Have you ever met Brother Earnest Effort? He’s a decent soul, but alas, he has not been established in the Gospel Truth. All he knows to do is ‘to do’! He makes his efforts and his heart condition the centre of his Christian life.
Without knowing it, he is brewing a lethal cocktail for himself! After continually taking stock of himself, he sees the ongoing rottenness of his very being. After all, he lives with himself. Everywhere he goes — there he is. He has tried rededicating himself to God so often that his re-dedicator has just about worn out.
He still sees his secret thoughts, and they are not good (Romans 7:18). He knows the cesspool of filth that bubbles up at the most inopportune moments (Romans 3:10). He gets deeply troubled by the continual plague of lusts and wicked thoughts that bombard him, but instead of looking to Christ for deliverance he looks for comfort and aid everywhere else.
He tries more discipline and gets up earlier to have his quiet time. He volunteers to help with the feeding program for the homeless. But still, everywhere he goes, there he is!
And Brother Earnest Effort is a member of a church. He sometimes hands out the bulletins and is on the greeting committee. His church is full of nice decent people who talk about the Christian life, but it’s a dangerous church….. in fact, it’s lethal…it does not have the Gospel on centre stage.
Brother E. Effort takes his seat each Sunday and week after week Pastor Practical Preacher gets up and teaches the folks how they can have a better life. He shares how they can be debt free; how to succeed in life; how to have a better marriage; why they should not gossip; five steps to victory, how to overcome a bad temper and the like. But Brother Earnest Effort, while he appreciates all the new information he gets each week, remains deeply anguished, troubled and untouched.
Brother Effort agrees with Pastor Preacher. He looks again at his heart and is overcomewith guilt. He says to himself, “Pastor Preacher is quite right, I shouldn’t gossip and judge; I shouldn’t get annoyed and angry with people the way I do, but after all this time I still keep falling into these things. There’s only one thing that must be the matter, I must not be saved!”
After several years of this, Brother Earnest Effort feels so condemned that he eventually drops out of Church life, separates himself from the church assembly and joins the ranks of the casualties and spiritual cripples! One of the ironies of the whole thing is, after wounding him with legalistic subjectivism, the church then condemns him because he dropped out. Pastor Preacher then says with pious voice, “He went out from us, but he was not of us; if he had been of us he would surely have remained with us.” Thus Brother E. Effort is discarded and left to wonder why it is that the Church is the only army on earth that buries their wounded!
What Brother Effort was not taught, however, was that actual guilt free victorious living can only be realized through continual exposure to the Gospel. That’s one of the reasons why the Gospel is the essential message for believers. But Brother Earnest Effort never really got to hear the Gospel because Pastor Practical Preacher pandered to the subjective cravings of his congregation.
Brother Effort, therefore, never grasped the good news that the big issue wasn’t him, but rather the Lamb!
Is the Lamb, a suitable sacrifice, —that’s the issue!
Was Jesus qualified to die?
Was He sinlessly perfect?
In the Old Testament, the High Priest examined the lamb. If the sacrificial lamb was found to be without blemish or impediment, it was reckoned as a fitting sacrifice, and the guilty party went free. The priest examined the Lamb, not the one who brought the lamb. If the lamb was accepted, then the one who brought the lamb was accepted and reckoned as innocent in virtue of the fact that the lamb would die as his substitute.
So it is with us today. Our Lamb, The Lord Jesus, has been slain and because of His shed blood, all charges against us have been dropped. The Father has examined His Son and is satisfied. His sacrifice has been accepted, and as proof of this, Christ has been raised from the dead. This is the basis of the guilt-free life! God sees your lamb, the Lord Jesus, without flaw, spot or imperfection and that, therefore, is the way He sees you. Your sins have been utterly purged by the perfect blood of your perfect High Priest and by that same perfect offering you have been perfected and sanctified.
And that’s the Gospel Truth!
What a Gospel!
What makes Christianity different from all the other religions of the world? Years ago that question was discussed at a conference. Some of the participants argued that Christianity is unique in teaching that God became a man. But someone objected, erroneously saying that other religions teach similar doctrines. What about the resurrection? No, it was argued, some other faiths believe that the dead rise again. The discussion grew heated.
A well-known theologian, a staunch defender of Christianity, came in late, sat down, and asked, “What’s the rumpus about?” When he learned that it was a debate about the uniqueness of Christianity, he immediately commented, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”
How right he was!
