It's been a while since I've done one of the Romans installments. I had family visiting on and off for the past few months, then Easter came, and more family arrived, and then various things have been accelarating around here.
The truth is, that while all those things are true and they definitely cut into my time in a major way, the main reason I haven't done one of the Romans studies for a while is because I have been uncharacteristically silent. I haven't been able to talk much...all I keep telling You is, "I don't know what to say". I haven't been able to force it or make it happen, nor have I wanted to because I have always shared from my heart spontaneously, right or wrong and to write something for the sake of writing something is just repulsive to me.
So I've been quiet. Very, very quiet.
I'm beginning to wonder if Your hand is in this though...it's been a very strange place for me to be, feeling quiet for so long and so deeply. We both know that I can run my mouth a mile a minute and that I usually have thoughts or something to say about most things, so for that to come to a complete and abrupt halt, hasn't been easy. But lately, I've been coming out of my cave a little bit, and wondering if this season of silence has been over.
As I write this, I begin to wonder something Father. As I emerge from my cave of sorts, there's still a small voice that is saying, "I have nothing to say", but along with that statement, the thought crosses my heart that if You need or want to share something, I think I'm willing. If that's the case, I'm at peace with it. But You know and I know that I'm not going to write just to write. Either the power of Your Spirit guides me, or I just can't do it.
This morning, Romans came to mind. My response was, "I don't know". The pressing came again and again, so here I am Father, obedient to the burden this morning to do the next study, completely dependent on You, for even the words to say.
I don't know if I'm making any sense to anyone that will read this, but Father, You know my heart and while it seems hard to explain, it's so completely true. I'm a little nervous this morning, a little unsure, feeling a little awkward picking this up right now. All I can think of is it's Your power, Your love, Your eternal purpose, so please give me the words You would have me say.
I will say Father, that a couple of weeks ago, a prayer I had written in the beginning of this study had come to mind. I felt a burden to go find it, and reread it again, so I began searching through the studies I had done thus far, and my heart hurt a little as I would reread the prayers I had written back then. They were sweet and honest, vulnerable and genuine, and I missed being like that these days.
It's Your study Father, it always has been. I've just been willing to share publically my own personal journey with You through this book. I can't finish it, I can't polish it up and make it happen, I'm completely dependant on You. Please help...I don't want to be out on a limb on my own.
lol as I wrote that I had a visual of me hanging onto that limb with my arms and legs, and Your holy, tender hand right beneath me as I hollar "don't You dare let me go" lolol.
I do love You Father, and I've missed doing this study with You. I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I do know that right now, for today, I want and need to share my walk through Your Word.
In Jesus Name I pray,
2. And be not fashioned according to this age: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove [in experience] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Watchman Nee comments on a few words in this verse:
"be not fashioned": "This means that we should not be assimilated by the world to the extent that we who have been separated from the world unto God have the same image as this age, not caring for the transformation of the Lord Spirit in us with God's essence to conform us to the Lord's glorious image (2 Cor. 3:18), which the Spirit carries out by moving and working in us through the divine life and the divine nature."
"this age": "This age denotes the present, practical part of the world, that part which we contact and in which we live; whereas the world, the evil system of Satan, is the composition of all people, matters, and things outside of God, including religious as well as secular things, as in Gal. 6:14, where the world mentioned is the religious world of Paul's time. This satanic world is composed of many different ages, each having its own particular pattern, characteristics, fashions, styles, and trends. We cannot forsake the world without forsaking the present age that appears before us."
"transformed": "Transformation is the inward, metabolic process in which God works to spread His divine life and nature throughout every part of our being, particularly our soul, bringing Christ and His riches into our being as our new element and causing our old, natural element to be gradually discharged. As a result, we will be transformed into His image (2 Cor. 3:18), that is, conformed to the image of the firstborn Son of God as His many brothers (8:29). Thus we will be suitable for the building up of His Body."
"renewing": "After presenting our body, we need to have our mind renewed. The renewing of the mind, which results from setting the mind on the spirit (8:6), is the base for the transformation of our soul. Our mind is the leading part of our soul, and as it is renewed, our will and emotion automatically follow to be renewed also. To be renewed means that a new element is wrought into our being. This produces an inward metabolic transformation, making us suitable for the building up of the Body of Christ, which is the practice of the church life. All the virtues and the overcoming in chs. 12--16 also are the results of this transformation."
"ye may prove": "I.e., see and discern. Based on the presenting of our bodies and the renewing of our minds, we will see, discern, and prove by testing that the will of God is to obtain a Body for Christ to be His fullness and expression."
