Christianity 201

March 13, 2018

Freedom from Sin through Death

by Russell Young

Paul has written that “anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans 6:7 NIV) This, of course, makes sense. If a person is dead, he or she can no longer sin. It is an impossibility. The intent that Paul is trying to convey is not so simple, however. Prior to these words he had stated: “Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Rom 6:34 NIV)

The thought of being baptized into Christ’s death should not be readily dismissed. Give it careful deliberation! Meditate on it. What does it mean to you? By choice the person who has been baptized has chosen to have died to this world making the claim to have died with Christ, to be whelmed by the death of Christ, and has identified himself or herself as being dead along with Christ. Being immersed in his death means that it has seeped into every pore of a person’s flesh. Nothing has been left untouched. The death is to be permanent and complete, one from which resuscitation is not allowed.

Although Christ physically died, we have not; however, we are to “count” (Rom 6:11), consider, or reckon that we have died. This may be more difficult than many would like to accept. By his or her will the person baptized into Christ’s death will not allow the flesh to command their attention; its interests can have no draw on the believer since it has been put to death.

It is easy to excuse earthly interests. The flesh demands pacification, the world’s interest is in the flesh, and the means for its appeasement is everywhere; however, to entertain fleshly interests can be flirting with destruction. (Gal 6:8; Phil 3:19) The Lord does not allow the freedom that many suppose. He requires that the misdeeds of the body be put to death (Rom 8:13), holiness (Heb 12:14), and commitment with all the believer’s heart, soul, and mind. (Mt 22:37) The believer in Christ cannot live passively but must be actively pursuing God’s will. Paul wrote: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” (Col 3:5 NIV) If the flesh has not died, the confessor has not died. If he has not died, he has not died with or in Christ, or to the world. It should not be accepted that a mystical death has occurred…a death without dying. Accepting such a perspective will grant licence to live in the flesh, satisfying its desires, while entertaining the comfort that death has occurred.

Paul wrote of his crucifixion: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20 NIV) Faith is not only a possession, it is evidenced through the practice of obedience to Christ.

Is the Lord expecting too much from those who would claim to be believers? Is his call reasonable? Many would claim that the idea of personal death is more than Christ demands; however, the Lord has said that only a few would find the small gate and narrow road that lead to life (Mt 7:17), and that those on the faith journey must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow him. (Lk 9:23) The cross is an instrument of death and when earthly or bodily interests start to emerge, the believer is to crucify himself or herself again. If a single crucifixion had been sufficient, the cross would not have to be carried daily, nor would it have to be constantly available.

Paul wrote that the purpose of the believer’s crucifixion was so that he or she “could live a new life.” (Rom 6:4 NIV) Baptism is a pledge (1 Pet 3:21) to God and to others that the confessor has acknowledged his or her death, having all their past sins washed away. (Heb 9:15,) Consequently, the confessor has been provided with the Spirit (Gal 3:14) so a new life might be lived.

Paul wrote of baptism saying, “If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” (Rom 6:5 NIV) “If” is a conditional word. Accordingly, Paul has rested the hope of resurrection in a person’s willingness to be united with Christ in his death. The life of death to the world (Lk 17:33) and to its interests is lifelong (Mt 24:13) and is the life of faith.

Christ said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (Jn 14:6 NIV) and Paul has revealed that “Christ in you [is] your hope of glory.” (Col 1:27 NIV) The “life” is his life in the believer and he is their hope of glory. Those seeking his eternal presence must be united with Christ in his death.

As Paul told the Romans, “In the same way [Christ’s death to sin] count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in [through] Christ Jesus.” (Rom 6:11 NIV) Freedom from sin is not an automatic state that is gifted to the believer; it must be a moment by moment commitment to deny the interests of the body that cause death. If the needed victory is to be gained a humble and obedient walk with Christ is needed. Such a walk is not an option that only “super” believers are to entertain. John has taught, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 Jn 26 NIV) The person who has died with Christ will also be resurrected with him. Even Paul professed that he “wanted to know Christ and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead,” (Phil 3:1011 NIV) and he confessed that he had not already obtained all of this. Being alive, he still had the option to entertain the flesh and to sin.

