Helping people discover and embrace limitless life in Jesus!

Posts tagged ‘Romans 1’

How Does Obedience Fit Into the New Covenant – Part Two

By Paige Hunt

In our last article we spoke about how obedience fits into the New Covenant – it is the effortless result of receiving the love of God, and abiding in the revelation of the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is natural to conclude, then, that just as obedience is the fruit of right believing, disobedience is caused by unbelief.

Sin and disobedience are not the problem, and God is not an angry judge waiting to punish and harm people who are living in sin and disobedience. 1Rather, God looks upon those in messy lifestyles of sin and disobedience with love and compassion, understanding that the root of these issues is unbelief, and people’s behaviour is merely a result of that. The deepest issue is not sin and disobedience, but unbelief in Christ, His love, and His finished work.

Did you hear that? Sin and disobedience are not the issue. God has already dealt with those things through the obedience of Christ (see Romans 5:19), and has ‘sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again.’ (Isaiah 54:9, NIV). Christ has already dealt with our sins on the cross, and he desires for all men to come to the knowledge of this through a full revelation of the New Covenant. Scripture declares that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4. ESV). Interesting to note is that the word for ‘desires’ used in this verse denotes not only a resolve to save, but a love and fondness for restoring, healing, and saving people. It is an emotional-filled word that speaks of the Father’s unconditional compassion and limitless grace.

This is our God, who Jesus revealed as ‘Father’. This is an intimate picture of life-transforming security, cherished relationship, and dependence. 562It is the relational Fatherhood of God that saves us from our disobedience, and not our own works and efforts, which in fact have the opposite effect and stir up more sin in our lives (see 1 Corinthians 15:56; Romans 3:20; Romans 7:8).

“The pattern of Jesus’ life on earth gives insight into God’s method of transformation. He knows that you, like Zacchaeus (see Luke 19), will not be changed by performance, but by His Presence. The power of His love, the joy of His Presence, and the peace coming from His acceptance are far more capable of changing the human heart than rebuke, censure, condemnation, and rejection…” – John Sheasby, ‘The Birthright’: ‘Out of the Servant’s Quarters into the Father’s House’, p.93, bracket insert mine.

With this image of God as the Father of love and grace in our mind, let’s take deeper look at how God deals with disobedience in the New Covenant:

“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me;” – John 16:8-9 (NKJV)

What matters (as in the primary focus) is not your lifestyle, but your belief system, because what you believe will directly influence your behaviour. This is why Jesus in John 16:9 states that the Holy Spirit convicts non-Christians of unbelief. Another thing to note is that the word for convict used in this Scripture is the Greek word ‘elegcho’, which means ‘to convince’. God desires to convince non-Christians of their unbelief, so that they can come to believe and rest in the all-sufficiency of Jesus more and more, and find the successful, abundant life that God desires for them to have! (See Romans 2:4).

The solution to any and all areas of wrong behaviour, of toxic emotions, and of failure is the finished work of Jesus, and hearing of the beauty and love of God as displayed in Christ. Hearing the good news will always inspire faith in our hearts, transforming our beliefs and giving us the abundant life freely (Romans 10:17; John 10:10). 563Even as believers, we can sometimes believe, act, and live as if we were still in the domain of sin, but through the Good News message the Holy Spirit continually convinces us that in Christ, we have been rescued from the mess and mire of sinful, disobedient living (Colossians 1:12-13). Jesus has qualified us to live without sin and disobedience, to walk in step with His Spirit within us!

