Holiness and Victory Over Sin, Part 10
by Karl Kemp
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Holy Father, we humble our hearts before you. We want to rightly divide your Word, to understand it, to live it; for your glory and for our good. We pray in Jesus' mighty name! Amen!
I'll always quote from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 edition, unless otherwise noted. I frequently make comments in the middle of quotations using brackets [ ] or [[ ]] to make the brackets more obvious.
Last time we discussed Rom. 1:16, 17 in some detail. Today we'll discuss many key verses from Romans chapter 3. We'll start with verse 9. "What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin." Greeks means Gentiles here. Earlier in this epistle, the apostle Paul has already charged that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin. All mankind, therefore needs to be saved through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul used the second half of Romans chapter 1 to demonstrate that the Gentiles were under sin, and he used chapter 2 and much of chapter 3 to demonstrate that the Jews were also under sin. The Jews had the Mosaic Law, but the Law did not solve the sin problem. The Law did not have the authority or power to dethrone spiritual death and sin, the spiritual death and sin that has reigned over mankind since the fall (see Romans chapter 5, for example).The apostle showed, in fact, that the Law intensified the sin problem (see Romans chapter 7, for example). God always planned to save all believers through the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning death, including the believers from Old Testament days.
"What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin" (Rom. 3:9). Under the guilt of sin and in bondage to sin. Like Paul said in Romans chapter 6, we were slaves of sin before we became born-again Christians. We were in spiritual death and under sin.
Then in Rom. 3:10-18 Paul quoted many verses from the Old Testament to help confirm that all mankind is under sin. (He quoted mostly from the book of Psalms, but also from the book of Isaiah.) Then in verse 19 he said, "Now we know that whatever the Law says ["The Law" here refers to the entire Old Testament, as it does on occasion. As I mentioned, Paul's quotations here came from the books of Psalms and Isaiah.] Now we know that whatever the Laws says, it speaks to those who were under the Law [In other words, it speaks to the people of Israel.] Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who were under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world [all mankind] may become accountable to God [accountable to God because of their sin]."
Verse 20, "because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight [The apostle Paul frequently made the point that nobody could be justified by God by the works of the Law, because man in the flesh (man in spiritual death; man without the indwelling Spirit of life and righteousness) cannot fully keep God's Law. The only way we can be justified in the full sense is through the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning death.] for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin." The Law accurately taught about sin, but it didn't have the authority or power to dethrone spiritual death and sin, and to make people righteous with the righteousness of God. As we have discussed, God imputes and imparts His righteousness to Christians through the atoning death of His Son and by giving His Righteous, Holy Spirit to dwell in them. We are saved by grace through faith.
Verse 21, "But now apart from the Law [the Law which could not save us from spiritual death and bondage to sin and make us righteous with the righteousness of God] the righteousness of God has been manifested [[We discussed Rom. 1:17 in the last broadcast. I'll read Rom. 1:17 the way we discussed the verse, "For by it [by the gospel] the righteousness of God is manifested by faith [The righteousness of God is manifested in the hearts and lives of Christians. We must appropriate His righteousness by faith (faith in God the Father; faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; faith in the gospel of new-covenant salvation)] to faith [or "unto faith." That is, the righteousness of God is imputed and imparted to those who have faith]; as it is written, 'But he who is righteous by faith shall live.' " The apostle quoted from Habukkuk 2:4 to confirm the super-important point that the only way we can become righteous (with the very righteousness of God) is "by faith."
One of the primary points that the apostle made in Rom. 1:17 was that the righteousness of God is manifested in the hearts and lives of Christians. And we looked at quite a few passages from the Old Testament where God prophesied that He was going to manifest His righteousness in the hearts and lives of His people. For one thing, He prophesied that He was going to pour out His Spirit and cause His Righteous, Holy Spirit to dwell in His people and make them righteous. As we have discussed, however, we must walk by the Holy Spirit by faith on a continuous basis (which we are called and enabled to do) or the righteousness of God will not be fully manifested. Several prophecies showed that new-covenant salvation would come to pass through the atoning death of the Lamb of God. We briefly discussed Isa. 53:11 in the last broadcast. That verse speaks of our being justified and made righteous through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaiah chapter 53 is a key passage on His atoning death.
(Now back to Rom. 3:21)]], being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets." The old covenant, even though it was from God and was good, could not dethrone spiritual death and sin and manifest the righteousness of God in the hearts and lives of believers; it was not given for that purpose. But the Old Testament did bear witness to the fact God was going to solve the sin problem and make believers righteous through new-covenant salvation. For one thing, the Old Testament contains a large number of passages that prophesied of that salvation.
