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Doctrine of Taking Up One’s Cross

January 16, 2011

Taking Up One’s Cross
The believer who is obedient to the Word of God permits the Holy Spirit to conform him into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Father’s will for every church age believer from eternity past (Rm. 8:28-29; Eph. 4:11-16).
The obedient believer will experience sanctification. Sanctification is the process God employs to conform the believer into the image of His Son Jesus Christ and is in three stages: (1) Positional: Union with Christ through the Baptism of the Spirit (2) Experiential: Experiencing that union through fellowship with God (3) Ultimate: Resurrection body.
Experiencing sanctification for the believer involves him appropriating by faith what the Word of God states of him, namely, that positionally he has been crucified, buried, raised and seated with Christ at the Father’s right hand.
Positional truth involves what God has already done for the believer through Baptism of the Spirit at salvation when the Spirit identified the believer with Christ in His death, burial, resurrection and session. Thus, it is God’s viewpoint of the believer today and for the rest of eternity.
God wants the believer to experience, that which is true of him positionally. The believer must imitate the Lord Jesus and take up his own Cross in order to experience identification with Christ in His death and burial. By doing so he experiences identification with Christ in His resurrection and session. The believer cannot experience sanctification in time without applying this principle of taking up his Cross. Thus, the process of experiencing sanctification begins with taking up one’s cross and experiencing identification with Christ in His death and burial.
Matt 10:37-39, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”
Luke 9:23-27, “And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
Luke 14:27-35, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower,
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries
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does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions. Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
The believer experiences sanctification in time by applying the Word of the Cross. In order to pick up our Cross we must apply the Word of the Cross.
1 Cor 1:18, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing at the present time, but to us who are presently being delivered (from sin, Satan and his cosmic system) it is the power of God.”
Taking up one’s Cross means acquiring God’s viewpoint of ourselves, namely that the following has been crucified with Christ at the Cross: (1) Self (Ga. 2:20). (2) Flesh (Rm. 6:6, 11; Ga. 5:24). (3) World (Ga. 6:14). (4) Rudiments of the world (Col. 2:20).
Self: Gal 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the {life} which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Flesh: Gal 5:24, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
World: Gal 6:14, “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
Traditions of Men: Col 2:20-23, “If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch! (which all {refer} {to} things destined to perish with use)– in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, {but are} of no value against fleshly indulgence.”
Taking up one’s cross is being willing to experience identification with Christ in His death on a daily basis.
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries
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Taking up one’s Cross-means we must exchange the following: (1) Pre-salvation unregenerate self-life for the post-salvation regenerate Christ-life. (2) Human viewpoint for divine viewpoint. (3) Human power for divine power (4) Relative human self-righteousness for absolute divine righteousness (5) Old Adamic nature for the new Christ-nature.
We are no longer to depend upon our old pre-salvation unregenerate Adamic-life but rather depend upon our new post-salvation regenerate Christ-life that we received through regeneration at the moment of salvation.
2 Cor 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new spiritual species; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
Rom 13:12-14, “The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”
Eph 4:17-32, “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE OF YOU WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND YET DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries
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Col 3:9-10, “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.”
The apostle Paul understood the concept of taking up one’s Cross, he called it being conformed to Christ in His death. Paul understood the concept of the exchange and this he relates in a phenomenal passage in Philippians 3.
Philippians 3:2-3, “Beware of those dogs, beware of those evil workers, beware of the mutilation because we are the circumcision those who are serving (God the Father) by means of the Spirit of God, who are priding themselves in the nature of Christ Jesus, who have no confidence in the flesh.
The Judaizers were both regenerate and unregenerate Jews who taught adherence to the various ordinances of the Mosaic Law along with faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 15: 1-35). The NT Scriptures described the Judaizers with the following phrases: (1) “dogs, evil workers, the false circumcision” (Phil. 3:2). (2) “Drifting off course from grace” (Gal. 5:4). (3) “Enemies of the cross” (Phlp. 3:18). (4) “Coming short of the grace of God” (Hb. 12:15)
They are referred to in the following NT passages: (1) Acts 13:45 (2) Acts 15:5 (3) Acts 17:5 (4) Acts 21:20 (5) Galatians 1:6-7 (6) Philippians 1:12-18 (7) Philippians 3:1-3.
