In Mt. 4:16-17 Jesus said, “Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand”. The Kingdom of God is near at hand, at the very door of our house.
Is. 46:12-13 Jesus may have been referring to Isaiah’s prophecy “Listen to me, you stubborn-hearted who are far from righteousness. I bring My righteousness near. It shall not be far off; My salvation shall not linger and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel My glory.”
Jesus was the fulfilment of God’s promise to bring His salvation, His righteousness, near. We have all partaken of that salvation who have humbled ourselves and repented of our own ways and surrendered to the only One who could make us righteous. Jesus has set us free from the death and destruction that await all who are trapped in the Kingdom of Darkness.
Now we are saved! But we still sin! And though acceptance of the Son of God has placed the Kingdom of God within us, it does not make us immune from being tempted. It does not make us undeceivable or free from being tricked by the Devil. The Enemy still tempts us, every day, even after we are saved. He wants to confuse us and make us doubt our salvation and our acceptance into God’s Kingdom by making our walk with God all about what to do about our sin.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of good news, grace and continued submission to the truth of that gospel. It means we will continue to repent and stop believing the lies we have been taught to believe from birth. As believers we confess our sins and keep on walking in the freedom of the truth Jesus has given us as we press on in following Him. Satan has tried to stop the believers from living in the power of the Holy Spirit and His miracles by deliberately confusing them about what to do with their sin.
I Jn. 1: 8-10 is written to believers. John says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just 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”. From this we know that believers will still get tempted to sin even after they are saved. We still get tempted, believe lies, and sin.
Jn. 8:31-32. Jesus said, “If you abide in My words, you are My disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”
To repent of our sin means to change our mind, to stop believing the lies that lead us into sinning. We must recognize the lies before we can repent of the lies and stop sinning. How many of you hate the things you do (sin) but still do them anyway? (Paul, Rom. 7:15-8:2)
Sin makes us feel bad, guilty, condemned. Guilt and condemnation open the door to judgment, penalty, pain, poverty, sickness, death and destruction, all things Jesus died to set us free from.
I begin to believe that I am what I do. I do bad things, therefore I am bad. I feel bad because I do bad things, therefore I am bad. Is that the truth? Did God not create us in His image? (Gen. 1:26-27) Was Saint Paul bad or was there another explanation for what he saw himself doing? Did he not also say, “if then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me”? (Rom. 7:16)
God warned Cain that sin was crouching at his door, wanting to get in (Gen. 4:7). In Romans Paul says that the good he wanted to do he did not do and the thing he hated, he performed. He said that it was the sin dwelt in him. Sin was no longer crouching at his door, sin had gotten in.
Rom. 7:18 Paul finds something dwelling in his flesh that is not good because he sees that even though he “wills” or “wants to do good”, he is not able to perform it. Something is hindering his will from doing what is right and true and holy.
Rom. 7:19 Then he says it again, “The good thing that I will to do, I do not do, but the evil I will not (do not want to do) that I practice. Jesus said repent, change your mind, so you can stop sinning and be able to confess your sin and receive God’s forgiveness and freedom from condemnation.
Here we see Paul struggling with doing something he hates and cannot seem to quit doing.
In Rom. 7:20 he goes on to say something very bold and hard to hear, (even speaking against all the traditional religious teaching of his day ) in addressing the first question that comes to our minds when we sin, “whose fault is it?” He boldly proclaims, “Now, if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me”. If it is not my fault because I did not want to do it, then what is my responsibility in dealing with this sin?
Rom. 7:21–“I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good.” Was Paul not already saved when he wrote this? Is what he is writing to us here not written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? So then is not the Holy Spirit the author of these words? The Bible says we must submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee, (James 4:7) So we must seek to understand the deeper indwelling of sin in our souls that is actually causing us to do things we do not want to do, things we even hate!
If the indwelling of sin is part of what controls our souls, it will take more than a cloth or water, or washing with soap to cleanse us from its roots and its affects. It will take more than will power and self-discipline to defeat it. It will take deliverance!
Rom. 7:22–“For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man;”. Paul recognizes that he recognizes that his inward man Is resonating with and responding to and delighting in agreeing with another law, the law of God, truth, freedom, peace, goodness, and holiness that originates with God and was imparted to each of us when God created us in His image.
Then in Rom. 7:23 he notices the war within his members. Is your mind one of your members? Is your will one of your members? Is your heart one of your members? These three are all members and together they make up the main function and structure of our soul. When our soul and our body are connected we are called flesh, living flesh. When they are disconnected, the body becomes a corpse and the soul flies away and we are dead.
So Paul, the saint and servant of God, sees that the struggle for holiness and restoration of fellowship with God through Jesus and His Cross has turned into a war.
The captivity to the law of sin which was in my members has been manifesting continually in me and has been warring against me to keep me in captivity to the law of sin and death that Jesus set me free from when He died for me and I died with Him through repentance and confession.
Rom. 6:11–“Likewise you also, reckon (consider) yourselves to be dead indeed to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Rom. 6:12, Amp. Bible–“Therefore do not let sin rule as king in your mortal, short lived, perishable bodies to make you obey it in its lusts, evil passions and cravings. Paul warned them not to give in to the internal pressure to become afraid or take matters into their own hands in this battle being fought in their souls. He encouraged them to watch over their faith and stay strong in standing for the truth of what they had come to believe. This is the first front in the war where true spiritual warfare is fought.
Jesus said repent, change your mind. Know the truth of what He did for us on Calvary. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed! (Jn. 8:36). We are free if we walk in the truth of what He did and know the truth about who we really are. We are created and redeemed by Him to walk in power, goodness, and victory over sin and the control of the Evil One. We were created and brought forth by Him to do His will, to preach the gospel, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out demons. (Mt 10)
But though we desperately desire this freedom why is it we do not seem to find the way to lay hold of it and walk in victory?
