Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 22
Returning to our study in Romans Chapter 6, I would like to begin by reviewing verse 13 again, and then getting into verse 14 and 15.
“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin:…”
Or old Adam. Now I’m emphasizing this exercise of will in the life of a believer because the word here again doesn’t demand, or it doesn’t say that we’re not going to have an opportunity to have a choice, but it’s a matter of yielding. The constant admonition of Paul’s letters to the believer is, “Don’t give in to old Adam.” We see in I Corinthians that Paul tells us that he kept his body in subjection and under control.
I Corinthians 9:27
“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
Now that doesn’t mean that you have to become a clergy or a monk in a monastery or anything like that. I’ve always maintained that the Christian life is the greatest life of freedom of anything that the world has ever known.
I’ve read that back in the dark ages some of the priests of the Roman Church, just to show their humility and servitude, would wear garments made of hair with the hair next to their skin. This was to torment themselves supposedly to please God, and show their humility. That’s not what the Scripture asks. We do not have to go through some kind of torture in order to be a spiritual person. The Christian life is a life of joy; it’s a life of responsibility, yes, but it’s also a life that lets us enjoy it to the full. God does not mandate that, just because you’re a believer, you have to be as poor as a pauper. On the other hand I do not agree with these who say that if you’re a believer you will automatically become a millionaire. But whether you’re rich or poor or in-between we have this satisfying life that God has now imparted to us while we’re in this earthly sojourn.
“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead (because that’s what we are. We have been raised from that deadness in the old Adam), and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” Now here comes what I want to spend most of this lesson on, and that is verse 14.
“For sin (singular, old Adam, the old Adamic nature) shall not have dominion over you (now I trust all of you know what dominion is. That’s something that rules like a king, and so Paul is admonishing us that we don’t let old Adam have dominion over you. And this almost seems like anti-climatic. Don’t let him have dominion or let him influence you to live the life of the flesh): for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”
You would think it should be the other way around. You can’t let old Adam have dominion over you because you’re under Law, and the Law stipulates what you can and cannot do.That’s not what it says, it’s the opposite of that. You are under grace. It’s hard to comprehend isn’t it? Here we have full freedom, we’re not under any demands of a set of rules and regulations. And under those circumstances I can still keep old Adam under subjection? Yes! See that’s the beauty of the Gospel of the Grace of God.
Now, look at the timeline again (front of book). Has mankind always had this kind of freedom? No. For 1500 years the Nation of Israel was under the Law, and when I talk about the Law, I always have to remind people that it was severe. The Law was demanding, and there was no hanky panky under the Law, it was severe to the extreme. You know the illustration I always like to give is if someone picked up sticks on the Sabbath day what was the result? Death. See? There were no ifs, ands, or buts – they were out of there. The same way with other great sins. If they would have committed murder, for example, there was no such thing as umpteen years of appeals. They were dead, so the law was very demanding.
So on the timeline at 2000 B.C. we have the call of Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees. And after Isaac had Jacob, and out of him came the twelve sons, then coming out of Egypt we have the Nation of Israel making it’s appearance under the leadership of Moses (Israel had become a nation while they were in slavery in Egypt), and then we had the giving of the Law shortly after that, and that, of course, was by Moses. The Lord gave it to him at Mt. Sinai. So we had Law 1500 years before the Cross. And when Christ came on the scene in His earthly ministry for those three years, was He under the Law? Yes. And He confined His ministry, again with the exception of two people, to the Nation of Israel under the Law. This is what I try to get across to people. I don’t downplay the Four Gospels, saying you should not read them or have anything to do with them, any more than I would the Old Testament. But as I have been saying over the past several months, you do not get Church doctrine, or Grace doctrine in the Four Gospels. It’s not in there. God is still dealing with the Nation of Israel under the Covenant promises, and under the Law, so consequently, there is nothing of Grace in there as we understand Grace.
Again, I always have to qualify. Grace has always been the attribute of God, because when Adam sinned way back there in the Garden of Eden, what attribute of God caused Him to go seeking for Adam and Eve? It was His Grace, we know it was. He didn’t have to, He could have just let them go, or zapped them and started over, but it was His Grace that went back, and reconciled Adam, and Eve unto Himself. I just had a question in the mail this morning again. “Will Adam be in Heaven or was He lost?” No, Adam is going to be in Heaven, because his faith, you see, put him back in fellowship with his Creator, and Eve as well. Now one of our best study Bibles makes the comment that “Grace began with the Cross.”Well as an attribute, of course, it did, but in experience there is still no Gospel of Grace even in the early chapters of Acts, and you can’t find it. But once the Apostle Paul is converted on the road to Damascus, and he makes his appearance to Ananias, the first thing that God reveals is that He is going to send this man where? To the Gentiles.
