Categories
Spiritual Development Studying the Bible

Missing Jesus in God’s Word 

Author: Charles Hegwood

Reading God’s word is essential to following Jesus. We need those marching instructions. The Bible is a place that we meet with God as we read. Reading scripture invites us into the presence of the King of Kings. At least this is what reading the Bible is supposed to be. Many times we read with an assortment of motivations. But we must hear John as he writes to us, “Don’t read the Bible and miss Jesus.” Finding Jesus in the text is the greatest invitation to the greatest scavenger hunt in the history of the world. As you study God’s word make sure that you do not miss the Word, Jesus, God in human skin.  

A Read and a Miss  

In John 5:39 Jesus essentially says, “go and find me in the Scriptures.” By the way this includes the Old Testament as well. In the immediate context of John chapter 5, the Pharisees, “pore over the Scriptures.” That is a reference to the Old Testament. John is saying that it is more than simply finding Jesus in the Scripture. Instead, this verse implies we must find Jesus. I find Jesus’ words both a blessing and a warning. The blessing is that we can go to all Scripture with the expectation of finding Jesus. But it is also a warning. We must not miss Jesus in the Scriptures. This was the problem with the Pharisees.  

Earlier in chapter 5 Jesus healed a lame man on the Sabbath. This was a big problem for the Pharisees. Jesus’ healing violated their rules regarding the Sabbath. They begin to confront Jesus and turn up the pressure. It is in this context that we arrive at the conversation that is going on in 5:39. Jesus does not deny the fact that the Pharisees knew the Scriptures. On the contrary, they “poured over them.” The Pharisees and the scribes were experts in knowing their Bible. They should have seen Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises. They should have had no problem with Jesus healing on the Sabbath. They should have known Jesus was the Lord of the Sabbath. The problem lies in their motivation and interpretation. Jesus did not fit what they wanted. They missed the Word of God despite knowing God’s word.  

The Mirror of Scripture 

We often read the gospel accounts of Jesus and the Pharisees with blinders on. We think, “those Pharisees just did not get it.” And yet we must see that when we read Scripture it is a mirror. We cannot simply laugh at the ignorance of the Pharisees without seeing the warning of Jesus to the modern reader. Let the Holy Spirit use the Bible as a sword to cut away our callousness. We are often like the Pharisees. When we read scripture it should be like looking at ourselves in the mirror in the morning. We might not like what we see, but that is what we need to repent and change. As Jesus called out the Pharisees’ mistake, we too are being called out.  

Brothers and sisters let us not pore over the scripture everyday and miss Jesus. This is the warning that John, in writing this account, is trying to tell us. Read the Bible and find Jesus in the text. Meet with Him there. When we do, we will see our sin laying out exposed. We repent and are ushered into the presence of Jesus. But when we read with wrong motivation and interpretation we miss Jesus and miss time with Him. How sad it would be to spend time reading the Bible and never see Jesus, and never seek Jesus. We miss the whole point when we do this. The results are that we become the Pharisees. We become calloused toward the working of the gospel in our lives and in the lives of others. If that is you today, the good news is it is not too late.  

Conclusion  

It would be a tragedy to miss Jesus as we read, but if that is you, as it has been me in the past, then I have good news. You can meet with Jesus in His word today. Open your Bibles to the Old Testament or New Testament and find Jesus. It is like the greatest scavenger hunt you could ever embark on. When we seek Jesus in the text it brings a sense of excitement as we read God’s word. And something else begins to happen.  

We begin to see how wonderfully interconnected the Bible really is. We see how truly all of Scripture is telling one story. It is telling the story of how God steps down into human history to take on flesh and redeem His lost children. Jesus is whispered throughout every corner of the Bible. Only go and find Him. See the wonderful tapestry that Scripture weaves. Embrace it and be inspired by it. Read the Bible with the expectation to find Jesus and you will find Him. The more you do this the more you will see. This truth has guided me throughout my journeys through the Bible. It has been one of the increasing joys in my life. So enjoy the blessing and heed the warning. Do not read the Bible and miss Jesus.  