In Rom. 7:24 Paul was saying “O wretched, miserable, trapped, oppressed, tormented man that I am…” All these feelings of confusion and war and guilt and condemnation we so often attribute to our sin cause us to conclude that we are bad because we are doing bad things. This goes directly against what we are told in Gen. 1:26-27 and Rom. 6:6. We are made in the image of God to love what God loves and to do what Jesus did.
Through His death on the Cross, Jesus set us free from the demands death made on us. He died in our place and “paid in full” the wages of sin, the price of our ransom. Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord is no longer enslaved to sin and Satan. We are no longer citizens or property or hostages of the kingdom of Darkness. Jesus finished the work that was necessary to fulfill the law and set us free to live, not in the letter of the law of sin and death, but in the fullness of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
Rom. 7:24 Paul does not say, “O wretched man that I am! How or what more must I do to be saved or improve my behavior, or walk in victory. Paul says, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” In this simple prayer we hear Paul crying out for deliverance, even after he is already saved!
What is this Body of death, that Paul is talking about that controls him and keeps him from doing the thing he wants to do? It is like a software program that has been downloaded into his soul that continues to control him, and war against him, even against his own will. When did this body of sin and death first corrupt the human soul? Was it not in the Garden after Adam and Eve had been deceived and ate of the forbidden fruit? Death and sin were downloaded into God’s sinless, perfect, innocent creatures. Adam and Eve had lost their way. They had come into agreement with the wily arguments of the Deceiver, the Serpent who said the fruit would make them more like God, wise and immortal (Gen. 3:4-5).
As the body of sin and death, Satan’s corrupted software that was downloaded into Adam and Eve’s souls (their mind, will and emotions), doubt, fear and confusion began to take over their physical bodies, as well. Sickness, violence, bloodshed, hopelessness and despair drove them to shame. They tried to hide from God and cover their nakedness. They tried to fix their condition with the covering of fig leaves. But it was to no avail. Their glorious flesh, their magnificent sense of God’s favor and presence, were overwritten with sin and death.
Now Paul exposes the ugly dilemma of the constant war that goes on between our soul which has been programmed by the experiences of the Snake Pit (that set of circumstances we have been born into) and the truth that rests in the revelation of Jesus Christ as the Holy Spirit of God bears witness with our spirits.
Rom 7:25–Who will deliver me is answered by Paul’s own response, He already did! Through Jesus Christ! Rom. 8:1 “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.”
We are now able to walk in agreement with the Holy Spirit that bears witness with our spirit. Our new spirit software was activated when our spirit (Pr. 20:27), the candle of the Lord, was lit at salvation. We who were dead in sins and trespasses, have been quickened (Eph. 2:8-10). We are now made alive in Christ. The Light of Christ in us has lit our candle which allows us to see the truth about what truly happened to us. The light of the Holy Spirit illuminates the darkness and makes us to know the power of the Cross, the hope of our calling in Christ, and the promise of His resurrection.
Rom. 8:2–“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” What the law and keeping the law could not do because of the weakness of the flesh, God did Himself in sending His own Son.
Now the question is simply this, Whose report are you going to believe–the law of sin and death that still wars within the soul of every blood bought believer, or the perfect law of liberty? The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the accusations of the Accuser. We can now serve without fear or compromise with complete loyalty to the purposes of Jesus Christ in setting the captives free if we believe the promises of God and walk in His truth.
We are told that the just shall live by faith, not their feelings! We must repent of thinking we could fix our sin condition by covering them with good works. We must repent for believing the lies that the Enemy whispered into our souls that caused us to doubt the finished work of Christ by thinking we could add something the His atonement. We must repent, change our mind, and confess the lie that brought forth the sin and bondage in our soul and believe the truth. Jesus made it possible for us to walk in the freedom and truth, the abundant life, He died to give us. The truth of Jesus sets the captives free from fear, sin and condemnation.
What are the ramifications of this God wrought freedom in the life of one who grasps and lays hold of it? To truly be free we must know the war the Enemy of our soul wages against us. Many counterfeit religions and the counterfeit gospels of sin, guilt, and be good, have entangled many who have sought a deeper walk with the Lord.
The enemy uses our desire for God as bait for the hook he intends to catch us on. Jesus said by their fruits you shall know them. If the fruit of your walk with Jesus is shame and striving which bring constant failure and frustration, the gospel you are believing is not the Gospel of grace, mercy, peace, and freedom from guilt and condemnation. Believing the true Gospel does not mean we will never suffer or be persecuted. Exactly the opposite! All those who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (II Tim. 3:12).
However, in the midst of this suffering for righteousness sake, the Accuser wants to buffet our souls and steal our peace and make us believe we did something to deserve this punishment. He also deceives some into thinking they are suffering for righteousness sake when they are not. Like the Pharisees, they are only trying to hold the line on their own religious beliefs and are willing to even kill others thinking they are doing God a service.
The fruit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not like that. It gives us the grace to love our enemies and bless those who curse us. It brings the Grace of God. It brings love and forgiveness and the assurance that we have been forgiven.
So, what are the ramifications of not walking in this liberty purchased by the blood of Jesus and confirmed through his resurrection? Condemnation, doubt, shame, stumbling, struggling, conflict, anger, despair, judgments, falling away from the truth, believing more lies, bondage, the vicious cycle of trying to be good and failing to ever be good enough. It is living a powerless, a life where broken souls stay broken and sick people do not get healed. Living believing the lies are the truth brings confusion and mental and physical illness that allow death to eat deeper into the fabric of our souls and society and makes a mockery of the power and the promises of God to heal and restore His people.