An excellent introduction to the Bible!
Available in many languages!
An excellent introduction to the Bible!
Available in many languages!
The Power of Sin – Part 2
Tuesday 01 November, 1988 by Dr. Bill Gillham
I wrote an article entitled The Power of Sin in our May 1988 Discipleship Journal. In it I pointed out that the word sin is mentioned 41 times in Romans chapters 5 through 8 (that’s 5, 6, 7, & 8). Forty times it’s a noun, only once is it a verb. Yet because of the inadequacy of the English language as compared to the Greek, many English-speaking Christians “read” many of these words as an action word. This is one of the most astounding revelations I have ever received from the Holy Spirit. I believe that most people who read this section of Romans interpret the word sin as a verb, or if they do see it as a noun, they either interpret it as a single sin, which was committed, or as their sin nature.
As most of you know by now, Lifetime Guarantee teaches that Christians do not battle against themselves, but against the power of sin, an agent of the devil which works through the flesh (old ways) to try to control the soul (personality). When we lose this battle, we “do the thing which we do not wish” and fail to “do the thing we wish.” We do not “wish” to sin, and yet we sin.
The power of sin is what its name implies, power to entice you into sin. It dwells in you (Rom.7:21) yet it is not you any more than a gold tooth that dwells in your mouth is you. Sin’s goal is to deceive the saints into living to get their needs (though good and godly) met by sinning rather than by using the Matt. 6:33 method; that is, “seeking Christ first.”
The power of sin is not your sin nature. Your sin nature is a synonym for old man or old self. That “old you” was crucified in Christ (Rom. 6:6). Before you were saved, it was as normal for your old nature to rebel against God’s authority as it is for a fish to swim. However, with salvation the new you hates to sin (Rom. 7:15a, 19,22). That’s why the Bible addresses Christians 56 times as “saints” (holy one) rather than sinners saved by grace like we’ve erroneously believed. Even the Corinthians, the most carnal church in the epistles, are called “sanctified” and “saints” (1 Cor. 1:2).
Yet the power of sin is alive and well in you, saint. It indwells your body (Rom. 7:23). On page 1055 of W.E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Vine states that sin is, “a governing principle or power that is personified in the following passages.” He then lists sixteen verses in which this holds true. The term personified means “represented as a person.” The power of sin can represent itself as a personage.
You have heard us teach that the power of sin’s key tactic is to personify itself as your sin nature, the old man or the old you who was crucified with Christ. It accomplishes this by sending thoughts into your sound mind, the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) with first person singular pronouns in order to deceive you into believing that the old you has somehow jumped off the cross to “do the very thing you do not wish to do.” Hey, nobody but Jesus can come down from a cross.
Let’s examine a few of the sixteen verses where Vine says the word hamartia, the Greek noun translated “sin,” is personified.
“Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts” (Rom. 6:14). Since sin is personified, let’s call it “Mr. Sin” so we won’t confuse it with the verb. Mr. Sin (the personification) cannot master you. Mr. Sin tries to control you, to make you live to satisfy your bodily needs.
“For sin shall not be master over you” (Rom. 6:14). Mr. Sin (the personification) cannot master you. Remember how sin is “represented as a person?” It tries to master you through presenting thoughts to your mind by masquerading as the old man who has risen from the tomb. But no one except Jesus can do that, right? That’s not the old man; it’s the power of sin personified.
“But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to Mr. Sin you became obedient from the (new) heart…and having been freed from Mr. Sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18). In both instances above, sin is a noun. It doesn’t say, “you were freed from sinning (verb)”; rather, it teaches that you have been freed from being controlled by the power of sin, which results in sinning. There’s a tremendous difference. The first would be robotical sinless perfection; the second would require a moment-by-moment appropriation of your freedom from being controlled by Mr. Sin.
