Romans 6:23

Verse of the Day Devotion: Romans 6:23

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

Paul wrote this in order to finalize a section where he was writing about the difference of being slaves to sin and slaves of righteousness.  Before we are saved, we are slaves to sin.  This word translated slave is the Greek word doulos, meaning slave or bondservant.  We obey our sinful desires which is counter to obeying God.

When we accept Christ as savior, accepting the work Christ did on the cross, then our old man who was a bondservant to sin dies, which then releases us from our bondage to sin, and because of the resurrection we are a new creation, being a new man who has no ties to sin, and we now are slaves to righteousness.

Now, there are two ultimate endings based on our decision.  Let’s look first at our former life.  We read in a couple verses up, “Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.” Romans 6:21.  This is simple, if we remain in in our former life, not accepting Christ as our Savior, the “final result” is death.  There can be no other.  For we have nothing we can do to be declared righteous before God.  Only the work of Christ provides it.

Now, let’s look at our new life in Christ.  Paul said in the next verse, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.” Romans 6:22.  The “final result” of accepting Christ is first, a new life focused on holiness since the old is gone.  However, even better, this life will be eternal, everlasting, never ending.  I would say this is infinitely better then if we remained separated from Him.

Now, to the focus verse.  Look at what is said.  “Wages of Sin” and “Gift of God”.  Wages are defined as something we earn by the works we do.  Therefore, if we do not accept Christ, the old man will get what he earned, what he deserves.  That being death.  However, if we do accept Christ, we earn / deserve nothing.  However, we get a “free gift” from God.  And that is eternal life in Him.

So, we either get what we earn, which is death, or what we do not earn, which is eternal life.  I’ll take what I did not earn.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

1 John 2:1

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 John 2:1

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;” – 1 John 2:1

In the first chapter, John lays out how we are to view sin in our lives.  “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” 1 John 1:5-10.  In summary, John is saying if we say we are fellowshipping with Jesus and yet continue in sin, we are lying and there is not truth in what we say.  But if we live and walk in holiness and purity and thereby shine the light of Christ into the darkness, then we shall have fellowship with Him and each other.  Notice the two things John says about the declaration of no sin.  1)  we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us, and 2) we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

John states in our focus verse that he wrote those things that we would not sin.  The idea here is to strive for a life of holiness.  To make the purpose of our life to live in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord.  Unfortunately, we are all tempted to sin, and there are times when we succumb to the temptation.  However, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus, who lived the life of perfection we could not and through His death, burial and resurrection we were justified, declared righteous, for the penalty was paid for us on the cross of Christ.  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9.

This to me is a very encouraging verse.  We are called to live a holy life, and we can only do this through the power and agency of the Holy Spirit.  Unfortunately, we get distracted from this calling and we fall into the trap of doing what we want as opposed to what God wants.  This, to me, is the definition of sin; following our desires rather than his.  The encouraging thing is that we have that advocate with the Father.  The definition of advocate in the Merriam-Webster dictionary Is one who pleads the case or cause of another before a judicial court.  Jesus pleads our case before the Father for mercy and forgiveness, which is granted, again, because of the work of Christ on the cross.  He does not just forgive, but He also cleanses us from all unrighteousness.   How great is the father’s love for us!

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

James 4:17

Verse of the Day Devotion: James 4:17

“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” – James 4:17

In my study of this verse, there are a couple valid ways to look at it, therefore I will present both.

First, that we make decisions about our lives, what we will do, where we will go, based on our own feelings and desires and not based on what God desires of us.  We make these big plans for our lives, visiting certain people, traveling to desired destinations, making this amount of money.  However, is this what God has called us to?  We decide on these things without looking at what God wants.  The idea here is that if we know what God wants of us and we do not pursue it because it is not what we want, then we who know nothing of the future seizes control from the one who does. This is seen from the previous verses. “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit. Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that. But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.” James 4:13-16. We know our calling, but we ignore it, or put it off, until we ourselves are ready.  We must spend serious time with God in prayer to be sure of what we are to do.  If we do not, and we follow our own desires rather than His, then we may find ourselves in sin.

Second, if we see a need or something we know is the right thing to do, and we refuse to do it.  Cotton Mather, a New England Puritan minister in the late 1600s to early 1700s, adopted this idea as a principle of action, saying ‘that the ability to do good in any case imposes an obligation to do it.’  The idea for him was “if he understands what his duty is; if he has the means of doing good to others, then he can promote a good cause; for example relieve the distressed, the poor, the prisoner, the oppressed; send the gospel to other lands, wipe away the tears from those who mourn or grieve, speak out in favor of those qualities that are positive and Godly, then he is under obligation to do it.”  If we choose not to get involved and we just ignore the good we can do, then we may find ourselves in sin.