"will of God": "In this chapter the will of God is that we whom God has chosen, called, redeemed, justified, sanctified, and conformed unto glorification in the preceding eleven chapters may be members one of another to have the living of the Body of Christ (vv. 3-5). The Body of Christ is the peak of God's divine revelation. The living of the Body is the issue and goal of the presenting of our bodies, the renewing of our mind, and all the life practices in the foregoing chapters."
The rvbv writes, "And be not fashioned according to this world (literally, age, aion). This present age, Paul calls "evil," declaring in Galatians 1:4 that our Lord Jesus Christ "gave himself for our sins, that He might deliver us out of this present evil age (aion) according to the will of our God and Father." Believers, before they were saved, "walked according to the course of this world [literally, "according to the age (aion) of this world-order" - cosmos] according to the prince of the power of the air" (Eph. 2:2). Here you have the cosmos, or world-order, since Adam sinned; and since then each particular phase of the Satanically arranged and controlled world-order now on, called the aion. In I Corinthians 7:31, this is called the "fashion," - literally, scheme, of this world-order. "We know," writes John, "that we are of God, and the whole world [lit. world-order], lieth in the evil one." It is necessary to grasp intelligently this fearful state of things, in order to obey the apostle's exhortation not to be conformed to it: a world-order without God!
We read that Cain "went out from the presence of Jehovah and builded a city" (Gen. 4), which became filled with inventions - "progress": music, arts; its whole end being to forget God, - to get along without Him. And ever since, Satan has developed this fatal world-order, with its philosophy, (man's account of all things, - but changing from time to time); its science (ever seeking to eliminate the supernatural); its government (with man exalting himself); its amusements (adapted to blot out realities from the mind); and its religion (to soothe man's conscience and allay fears of judgment).
The Spirit by Paul asks the saints not to be fashioned after this [Satanic] order of things, but on the contrary to be transformed by the renewing of their mind. ("Fashioned" is literally, schemed-together-with. It is the very word of I Corinthians 7:31: scheme (Greek, schema), made into a verb, with the conjunction along-with (sun), for prefix. The devil will rope you into his "scheme," unless you surrender your body to God to be by Him delivered.) The word for "transformed" is remarkable: our word "metamorphosis" is the same word, letter for letter! In Matthew 17:2 it is used of Christ: "He was transfigured," which Luke 9:29 explains: "The fashion of His countenances was altered." That is, from the lowly, despised One in whom was "no beauty" to attract the eye of man, He was transformed to appear as He will appear at His return to this earth (for of His coming and kingdom the transfiguration was a figure, II Pet. 1:16-18). Thus Psalm 45 depicts Him at His second advent:
"Thou art fairer than the children of men:
Grace is poured into Thy lips!"
Infinite, endless grace, beauty, and glory, will then be publicly displayed in Christ.
Now, to be "transformed" or "transfigured" into the image of Christ is the blessed path and portion of the surrendered believer in the midst of this present evil world. "But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit" (II Cor. 3:18). Note that neither in world-conformity, nor in Christian transformation, are we the actors: the verbs are passive, in both cases. It is, "Be not fashioned," and "Be transformed." In the first case, Satan and the world have abundant power, they know to fashion anyone found willing; But how are we to be transformed? The answer is, By the renewing of your mind; and here we come again upon that wonderful part of our salvation which is carried on by the Holy Spirit; and we must look at it attentively.
Paul sweepingly describes this salvation as follows (Titus 3:5): "God according to His mercy saved us, through the washing of regeneration 1. and 2. renewing of the Holy Spirit." Here the first action signifies the whole application to us of the redemptive work of Christ, - the "loosing from our sins in His blood" (Rev. 1:5), and the imparting to us of Christ's risen life so that we were made partakers of what is called here "regeneration." (The Greek word for "regeneration" (palingenesia), occurs only twice in the New Testament, here in Titus 3:5, and in Matthew 19:28. Mr. Darby's contention that this word is "not used in Scripture for a communication of life, but for a change of state or condition," seems refuted by the fact that the Greek word for renewing (anakainosis) in this same verse, is also used but twice - Titus 3:5 and Romans 12:2. Its cognate verb is also used twice: II Cor. 4:16, and Col. 3:10. In all four instances, it has to do with the operation of the Holy Spirit upon one already born again. So that, if the word translated regeneration in Titus 3:5 does not have in it any reference to the "communication of life," there is no real definition of salvation at all in this verse: but the verse claims to be such a definition!