Let's go on to Rom. 3:22, 23, "even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe [[Back in Romans 1:17 the apostle spoke of the righteousness of God coming BY FAITH. Here in Rom. 3:22 he spoke of the righteousness of God coming THROUGH FAITH (using a different Greek preposition). There is no substantial difference between the righteousness of God coming by faith or coming through faith. Back in Rom. 1:17 Paul spoke of the righteousness of God coming "to" or "unto" those who have faith. The Greek preposition translated "to" or "unto" in 1:17 is eis; the same Greek preposition is used here in 3:22. I would translate "to [or, unto] all those who believe" here in 3:22, instead of "for all those who believe." So, in Rom. 1:17 Paul spoke of the righteousness of God coming "to [or unto] those who have faith," and here in 3:22 he spoke of the righteousness of God coming "to [or unto] all those who believe."
There is no substantial difference between the righteousness of God coming to (or, unto) those who have faith and its coming to (or, unto) those who believe. The righteousness of God is imputed and imparted to those who submit to the gospel in faith/to those who believe the gospel.]]; for there is no distinction; (23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." There is no distinction among people in the sense that all are sinners and all need to be saved through submitting (in faith) to God and His Son and His gospel. God imputes and imparts His righteousness to us and manifests His righteousness in our hearts and lives through new-covenant salvation.
Romans 3:24, "being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus." Paul emphasized grace here by using the words gift and grace. God's gift is a manifestation of His grace. Paul repeatedly emphasized the point that our salvation comes 100 percent by grace through faith. It is not of works; it is totally unearned. We appropriate and cooperate with God's grace by faith. Faith is not a work; faith receives what God freely gives. Faith is nothing for us to boast about, any more than we can boast in ourselves for taking hold of a life preserver instead of drowning. God paid an infinite price in the Sacrifice of His Son to save us, and God (the triune God) must receive all of the glory for our salvation.
"Being justified as a gift by His grace." The words "being justified" here in 3:24 are being used in the very full sense we have discussed already (when we discussed Rom. 6:7). There is no way we can limit "being justified" here to being forgiven and having a legal declaration of righteousness. Being justified here includes God's overthrowing spiritual death and bondage to sin; His making believers alive (starting with the new birth); and His making believers righteous with His righteousness. His righteousness is imparted to us, and it is manifested in our hearts and lives as we walk by faith and by the Holy Spirit (which we are called and required to do). What the apostle said in Rom. 1:17 and Rom. 3:21, 22 about the righteousness of God being manifested in our hearts and lives is included in what the words "being justified" mean here in verse 24.
The Greek verb translated "justify" (in some form); the Greek noun translated "righteousness"; and the Greek adjective translated "righteous" are closely related. The Greek verb translated justify (dikaioo) and the Greek noun translated righteousness (dikaiosune) were both derived from the Greek adjective translated righteous (dikaios). If we are going to translate the participle of the Greek verb dikaioo "being justified" here in verse 24, which is widely accepted, then we must understand that being justified is being used in a very full sense. For more on this very important verb, see the chapter titled, "A Study on the Meaning of Justify/Justification as These Words Are Used in the New Testament" in my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin."
"Being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24). These words "through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" strongly confirm that "being justified" here means a whole lot more than being forgiven and having a legal declaration of righteousness. Redemption, which was common in the ancient world, dealt with purchasing slaves to set them free. We were spiritually dead slaves of sin, but God has redeemed us through new-covenant salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. He has redeemed us out of the realm of spiritual death and bondage to sin through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now we are born again children of God. We owe nothing to our former master of sin, but we owe everything to God, who has redeemed us as such a high cost to Himself. We are totally obligated, according to the terms of the new covenant, to be faithful to God and His Word by His grace, and to walk in His righteousness by His indwelling Righteous Spirit. This is good news! Very good news! What a salvation plan! What a Savior! I trust you can see that this redemption includes a lot more than being forgiven and having a legal declaration of righteousness. Being justified here includes our actually being made righteous with the imparted righteousness of God.
