Thursday, May 22, 2008

# 250: A Brilliant Deceit

Since the majority of this blog is dedicated to exposing the schemes of many silver-tongued preachers, in simple words, this post will articulate their methods and bottom line. There are more than a few preachers who are skilled in the art of brilliant deceit. They preach what their audience desires to hear, in a way that always includes in their equation God, Jesus Christ and Holy Scripture. They do this seductive preaching with such eloquent words, that it would take those who are thoroughly versed in the New Testament Scriptures to quickly realize their evil, self-centered motives. They may start their words with something like this: “God has great things in store for all of you; He wants the very best for you.” Usually their complete message is optimistic, positive and uplifting: words that are pleasant to listen to.

There are several problems with that type of preaching: It is, from beginning to end, a deceptive form of Christianity since it does not include many portions of Scripture that are not seemingly pleasant to listen to, which pertain to how we must fulfill our duties as disciples of Christ. These hard-edged, sometimes outwardly repulsive verses must be made known. Philemon 1:6. "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of all the good things we have in Christ." When those are not active in sharing their faith, the reason may be that they are caught in ". . . the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." 2nd Timothy 2:26.

All New Testament verses can be summed up in two imperative principles: to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, which will always be displayed by our active obedience to all New Testament teachings; and the second is like it: to actively love those in need as we love ourselves. There is nothing easy about listening to those commands when they are forcefully exhorted.

If we wholeheartedly obey those two commands, that would be solid confirmation of the genuineness of our Salvation; but if we just say we obey them but do not act on them, that is evidence that our faith may be nothing but a bunch of lovely—but empty—spiritual words.

The motive behind some churches not preaching this type of Biblical message is that many, if not most, of the laity won’t tolerate words that are not easy to digest, and eventually will go elsewhere. What preacher doesn’t want a big following? A large church membership means greater esteem and a fatter collection basket. And what church leader doesn’t desire to be distinguished, along with a coffer that is always overflowing? It really is that simple.

The champion of this pleasantly deceptive message is none other than Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. He boasts about 30 thousand members. That is the largest membership of any church in this country. When preaching, he is pleasant to listen to. In fact, Joel Osteen has it all. He has the appearance of an angel of God and the perpetual smile only a loving mother can have for her baby; he presents a flawless sermon, and without notes; has the composure of a head of state, the words of a skilled lawyer, a message that even heathens can accept without changing their moral values, and the memory of any electronic recorder. No doubt, he is a whiz kid. If anyone desires to listen to his sermons, click on . I am certain you can find out what time and channel he is on TV in your area.

All the above are a big plus for any preacher. The big problem is that the contents of his messages are, as mentioned above, lacking in the most essential teaching of all: faithfully obeying all that is taught in the New Testament.

The main thrust of all his messages is for some kind of self-betterment. His latest book is titled "Become a Better You." For instance, God wants you to have all the best things this world can offer; God desires for you to climb the ladder of success; you will be able to afford the home of your dreams; find a perfect mate; have loving and obedient children; and have all the lucky breaks in life. This list can go on and on. The greater harm this type of easy-to-listen-to preaching does, other than cheat listeners of eternal life, is that his lovely words become a paradigm for other clergymen who desire popularity rather than a desire to tell the whole truth. 1st Timothy 6:3-5. “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instructions of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing . . . who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain."

There are many, many verses in the New Testament that teach us not to love the world or anything in the world. I will quote only two: 1st John 2:15-17. "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has or does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." James 4:4. "You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God." These type of Biblical verses—and there are many—are completely disregarded by Osteen and many other prosperity-oriented churches. As the New Testament dictates many, many times, God wants us to prosper spiritually, not materially, as the people of this ungodly world desire.

This is what God desires for all disciples of Jesus Christ: to actively continue the cause of what He started. Matthew 28:19-20. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations . . . and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." This verse like many others is cut and dried. Continuing the cause of Christ must come before our own welfare. That command is not easy to listen to or apply. Philippians 2:3-5. "Do nothing out of selfish ambitions or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus."