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All Church Development Spiritual Development

Make Disciples of All People 

Author: Charles Hegwood

Why are there so many resources on discipleship? I think the reason is because God has placed within the very DNA of believers the drive to make more disciples. One of the ways we worship God is to bring as many people as we can to Jesus. Discipleship is one of my greatest passions. I hope it is yours too. I want to look at Acts chapter 10 and peek into how Peter leads Cornelius to Christ and disciples him. We will see that through the blood of Christ, all that come to Jesus will be made clean. They will be made whole. As disciples, we are to be faithful to go and tell people the great news of the Gospel. 

Setting the Scene 

Let’s set the scene, we are introduced to Cornelius, a Roman soldier and God-fearer. He is charitable and always praying. This is a man who is seeking to know God. Let us learn from Cornelius that God answers those who seek Him. After all, here was a man, a Roman, and by that distinction alone would disqualify him from the love of God especially if you were Jewish. You would have hated this man. He was an enemy and a leader in an oppressive regime. Yet he sought God and God answered.  

God called Peter to share the gospel with this Roman soldier. For Peter this was uncomfortable. Decades of cultural education taught him that going to the house of a Gentile, moreover, a Roman soldier, would make him unclean. Even after walking with Jesus for three years, he heard the cultural echoes of “unclean”, “unworthy”. There were some Gentile believers, but at this time the burgeoning church did not know exactly how to incorporate them. Would the blood of Christ extend to these ‘unclean’ people? These would have been the thoughts rattling around the head and heart of Peter during this story. God however, has another message for Peter, for the growing church, and for us today.  

Preparing the moment: Prayer 

Prayer is essential for discipleship. We see that Peter had a habit of praying in Acts 10:9. He went up to the roof but soon became hungry. God uses Peter’s hunger during his prayer time to teach him an invaluable lesson about making disciples. If we have no prayer life, we will struggle to make disciples. We must have a habit of prayer built into our lives. 

We must pray for opportunities to make disciples as well. We must approach prayer as a time to meet with God. The result of spending quality time with God in prayer is that we will be ready to make disciples in our daily lives. Making a habit of meeting with God in prayer is the first step in biblical discipleship. 

 Tilling the Field: Having the Right Heart 

Verses 9-15 capture a very strange vision Peter had during his prayer. He saw a sheet with all kinds of unclean animals on it. We may be tempted to read this and assume we should never pray on an empty stomach. All kidding aside, many times we read this story and miss the point. We may be tempted to conclude that God is telling Peter that all foods are clean. However, the context does not support this interpretation. There are other verses to argue all foods being clean. The context of this story is a story about Cornelius, an ‘unclean’ gentile, becoming a follower of Jesus. It is about crossing cultural and ritual boundaries for the gospel.  

The theological emphasis is not on the food but on the words ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’. The food here merely serves as an object lesson for Peter’s heart. The issue was not what Peter thought about eating certain foods, but instead what he thought about talking to certain people that were “unclean”. Acts 10:15 is the key verse to understanding this story and what God is trying to tell us today. “What God has made clean, do not call impure.” Soon Peter understood in full what God was trying to tell him. We see Peter demonstrate verse 15 as he talks to Cornelius and leads him and his family to Christ. The point here is that we too need to make our hearts right.  

Before we go and talk to people, let us first pray and make our hearts right before the Lord. This is what Peter needed  so that he could go to Cornelius. As we look at Peter putting the proverbial rubber to the road, let us see the need for a prepared heart in our discipleship ventures. 

