple. A generation or two later, another king cleaned out the temple. To the untrained eye, all seemed to be set right with God. But when we look at the details, kings would only go so far with their reforms. Only a portion of God’s original system was brought back into the temple, and dozens of Pagan articles and ideas remained. It all became a mixture. The devil didn’t have to completely eliminate God, all he had to do was draw people far enough away to make worship a thing that could be compromised, altered, changed, and directed by men. That’s all it took, the introduction of man over God in the worship service. That’s what Paul was trying to tell the Jews. They worshiped themselves more than God. The Jews thought their form of worship was better than what God was asking for. They lost the roots of worship, which was to prepare this world for the one sacrifice that would redeem, or buy back this world from the master of sin.

We can’t really understand the end of chapter 2 without turning the page to chapter 3. Paul told the Jews to stop judging people, because they had the wrong view on the scriptures and the true worship of God. Much of the law, and the entire sacrificial system looked forward to Jesus and His sacrifice. The sacrificial system and some of the laws were symbols. There were also hundreds of prophecies the Jews misinterpreted. The problem was, the Jews cut apart the scriptures. They divided the laws from the prophecies, then used personal views on the world they lived in to interpret all the prophecies. That’s one of the major problems we see today. If the Jews would have combined the sacrificial system and sections of the law with the prophecies, they would have received a different, more accurate view of the Messiah.

Most of the prophecies about Jesus were reveled by real life experiences some of the Jews witnessed. The priests and experts on religious law followed Jesus closer than anyone, observing His every move. But they couldn’t put what they saw together with the prophecies, even though Jesus sent them back to dozens of prophecies He fulfilled, or was about to fulfill. Jesus showed those Jews one of the ways the Spirit communicates with us. But something blinded them. They didn’t have the Spirit to guide them. The Spirit was alive and active. Jesus talked with the Spirit everyday. The same Spirit was available to the Jews, but they rejected the offer. They decided to stick with their old ways. The Jews were enslaved by tradition.

When Jesus sent the priests back to scripture, He was showing how the Spirit communicated with them, through scripture, and real life events. The combination of the two should have been enough to jump start the Spirit inside the priests, but they didn’t want to put the two together, any more than they wanted to restudy the prophecies, the sacrificial system, and the law together. To the Jews, they needed to be separate, and that was their final decision.

I see people making the same mistake today. People get stuck on a single subject. They cut through the scripture concentrating on that single subject. Like the Jews, they isolate that one subject from the rest of scripture, By doing so, they cut the Holy Spirit from their study, They not only miss out on the Spirit, but all the little treasures He was about to show them.

Although Paul was trained in that prison of tradition for most of his life, he was shown the way out. There was nothing wrong with the laws or sacrificial system, except for how they were viewed and practiced. It proved difficult to convince some of the Jews, the sacrificial system was gone. The only way to do that was to show what those symbols pointed to. There were advantages to being a Jew, and Paul had a real life experience to show them one piece of living evidence, there had to be major changes in the Jewish culture and religion.

The Jews knew the sacrificial system. Not the same system God introduced to Moses, but an altered system changed over generations designed to control the population. Sacrifices were added from time to time. David sacrificed thousands of animals to transport the Ark. Solomon created his own sacrificial system to dedicate his temple. Seeming small changes took the eyes of the Jews off the symbolism of the sacrificial system and set their views upon an exacting and demanding God. If a few sacrifices are required, more is better. They turned God into one of those Pagan gods who always demanded more. There became no rhyme or reasoning behind the death of those animals except for, God said so. Or to be more accurate, God may have left out a few sacrifices. The Jews looked on the sacrificial system as a set of suggestions open to human refinement. By tinkering with the original sacrificial system, the original view and lesson was lost.

The Jews should have seen the connection between the sacrificial lamb and Christ. But they missed it. They should have understood other symbols in the Tabernacle like the bread, table, the alter of incense, those angels embroidered on the curtains, the wash basin, and others. The problem was, all those items were left at the Tabernacle and forgotten. Each item was replaced by a larger, grander substitute that blurred the meaning of each of those symbols.

When the Jews placed the sacrificial system in one group to study, the laws in another group, and prophecies in a third group, they placed their own name made curtain over the everything. No one could understand the prophecies that pointed to the Messiah without putting all three together. But the Jews insisted, if you chose to study the laws, stick to the laws. If you excelled in sacrifices, keep your nose in the sacrifices. And if you excelled in prophecies, you joined a group specializing in prophecies. Experts in the law did not question views on the sacrificial system, and those concentrating on the sacrificial system didn’t question interpretations of prophecies. That mind set spread into the general public, and misled the entire nation.