These individuals were Jewish teachers of the Mosaic Law. They followed Paul from city to city on his missionary journeys throughout the Rome Empire seeking to discredit and destroy his ministry and his message of grace. Paul denounces their teaching in the book of Galatians. They taught a “different gospel” according to Gal. 1:6 and “distorted the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:7). They taught that one had to observe and practice the Mosaic Law in order to get saved. It elevated the oral traditions of the Rabbis on a par with the Scriptures and in some cases elevated them above the Scriptures (cf. Mk. 7). Paul taught that salvation by grace through faith in Christ and not through the works of the Mosaic Law (Eph. 2:8-9; Gal. 2:16). The book of Galatians was a denunciation of their teaching and Paul warns the Philippians about them referring to them as “dogs, evil workers, the false circumcision” (Phil. 3:2).
Philippians 3:4, “Although I myself having confidence in the flesh, if anyone of the same race (i.e., Jewish) claims to have confidence in the flesh and some claim to have confidence in the flesh, I more.”
Philippians 3:5-6, “With respect to circumcision: eighth day, descended from the nation of Israel, a member of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew (speaking Jew) from Hebrews (Hebrew speaking parents), legalistically: a Pharisee, zealously persecuting the church, self-righteously religious: I conducted myself irreproachably!”
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries
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The apostle Paul goes to the trouble of stating his pre-salvation background in order to refute the Judaizers claims that the means of serving God or spirituality is based upon racial background and strictly adhering to oral traditions of the Pharisees, which were simply their own interpretations of the Law.
He is in effect saying, “if you want to talk about racial background and conduct in relation to the oral traditions of the elders and the Mosaic Law, I am superior to all of the Judaizers, and this is my resume to prove it!”
Philippians 3:4-6 is antithetical with Philippians 3:3 since before salvation Paul served God through strict adherence to the oral traditions of the Pharisees rather than through the filling of the Spirit. Before salvation as a Pharisee he placed his confidence in the old sin nature rather than the new nature, i.e., the Christ-nature. He was religious and legalistic rather than grace oriented and spiritual.
Philippians 3:5-6 is a pre-salvation composite picture of the apostle Paul or Saul of Tarsus, as he was known among his fellow Jewish countryman. Paul presents this composite picture in order to point out to the Philippians that not only did he share the same background with his opponents the Judaizers, “the mutilation,” but also it was in fact superior in every respect. It emphasizes the fact before his salvation Paul was a Jewish patriot, an orthodox Jew. Paul’s background or resume was superior to his opponents the Judaizers in every respect, meeting all the criteria of a national celebrity or hero. The Judaizers could not attack his background since it was superior to theirs. His resume refutes the accusations made by the Judaizers that he was a traitor and not a patriot!
The 1st distinction mentioned is “with respect to circumcision: eighth day” demonstrates that Paul’s parents were neither proselytes nor descendants of Ishmael. It refers to the literal ritual surgical procedure performed on a Jewish boy 8 days after his birth and signifies that Paul and his parents were members of the new racial species called the Jews.
The 2nd distinction mentioned is “(descended) out from the nation of Israel” demonstrates that Paul was a member of the 1st client nation to God, Israel. It emphasizes that he is a direct descendant of Jacob who was later given a new name by the Lord, “Israel.” The phrase is a title of nobility and denotes Paul’s theocratic privileges as a citizen of the 1st client nation to God.
The 3rd distinction mentioned “a member of the tribe of Benjamin” denotes the fact that Paul was a member of one of the greatest warrior tribes from the nation of Israel.
The 4th distinction mentioned “a Hebrew (speaking Jew) from Hebrews (Hebrew-speaking parents)” denotes the fact that Paul was an orthodox Jew. It denotes the fact that he spoke Hebrew and distinction to his fellow countrymen who were Hellenized and strictly spoke Greek.
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries
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The 5th pre-salvation distinction mentioned “legalistically, a Pharisee” denotes the fact that Paul was an interpreter of the Mosaic Law. Paul’s pre-salvation experience as a Pharisee was one of strict adherence to the letter of the Law! He was Parash or a Rabbi and thus a mark of distinction among his countrymen.
The 6th pre-salvation distinction is noted by the phrase, “zealously persecuting the church” which indicates before salvation Paul or Saul of Tarsus belonged to the strictest sect of the Jews, the Zealots and thus reveals his uncompromising patriotism. He ignorantly and presumptuously thought that he could serve God by zealously persecuting the church of Jesus Christ (cf. John 16:2; Rm. 10:2-5).
The apostle Paul’s 7th and final pre-salvation distinction is mentioned in the phrase “Self-righteously religious: I conducted myself irreproachably.” Before salvation Paul performed a meritorious, legalistic system of works, which he presumptuously thought gained the approbation of God and after salvation he functioned according to a non-meritorious system of perception called faith. Paul’s pre-salvation experience as a Pharisee was that of strict adherence to the letter of the Law rather than the spirit of the Law. The Law cannot justify an individual before God (Rm. 3:20-28; Gal. 2:16). It could not provide eternal salvation for men (Gal. 3:21-26). The Law could not solve the problems of the old sin nature (Rm. 8:2-3).