Reaping the Harvest: Go and Tell  

Back to our story, Cornelius sent men to Peter. In God’s providence they arrived as Peter was praying and perplexed by what he saw. He went with these men to the house of Cornelius. We see that while Cornelius had been waiting to hear from Peter he had also been gathering more people to hear Peter’s words. Verse 28 undoubtedly shows that Peter now understands the vision. Here is Cornelius and friends; gentiles, unclean, and forbidden. Peter saw that the vision had prepared him to not see people as clean or unclean, worthy or unworthy. Instead, God wanted Peter to tell this Roman soldier about Jesus and disciple him as someone who was clean. God may be wanting you to go to someone you think of as ‘unclean’. Hear this message loud and clear. No one is unclean that God has made clean. Cornelius believes and so do those who were with him. The visible presence of the Holy Spirit only further confirms that this was the will of God. So go and tell. Make disciples!  

Disciple who? Everyone God puts in your path. What about mean people, people who don’t think the same as me, poor people, rich people, or uncool people and so on? Go and tell. Read your context. Who is it that you perceive as impure and unworthy of your time or the gospel? Understand that through the blood of Jesus what was unclean has become clean. His blood washes away our impurity and our sin. This is good news! So as you go and engage in discipleship; pray, prepare your heart, and go and tell everyone as God leads you to them. The Biblical model for discipleship has no place for favoritism. Discipleship has no place for thinking of anyone as unworthy of the gospel. Go with this in mind, “What God has called pure do not call impure,” no matter who it is or where they are from. Now, go and make disciples of all nations.  

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All Digging Deeper into the Word Spiritual Development

Is Faith in the Resurrection of Jesus Necessary for Salvation?

Author: Jon Slenker

“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…”  1 Cor. 15:17 

Scripture is clear that one can believe Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ incarnate, that his death was a substitute for sin, and that he was buried, but if one denies the resurrection, salvation is lost. The new life Jesus modeled to the hundreds of followers, family and friends is a real-life depiction of God’s missional heart.  

The resurrection and the entirety of the person and work of Christ only holds weight if Easter was an actual historical event. Without the resurrection, Jesus becomes yet another character in the parade of prophets, good men or goons. In fact, if the resurrection was merely farce, hallucinations or the deceptive work of his followers or captors, Jesus’ birth, life and teachings, and divine claims fall amidst that crumbling foundation. Worse yet, Jesus’ death on a cursed tree was in vain and we are, more than all men, to be pitied. Put another way, Jesus’ resurrection validates all his words and works that precede it.  

If the resurrection is true, then Jesus’ claims are true. Jesus claimed repeatedly in very Hebraic ways, that he was in fact YHWH and Savior, One with the Father, and that “no man comes to the Father but through him” (John 14:6). If Jesus’ resurrection affirms his divine nature and claims, it must also affirm his immaculate conception, sinless life, teachings and mission. Everything Jesus of Nazareth did in the flesh was thus done by God for his divine cosmic purpose through and for whom we and all things exist (1 Cor. 8:6). He must be the Messiah of the Jewish Scriptures completing the work God began and promised long ago (Gen. 3:15; Phil. 1:6).  

The Resurrection is Central to God’s Mission 

This work of God is known as the Missio Dei; God, on-mission to reconcile his people to himself, by providing salvation through the promised spotless lamb who would crush the head of the serpent once and for all, bruising his heel (Gen. 3:15). The resurrection is only necessary if salvation is. The bright and colorful Easter is only understood in light of its gloomy backdrop. God created man to exist and thrive in perfect harmony and community with Him, one another, and all of creation. Is the contrary not bemoaned in all of history and humanity to this day? For man’s sin separated himself from a holy God. Man’s state is now one of a renter, constantly coming up short to pay off his landlord called Death. Rent was due at birth. Our notice explains we are a slave to our landlord, destined for eternal damnation, separation from God and all that is right and good forever, for we have only a propensity to self and sin. Popular historical pastor Charles Spurgeon said in effect that we may only understand how good the good news is once we see the tragic reality of a dark and twisted bad news. 

