CLINGING TO A COUNTERFEIT CROSS [1654f]

The above is the title of a piece by J.P. Shelly, “Chapter 15, sin and the misinterpretation of Romans 7”, in “TRUTH ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE” which I reproduce here in part.

“When considering the topic of sin, the passage most often used to defend its pervasiveness in the Church is that of Romans 7:14-25. It is one of the most controversial and debated passages in Scripture. Is Paul speaking of a believer, an unbeliever, or something else entirely? The massive amount of material written on the subject is evidence of the extent of its significance in influencing one’s view of the Christian life. Emotions run high when debating this issue and the rigidity on both sides are dramatic, A,W. Pink states:”

(View 1) “This moan, ‘O wretched man that I am,’ expresses the normal experience of the Christian, and any Christian who does not so moan is in an abnormal and unhealthy state spiritually. The man who does not utter this cry daily is either so out of communion with Christ, or so ignorant of the teachings of scripture, or so deceived about his actual condition, that he knows not the corruptions of his own heart and the abject failure of his own life. The one who is truly in communion with Christ, will…emit this groan…daily and hourly.”

On the other side of the issue Adam Clarke says:

(View 2) “It is difficult to conceive how the opinion could have crept into the church, or prevailed there, that the apostle speaks here of his regenerate state; and that what was, in such a state, true of himself, must be true of all others in the same state. This opinion has, most pitifully and most shamefully, not only lowered the standard of Christianity, but destroyed its influence and disgraced its character…. That all that is said in this chapter of the carnal man, sold under sin, did apply to Saul of Tarsus, no man can doubt: that what is here said can ever be with propriety applied to Paul the Apostle, who can believe? Of the former, all is natural; of the latter, all here said would be monstrous and absurd, if not blasphemous.”

Web link https://www.truthaccordingtoscripture.com/documents/books/counterfeit-cross/romans-7.php#.YIEbwB3iuUk

MY COMMENT ON THIS IS. These two views given of Romans 7 surely demonstrate the extreme degree of error involved in either the one or the other.

These two views seem to embrace fully and completely, the idea and therefore reality of, EITHER the absolute ACCEPTANCE of sin in the Christian life, or the absolute REJECTION of sin in the Christian life.

AS SUCH, they must represent the two views of EITHER the “mind of the flesh” OR, “the mind of the Spirit”.

WHICH IS WHICH?

The ‘mind of the flesh’ must surely seek to retain its “life”, its IDENTITY, by the continuation of its presence. The ‘mind of the Spirit’ must surely seek to destroy or severely disable any presence or identity of sin, just as Jesus did.

The question then is, “What is intended to be achieved by FAITH? The last part of the second view allocates BLASPHEMY to the first view, this being how serious this matter is.

BY FAITH, this sinful identity, this SELF, this “sin in the flesh” is intended to be put to death. Its power and identity has been killed on the cross, and by faith we ACQUIRE this same death. “Those who are his have crucified the flesh…”. They acquire Christ.

So the FIRST view is surely an expression of how this has failed to happen, and is continuing to fail to happen. It is an expression of defeat, allowing for continuation of both SIN and LAW, the one obtaining power from the other.

BY FAITH we leave the identity of “sinner” to join with Christ in His identity of Victor, Overcomer, sinless. This expression is found in John, “…he cannot sin, because he has been born of God”.

So here we surely have revealed to us how the mind of the flesh is determined at any cost to hang onto its sinful identity by refusing to submit or to be submitted to, the identity of CHRIST. Blasphemy indeed.

The FIRST view then, is a refusal and a reluctance to be in submission to Christ, and expresses the continuing dominance of the flesh over the identity of the person involved. Those of this first view then, are willingly in denial of the cross of Christ.

Christ in His life, separated the two natures, the spiritual from the natural, so that His identity was “IN” the Spiritual. We now do the same thing; only now we live in Him, in His identity, having rejected our natural identity in order to assume to ourselves HIS SPIRIT, now passed through the fire so we might gain, by faith, HIS VICTORY ALSO.

When we consider the fall of creation, the “opening of Pandora’s box”, the release of evil, the creation of the “Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” situation, and the horrific consequences that resulted in the monstrous fallen identity of mankind: Then the term BLASPHEMY in relation to the promulgation of view number one is surely not strong enough.

[We are reconciled by His physical body through death]

JOYFUL SONGS [773ay]

THE BODY OF THIS DEATH [1687a]

So what “death” is he talking about? It is the death described in Romans 7, specifically 7:24, “…WHO will set me free from the body of this death”. You will notice that he says “who WILL”, indicating that at this point in his discourse, that he has NOT YET been set free, that all he has just spoken is from the position of one NOT YET SET FREE. And how could he be free, he has just been explaining the captivity to sin which has led him to this point of inquiring WHO will free me? He certainly does not say “Who HAS” set me free, but who WILL free me?

Finally he finds that JESUS will set him free. Verse 25 then expresses neither the position of captivity NOR the position of freedom, it simply expresses the POTENTIAL of both to exist, given that there is in him both the law of sin and also the law of God. [The knowledge of good and evil].