There is much to appreciate about the need for death to self, however, only through the practice of death to the body and through obedience to Christ can sin be defeated and victory gained.

Author Russell Young lives in Ontario, Canada and is the author of Eternal Salvation: Really? available in print and eBook in the U.S. through Westbow Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble; in Canada through Chapters/Indigo.  His column appears here every other Tuesday.  To read all of Russell’s contributions here at C201, click this link.  There is also a feature-length article at this link.


September 4, 2016

I Have Been Crucified with Christ

 by Russell Young

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20 NIV) A person’s understanding of this verse makes all the difference in his appreciation of the gospel.

Recently a well known television preacher stated that “having been crucified with Christ” means that in the mind of God our crucifixion has taken place.  That is, as far as God is concerned we are dead.  Accordingly, we can no longer sin and will not be held accountable for any sin.  Does this make Biblical sense and why would God entertain this perception?  He would have to accept something that has no basis in fact.  It is impossible to find any scriptural foundation for such thinking.

Crucified with ChristWhat does Paul mean?  The crucified person is dead! He has no life!  The result of crucifixion is end of physical life.  Paul’s teaching is that as far as he is concerned he has made the determination, by choice, to consider his physical body to be dead.  Such a death does not refer to a physical reality since Paul was still alive.  He had made the commitment to not allow his body to be his master, to not submit to its interests. The death to which he is referring is a matter of his will. After having reflected on the sin-producing power of the body, he had agonized, “What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from the body of death [that brings about death]?  Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 7:24 NIV)  It was Christ who would rescue him.

The old life in the body or flesh is the cause of a person’s sinning.  He or she is constantly tempted to satisfy its demands. Unlawful appeasement of the flesh is sin and every person who walks this earth, starting with the family of God, will be accountable for the things done while in the body at judgment day. “For we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one might receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor 5:10)

Paul’s teaching is that believers must consider or reckon themselves to have been crucified, or to have died to the body.  His statement was that he no longer lived, that he could no longer entertain the interests of the body, but that he was endeavouring to let Christ live in him.  Christ did not sin and if Christ is living in him, he will be victorious over sin.  To the Colossians Paul revealed that it is Christ in us who is our hope of glory. (Col 1:27) He also related that it is necessary to defeat the sinful nature which brings about death. “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” (Rom 8:13 NIV)

Paul also said that he now lived by faith in the Son of God.  To live by faith means that he had been persuaded of the life and ministry of Christ.  Since he has been so persuaded, he has abandoned his own life and has allowed Christ to live in and through him.

In another place Paul considered the issue of death and baptism. “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or, don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Rom 6:1-4 NIV) The new life about which he wrote is the life of righteousness experienced as Christ lives in us.

The baptism about which Paul spoke is symbolic of the believer’s death and resurrection.  This symbolism, representing a pledge to maintain a clean conscience (1 Peter 3:21) leading to the hope of resurrection with Christ needs to be more fully appreciated.  The person being baptized must know that he has considered and has acknowledged death to sin and self, and is making a pledge to that end.

If it was perceived by God that the confessor’s death had happened, as the preacher claimed, there would be no need for judgment and a sureness of the confessor’s resurrection would exist; however, even Paul attested to the fact that he wanted to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings so that “somehow” he might attain to the resurrection. (Phil 3:10-11) In spite of theological teaching to the contrary, Paul was not certain of his own eternal state. His physical life had not been completed so opportunity to entertain the interests of his natural spirit still existed.

In Romans Paul wrote of the need for the believer to share in Christ’s sufferings if he or she is to share in his glory and to become heirs with him. (Rom 8:17) The suffering to which he is referring has been revealed as the struggle to overcome temptation. “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Heb 2:18 NIV) We are heirs with Christ as long as we suffer in the pursuit of victory over temptations- “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil 2:12 NIV)

Christ admonished his listeners of the need to carry their cross.  He said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”(Mk 8:34 NIV) The cross is an instrument of death and the disciples’ death must be to self interest of all sorts, for victory over sin and for service for the kingdom. If the cross is being carried, it is readily available to crucify the body in one’s mind once more when it starts to resume its own life. If, “in God’s mind” he considers a person’s body to be dead, there would be no reason for the believer to carry his cross.