I'm going to turn to page 80 of my book and quote most of what I said under the words "through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" of Rom. 3:24. I trust you can see that it is quite important for us to understand what it means for us to be redeemed through the Lord Jesus Christ. I used the 1977 edition of the NASB in the book. I believe these words rather strongly confirm that (in Rom. 3:24) "being justified" includes the ideas of being set free from the authority and power of sin (and spiritual death) and being made righteous with the righteousness of God. Sin formerly reigned (see Rom. 5:21, for example), and we were slaves of sin (see, for example, Rom. 3:9-20; 6:6, 17-22; 8:2, 5-8; John 8:31-36); but now we have been redeemed through the all-important atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ
The word redemption conveys the idea of buying a slave to set him free. We were slaves of sin, but we have been redeemed out of the kingdom of sin; we are no longer under the authority of sin (and spiritual death), and we are no longer to serve our old master of sin (by sinning). If we were forgiven but were still slaves of sin, we would not be redeemed. Can you imagine a former slave, who had a terribly wicked master, but who has now been redeemed at a very high price (actually an infinite price), sneaking back to the old master's house to serve the old master of sin even one more time?
Let's consider several passages from the New Testament that deal with redemption in Christ Jesus, passages that emphasize God's making us righteous. I also listed several passages beyond the passages we will consider here. First I'll quote what the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, "Flee immorality. [Paul was dealing with the sin of immorality in this context, but he consistently taught that we must flee from all sin.] Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. (19) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? [As Paul goes on to say in the next verse, God has bought us (including our bodies), and we must be faithful to Him (by His grace).] (20) For YOU HAVE BEEN BOUGHT WITH A PRICE [the infinite price of the Sacrifice of His Son]; therefore glorify God in your body." We glorify God by living for Him and being faithful to Him and His Word (by His grace through faith).
Now Galatians 4:4-7. The apostle Paul wrote this epistle to Gentile Christians. "But when the fullness of the time came; God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law [The Lord Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary; He was born under the Mosaic Law in that He was a Jew. The Gentiles were not born under the Mosaic Law.], (5) in order that HE MIGHT REDEEM those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. [The Lord Jesus Christ died for all mankind. All the people (both Jews and Gentiles) who submit to God's new-covenant plan of salvation are adopted into the family of God through union with the Lord Jesus Christ.] (6) And because you are sons [Paul writes to his Christian readers], God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!' [The Spirit of God, who dwells in every true Christian from the time of our being born again, bears witness with our spirits that we have been adopted into the family of God, which enables us to cry out with sincerity and in truth "Abba! Father!" God has actually become our Father in this very special, glorious sense. "Abba" is an intimate Aramaic word for father.] (7) Therefore you are no longer a slave [no longer a spiritually dead slave of sin], but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God." We will be glorified and inherit the fullness of eternal life at the end of this age. We will even reign with God.
Now Titus 2:11-14 (I'll quote these verses from the NIV. "For the grace that brings salvation has appeared to all men. (12) It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, (13) while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ [[I prefer a translation like the following for the second half of this verse, "the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior, Jesus Christ." It is totally necessary for us to understand that the Lord Jesus Christ is fully deity with God the Father (and the Holy Spirit), but I believe the word God refers to God the Father here, as it typically does in the New Testament. (See my papers, "Who Do We Worship?"; Who Do We Pray To?"; "More on the Trinity"; and "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son.") For one thing, "the blessed hope" refers to our being caught up into the glory of God and glorified at the end of this age, when God the Father sends His Son back to the earth. In Col. 1:27 Paul spoke of "Christ in you, the hope of glory." In Col. 3:4 he said, "When Christ, who is our life, is revealed (or, manifested), then you also will be revealed (or, manifested) with Him in glory." And the apostle Peter spoke of our being partakers "of the glory that is to be revealed (or, manifested)" (see 1 Peter 5:1). ]] (14) who gave himself for us TO REDEEM us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." We are redeemed out of the kingdom of wickedness and lawlessness and transferred to God's kingdom of righteousness and holiness by His powerful saving grace in Christ (cf. Col. 1:13).
I'm going to quote part of what I said under Titus 2:11-14 on pages 124, 125 of my book. First I'll quote part of what I said regarding the Greek participle translated "instructing [us]" by the NASB and "teaching [us]" by the NIV. The Greek verb used here is paideuo. This verb is sometimes used for the training of a child. The Amplified Bible has, "It has trained us." The powerful saving grace of God in Christ instructs us/teaches us, but it does a lot more than that. It takes us by the hand, so to speak, and guides us, empowers us, enables us, and makes us righteous with the righteousness of God.