At the very heart of our message is the concept of Grace. We are not only saved by Grace but also live in and by it. Our life is not one of trying to impress God as we tick off a list of dos and don’ts. We can do nothing to move the heart of God to love us. He loves us constantly and continually. His love for us is assured. He loves us simply because He loves us…. He loves us, not because we merit it. No indeed, the truth is that we deserve the very opposite of love. We are helplessly sinful, but God has been and continues to be amazingly gracious to us. This is one of the main things that sets us apart from the world religions.
What a Gospel! It’s all of grace!
Think of this, it’s only by His infinite grace that we are saved,
It’s not by our moral character,
It’s not by our works of righteousness,
It’s not by keeping the Law,
It’s not by Churchgoing,
It’s by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. What a Gospel!
Grace is free. Jesus was not obligated to die for anyone. If we are saved, it is because God resolved to save us and not because we resolved to be saved! It’s all of grace!
What a Gospel!
He is the God of all grace. Think for a moment how graciously He deals with us. Robert Farrar Capon noted in Christ’s story of the return of the prodigal that the Father, “Wasn’t afraid of giving the prodigal son a kiss instead of a lecture, a party instead of probation.”
What a Saviour!
Grace is hard to comprehend but so indeed is our Saviour. The Saviour with whom we have to do is none other than God clothed with humanity. He is not a man made into God but God made man. When He spoke, God spoke. When He laughed, God laughed. When He sang, God sang. When He wept God wept. The fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily in Him (Colossians 1:19; 2:9).
“Wonder of wonders! The mighty God, without ceasing to be God, becomes a man to redeem us! Let the greatest king become the lowest beggar; let the richest prince leave his palace for the vilest cell of a loathsome prison; it is as nothing compared to the act of Jesus, when He left heaven to put on the rags of our mortality! The Creator of all things becomes a creature! The Almighty is a weak baby! The Eternal is a child of time! The Infinite is contracted into the limits of poor flesh! Is not this the wonder of wonders? Is not this grace which has no bounds?”
Henry Law: Christ is All.
What a Gospel! What a Saviour!
And that’s the Gospel Truth!
Since the believer’s sins have been punished on Christ, we can say with assurance that we are saved. Believers are simply this ….forgiven sinners!
But what kinds of sins was Jesus punished for?
Was it for our big sins?
What about our little sins?
And, what about the sins of omission?
Yes, for those too!
We are forgiven because Christ Jesus was punished in our place and in our stead.
The gospel truth is this, believers are covered with the righteousness of Christ. We are in Christ! We are reckoned not to have done the sins we actually have done. This is beautiful, matchless grace! I hope we never get tired of hearing this good news.
The Bible teaches that there are two kinds of righteousness. The first is the righteousness by which the uninstructed and ignorant attempt to get to heaven. The Bible, however, is ruthlessly scathing in describing this kind of righteousness. It calls it “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). The second kind of righteousness is the imputed righteousness God gives us as a free gift … the very righteousness of Christ.
Unfortunately, if we are not bathed in the gospel, we continually revert to believing that there is something we can do to get right with God. We are like the Jews of whom Paul wrote, “They are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes. (Romans 10:2-4).
So consider this, by grace, the Lord chose and accepted us. We are not saved by anything we do! Salvation is by grace alone. Don’t let anyone rob you of that precious truth.
As Dr David Dykes says, “If you could burn one single calorie of effort to bring about your salvation, then you could take a tiny part of the credit and boast about your part.” Excellent statement! … But he understates the matter…in actuality, we would take all the credit! The gospel truth is this, salvation is all of God and none of us. Charles Spurgeon expressed it this way: “If there is one stitch in the celestial garment of our righteousness which we are to insert ourselves, then we are lost.”
To further grasp this matter of being saved by someone else, we read in Colossians 2:14 that Christ has blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.
Some have reasoned that the handwriting of ordinances alludes to the custom of affixing to the cross the charges which earned the criminal the death sentence. Remember how, at our Lord’s crucifixion, the charge read, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” That had been His claim. He was the King, the heavenly King, who would rule the earth. To the Jews, this was blasphemy. To the Romans, it stood for insurrection.
Others reason that by the ‘handwriting of ordinances’ is meant that God took the obligations of Mosaic Law and nailed them to the cross of Christ. By His saving work, the Lord Jesus exposed all systems of works salvation as being fraudulent.