The implications of a person’s understanding of his or her crucifixion are serious and have eternal consequences.  Like Paul each of us is to consider that his body has been crucified if he or she is to avoid sin and by faith -persuasion- is to allow Christ to live through him or her.

February 29, 2016

Do You Know the Gospel of Christ? (Part 2)

This is partly a continuation of where we left off yesterday, and partly a different perspective on the same subject.

•••by Russell Young

In Part 1 it was revealed that eternal salvation comes through the life of Christ being exercised in the believer.

Did Part 1 present what seems an unlikely gospel? Let’s consider it another way. The believer has available all of the attributes that Jesus had as he walked this earth excepting for His soul. Just as Jesus was body, soul, and spirit so is man. This reality must be appreciated by those who are prepared to excuse themselves from “walking as Jesus did.” (1 John 3:6)

All of mankind are composed of the trinity of body, soul, and spirit. The body of Christ was the same as that of all men; it was formed in the womb of Mary. “Since children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity…he had to be made like his brothers in every way in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God.” (Hebrews 2:14…17, NIV) Further, it is written “We have a high priest who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15, NIV) And to solidify the nature of His humanity the writer has also presented: “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son he learned obedience from what he suffered and once made perfect became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:7-9) (This passage does not refer only to petition in the Garden of Gethsemane following which He suffered a cruel death.)

The body prepared for Christ by the Father in the womb of Mary is of the same nature as the one we possess. It is the body that brings death (Romans 7:24) and its appeasement subjects one to temptations and suffering. “Because he himself [the Lord] suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18) It must be accepted that the “body” of Christ is of the same nature as our own.

But Jesus has a soul and a spirit also. Jesus was given the spirit that mankind had enjoyed at creation…it was in the likeness of God (Genesis 1:27) holy in purpose, just as were the spirits of Adam and Eve. However, the spirits we possess are far from the nature of the one first given. Adam and Eve had no knowledge of evil but allowed the lies of Satan to infect them with his lies and his spirit. They took on evil spirits…desiring to please the flesh rather than God. Jesus, however, maintained the spirit given Him and lived a sinless life. (Hebrews 4:15) “How much more then will the blood of Christ, who through the Holy Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences [moral consciousness] from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.” (Hebrews 9:14, NIV)

At the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. (Matthew 3:16) The believer is also given the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5, John 7:39) Therefore, not only did Christ have a body that suffered the same interests as do those of the rest of mankind, the believer, once reborn, has the same Spirit that brought victory to Christ. The believer possesses a body like that of Christ and the Holy Spirit…the very one that enabled Christ to overcome the flesh, the world and the Evil One. The believer has been reminded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is a matter of one’s will…his choices; as he denies his evil nature, his natural spirit will weaken and become ineffective. One’s eternal hope is availed when he is gifted with the Holy Spirit. “But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.” (Galatians 5:5, NIV)

It is man’s soul that differs from that of Christ and it is his soul that Christ came to transform. Man’s soul distinguishes him from all others and houses his will. His soul offers the testimony of his faith to God and the world. One’s will reacts to one’s heart interests and determines his choices and practices. The will of Christ was to honour and obey His Father. (John 5:30) The one given entrance to God’s Eternal Kingdom must also honour and obey the Father. (Matthew 7:21) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37, NIV)

In Genesis it is recorded: “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.” (Genesis 6:5-6, NIV) It is not a pardon that is required for eternal salvation, although that is essential, but a transformed heart. A pardon does not transform but relieves the sinner of the consequences of his rebellion. Those who cause God pain will not be found in His presence. Paul wrote: “For it is God [the Spirit] who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13, NIV) The Lord must subdue and convert/transform the soul of man as He is allowed on order to sanctify the evil heart and conform it to His likeness. (Romans 8:29)

Paul wrote, “You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22, NIV)

The command to live as Christ lived in this world should not be considered an impossibility. The believer has all that Christ had in the body that the Father had prepared for Him in the womb of Mary and he is expected to reveal Christ to the world as the Lord lives in his body. He has the same Spirit and the Spirit is to enlighten, lead, and empower for the development and display of the same soul. However, obedience is required…not to the law but to Christ, the Holy Spirit. He is truly to become a son of God and a brother of Christ.