“Then Ananias answered, `Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.’ But the Lord said unto him, `Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me. to bear my name before the Gentiles,…'”
Well He couldn’t send an apostle to the Gentiles, and promote the Law of Israel because that was only for the Nation of Israel. So it stands to reason that if He’s going to go to the non-Jewish world then He’s going to have to go to something totally different than Judaism even though He is going to go first to the Jew and then the Gentile. Now let me show you how the Scripture qualifies that. Let’s jump ahead to the Book of Galatians, Chapter 2, for a moment, and this is all part and parcel of dividing Law and Grace, and there are a lot of people that absolutely don’t understand that. Remember Paul is writing here to the Churches there in Asia Minor who are being deluged with Judaisers who are trying to bring these Gentile believers under the Law. Legalism!
“THEN fourteen years after (Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus) I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.” Now remember by this time he’s been up there in Asia Minor on his missionary journeys. He has established Gentile Churches, and he has gotten word that they are being tempted with legalism, so he hurriedly writes this little epistle. Now verse 2, and this is the one I want you to see. Paul writes:
“And I went up by revelation (it was a supernatural trip. God had instructed it, and had led him up there), and communicated unto them (that would be Peter and the eleven, and other leaders of the Jerusalem believers) that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles (I Corinthians 15:1-4),…”
Hey, that was something totally different than what the Jews in Jerusalem knew about. It was an advance on what they knew, of course. But it was still something that they could not comprehend, that God was now going to go to the Gentile, pagan, idolatrous world, and bring those people to a place of reconciliation with Himself outside of Judaism. That was incomprehensible They couldn’t believe that the God of Abraham would go to those pagans, and bring them to a place of Salvation without bringing them under the law of Israel. If you doubt what I’m saying, come back to Acts 15 for a little bit. You will find this Chapter in Acts, and the second Chapter here in Galatians, are almost identical. It’s all the same set of events, and this is what Paul was up against when he was trying to bring the Gospel of the Grace of God in the midst of Judaisers who were still under the Law. That’s something that a lot of people can’t see, and it took me a long time to see it. Now it’s the same time frame, about 14 years after Paul’s conversion which was about 38 A.D. so this was about 52 A.D., and that makes it about 22 or 23 years after Pentecost, and don’t lose sight of that.
“AND certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren (that is these Gentile believers at Antioch), and said, `Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.'”
Now that’s what The Book says. I don’t care what traditionalists say. The Book says that these Jewish believers at Jerusalem were still so saturated with the Law that they tried to bring those Gentile believers of Paul’s ministry up in Antioch under it. But Paul said that these Gentile believers were already saved and that they didn’t have to keep the law of Moses because they are now under my Gospel which I’m preaching to the Gentiles. Now you say, “Well that’s just one verse Les, and I’m not satisfied.” All right then come on down to verse 5. Paul is now at Jerusalem, and he’s meeting with the Twelve, and the other leaders of the Church there.
“But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed (notice they were believers. They believed for their Salvation that Jesus was the Christ. And that was what they had to believe under Judaism. They had to believe that Jesus was Who He said He was), saying, `That it was needful to circumcise them (who are `them?’ The Gentile believers at Antioch. And so they’re telling Paul and Barnabas that they have to circumcise those Gentiles), and to command them to keep the law of Moses.'”
That’s what The Book says. This as plain as day, and then people try to tell me that the Gospel of Grace started way back there. No it didn’t because this kind of demand wouldn’t have been placed on these Gentile believers if that was the case. Now let’s come back again to Galatians Chapter 2 just for a moment. Remember the setting now. Paul had been ministering to Gentiles up at Antioch, where the Scriptures says, “They were first called Christians.” But here we find Peter and the rest of these Jewish believers are all shook up at Paul because he is claiming these Gentiles as saved people, but they’re not keeping the Law of Judaism, and they thought that was impossible so they bring them to Jerusalem.