Jesus of Nazareth must have come to enter this world as the Creator, Cosmic King and Christ incarnate. He was born of the Spirit, lived a sinless life, died on the cross in our place, and rose again defeating death. Jesus reconciles us to God, restores our community and right relationship with God. Christs’ resurrection  pays not only past due rent. Moreover, he is the “Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades (Rev. 1:18). It moves man from a depraved hut to his Father’s mansion where Jesus has prepared a place for him. Faith in this Christ and his resurrection is necessary for the validation of Jesus’ life and missional work of reconciling prodigals to their Father.  

What the Resurrection Means Today 

The Resurrection is way more than a miraculous display of God’s limitless power. It carries with it very tangible implications and promises. If the resurrection of Jesus did not happen, we would not be born again. Peter begins his letter to the Church reminding them of the great joy and hope they have in God through the resurrection, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” (1 Peter 1:3). Not only are we “born again” in spirit, we are promised new resurrected life with new heavenly bodies. The hope of the Christian is that we will be able to commune with our Father, Savior and the Holy Spirit in perfect unity and peace forever.  

Jesus’ Power to Raise from the Dead 

Jesus is recorded raising three people from the dead before he himself was resurrected. The widow’s son of Nain in Luke 7, Jairus’s daughter in Luke 8, and Lazarus in John 11. The Lord visited Mary and Martha when his good friend Lazarus died. Jesus had performed many healings and miracles, but bringing multiple people back to life seems to outrank them all. That is until his resurrection, providing proof of a restored, resurrected and heavenly body (1 Corinthians 15:35-58). Eternity with God is only accessible through faith in what has already been accomplished. Jesus is the way, the truth, the life, the resurrection and the hope (John 14:6; John 11:25). 

Categories
Spiritual Development

Cultivating a True Disciple

Author: Charles Hegwood

Think of your favorite story. Now consider how that story may have a meaning hidden within. Jesus often used short stories called parables to teach deep truths about God and His Kingdom. Perhaps you have a favorite parable. Or perhaps you find some parables easier to understand than others. For me, one of my favorite parables is found in Matthew 13, the Sower and the Seed. It is one of the only parables that Jesus plainly explained to his disciples. Often parables can be difficult for a modern audience to understand. We have to remove the layers of culture that have piled up over the centuries.  

As we cultivate the proper interpretation for this parable, we must consider that Jesus spoke to an agricultural audience. They knew and understood agriculture in a way that many of us today are removed from. For the past few years I had the privilege to work as a landscaper while I went through seminary. So the parable of the Sower really speaks to me as I have seen it played out year and year while planting grass seed. The meaning of this parable is that only the person who hears the Word of God and bears fruit is a true disciple. Let us look more closely at this meaning.  

The Word  

Jesus clearly teaches us that the seed that is being cast is the word of God. As Jesus finished this parable He said, “He who has ears, let him hear.”  As the word of God is proclaimed it requires a response. It requires fruit. What does this mean? It means the gospel is not meant to be distributed without response. I did not spread grass seed expecting nothing in return. I expected growth. The gospel goes out with the intention of growth, just like the seed. As we look at the different situations in which the word of God will be spread, we see that the word, or seed, is not the problem. If the seed does not grow this is not the fault of the seed, but of the soil and environment. This is important because God’s word is not deficient just because it does not grow. We each bear responsibility to how we respond. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  

The Enemy and the World 

Jesus is clear in His explanation of the parable that there is a real enemy. This is emphasized in the next parable of the Wheat and Tares. While the hard path is not good soil in general, it is the bird or as Jesus described it, the evil one that eats the seed. There is an enemy to the Sower and the Word of God. This enemy’s goals are to make sure the word does not grow.  

The World is also a hindrance. Whether the rocks in the rocky soil or the thorns, this life has distractions that may pull people away from a response to the gospel. The rocks cause someone to have no roots in the gospel. Any response soon dies off. The thorns which represent the pleasures of this life choke out the gospel. Both our active spiritual enemy and the things of this world stand in the way of gospel growth. These are barriers to the gospel that we will all face.  