And I'll quote part of what I said under the words, "to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age" (using the wording of the NASB). It would be difficult to find a more clear statement of the fact that Christians are called and enabled to live righteous and godly lives throughout this present age. The same can be said for Titus 2:14. I'll quote Titus 2:14 from the NASB, "who gave Himself for us TO REDEEM us from every lawless deed [or, from all lawlessness] and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds [or, good works]." We are saved by grace through faith, and we are enabled and required to live in God's righteousness, doing good works. Titus 2:13 speaks of the age to come. Christians are motivated to live righteous lives now (in part) by the fact that they know that the day of judgment is coming, and they want to be fully ready for that day. They want to be delivered from the wrath of God to come and to inherit the glory of God's eternal kingdom. They want to hear words like, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
Next we'll discuss 1 Peter 1:14-19, which is another very important passage that will (for one thing) help us understand what it means TO BE REDEEMED in Christ Jesus, with a strong emphasis on righteousness, holiness, and victory over sin. "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance [The apostle Peter was speaking of the former lusts of his Gentile readers in the years before they became born-again Christians.], (15) but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior [To be holy means to be set apart for God from everything that is sinful and defiling. For us to be holy in all our behavior like the Holy One who called us certainly includes the victory over all sin, doesn't it? And Peter continues with this theme in the next verse.]; (16) because it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.' [I prefer the translation "Be holy," instead of "You shall be holy." This is a command, but what God commands us to do, He enables us to do. Peter made it quite clear here that Christians are called to be set apart from all sin and for God. This is a great blessing! This is a great privilege!] (17) If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth [[This is a strong warning that we must make it top priority to live for God in His righteousness and holiness. We must love God, and we must fear sinning against Him. The Old Testament and the New Testament both speak of our need to fear sinning against God. We do address God as our Father, and we have been informed (including here in this verse) that God is an impartial Judge. Since He will impartially judge each person according to their work, He will not show partiality to any, including Christians. (How we think and what we do shows who we are and what we love and what we believe in our hearts. What we do shows whether our faith is genuine, or not.) It is true, of course, that forgiveness is provided for Christians, but Christianity is about much more than forgiveness. If "Christians" are living in sin, they are not ready to stand before God.]], (18) knowing that you WERE NOT REDEEMED with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile [and I might add, sinful] way of life inherited from your forefathers, (19) but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ." Notice that Peter speaks of our being redeemed by the atoning blood of Christ from a sinful way of living to living for God in His righteousness and holiness. Redemption includes a whole lot more than just being forgiven, as important as that is. The Lamb of God bore our sins with the guilt and the penalties, so that we could be redeemed out of the kingdom of sin and lawlessness. We have been set free from slavery to sin. These verses (1 Peter 1:13-19) are discussed in some detail on pages 190-194 of my book.
Now we'll look at one last passage that speaks of our being redeemed out of the kingdom of sin and darkness and transferred to the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is a kingdom of righteousness, holiness, life, and light. Let's look at Colossians 1:12-14. (We will discuss Col. 1:9-14 in some detail in a later article, and these verses are discussed on pages 146-151 of my book, so I'll be somewhat brief here.) "giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. [[It would be better to translate "in the light." The definite article is included with the word for light in the Greek. God's light includes His truth and His righteousness and holiness. God has qualified us, or made us fit, to dwell in His kingdom of light by delivering us from the kingdom of darkness and making us saints (holy people). Christians are saints in that they have been set apart by God and for God. They have been set apart from slavery to sin and from being part of the kingdom of sin and darkness. And they have been set apart for God; they have become slaves of righteousness, and they live in the kingdom of God, which is the kingdom of life, light, righteousness, and holiness.]] (13) For He delivered us from the domain [or, authority] of darkness [of the darkness], and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son [Verse 14 expands on our being delivered from being slaves of sin in the kingdom of spiritual death, sin, and darkness], (14) in whom we have REDEMPTION, the forgiveness of sins." [[I would translate THE REDEMPTION. The definite article is included in the Greek. God's redemption is the redemption in that it is the theme of much Old Testament prophecy and it at the heart of new-covenant salvation. Verse 14 continues with the words, "the forgiveness of sins," but I can't live with the translation "forgiveness" for the Greek noun used here, aphesis. Redemption includes forgiveness, but it means a lot more than forgiveness. I would translate "the release from sins [with the guilt and penalties]," or the equivalent. Before we became Christians we were under our sins (very much including the sin of Adam) with the guilt and the penalties (including the penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin). But God sent His Son to bear our sins (with the guilt and the penalties), and He redeemed us (through the atoning death of His Son) from the pitiful state of being spiritually dead and in bondage to sin. These things are discussed in some detail throughout my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ." One of the chapters of the book is titled, "A Study on the Meaning of the Greek Noun 'Aphesis.' " Aphesis is the Greek noun translated "forgiveness" (or the equivalent) in Col. 1:14 and quite a few other verses.]]
God bless you! His will be done! His will be done in us! In Jesus' name! Amen!
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