As to the use of "regeneration" in Matt. 19:28, and the assertion that the word here is "evidently a change of state and condition, and not communication of life," the very opposite is what Scripture asserts concerning Israel at that time, for this passage concerns the saved Remnant at the opening of the Kingdom Of this Remnant, God says, "They shall be all righteous," "they shall be those written unto life" in Jerusalem. It will certainly be the communication of life, yea, the receiving of them will be "life from the dead," when they shall have "looked on Him whom they have pierced.")
Then the second action is called a "renewing," and is carried on by the Holy Spirit. Now what does this signify? It cannot refer to our spirits, for our spirits were born, created anew, under the first action here described; so that we were put into Christ, as says II Corinthians 5:17; "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new." And, "That which is born of the Spirit, is spirit" (John 3:6). Nor can this "renewing" refer to our bodies; for, although they are indeed quickened and sustained by the indwelling Spirit, according to Romans 8:11; yet there is never a hint (but quite the contrary), that the believer's body will be "renewed" during this present life.
There remains then to be the object of this "renewing," the soul, which includes the mind, with its thoughts; the imagination, - so untamed naturally, the sensibilities or "feelings"; the "tastes," or natural preferences, - all which, since the fall of Adam, are naturally under the influence and power of the sinful flesh, and must be operated upon by the Holy Spirit, after one's regeneration. The memory, also, must be cleansed of all unclean, sinful recollections. And that it is the soul that is renewed, is abundantly clear both from Scripture and from human experience. (The word for "renew" (anakainoo) is used only by Paul. It means to "grow up new, afresh" (Thayer), - like foliage in the spring. Man's spirit having already been created anew, and being joined to the Lord; and witnessed to and cared for by the Holy Spirit; man's soul-faculties are now to be taken over by that same blessed Spirit; so that the whole mind and disposition and tastes of the man will become conformed to the fact that he is a new creature.)
Man, we remember, "became a living soul," after his body had been formed, and there had been communicated to him a spirit, by God's direct in-breathing (Gen. 2:7). Man's spirit dwelt in his body; but the body itself could not contact understandingly the world into which Adam had been introduced. Nor could his spirit do so directly. The soul-life, however, put him in touch with creation. It had five "senses": sight, hearing, feeling, smell, and taste. Man's spirit was thus put into intelligent relationship with the creation around him. he had also another faculty, - reason. The spirit of man perceives things directly, - apart from a "process of thought." But God placed man in circumstances in which he could use this faculty of observation and discrimination, - of reasoning, - which faculty he was to emply as to the creation about him. There were also the "sensibilities," and the esthetic faculty, - to see the beautiful and enjoy it. Imagination, too, - what a fertile field for unspiritual, earthly life! Memory, also, we must not overlook, for although memory belongs to the spirit (even to lost spirits, - Luke 16:25), yet since man sinned, the memory of saved people must be "renewed," so that freedom from horrid recollections shall be given, and the blessed inclination to retain that which is good, remain.
The whole "mind," therefore must become the object of the Spirit's renewing power. The entire soul-life, in human existance, must come under the Spirit's control.
Paul's word, "thew renewing of the mind," takes in the whole sphere of conscious life for the child of God. This also appears from the use of the word "renew" by Paul in other places. The "new man" being a new creation in Christ, all the graces and beauties of Christ belong to him; just as, before, the evil he inherited from the first Adam was his, because he was federally connected with him. Now, however, he is to "put on" the new man by simple appropriating faith. But, in order that he may do this, his soul-life must be laid hold of, "renewed," by the Holy Spirit: "That ye put away, as concerning your former manner of life, the old man, that waxeth corrupt after the lusts of deceit: and that ye be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, that after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth" (Eph. 4:22-24). (This new man is not Christ personally, any more than our old man was Adam personally. However, we sustained such a relation to Adam that the "old man" was ours, as much as "by nature" we were Adam's children. So since we are in Christ, the "new man" belongs to us, - being that sum total of the marvelous Divine graces and dispositions "created" for, and to be realized in, the believer in union with Christ. Note that believers have "put off" the old man; but are here told to "put him away," - be not influenced by him.)
Paul further develops this in Colossians 3:9 and 10:
"Ye have put off the old man with his doings, and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge, after the image of Him that created him."
The Colossians are viewed as having put off the old man (when they were created in Christ), and put on the new man (which hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth), and is now ever being renewed unto perfect knowledge (epignosis), that experimental, spiritual revelation of the Risen Christ which Paul so coveted for the Ephesians, as we see in his great prayer ending thus:
"That ye may know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge; that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God" (Eph. 3:19).