To Sunday-morning “christians,” this next verse, most likely, is the most repulsive and disregarded verse in the New Testament: Luke 14: 26. "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he can not be my disciple." What does Osteen do with verses like this? He must cut them out.

If Osteen preached that type of message, his many followers would drop him like a hot potato and go to some other church that has a pleasant, soothing message which makes them feel good about themselves.

Osteen is exactly the type of talented person Satan, the great deceiver, has been waiting for many years to come on the scene to preach his popular message of worldly self-betterment in the name of Jesus Christ. This evil man dressed in saintly garb is doing more damage to the cause of Jesus Christ than can be calculated, since his weekly 30-minute program is aired throughout the world by means of 30-some satellites owned by the Trinity Broadcasting Network, a wealth and prosperity proponent.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

# 249: “It is Mine to Avenge; I Will Repay”

When we learn more about how and why God functioned as He did in the Old Testament, we will become acutely aware of God’s vengeful side, which is not revealed in the New Testament to any great degree except at the end of time in the book of Revelation. Only thing is, in Revelation, it is difficult—if not impossible—to be specific as to what is happening, and to whom and when. Therefore, let us examine a few portions of the Old Testament Scriptures as warnings, to see how God will treat those who claim to belong to God/Jesus Christ but by their actions deny Him. That is how it was 2,000 to 3,000 years ago, and it is not much different in our times.

Titus 1:15-16. "To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good."

Several times in the history of the nations of Israel and Judah, God’s chosen people, His loved ones, were unfaithful and turned their back on the Lord their God by disobedience to the laws He gave them (by following the ways of their sinful hearts and their ungodly neighboring countries). After all the good The Lord God had done for Israel, such as settling her in a land flowing with milk and honey, her detestable actions have infuriated the Lord. And when the people He called His own continually disobey and forsake His holy decrees, watch out; the Lord’s anger was/will be aroused.

When the majority of Israel’s population worshiped foreign gods, etc. for an extended period of time, the Lord God would raise up foreign nations to attack them and rout that whole population, killing most with the sword along with bringing some of the young, the strong, and the virgins back to their homelands as prisoners.

Remember this if you remember nothing else: The Lord is a God of love to those who love Him and prove it by their obedience to his beck and call. But to those unbelievers who reject His Son, which is displayed by their actions, although they may acknowledge His Lordship with their mouths, God’s wrath and curses are on them, as the following verses will testify.

John 3:36. "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him." That verse is seldom mentioned; in its place is a verse just 20 verses ahead of it which Christians are continually reminded of: John 3:16.

1st Corinthians 16:22. "If anyone does not love the Lord—a curse be on him." Love for God is displayed by obedience.

Galatians 1:8-9. "But if even we or an angel from heaven preaches a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say it again: ‘If anyone preaches to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned.’" The apostle Paul is speaking for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Deuteronomy 32:35. "It is mine to avenge; I will repay."

I will quote a few verses from the Old Testament when The Lord God was angry with His people because of their ungodly lives, and released His vengeance on them.

Jeremiah 1:14-16. "The Lord said to me [Jeremiah], ‘From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land. I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms,’ declared the Lord. ‘Their kings will come and set up their thrones in the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem; they will come against all her surrounding walls and against all the towns of Judah. I will pronounce my judgment on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made.’"

1st Chronicles 5:25-26. "But they were unfaithful to the God of their fathers . . . So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria . . . who took the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half tribe of Manasseh into exile . . . where they are to this day."

Jeremiah 20:4-5. "I will hand all Judah over to the king of Babylon, who will carry them away to Babylon or put them to the sword. I will hand over to their enemies all the wealth of this city—all its products, all its valuables and all the treasures of the kings of Judah. They will take it away as plunder and carry it away to Babylon."

Jeremiah 25:8-9. "Therefore the Lord Almighty said this: ‘Because you have not listened to my words, I will summon all the people of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,’ declared the Lord, ‘and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin.’"