As I said above, I believe both of these ideas are valid ways of looking at our focus verse.  Both allude to the idea of knowing the right thing to do but refusing to do it for selfish reasons.  If we have the means to help someone, then we should do it.  Remember the words of Jesus, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”  Matthew 7:12.  If we are in need and a brother or sister ignores us even when they know our situation, how would we feel?

In closing, too often we see sin as something we do, such as stealing, lying or murdering, however we forget that sin is also something we refuse to do, such as helping the poor or ignoring the oppressed.  Both types are wrong and ultimately sin.  Let’s remember that God has called us to love everyone, and love is more than a feeling, it is actions as well.  I encourage us all, myself included, to ensure that our plans are based on God’s will and not our own, and that if we see a need, we do all we can to meet that need.  God will see this and reward us.  “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, And He will repay him for his good deed.” Proverbs 19:17.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Hebrews 3:13

Verse of the Day Devotion: Hebrews 3:13

“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” – Hebrews 3:13

One of the things we should focus on is to exhort and encourage our brothers and sisters.  And, as the writer of Hebrews states, we should do it on a daily basis.  And we should do it as long as we are living here on the earth.  Being a Christian can, at times, be difficult.  It is our responsibility to help us all remain true to the faith and faithful to God.

There are many ways we can exhort the brethren.  Temptation can be difficult to endure, especially if we are already in a difficult place. It is important that we take the time to encourage people who are struggling.  If we are struggling, we would want someone to help us with kind and loving words.  In regard to temptation, help each other, through prayer and encouragement that this temptation can be resisted and beaten through the Spirit who lives in us. Take the time to check on each other, especially those who would be considered the weak in the faith.

Be willing to encourage people in any way necessary. As described above, we sometimes need to be encouraged not to do what is wrong.  However, there are times we need to be encouraged to do what is right; what is a good thing.  I have known people who do not believe they are competent or ready to go out evangelize to the lost.  Anyone who is saved, in my opinion, is ready.  What they need is some ideas on how to do it effectively.  The best way to exhort someone in this way is to stand with them till they become comfortable.

There are times when we need to be encouraged that God loves us.  This can happen when some circumstances occur that cause us to not love ourselves, which we then turn to ‘God does not love me’.  I have been there myself.  But a good man spent time with me, and he showed me that God will never reject us. Peter put it this way. “Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7.  No matter what we do, God will always care for us.  His love is everlasting.  We can always go to Him, and He will be there. There are more reasons we sometimes need encouragement than we can ever know.  One way we can show the love of God with our brethren is to encourage them and exhort those who need it.  It may help them keep from giving up and walking away.  So, if you see someone who needs encouragement, or who need help fulfilling a calling, take the time to lift them up, in prayer, and in helping accomplish the good God has called them to do.  This will help us all to grow in the love of God and honor Him in all we do.  It will also keep us all from being hardened and defeated by the deceitfulness of sin.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Psalm 119:11

Verse of the Day Devotion: Psalm 119:11

“Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” – Psalm 119:11

Anyone who is a true Christian will desire not to sin, but to walk in the law of the Lord.  Jesus said it this way, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15. Unfortunately, continually following His law is an extremely difficult thing to do.  We often fall to the temptations that the enemy attacks us with.  And when we do sin, we have an advocate before the Father.  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9

However, our focus verse defines how we can have victory over the sin and the temptations that cause us to fall.  It is by treasuring God’s word in our inner being and following what it says.   Let’s look at verse 9.  “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.” Psalm 119:9. The intent of his verse in that in order to not sin against God, we must follow His teachings found in His word.  I would say this is rather obvious.  However, there is a very important phrase found in verse 11.  “Your word I have treasured in my heart,” Psalm 119:11a.  And the key word here is Treasured.

Often, we read God’s word as we read any other book.  For instance, we read a chapter, then put it down and move on to other things.  Or, after reading a chapter, we lay the book down and ponder it’s meaning for a short time.  Sometimes we even take a few notes.  However, what we must do is not only read, ponder and take a few notes, we must treasure what we read, make it something that changes who we are.  Reading His word should never be just reading it, or adding to our intellectual knowledge, but it should be stored away in our innermost being as a treasured piece of jewelry is stored in a safe.  It should become a part of who we are, and then let it guide us in all things we do.