Another way that Jesus explained how God deals with those who are not producing healthy fruits (which many would view as disobedience) is in his metaphor of the vine and the branches in John 15:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” – John 15:1-5 (NIV)

Pruning and being cut off sounds pretty painful, and legalists love to use this verse to say that unless we are obedient, we will find ourselves under the punishment of God. However, Scripture says no such thing. In fact, the Greek term for cutting off these unfruitful branches is actually the word ‘airō’, which is better translated here as ‘lifts up’. This makes much more sense in the world of agriculture from which this imagery came. Paul Ellis explains this eloquently in his online article:

Unfruitful branches are lifted out of the dirt and re-dressed so they can be nourished by the sun. Sticking with that metaphor, the reason why some Christians are barren is that they’re facedown in the dirt and not looking at the Son. They’re busy, distracted, stressed, and have wandered from their protos agape, their primary love.” – Paul Ellis, ‘What Happens to Unfruitful Branches?’ [escapetoreality.org]

For believers and non-believers alike, sinful living is simply the result of not knowing how much God loves us, or how good this Good News message really is. Furthermore, pruning in our English terminology means ‘to remove unwanted parts’. However, God is our Creator and our Father, and he loves all that he has made! (See Psalm 145:9). No matter how disobedient you are, you will never be an unwanted or undesired part. In Greek, the word for pruning used in John 15 is ‘kathairō’, more accurately translated in this verse as ‘cleansed’. This is why Jesus declares to his disciples, who have been regularly hearing his words, ‘you are already clean (katharos) because of the word I have spoken to you’.

So God’s cure for disobedience is heaping upon us grace after grace! (John 1:14; John 1:16). 564God’s cure for disobedience is to speak the Good News over our lives, elevating us with the message of Christ’s obedience on our behalf! As we soak up this message, we begin to understand how much God loves us, and we effortlessly manifest the fruits of God’s Spirit and walk in His obedience. (See also Romans 1:16; Romans 10:17).

“Think about the relationship between a vine and a branch. Can a branch produce fruit? No. If you need proof, just cut a branch off a vine or fruit tree, and watch awhile to see how much fruit is produced. However, if a branch is attached to the source with a flow of life, it can bear fruit. The branch is incapable of producing fruit on its own….” – Steve McVey, ’52 Lies Heard in Church Every Sunday’

The Gospel message reveals to us the righteousness that we have obtained in Christ, and effortlessly produces God’s faith in our lives.

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:17 (KJV)

Jesus does not want us to be self-focused – to live by faith in ourselves, where we are constantly under the mentality of ‘right vs. wrong’, or ‘disobedience vs. obedience’. 565Instead, as we remain in an atmosphere of grace, where we can hear and believe the Good News, that Good News continually convinces us to rest in Christ’s all-sufficiency, eradicating unbelief from our lives. Scripture calls this ‘the obedience of faith’ (Romans 1:5).

Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith” – Romans 16:25-26 (NIV), emphasis mine.

What Does the ‘Wrath’ of God Actually Look Like?

What does the wrath of God look like? We know from the Bible that there is something, given the name ‘wrath’ that involves God and that involves people. But, what does it mean? How does it, or has it played out. What does the wrath of God actually look like?

Many people for a long time, inside the church, and out, have been taught the idea that God, in the past, developed some serious anger, and that it was because of the sin of humanity. Many believe that from the first ever sin – from Adam and Eve partaking of the Tree of Knowledge and good and evil, God’s wrath waxed hot against us all. 1But is this true? I mean if you forget the fact that it was actually man that hid from God, not the other way around, and if you forget the fact that God acted pretty cool about the whole thing, he was even gracious and merciful, he even provided for mankind in covering their shame with the skins of animals. So, if you forget those things, and also the truth that God displayed outrageous kindness to Saints throughout the Old Testament… you can kind of believe that God was actually the one who needed space from humanity. But we can’t forget the truth! Many though, still believe that God was getting ready, if not for Jesus, to destroy this world and every one in it.

In the beginning, as detailed in Genesis 3:8, Adam and Eve hid from God. It’s important to remember though that God didn’t hide from them nor harm them. God, from before the beginning loved and adored humanity, and nothing changed after the ‘fall’. After Adam and Eve ate from the ‘law’-tree God commenced his rescue mission to save mankind and grant them access to this great Salvation we know today!  6Genesis 3:15 tells part of this glorious rescue mission, it says: ‘And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.’ (KJV) God did not withhold his love and adoration from humanity – he in effect says: ‘I am not going to do nothing while sin, sickness, poverty, and sorrow hurt my children – I’m going to crush all that oppose them!’

