By John C. Carpenter
The apostle Paul wrote to believers in Rome, There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk [live, behave] not after [not according to the desires and ways of] the flesh, but after [according to the desires and ways of] the [Holy] Spirit. For they that are after [behaving according to the desires of] the flesh do mind [think about, are sentimental to, disposed to, set affection on, fulfill] the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit [think about, are sentimental to, disposed to, set affection on, fulfill] the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded [inclined to the flesh] is[results in] death; but to be spiritually minded is [results in eternal] life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against[in opposition to the desires of] God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell [resides, cohabits] in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the [your physical] body is [eternally] dead because of [your] sin; but the [Holy] Spirit is [brings] life [quickening to your physical body] because of [your] righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken[bring life to] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God (Rom 8:1-14). Holy Scriptures plainly teach that true believers in Christ, who are not under the Mosaic law but under grace, are led by the Holy Spirit, and that those led by the Holy Spirit should not be committing intentional and willful acts of sin.
Sin was rampant among Roman believers in Christ, and the apostle Paul knew this. The believers in Rome were openly, intentionally, and regularly committing sin. Much of his letter was written in an effort to deal with this issue. Paul began with a general warning against sin, writing, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold [have, possess] the truth [that Jesus is the Christ and Son of God] in [while committing] unrighteousness [sin]; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things (Rom 1:18-23). Believers in Rome were specifically committing the heinous sin of homosexuality. Paul explained, Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness [physical and moral impurity] through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour [maltreat, entreat shamefully] their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile [disgraceful, shameful] affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned [became deeply inflamed] in their lust one toward another; men with men working [performing] that which is unseemly [indecent, shameful], and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error [straying from orthodoxy or piety] which was meet [necessary, appropriate] (Rom 1:24-27). In addition to homosexuality, there were numerous other sins taking place which were not becoming or fit for believers in Christ to be committing. Paul outlined these sins: And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient [becoming, fit for a believer]; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication [harlotry including adultery and incest], wickedness [depravity, especially with malice], covetousness [greediness], maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate[quarreling, strife], deceit, malignity [bad character]; whisperers, Backbiters [slanderers], haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil [worthless] things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection [hard-hearted towards kindred], implacable [truce breakers], unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (Rom 1:28-32). As if committing unbecoming and indecent sin was not enough, these believers in Rome were also committing the sin of judging others. Warning them that their judgment of others would bring God's judgment, Paul explained, Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest [to try, to decide mentally or judicially, to conclude]: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? (Rom 2:1-3). After addressing the specific sins of the Christians in Rome, Paul, generalizing about sin, concluded that Jew and Gentile alike are both subject to the power of sin. He wrote, ...we have before proved [previously charged] both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God(Rom 3:9-11).
After explaining that Jews and Gentiles alike are subject to the temptations of sin, the apostle Paul immediately reiterated to the Roman believers that God the Father had one, and only one, New Covenant means to justification, righteousness, and eternal life. That means righteousness was available, not by keeping the Mosaic law, but only through faith in Christ. Paul wrote, Therefore by the deeds [toil, labour, work] of [attempting to keep] the [Old Covenant] law there shall no flesh be justified in his [God's] sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without[separate or apart from] the law is manifested, being witnessed [spoken of and referred to] by the [books outlining the] law and the[writings of the] prophets [in the Old Covenant scriptures]; Even [specifically] the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past [have previously transpired], through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus (Rom 3:20-26). Regarding the believer's righteousness and salvation available only through the death of Christ, Paul concluded,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. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness [leading] unto eternal life by [the obedience unto death of (see Phil 2:8)] Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 5:18-21). Positionally, the believer in Christ is justified before God not by perfectly keeping the Old Covenant law [i.e., by not sinning], but by faith in Jesus Christ. This, however, does not excuse the believer in Christ from the personal and daily requirements of behavioral holiness. Holy scriptures consistently make it clear that the true believer in Christ should not be ruled by sin, but yield to behavioral righteousness and holiness.
By asking and answering his own question, Paul's response to the sin of believers in Rome was unmistakable. He wrote,What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin [hamartia; i.e., offence, acts of sin], that grace may abound? God forbid [God says "absolutely not, never"]. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 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 [renewal] of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve [be a slave to, be in bondage to] sin. Forhe that is dead is freed [rendered just or innocent] from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto [to pay the penalty for our] sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion[rule, exercise lordship] over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield [to stand beside, to exhibit] yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience [compliance, submission] unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity [feebleness, frailty, weakness] of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto [resulting in] holiness. (Rom 6:1-19). To emphasize his point, Paul later added For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of [the leading of the Holy] spirit, and not in the oldness of [attempting to keep] the letter [written law] (Rom 7:5-6), and Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after [according to the leading of] the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the [leading of the Holy] Spirit do mortify [kill, put to death] the deeds [practices, acts] of the body, ye shall live [eternally] (Rom 8:12-13). Paul finally instructed, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present[to stand beside, exhibit] your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable [rational, logical] service [ministry unto God] (Rom 12:1), and put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision [care, supply] for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof (Rom 13:14).