 The Soils   

No one really questions the first soil. The seeds never even had time to grow. But what are we to do with the rocky soil and the soil with thorns? I mean there is growth. Are they Christians who backslide? As I stated in my introduction only the soil that bears fruit is representative of true disciples. I have seen this truth played out in landscaping as well as in ministry. Seed comes up and then dies. I have seen people make professions of faith and get excited about the gospel. Then never come back to church and never show any signs of gospel roots. I am sure you have seen this too. What do we make of this? I think again, Jesus has the answer.  

Yes there is excitement toward the gospel, but it has no root. When the person in question is faced with spiritual adversity they bear no fruit and in fact, they spiritually die. They never truly believed. For if they did they would not have fallen away. I have seen people who looked like they believed but then got distracted with the many pleasures of this life. The church and God become distant memories. The problem is again, they have borne no fruit. There is excitement in both examples at the idea of the gospel, but it never truly matures. In fact, maturity is the key to understanding what a true disciple is.  

Finally, we come to the good soil. The seed falls on it just like the other soils. There is growth. Not just growth, but there is maturity as well. A plant that has matured is the one that, as you may have guessed by now, bears fruit. Bearing fruit is a major theme throughout Jesus’ teachings. Perhaps especially here. And notice there are different volumes of fruit. Not every believer will bear the same amount of fruit. The point is not the certain amount of fruit but the presence of fruit. The hearer who truly understands bears good fruit. 

The Fruit   

Jesus does not specify what the fruit is. So here we must be careful not to make too much of an analogy. I think we are on firm theological ground to say that the fruit is a life that is rooted in Christ. As Paul puts it in Colossians, “deeply rooted in Christ.” When trials come we will stand strong because our faith is not in circumstance but in Christ.  The real world example is someone who is growing in their knowledge and love of Christ even in difficult times. The other way to gauge fruit within the context of this passage is, it is fruit that does not get choked out by the distractions of life. We will all have temptations and times of distraction. But the true disciple will not be choked out by the distraction and will instead grow and mature. Such Christians hear God’s word and understand it. Throughout the rest of Matthew you will see the crowds hear but not understand, be excited but not mature and bear fruit. They fall away. A Christ follower matures and continues to grow in their faith.  

Conclusion  

So what do we do with this parable? We share the gospel and continue to be rooted in Jesus. We endure and mature in our knowledge and love of Jesus especially in times of trial.  Let us be sowers of the gospel, sharing the gospel to all and helping young believers to mature in their faith so they too can bear much fruit. “Let he who has ears hear and understand.”  

Categories
Digging Deeper into the Word Studying the Bible

Be True Hearers of God’s Word

Author: Charles Hegwood

As a parent I can tell you there is a difference between your child hearing you and listening to you. There is a difference between your child acknowledging you spoke and understanding what you said requires response. I have also been that child at some point in my life. In Luke 8:1-21 Jesus is telling the crowd and his disciples the difference between hearing and listening. Luke is telling his reader there is a difference between acknowledging Jesus spoke and understanding that Jesus’ words require a response. The one who hears and does what Jesus commands is a true follower of Jesus and in the family of God. We see the profile of a true disciple lived out in three truths found in Luke 8:1-21.  

Hearing the Word  

First, a disciple who understands God’s word grows and bears spiritual fruit. Jesus told the famous parable of the Sower starting in verse 4 and concluded in verse 8 with the phrase, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” That phrase becomes the main idea for this section. The disciples hear but do not understand so they ask for clarification. Jesus explains the parable to them in detail. When Jesus concludes the parable he again tells them that the one who produces fruit is the one that hears God’s Word and clings to it. The words that Jesus spoke and the lessons that Jesus taught were not to go in one ear and out the other. His words require response. A proper response to the gospel is to hold fast to it and in doing so it will bear spiritual fruit. Hold on to the Word of God.  

