Is anyone interested in this study? If I can get five people interested in this study then I will begin the class. It is 35 lessons given over a period of time. Let me know if you are interested.
William T Hannaford
Who Am I?This begins a series of study lessons based on Roman's Chapters six through eight. There are a total of 35 lessons in all. These studies will teach you about who you are and your TRUE identity in Christ. Be sure to answer the questions at the end of each lesson.
When Paul wrote his letter to the church at Rome, he knew who he was in Christ. Somehow that preciuos truth which he was trying to convey has escaped the church down through the years. It is repeated over and over in the scriptures.
The fact is, the grace of God has been misunderstood. It has been watered down, reduced to nothing more than forgiveness of sins. In reality, the Divine intention of God's grace is much more. It carries God's love to the ultimate. The thing which makes man unique in the whole realm of creation isthat he is a spirit being. Housed in a body of flesh, he functions through the mind, will and emotions of his soul.
There is a difference between the "I" of the inward man (the Spirit), and the "I" of the outward man (the soul or body). Paul makes a very clear distinction between the two.
God is Spirit (John 4:24), and He is the Father of our spirits (Hebrews 12:9). That which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit (John 3:6). It is in our spirits that we are the offspring of God.
God is NOT soul, and God is NOT body. The Word is clear and emphatic that only spirit can know spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-11). That is why we cannot really know God until the Holy Spirit joins Himself with our spirits.
That is when we are born again. It is not the body which has been born anew, nor is it the soul. The new birth is the resurrection of a new spirit being, raised by the Holy Spirit, imparted with a Divine life, united with God. This newness of spirit becomes possible through our union with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. It is the incredible expression of God's grace.
It is to this subject that Paul addresses himself in his letter to the church at Rome. It is truly the good news of the Gospel.
I pray that these lessons will affirm to you who you really are in Christ.
When we are asked the question, "Who are you?", we usually reply with a simple answer, such as our name or some statement regarding our relationship to others. "I'm John Glenn, Sandi's husband," or "I'm a friend of Lou and Lil," or "I'm Angela's daddy," are all common statements meant to identify ourselves.
If a policeman or some other authority asks us to identify ourselves, we might go into more detail. Sometimes our comfort and even our very lives may depend upon being able to properly identify who we really are.
In the first two and a half chapters of the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul proves that no matter where we were born and raised, "all have sinned and come short of the glory of god." He tells us there is "none righteous, no, not one." As a result, we naturally develop a personal identity that is negative at best, and totally depraved at worst.
The way a person views himself determines the way he behaves and is perceived by others. The Bible simply puts it, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." In other words, our self-image or personal identity plays an important role in determining the way we feel and act.
The underlying cause of all sin and personal dysfunction is a distorted self-image. If we think of ourselves as worthless, we will feel worthless. And if we feel worthless, we will act worthless. Finally, when we act worthless, we say to ourselves, "Aha, I am worthless!", and the cycle is repeated.
However, when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior we are born again with a whole new identity in Christ. These lessons will teach you your TRUE identity in Christ which should produce unspeakable joy in the Lord.
The only hope we have in dealing with the sinful flesh we still live in as Christians, is to learn to keep on believing the Gospel. We know the just (Christians) shall keep on living by faith; and without faith it is impossible to please God; and whatsoever is not of faith is sin. BUT do we know what it is we are to keep on believing?
There will be some who believe this Gospel is too good to be true, and who will reject their own identity in Christ. BUT others will experience the life changing power of discovering their TRUE identity in Christ.
May God grant you the grace to be among the latter, to the praise of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Lesson One Today
Dead To Sin And Alive To God
Paul begins chapter six, referring to the last four verses of chapter five.
Rom 5:17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
Rom 5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
Rom 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Rom 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
Rom 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
In those above verses, he summarized the results of the disobedience of Adam, contrasted with the results of the obedience of Jesus. The highlight of those results was the release of God's grace to all mankind.
In the first paragraph of chaptersix, Paul lays the foundation for all that follows. His concern is to answer the question raised in verse one.
Paul was attacked as soon as he introduced the doctrine that we receive our justification through the grace of God because of nothing more than our faith in what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross.
Specifically, two groups of people were his attackers. One group contended if faith in Jesus automatically triggered God's grace, and if God's grace was all-forgiving, man could do anything he felt like doing. Regardless of how immoral it might be, he would be safe so long as he professed faith in Jesus. This is called the antinomian theology. It promotes confession, but overlooks immorality. It is an obvious abuse of the grace of God in order to rationalize unbridled behavior.