However, although the grand story throughout the Old Testament, and of course Jesus himself, testify that God wasn’t angry with humanity itself, just that which would harm her; many still insist that the wrath of God is his anger toward mankind.

Many get their view of the wrath of God from religious idea which lacks creativity – you know, it’s really a mashup with concept from other religious ideas and texts from the Old Testament. When one ignores the grand story, good contextual tools, and of course the reality of Jesus and his Finished Work, one can concoct a whole host of funny doctrines – including that of the wrath of God being his anger against humanity, and of course the like of penal-substitution etc.8

But, this isn’t accurate! It’s not how it is! John explains in John 1:18 that no one has ever seen God apart from Jesus. Many take their understanding of God from accounts written by people who didn’t even see the fullness of God – they only saw a shadow of the true and good God that we see revealed in Jesus! It is in the shadow reality that his passion was mistaken as anger – to those who saw dimly it was only right that God would want to destroy those who opposed him.

But the truth revealed in Jesus shows that his wrath was for that which opposed his creation. The truth about God, indeed about his wrath is revealed when Jesus appears on the scene in a body. Jesus and his finished work reveal what God’s wrath actually looks like! Many define the atonement by their idea of God’s wrath, but the finished work of Jesus actually, and accurately, defines God’s wrath! On the cross we see a good and kind God who would rather suffer than forfeit our fellowship. 4We see a God who cries ‘forgive them’ (Luke 23:34), and we see Jesus, looking weak, but destroying that what would dare to oppose the Almighty’s creation; namely sin and the curse.

In John 3:14 Jesus backs this up and relates his finished work to that of Moses lifting up the snake in the desert – the account details the Israelites been bitten by snakes and suffering under the cruel effects of the poison. Moses lifted a bronze snake on a pole and everyone who looked at it got healed. And likewise, Jesus took the curse, the poison of death and brought it down to the grave – he wasn’t busy appeasing his Father, he was actually saving us from that which we needed saving from: sin.

This is the good news – God is for humanity! Yes, even the wrath of God is something to be celebrated – even his wrath is for humanity!

Romans 8:3 explains God’s wrath further, it explains that sin has been condemned in the body of Jesus! Sin needed destroying and its death sentence was carried out in Christ; it wasn’t that God condemned the fruit of your sin in Jesus so he wouldn’t have to condemn it in you – no God condemned sin itself and all of its effects in Jesus so that sin couldn’t kill you.3 John 3:17 backs this up and states that God did not send Jesus into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world. Sin was condemned – humanity was always meant to be saved!

Now, the idea that the wrath of God was his anger against humanity for their sin has a lot of whacky resulting ideas and doctrines, and this is another reason it’s so important to know the truth of what Jesus has accomplished and the motives behind it. This is why it’s important to know what the wrath of God looks like! One of the resulting whacky ideas that follows the idea of God’s wrath as his anger against humanity, is the idea that the wrath of God was aimed at the Son on the cross. This idea is erroneous; how can the Father be against the Son, or the Son be against the Spirit, or whichever way you want to phrases it. No, the Bible clearly teaches in 2 Corinthians 5:19 that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself!7

God doesn’t need target practice – his wrath wasn’t aimed at Jesus – the Godhead knew who they were after – and they did it –they got him – they took down the old creation, and every form of evil and every bit of the curse.

God’s wrath was his anger, not at us, nor aimed at the Son, but toward sin. The wrath of God should be rightly defined as his passion to save us! In fact, the Greek word for wrath correctly and accurately denotes ‘passion’!

You know, some read verses that talk about God’s wrath, for example Romans 1:18, to be saying that God’s fiery anger was poured out against human-kind for their evil behavior. But, the Greek word for wrath, orgē, can be translated; ‘passion’, as I said above, but also ‘movement of the soul’,’ impulse’, or ‘desire’. (BlueLetterBible.org). You know, God has always had a fiery passion for his creation, and this was what we see happening at the cross – Daddy God’s passion for us was revealed from heaven against all that would dare to threaten and harm his beloved.