The Jews should have seen that circumcision alone wouldn’t do them any good. If they went back to the original story, they would have seen that Abraham and Ishmael were circumcised on the same day. God promised to make Ishmael the father of many nations. Those nations became a thorn in Israel’s side, and continued to be among their greatest threat. Circumcision didn’t change Ishmael. That was one of the lessons they were supposed to learn, as well as see in themselves.

To follow up on his explanation, Paul did what he did best. He quoted scripture. As the Scriptures say about him, “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.” This time Paul made it plain to see he was quoting scripture. He didn’t want anyone to miss this one. But the way Paul quoted it, the actual scripture may be a little difficult for people to find.

Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight; That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. (Psalms 51:1-14 NKJV).

We have to keep in mind, Paul was referring to God’s judgment, and courtroom in Heaven. That was where Paul was trying to direct the Jews. Since Paul created the scene, we should take a look at it. Who doesn’t want to be cleansed and purged of sin before entering God’s court to face judgment? Isn’t that the ultimate goal when people accept Jesus for the first time? The entire Christian faith is based on Jesus’ ability to forgive sins, cleanse us, and make us clean on judgment day. But is that what Christians teach? Paul made it rather clear, or shall I say, Paul sent us back to David, who made it rather clear, we have to rely on God’s ability to cleanse us from our sins. Which is of course the plan of salvation. When we realize there is a cleansing process, we are supposed to go out and teach other people, so they are prepared for judgment.

I feel many churches like to take the edge off the judgment process and soften it up. Who talks about judgment day anyway? Churches feel it is much kinder to say, “Jesus died for your sins.” Then they leave the rest up to the people to figure out. Well why did Jesus have to die? To forgive our sins, is about the only answer you’ll likely to find in the fluffy world of Christianity. They are not going to teach you much about the judgment process. Everyone will stand in front of God’s throne to be judged. At least in the spiritual sense, your name will be called, and no one really knows exactly how the judgment process will proceed. Is your life reviewed in Heaven? Do they go by a set of notes in your book of life? Does Jesus say He died for this person, and that person, and it is a quick trial? The Bible doesn’t seem to cover those details. And no one seems to want to talk about them. David did to one extent. David had to admit he was a sinner. From that point, there was a process to cleanse that sin, throw it away, do away with it, to make sure none of that sin was around when that moment of judgment came around. Paul wanted the Jews to remember that moment. Would it be a fearful time, or can you really claim Christ as a your Savior?

We have to consider what Paul was going through. In his time, the idea of a man dying for the sins of the world was rather new. Up to that time, the Jews believed an animal had to die to cleanse people from their sins. Now Paul was introducing the concept of God’s Son coming to this world to teach and heal parts of this world. Then God’s Son was killed by, of all people, the religious leaders who were supposed to ensure every animal sacrifice was conducted in the proper manner, so people were actually forgiven for their sins, and didn’t have a thing to worry about if they happened to suddenly die. They would be sinless, and able to stand before God. That was the basic process the Jews believed in. To change that would have been a monumental task for anyone. Much less a Pharisee who decided to change sides. In a sense, that would have been a mark against Paul when he talked to any dedicated Jew.

How difficult would it be to change any religious belief that has been around for generations? Take a look at the world today. Many beliefs and customs have been around for 1-2 generations. For the most part, people have their heels dug into the ground and will defend their traditions to thier last dying breath. Paul was facing traditions that went back to Abraham, although many of them did not begin until Moses introduced them. That didn’t matter, the fact is, they were very old traditions, and no matter what the sacrificial system was in Paul’s day, people insisted it began with either Moses, or Abraham.

When we look at what Paul had to face, on one hand we see a religion steeped in traditions. On the other hand, we see Paul reaching out to groups with little to no knowledge about God, and less about Jesus. What do you think Pagans heard about God? Look at the legalistic view of God the Jews placed within their own religion. Now look at how some churches blow details about other churches out of proportion. Can you imagine the rumors flying around about God in Paul’s time? Talk about fighting a battle on two fronts, and needing a double edged sword.