In Psalm 37, we read a few verses that describe a righteous man.  “The righteous will inherit the land And dwell in it forever. The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip.” Psalm 37:29-31.  The righteous speaks wisdom and of justice.  And how can the righteous do this?  Because God’s word is in his heart, as a treasure as stated in Psalm 119.

We read and hear many things in the course of our lives.  I have read many books in my time, I have listened to various speakers and have watched many movies, shows and lectures.  Some books I do not even remember reading, there are movies I have totally forgotten about, and some lectures I do not even remember the key points.  However, there are many of the above I remember very well, and some I can recall very explicitly.  Why the difference?  Because those things we ‘treasure’ are the things we remember; the things we believe and the things we follow.

Is God’s word the most important thing we read?  Do we treasure the words and make them a part of who we are?  If we truly do, then we shall grow in our walk with Him, and we shall grow closer to God moment by moment.  If we do not, then it is important to figure out why and make the changes that will cause us to treasure His word in our hearts.  He is the Almighty God.  His ways must be more important than ours.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Mark 3:29

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Mark 3:29

“But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” Mark 3:29 

Now, at this time in His ministry, Jesus was followed by a great crowd. “And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the multitude, in order that they might not crowd Him; for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed about Him in order to touch Him.” Mark 3:9. He had healed so many that He became known throughout the land because of this.  And He called for a boat that He could be on it and able to speak to the crowd without being interrupted.

Now it happened that the scribes of the Pharisees came down to where He was. It appears that Jesus’ ministry had made an impact on the leadership in Jerusalem, and they came in order to confront Christ. They do not deny Jesus has the power to perform miracles, but how. “And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, He is possessed by Beelzebul, and He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” Mark 3:22. They were accusing Jesus of being possessed by Satan himself. They believed that because of His power, it could not simply be a demon. They do not accuse him of faking it. They indeed recognize his power to perform miracles, but they deny His power was from God and instead claim it was from Beelzebul.

Then Jesus calls them to Himself and spoke directly to them. “How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished!” Mark 3:23b-26. Jesus said this to show that if He did these things through Satan, then surely Satan’s kingdom was in a civil war and would not stand. Jesus said this to show that Satan would not work against himself; this would be like a house divided against itself. This would cause nothing but contention and discord. If citizens should fall out with their leaders, or with one with another; or if the heads of families quarrel with and divide from one another, the whole would be destroyed. And the same would be said of the kingdom of Satan. Then He points directly at the Scribes. “And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? consequently they shall be your judges.” Mark 3:26.

Then He adds the following. “But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.” Mark 3:27. Jesus here calls Satan the strong man and Himself as the One who enters the house and plunders it. Of course, before Satan allows his domain to be plundered, he must be incapacitated. Jesus was not in league with Satan, as the scribes suggested, but had come to the earth, to what is essentially Satan’s house, in order to bind Satan and plunder his goods, which are the souls of men. Note this verse regarding this being Satan’s realm. “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19.

Then we end with this. “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin, because they were saying, He has an unclean spirit.” Mark 3:28-30. This is a difficult idea. But what is important is that the Scribes and Pharisees knew of the coming of the Messiah. And they also knew of what the scriptures spoke of Him. But they refused to accept the truth, and in so refusing to see Jesus as the Messiah, the refused to believe He was doing all this through the Holy Spirit. We read in Isaiah the following. “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.” Isaiah 11:1-2. I believe they knew what this spoke of and should have seen who He really was. But they refused to believe and thus accused Him of being of the Devil. They saw His works, His healings, and heard His teachings. They knew if they spoke of Him as the Messiah they would lose their authority, and so they refused to accept it. They took it a step to far in claiming He was filled with Satan. And because of this, they hardened their hearts and thus lost their opportunity for repentance.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, for their

Hebrews 12:1

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Hebrews 12:1 

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” – Hebrews 12:1 

Because of the word ‘therefore’ that begins this paragraph, this is referring back to a previous chapter, namely chapter 11. To start, both the Greeks and Latins used the term ‘cloud’ to speak of a great number of persons or things. Therefore, what is referred to here is a great number of people who have witnessed something. This does not necessarily mean they are witnessing something that is happening now. Here, this probably refers to what they have seen back in their time. And what did thy witness? True unadulterated faith in the one who was coming: the Messiah. And this was faith in something they never saw. “And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:39-40. They may not have seen the coming Messiah, but they believed the promises of God delivered to them. One definition of witness is ‘knowledge’ from what you already experienced.

So, what did they witness? Here are a few of what is meant. With Moses we see, “By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin;  considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the first-born might not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.” Hebrews 11:24-29.

