Using Romans 6 Unlawfully

Romans Chapter 6 is loaded with really great stuff. It encourages the believer to abide so that they might live righteously while discouraging sin. However, more than once I’ve heard this book hammered on as if righteousness is the line with which we’re measured and that we shouldn’t sin any longer. Sure, there’s grace, but it’s not to be ‘used.’

This whole perspective ignores chapter 7 and completely bypasses chapter 8. Chapter 7 clearly states that we’re going to sin and stumble. Chapter 8 plasters us with grace. There’s no reason why we should ever consider 6 without 1 through 5 and 7 through 16 (I double checked and they haven’t added a chapter 17 to Romans). I had a talk with my step-father-in-law this evening and we marvelled at the gift of grace and how so many times we’ve been taught the law and nailed with condemnation instead of encouraged with the 100% nature of grace and that our sins were nailed to the cross with Christ.

Therefore, chapter 8 starts out, we have no condemnation because we are in Christ Jesus. Chapter 6, verse 7 states this another way: For he who has died is aquitted of sin. And since our old nature was killed on the Christ’s cross with Him, we are aquitted. Furthermore, Christ’s righteousness was given to us instead of neutrality, a blank slate or anything else. We are so completely tied in with Christ that when God the Father looks at us, He sees only His Son in us.

A Letter From Kurt

My Brother-in-Law Kurt Katzorke (married to my sister Becky) is a hungry student of God’s word as well as myself and wrote a letter to his professor which is below, I thought it might be of general use.

— Randy

Recently in my Core Humanities class my professor cover some church history. In particular he focused on Paul and his writing in 1 Corinthians chapter 7. For whatever reason this passage is a favorite of college professors to cover when discussing Christianity. This particular professor tried to demonstrate a Catholic tradition that all sex (even that confined to marriage) is bad and attribute it to Pauline origins. Out of a desire to have the Christian faith and it’s biblical themes seen correctly, I wrote my professor a letter containing biblical perspective on the matter. I have somewhat edited the letter as some introductory and closing matters were not pertinent the matter at hand.

Not on one occasion in Paul’s writings does he say, “All types of sex are bad.” However, there are several instances in which Paul reprimands sexual immorality. In 1 Thessalonians 4:3 Paul states,

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality.” If you are wondering what sexual immorality includes you can look to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 which reads, “9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Four types of sexual immorality are listed here.

Fornicators- the Greek for this word is por’-nos which is used for a male or female prostitute and is commonly interpreted fornicator, whoremonger.

Adulterers- comes for the Greek moy-khos’ and is commonly translated paramour or adulterer. It is someone who is either in marriage and having sexual relations outside of marriage or the person who is not married and having sexual relations with someone who is married.

Effeminate- The Greek here is mal-ak-os’ which means of uncertain affinity or soft; figuratively, a catamite. It is commonly interpreted effeminate, soft. It is often used as an adjective in describing clothes and also in conjunction with the common Greek practice of an older man having sexual relations with a younger boy.

Homosexual- comes from the Greek ar-sen-ok-oy’-tace and is simply a sodomite. It literally means a homosexual.

These four types of sexual sin are not new in that Paul came up with them. Old Testament (Torah) Law required that anyone committing any of the sins above be taken outside the city and stoned to death. It is a biblical theme that sexual immorality is intolerable in the eyes of God.

As stated earlier Paul does not outright say, “sex is bad and should be confined to procreation.” The fact of the matter is that when it is confined to marriage it is a debt that one spouse owes to the other and is glorifying to God. 1 Cor 7:1-6 outlines several key issues concerning our topic:

7:1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 But this I say by way of concession, not of command.