Isaiah 10:6. "Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my anger, in whose hands is the club of my wrath! I sent him against a people [Judah] who anger me, to seize loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets.”

These next verses are a bit repetitive but still noteworthy enough to make a point: Isaiah 39:5. "Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, ‘Hear the word of the Lord Almighty: “The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left,” said the Lord. “And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon."’”

This next event comes from the book of Amos in the 6th chapter. The Lord God speaks of how He abhors their compliancy and pride. Verse 1: "Woe to you who are complacent ion Zion, and you who feel secure on Mount Samaria." Verse 8: "I abhor the pride of Jacob and detest his fortresses; I will deliver up the city and everything in it." Verse 14: “For the Lord God Almighty declares, ‘I will stir up a nation against you, O house of Israel, that will oppress you all the way from Lebo Hamath to the valley of the Arabah.’" Read some of the gruesome details in Amos chapters 7-9. I am not certain chronologically, but I believe Amos is predicting the destruction of Jerusalem in about 70 A.D., mentioned later.

If anyone wants to read a real gory part of the Old Testament, in which the Lord God reveals His deplorable, horrifying vengeance on His disobedient people, check out Deuteronomy, the 28th Chapter, verses 15 through 68. I must warn you; it is too nasty for me to print it in this post, or for any who are faint-hearted, to read; also, it is quite lengthy. And yet that may be a warning for us in this age of grace in which we are living. Remember this: Grace is only for those who are His obedient people, and that does not include any of the disobedient who just claim to be Christians.

This vengeful God is the same One we call a God of love, compassion and mercy. It is no wonder most people don’t read the Old Testament more than they do, including this author. The actions of our God at times have been frightening—that He would allow or actually incite this type of treatment to a people He once called His own. Then, some might say, "That was how God acted toward them in the Old Testament, because Grace had not yet been implemented.” Not so! God forgave the transgressions of Israel, Judah and individuals many, many times. God’s mercy and grace were displayed over and over again. Nehemiah 9:31. ". . . for you are a gracious and merciful God. God does not change.” As the writer of Hebrews makes known: Hebrews 13:8. "Jesus Christ [God] is the same yesterday and today and forever."

About 40 years after the death of Jesus Christ, the vast majority of Jews still never accepted their promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, although many in the Gentile communities did throughout the Roman Empire. Therefore, God’s anger raged against these unbelievers. Then the prophesy of Jesus, and possibly Amos, came true. This was in about 70 A.D. when Jerusalem was routed by the Romans. Its walls and holy temple were knocked down until not one stone was standing on another. Most, if not all, of the Jews living in the city and surrounding towns were killed by the sword. Also, that was the end of the Jewish sacrificial system since there was no more temple to offer sacrifices.

Another event of much greater proportion was the holocaust in Europe—under the control of Hitler, the leader of Germany, in the 1930s and early 1940s—when several million Jews were systematically exterminated; it could have easily have been inspired by the Lord. Some of you would say, "How could a God of love be behind such an atrocious deed?" And I agree. But, I ask, how many of those Jews in Europe were Christian Jews? The people God raised up would not accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Therefore, God’s wrath remained on them.

As the love of God for those who belong to Him is greater than human words can express, His vengeance is also great for those who do not live as He requires, much greater than most of us would expect from a God who claims to be a God of love, as the Old Testament also reveals.

And even up until this day, it is a crying shame that the Jews still reject Jesus Christ as their Messiah. As most know, for the greatest part, the Jewish community per se runs and owns this great country of ours, and to my knowledge, not one of those tycoons has accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Their God is power, money, influence and an easy life, which they call Jehovah, YHWH, Adionai or Yahweh, who promised the nation of Israel that they will be His people with an everlasting covenant. Sure, only if they obeyed Him.

They could never accept the fact, to this day, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God does not approve of people who seek wealth and prosperity; while the Jews still believe that having riches is one of the main signs of God’s approval and blessings, as in the days of Abraham, Joseph, Solomon, etc.