Then with others, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mocking and scourging’s, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.” Hebrews 11:30-38. And as stated above, they did not receive what was promised, for what was promised was still in the future. In faith, they persevered because they had witnessed the power of God, if not the culmination of their faith.

In a courtroom, a witness may not necessarily be one who saw a particular action, but has seen an equivalent action before, and knows the inevitable outcome. This is what is meant here by witnesses. These men lived by faith in God, not wavering, and ultimately witnessing the faithfulness of God. And this is what we are to do. Knowing that God is faithful in whatever He says, we can be sure we have an incredible future ahead of us, if we remain strong. Many Christians are looked down upon, and many times hated because the life we live is counter to the life they live. And in some countries, the penalty for their belief is torture and death. And there is no evidence to say this will not happen here as well. Therefore, as the writer of Hebrews wrote regarding what we are to do, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1b-2. And if we do all we can to accomplish this, we will join our Savior in heaven and spend eternity in our glorious new Home with Him.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Matthew 18:21

Verse of the Day Devotion Matthew 18:21 

“Then Peter came and said to Him,  Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” – Matthew 18:21

Jesus had just finished a teaching on what must be done if our brother sins against us.  He starts out with telling His disciples what to do if this happens. “And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer.” Matthew 18:15-17. It is important that if a brother sins against us, we are to go to him alone and reprove him, letting him know what he has done. And if he does not listen to you, bring two or three believers with you, ones this man listens to with the hope he will then listen to you. However, if he does not, then bring it to the church so they can speak with him.  When it gets this far, and he does not listen, then he is to be treated like a non-believer and tax collector.  Both these expressions stand for people outside the people of God, people who have sinned and not repented, and that is the position of the sinning brother. He has made his choice, and the brother sinned against must respect his decision. It is usually said that the passage speaks of excommunication from the church, but that is not what the text says; to you is very personal. Whatever be the case vis-à-vis the church, to the brother against whom he has sinned he is as an outsider.  

Now, after this teaching Peter asks Jesus a question as seen in our focus verse. “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Matthew 18:21b.  Peter, wishing to appear especially forgiving and benevolent, asked Jesus if forgiveness was to be offered seven times.  The Jewish rabbis at the time taught that forgiving someone more than three times was unnecessary. This idea is found in the book of Amos, “Thus says the LORD, For three transgressions of Damascus and for four I will not revoke its punishment, Because they threshed Gilead with implements of sharp iron.” Amos 1:3. Now this verse was pointing at Damascus, but we see the same basic verse pointing to other nations: verse 6 for Gaza, verse 9 regarding Tyre and verse 13 regarding Ammon.  The idea was that after three times they would not be forgiven. This then became a maxim among the Jews never to forgive more then three times.  However, Jesus responds in a surprising, and I am sure a shocking way to Peter’s question. “Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:22.  Jesus replaces seven times with seventy times seven, or 490 times. 

Now, this is not an arithmetic issue that after 490 offense, forgiveness was not necessary. It is a way of saying that for Jesus’ followers forgiveness is to be unlimited. For them forgiveness is a way of life. Bearing in mind what they have been forgiven, they cannot withhold forgiveness from any who sin against them. “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:14-15. By saying we are to forgive those who sin against us seventy times seven, Jesus was not limiting forgiveness to 490 times, a number that is, for all practical purposes, beyond counting. Christians with forgiving hearts not only do not limit the number of times they forgive; they continue to forgive with as much grace the thousandth time as they do the first time. Christians alone are capable of this type of forgiving spirit because the Spirit of God lives within us, and it is He who provides the ability to offer forgiveness over and over, just as God forgives us over and over.

This is such an important thought. No matter what anyone does to us, and as many times as they do it, it in incumbent upon us to forgive each and every time. “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17-29. This is the love God has for us, and He expects us to exhibit this love to our fellow man. “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” Mark 11:25-26.

And lastly, this love should be for everyone, including our enemies. “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Romans 8:2

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Romans 8:2  

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” – Romans 8:2  

Paul here is writing this letter to the Church in Rome.  Now, this verse is a clarification of what he wrote in the previous verse.  ‘For’ or ‘because’ begins this verse. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1. When we accepted the work Christ did for us on the cross and became a Christian, there is no condemnation that we must suffer, for the payment has been paid. There is no reason for us to do anything, for we are pardoned. 

