~~Alexander Hamilton to John Laurens, August 15, 1782
For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find them a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
I thank God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did, by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Romans 7:19 - 8:4
It seems that the prevailing message in our culture today is that all religions are the same, worship the same god, present the same basic message, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. I am surprised to hear, every now and then, that this view is tolerated, to some degree, by those with prominent standing in the 'evangelical Christian' community. How many times have you heard of distinguished evangelists and mega-church leaders ashamed to say that without Christ, an individual cannot be saved, no matter nobly sincere they may be in their religion? Examples of postmodernism becoming prevalent in the Western churches are frequently being pushed in our faces by the secular media, especially the news outlets, who wish to convince the world that Christianity has nothing significant to offer, since it is just like all other religions.
But I do not wish to simply combat more false views in the post. (It seems that the majority of what I write is an effort to convince the majority that the majority of what they believe is false. Not that combating error is a bad thing; but, there are other equally worthy, if not better, reasons for writing.) Here, I wish to bring out what makes the Gospel of Christ different from the religion of the world. I wish to remind myself and other Christians why we believe, because such reminders help us to be continually grateful to God, and to guard ourselves against the deceitfulness of sin, which is the foundation of the world's belief system.
The above passage from Romans summarizes the whole essence of the Gospel. Man, upon observing the moral perfection of the law of God, agrees that it is good and right. Man's conscience, whether the individual ultimately cooperates with it or not, affirms what his intellect discerns as true and good. And yet in spite of all his good intentions to follow those standards, he finds that his natural desires hold a greater sway over his sense of duty.
The various religions and belief systems of the world are the responses that mankind has had to this obvious dilemma. Some religions set up a system of good works, religious rites, denial and/or abuse of the body, sacrifices to false deities, and so on. And then there is the secularist attempt to deal with the problem, by denying that it even exists; it disposes of the possibility of God's existence, and of a discoverable and universally absolute moral standard.
But the Gospel of Christ fixes the problem. It doesn't cover a dirty wall with a new coat of paint; it cleans the wall, repairs it, and then paints it. Christ's blood doesn't just cover our sins; His blood forgives us and cleanses us. He gives us new desires; He gives us a heart after His heart. We are then to walk according to the new spirit that He gives us through conversion. When we are converted, our spirit is changed; our flesh remains the same. But because our spirit is changed, we do the righteous works of God. The hope that we have, according to the Scripture, our body will be transformed also, when we are reunited with the Lord.
Herein lies the power of the Gospel. And if the Gospel were nothing, it would not change so many people. And if the Gospel were nothing, those who oppose it would not be so afraid or concerned about it.
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A recent and prominent theme in sermons at my church has been the importance of giving thanks to God, and remembering to always have an attitude of gratitude for His promises, blessings, and oversight, in good times, in bad times, and in difficult situations.
I recently maintained on my FFQF post that America is indebted to God and God alone for her existence, and her success. When our politicians eloquently praise the virtues of the people, and laud man's accomplishments in creating our country, and then perhaps give a little credit on the sidelines to God (and they insure that their identification of the Deity is amorphous and undefined -- can't offend anybody, you know), they are reflecting their own ingratitude, as well as the ingratitude of our nation in general. If you challenge that statement, all you have to do is look at the way the nation responds to God's standards, both moral and spiritual.
But I think that even we Christians can fall into ungratefulness; things don't go the way they should, or they way we want them to. We become wrapped up, so to speak, in our little problems, and we forget all about the One who is to be the center of our attention. And furthermore, we miss out on what God has in store for us, if we just humply called upon Him, and waited for His answer, and His provision.
As we are finding out in our investigation of the Scriptures, God intentionally places a great emphasis upon calling upon His name in the time of our troubles, for thanking Him in advance, and for thanking Him after we have seen the answer, taking no credit to ourselves. Here are some passages of Scripture that bring this truth out:
First of all, it tells us that it is because of the choice of men to be ungrateful to God that they have fallen away, and that God has given those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, when they should know better, up to unrighteousness:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who supress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, beause, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man ..."
Next we see the importance of giving God thanks, from the beginning to the end of the day.
It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
And Your faithfulness every night ...
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 5:1-4, 18-19
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. ...
And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one anoter in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
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