Those who excuse the practice of sin will one day have to justify it to the Lord who provided them with all that is needed for life and godliness, who had lived with the same realities of body, soul, and Spirit, and who had made provision of Himself to live in the one who had professed Him as lord/Lord.

This is the gospel: Christ offered Himself a sacrifice on the cross, to redeem the believer from his past sins and from the Old Covenant so that He might live righteously through the repentant believer and fit him for the Kingdom of God.…“Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

April 30, 2015

Dying to Self

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Gal 2:20

I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…
Phil. 3:10

He must become greater; I must become less.
John 3:30

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”
Luke 9:23-24

… anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Mark 10:38

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14

Today’s scripture verses were just a few that came to mind after reading the following, which I found in an old church bulletin.


When you are forgotten, or neglected, or purposely set at naught, and you don’t sting and hurt with the insult or the oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ.


When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take in all in patient, loving silence.


When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, any impunctuality, or any annoyance; when you stand face-to- face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility-and endure it as Jesus endured.


When you are content with any food, any offering, any climate, any society, any solitude, any raiment, any interruption by the will of God.


When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good works, or itch after commendations, when you can truly love to be unknown.


When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy, nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances.


When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart.



September 16, 2014

Why Not Sin?

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In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. ~Romans 6:11


The title of today’s devotional certainly got our attention when we first saw it, so we decided to retain it here. This is from a source that’s new to us, The Christward Collective is the blog of The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and is member supported and operates only by your faithful support. To read this at source, and then look around at other aspects of the website and blog, click the title below.

Why Not Sin?

As a Christian, why not sin? We could give a myriad of answers to that question. However, the best answer is supplied by Paul in Romans 6. Paul could have talked about the misery that sin brings, the pain that it inflicts upon others, the consequences which flow from it, or the penalty that Christ had to pay for it. But that is not where he first turns. He wants Christians to understand that we cannot easily entertain sin, because of our identity.

In Romans 5, Paul focuses on justification. In Romans 6, he points out that our sanctification cannot be separated from our justification. Those who have been forgiven their sins in Christ are to live in light of having been forgiven. Paul addresses this by pointing out that we are in union with Christ. Look at the language in Romans 6:3, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” Verse 4, “We were buried therefore with Him.” Verse five, “For if we have been united with him.” Verse 6, “We know that our old self was crucified with him.” Verse 8, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.” As Christians, we have been united with Christ. We are one with Him. In fact, that is what makes us Christians. Paul would have us to understand that our union with Christ marks every aspect of our salvation. That is, by faith we have been united with Christ for our justification, sanctification, and glorification. These cannot be separated anymore than Christ can be separated. Christ cannot be ripped asunder; therefore, we cannot rip sanctification from justification. This has great ramifications.

We have nothing apart from Christ. We have no justification, peace, forgiveness, sanctification, righteousness, holiness, Heavenly Father, or indwelling Spirit apart from Christ. Every part and parcel of our salvation is ours, because we are in Christ. As Anthony Lane put it, “Until we are united with Christ what he has achieved for us helps us no more than an electricity main supply that passes our house but is not connected to it.” Union with Christ is our identity.

This leads Paul to ask the question that he does in Romans 6:2, “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Before we came to know Christ, we were dead in sin. Ephesians 2 tells us, “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked.” Now as a Christian, Paul declares that we are not dead in sin, we are dead to sin. This is what Paul wants Christians to understand above all else in response to the question of why we should not continue in sin: you have died to sin, dear Christian. It has happened. That is our identity in Christ. That is who we are.

When we became a believer by grace through faith in union with Christ, we died to sin. It is not a progression that Paul has in mind, though it is true that we are to die to sin every day. It is also not a future reality that he is looking to, though it is true that we will know freedom from sin more in heaven than we have ever experienced on this earth. Rather, what Paul is pointing out in Romans 6 is that it is a historic reality for the Christian. We have died to sin. It has already occurred in our past by virtue of our being united with Christ. John Murray aptly explained this by suggesting that when we came to saving faith in Christ there was “a definitive breach with sin.”

