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January 2nd, 2013 - 07:28 PM
In the book of Romans, we come across the tennis match of change (or not so much change). I will elaborate. It is a Christian belief to live by faith, but what exactly is that? Paul, the apostle that wrote the book of Romans, was a man who clearly had an understanding that Christianity is a life of faith and what that means specifically, not just abstractly. His writings are basically the first self-help book, a practical guide to life. The only hang-up is it takes a little to understand his writings. I am not a scholar or expert on the writings of the apostle or anyone else, but I believe the Holy Spirit helps us find meaning of verses as we read. I am going to describe a story from Romans, as I am presently understanding it.
Some habits/changes have been a struggle for me. And I have volleyed between strict resistance and overindulgence. And other issues have just gone away. One day it was normal for me to do this, and the next I no longer did, without a stgruggle. And it has been hard to understand. Things of spirit may not be meant to be rationalized, but experienced and accepted. But our habits and actions, that is physical and psychological. This is my take on some change, and I write mostly to myself, but also because there are people that go to counseling and others do self-counseling. Regardless of the method, people get to a point in their lives and think, regarding this characteristic (physical, mental, emotional, Ö) this doesn't represent what I stand for anymore. But reconstructing their actions and habits does not just happen automatically with that realization for everyone or perhaps anyone. Guilt can come along with this desire to change, but I donít think it does any good. I think guilt is polarizing. I am trying to have the attitude, Ďit was OK then, but now I am just hanging on to the past with that. I am ready to move on.í
In Romans, Paul talks a lot about the law and itís purpose. He clears up some things about sin and points to Jesus as savior, redeemer and answer for sin. He thoroughly discusses faith and cites the old Testament patriarch Abraham. And he talks about circumcision, and again cites Abraham as an example. When he speaks of the law, he says itís purpose is to be a guide to point out sin. It was never meant to be the answer because it cannot save only condemn. Faith is according to Paul, believing and trusting and acting upon the words of God. When Abraham heard from God that he would have offspring and be the father of nations, he did not look at the impossibility of his circumstance and doubt the Lord. He believed and trusted that it was true and through grace this old man and woman would produce children. His faith was tested, The results did not immediately come to be. Sometimes we have to believe in something for a while. I have some things I am believing in, that the circumstances, or as I like to say, the evidence, suggests it wonít happen, that hope is in vain. Some things, as the evidence has mounted against, I have become more solid in my faith, even when those closest have been discouraging. I think faith is meant to be tested and developed. And we are meant to realize that when it does happen for us, it is grace and not our effort. If it was our effort, then it would not have been God and it would have come to pass a while ago. Maybe it is more like our participation and Godís consummation.
A point Paul is making about circumcision. Abraham trusted God before he saw results. His thoughts and actions lined up with Godís promise before the results. Then God made a covenant and required Abraham to seal it with circumcision. And Abraham lay with Sarah knowing they would soon conceive in their old age. I think that is the answer to the question, 'are we supposed to wait for God to do it for us?' It is probably safe to say it doesn't help to be frustrated that it has not happened, but we accept Godís promise as truth and respond accordingly. We keep doing what he told us to and believe. Circumcision was the outward sign that came after faith. I think this is pointed out to say in some places of our growth, we have to get right with our thoughts and actions, be tested and become settled in our belief, this having the safe permanence as circumcision, and then grace will come and the promise that we are carrying will become outward.
Father I thank you that you have safely locked inside each of our hearts a spiritual DNA that testifies to who we are. I thank you for the beauty and amazing faith the you have loaded inside us and you are faithful to uncover and reveal to ourselves and others. Draw out the character and image of Christ in us. Whatever we may be a part of, let Your glory be there. Amen.
Romans Chapter 4
Abraham Justified by Faith
What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin." Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
The Promise Realized Through Faith
For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring--not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations"--in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, "So shall your offspring be." He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was "counted to him as righteousness." But the words "it was counted to him" were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.