 The Light and the Word  

The second truth is that the person who hears and understands God’s Word is given the spiritual blessing of knowing God deeply. Jesus now tells a parable about a lamp. He concluded this parable with the phrase in verse 18, “Be careful then how you hear.” This should strike the reader as odd. After all, Jesus just finished talking about a lamp. Should we not be careful how we see? But again, Jesus is making a thematic point. The lamp represents the Word of God. A lamp is not to be hidden but seen. Therefore God’s Word is to be heard and received with care. Just as we would not hide a light, we do not shy away from hearing the Word of God. Take care in how you receive and perceive the Word of God. Do not just read it, or hear it without concern for understanding. If we do read and perceive God’s word, we are spiritually blessed. Understanding God’s Word requires intentionality. Just like if a lamp stops shining or is hidden, then darkness encroaches. If we hide from God’s Word then it is not without consequence. What we had is taken away. We lose spiritual blessing. We move away from our loving God. So read God’s Word with great care and receive more of the presence of God and spiritual blessings.  

The Word and Family 

The third truth is one who hears and does what the Word of God says will become a part of the family of God. This is perhaps one of the most breathtaking truths. Through hearing the word, bearing fruit, receiving more, we become a part of God’s family. After all, the church really is the family of God. As followers of Jesus we really are brothers and sisters. In verses 19-21 we have what could be called a living parable. Unlike a traditional parable, what we read in these three verses really happened to real people. But like a parable this story has one purpose. Luke wants his reader to know that by hearing and doing what Jesus taught we become family members.  

Jesus is teaching and again a large crowd is listening. His mother and brothers come to see Him. The problem is they cannot reach Him because of the crowd. As Jesus is teaching He gets word that his family is here. What Jesus said is abrasive at first. It may seem a bit harsh. He told the crowd, “my mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” That is not the response we would expect. Jesus does not just say “hang on a minute.” He instead makes an appeal to the crowd. Said another way, if you hear and do the words of God then you are my family. This is a living parable and Jesus is stating frankly that acknowledging God’s word is not enough. There must be a response to it. James in his letter said the same thing when he talked about being ‘doers of the Word not just hearers.’  

Just like when I tell my daughter to do something, I expect that she will act on what I am telling her. But the act of doing is a matter of love not duty. When we act on God’s Word we are not obeying out of duty but out of love. Let me be clear, acting on God’s Word is not the ticket to get into the family of God but a mark of someone who is in the family. It is a mark of love to respond. Said another way, the family of God will hear and do what God says. To the disciple who hears and does, you are in the family of God, and this is a big promise that Jesus offers his listeners.  

 Conclusion  

Luke strings these stories together with the theme of true hearing. From the text the three truths talked about above become reality. When we truly hear then we grow and produce fruit. When we are careful to listen, understand, and intake God’s Word then we receive spiritual blessings. When we understand and respond, then we are members of God’s family. So do not merely hear the word. Do not merely read the Bible. Instead hold on to its truths, take care in understanding it, and respond to it. By doing so you will grow, be spiritually blessed as members of God’s family.  

 

Categories
Digging Deeper into the Word Spiritual Development

Assurance of Salvation

Author: Will Stanfield

Whether you are a new believer or not, there are probably things you do, think, or feel that you wish you didn’t or that you feel bad for. I’ve been following Christ for thirteen years and there are absolutely still things that I do, think, and feel that I wish I hadn’t and feel some guilt and shame over. As Christians, every time we think to ourselves, “I wish I could stop doing that thing” or “Why do I keep doing that?” We are dealing with what is known as indwelling sin. Let’s reflect on how to understand what indwelling sin is. This is less an instruction manual on how to stop sinning and more a help and comfort to those who may be weary in their struggle and experience with the sin that remains.  

How Is It That We Sin? 