Sin was not just prevalent in Roman believers; it was also prevalent among the Christians in Corinth. Paul gives us additional insight and instruction regarding sin in believers by explaining that the believers in Corinth who were committing continual, deliberate sin, yet believed they would inherit the kingdom of God, were "deceived." He instructed the Corinthian church, Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived [roam from truth]: neither fornicators [prostitute], nor idolaters, nor adulterers [one who has an illicit lover], nor effeminate [a homosexual], nor abusers of themselves with mankind [sodomites], Nor thieves, nor covetous [those eager for gain], nor drunkards, nor revilers [one who uses abusive language], nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. All things are lawful [permissible] unto me, but all things are not expedient [good, profitable]: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the [physical] body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication [harlotry including adultery and incest]. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's (1 Cor 6:9-20). To show that he attempted to live what he preached regarding sin, Paul wrote, Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate [exercises self restraint] in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight [contend, as a boxer] I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under [buffet, disable, subdue] my body [my physical lust], and bring it into subjection [enslave, subdue]: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (1 Cor 9:24-27). Again, regarding his own behavior, Paul later added, protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die [forsake my own desires] daily. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame (1 Cor 15:31-34). Paul similarly instructed the churches of Galatia regarding the consequence of sin: Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the [presence and guidance of the Holy] Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts (Gal 5:19-24).
If lust brings enticement [temptation], enticement brings sin, and sin brings death, we must ask "how should the believer in Christ respond to enticement?" Paul gave us the answer when he instructed believers in Galatia, This I say then, Walk in the [according to the desires of the Holy] Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil[execute, perform, act upon] the lust of the flesh (Gal 5:16). Paul likewise instructed believers in Rome that the righteousness of the law is fulfilled only in believers who walk not after [according to the desires of] the flesh, but after the [according to the desires of the Holy] Spirit (Rom 8:4). If the only way the Christian can overcome temptations to sin is by walking in the Spirit, what does it mean to "walk in the Spirit," and how does the believer in Christ do this? In his letter, the apostle Paul gives us the specifics of how believers are to "walk in the Spirit." First, Paul instructs us how to deal with our bodily, or physical, lusts or desires. He wrote, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present [yield] your bodies a living sacrifice[death], holy [sacred, consecrated], acceptable [well pleasing] unto God, which is your reasonable [rational, logical] service [ministry unto God] (Rom 12:1). True believers in Christ are to simply sacrifice [kill; i.e., subdue] their bodily, fleshly lusts. This death to the flesh, which is Holy in God's view, and therefore pleasing to Him, is expected behavior for the true believer in Christ. Second, walking in the Spirit involves dealing with the pride (1 John 2:16). In the Roman church, both Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ were having a tremendous problem with pride. Some Jewish believers mistakenly thought they were better than Gentile believers (Rom 3:9), while some Gentile believers in Rome were "boasting against the branches [Jews]" (Rom 11:18). Paul quickly responded to this pride, be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Rom 12:2-3). Third, walking in the Spirit requires that believers maintain standards in their relationships with others, especially fellow believers. Paul provided this instruction as well. He wrote, Let love be without dissimulation [hypocrisy]. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high [lofty, arrogant] things, but condescend[respond and yield] to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense [render, repay] to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of [subdued, conquered by] evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom 12:9-21). Fourth, walking in the Spirit requires instruction in how believers are to respond to authority, both civil and religious. Paul instructed us, Let every soul be subject [obedient] unto the higher [superior] powers [civil or religious authorities]. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power [authorities God has appointed], resisteth the ordinance [arrangement, institution, will] of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers [those first in rank or power] 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: For he [the ruler] is the [has been appointed according to God's will as a] 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. Wherefore ye must needs be subject [to rulers], not only for [because of their] wrath [passion for violence], but also for conscience sake [because it is the morally right thing to do]. For for this cause pay ye tribute [respect, honor] also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour (Rom 13:1-7). God commands Christians to be obedient to civil and religious authorities not only because they wield significant power but because it is the morally right thing to do. He further explains that Christians who refuse to be obedient to those in authority are refusing and rejecting God's will, an attitude which will result in damnation. Fifth, those walking in the Spirit must also love others. Paul instructed us, Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof (Rom 13:8-14). Sixth, those walking in the Spirit should not be judging others. Paul explained, Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand (Rom 14:1-4). Paul later added, Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way (Rom 14:13). Rather than judging others, Paul concluded, Let us thereforefollow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify [build up, strengthen] another (Rom 14:19). Seventh, and last, believers who are walking in, or led by, the Spirit should strive to please others, as did Christ. Paul explained, We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God (Rom 15:1-7).
As Paul clearly explained to believers in Rome, the believer in Christ is led by the Spirit of God. Being led by the Spirit requires that the believer in Christ establish and maintain daily behavioral holiness regarding bodily lusts, pride, interpersonal relationships, authority, love, judgment of others, and pleasing others. Scriptures clearly teach us that the believer in Christ, who walks in personal and behavioral holiness, who walks not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, is (1) not condemned by God, (2) has been made free from the law of sin and death, (3) has had the righteousness of the Mosaic law fulfilled in him [or her], (4) minds the things of the Spirit, (5) pleases God, (6) has the Spirit of God dwelling in him [or her], (7) has had their mortal bodies quickened [made alive] by the Holy Spirit, (8) is a debtor [owes it to God] to live according to the leading of the Holy Spirit, (9) and has mortified the deeds of the body. Those led by the Spirit have received the Spirit of adoption, are the children of God, heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ, and destined to be eternally "glorified together" with Christ (Rom 8:1-17). For, as the great apostle Paul taught to believers in Christ in Rome, as many as are led by the Spirit of God, "they are the sons of God."  AMEN.
                                                           A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
"Charge them
that are rich
in this world,
that they be not highminded, nor
trust in uncertain riches, but in
the living God,
who giveth us
richly all things
to enjoy"
(1 Tim 6:17)

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