“But, if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but Mr. Sin which indwells me (is somehow doing it)” (Rom. 7:20). This verse can really be a puzzler if you interpret the word “sin” as a verb. But it’s a noun, and Vine says it is personified (represented as a person). How is the power of sin involved in your sinning? The same way wind is involved in a windmill, electricity in a light bulb, water in a hydroelectric generator, or gasoline in an engine. It’s a power. If you let it, it will control you and you will sin (verb).
In the same way, Christ is your wind, electricity, water or gasoline, for righteous behavior if you will believe He is and act like He is by faith. He, Himself, is the power in the Christian life.
“But, I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me prisoner of the law of Mr. Sin” (Rom. 7:23). Mr. Sin, the “personage,” wars, fights and seeks to control your mind. But your mind does not want to be controlled by this power, so it fights back. In a war there must be at least two sides represented and they must oppose one another. Otherwise the war would cease. Mr. Sin is on Satan’s side, so whose side is your mind on? God’s (1 Cor. 2:16). Otherwise the war would cease! You hate to sin, right? You like to get your human needs met (and that’s not evil), but you hate to sin in order to accomplish it.
The new man is a good person (saint) in Christ. Read the first eight verses of 1 Corinthians to discern what Paul has to say about the Corinthians’ true identity in Christ. He calls them “saints (holy),” “confirmed to the end,” “blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus,” etc. After reminding them of who they are, he kicks the daylights out of them because they are not acting like who they really are.
Can you see what a difference this makes in motivating a Christian as opposed to berating him by constantly telling him what a sorry, no-good sinner he is and how he is going to face an angry God some day? Folks, it’s our works which will be judged in the future, not our personhood (2 Cor. 5:10) and God is not mad at the saved. He took out all the anger He had against us on Jesus (Isa. 53). We’ll either be rewarded or we’ll lose what we potentially could have won, but “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Rom. 8:1).
“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15:56). The Law is the source of Mr. Sin’s strength. To couple law with Mr. Sin is like pouring gas on a fire. This personage called sin needs a law to aid it if it is to optimally control you. It “eats, breathes and sleeps” via the Law.
“The Law is not made for a righteous man” (1 Tim. 1:9). Why? Because you, the righteous man (2 Cor. 5:21), don’t need it. The lost man does (in order to show him his condition), but you don’t. You now “have the laws of God written on (your) heart and mind” (Heb. 10:16). God’s ethical, moral law of agape is built into the new creation. You desire to obey God. Choose to let that law control you and you will keep the Commandments. Jesus summed them up in loving God and others (Mk. 12:30-31).
“But encourage one another…lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of Mr. Sin” (Heb. 3:13b). In this verse, sin is represented as a personage which can harden you through deception. It’s not talking about the deceitfulness of a single sinful act, but of a power called sin which “wars against your mind” (Rom. 7:23).
“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against Mr. Sin” (Heb. 12:4). This is speaking of Jesus in the garden, not on the cross. He “sweat great drops of blood” as He struggled against this power called “sin” which was trying to coerce Him into rebelling against the Father God. But He won! And He continues to win in and through us if we, too, will learn that we are “dead to Mr. Sin” (Rom. 6:11).
These are some of the verses in which Vine says the word sin is personified. As I have studied the Word, I believe there are additional ones which he does not mention. In any case, it was exciting to discover that a man of Vine’s stature as a scholar testifies that the power of sin is often personified in the Word. What liberty there is in knowing that the rebellious, evil, hateful thoughts I experience are being presented to my mind, not generated by it. Simply stand on God’s Word and think, “Nope. I’m dead to you Mr. Sin. That’s not my idea,” and then act “alive to God through Christ.” Christians have victory over the power of sin. Truly, “Mr. Sin shall not be master over you” (Rom. 6:14a) when you act and therefore live like you are dead to its thoughts and alive to Christ.