Before salvation, the apostle Paul or Saul of Tarsus as he was known among his Jewish countryman was scrupulously faithful and conscientious in adhering to the oral traditions of the Pharisees or in other words he was religious.
Theologically, religion is the antithesis to Biblical Christianity in that it is the ignorant, presumptuous, vain and arrogant attempt by man to gain the approbation of God by depending upon a legalistic, meritorious system of human works rather than the impeccable Person and Finished Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Biblical Christianity and religion are antithetical concepts since the latter is man’s presumptuous, ignorant and vain attempt to gain the approbation of God through a meritorious, legalistic system of man-made oral traditions.
Philippians 3:7, “Nevertheless, what pre-salvation distinctions were assets for me, these I have come to regard as a liability because of the Christ.”
Philippians 3:8, “Furthermore in fact, yes without a doubt, I continue to regard each today as a liability because of the incomparable knowledge pertaining to Christ Jesus, my Lord because of whom I have renounced all of them, even regarding all of them as piles of excrement in order that I might gain Christ-likeness.”
Philippians 3:9, “So that I might be identified with Him, not by possessing my own legalistic righteousness, but rather faithful Christ-likeness, the divine righteousness based upon doctrine.”
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries
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The apostle Paul in verse 10 explains the process involved after salvation that he must undergo or experience in order for this post-salvation objective to be accomplished.
Philippians 3:10, “that I come to know Him experientially and the power from His resurrection and the participation in His sufferings by my becoming like Him with respect to His death.”
“That I come to know Him experientially” refers to fellowship with Christ after salvation by appropriating His (eternal) life through the function of the new Christ-nature that is utilized by applying the mind of Christ (the Word of God), which in turn enables God the Holy Spirit to reproduce the life and character of Christ in the believer (Gl. 5:22-23).
“The power from His resurrection” refers to experiencing divine omnipotence by denying oneself the function of the old sin nature in order to live in the new Christ nature, which is utilized while in fellowship and applying the Word of God.
“The participation in His sufferings by my becoming like Him with respect to His death.” refers to experiencing identification with Christ in His death by means of underserved suffering.
The believer who is willing to experience identification with Christ in His death and resurrection must undergo underserved suffering, which is designed to advance the believer to greater Christ-likeness. It is through undeserved suffering that the believer is conformed to the image of Christ or attains faithful Christ-like character and identification with Christ experientially in His death and resurrection.
Undeserved suffering acts as a bridge to experiencing identification with Christ in His resurrection or in other words, it gives the believer an opportunity to apply the Word of the Cross, which in turn enables the believer to experience identification with Christ in His resurrection.
Underserved suffering is designed to get us to exchange our old pre-salvation Adamic life for the new post-salvation Christ life.
2 Cor 3:17-4:18, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries
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ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace, which is spreading to more and more people, may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things, which are seen, but at the things, which are not seen; for the things, which are seen, are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
There are 3 agencies that God employs to bring about suffering: (1) Old sin nature (2) Cosmic system (3) Satan.
Now there are different categories of suffering: (1) Self-induced misery: spiritual childhood. (2) Divine discipline: spiritual childhood. (3) Providential preventive suffering: spiritual adulthood. (4) Momentum testing: spiritual adulthood. (5) Evidence testing: spiritual adulthood.
3 Categories of Undeserved Suffering: (1) Providential Preventive Suffering (2) Momentum Testing (3) Evidence Testing.
Providential preventive suffering: Experienced by the believer at spiritual self-esteem and is designed to advance the believer to spiritual autonomy. Providential preventive suffering is illustrated by the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. The power of God in our lives is never more noticeable or conspicuous as when we are suffering, going through adversities and even going through the process of dying. When self has been crucified then the life of Jesus can be manifested in us. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 illustrates this Biblical principle that divine power is manifested in human weakness. This passage deals with the apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh.
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries
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2 Cor 12:2-10, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago — whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows — such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man — whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows –was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me– to keep me from exalting myself. Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
Corrected translation of 2 Corinthians 12:9: “And He has said to me for my benefit and it still has application at the present time, my grace is as an eternal truth is sufficient for you, for my power is as an eternal truth finds its consummation in human impotence. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”
The Lord gave Paul this thorn in the flesh in order to prevent him from getting too puffed up and arrogant because of his trip to the 3rd heaven. His trip to heaven took place when he was stoned in Lystra. The account of this is found in Acts 14. The principle of God’s grace being sufficient to handle the storms of life is mentioned in several passages.
Jer 1:6-9, “Then I said, “Alas, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, “I am a youth,’ because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the LORD. Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.”
