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I have the impression that for many, Christianity can be described this way: Balance, it is all about balance; a little bit of grace to make you feel loved, a little bit of condemnation to make you behave. Nothing could be further from the truth. Christianity is not about a little bit of grace and a little bit of condemnation. There is no condemnation, no condemnation in Christianity. It is all about grace. No wonder we are not so excited about God. No wonder we don't enjoy God. No wonder we are not growing our churches. No wonder we are corporately disobedient to what God told us to do in terms of the great commission. No wonder. What we need is not merely updated methods, though we may could stand some improvement there. What we desperately need is to fall in love with a God in whom there is not condemnation.
There are not many chapters in the Bible that I have attempted to memorize in their entirety. This one I did. I never really completed it, and please don't ask me to quote it now. I only point this out to say that this is a really good chapter. It may be years before you teach this chapter again, teach it for all you have got. Teach it to glory of God.
1. Sadly, sometimes church does. I have heard people say they don't want to come to church because they feel worse when they leave than they did when they came.
2. There is a balance between grace and truth. Grace says, "If you sin, you are not condemned." Truth is, if you sin, there may be consequences that will hurt you. That is why God doesn't want you to sin.
3. Teaching people to have a quiet time is one of the most important things we do. This is a good example of what we are to do each day: read a chapter and pick out one "idea of the day." Encourage the group to do so.
4. There is a time when good teaching asks good questions, and there is a time when you "preach a little." People need the voice of a prophet who says, "There is therefore now, NO condemnation for those who are in Christ. Condemnation has no place in the Christian life. If you feel condemnation, and you are in Christ, it is not of Christ, is of the evil one. It is born of the accuser of men. Rebuke him. Accept the full, free acceptance that is ours in Christ. . ."
5. One reason is that teachers have not articulated the truth in a way that made it stick. I pray you will do so this morning.
6. To a limited degree, at best. Certainly, they never help us to be good enough.
7. We like to think we can. But we must allow that belief to be crucified. Only when we come to Christ and really believe and feel that we cannot live the Christian life without Him will he fill us and empower us.
8. For many, Christianity is about trying hard to do good. The Bible teaches this will never work. Never.
9. I prefer to use the AV word for sarx (flesh vss "sinful nature"). The NIV translates this as "sinful nature." "Nature" gets too close to the heart of our being, the essence of who we are. As Christians, we have only one nature. Take a look at Romans 6:6, 7: Romans 6:6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-- Because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. The old self was crucified with Christ. Not badly wounded, but crucified. This is why we are free to live the good life. But, self image determines behavior. If we think we are essentially sinners, we will never behave as the Saints that God has called us to be. "Sinful nature" as a translation for "flesh" confuses this point and is not as good a translation as "flesh."
10. Those who live by the Spirit set their minds on the things above.
11. In Las Cruces, New Mexico, where I live, English speaking Spanish parents call their kids "Meho." (I may have this spelled wrong.) Apparently, there is no good English equivalent, which means roughly, "my beloved child." No matter how assimilated into the Anglo culture people are, they still refer to their kids as "Meho." This was something of the situation with Paul and "Abba." It was the mother tongue for "Daddy." Although Paul was writing in Greek and clearly fluent in Greek, he had no Greek equivalent for "Abba." He had to use the mother tongue, just as parents around here say, "Meho." I challenge you to pray (alone) sometime and refer to the Heavenly Father as "Daddy." It will do something to your prayers. The Father will smile and say, "Yes, Meho."