© Lifetime Guarantee Ministries. Content on Lifetime.org is written for your encouragement and spiritual growth. Copying, printing, and distributing to others are encouraged. Thank you for crediting Lifetime Guarantee Ministries and our website (www.lifetime.org) as the source.
You can find more by Dr. Gillham here:
This is so beautiful said that I had to repost! I agree with my brother, “May the God of Israel bless you and write your name in the Book of Life forever.”
It is almost sundown here in Israel, and we are about to begin Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
In the Scriptures, the Israelites were commanded by the Lord to fast and pray and bring their sacrifices to the Temple in Jerusalem, and then to ask for the Lord’s forgiveness for all the sins they and their nation had committed that year.
Only the sacrifice of a perfect animal, done with a humble, repentant heart, and with faith in God’s mercy and grace, would bring about forgiveness of sins.
This Hebrew Bible precept was later underscored in the New Testament.
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“We Don’t experience victory by struggling against
sins, but by setting our minds on Jesus.”
To think that concentrating on overcoming our sins will give us victory is a totally wrong approach to the matter. Not only will setting our minds on the flesh fail to bring victory, it will actually perpetuate our defeat. A legalist will always focus on behavior but when grace rules we will focus on Jesus.
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. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, (Romans 8:5-6)
Paul asserts that whatever you set your mind upon will ultimately determine your behavior. If a man continually sets his mind on bass fishing it will only be a matter of time before he is trying to figure out how to buy a bass boat. Those who set their minds on football usually can be found in front of the television on holidays, watching football – or playing the game on a field with some friends.
If a person sets his mind on the sins of the flesh he should not be surprised when his behavior matches his mindset. A person guarantees his own failure when he decides to overcome sin by concentrating on it.
We will never overcome our sin through sheer determination and self-discipline. That kind of negative emotion keeps our eyes off Jesus and on our sins. We are to focus on Him, not sin! As we fall more and more in love with Jesus, those sins which we have so tightly caressed will become increasing unattractive until we want to let them go.
For a complete discussion of how a christian overcomes sin see Chapter 6 – “Overcoming Our Sins” in the book GRACE RULES by Steve McVey.
This is one of my favorite writings from Max Lucado….
“Just a Moment”
It all happened in a moment, a most remarkable moment.
As moments go, that one appeared no different than any other. If you could somehow pick it up off the timeline and examine it, it would look exactly like the ones that have passed while you have read these words. It came and it went. It was preceded and succeeded by others just like it. It was one of the countless moments that have marked time since eternity became measurable.
But in reality, that particular moment was like none other. For through that segment of time a spectacular thing occurred. God became a man. While the creatures of earth walked unaware, Divinity arrived. Heaven opened herself and placed her most precious one in a human womb.
The Omnipotent, in one instant, made himself breakable. He who had been spirit became pierceable. He who was larger than the universe became an embryo. And he who sustains the world with a word chose to be dependent upon the nourishment of a young girl.
God as a fetus. Holiness sleeping in a womb. The creator of life being created.
God was given eyebrows, elbows, two kidneys, and a spleen. He stretched against the walls and floated in the amniotic fluids of his mother.
God had come near.
He came, not as a flash of light or as an unapproachable conqueror, but as one whose first cries were heard by a peasant girl and a sleepy carpenter. The hands that first held him were unmanicured, calloused, and dirty.
No silk. No ivory. No hype. No party. No hoopla.
Were it not for the shepherds, there would have been no reception. And were it not for a group of stargazers, there would have been no gifts.
Angels watched as Mary changed God’s diaper. The universe watched with wonder as The Almighty learned to walk. Children played in the street with him. And had the synagogue leader in Nazareth known who was listening to his sermons…
Jesus may have had pimples. He may have been tone-deaf. Perhaps a girl down the street had a crush on him or vice versa. It could be that his knees were bony. One thing’s for sure: He was, while completely divine, completely human.