Matt 10:19-20, “But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but {it is} the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”
Luke 21:15, “for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.”
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries
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1 Cor 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
1 Cor 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”
2 Cor 3:5-6, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as {coming} from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate {as} servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
Col 1:28-29, “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”
1 Tim 1:14, “and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are {found} in Christ Jesus.”
2 Corinthians 12:10, “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:10 teaches the principle of momentum testing, which is experienced by the believer at spiritual autonomy and is designed to advance him to spiritual maturity and comes in 4 categories: (1) “In slanders”: People Testing (2) “In pressures”: Thought Testing (3) “In persecutions”: System Testing (4) “In stresses”: Disaster Testing.
There are 2 categories of disaster testing: (1) Personal disaster. (2) Historical, or national disaster. Personal disasters: (1) Death of loved ones. (2) Loss of reputation. (3) Loss of success. (4) Loss of employment. (5) Loss of money (6) Loss of property (7) Hunger, thirst, exposure to heat or cold. Historical disasters: (1) Blizzards (2) Hurricanes (3) Tornadoes (4) Floods (5) Earthquakes (6) Tidal waves (7) Volcanic eruptions (8) Epidemics (9) Economic depression (10) Wars.
Evidence testing: Experienced by the believer in spiritual maturity and is the privilege of the believer to become a witness for the Prosecution in the rebuttal phase of Satan’s appeal trial. Evidence Testing is a Cross-Examination by Satan. Each mature believer is a witness for the prosecution. He is another proof of God’s grace and of the efficacy of divine invisible assets against all obstacles and distractions along the route of spiritual advance. Once God has presented a mature believer as evidence, Satan has the right of cross-examination. He uses suffering in the attempt to break down the believer, to force him to abandon God’s resources. After reaching maturity, the believer receives some of the most intense pressure he
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries
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will face in his lifetime. Because no believer could pass this test without the strength of maturity, evidence testing is the monopoly of mature believers!
There are 2 categories of evidence testing: (1) Relation to the plan of God. (2) Relation to the circumstances of life.
The believer has no choice in the matter. God sovereignly decides which type of evidence testing an individual will receive. The humanity of Christ underwent evidence testing at the beginning of His 3 year earthly ministry. He was tested in relation to the plan of God. The 3 parts of His evidence testing challenged His relationship to: (1) God the Holy Spirit (Matt. 4:1-4). (2) The Word of God (Matt. 4:5-7). (3) The Plan of God (Matt. 4:8-10).
Job is the example of a mature believer who received evidence testing in relation to the circumstances of life. His testing was also in 3 parts: (1) Loss of prosperity (Job 1). (2) Loss of health (Job 2:1-10). (3) Loss of friends (Job 11-13; 16:1-5).
Evidence testing is generally administered by Satan but not always. God has established rules, which restrict Satan from taking unfair advantage of any mature believer.
Philippians 3:11, “If somehow (by becoming like Him with respect to His death), I may attain to the exit-resurrection, namely, the one out from the (spiritually) dead ones.”
The enclitic particle of indefinite manner pos, “somehow” indicates Paul’s uncertainty of what manner of undeserved suffering that the Lord will employ in his life to identify him with Christ experientially in His death in order that he may be identified with Christ experientially in His resurrection.
It indicates an unspecified form of undeserved suffering that will identify Paul with Christ experientially in His death in order that he may attain the exit-resurrection life of Christ, or in other words, maximum identification with Christ experientially in His resurrection.
Undeserved suffering is the means that the Lord employs in the believer’s life in order to identify the believer with Christ experientially in His death.
“I may attain to the exit-resurrection, namely, the one out from the (spiritually) dead ones” refers to experience identification with Christ in His resurrection, which is accomplished by applying the Word of life, which enables the Spirit of life to reproduce the character and life of Christ in the believer.
Identification with Christ in His resurrection experientially is appropriating and experiencing the eternal life that was imputed to the believer at the moment of salvation through regeneration. Resurrection life is eternal life or the life of God.
The phrase “namely, the one out from the dead ones” refers to 2 categories of spiritual death: (1) Real spiritual death: unregenerate people (2) Temporal spiritual death: regenerate people who our consistently out of fellowship with God.
2003 William E. Wenstrom, Jr. Bible Ministries
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It was the death of Christ, which saved us from sin in the past; it is the life of Christ, which delivers us from sin in the present and future.
The teaching of the New Testament is that the Christian life is one in which Jesus Christ lives His life out in us. The believer cannot experience identification with Christ in His resurrection until he first denies himself the function of his old Adamic nature, which is experiential identification with Christ in His death. The believer cannot appropriate and experience eternal life in time prior to his death or the rapture until he denies himself the function of his old Adamic nature. Thus, the believer cannot appropriate and experience eternal life in time prior to his death or the rapture until he experiences identification with Christ in His death.