We must all remember that our God is a jealous God. Exodus 34:14. "Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." Nahum 1:2. "The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath." The word “jealous” is mentioned in the Old Testament over a dozen times, concerning our God. He wants His people, only for His own purpose, although God, at this time, doesn’t make Himself heard through modern prophets—if there are any—but in America, the writing has been, and is still, on the wall.

Most Americans have been brainwashed into believing that God is behind all the wealth, greatness, goodness and prosperity in the U.S. along with being the most powerful nation in the world. That is an ingeniously contrived fabrication. Who doesn’t love their own country and think highly of it? It is true that the Lord God detests countries that worship other gods, or don’t have any gods at all, except what their hands have made. Job 12:6: ". . . those who carry their god in their hands." But His anger is much greater for countries like the U.S. who should know better. The God they/we worship is America the Beautiful, who is their/our protector, savior and lord from all aggressive nations.

Let me explain: When this country was first legally established in 1776, we won our freedom from England by violating one of the most basic commands in the New Testament: love your neighbor and even your enemy. We won that war by sending our young men to get killed and by killing many British soldiers. Am I saying that was wrong? An emphatic no! What I am getting at is that it is not in accordance with the commands of Jesus Christ. We were established by ungodly principles, regardless of how much we shout from every rooftop "God shed his grace on thee" and "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." When did we change from an ungodly country to a Godly one?

That is just the same as saying that over time, we can change a leper into a lamb. This is the same as saying that we can have a good ending to the evil war Bush started. It can’t happen. All wars are immoral, regardless of whether they are justified or not, because we live in an immoral world. We, the people of the world, by our ungodly actions, have made it immoral. Please remember: When I use the word “ungodly,” I mean that what we do, most often, does not include God.

That is not the part that God hates the most. What he despises more than all else is that we call ourselves a Christian country, since about 90- some percent of Americans claim to believe in God. And who knows how many people go to church on Sunday morning claiming to be Christians. The majority of them know nothing of what God/Christ requires of all Christians. They live as the world does, while praising God on Sunday morning, calling it worship. They have made the ways of God a joke. One word would describe them: hypocrites.

Another action which infuriates the Almighty is that the majority of the Jewish community who live in the U.S. won’t accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah. In fact, I have often wondered why God hasn’t obliterated us already. The only reason I can come up with is that our sin has not reached its full measure, as it says in Genesis 15:16, referring to the Amorites. He has a purpose for letting us get away with our ungodly and hypocritical lives for many years, although I am not sure what/why. Another possibility: God might be waiting for the great tribulation when he gets even.

Although I don’t claim to be a prophet of God, I can say this: Sooner or later, we will get what is coming to us. How can I say that? Just quickly analyze what the vast majority of Americans are engaging in. I will mention just a few: Entertainment, meaning movie stars, etc. are more famous and well-known and receive more accolades than any other group of people; filthy music is accepted as the norm; pleasure, meaning that if it feels good, it must be good, so go after it; greed, meaning we want as much wealth as we can get; sexual sins, watching and engaging in explicit sexual activity, along with finding it an acceptable practice to be promiscuous, and for unwed mothers to stand side-by-side with their heads held high when standing next to their married peers; laziness, meaning we want everything fast and easy, with as little effort as possible; gluttony, meaning we eat much more than our bodies need. Can anyone believe that over 66 % of Americans are overweight, while there are billions in our world who are starving? Hooray for Americans. There is a descriptive adjective for most Americans: voracious.

Also, let us not forget: We are a debtor nation; most Americans are in debt over their heads, by living beyond their means. The apostle Paul commands in Romans 13:8, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continued debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law." To be more explicit, here is an abbreviated version of the Holy Book: When, because of our faith in Jesus Christ, we love our fellow man as we love ourselves, that action encompasses all that is commanded in the entire Christian Bible. Do we see that type of attitude in America by so-called Christians?