For thirty-three years he would feel everything you and I have ever felt. He felt weak. He grew weary. He was afraid of failure. He was susceptible to wooing women. He got colds, burped, and had body odor. His feelings got hurt. His feet got tired. And his head ached.
To think of Jesus in such a light is—well, it seems almost irreverent, doesn’t it? It’s not something we like to do; it’s uncomfortable. It is much easier to keep the humanity out of the incarnation. Clean the manure from around the manger. Wipe the sweat out of his eyes. Pretend he never snored or blew his nose or hit his thumb with a hammer.
He’s easier to stomach that way. There is something about keeping him divine that keeps him distant, packaged, predictable.
But don’t do it. For heaven’s sake, don’t. Let him be as human as he intended to be. Let him into the mire and muck of our world. For only if we let him in can he pull us out.
Listen to him.
“Love your neighbor” was spoken by a man whose neighbors tried to kill him.
The challenge to leave family for the gospel was issued by one who kissed his mother goodbye in the doorway.
“Pray for those who persecute you” came from the lips that would soon be begging God to forgive his murderers.
“I am with you always” are the words of a God who in one instant did the impossible to make it all possible for you and me.
It all happened in a moment. In one moment…a most remarkable moment. The Word became flesh.
There will be another. The world will see another instantaneous transformation. You see, in becoming man, God made it possible for man to see God. When Jesus went home he left the back door open. As a result, “we will all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.”
The first moment of transformation went unnoticed by the world. But you can bet your sweet September that the second one won’t. The next time you use the phrase “just a moment,” …remember that’s all the time it will take to change this world.
To read more from the book, God Came Near, go to:
I thought this was a very good devotional on how fear affects our every day life. I can fool myself that I am not often afraid until I ponder the synonyms for fear….anxiety, concern, doubt, dread, unease, worry. Yep there is plenty of that in my life to deal with! Thanks for this great word about dealing with all of that!
Mars Hill Staff Devotional
from Fred Carpenter
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18 NASB
Today we are talking about fear. Not the kind of fear that suddenly grips you with terror, but the kind that lurks below the surface of your conscious mind. The fear we equate with terror comes on us in an instant, like a life-threatening wound from a gunshot. The kind of fear we are talking about today is more like a slow moving disease. It’s the kind of fear you may not even be aware of, or have forgotten was there, until you’re faced with a challenge (or an opportunity) that reminds you of its power.
This is the kind of fear every one of us inherited as a son of Adam. This…
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Hope. This is a word which I have often used – jam packed with meaning. There is hope for medical cures, hope for financial success, hope for love, and hope for progress that will lead to a brighter tomorrow. But lately I have wrestled with what having hope really means, particularly as it relates to hoping in God.
One of the common features about all of these hopes is that they are desires for outcomes about which I have little or no ability to produce on my own. I am not able to produce a cure for cancer, I am not capable of controlling the stock market, and I am not able to control how people feel about me. As hard as I try to move forward, there are frequently unforeseen disasters that thwart my progress.
Hope is a firm assurance regarding things that are unclear and unknown. Some have even said that the biblical definition of hope is “confident expectation.” I would go one step further to say that in the English language it takes two words to define the state of my mental being with regard to the unknown and unfulfilled future; faith is the “confident” component and hope is the component of “expectation.”
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
This “confident expectation” is the belief that something is going to happen and that “something” is based on a promise or proclamation that God has made to us. For instance:
“We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, but especially of those who have faith. That’s why we work and struggle so hard.” I Timothy 4:10; or “My dear friends, we are already God’s children, though what we will be hasn’t yet been seen. But we do know that when Christ returns, we will be like him, because we will see him as he truly is. This hope makes us keep ourselves holy, just as Christ is holy.” I John 3:2-3.
For me, faith and hope are the complete trust that my expectations are going to be fully met. And I cannot have one without the other. To trust without expectation is to be dull and stoic. To hope without trust is to merely wistfully wish. Thus, faith and hope are inseparable. And to have faith and hope in any thing or any one apart from an all mighty God is less than I desire, because I want a cure, I want security, I want to achieve, and I want love. And God is the only perfect one I know who can deliver.