Identification with Christ experientially in His resurrection is appropriating and experiencing eternal life in time, prior to death or the rapture. Experiential sanctification, knowing Christ experientially, identification with Christ experientially and gaining Christ-likeness are all synonymous terms for the process that God puts the believer through who is positive towards His Word.
The process of experiential sanctification, identification with Christ experientially, knowing Christ experientially or gaining Christ-likeness is 2-fold: (1) Identification with Christ in His death experientially (2) Identification with Christ in His resurrection experientially.
One must apply the Cross of Christ to one’s life in order to experience the life of Christ and thus by doing so the believer will experience fellowship with God and will execute the Father’s will for one’s life. Picking up one’s cross is appropriating by faith in the Word of God, God’s viewpoint of you and His work on your behalf that He performed through His Son Jesus Christ.
There is a tremendous passage in Romans, in which the apostle Paul exhorts his readers to appropriate that which is true of them positionally, namely, that they have been crucified and buried with Christ and raised with Christ.
Those who do experience that, which is true of them positionally because of their union with Christ, will walk in newness of life!
Romans 5:1-11 address the fact that God dealt with our personal sins through the death of His Son and that through the faith in His Son the believer has been justified before God and has been reconciled to Him as well.
Romans 5:12-21 addresses the fact that God dealt with the root of personal sins, namely, the Adamic sin nature through the obedience of the Last Adam, which brought blessing and eternal life.
Romans 6:1-23 addresses the fact that the believer can experience the eternal life of God in time by appropriating by means of faith, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
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Romans 5 instructs the believer as to the work of salvation that was accomplished by God through His Son Jesus Christ and Romans 6 instructs the believer as to how that work of salvation applies to the believer’s life in time.
Rom 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Justification is an act of God’s justice, which occurs at the moment of salvation when God the Judge sees or acknowledges His own perfect righteousness in the one who believes in His Son Jesus Christ for salvation.
Galatians 2:16, “Nevertheless, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; For by the works of the Law no person will be justified.”
Romans 5:2-4, “through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.”
Perseverance is steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, and a state. It suggests activity maintained in spite of difficulties, steadfast and long continued application. Perseverance is remaining faithful and obedient to the Word of God despite the obstacles in life such as the old sin nature, self, the cosmic system of Satan.
Romans 5:5-11, “and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
Reconciliation is God’s peace treaty with the entire human race and is appropriated by making the non-meritorious decision to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.
Col 1:21-22, “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body
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through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.”
Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”
At the moment of physical birth, every member of the human race becomes a sinner because he has received the imputation of Adam’s sin in the garden, which results in them being physically alive and thus spiritually dead but qualified for grace, which is for the helpless and hopeless and which grace is appropriated through faith alone in Christ alone.
1 Cor 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”
Imputation is the function of the justice of God in crediting something to someone for cursing or for blessing.
There are 2 categories of imputations: (1) Real: “crediting to a person something which belongs to him” (2) Judicial: “crediting to a person something which does not belong to him”
There are 5 great imputations related to salvation: 3 are real and 2 are judicial.
Real Imputations: (1) Imputation of Human Life (2) Imputation of Adam’s Sin (3) Imputation of Eternal Life.
Judicial Imputations: (1) Imputation of Personal Sins to Christ (2) Imputation of Divine Righteousness.
The reason why God imputed Adam’s sin in the garden to every member of the human race at physical birth is given in 2 passages of Scripture:
Gal 3:22, ‘But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”
Rom 11:32, “For God has shut up all in (Adam’s) disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.”
Romans 5:13-18, “for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in
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life through the One, Jesus Christ. So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.”
Justification by faith is not simply a legal matter but also a living relationship meaning a new relationship to sin in that we have been freed from its power and dominion and brought into a new relationship with God because we have received eternal life.
Romans 5:19-6:4, “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
The Baptism of the Spirit takes place exclusively during the dispensation of the church age and is accomplished at the moment of salvation when the omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit places the believer in a eternal union with Christ, thus identifying the believer positionally with Christ in His death, resurrection and session.
The Baptism of the Spirit results in making the believer a permanent member of the royal family of god, a new spiritual species and eternally secure (Rom. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:26-28; Eph. 4:5; Col. 2:11-13; 1 Pet. 3:21).
Gal 3:26-28, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
1 Cor 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”
“Baptized” in Romans 6:3, Galatians 3:27 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 is the verb baptizo (baptivzw), “to cause the believer to be identified with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines the verb identify, “to cause to be or become identical, to conceive as united (as in spirit, outlook, or principle).”