To better understand what indwelling sin is, first we should have a good understanding of our sinful condition. The Bible teaches us in the book of Genesis that, when God made mankind and placed Adam and Eve in the Garden, God created mankind in his image and there was no sin. Man, and all of creation, was perfect and God called it all “good.” In Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God and in their decision to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they became sinful. The New Testament affirms that through Adam’s sin, sin passed to all subsequent humans. Paul teaches in Romans 5:12 that sin passed to all of mankind through Adam’s sin and because sin brings about death, it too is also passed to all men. Psalm 51 is another depiction of Israel’s King David confessing the guilt of his sin to God, and he exclaims that he was conceived in sin in the womb of his mother. It is not that once we sin we become a sinner; it is that because we are sinners, we commit sin. 

 This sinful condition affects all of creation and our whole human selves. Sin isn’t just limited to how we act or what we do, or even an act of thought. Our condition by default, apart from Christ, is sinful. Our every inclination is to be in rebellion against our Creator, we can’t help it.  

Indwelling Sin 

If you’re a Christian who still sins and you ever asked yourself, “When will I ever stop sinning?” it might be helpful if we reviewed a few things that can bring some assurance of how God sees us and what his hope is for us.  

Paul, in Romans 7, expresses a moment of consternation as he says, “The things I don’t want to do I keep doing and the things I want to do I do not do.” He also goes on to discuss that it is not him who keeps sinning but it is his sinful nature. Even when we become Christians, we are still embodied in this human flesh which is conditioned by sin. When Paul writes in Galatians about not walking by the flesh but walking by the Spirit, what Paul is saying is, “Do not any longer live your life according to your sinful nature, but live your life according to the Holy Spirit.” Yes, this instruction does not mean that our sinful nature goes away. In fact, we could gather that Paul is absolutely affirming that as Christians we still have a sinful nature, we still have flesh. So when he writes in Romans 7 about his sinful nature and his spiritual nature warring against one another, he is expressing to us that as we continue to grow as Christians we should expect to still have a sinful nature.  

Paul also clarifies in Romans 6 that just because God is given us his grace to save us in our sin does not mean that we get to go on sinning freely. Since we are saved by faith unto God, we belong to God and the Spirit enables us to walk in the ways of the Spirit. Yet it is not a surprise to God that, even though he saved us, we still sin. In fact, this should be of great comfort to us! God knew we would still sin in many ways even after salvation and he still saved us! Paul says in Romans 5:8 that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. It would be almost preposterous for us to think that once we become Christians God has some expectation that we immediately stop sinning. God saved us knowing full well we would still struggle with sin and commit acts of sin–that we would still have a sinful nature.  

This is what indwelling sin is. It is the sinful nature that still remains a part of us, even as Christians. It is our proclivity and tendency to still do, think, or feel in sinful ways that echo back to our rebellion against God.  

Our Changed Nature 

After thinking about these things, it might be easy to think the same things Paul was addressing in Romans 6: “Well, if we’re still going to sin, why even try not sinning?” Again, Paul says, “By no means!” When we become Christians, we are no longer confined to being just sinners but we are now saints. Our entire nature changes when we are saved through God’s grace by faith. Before salvation, we are not able to not sin but as Christians, with the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we are now able to not sin. As we grow in the gospel, we also will be experiencing increasing displeasure in our sin. Just because God knows full well that we will still have a sinful nature does not mean that we should just go on sinning. God wants us to experience the holiness and wholeness we were created to experience, and the work of redemption and sanctification is God’s work of making us into the kind of human he created us to be.  

Our Hope for Freedom from Sin 

It gives me a lot of hope and rest accepting the fact that until the day I die and pass from this earth, I will still experience sin but that God knows this and saved me still. As I grow in the gospel and I experience more displeasure toward my sin and I experience a greater conflict between my sinful nature and my spiritual nature, my longing for the New Heavens and the New Earth becomes more intense. For Christians, there will come a day when we are given glorified bodies that have no sinful nature. What day when we see our Creator, or God, and his Son Jesus Christ, face to face, we will be made like him. Our hope here and now is that, even though in Adam’s sin and rebellion, sin and death came to all men, in Jesus Christ’s perfect obedience and sinlessness and in his sacrificial death and resurrection, all those who are in Christ also receive resurrection unto new life.