Romans Introduction

If you are looking for quick answers to the many questions people raise about Romans, and other books Paul recorded, you’re not going to find those simple, one line answers here. You will find out how Paul constructed this letter, and how he was inspired to write this letter. One of the most important lessons you will learn in this book is how Paul used contrasts throughout this book, and his other books. The reason that this important is, many people use the contrasts Paul used, and create new doctrines out of them. In other words, people have a tendency to take Paul’s examples out of context. Few people will explain what context is, and in many cases, teachers and preachers to not want people to know what context really is. This book is designed to explain what context is, and how Paul used it to write those unique letters.

Paul also tells us where that Good News is supposed to be delivered. Is that advice followed today? To a large degree, the Good News has been replaced by tradition. Paul had to go through a unique experience to open his eyes. One day on the road to Damascus. Jesus appeared to Paul. Jesus chose to appear in such a brilliant form, the sight blinded Paul. Seeing Jesus for the first time blinded Paul. Why? To show Paul how blind he was because those traditions did nothing but blinded people to the truth. It took Paul a number of days in darkness before he could see the light. During that time, Paul learned to listen to the Spirit, who explained what those symbols and prophecies pointed to. Paul had to forget all those traditions. Everything that was removed from Paul was replaced with the truth he was really searching for.

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Paul didn’t hold anything back when he wrote about people who live to limit God, His Word, and for lack of a better example, what Paul recorded in his books. Paul showed the Romans why people stand on one point in the scriptures and use it to make a name for themselves. They are arrogant, and they want to hide their flaws. Paul showed one way we can identify those type of people. They will have one set of rules for themselves, and another set for everyone else. Jesus told the priests, that’s how the lived. Today we see the same thing and another battle Paul had to fight. People pick and choose what laws in the Old Testament to follow, and which have been done away with at the cross. The way Paul put it, it is best to avoid people like that. They are the wolves in sheep’s clothing other prophets wrote about. There is much greater evil below the surface. Sad to see, there are all kinds of people who prefer to follow the types of teachers Paul warned about.

Paul faced a group of Jews in Rome he had to remind about the origin of God’s children on this planet. Paul had to encourage those people to go back and review those stories. Not in the way they have been taught those stories, but examine them in the new light they received. Of course that light came in varying degrees to different people. Some people left Jesus. Some people followed Jesus for years. Some people saw and listened to Jesus for only a day. Some people witnessed the miracles Jesus performed. Some people were in fact healed by Jesus. Because few people in Rome actually saw any of those events, the Book of Romans gives us in in-depth look at how one inspired writer teamed up with the Spirit to reach a small number of people in the world capital.

Not everyone saw the same image of God. Some people saw Jesus heal, feed people, and show His compassion. Some people could see the real God in Jesus. Not everyone fell for the explanations taught by the Jewish leaders. That was a start, the beginning of a new and radical religious experience, to meet a side of God few people see or experience. A side of God that was in fact, dangerous to talk about. Imagine the attitude controlling the masses back then. If someone talked about God’s love, compassion, and the humbleness Jesus displayed, they were often met with threats, violence, and imprisoned. That was one of the world’s greatest contrasts, a vision of God. One view was offered, the other view forced upon people. And Rome stood still as one class of Jews discriminated against the other. Opposing views on religion was not new in the early days of Christianity. But we can learn a lot when we see how each side offered their view of God. I wonder if Paul could see into the future at all the different views of God that were soon to pop up all over the world, and how some groups went to drastic measures to force their views on the world.

Paul reminded us about the role the Holy Spirit plays in reaching people. It doesn’t matter if they are fellow Christians, or nonbelievers. Christ always has a part in our ministries. Without Christ and the Spirit He sent, we are nothing. We are spreading our own gospel, our own messages, our personal brand of religion. The point Paul is making is, “ In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God.” What about that pride? Isn’t pride doing the best job you can? When we work with Christ, we work at a much higher level than this world can imagine, or is capable of. There is no doubt about Paul’s relationship with Christ. The question is, how do we get to that level?

Paul did one thing I wish we saw more of today. Paul pointed to Christ as his one and only source of information. Paul didn’t take any credit for figuring things out on his own, thinking up offices, doctrines, or appointing people to positions. Paul didn’t play any of those games we see played in churches these days. Paul took marching orders from Jesus. Paul recorded what Jesus told him to record. Paul didn’t add, subtract, or substitute a single word. Then why is that style of study absent in modern Christianity? Don’t people like Paul’s letters, or don’t they agree with certain parts of Paul’s letters? Then there are other parts preachers insist Paul was not clear on, or didn’t go far enough to explain the subject. In a nutshell, some people don’t study the Bible beyond looking for what pleases them. Those people become distractions and hinder the work. Isaiah hit the nail on the head when he said God’s people will not go out in haste. Paul wanted to be an example of that. Isaiah told us, the Lord will go out in front of us. God knows where He is sending us, what we will experience in that situation, and what we need to do in that situation. It is that simple.