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Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines the noun identification, “a process by which a person ascribes to himself the qualities or characteristics of another person.”
At the moment of salvation, the omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit causes the believer to become identical and united with the Lord Jesus Christ and also ascribes to the believer the qualities and characteristics of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Baptism of the Spirit results in positional sanctification and the potential to experience sanctification in time and the promise of ultimate sanctification at the resurrection of the church.
Sanctification is a technical theological term for the believer who has been set apart through the Baptism of the Spirit at the moment of salvation in order to serve God exclusively and is accomplished by God in 3 stages: (1) Positional (2) Experiential (3) Ultimate.
Positional: The entrance into the plan of God for the Church Age resulting in eternal security as well as 2 categories of positional truth (1 Cor. 1:2, 30; 1 Pet. 1:2; 1 Thess. 5:23; Eph. 5:26-27; Heb. 2:11; 10:10; Acts 20:32; 26:18; Rom. 6:3, 8; 2 Thess. 2:13).
Retroactive: The Church Age believer’s identification with Christ in His death (Rom. 6:3-11; Col. 2:12). Current: The Church Age believer’s identification with Christ in His resurrection, ascension and session (Col. 3:1-4).
Positional sanctification: (1) What God has done for the church age believer. (2) His viewpoint of the church age believer. (3) Sets up the potential to experience sanctification in time. (4) Provides the believer with the promise of receiving a resurrection body.
Romans 6:4, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
Experiential sanctification is the function of the Church Age believer’s spiritual life in time through the utilization of the 2 Great Divine Provisions of the Spirit of God and the Word of God (John 17:17; Rom. 6:19, 22; 2 Tim. 2:21; 1 Pet. 3:15; 1 Thess. 4:3-4, 7; 1 Tim. 2:15).
Experiential sanctification is the post-salvation experience of the church age believer who is consistently in fellowship with God by acknowledging any known sin to the Father when necessary and then immediately begins applying the Word of eternal life, which in turn enables the Spirit of eternal life to reproduce the character and (eternal) life of Christ in the believer.
Experiential sanctification is only a potential since it is contingent upon the church age believer responding to what God has done for him at the moment of salvation, therefore, only believers who are positive to the Word of God will experience sanctification in time.
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The believer who experiences sanctification is walking in “newness of life” and he does this by obeying teaching of the Word of God, which states that the believer has been crucified with Christ, buried with Christ and raised with Christ and which teaching is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Romans 6:5, “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.”
Ultimate sanctification is the perfection of the church age believer’s spiritual life at the Rapture, i.e. resurrection of the church, which is the completion of the plan of God for the church age believer (1 Cor. 15:53-54; Gal. 6:8; 1 Pet. 5:10; John 6:40).
Ultimate sanctification is the promise of resurrection body and will be experienced by every believer regardless of their response in time to what God has done for them at the moment of salvation. It sanctification occurs at the Rapture of the church when the believer receives their resurrection body.
Romans 6:6, “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.”
“Knowing” is the verb ginosko (ginwvskw), “to comprehend, understand as an objective fact in the Word of God that you have been crucified with Christ in order that the sin nature which possesses the members of the physical body might be rendered inoperative so that you no longer would be a slave to the sin nature.”
“Done away with” is the aorist passive subjunctive form of the verb katargeo (katargevw), “to be render inoperative, inactive, ineffective, deprived of its power.”
Katargeo in Romans 6:6 does “not” mean that the old Adamic sin nature has been permanently eradicated but rather that it has been “rendered inoperative, deprived of its power” over the believer because the believer has been identified with Christ in His death, and which death broke the power of the sin nature.
The voluntary substitutionary spiritual death of the impeccable humanity of Christ in hypostatic union not only was the payment for every sin in human history-past, present and future but it also broke the power of, rendered inoperative the sin nature, which is the source of personal sins.
Romans 6:7-11, “for he who has died is freed from sin (not free to sin). Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
“Consider” is the present middle imperative form of the verb logizomai (logivzomai), “to comprehend objective facts and affirm that they are true,” thus in
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the context of Romans 6:11, logizomai means, “to agree with the objective truth of the Word of God as revealed by the Holy Spirit that you have been crucified with Christ and thus dead to the sin nature and raised with Christ, and thus alive to God.”
To “consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” is to agree with God’s viewpoint of you that you have been crucified with Christ and raised with Christ and appropriate by faith that which He has done for you through the death and resurrection of Christ and by doing so you will be living in eternal life.
Amos 3:3, “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?”
The present imperative form of logizomai means that the Roman believers are commanded to “make it their habit” of agreeing with the objective truth of the Word of God that they have been crucified with Christ and thus dead to the sin nature and raised with Christ, and thus alive to God.