“And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty (to be free from the Law) which we have in Christ Jesus (as Grace Age believers we’re in Christ, we’re in the Body, and certainly Paul and Barnabas were as well), that they might bring us into bondage.” Now what does that mean? Back under the Law. Oh these Jewish believers at Jerusalem were still trying to hang the Law not only on Paul and Barnabas, but also on those Antioch Gentile believers.
“To whom (Paul says) we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour (they didn’t give in); that the truth of the gospel (Paul’s Gospel that he preached to the Gentile) might continue with you.”
What would have happened to Christianity if these Jewish leaders at Jerusalem would have convinced Paul that the Gentile believers had to subject themselves to the Mosaic system? It would have died, and that would be the end of it. But you see Paul didn’t give in, thanks, of course, to a Sovereign God of all Grace, but nevertheless this is where it was all hanging in the balance, that if Paul would have given in, our Gospel as we now know it, would have died, but of course our God wouldn’t have allowed that. Now drop on down to verse 9. I guess this is why a lot of people don’t like Paul. They don’t like what he says, and so they ignore him.
“And when James, Cephas (Peter), and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship (when they finally comprehended that Paul was on the right track with regard to these Gentiles they finally gave in and said, “Okay, we agree.” So they shook hands on it); that we should go unto the heathen (Gentiles), and they unto the circumcision (Jews).”
Isn’t that as plain as day? This is what introduced this whole Gospel of Grace, that now we Gentiles are not subjected to the Jewish system, we’re not subject to the legalism of Judaism because we’re set free from all of that, and our Gospel is simply believing that Christ died for me and rose from the dead for my Salvation. I did nothing. That doesn’t mean that we stop there. We move on because we have been created unto good works. Absolutely we have. That’s what Paul has been talking about in these previous verses, that we don’t give in to old Adam, we now live above the desires of old Adam, we now have the indwelling Holy Spirit, we have Christ Himself becoming the Head of our daily living. Verse 14 again.
“For sin (old Adam) shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”
For the last 1900 + years God has been dealing with the whole human race, not just Gentiles, but even the Nation of Israel on the basis of His Grace. I’ll say it again: “Very few people even among Christendom understand the Grace of God.” I don’t understand it, and don’t even pretend to. It’s far beyond human comprehension. What am I talking about? That the God of creation Himself, one of the Persons in that invisible triune Godhead, stepped out, and took on human flesh, walked among sinful men, subjected Himself to the desires of sinful men, was sinless, and He let them nail Him to a Roman Cross. He permitted it; He could have zapped the whole Roman Empire with one word had He wanted to. But He suffered and died simply because He was ready to pour out Salvation to the whole human race. Now that’s Grace!
And then you take it a little further. Here we are now, especially in our beloved nation with the past 200 years of our Christian heritage, enjoying a standard of living like no other people ever in human history. What is that? Grace. We don’t deserve it. Just because we’re Americans is no reason we have the right to enjoy 90% of the world’s resources with just 6% of its people. But God has seen fit in His Grace to pour it out upon us. And so everything that you and I enjoy, every breath of air, every bite of food, every good thing is Grace, and we don’t deserve it. So this is the whole comprehension of Paul’s Gospel, and that is that God has poured out His Grace, not just upon America and Israel, but rather the whole world. And of course that becomes our responsibility to let the world know that the Grace of God reaches to the vilest person.
Going back a couple of lessons we learned that where sin abounds, the Grace of God is always greater. I read an account one time of Dwight L. Moody, and he had preached a tremendous sermon in Chicago on the Grace of God, and after all the audience had cleared out there was one poor old reprobate sitting on the back row weeping. Moody walked back, and said, “Young man what’s the matter with you?” And the young man said, “Don’t tell me the Grace of God can help, because you don’t know what I’ve been.” This young man had been a recruiter for the prostitution trade of Chicago. And so the man told Moody that because of him countless numbers of beautiful young girls have ended up alcoholics and drug addicts, and many had been murdered or had committed suicide. And then the young man said to Moody, “You mean to tell me that God will still save me?” Dwight L. Moody said, “That’s the Grace of God.” And that is as good an example as you could find other than the Apostle Paul himself. The Grace of God can go far beyond the vilest sinner that we can dream of. It’s almost unbelievable if it weren’t that The Word so clearly declares it.
“…ye are not under the law, but under grace.”