Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 1 * BOOK 22
THE OLD SIN NATURE
In our classes we are informal, trying to reach folks regardless of where they are, across all denominational lines. And just because I reach across denominational lines doesn’t mean I will ever compromise in order to do so. I teach The Book as I feel it needs to be taught. Now let’s continue with our study in the Book of Romans. I’m taking it slowly because I know that most of what I’ve been teaching, the average churchgoer and believer never have any contact with. We realize that most of our Sunday school material will not go into the depth of these doctrines, so that is why we are taking it rather slowly. We left off last lesson in Romans 6 at verse 14. Remember, I’ve been stressing in these past few lessons that the word `sin’ (singular) is the old Adamic nature that we’re born with, and that’s why it is singular. It’s the fountainhead then of sins (plural). So the old Adam is what produces sins (plural), and we always have to keep that separated as we study Scripture.
“For sin (the old sin nature, old Adam) shall not have dominion over you (now in the last lesson I was stressing, “reigning like a king,” or we can crucify old Adam, and let the Grace of God in the Person of Christ and the Holy Spirit reign as King); for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”
Now I always have to stop and qualify, as I’ve done for the last several years, that when I maintain that we’re not under the Law that doesn’t mean that we cast aside the Ten Commandments as no good, because they are still holy, perfect, and still the mind of God. They are still the criteria for social behavior whether it’s Christian or non-Christian. The Ten Commandments do not become a criteria of doctrine, and that’s why I have no compunction about having the Ten Commandments in our public schools, because the Ten Commandments in themselves are not a religious doctrine, but rather simply the mind of God, that everything within those Ten Commandment is for mankind’s own good. And that’s what we have to understand when we have the Ten Commandments hanging on a classroom wall, we are not placing a demand on any child regardless what beliefs they have or don’t have, but rather the basic laws of the Ten Commandments just simply establish a good society. And when a society rebels against those Commandments they’re in trouble. And, consequently, empires have fallen, one right after the other because they ignore these basic tenants of God’s Law. But also remember the Ten Commandments are not a criteria for Salvation, or a set of doctrines, and we’re not under them as the Nation of Israel was, and all their legalist priesthood, and sacrifices and so forth, and this is what Paul is referring to. We’re not under that legalist system, we’re under Grace, and that’s as different as daylight is from dark.
“What then? shall we sin (let old Adam continue to rule supreme), because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” Notice the answer is God forbid, but I think a more accurate translation is, “Banish the thought.” Don’t even think such a thing, because it’s nowhere near what God is trying to show us.
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are…”
Now he just brings this into the everyday world. If you are employed by someone then naturally he is the one who is going to tell you what he expects of you. He is the one who will be paying your wages, and he is the one you are to give your allegiance to, because you’re his employee. Now of course the word `servants’ is implying the same thing. Paul again is going to bring everything back to this idea of old Adam. Maybe some people are beginning to get tired of hearing me use that term over the last few chapters, but as I again was preparing my thoughts for this lesson last night, I got to thinking that’s the reason Paul is making such a big deal over these two themes that we have been emphasizing over and over ever since we came into Chapter 4.
First it was `Justification.’ You are justified, you’re declared just as if you have never sinned. For almost two chapters that was repeated over and over, that you’re justified by faith, and faith alone. Now in Chapter 6, Paul is telling us over and over that we have to deal with “Old Adam.” Old Adam has to be crucified, and put to death. I think that I came to the right conclusion in my preparation, and that is to show that no kind of human endeavor can do what is being accomplished in these two or three chapters. In other words, no amount of Church membership, works, baptism, sacraments, or elements you can put in here, nothing can do what Paul is teaching in justification by faith, and in putting old Adam to death. Works can’t do that, because it has to be the works of the Creator God Himself, and I think that’s where the emphasis lies.
All around us whether it be in the city, small town, country, or Timbuktu, most people are still of the impression that they have to do something. This is totally foreign to that kind of thinking, so I’m going to go along with Paul, and keep repeating it until he stops repeating it, which will be when we get to Chapter 8. Then all of a sudden we will break out into the sunlight of how free and secure we are, but until we do we’ll keep repeating as he does.
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey (if you are a child of Adam, then that’s the one you’re going to be serving); whether of sin unto death, or (the other side of the coin) of obedience unto righteousness?”
in the right standing with God, and His Grace, you can enjoy that now and for all eternity. See, that’s the only choice in life. Whether we are living in America, Europe, or some third world country there are only two choices for life. Are you going to serve the old Adam who is under the control of Satan, and be entrapped in his eternal doom, or are we going to turn our back on him, and enjoy God’s righteousness, bliss, and heaven for ever.
“But God be thanked, that ye were (past tense) the servants of sin (our past), but (now the flip side) ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you (Paul’s Gospel as found in I Corinthians 15:1-4). Being then made free from sin (old Adam), ye became the servants (bond slave) of righteousness.” See how clear this comes out now after repeating it over and over?
“I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh (what’s Paul saying in so many words? “I’m coming down to your level. I’m speaking on your level, because you are still human, and in the flesh, and I’m not coming with some high and mighty statement you can’t comprehend”): for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity;…”
Now what’s he describing? The life of a person out there in the world. Never lose sight of the fact that everyone of these Gentile converts that Paul has brought out of darkness into the light of the Gospel were pagan idolaters. In fact let’s look at I Thessalonians for a moment, and this says it all. If I can just get people to understand that as Paul writes to these believers he is writing to Gentile men and women who had been steeped in idolatry. They had been in all the idolatrous, and pagan practices that were rampant in the ancient world. You know I always like to make mention of the fact that we think that we’re living in a whole new world, that we are living in a whole new social strata, I mean, after all, we have finally arrived. No we haven’t. We’re living in the same old sin that has plagued the world since the beginning. Idolatry and paganism promoted it more than a lot of things that are taking place in our society. Here in I Thessalonians Chapter 1, let’s start with verse 9.