Verse 1 offers insight into the entire letter Paul wrote to Corinth. He says, “Now concerning the things about which you wrote…” At this point in the letter Paul is answering questions the Corinthians had asked him in form of a letter. We don’t have the letter so we don’t know exactly what the question is, but Paul’s answers are still useful. Issues addressed in verse 2 are concerned with the fact that Paul is writing to the church in Corinth that had tons of sexual immorality. In fact the temple in Corinth was dedicated to the goddess of sex- Aphrodite. Sexual immorality ran ramped in Corinth and that is why Paul addresses it as harshly as he does with the Corinthians. Also, the context of the passage is important here. Later in this chapter (verse 26) Paul makes it evident that there is a “present distress” in Corinth. What that distress was we don’t know for sure. It may have been famine, persecution or a number of other possibilities. Whatever it was it caused Paul to speak of marriage in a harsh manner to the Corinthians (Whereas in Ephesians chapter 5 Paul’s writing is inspiring to a married Christian). This is also why Paul says that, “it is good for a man not to touch a woman” and that, “because of immoralities let each have his own wife.” Verse 3 contains the debt that is owed between a man and a woman. In verse 3 the word duty is used. This same word is used other places in Paul’s writings as reward or blessing, it takes on a duel meaning in this case in that a husband or wife owes to their spouse an obligation of good will. In other words God has made the act of sex a blessing that spouses owe to each other- it is their marital duty to pay it. Verses 4-6 go even a step further and say the husband has authority over his wife’s body and the wife has authority over her husband’s body. Also, that husband and wife should not deprive one another sexually except for a time of prayer in order focus on the Lord and avoid temptation. Paul is not condemning sex inside the marriage; rather, he is imploring sex to be practiced and enjoyed inside marriage. Any idea the God does not want a husband or wife to enjoy sex with one another is not Biblical, Pauline, or even remotely close to God’s will.

The origin of churches teaching that sex is all together bad is a result of Augustine in the 4th century. His own battles with sexual sin and misunderstanding of scripture lead the Roman Church to start the unbiblical doctrine that sex should only be for procreation. I find such ideas appalling. I am a Biblical Christian and am also married. I find the blessing of the unity between my wife and I to be one of the greatest gifts that God has chosen to give me in this life. Furthermore, I am deeply grieved for any follower of Christ would has been taught otherwise. Marriage was the first institution God set up among man. Any teaching that says it is heroic to remain unmarried and simply permissible to marry is foolish. In Ephesians 5:22-33 Paul glorifies the marriage relationship likening it to the relationship between Christ and His Church. Not only this, but also that when Christian husbands and wives serve each other as Christ does for all they glorify God.

If one seeks to understand biblical principle then looking at one verse or passage and taking it out of context will not serve them well. When this done the verse or passage can be made to say almost anything. To understand biblical principle one must observe and interpret. Observe when the passage was written, what was happening at the time, who was writing, who were they writing to, what do we know about them, why was it written, what result did they have in mind, what is the context (historical, biblical, book, and passage-wise), what is the content (words, grammar, and syntax), and how does it compare with other scripture (especially those by the same author). In other words there is more to understanding what Paul wrote than simply reading it. Taking a passage out of context and a lack observing and interpreting has led to several unbiblical church doctrines. The idea that all sex is sinful and displeasing to God is one of such doctrines.

Updating Software

As a small business it is often difficult to keep up with client work let alone software changes and updates. One thing I run into is the problem of software version conflicts. Recently one client needed files sent to another contractor who was doing some outside graphic work (I am working on more coding than graphic design at this moment) and the Illustrator files were not compatible. I am using Adobe Illustrator CS and he was using Illustrator 10, which is the previous version. I had to save the files in an Illustrator 10 format. If your budget allows for it always upgrade your software to the latest version so that you can be backwards compatible (most of the time, I know there are exceptions) but also handle anything that your clients throw at you. I know this can be expensive, but keep your customers in mind, if it can be worked out with ‘accounting’ then get it worked out and keep up to date. The benefits of the new software may prove useful feature wise and looking up-to-date to the customer can’t hurt!

1 Timothy 1:3-7

This passage is one that should be a stumbling block to most elders 🙂 OK, not a stumbling block, but instead a focal point for their ministry, a mission statement. Look at Paul’s writing to Timothy and see what is instructed here in contrast to what is so often the roll leadership takes in the church.

1 Timothy 1:3-7 (NASB)

3 As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,
4 nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere rather than the administration of God which is by faith.
5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
6 For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion,
7 wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

So, you see Paul’s instructions are to Timothy, and you think to yourself, “Randy, this is to Timothy, it this for every church?” Good question. I think that in the greater context of the Timothy’s (first and second) that it is clear that Timothy was in Ephesus to help establish a strong elder based leadership at that church. Therefore, I think that since leadership shouldn’t die off in the church, these principles apply to the leadership of the church today.