Also, another sure sign of our pending destruction is our open acceptance and coddling of active homosexuals, under the guise of "Equal rights and justice and liberty for all." In the Old Testament, God commands us to stone all such people. Leviticus 20:13. Another thing that God hates is our government plastering the name of God on our money. To be absolute truthful, our money should say "In Greed We Trust." Wealth and prosperity, as seen in America—actually, we are the richest country in the world—are greater signs that our doom is near. Wealth is Almighty God’s biggest rival, as the New Testament and this blog have mentioned many times. As most of us know, money wins most arguments in all matters and leaves God far behind. And still, of all the signs of what America is made of, one of the biggest is the fact that the city of Las Vegas has been and still is one of our fastest-growing cities. That has much to say about what we really are made of. I could go on and on, telling of all the other ungodly practices Americans are engaged in, but we are so used to them that we don’t call them ungodly; we see them as a form of pleasure or leisure resulting from “The good life,” or “The American dream,” as most of us are seeking or have acquired.

About 72 % of the American people don’t trust our government; I mean the government that is run by George W. Bush. This man claims to be an Evangelical Christian. By his self-glorifying persona, he has brought this country into a shameful condition, world wide and here at home, mainly by several policies he has initiated. The first is the stupid, unnecessary war he got us into, with no right or honorable way to get out. If we stay in and continue to fight, in time, that spending of our money will cause our government to go bankrupt, not to mention the preposterous debt he is leaving us with after he leaves office: close to 9 trillion dollars at the last count. How is this even possible in almost 8 short years of his presidency?

If I were to say he is the modern-day anti-Christ, I would not be too far off. He is not the only rotten egg in the basket; most politicians are self-seeking and are only looking out for their own legacy, or after their terms have expired, looking to become lobbyists for big corporations, and then have great influence on their peers still in public office. Believe it or not, the majority have done just that. That is a crime against the small guys and dolls like you and me. I believe the two-party government we have has been, and will continue to become, even more destructive to the good of this country. I mean when Senators and members of the House of Representatives stand on party lines, that is where the majority of the trouble starts and never ends, along with the veto power of an idiot. Regardless of how we look at it, our government has been—and still is—corrupt.

Is there a better way? Absolutely: Put our faith in Jesus Christ as our only leader, by total obedience to all that is commanded in the New Testament. Don’t hold your breath. We are too far gone for any such thing to come to pass.

Concerning the coming election, I would love to see Hillary Clinton win the Democratic nomination, but in a way it would be better for her if she doesn’t win. The next president will inherit all of “Bush’s blunders.” And believe it or not, there will be no good, correct or easy way to “turn a toad into a princess,” meaning Bush’s bloopers. Therefore, let the most unlucky candidate become our next president.

What I am getting at is that there is not a bit of holiness or godliness in our government, and not much more in our lives, other than the hocus-pocus we see on TV. That is just another reason for God’s vengeance toward our great but ungodly country. Since politics is not my forte, I won’t say any more. If I don’t get at least a few nasty comments, I will be disappointed; I welcome them all.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

# 248: The Knack of Making Sin Acceptable

This is the third time I am publishing this seminal/hopefully influential post to reveal the truth behind an extremely small section of Scripture in the Book of Romans, that many millions of people who call themselves Christians have been relying on as a reason to believe it is just normal for them to sin. The false understanding of this section has done more damage to the Christian faith than any other heresy in the entire New Testament. I have heard this minute section used as an excuse for sin more times than I can count, and from many individuals from different denominations. In fact, I think it may be a universal excuse for sin in all of organized Christianity. It is that serious.

If one is not familiar with the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament, much of this post will sound like Greek. To avoid confusing anyone, it might be best for some to skip this post until a better, more complete knowledge of the Bible has been acquired. I have put many, many painstaking hours into the writing of this post to make absolutely certain that the information in this series is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the absolute truth. How do I know that? Because this section contradicts all other New Testament verses that dogmatically tell us what we must believe and how we must live concerning sin. Although this series may be difficult for some to understand, it is a truth that all genuine Christians may have to read and reread to get to the depth and damage it has done. Please take time to double-check all the Bible references I mentioned to make sure I did not take any out of context. Again, please take this section seriously. It could be a matter of one’s spiritual life and death.