Now in our focus verse he gives the reason for this. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Romans 8:2. We see a similar verse in 2 Corinthians where Paul says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:17. Again, in this verse, there are two laws that Paul is contrasting. The first is the Law of Sin and Death. This is  essentially the written law of Moses. It was intended to be kept perfectly by the Jewish people, and if it was not, then there was required a sacrifice to God to deal with this sin. What the law does for us is help us to understand what sin is. “What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET. But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died, and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me.” Romans 7:7-10. If we rely on the law to please God, we will fail for if we violate this law even in one issue,  then we die.  Notice verse ten here. “and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me.” Romans 7:10.

However, the first law mentioned above, which is the law of the Spirit of Life takes the requirement of keeping the law to a different level. “because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. “Romans 5:5-6. And then, “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” Romans 5:9.  Regarding the Jewish Law (Law of Moses), perfection was required. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” James 2:10. If we stumble in one point, and are not a true Christian, then we are required to pay the penalty. And since we cannot address our sins because it requires perfection to do so, there is no way to address it.  And this is where the first law comes in.  If we become Christians, and accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, then He, being perfect, can address our sin. For in doing this, the requirement of us addressing our sin is removed for He, Christ, addressed them for us.

One more thing we need to see here. There are many people who believe that if they do what is good and follow God’s way, they are saved.  This is in essence, salvation by works, which is what the Jews believed in following the Law of Moses. But salvation cannot come by this means. The Old Testament law can be a good guidepost for knowing how to love God and knowing what goes into loving your neighbor. At the same time, to say that the Old Testament law applies to Christians today is incorrect. The Old Testament law is good for knowing how to love God and knowing what goes into loving your neighbor. At the same time, to say that the Old Testament law applies to Christians today is incorrect. The Old Testament law is a unit. Either all of it applies, or none of it applies. And we must be careful that we do not fall into this trap. The Old Testament law was never intended by God to be the universal law for all people for all of time. We are to love God and love our neighbors. If we truly obey those two commands faithfully, we will be upholding all that God requires of us.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

Romans 7:7

Verse of the Day Devotion:  Romans 7:7  

“What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” – Romans 7:7

Over the last ten daily devotions we looked at each of the ten commandments, one per day, listed in Exodus 20:2-17.  Should we follow what they say?  There is a belief system out there that says no, it is not necessary.  However, it is critical that we do, but not for the reason many people think.

There is a deception called “antinomianism” that says it is ok for us not to follow the law found in the scriptures.  The word antinomianism comes from two Greek words, anti, meaning “against”; and nomos, meaning “law.” Antinomianism means “against the law.” Theologically, antinomianism is the belief that there are no moral laws God expects Christians to obey. Antinomianism takes a biblical teaching to an unbiblical conclusion. The biblical teaching is that Christians are not required to observe the Old Testament Law as a means of salvation. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, He fulfilled the Old Testament Law.  The unbiblical conclusion is that there is no moral law God expects Christians to obey.

The apostle Paul dealt with this belief in his letter to the Romans.  “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” Romans 6:1-2.  When we became a Christian, we died to sin.  Paul, in a rhetorical fashion basically is saying, “If sin has been the occasion of grace and favor, ought we not to continue in it, and commit as much as possible, in order that grace might abound? This objection the apostle proceeds to answer. He shows that the consequence does not follow; and proves that the doctrine of justification does not lead to continuing in sin.  So if we died to sin due to His grace and love, why would we want to continue and nullify His work in us.  “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.” Romans 6:9. 

And also, we show our love for God through following His commandments.  “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3.  It is not that following the law saves us, it is that we demonstrate our love for Him by obeying His laws.  We are not under the Old Testament Law; we are under the law of Christ. The law of Christ is not an extensive list of legal codes. It is a law of love. If we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, we will do nothing to displease Him. If we love our neighbors as ourselves, we will do nothing to harm them. Obeying the law of Christ is not a requirement to earn or maintain salvation. The law of Christ is what God expects of a Christian.

Antinomianism is not what the bible teaches, in fact it is contrary to all that is taught in the scriptures. God desires and expects us to live a life of morality, integrity, and love. Christ freed us from the burdensome commands of the Old Testament Law, but this does not give us a license to sin. Instead, it is a covenant of grace. Our goal is to overcome sin and cultivate righteousness as our lifestyle.  And the only way we can do this is through the Holy Spirit. The fact that we are graciously freed from the demands of the Old Testament Law should result in living our lives in obedience to the law of Christ.  “By this we know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” 1 John 2:3-6.

Therefore, I encourage everyone to obey His commands in all ways, for this shows you are a true follower of God.  If we take the path of antinomianism, then we show we do not truly love Him as we profess.  And this is the reason we obey His commands, not to be saved, but in essence to show that we are truly saved.  He has freed us from our slavery to sin.  Let us prove it by the Godly life we live.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.