Romans 8:1-8

Romans 8:1-8 RSVA There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. (3) For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, (4) in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (5) For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. (6) To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (7) For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; (8) and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

After Paul wrote a few chapters about the law, death, works, and a number of other subjects using symbols to explain the points he was trying to make, Paul seems to have shifted gears into presenting simple, easy explanations. Paul now made it easy to see Jesus’ obligation in the plan of salvation. Why the sudden shift? If we looked back a few chapters, we would see the answer.

Romans 2:17-20 RSVA But if you call yourself a Jew and rely upon the law and boast of your relation to God (18) and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed in the law, (19) and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, (20) a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth–

Romans 3:5 RSVA But if our wickedness serves to show the justice of God, what shall we say? That God is unjust to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)

Romans 6:19 RSVA I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification.

Romans 7:1 RSVA Do you not know, brethren–for I am speaking to those who know the law–that the law is binding on a person only during his life?

As we can see, in chapter 2 Paul explained that he was writing to the Jews. In chapter 7, Paul explained that he was writing to those who knew the law. In other words, the Jews. Everything in those chapters and between those chapters indicated who Paul was writing to. Paul had to convince the Jews, knowing the law didn’t make them better than the Gentiles, and the law could do nothing to save them. Then Paul had to get to the main point. Paul had to teach both the Jews and Gentile about the plan Jesus had to come to this world, fulfill the law, and offer Himself as the perfect sacrifice. That is the subject Paul is explaining in chapter 8.

When we look at the Letter of Romans, we can’t help but see the sequence Paul used to reach the Jews in Rome. Paul had to deal with a collection of religious people experimenting with a new religion. Of course they were religious people, otherwise they would not have been listening to Paul, going to meetings, and doing the things religious people do. We can look at people today and see the same situation. Certain people would not be caught dead in a church or any type of religious meeting. They avoid everything to do with religion, and live their own lives thinking they have all the answers to life they need. On the other hand, there are people who know God, and know there is so much to learn about Him. Those type of people tend to investigate different claims about God, and are convinced they know enough to judge between truth, a mixture of truth, and that small minority who use religion for personal gain.

Keep your mind on the situation of small groups of religious people. They could be small or large groups. Every small group seems to have at least one person who thinks they have all the answers, and they attempt to sway the thoughts and actions of everyone around themselves. They join a group out of curiosity, then try to mold in what they know. They may be trying to show off a bit, and they may be clinging onto what they have learned. They don’t want to think they wasted their time learning the aspects of God they thought were correct, and helped build the relationship level they were able to achieve. In some ways, they help to advance whatever group they join, and at times, hold back the group they are in.

Paul had to face such a group on steroids. Many of the Jews spent their entire lives learning about the laws, and trying their best to follow them. To some of those people, the law was their only connection to God, and they were not about to give up that relationship without a fight. Paul expected to see people making their own blend of salvation through Christ and the old Levitical laws. Any common thinking man could see that. Jesus had to deal with that situation with the disciples He hand picked. That was an object lesson we are still supposed to be learning from. Those motives are human nature and will continue to be a part of mankind up until Jesus returns. The disciples were stuck between those two worlds up until the time they saw Jesus come back from the grave, then spend forty days explaining what just happened, and showing them where every step in the process was recorded in scripture. All those miracles were never enough to help the disciples, or anyone else understand what just happened. But when Jesus showed them how the step by step process was recorded in scripture, that left the disciples speechless, and open to new suggestions. Who could argue with a man who just came back from the grave?

Jesus had to die in such a way, there was no doubt in the minds of anyone who witnessed the tragic event. A simple execution or accidental death would have not been enough. The disciples had to be placed in a position to help, at least speak out, maybe try to defend Jesus, but in reality, they had to choose between the world, and the one they claimed to love. People talk about the fear of God, and have no idea what it means, or what it actually feels like. But people do know what fear of the world is, and everyone has dwelt with that fear to one extent or the other. The disciples and all of Jesus’ followers dwelt with that fear during Jesus’ trial in front of Herod. It was easy to speak out in a crowd, but they all failed to stand up as a single man and face the consequences of defending God’s Son. It was a test of faith, and exposed the real fear that enslaved them.