Christ died as a substitute for the people of God. So beware of these grace robbers who tell you that you have something to do to earn heaven.
We are saved by grace alone…we make no contribution.
And that’s the Gospel Truth!
Posted on November 24th, 2014, by Jeff Robinson
Recently, after our family had completed its daily devotional time together, my oldest son asked me a very insightful question: How do the Ten Commandments apply to us today if they were given so long ago in the Old Testament?
It is a basic theological question that many Christians have asked throughout the history of the church and it is an important query. Many answers have been given to that, not all of them good. Obviously, there are two answers that are dead wrong and lead to two opposite ditches that the follower of Christ must avoid: Antinomianism (the law of God has no place in the life of the believer and he/she is free to live however they please) and legalism (I am saved by how closely I adhere to God’s commands—works righteousness).
Read the entire article here.
C. We have victory over the flesh through the indwelling Spirit:
This introduction is from Robert Haldane:
“This chapter presents a glorious display of the power of Divine grace, and of the provision which God has made for the consolation of His people. While the Apostle had proved, in the sixth, that his previous doctrine gave no license to believers to continue in sin, he had still kept in view his main purpose of establishing their free justification. In the seventh he had prosecuted the same object, declaring that by their marriage with Christ they were delivered from the law as a covenant of life or death, while he vindicated its character, use, and authority. In this chapter, he continues the subject of justification, and resumes that of the believer’s assurance of his salvation, of which he had spoken in the fifth, establishing it on new grounds; and from the whole train of his argument from the commencement of the Epistle, he now draws the general conclusion, that to them who are in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation. While this could not have been accomplished by the law, he shows that it had been affected by the incarnation of the Son of God, by whom the law has been fulfilled for all who are one with Him as members of His body. Paul next points out the difference of character between those who, being in their natural state under the law and under sin, are carnally-minded; and those who, being renewed by grace, in whom the law has been fulfilled, are spiritually-minded. The condition of the former is death, that of the latter life and peace. Of these last he proceeds, through the remainder of the chapter, to assert the high privileges and absolute security.
Those who are spiritually-minded have the Spirit of Christ, and possess spiritual life. Although their bodies must return to the dust, they shall be raised up again. They are led by the Spirit; they are the sons of God, and in His service are delivered from a spirit of bondage. They look to Him as their Father; are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. To encourage believers to sustain the sufferings to which, while in this world, they are exposed, the most varied and abundant consolations are exhibited. Their salvation is declared to have taken its rise in the eternal counsels of God, by whom, through all its steps, it is carried into effect. Their condemnation, then, is impossible; for who shall condemn those whom God justifieth, — for whom Christ died, and rose, and intercedes? The Apostle concludes by defying the whole universe to separate believers from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. In this manner he follows out, in this chapter, what had been his grand object through all the preceding part of the Epistle.” 
Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The word “therefore” does not mark or draw a conclusion just from the few verses that preceded this verse, but is the conclusion of the first seven chapters of this epistle. Paul has shown that believers are dead to the law and married to another by the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ. Not only that, but God has justified us by faith in Christ, who bore our sins, so that we have been declared legally just, by an imputed righteousness. Thus there is now no condemnation to them who are in Christ. The Greek word used here for “condemnation” occurs only three times in the New Testament and every instance is in Romans [5:16, 18]. This word is the opposite of the word justification. It is a judicial word signifying the verdict of the guilt and the penalty that verdict demands.
Since the sins of those who are in Christ have been paid for by Christ and his righteousness has been imputed to them, then they can never again be condemned before God’s judgment seat, though they sin again. No sin that the believer could commit will ever reverse the decision that was made in their case. Romans 8:33-39 will clarify what I have just said. Also Ephesians 1:7 states: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” We have forgiveness of sins according to the riches of God’s grace and since God’s grace is a storehouse of grace that is without measure, then we could never exhaust it.
The words “to them which are in Christ Jesus” mean those who have been born again and have been adopted into the family by the regenerating power of the Holy Ghost. Those that have been given a new or second birth are not condemned before God’s judgment seat. This is in contrast to all those who do not know him. As we shown in Romans 1 that all Gentiles are condemned before God and in Romans 2 all Jews are condemned before God. In Romans 3 Paul declared that all were condemned before God, but those who are in Christ Jesus are no longer condemned, because Christ is their Surety. He paid their penalty for their sins and his righteousness has been given to them.