“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” This is the Apostle Paul speaking in Romans 7:14-20. This portion of Scripture seems contrary in comparison to other Bible teachings; for that reason, it has been universally misunderstood since the first century. The result has been a general consensus of “Christians” thinking lightly of sin, thus secretly condoning what they know is wrong; moreover, they believe that giving in to the desires of the flesh (lower nature) is acceptable in the Christian life. Although it is said taciturnly, some go so far as to believe that it was about time the Apostle Paul, author of Romans, confessed to what a weak-willed person he really was while still professing to be a great apostle of Jesus Christ. At this, I am appalled.

It is not uncommon for some Bible writers to use the singular pronoun (I, me, you, etc.) to denote the nation of Israel. There are several such verses in the New Testament and many texts in the Old Testament. Here are a few: In Revelation 3:17, the church of Laodicea is speaking. "You say, ‘I am rich: I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’" In Romans 9:25-26, Paul quotes Hosea 2nd chapter though not verbatim. ". . . and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one . . .‘You are not my people’, they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’" The Old Testament is rich with writings which use the singular to denote a group of people, usually the nation of Israel. “Their mother has been unfaithful and has conceived them in disgrace. She said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink. Therefore I will block her path with thorn bushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my husband as at first.’” (Hosea 2:5-8). ‘“Now then listen, you wanton creature, lounging in your security [sounds like America] and saying to yourself, ‘I am, and there is none besides me. I will never be a widow or suffer the loss of children.’ Both of these will overtake you in a moment, on a single day: loss of children and widowhood.” (Isaiah 47:8-9).

Lamentations Chapter 1 is the best example of a Bible writer who spoke of himself in the singular—Biblical muscle to the truth—to tell of the wretched condition that had befallen the nation of Israel. Jeremiah used the identical singular pronouns as Paul did in Romans Chapter 7. Lamentations 1:11: “Look, O Lord, and consider, for I am despised.” And continuing in verse 14: “My sins have been bound into a yoke; by his hands they were woven together . . . He has handed me over to those I cannot withstand.” 1:15: “ . . . He has summoned an army against me to crush my young men.” [That last statement is conclusive proof that Jeremiah is not writing about himself.] “In his winepress the Lord has trampled the Virgin Daughter of Judah.” 1:16: “This is why I weep and my eyes overflow with tears.” 1:18: “The Lord is righteous, yet I rebel against His command.” 1:19: “I called to my allies but they betrayed me.” I am sure we all know what a saintly man Jeremiah was in God’s sight. Without question, he was not writing about himself, although if someone did not know God or the Scripture, it could be taken that way.

I believe God inspired Paul to write Romans 7:14-20 as he did so that those who do not truly believe and yet call themselves Christians will have more than enough rope with which to hang themselves, so to speak. Why? Even though the New Testament is filled from cover to cover with evidence that Christ came to destroy sin in our lives, many people don’t believe that simple truth. Here are just a few verses that tell of the great work Jesus did to destroy the power of sin.

Romans 6:1: "What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin, how can we live in it any longer?" Romans 6:6: ". . . That we should no longer be slaves to sin. . . ." Romans 6:10-11: "The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, COUNT YOURSELVES DEAD TO SIN but alive to God in Christ Jesus." Then there is Romans 6:23: "For the wages of sin is death." One more! 1 John 3:9. “No one born of God will continue to sin . . . ” Shall we disregard these verses?