These three distince aspects of sanctification therefore appear:
1. That effected and perfected once for all by our Lord in His death: "We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all...For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified" (Heb. 10:10,14). This is the effect of the shed blood of Christ: it has satisfied all Divien claims against us, and has redeemed us from sin unto God, separating us unto God forever with an absolute, infinite tie.
2. That which results necessarily from our being in Christ Risen, - "new creatures" in Him. Thus the Corinthians, though in their spiritual condition and experience yet "babes in Christ," are addressed by the apostle as those "sanctified in Christ Jesus" (I Cor. 1:2).
3. That wrought in the mind, the soul-life, and its faculties, by the Holy Spirit, who seeks to bring "every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (II Cor. 10:5).
The first two aspects are fundamental, and equally true of all believers. The third, Paul longed to have brought about fully in all believers: "Admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ" (Col. 1:28).
"Come ye out from among them [unbelievers] and be ye separate, saith the Lord,
And touch no unclean thing,
And I will receive you [in the way of fellowship]
And will be to you a Father [in fellowship, as I am in relationship],
And ye shall be to Me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
"Having therefore these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (II Cor. 6:17,18; 7:1).
"And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thess. 5:23). (A "clean heart" is taught in the Scripture most plainly. Even in the Old Testament David prays, "Create in me a clean heart." In Acts 15:9, Peter speaks of the occasion of the Holy Spirit's falling upon those of Cornelius' household, as, "cleansing their hearts by faith." And Paul says in his charge to Timothy, "The end of the charge is love out of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned" (I Tim. 1:5). And further, to Timothy, "Flee youthful lusts and follow after righteousness, faith, love, peace with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (II Tim. 2:22).
Now it will not do, in interpreting the Bible, an infinitely accurate Book, to deal loosly or confuse terms. When David said, in Psalm 108:1, "O God, my heart is fixed," repeating it in Psalm 57:7, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing, yea, I will sing, yea, I will sing praises" - I say in such an utterance the Psalmist is not claiming that there was not iniquity present with him, but that his heart was by Divine grace fixedly choosing God and His will; as he says in Psalm 18:23, "I was also perfect with Him, and I kept myself from mine iniquity." Here he recognizes evil present with him, but his heart is fixed for God.
To confuse the flesh with the heart is a vital mistake. Paul says we have no confidence in the flesh. But on the other hand we may have complete confidence toward God, at least when our faith has been "perfected" (I Thess. 3:10). The heart is the throne-room of the being. When it is really handed over to God, "the peace of Christ rules" therein. If no provision is made for the flesh, but instead the Lord Jesus Christ is put on (Rom. 13:14); if we obey II Cor. 6:14 to 7:1, refusing "unequal yokes" with unbelievers, refusing to have "portions" with unbelievers, "keeping ourselves from idols," "cleansing ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit," "perfecting holiness in the fear of God," and consenting to be "separated" to God and "touch no unclean thing," - then God "walks in us." Our hearts are wholly given to Him and "do not condemn us."
Such a surrendered believing heart is called in Scripture, a "pure heart." To be among those thus "cleansed" by simple faith, and to have such a pure heart, should be the longing desire and purpose of every believer.
Do not confuse, therefore, a clean, perfect heart toward God as taught in Scripture with the supposed "eradication of the sin-principle" from the flesh. The flesh is unchanged until Christ comes. But God will cleanse our hearts, by faith, and the Holy Spirit will form Christ fully within us.)
That ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God - This word "prove" means to put to the proof, as in Ephesians 5:8 to 10: "Walk as children of light, proving [or finding out by experience] what is well pleasing unto the Lord." The man in Luke 14:19 used the same word: "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them." The "will of God" here may be rendered "what is willed by God" (Meyer); or, as Sanday says, "The will of God is here not the Divine attribute of will, but the thing willed by God, the right course of action." This passage involves two facts: first, that God had a plan for our lives, which He is very willing and desirous we should discover; and, second, that only those who surrender themselves to Him, rejecting conformity to this age, can discover that will. All of us in times of desperate need, or crisis, are anxious to find God's path for us. And, in answer to the cry of even His unsurrendered saints, He may and often does graciously reveal the path of safety and even of temporary blessing to them. But only those who have surrendered their bodies as a living sacrifice to Him, enter upon the discovery of His blessed will as their very sphere and mode of life.
That ye may prove - Note that it is not that you are seeking after "victory," or "blessing," or even instruction in truth; but you are to enter into the will of Another, - even God.