I Thessalonians 1:9
“For they themselves (the ones up there in Northern and Southern Greece that Macedonia and Achaia in verse 8) shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;”
Do you see that? Thessalonica was in Northern Greece not far from Philippi, and every place that Paul gained converts this would have held true. They turned from idols to the living God. Now that took something, and again you want to realize that when people are saved and become believers, and come out of a culture that is totally different to Christianity, then they come under pressure and persecution. As Paul writes, he keeps this uppermost in his mind that these new converts did not have an easy row living in the midst of their idolatrous friends and relatives. Now back to Romans 6:20.
“For when ye were (past tense) the servants (under the dominion of old Adam) of sin, ye were free from righteousness.”
What? God doesn’t expect the unsaved person to live righteously. You can’t legislate Christian morals and principles. We’d like to, I know, because we think it would make for a better world, but we just can’t do it. You cannot legislate morality. Let me show you in Romans 8. It shocks people when I point this out. This certainly isn’t giving the unbelieving world more free reign than they already have, but rather saying what the Word of God says.
“Because the carnal mind…” Now the word `carnal’ as Paul uses it can be used two different ways. He’ll speak of a carnal believer, that is a Christian who is still fleshly-minded, but he’s saved, and he’s in the Body of Christ. But he has not come out of that old lifestyle, as Paul has been begging him to do in Romans Chapters 6 and 7, but he’s carnal, he’s more fleshly concerned than he is spiritual. On the other hand Paul can speak of carnal people as being totally unsaved. They are totally lost, so the text has to define the word for you. But here Paul is talking about the unsaved carnal person. Now the whole verse:
“Because the carnal mind (the lost) is enmity (an enemy) against God (most lost people if you tell them that they’re an enemy of God they’d swat you. But whether they know it or not, the Book says the lost are enemies of God): for it (the carnal unbeliever) is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
Do you see how that fits with what I just said? You can not legislate Christian morality on the world, and that’s why we don’t even attempt to try. God doesn’t want us to, because it won’t work. The only thing that will work is when they have that inner change, the work of God in their lives. Now back to Romans Chapter 6.
“For when ye were the servants of sin (old Adam), ye were free from righteousness.” So when you’re lost you’re under no demands to live righteously. God doesn’t expect it. Now in the next verse Paul is going back into their idolatrous life style and ask:
“What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.”
Well, they had the fruit of ungodliness, that was the end result of their lifestyle in idolatry. You let a person produce nothing but bad fruit throughout his entire sojourn on earth, what’s his end? Spiritual death. Separation from God forever and ever and ever as we see the last part of that verse, and that’s what The Book says. That the end result of a person who is going to live under total control of old Adam, and passes off the scene having done nothing different, death is the result. Not only physical, but also spiritual death as well. Let’s go for a moment to the Book of Revelation Chapter 20, and look at the spiritual death that Paul is referring to. He’s not just talking about dying physically, but rather a spiritual death. I don’t have time here to go back and review the whole chapter so we’ll have to jump in at verse 5. Remember that chapter 20 is at the end of the Tribulation, the Millennial reign of Christ, the Kingdom has come in, and He’s going to reign and rule for a thousand years, and now John writes:
“But the rest of the dead (the lost who have not experienced resurrection) lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.” In other words, at the end of the thousand years, that’s when the Great White Throne Judgment will come about for the lost. The first resurrection is for believers only.
“Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection (this will be from Adam to the last person saved); on such (the believer) the second death hath no power,…”
So what’s the second death that He’s talking about? The eternal doom, when they will be sent away from the presence of God back over here in Chapter 20:11-15 at the Great White Throne Judgment. They will never again have any contact, or conversation with their Creator God because they are totally separated. That is the spiritual death. This is the same thing Paul is talking about in Romans. Either we take care of old Adam, and enter into this righteousness we call Salvation, and have eternal bliss in the presence of God, or we let old Adam reign supreme, and pass off the scene, never having done anything about it, and go to the second death.
“But now (in their saved estate) being made free from sin (old Adam), and become servants to God, ye have your fruit (now you are producing something totally different. Can you see that? The old Adam produced fruit to nothing but condemnation and evil. But being made free from old Adam you have entered in to the Salvation experience that God has offered, and become) unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” We can’t comprehend what it means to live forever in God’s presence, but that’s what the Scripture is talking about. We can enjoy the saving Grace of God in this life, but it’s not going to stop at the grave; it’s going to take us on into the everlasting life, that eternal abiding with God Himself. This is what Paul is burning himself out for. When he sets himself up as an example, that’s something I can go for, because he was just as human as I am. Paul suffered those privations for the sake of the Gospel beyond what we can imagine.
“For the wages of sin (or you might say, the wages that old Adam pays is the second death, eternal doom) is death; but (the flip side is) the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Now the key word in this verse is “Gift” You’re all acquainted with gifts, and we all like to get a gift, but as soon as you contribute something to the cost of that gift, then it’s no longer a gift. And there again is what the majority of even Christendom is trying to do: take away the gift aspect of Salvation, and they want to work for it. They think they have to do something. And of course I always have to qualify what I’m talking about. I’m talking about Salvation, and then of course after we have entered into Salvation, yes then all these other things have to fall into place. There has to be the good works, the manifestation of our saving faith, there has to be this whole idea of bringing honor and glory to God. And as the catechism says, “Enjoy Him Forever.”