When one studies Romans, one will quickly see who Paul is writing to, especially in this chapter. Romans 7:1: “Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to men who know the law.” It was Jews he was speaking to who knew what it was to live under Jewish law. Starting with Romans 1:19, Paul points out that Jews—as well as Gentiles—are all living under sin, apart from Christ; he also begins to tell of the wicked condition the nation of Israel was in, according to the Old Testament. Romans 1:19: ". . . since what may be known about God is plain to them [Jews], because God has made it plain to them." Romans 1:21: "For although they [Jews] knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him . . .” Romans 1:22: “Although they [Jews] claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God [only Israelites knew the glory of God] for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles." Romans 1:32: "Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death. . ." Romans 2:1: "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself . . ." Romans 2:17: "Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law. . ." Romans 2:23-24: "You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: ‘God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’"

Isn’t this still true today? Atheists and skeptics everywhere blaspheme the name of Jesus Christ, and rightly so, because of the ungodly lives of counterfeit Christians. This fact alone pains me more than anything else, and gave me the incentive to do this writing. Romans 3:9: "What shall we conclude then? Are we [Jews] any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin." This last verse is very important in seeing what point Paul is trying to get across to his readers: the fact that in his reference to Jews, he means those who were familiar with the law.

Starting with Romans 7:5, the Apostle Paul is desperately trying to explain how it is impossible to be obedient to the old Jewish law while under control of sinful nature. Romans 7:5: "For when we [all Jews] were [notice this is past tense] controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death." In Romans 7:7, Paul uses the word “we” in reference to the Jews for the last time: “What shall we say, then?” As he continues, he starts to describe what a wretched condition they (the Jews) were in under the law and without Christ as their Savior. In subsequent references, he uses the word “I” allegorically instead of “we” to denote the nation of Israel.

Conclusive proof of this is displayed in the next several verses, but only to those who don't justify their life of sin by this portion of Scripture and those who have an active desire to live a sinless life by God's grace. "Once I was alive apart from law." Romans 7:9. Now I ask you this question: When was Paul ever alive apart from the law? Answer: Never. But the nation of Israel was alive apart from the law before God gave them the law of Moses. Sin could not condemn to death without the law. Romans 5:13: ". . . for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law." Romans 5:13. “The law came so that sin might be recognized as utterly sinful.” Romans 7:13 paraphrased. The desire of the flesh [sinful nature, ego] continually won the inward battle against their desire to do good. This is the reason the nation of Israel as a whole could not please God, and the very reason for the coming of Christ.

I believe that the subject of sin is important enough to repeat what I have written earlier, using a few different words. The point I am trying to put across is this: Before the Law of Moses was given, the sins of the nation of Israel were not taken into account. Romans 5:13, paraphrased: Although, at the judgment, Israel will have to account for her action. Even though they did not have a law, they were a law unto themselves. But when the Law was given by Moses, sin was truly exposed for what it was, and the knowledge that was good brought death to the Jews. That Law, as good as it was, did not give Israel the power to overcome its sinful nature. Because all have sinned, all are condemned by this Law that is holy and good. Although they wanted to do good, they could not because of the power of sin living in Israel. Before the Law, Israel was alive apart from the Law. But when the commandment (the Law) came, sin sprang to life and Israel (I) died. Israel found that the Law that was intended to bring life actually brought death. Romans 7:8: "For apart from law, sin is dead." The Law was spiritual, but Israel was unspiritual. In this unspiritual condition, Israel could not do what God wanted her to do. But the things she did not want to do, she did. Since Israel did what it did not want to do, she agreed that the Law was good. In this unredeemed state, nothing good lived inside Israel; that is in her sinful nature. Though she had the desire to do what is good, she (Israel) couldn't carry it out. The evil she did not want to do, she kept on doing. What a wretched condition Israel was in. Who would rescue Her from this sinful nature which lives in all Israel? Jesus Christ would. He arranged things so that all of Israel and the world could be rescued from the power of sin.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross without sin, He defeated the power of sin; consequently, when He rose from the dead, sin had no power over Him. Christ destroyed the power of the flesh (sinful nature). This is the essence of the concept of being born again. We, too, died with Christ and rose never to sin again. Romans 6:11 “. . . count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Jesus Christ.” Now since we died with Christ through faith—that means we really believe that fact—we will live according to His Spirit. This does not happen automatically. It happens only when we believe we actually died with Christ. We inherit His death and victory over sin simply because we believe Him. However, when this belief does not spill over from our intellect into our lives, our belief is not valid and in God's sight does not exist.