The judgment and wrath of God aren’t coming, they already came. In Christ God put an end to the spiritual evils which plagued us, and he set us free – free to enjoy the fullness of his love and grace, and as we do that we see manifestation of his glory which is the answer to all earthly ills! 5

Did you know the wrath of God and the judgment of God go hand in hand? His judgment – the eternal judgment of the Godhead is that we were worthy and worth saving! We see this further in John 5:22 where Jesus said that the Father entrusted all judgment to him, and Jesus’ judgment was the same as it has always was – Jesus says in John 3:19 that the verdict had arrived when Jesus arrived – light has come into the world – the purpose – the verdict was the redeem, not punish!

Your Daddy God’s purpose and heart has always been grace-centered, gospel centered! Wrath, as in wrath being his anger against humanity, isn’t the ‘other side of the same coin’. God is Love. Pure Love. And his wrath is perfectly in line with the revelation of his being!

Judgment took place upon that cross, through the resurrection, and in the ascension, but it wasn’t scary – it was beautiful! The wrath of God has, already, been displayed, and it was beautiful too! We are now, as Jesus put it in Luke 4, quoting Isaiah 61, in the acceptable year of favor!2

Know today that your heavenly Father, your heavenly family – the Godhead, are so in love with you! You are in the New day of the New Covenant! Let’s be people who proclaim the gospel and show people the result of God’s judgment! Let’s be people who delight in the result of his wrath.

Limitless Life Devotional

Famous Faith

Romans 1:8

‘First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.’

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be famous? If you could be famous, what would you like to be famous for? A lot of people shy away from things like fame and glory and praise. But why? Probably because of feelings of unworthiness, or false humility! What’s unfortunate about this though is that God is not afraid of the limelight, and he has created you to shine also! Now, don’t get me wrong, God is in no way egocentric, and his highest priority is you! However, he loves to show off his love for us in splendid ways, just like he wants you to enjoy his love with his incomparable favour and glory!

Shying away from glory, redirecting it, or simply hiding it under a bushel is what many see to be humble. But, God has given you his very own glory (see John 17:22), and he desires for you to live in it and enjoy it! God has always desired for his people to be famously known for his goodness on their lives, and their faith in that goodness! Look at Abraham and David; they experienced the favour of God under the fading glory of the old covenant and were so rich and famous that they made the surrounding people, even kings, take notice! They were also known for their faith in that goodness, and provided a shadow of what we get to enjoy under the new covenant!

Jesus desires for his bride, like Abraham, to be famously known for the extravagant love-gifts she receives from her lover and for the powerful faith she operates in! Paul acknowledges that the church in Rome were operating in the glory realm and enjoying the faith of Jesus within them! He also makes it clear that this is because the church in Rome had a foundation of the grace of God! Paul says in Romans 1:5 that grace calls out to the obedience of faith; meaning, those who planted the church were enjoying grace and so called those Gentiles to believe on the finished work and so enjoy grace too. Paul emphasises that the church in Rome were among those who were called by grace to come to faith! This is why they were famous for their faith! Because it wasn’t mixed with the fading glory of the law! So, today know that Daddy God loves you and delights in you experiencing the fame of his glory, and wants you, along with the whole church to be famous for faith in the grace of God!

Access to the Kingdom of God

By Josh Hunt

Religion doesn’t just keep us on an emotional treadmill of depression; it denies us access to the Kingdom of God. And by ‘denies’, I mean it says we can have access, if

But the Kingdom of God is not accessed through religion, or self-effort. The Kingdom of God is accessed through the Holy Spirit; the Spirit takes what Jesus has accomplished and makes it a reality in our lives (see John 16:14).

So many people are trying to access the privileges of the Kingdom through the toil of the dominion. You can’t do it! You can’t enjoy the beautiful blessings of heaven, through the hard work of living by the flesh. We have been delivered from the dominion of the cursed world of living under law, we are now, currently living in the Kingdom of light (see Col. 1:13).

The Kingdom of God is ours because of grace. We access it by grace alone.