Look at how desirous Paul is for us to understand this in just the first 14 verses of Romans 6. Verse 2, “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Verse 3, “all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.” Verse 4, ” buried with him by baptism into death, just as Christ was raised from the dead.” Verse 5, “united with him in a death like his.” Verse 6, “crucified, brought to nothing.” Verse 8, “died with Christ.” Verse 9, “being raised from the dead will never die again. Death no longer has dominion over him.” Verse 10, “For the death he died.” Verse 11, “consider yourselves dead to sin.”

Death is everywhere in these 14 verses. Even the most uninformed reader can see that Paul is making a single point. He is declaring with passion, “Don’t you understand, when you were united with Christ by grace through faith, you were united with Him in His death?” Christ died. And by our union with Him, we died with Him. He died, so we died. That old life of mine, that unregenerate man that I was, that man trapped in sin, steeped in sin, dominated and controlled by sin, is dead. And so it is for you, if you are in Christ. Sin’s power and authority has already been broken in your life.

Sin is no longer our king. It is no longer our sovereign. We need not follow its dictates. It cannot command us. We have been set free to serve a new Lord, a better Lord. Sin no longer sits upon the throne of our hearts, grace does in the person of King Jesus. That is the principle reason we are not to sin. Our identity has been changed. Giving ourselves over to sin is harkening back to an old lord, an impostor, a realm to which we no longer belong. Sin that grace may abound? By no means!

May 10, 2014

Devotional Double Header

This week C201 joined another blog aggregator, The Fellowship of Christian bloggers. I hope to introduce a few of the bloggers here as I encounter material that fits our vision of devotional writing. To start, I was intrigued with the title of this first one: Done With Religion by Michael Donohoe. Click the title below to link.

Colossians 3:5, 9-11 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry…Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him, a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all…

As followers of Christ, our old nature has been killed and buried. We are new creatures in Christ. We no longer have to serve sin because Christ has set us free.

Our old sinful nature was crucified with Christ. It was dead and buried and now a new, holy and righteous creature has risen and is alive in Christ.

We have Christ living in us and we can rely on His power to overcome temptation by His strength. Because of Him we can live a life free from the guilt and punishment of sin. The sinful nature is still in the ground and a new person now lives as one with God. He put His Spirit within us and made us His dwelling place.

When God looks at us, He sees His child that has been changed by the grace of Christ. We are now holy and righteous in His sight. Not because of anything we have done, but because of the work Christ did. We no longer have to work to earn salvation. After accepting the grace of God, we no longer have to strive to keep the law. The law was good in that it was a tutor to lead us to Christ. The law was fulfilled by Christ and now that we are His, we live by faith in the grace He provided.

In Christ, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no upper level or lower level child of God. The is no Jew or Greek, male or female, clergy or laity. Each one of us make up an equally important and functioning part of the body. We are all saved by grace and living under the headship of Christ. Christ is our all in all.

May we continue to grow in Grace and let Him have the preeminence.

The second of our devotional double-header today was also from a blog with a title that grabbed me: Finding the Holy in the Mundane by Rachel Stephenson.  Click the title below to link.


Confident Hope

Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called—His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance.Ephesians 1:15-18 (NLT)

Paul begins his letter with a prayer that spills out in gratitude and praise. He writes of God’s greatness, grace and glorious purpose. Why did Paul begin with such resounding praise? So you can know.

Heavenly Wisdom

Paul continues his prayer asking God to give us wisdom—spiritual, God given understanding. It’s not the kind of understanding that is simply factual. Paul’s prayer is that we would know Him better. God reveals Himself in all creation; He wants to be known. God imparts on the believer a supernatural understanding of Himself. It’s a divine and glorious honor, reserved only for the believer.

Confident Hope

When I am trying a new recipe, I hope the finished product is yummy.  When I am learning a new skill, I hope I am able to produce the desired outcome. When I write, I hope you understand what I am trying to convey. There is an element of uncertainty in the hope I have in my skills and abilities. I may or may not be able to accomplish what I set out to do.

Paul prays that we may understand the confident hope we have in Christ. Christ is THE factor that turns a wish into a confident hope, a sure thing, and an absolute truth. Paul prays for our understanding of that hope.

The Inheritance

What is that confident hope? Read verse 18 closely.

I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called—His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance.