Looking at verse three we see that Paul, trusting in the Holy Spirit’s work through Timothy, went on to Macedonia. Timothy’s Ephesian charge was to instruct certain men not to teach ‘strange doctrine.’ I love that phrase, it’s fun. In our post-modern, anything goes, relativistic culture ‘strange doctrine’ doesn’t happen. In fact, if Paul were writing (or righting) today I think he might go so far as to say, “…so that you may instruct certain men not to teach whatever doctrine is blowing through town.” The church has become so doctrinally splintered over the last 2,000 years that I believe few actually believe that there are true doctrines worth holding to. Just in case you’re not familiar with the term ‘doctrine’, it means ‘a teaching.’ In this context we can see in verses six and seven that the strange doctrines involve the mixture of Grace with the Law. And, if you know Galatians at all, you know the Law is not to be mixed with Grace.

Verse four tackles an old Jewish tradition/problem wherein Rabbinic tradition and geneology were counted as important. Using tradition is of some external value for some slight details, but it is certainly not to be incorporated into full fledged teachings. Geneology, as you can see in Matthew 1, was thick and rooted in the Jewish culture. Being able to say you were a son of [insert important name here] apparently meant something to these folks. However, Paul does not want them to focus on these things since they were now sons of God! Having been grafted into salvation through Christ, they were adopted children of God (Ephesians 1:5). Finally in this point we see that those distractions don’t lead to God’s final goal for believers on this earth. We also see that they are not rooted in faith.

Verse five gets into the fun stuff because we see that the goal of the leadership in the church should be instruction that produces the following results in the believers:

  • Love from a pure heart
  • A good conscience
  • A sincere faith

Point one in that list points out that we should let the Lord, who bought our hearts, have control of them, and then love through us with purity. It is so easy to not love people. It is even easier to tolerate, ignore or hate people when we’re in the flesh. Pure love comes from a submitted heart.

A good conscience is one that is not distracted by sin, one that is not hounded by guilt, and one that understands the awesomeness of grace. If you know grace, what it means, then your conscience will be clear, past sins will be a forgotten thing because you look for a hopeful future with your bridegroom, Christ.

A sincere faith is one that genuinely believes and knows the truth of Christ and the doctrines upon which the Christian life rests. We all have doubts at times, points in our lives where we question God’s work, our salvation or various other parts of our faith. If we are well equipped with spiritual truth many of the doubts we face (if not all) will be eraced by the confidence in our relationship with our savior.

So you see that a pastor/elder is to be teaching, discipling, and re-enforcing these things in the flock that God has bestowed to them. If you are spiritually mature, you might consider heavily investing these things into others lives. Sure, it will require time, possibly money, and surely a lot of emotional commitment, but it is the call of a spiritually mature believer to do this. I’m blogging about my Bible study time to help teach others what has been invested in me. While this small blog can’t reach all believers, or even a small fraction of believers, I do hope to help encourage those who read to study and know God’s word, which is Christ!

Verse six shows the fruitless discussion that is a result of straying from the fundamental and important things of the believer. Trust me that in seminary I more than once saw people discussing fruitless things that did not edify them, or anyone listening. Sometimes big words, new ideas or any of the other fruitless practices like geneologies and traditions can be distracting. They make us feel like we may have a corner on truth, a new, better solution or any number of fleshly things, however, if we’re rooted in the core of Christianity (Christ) then we’ll be set for growth and maturity.

Lastly, verse seven makes it clear that the Law is not for the believer. Often teachers mix the Law in with their teaching because they feel it instills a moral rightness, a better, more clear instruction for their parishioners. Frankly, it can’t be too much worse than just outright telling them to sin! Why? Because it does not encourage the believer unto Holy Spirit led righteousness. Instead it calls believers to keep accounts of their sins (or not sinning) rather than counting their righteousness in Christ. If the fruit of the Spirit is a long list of good, God rewarding things why not encourage spiritual growth and spiritual thinking (Romans 12:2, Colossians 3:1-3)?

OK, have a good weekend, I’ll be travelling so Saturday or Sunday may not be blogged, but I’ll do my best to post next week!