‘… the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.’ – Romans 14:17

Notice, the Kingdom of God is in ‘the Holy Spirit’. We access the Kingdom and all of its blessings by grace, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 14:17 states the above-mentioned; the Kingdom of God can’t be accessed by religion, ‘the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking’. This, ‘eating and drinking’, refers to the belief that it is okay to eat and drink certain things and not okay to eat and drink other things.  This way of thinking is religious. Paul says that we are not to make a big deal of what people eat and drink (see Rom. 14:13), but at the same time emphatically states that the Kingdom of God is not subjected to human logic or religiosity.

The Kingdom of God is ‘in the Holy Spirit’. How did you receive the Spirit? ‘By observing the law, or by believing what you heard?’ (Gal. 3:2). The Kingdom of God and all of its wonderful blessings is a gift of grace.

Don’t be like the ‘foolish Galatians’ and try to finish by your own effort that which can only be accessed by the Spirit (see Gal. 3:3). Grace is the only way to live!

The Kingdom of God is the most attractive place to live. It’s a place of wonder and beauty; a place of dreams come true. God has always desired that we live by grace, through faith in the Kingdom! It’s important to realise that the Kingdom isn’t some future thing; it is not some future manifestation that the second coming of Jesus will bring about. No, the Kingdom is the work of Jesus’ first coming! The Pneumatological realisation of the Finished Work of Jesus!

The Kingdom is an amazing place to live! The good news of the Spirit is that this Kingdom isn’t some far away reality. The Kingdom is on the inside of us! We can live in the Kingdom because we carry it with us. The Kingdom is in the Holy Spirit.

As we enjoy the love of Daddy God we manifest that glorious Kingdom and it flows out of us and transforms our outward tangible lives into the Kingdom. The flavour and atmosphere of heaven in us radiates outwardly and transforms our lives, our homes, our families, our churches, and our communities!

But, in order to see and enjoy the Kingdom in us we must remember that the Kingdom is not ‘eating and drinking’. The Kingdom is not; do this, don’t do that. The Kingdom is not philosophy, or religion, or rule-keeping. The Kingdom of God is in the Holy Spirit, and it looks like ‘righteousness, peace, and joy’!

The Kingdom of God isn’t rule keeping, it’s righteousness. This righteousness is not trying to do the right thing. No this righteousness is a gift! Paul is saying that the Kingdom of God isn’t do what you think is right, the Kingdom of God is righteousness as a gift. Because of Jesus we have a gift of righteousness. A right to the life of the Godhead! That’s what righteousness is; a free gift of a right to the Godhead based on what Jesus has accomplished. This also includes a righteous nature, but that’s because we have a right to the life of the Trinity!

Then Paul goes on and says that the Kingdom isn’t do this, don’t do that, the Kingdom is peace! Religion and human philosophy take away our peace. They base our foundations of believing on shakeable ground and so we are always left with a feeling of human hopefulness; ‘I hope this works!’ But the Kingdom is Jesus’s free gift of peace! A peace that transcends understanding (see Phil. 4:7). Listen to how the Amplified bible describes peace in 2 Peter 1:2; ‘…and peace (which is perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to you’. Isn’t that amazing! The Kingdom peace is based on unshakable foundations; what Jesus has accomplished for us! This leaves us with a bible hope; ‘I hope in Jesus’, and ‘hope never disappoints’ (see Rom. 5:5).

The last things Paul says the Kingdom of God is, is joy! There is no joy in belief systems that allow one to do one thing, but abstain from another. This is not because sin is fun. No way! It’s because we weren’t made to focus on law. We were made to live the very life of God. Paul says the Kingdom of God is joy in the Holy Spirit. This is the attraction to the Kingdom. This is the best from of evangelism. The life is the light. The incredible joy that belongs in the Kingdom because the radical love of Papa is the defining flavour of the Kingdom. The joy is the light! The life is the light!

The Kingdom of God is so glorious! It contains all that you need; healing, provision, protection, favour, prosperity, Daddy’s love! But please remember; the Kingdom of God is not based on human understanding or ‘eating and drinking’, it’s based on the unshakable work of Jesus, and it looks like the gift of righteousness, peace and joy in the wonderful Holy Spirit!

Tag Cloud