Items filtered by date: March 2014 - Harris Creek Baptist Church
In Romans 8:5-8, the Apostle Paul talks about what happens when our minds are controlled, or governed, by the flesh. In many ways, this seems to be rehashing what was already discussed in Romans 6. However, what Paul is doing is following the arch, or flow, of the Exodus narrative. When he says in Romans 8:7 “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God,” it is meant to remind us of Pharaoh in the story of The Exodus. Pharaoh is the quintessential character in Scripture that stands in opposition to God. He has, as Exodus tells us repeatedly, a “hardened heart” towards the God of Israel. Throughout the story of The Exodus, Pharaoh refuses to acknowledge the sovereignty of the God of Israel, and we get a clear illustration of how this lifestyle, as Paul says, leads to death. Romans 8:5-8 and the story in Exodus both remind us that we were created to live under the authority of God. Whenever we fail to acknowledge this reality and make our flesh “god,” our lives lack the life and peace that can only come from God.
Most Christians have a sense that Romans is a book that is unique in the New Testament. It is many people's favorite book and is one of the most quoted letters in the New Testament. However, for as much as we discuss and invoke the words of Paul in Romans, there is a general lack of awareness of the context in which Paul wrote this letter. Like many other letters, Paul is addressing a conflict between Jews and Gentiles in Romans, but unlike many of the other New Testament conflict letters, it was the Gentile Christians mistreating the Jewish believers in the Church in Rome. In Romans, Paul is arguing that Jesus has created access to God for all people, Jews and Gentiles alike. In the same breath, he wants the Gentile Christians to understand the unique role Israel plays in the story of salvation God has been writing from the very beginning. In order to accomplish this goal, Paul retells the most important story in the Old Testament: The Exodus. In other words, Paul is framing Jesus' redemptive actions through the lens of The Exodus. In Romans 8 he does this by saying that Jesus is a new and greater Moses. Jesus, like Moses, was sent by God to redeem His children from the bondage of slavery. In Romans 8:1-4, we get a snapshot of what Jesus accomplished on our behalf and how our redemption was actually achieved.
In our world today, there are many different opinions of who Jesus really is. He is often viewed as a really interesting guy, as a great teacher, and as a wise philosopher. However, the belief that Jesus is the Son of God seems to feel more and more far- fetched. In Colossians, Paul makes it clear that Jesus is indeed God and the rest of Scripture points to this truth. Scripture also says eternal life and salvation are only found in Christ. This doesn't connect well in a consumeristic world full of countless choices. In a world where we can pick and choose anything from music to spirituality, Christ as the only way to salvation just doesn't seem to make sense for many people. Jesus asked his disciples, "Who do you say I am?" This is a question that we, too, must answer.
In Romans 6, Paul addressed the problem we all face as being part of humanity. He said we have all been, at one time or another, enslaved to sin. In Romans 7, Paul continues to explain, or describe, what this slavery and bondage is like. He is, in many ways, giving us a picture of what life is like for those who are not yet freed from the "Egypt" of sin and death. In order to properly diagnose the "sin disease" we have all been infected with, Paul reminds the reader of how sin entered the world to begin with. In Romans 7:7-13, Paul begins to impersonate Adam in order to show where this slavery of sin was first introduced. His primary motivation is to prove that sin has infected us all because we are all—Jew and Gentile alike—children of Adam. In Romans 7:14-25, he goes on to describe what life is like "in Adam." The language Paul uses describes a time of bondage from which we cannot free ourselves. In fact, he says if you are "in Adam," you are actually "a prisoner of the law of sin." The dramatic point Romans 7 is making is that the weight of sin is a heavy load we cannot bear on our own. When we recognize the bondage of sin in our own lives, it leads us to cry out for help like the Israelites did in Exodus. And the Good News is that God both hears and responds to the cries of the oppressed by sending a redeemer.