Resting in Him,
Randy Peterman

Position Verses Condition

When we are redeemed by the blood of Christ at the moment of salvation lots of things happen. Part of what happens is that we are then unified in Christ in His crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection, ascention and then hidden with Him. Our position is in and with Christ. Immediately. However, while our position is sealed with Christ, our righteousness set to 100% (called ‘imputed’ in theological circles) our condition is altered but is not completed like our position. Our condition is subject to the flesh (Romans 7:15) which tries to gain back the hold that it once had. We are given a new nature that is alive and not separated from God (Genesis 3).
Continue reading “Position Verses Condition”

3 John 1:4

3 John 1:4 (NASB)

I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.

I am constantly reminded that this world is full of almost-truth, no truth and farthest from the truth. I am a strong proponent of ‘absolute truth.’ Absolute truth is the idea that truth is not just personal opinion, but exists outside of mankind [and as a Christian it resides in God]. A popular philosophy some time ago was called ‘modernism.’ Modernism said that man could figure out truth through science. That fell short since you can’t scientifically prove a lot of things. So then the philosophy of ‘post-modernism’ developed. Post-modernism involves the idea that there is no absolute truth at all. In short, everything is an opinion and everything is relativistic. Relativism clings to the self-cancelling statement: There is no absolute truth.
Continue reading “3 John 1:4”

Colossians 2:16-17

Today in church we went over Colossians 2:16-17. One of the key parts of this passage is that we need to not focus on the shadows, which have no substance, but instead focus on the substance of what is to come: Christ. Sometimes I get caught up in trappings like computers, programming, my car and my music. The truth is that Christ gives any meaning to those things that exist. If I look at them as His tools, then they have value, if I look at them as my posessions, or results of me and my genius then they are just shadows and they have no eternal value.

James 1:21

Tonight in Greek we looked at a very interesting difference in the NASB and King James version of the Bible when it comes to James 1:21. Below are the two versions to compare.

Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility recieve the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

King James Version

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

On the surface the two look like the mean similar things. However, looking closer the King James implies a duality of responsibility that are ongoing:

  1. Lay apart all filthiness
  2. Receive the word

However, the NASB, which apparently reflects the Greek (according to my Greek teacher), there is only one ongoing task: receive the word. The laying aside of filthiness will then be an ongoing result of taking in the word! This is a powerful contrast to the King James’ implications. I’m often reminded that the Holy Spirit gives us righteousness and that we are not able to be righteous on our own. If we’re imbibing God’s word then it will be less likely that we’re sinning. How wonderful it is that the Lord renews our minds (Romans 12:2) and prepares us in condition for what our position has already obtained, the heavenlies (Colossians 3:1-3)!

Matthew 23:1-4

Matthew 23:1-4 (NASB)

  1. Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples,
  2. Saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses;
  3. therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.
  4. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unvilling to move them with so much as a finger.”

What a picture this passage paints in my mind. Imagine a group of hungry listeners gathered around Jesus waiting for his direction. The authority with which Christ spoke makes it clear that when he made a statement, people were listening, even if they didn’t understand all that He said.

The short passage points out that the Jewish leaders of the day had usurped God’s authority (through the prophet Moses) and had made more laws! More rules for the Jewish believers to follow. As if 613 laws were not enough, the made more to help keep people from getting near the 613. This is somewhat like airport security in the United States after September 11th, 2001. Weapons like box cutters, guns and explosives were dangerous. Therefore toenail clippers were banned as well. If a 4 inch bumper on your car is good, a 4 foot bumper is better 🙂

What is so precious about this passage to me is that Christ still respects their authority! “What?!,” you migh ask. Christ instructs those listening to obey the authority God has allowed over them, but he doesn’t tell them to become drones. He instructs them to obey God’s law so that they don’t become bound up in the heavy bondage of the Pharisees’ law.

As a New Testament Saint, I rejoice that we’re not under the law at all! In fact the Holy Spirit is given to us to allow us to be free from the bondage of sin and the law. Instead, as we abide in the Holy Spirit we will be doing God’s will, walking in righteousness
and loving one another as God has directed.

Grace is good, especially in the light of this law that was once heaped on the Old Testament Saints.

All Things Theoblogical

This is a theological blog, or at least it will be. I hope to transfer most of the theological content I’ve written at my general blog over here to help create focused areas of attention and content.