The later part that states: “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” is not found in the most ancient manuscripts and is thought by many scholars today to be interpolated. To interpolate means to add to a text in order to alter or corrupt the meaning of the text. But even though I do not believe it to be part of the actual text, I will still comment on this portion of scripture.
Many interpret this to mean that those Christians who somehow live a complete holy life with no sin will be those who are not condemned before God. But this teaching does great damage to the doctrine of justification by faith alone. We are not justified by our works, but are justified by faith in Christ. I am not saying that faith has no good works, but we that are born again and regenerated by the power of the Spirit are not trying to be justified, but are already justified. Also Paul has already explained in Romans seven that believers in Christ will struggle with sin as long as they are in this body. So to be in the flesh is to be unregenerate. Again in Romans eight here, Paul will declare that those that are in the flesh cannot please God.
What is Paul talking about then when he contrasts walking in the flesh with walking in the Spirit? I believe as many other commentators believe that Paul is contrasting the works of the law with being justified by the Spirit. In other words there is therefore now no condemnation in those who are not seeking to make them selves righteous by law works, but who are seeking their righteousness by grace through faith in Christ. In Romans 4:1-2 Paul asks this: “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.” See here how walking in the flesh doesn’t necessarily mean that someone wasn’t trying to live a holy life, but instead depicts someone who is trying to be righteous by the works of the law. Another example is Galatians 3:3 “Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” Paul is rebuking the Galatians for going back to law works and this is described as trying to work out a righteousness in them selves which is described by the word flesh. Robert Haldane states: “In this passage the word flesh cannot be taken for wicked works, any more than in the fourth chapter of the Romans, just quoted. It must be understood in the sense of working for life, or self-justification, in opposition to the way of salvation according to the Gospel. The Apostle’s main object, in the whole of that Epistle, is to reclaim the Galatian churches from the error of mixing ceremonial observances, or any works of law, with the faith of Christ, and thus walking according to the flesh, and not according to the Spirit. ‘Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from (the doctrine of) grace.” 
Again Philippians 3:3 Paul states: “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” This example and many others can be used to show that the word flesh doesn’t always mean wicked works. Also since Paul has been arguing through this entire epistle that we are not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Christ, then I believe when he concludes his arguments from the first seven chapters, here in verse one of chapter eight, he is not speaking of someone who is living an ungodly life when he uses the word flesh, but is depicting someone who is trying to become righteous through their own works. Therefore Paul is saying, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who is not trying to make them selves righteous through the flesh, but who has been regenerated by the Spirit.
This interpretation is in contrast to what many say today. They will read Romans eight here and teach that those that are not under condemnation are those who are not committing sin by not walking in the flesh, but again I say that this doctrine destroys the whole doctrine of justification by faith because it teaches that in order to be righteous you must do something besides being in Christ.
Let me add a little note here: Many when interpreting scripture interpret scripture with the same definition of a word that is given in the English Bible. In other words when they see the word “world,” they will define it the same way every time. The word “world” carries seven different definitions through out scripture. John 1:10 alone has the word “world” three times and all three times it has a different definition. In Romans Paul has used the word “law” in six different ways or with six different definitions. So it is here with the word “flesh.” The word “flesh” is almost always in the negative, but the scriptures use it in the positive to. In Ezekiel11:19and 36:26 the word flesh is used as a synonym for being regenerated or born again. Ezekiel says: “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh:”
So you see that the word “flesh” does not always mean to walk in wicked works. But Paul uses it many times in his epistles to speak of someone who isn’t righteous through imputation, but instead those who are trying to make them selves righteous through their own works in the flesh. Paul contrasts the regenerate with the unregenerate. Those who walk in the spirit are regenerated. Those who walk in the flesh are the unregenerate.
This comes from a “Commentary on Romans” by Hershel Lee Harvell Jr.
20) This comes from Robert Haldane’s Introduction on Romans Chapter 8 found in the Master Christian Library Version 8 put out by Ages Software Copyrighted 2000-2003.
21) This comes from Robert Haldane’s comment on Romans Chapter 8 verse 4 found in the Master Christian Library Version 8 put out by Ages Software Copyrighted 2000-2003.
Works? Works? A man get to heaven by works? I would as soon think of climbing to the moon on a rope of sand!
George Whitefield (1714-1770)