Paul states in Galatians 2:20 applied this principle to himself and appropriated the death and resurrection of Christ by means of faith in the Son of God.
Gal 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
The principle of faith operates quite simply in that God speaks and we hear His Word and then we trust His Word and act on it no matter what the circumstances are or what the consequences may be.
The circumstances may be impossible, and the consequences frightening and unknown but we obey God’s Word just the same and believe Him to do what is right and what is best.
Faith is characterized by obedience to God’s commands and this is illustrated with Abraham.
Hebrews 11:8, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.”
Faith is the positive response to God’s commands and acting upon those directions.
Unbelief on the other hand is disobedient and is the negative response to God’s commands and as a result the failure to act upon God’s commands.
Heb 3:12, “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.”
The Bible never separates faith from obedience.
Romans 16:24-25, “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested,
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and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith.”
A Christian’s faith is based upon trusting in the authority of the Scriptures and is a non-meritorious system of perception.
There are 3 systems of perception: (1) Rationalism: Trusting in one’s own intellect to govern one’s life. (2) Empiricism: Trusting in one’s own experiences in life to govern one’s life. (3) Faith: Trusting in the authority of another to govern one’s life.
The object of the Christian’s faith at the moment of salvation is the Lord Jesus Christ and the object of his faith after salvation is the written Word of God. Faith for the Christian is trusting in the authority of the Word of God in order to govern one’s life. In order for the Christian to please God and gain His approval he must trust in the authority of the Scriptures to govern his life.
Heb 11:1-3, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”
Heb 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
Romans 6:12-13, “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
“Present” is the verb paristemi (parivsthmi), “to put at one’s disposal.”
The first time the verb paristemi is employed in Romans 6:13 it is used in a prohibition where the apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit prohibits the Roman believers to put the members of their body at the disposal of the sin nature.
The second time the verb paristemi is employed in Romans 6:13 it is used in a command where the apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit commands the Roman believers to put the members of their body at the disposal of the will of God by appropriating by faith Christ’s resurrection.
Romans 6:14, “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”
Believers sin because they choose to live in their old Adamic sin nature rather than appropriate by means of faith the death and resurrection of Christ. They are no longer obligated to living under the dominion of the sin nature. The believer who
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concentrates upon the doctrine inspired by the Spirit in the Word of God that he has been crucified and raised with Christ will experience deliverance from the sin nature.
Rom 8:1-5, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”
“Set their minds” is the verb phroneo (fronevw), which in the context of Romans 6:5 means, “to concentrate” upon the things of the flesh, i.e. sin nature.
Romans 8:6-7, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so.”
“The mind set on the flesh” in Romans 6:6-7 is the noun phronema (frovnhma), “mind,” and the genitive of possession sarx (savrc), “flesh,” (i.e. sin nature), thus this phrase literally means, “the mind possessed or controlled by the flesh.”
“The mind set on the Spirit” in Romans 6:6 is the noun phronema (frovnhma), “mind,” and the genitive of possession pneuma (pneu~ma), “Spirit,” thus this phrase literally means, “the mind possessed or controlled by the Spirit.”
Col 3:1-4, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind (phroneo, “to concentrate”) on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”
Romans 8:6-14, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to
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your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
The reason why the believer is no longer obligated to live under the sin nature and has an alternative to submitting to its power is because he has been separated from and set free from the dominion of the sin nature because of his co-crucifixion with Christ.
This is illustrated in Romans 7 by the apostle Paul where he draws the analogy of a wife being separated from the dominion of her husband at physical death with the death of Christ, which separated the believer from the dominion of the sin nature.
Rom 7:1-25, “Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. For we know that
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the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin, which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.”
Romans 6:15-17, “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed.”
The phrase “that form of teaching” is the phrase tupon didaches (tuvpon didxh~$), which means, “the body of doctrine.”
This phrase does not refer to a set of abstract principles but of concrete historical facts about the Person and life of Lord Jesus Christ as well as His death, burial, resurrection, ascension and session and how these facts apply to the Roman believers.
Paul thanks God here in Romans 6:17 for the Roman believers obedience to Paul’s doctrinal instruction. The content of that doctrinal instruction was that the Roman believers have been positionally crucified, buried, raised and seated with Christ.
These historical facts about the perfect life of the Lord Jesus Christ serve as the basis for the believer’s spiritual life.
The Word of God, Bible doctrine is a body of historical facts, which are full of spiritual meaning and God Himself makes these facts and their meaning understandable to the believer.
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The terms doctrine and theology in the church today are not very popular in Christian circles and in fact, these terms are often ridiculed.