The other group, the legalists, insisted that man had to choose between grace and law, since the two were as incompatible as oil and water. The legalists were so deeply entrenched in the law that they were unable to see any way in which grace could co-exist; therefore, the doctrine of grace could not be considered.
Of course, both of these arguments are direct perversions of the doctrine of justification by grace through faith, which Paul is attempting to explain.
Even in modern day Christianity, the magnitude of the grace of God is difficult to accept. Our nature prompts us to feel that we must do something to influence God to keep open the door to heaven. Consequently, we spend a great deal of time attempting to win spiritual brownie points. We feel we must earn our way by praying, or reading the Bible, or serving humanity. These are all good works which demonstrate our faith, but they have nothing to do with our initial salvation.
The Symbolic Message Of Baptism
Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
Rom 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Rom 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Rom 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Rom 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Paul begins this phase of the gospel message with a series of questions, obviously addressed to his attackers.
First, he goes after the false assumption that the Law of Moses was added to put the spotlight on sin itself, the profusion of sin in the world (Romans 5:20,21), and that the increase of sin causes God's grace to be magnified.
If this is actually true, one might logically reason that we should sin all the more. The argument being that this would allow God to receive more glory, because of the magnification of His grace. Thus, the question of verse one is, "...Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?"
Paul answers his own question with, "God forbid!", which demonstrates his absolute abhorrence of the idea. He then offers another question which reveals the absurdity of such reasoning:"How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therin?"
That was a radical question, and it probably got the immediate attention of everyone. Paul was opening the door to his main subject of this section, which is the believer's death to sin, and his subsequent life in Christ.
In an effort to develop more fully the concept of the believer's death to sin, the Apostle draws our attention to the symbolic meaning of the ordinance of baptism.
Paul assumes we recognize the importance and the meaning of our baptism to be a sign of our willingness to be identified with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Specifically, he assumes we understand that baptism is the outward, symbolic expression of what has happened in the believer's heart: a genuine spiritual union with Christ.
At the moment of salvation we receive the Spirit of Christ; therefore, we are spiritually immersed into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). The act of baptism represents that fact by a corresponding physical immersion.
This also places us into relationship with a group of like-minded believers, a local body of Christ. Paul, as well as every other writer in the New Testament, assumes each believer will follow the Lord's directive concerning baptism, as given in (Matthew 28:19).
To be baptized into Christ means to be immersed into or joined tightly (as if fused together) to all Christ is and all that Christ does.Paul elaborates on the believer's baptism into Christ by informing us we are joined spiritually (or, eternally) with Christ in His death, His burial and His resurrection.
This means all believers, upon accepting Christ, are considered by God to have died with Christ on the cross, to have been buried with Christ in the tomb, and to have been raised with Christ as if born anew. From God's eternal vantage point, our old life ended and a new life began, simply because we accepted, in faith, God's grace. Water baptism, then, is our symbolic statement that this happened, and that it is our intention to walk out our new life in Christ.
Because of this new position, this union with Christ, it is impossible for the believer in Jesus Christ to continue in the realm of sin. Instead, we are spiritually united with the One who, through His own death, has delivered us from sin. Although this is a spiritual fact, it must be worked out progressively on earth.
Death is an integral part of resurrection. There can be no resurrection until there is first death. Our Lord placed no emphasis upon physical death, but He spoke often of our need for moral and spiritual death. Our death and resurrection is something God has accomplished eternally. Our responsibility is to work it out progressively while we are still in the flesh. Dying to self begins by bringing every thought into captivity to Christ. This is primary, because every sin begins with a thought (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Our union with Christ is a fact which needs to be understood clearly, and continually accepted by each believer. In describing our position in Christ, Paul emphasized that we are spiritually joined to Christ in His death, His burial, and His resurrection. This enables us to "walk in newness of life" (Romans 1:3,4)
Initially, we may have a tendency to strain ourselves as we attempt to bring our carnal minds and our unbridled flesh into line with Paul's words. Eventually, however, we learn that only Christ can make us Christlike, so we settle down and begin to spend all our energies focusing upon Him.
It is important for us to understand that our new birth is not a conception of something which comes forth from us. It is a thing which enters into us. It is the birth of the life of the Son of God which enters and causes a transfiguration to take place. The death of the "old" and the resurrection of the "new."
It is a vital transaction which created within us an eternal relationship. We no longer just know about God, intellectually. We now know God, personally. Amen!
Ponder these questions:
- How would I describe my death to sin?
- How does the ordinance of baptism relate to my death to sin?
- What do I mean when I say I am spiritually immersed into Christ?
- How would I explain that I have died with Christ and have been buried with Him in death?
- In what way have I been resurrected with Christ?
- In what way have I stepped into an eternal existence?
lesson two tomorrow