God considers YOU an inheritance—prized, valued and purchased. Knowledge and understanding is what Paul prays for you and me. Can you begin to fathom that? The God of the universe, pure and holy, considers frail, sin-sick humanity as a valued inheritance.

To understand that you must understand the value God places on humanity. God sent His Son to die to reconcile us. That is value! Jesus’ blood purchased our redemption. That is confident hope—there is power in the blood of Christ—power to redeem and purify the sinful heart.

God invested Himself in His own inheritance—US!

Father, may I come to know You better! Illuminate my understanding of the hope I have in Christ. Let me come to understand the love You have for me and the desire You have for me to know and love you more.


What the Bible Speaks To

In addition to Bible Gateway and Bible Hub, devotions here are sometimes prepared using   I found it interesting to see their topical index; these are the things that the Bible teaches and speaks to, and it’s interesting to see these collected together in a single list:

Top Verses by Topic (The links are all live!)

February 5, 2014

Do Not Sin; But if You Sin…

A year ago we introduced you to Don Costello at the blog Theophobic. Don takes an expository approach — phrase by phrase — and blogs in a style not unlike what you might find in a detailed Bible commentary. He’s been blogging since 2006 and has about 1,500 posts.  Click here to read this at source, and then click the header at the top of his page to look around at other recent articles. (We’ve left all references here in KJV, which Don uses. Feel free to look up each reference in the Bible you are most comfortable with.)

1 John 2:1
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
a. This study is going to upset some apple carts so fasten your seatbelts because for some of you it is going to be a bumpy ride.
1. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not…”
a. Translations
1). [NLT] My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin.2). [NIV] My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.

3). [NASB] My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.

4). [RSV] My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin;

b. What are the things he wrote in order that we should not sin?

1). 1 John 1:5-10 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

b. It is extremely clear what John is saying. He said, I am writing this to you so that you do not sin, but he also made abundantly clear that everyone has sinned and no one is without sin, but he wrote all that to say that we should not sin. The grace of God provided in the New Covenant provides us with forgiveness and mercy for our sins, but it also provides us with empowerment not to sin, that is what John was saying. The body of Christ in American culture has a perverted view of grace and salvation in Christ. Too many believers have the opinion, “I am just a sinner saved by grace.” On the authority of the word of God I tell you that is not true and you should not have that opinion of yourself. You are saints! Yes saints,  for that is what the Scriptures call us. If you are a born again Christian you are not “just a sinner saved by grace”, you are a saint!

1). Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

2). Ephesians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

c. The warnings in the Scriptures concerning having an exalted opinion of oneself are clear and here are a few of them.

1). Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

2). 1 Peter 5:5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

d. In this study I will not be referring to having an exalted opinion of ourselves, but rather what the word of God says about us and what it says about the opinion we should have of ourselves in Christ.

e. The opinion I am to have is the mind of Christ, a part of the inheritance we have in Christ Jesus.

1). 1 Corinthians 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

2). The mind of Christ.

a). 1 Peter 4:1, 2 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

b). Jesus had the attitude that he was not going to sin against his Father God and that is the opinion and mental attitude that we also should have. We are not going to sin against God

3). Notice what Paul writes concerning what our opinion should be concerning sin

a). Romans 6:1-14 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. 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 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 sin.
For he that is dead is freed 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 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 over you: for ye are not under the law, but under graceb). In the above passage Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost: God forbid that we would sin; we should not serve sin; we are freed from sin; we are not to let sin reign in our bodies; We are to reckon (consider) ourselves dead to sin; sin shall not have dominion over us because we are under grace. What? Sin shall not have dominion over us because we are under grace? But what we hear mostly is the part of grace that Christ has borne my sins and I am forgiven of them and when I sin, I can ask forgiveness and he forgives me in grace given to me because of what he did on Calvary. All of that is true.4). Sin will not have dominion over me because I and under grace. Everything I need to live a victorious in Christ is given to me through the knowledge of God.

a). 2 Peter 1:2-4 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

5). The grace of God teaches us and empowers us to live free from ungodly lusts free from all iniquity.

a). Titus 2:11-15  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

2. “…And if any man sin…”
a. Too many in the body of Christ have a sin consciousness, they believe that even though they are Christians they will continue to sin, it is a fact of life you can’t get away from it, you are just a sinner saved by grace and when we sin we repent, ask God to forgive us and we go on, but that is not what the New Covenant says.
1). 1 Corinthians 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not: for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
2). 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

3. “…we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”

a. advocate [3875 * parakletos][an intercessor, consoler:–advocate, comforter.]

b. In the New covenant we have been given grace that empowers us not to sin against God, but if we sin we then have an advocate where we can ask forgiveness.

1). Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

2). 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us form all unrighteousness.

October 2, 2013

The Sufficiency of Scripture

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After several days of writing original pieces here at C201, I went back to mining the internet for interesting topics and articles, only to strike gold. Rebecca Writes is the blog of Rebecca Stark, and one of the features on her blog is the Theological Term of the Week. So far, she’s covered about 270 such entries, going back to 2007. I encourage you to use this resource again and again. Remember that theological terms are not necessarily Biblical terms; the entries in a theological dictionary won’t always occur in your concordance, in fact the majority won’t.

After reading many recent ones, and trying to choose a sample, I ended up going to one of the older ones, on the sufficiency of scripture, and then one of the newest, on the mortification of sin. Honestly, there are so many good articles at this blog that we might do this again sometime.

sufficiency of scripture
The principle that the words of scripture contain everything we need to know from God in order for us to be saved and to be perfectly obedient to him.
  • From scripture:

    …from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. ( 2 Timothy 3:15-17 ESV)

  • From The London Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 1, Section 6:

    The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture, to which nothing is to be added at any time, either by new revelation of the Spirit, or by the traditions of men.

  •  From Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem:

    The sufficiency of Scripture also tells us that nothing is required of us by God that is not commanded in Scripture either explicitly or by implication. This reminds us that the focus of our search for God’s will ought to be on Scripture, rather than on seeking guidance through prayer for changed circumstances or altered feelings or direct guidance from the Holy Spirit apart from Scripture….

    The discovery of this great truth could bring tremendous joy and peace to the lives of thousands of Christians who, spending countless hours seeking God’s will outside of Scripture, are often uncertain about whether they have found it. In fact, many Christians today have very little confidence in their ability to discover God’s will with any degree of certainty. Thus there is little striving to do God’s will (for who can know it?) and little growth in holiness before God.

    The opposite ought to be true. Christians who are convinced of the sufficiency of Scripture should begin eagerly to seek and find God’s will in Scripture. They should be eagerly and regularly growing in obedience to God, knowing great freedom and peace in the Christian life.

Learn more

  1. “What is the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture? What does it mean that the Bible is sufficient?”
  2. Scott McClareThe Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture
  3. Tim ChalliesThe Bible’s Sufficiency
  4. Mark Thompson: The Sufficiency of Scripture
  5. David G. Peterson: The Sufficiency of Scripture
  6. Mark Dever: God Told Me” and the Sufficiency of Scripture
  7. John MacArthur: The Sufficiency of Scripture, Part 1 (mp3); The Sufficiency of Scripture, Part 2 (mp3)
Related terms:

mortification (of sin)

A way of life in which a Christian takes an active role in “crushing sin from their lives … rooting it out, and depriving it of its influence”;1 a Christian’s active role in battling sinful habits in the power of the Spirit.

    • From scripture:

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away:anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:5-11 ESV)

[Mortification] is, then, the work of the Spirit. For, —

(1.) He is promised of God to be given unto us to do this work. The taking away of the stony heart, — that is, the stubborn, proud, rebellious, unbelieving heart, — is in general the work of mortification that we treat of. Now this is still promised to be done by the Spirit, Ezek. 11:19, 36:26, “I will give my Spirit, and take away the stony heart;” and by the Spirit of God is this work wrought when all means fail, Isa. 57:17-18.

(2.) We have all our mortification from the gift of Christ, and all the gifts of Christ are communicated to us and given us by the Spirit of Christ: “Without Christ we can do nothing,” John 15:5. All communications of supplies and relief, in the beginnings, increasings, actings of any grace whatever, from him, are by the Spirit, by whom he alone works in and upon believers. From him we have our mortification: “He is exalted and made a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto us,” Acts 5:31; and of our repentance our mortification is non small portion. How doth he do it? Having “received the promise of the Holy Ghost,” he sends him abroad for that end, the Spirit, as Tertullian speaks, “Vicariam navare operam,” to do the works that he had to accomplish in us.