Note, further, that in order to "prove," or experimentally enter into, God's will, there must be "the renewing of the mind" by the indwelling Holy Spirit. it is all-important to understand that only a yielded will can desire, discover, or choose God's will.
Further, we should, along with this, be impressed continually with the blessed fact that God's will for us in infinitely loving, infinitely wise, and gloriously possible of fulfilment; while our own wills are selfish and foolish and weak: for often we are impotent of accomplishing even our own poor objects!
Good, acceptable, perfect - Good for us, acceptable to God; and that which, being itself perfect, leads to our perfecting, as Epaphras prayed for the Colossians: "That ye may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God" (4:12).
Some would render it, "The will of God, even the thing that is good, acceptable and perfect": as if we entered upon it all, once we yielded our bodies to god. Also, it has been suggested that we enter first into God's "good" will: for, although we are ignorant and clumsy at first, God in His goodness gladly calls our work "good." Then, when we learn further, our work becomes in a higher sense "acceptable." Finally, we stand "perfect and fully assured in all the will of God."
Both these views are true. God's will is always good, acceptable and perfect; and, when we begin to surrender to it, it is all that, at once, for us. On the other hand, we do progress in it! It takes faith to surrender our wills. We must be brought to believe in our very heart that God's will is better for us than our own will. And, as we once heard a man earnestly testify, "If you can't trust One who died for you, whom can you trust?"
We beg you to seek out some saints (for there are some!) who have yielded themselves to God, and study their faces: you'll discover a light of joy found on no other countenances. Cling to such. Converse with them. Learn their secret. Be much with them. And follow such as follow Christ. Blessing lies that way!"
It was a long study today, on just one verse. There were so many things that spoke deep in my heart though. Confirmations of work You've done in me, clarifications of other things.
This was one thing that really struck me: "God had a plan for our lives, which He is very willing and desirous we should discover; and, second, that only those who surrender themselves to Him, rejecting conformity to this age, can discover that will. All of us in times of desperate need, or crisis, are anxious to find God's path for us. And, in answer to the cry of even His unsurrendered saints, He may and often does graciously reveal the path of safety and even of temporary blessing to them. But only those who have surrendered their bodies as a living sacrifice to Him, enter upon the discovery of His blessed will as their very sphere and mode of life."
I know both sides of those coins. I know the times of desperate need or crisis where I've gone racing to you, needing Your help, Your intervention, Your clarity.
And I know the painful process of being pressed to totally let go of my will (which is all I had ever known) and to take a risk and trust You, totally, and completely...turning over the reins, without condition. I have to say though, that it wasn't a ripping process. Over time, as You did the work that needed to be done in me, I let my fingers go, one by one, willingly. And in the end, when there was that 'one thing left' that had to go, it did hurt Father...I cannot lie about that, but when I was finally able to take that risk (because You had already prepared me and supplied everything I would need to do that), there was also a freeing, a peace, a sense of feeling completely 'right' before You, and today, I can honestly say, I'm so grateful I finally and completely let go.
I also over-identified with this Father God: "It takes faith to surrender our wills. We must be brought to believe in our very heart that God's will is better for us than our own will.", because that's exactly what You did with me. You brought me to the point over time, and through many experiences, where I began to believe, not with my mind, but in the center of my heart...becoming completely convinced that You will was far superior than my will...and not only that, but my hunger for my own will diminished and I began to yearn with a desperateness, for Your perfect will, for it is only there, that I truly feel completely safe.
Thank You for doing the study this morning...I already know it wasn't me. I don't know if anyone will understand that, but that's exactly how I feel.
I love You.
In Jesus Name I pray,
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Posted 25 April 2010 - 11:02 AM
"One day, we’re going to stand before the gates of Heaven. Some of us want to be able to walk up there in a white robe and we want to sing Abba Father and Amazing Grace and we want to say to the Lord, “I worshiped You.” But I want you to think about this: Heres the way I want to enter the gates of Heaven. I want to come skidding in there on all fours. I want to be slipping and sliding and I want to hit the gates of heaven with a bang. And when I stand up and I stand before Christ, I want there to be blood on my knees and my elbows. I want to be covered with mud. And I want to be standing there with a ragged breast plate of righteousness. And a spear in my hand. And I want to say, “Look at me, Jesus. I’ve been in the battle. I’ve been fighting for you.” Ladies and gentlemen, put your armor on and get into battle. God bless you." ~ General William G. Boykin, U.S. Army (ret.)
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