People have a fear of loosing the connection they have with God. That is the fear most people refer to when they claim to have a fear of God. Of course a lot of people try to explain that fear as a form of respect. I’ve heard that definition a thousand times, but respect is only half the theme in neither the Hebrew nor Greek definition of fear.

Genesis 50:19 RSVA But Joseph said to them, “Fear not, for am I in the place of God?

H3372 יָרֵא yârê’ yaw-ray’

A primitive root; to fear; morally to revere; causatively to frighten: – affright, be (make) afraid, dread (-ful), (put in) fear (-ful, -fully, -ing). (be had in) reverence (-end), X see, terrible (act, -ness, thing).

Luke 1:50 RSVA And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation.

G5399 φοβέω phobeō fob-eh’-o

From G5401; to frighten, that is, (passively) to be alarmed; by analogy to be in awe of, that is, revere: – be (+ sore) afraid, fear (exceedingly), reverence.

To have that respect, there has to be a certain amount of fear that goes along with it. People can respect God, and also have a fear of moving away from the relationship they developed together. On the other side of that coin, there can also be a fear of moving closer to God. That is the issue Paul had to deal with before introducing the new concept of salvation through a fallen Savior, who God rose from the grave.

Paul had to first convince the Jews, there was a lot to learn about God, that the law was not the total view of God they were looking for, and the Spirit was trying to show them more about God. It seems rather strange to think, God wants to show people something, He wants to teach them, He wants to answer their questions, and fulfill their greatest desires, but that is left to each individual to choose. It is rather strange to think a God who created everything on this planet gave His ultimate creation the freedom to think and choose, and has left mankind that way since the day Adam was formed out of a pile of dust.

Since this world was created, mankind has been faced with decisions. Eve chose a promise from the devil over God’s command. Adam made that same choice. After that first sin, more choices were faced. Each choice either drew mankind closer to God, of further away. With each choice, the individual’s view of God has been altered, rearranged, and blurred to one degree or another. Each mind has an individual view of God they are convinced is correct. That view is all they know, and the individual tends to cling onto that view. As distorted as it may be, it is the only thing they have, and fight any attempt to change it. God knows how the human mind works, and how it reacts to each situation. When something easier is introduced, people jump at it, gobble it up, and the new concept becomes a part of themselves. When something new and greater is promised, people jump at it, thinking it will set them apart from others. That was the temptation Eve fell for. Eve was offered something she didn’t have. People still think and react in the same fashion. Promise any person something that will set them above others, and they will reach out and grab it with little or no thought. Paul was using a form of that concept to call people back to God.

Paul knew the Jews had to give up their coveted concept of the law to take another step closer to God. The law was all they knew and understood about God. It was their total concept of God. Asking a Jew to change was like asking them to give up their relationship with God. When someone has to give up something, there has to be something far better to replace it. Otherwise the person will feel empty inside, like something is missing. Many Christians do not understand that concept. Like the Jews, many Christians still use the law to tell people to give up this and that. But what are they offering to replace what has to be given up? People are stuck on the concept of exchange, and getting ahead in the transaction. Paul was asking the Jews to give up total reliance on the law. In exchange, Paul offered the greatest gift this world could ask for, the plan of salvation.

Before Jesus died and rose from that grave, there was no concept of a God who decided to send His Son to die for the sins of this world. A small minority saw a glimpse of God’s plan. But for the most part, sacrificial rituals were the way to deal with sin. By the time Jesus came to this world, that sacrificial system underwent a series of changes and modifications. Observing an endless list of laws, ritual cleansing, and personal purification was molded in with the sacrificial system to give a very dim view of God. Not too many people studied the scriptures. The common trend was to rely on scholars to read and interpret the laws, prophecy, lessons in scripture, advice God placed in scripture, and God’s unlimited insight into human nature. Scholars took the simple concept of God as a caring, loving Creator, and turned it into a concept similar to the religious factions left behind in Egypt, and widely practiced in surrounding nations. Scholars wanted God to join the world, when God was telling them to come out of the darkness this world offered. Introducing what appeared to be a completely new concept was not going to be an easy task for Paul or any of the other apostles. Each new group they met had their own challenges.