Although I desperately need them now, faith and hope are temporary. As soon as all expectations are met there will no longer be need for them. (That’s Heaven!) I think that is the point of I Corinthians 13, the famous chapter of love. Love is the only component that is eternal. While the whole chapter is a worthy read, the last two verses sum it up so well, (I Corinthians 13:12-13)
12 Now all we can see of God
is like a cloudy picture
in a mirror.
Later we will see him
face to face.
We don’t know everything,
but then we will,
just as God completely
13 For now there are faith,
hope, and love.
But of these three,
the greatest is love.
? I don’t know if you have ever played this game, but I remember playing it in Jr High and I recall that some people would much rather attempt any crazy stunt than expose themselves in some revelation of a truth that others might not know. And usually, this “truth” involved our feelings about someone we were secretly crushing on. It is funny how shy and vulnerable we can be in sharing our true feelings and passions about others with others.
No one really likes being mocked or made fun of for their deep feelings and passions or core beliefs and standards. No one likes to appear foolish. I suspect that our shy feelings as young people stem from the fact that our admirations were not yet known and reciprocated. Thus we would feel terribly foolish to have them presented and be rejected.
As for core beliefs and standards, until they are firmly tested and settled we are again usually reticent to reveal them lest we find them weak and faulty and show ourselves lacking in knowledge and unprepared. This is especially true of spiritual matters…especially because when you believe in an infinite God there is an infinite amount of knowledge to be gained about Him!
But I am writing to encourage you and also myself that there are truths about Him that are foundational and knowable from the very beginning of faith and we should have the confidence to pursue these foundation stones and claim them, present them, and build on them. This “building” is our lives and our lives are there for others to see. And if the elements we use to build our lives are solid and TRUE then our lives will stand up to scrutiny and testing and we have nothing to fear.
To close, I read the following excerpt from a book by James R White, “What Every Christian Needs to Know About The Qu’ran” and his comments about pursuing and presenting TRUTH really struck a chord with me.
May I suggest, against the trends of contemporary culture, that to ignore our differences or refuse to discuss them forthrightly is itself an act of disrespect to your faith and to mine?
In other words, I respect those who disagree with me enough to tell them when I believe they are wrong. The world today says we cannot openly disagree, especially in the area of religion, without being hateful or bigoted. I suggest that, conversely, it is the world’s attitude that is hateful and bigoted. If we will not say that anything is wrong, then at the same time, whether or not we want to admit it, we also are saying there is nothing that is right. Herein we are denying the existence of truth in the realm of faith, and that is a slap in the face of every believer of every creed or background.
So it turns out that the biggest dare of all is to speak truth!
This is such an insightful note of modern missions. While belief in Christ unifies it does not erase the beautiful way He created us diversified.
Tomorrow, people around the world will celebrate a very unusual happening on a Jewish festival some 2000 years ago. Read the account here.
But let’s back up a bit. One can read the Old Testament as the story of a tribal religion. By “tribal” I mean proprietary – belonging to a specific group of people. The religion of the descendants of Abraham came to them in their language, it is full of their stories about their God.
There are many tribal religions which also belong to people of a common ancestry, who share the same customs and usually the same language. Most tribal religions respect other peoples who have their own gods and religious practices.
A careful reading of the Old Testament shows that God had universal ambitions when he choose to start with Abraham and his descendants. Which brings us to the first festival of Pentecost…
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“Obey the Lord and
serve him faithfully with all your heart.
Remember the great things he has done for you.”
I Samuel 12:24 GNT
It seemed fitting that my very first post on this blog should be the Bible verse that sums up the theme of my wonderful crazy life. Every good thought I have ever had came from God so if there is anything written here worth thinking about ….He gets the credit!