We hear stupid statements from Christians and I’m sure many of you have too where they say the following: “We don’t need to know all that theological or doctrinal stuff. We just need to know Jesus.” Or you hear something like: “Well, I’m not a theologian, I just love Jesus.”
How can you say that you love Jesus when you don’t know anything about Him? The reason they don’t know anything about Him is that they are ignorant of the Bible and they are ignorant because they are arrogant. You see doctrine is simply another name for teaching and theology means “the knowledge of God.” The term doctrine is mentioned many times in Scripture.
Matt 7:28-29, “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His doctrine; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.”
Matt 22:33, “When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at His doctrinal teaching.”
John 7:16-17, “So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.”
John 18:19, “The high priest then questioned Jesus about His disciples, and about His doctrine.”
Acts 2:42, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
Acts 5:27-28, “When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.’”
Acts 17:19, “And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, ‘May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming?’”
1 Tim 4:6, “In pointing out these things (warn against false doctrine mentioned in 1-5) to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, {constantly} nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.”
2 Tim 4:1-3, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but {wanting} to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.”
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Titus 1:7-9, “For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”
Titus 2:1, “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”
Titus 2:7, “in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, {with} purity in doctrine, dignified.”
Titus 2:9-10, “Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.”
Biblical theology is simply truths of God’s Word that give us knowledge of God, man, salvation, sanctification, the church, or life. So when these Christians reject doctrine and theology and say that they just love Jesus what they are saying in effect is that they are relying upon emotional experiences and their own misconceptions that they learned in another denomination. Such an attitude of ignorance from arrogance is the result of ignoring the fact the Bible is God-breathed and is authoritative.
2 Tim 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
Believers are in rebellion when they reject the Word of God. This attitude treats God’s Word as unnecessary and outdated information. Something they say they don’t really need and they elevate the wisdom of men above God’s wisdom when the opposite is really the case.
The Scriptures also emphasize the importance of avoiding false doctrine.
Matt 16:12, “Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Rom 16:17, “Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.”
1 Tim 6:3, “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited {and} understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant
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friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.”
Heb 13:9, “Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.”
2 John 9-10, “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting.”
Obedience to Bible doctrine is absolutely essential in order to experience fellowship with God. It also serves as a protection for the soul against false doctrine that is propagated by the kingdom of darkness.
2 Cor 10:5-6, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.”
Obedience to Bible doctrine purifies the soul.
1 Peter 1:22-23, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.”
Paul thanked God for the positive volition in Thessalonica.
1 Thess 2:13, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.”
Paul warned his students to hold fast to the doctrinal instruction that they had received from him.
2 Thess 2:15, “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.”
2 Tim 1:13-14, “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”
The believer’s love for the Lord will motivate him to obey Him.
2 Cor 5:14-15, “For the self-sacrificial love of Christ (on the Cross) motivates us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
The believer who obeys the Lord demonstrates his love for the Lord.
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John 14:21-24, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him. Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.’”
The believer finds his motivation to love the Lord and thus obey Him by taking into account the love manifested by the Lord at the Cross.
1 John 4:19, “We love, because He first loved us.”
Rom 5:6-8, ‘For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own self-sacrificial love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died as a substitute for all of us.”
Romans 6:18-19, “and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.”
The unbeliever does not have an alternative to living in the old Adamic sin nature but the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has an alternative because he has been set free at the moment of salvation from the power of the old Adamic sin nature through faith in Christ.
The believer does not have to live under the tyranny of the old Adamic sin nature but now has an alternative since he has been crucified with Christ and raised with Christ, thus by appropriating these objective facts in the Word of God by faith, he can live in his new Christ nature and thus in eternal life.
Romans 6:20-23, “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“Sanctification” refers to experiential sanctification.
Experiential sanctification is the function of the church age believer’s spiritual life in time and is accomplished in the believer who is obedient to the Father’s will,
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which is revealed by the Holy Spirit’s through the communication of the Word of God and which obedience enables the Holy Spirit to reproduce the character and life of Christ in the believer.
Experiential sanctification is only a potential since it is contingent upon the church age believer responding to what God has done for him at the moment of salvation, therefore, only believers who are positive to the Word of God will experience sanctification in time.
The believer who experiences sanctification is walking in “newness of life” and he does this by obeying teaching of the Word of God, which states that the believer has been crucified with Christ, buried with Christ and raised with Christ and which teaching is inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers might be enlightened of this objective fact of Bible doctrine that the power of God has been made available to them through their co-death, co-resurrection and co-session with Jesus Christ.
Eph 1:15-23, “For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
Paul reaffirms this truth of the believer’s co-death, co-resurrection and co-session with Christ in Ephesian 2.
Eph 2:1-7, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”