Learn more:

  1. Got What is mortification of sin?
  2. Sinclair Ferguson: The Practice of Mortification
  3. J. Ligon Duncan: Putting Sin to Death
  4. John Owen :  The Mortification of Sin in Believers
  5. Christopher Love: The Mortification of Sin
  6. Octavius Winslow: The Believer’s Obligation to Mortify Sin
  7. John MacArthur: The Mortification of Sin (pdf)

Related terms:

January 24, 2013

With One Desire We Come: That You Would Reign in Us

I am continually fascinated by the concept of scripture as a multi faceted jewel which reveals, refracts and reflects with each slight turn. The geometric properties of a large diamond mean that each face is interconnected directly to several others, which in turn are attached to others. So we find as we read God’s word that many passages are connected to other passages, and that many others, even on their own, offer depths and riches of meaning and application.

But there is also the aspect that many verses are links in a chain, offering part of a whole larger imparting of God’s ways and God’s instructions on a variety of subjects. To fully grasp the mind of God — to see what is called the whole counsel of God — we need to dig deeper.

For example, what is the mark of our work and witness in the world? The first answer we would expect is love.

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  ~John 13:35 NKJV

But we all know people who, because they are created in God’s image, are very loving people, do good works, are benevolent and charitable; but they have never acknowledged Christ’s deity or given him lordship over their lives.

So we go deeper. The mark of the true Christian is the fruit of the spirit.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!~Gal 5: 22,23 (NLT)

But in addition to growing in love (and joy and peace, etc.) we are to grow in the knowledge of God.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. ~II Peter 3:18 (ESV)

But clearly there is more, as we see in Paul’s prayer — and expectations — for the Colossian church:

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  ~Col 1: 9-12 (NIV)

(We looked at this passage here.)

But clearly there is another dimension to there being evidence of Christ’s lordship over our lives — our possessions, our thought-lives, our decision making, our priorities and yes, our anxieties) and this is the idea of Christ’s rule and reign in our lives as we work toward becoming more conformed to his image.

I have no specific verse for this because there are so many. Someone once told me that the word Saviour appears 37 times in the KJV, and the word Lord appears over 7,000 times. That Jesus Christ is Lord is among the great themes of the Bible. The sovereignty of God, his ‘King-ship’ and Lordship over all creation is mirrored in the expectation that he will have rule and reign in our individual lives.

But if you want a specific reference, you do no better than the book of Romans which talks about whereas once sin ruled over us, the believer is now ruled by Christ.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— ~Rom. 6:6 (NIV)

I’ve led this progression of thoughts in this direction for two reasons. One, as you can see below is to introduce the song, Reign in Us by the band Starfield. This song has really been on my mind all week since encountering it again in a weekend service. More importantly, the other reason is that I believe that Christ leading us and captivating all that we think and do is going to impact the world in ways we can’t imagine.

Yes, the world will know we are Christians by our love, but they will also know it because we have submitted all to Christ. I’m not there yet — I have a long way to go — but as I write this, I make this my desire.

For those of you without high speed internet, the video is a static image; this is primarily an audio file that will load in seconds.


You thought of us before the world began to breathe
You knew our names before we came to be
You saw the very day we fall away from you
And how desperately we need to be redeemed

Lord Jesus
Come lead us
We’re desperate for your touch

Oh great and mighty one
With one desire we come
That you would reign that you would reign in us
We’re offering up our lives
A living sacrifice
That you would reign that you would reign in us

Spirit of the living God fall fresh again
Come search our hearts and purify our lives
We need your perfect love we need your discipline
We’re lost unless you guide us with your light

Lord Jesus
Come lead us
We’re desperate for your touch

Oh great and mighty one …

We cry out for your life to revive us cry out
For your love to define us cry out
For your mercy to keep us
Blameless until you return

Oh great and mighty one

So reign please reign in us
Come purify our hearts
We need your touch
Come cleanse us like a flood
And set us out
So the world may know you reign you reign in us

writers: Tim Neufeld, Jon Neufeld, Ben Glover