Now, read carefully Romans 8:9-14: “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you. Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Emphasis added).

Is it even remotely possible that the same person did not write Romans 7:14-25 (using the word "I" to mean oneself instead of "Jew" or "Israel") and Romans 8:9-14? Impossible! There will be those who will say, "Don't confuse me with the facts; I have had my mind made up for years as to what Paul was saying in Chapter 7." If Paul meant “self” as that bad guy who could not do what was right but did the evil that he knew was wrong, he would be totally out of character with regard to all of his other writings as a redeemed man of God.

As we know, Jesus was perfect in the true sense, and Paul fashioned his life after this perfect Jesus. Paul was a perfectionist before his conversion and continued to be a perfectionist in his redeemed condition. This is evident as Paul writes to the Philippians, telling of his life before conversion. ". . . a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless." (Philippians 3:5). After his conversion, Paul's life was in every sense as pleasing to his Lord as any New Testament character ever could be. Here is scriptural evidence of that fact. Paul says, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." 1 Corinthians11:1. "Therefore I urge you to imitate me." 1 Corinthians 4:16. "For you yourself know how you ought to follow our example." 2 Thessalonians 3:7. "We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow." 2 Thessalonians 3:9. "Aim for perfection. . ." 2 Corinthians 13:11. "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." 1 Thessalonians 2:7. "I wish all men were as I am.” 1 Corinthians 7:7. "But we have the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:16. "Join with others in following my example, brothers. . . ." Philippians 3:17. "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice." Philippians 4:9.

Some, however, will use Paul’s reference to himself as "the chief of sinners" to substantiate Romans Chapter 7 and Paul’s inner struggle with sin. Some might say, "If Paul was a wretched sinner, as a redeemed man, should I be expected to live any better?” This conclusion indicates a misunderstanding of the passage. To keep it in context, let's look at what Paul said before and after that verse. 1st Timothy 1:8 paraphrased: "The law was made for bad guys. But no matter how bad a person is, he is not so bad that Christ can't show him mercy." Then, in Verse 13, he tells how bad he was, and how God had mercy on him anyway. That is the reason why Christ came into the world: to save sinners—even bad sinners. What better way to illustrate the power of Christ? Surely it is easier to redeem the pure of spirit than one who is enthusiastically mired in one’s own sin. In Verse 16, he says, ". . . of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was [past tense] shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life."

In his redeemed state, Paul was no doubt the greatest, purest, holiest, and most Godly man that the New Testament reveals to us, apart from Christ. For early Christians, he was the prime example of someone who overcame a sinful life. His example still speaks to us. To be absolutely certain that Paul was talking about his past and not his present condition, let’s look at 1st Timothy 1:15: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst [Chief].” Now watch how Paul switches from the present to the past tense. 1:16: "But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” Now, if Paul saw himself as the worst of sinners in his (present) redeemed condition, what right did he have to preach to all the churches about good moral conduct and to live pure and holy lives? It's impossible. Even an unregenerate moron should be able to see this simple truth when it is put in context with Romans 7th chapter.

What kind of a hypocrite would Paul have been if he expected the followers of Christ to do and be what he could not do or be? Was he giving the “OK” sign for everyone to desire to do good, yet continue to do the evil they knew was wrong? Remember 1 John 4:4 paraphrased: “The Holy Spirit, who is in us, is greater and more powerful than our sinful nature.” When people have the Holy Spirit of God living in them, they will not do the evil they hate. As a person is controlled by the Spirit, he/she will be empowered to do the good he/she wants to do, and the desire to do good itself comes from God’s Holy Spirit that dwells in us. By grace, we have Jesus Christ to forgive our sins; grace is no excuse for abuse, or grace will cease. Grace gives us the ability to love and live to please God, not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Living in God's grace and living in the flesh are not compatible. Belief that gives us the power to overcome sin will not work so long as we refuse to believe that we can live without giving into sin (our sinful nature). Faith gives us the victory and in every case will cost us our desire to do as we please. Bible verses taken from New International Version Bible.