But he has already expressed the position of captivity to this law of sin in all he just said previously. Just as he has expressed the desire for liberty as described by him wishing to do good. It’s just that he has found the law of sin and death holds him in its grip of death as long as he is under law, preventing him from doing good.

So as a conclusion to his discovery of the two laws that live in him, he presents them as they are, as separate entities to real life where he has already explained that the law of sin always wins over any desperate “wishing” he might express.

THEN he enters into Romans 8:1 and 2, where Jesus DOES set him free, FREEING us from the law of sin. THEN verse 2 says HAS set you free. So while he could NOT perform the good that he was “wishing” for, he COULD find the solution to this “wish” to be set free from this condition, this BODY to which he was enslaved. THEN he was also free to “perform”.

Furthermore, to be set free from this body of death is also the very expression of the Christian HOPE, it is the hope of the resurrection from the dead for which Paul was in chains. The immortality of the body is what is sought for, not the spirit going to heaven or the soul going to heaven, at all, but the rising of the body in its new resurrected form. The SAME body that is “sown” into the earth at death, awaiting the resurrection on “the last day”, where we will reap from what we have sown, either corruption or immortality.

THE LAW OF MOSES BECOMES THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH [1686a]

We see in Romans 7 how Paul was killed by sin through the law. The conditions of this are described in 7:5. “For while we were in the flesh (the Adamic nature), the sinful passions (desires) aroused BY the law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.

This fruit is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Sin through the commandment killed him. ‘Every man is tempted when by his own desire he is led and enticed and sin full grown brings death.’ Just as it killed Adam and Eve. ‘Once I was alive apart from law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive, and I died.’

So man was subjected to a futile life under law, the law of sin and death from which there was no escape until Jesus came. Now that Christ has come, we are no longer under law. ‘Christ is the end of the law for all who believe’. 7:6 ‘But now we have been RELEASED from law, having DIED to that which bound us…’

We find that Sapphira and Ananias were accused of CONCEIVING (originating) sin in their heart, by giving way to temptation, by being led and enticed by their own evil desire to lie to the Holy Spirit regarding the sale of some land so as to gain financially. Paul said in 7:20 ‘But if I do it against my will, it is not my will but the will of evil inside me that does it’.

So all law provides the structure within us from which sin can grow and flourish, for all have sinned and all are guilty under law. ‘The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.’

But when that law structure is overpowered by mercy love and forgiveness, its authority to condemn is removed, and it loses its power to create condemnation within us. The kingdom of man which operates to rational laws concepts and precepts, is overpowered by the kingdom of God which operates only by love, forgiveness, mercy and righteousness.

The difference between living in the one or in the other is determined by our choice to live in the one or the other. Before Christ came we had no “free” will, we and our will were enslaved to a creature, ourselves, who by nature knew ONLY sin, just as Jesus knew NO sin*. Now we have a choice. “Their hearts were cleansed by faith”.

[*Jesus was able to be tempted by the ‘sin mechanism’ within, “yet without sin”. The potential or propensity for Him to sin was there, but He always disallowed and rejected its action. We see this in Romans 7:25 where there are two inner laws that are latently in place which govern man’s behaviour, and which become dynamic (spring into action) in the presence of law.][It is the knowledge of good and evil before sin the serpent ‘strikes’]

THE BODY OF THIS DEATH [1687]

So what “death” is he talking about? It is the death described in Romans 7, specifically 7:24, “…WHO will set me free from the body of this death”. You will notice that he says “who WILL”, indicating that at this point in his discourse, that he has NOT YET been set free, that all he has just spoken is from the position of one NOT YET SET FREE. And how could he be free, he has just been explaining the captivity to sin which has led him to this point of inquiring WHO will free me? He certainly does not say “Who HAS” set me free, but who WILL free me?

Finally he finds that JESUS will set him free. Verse 25 then expresses neither the position of captivity NOR the position of freedom, it simply expresses the POTENTIAL of both to exist, given that there is in him both the law of sin and also the law of God. [The knowledge of good and evil].

But he has already expressed the position of captivity to this law of sin in all he just said previously. Just as he has expressed the desire for liberty as described by him wishing to do good. It’s just that he has found the law of sin and death holds him in its grip of death as long as he is under law, preventing him from doing good.

So as a conclusion to his discovery of the two laws that live in him, he presents them as they are, as separate entities to real life where he has already explained that the law of sin always wins over any desperate “wishing” he might express.

THEN he enters into Romans 8:1 and 2, where Jesus DOES set him free, FREEING us from the law of sin. THEN verse 2 says HAS set you free. So while he could NOT perform the good that he was “wishing” for, he COULD find the solution to this “wish” to be set free from this condition, this BODY to which he was enslaved. THEN he was also free to “perform”.

Furthermore, to be set free from this body of death is also the very expression of the Christian HOPE, it is the hope of the resurrection from the dead for which Paul was in chains. The immortality of the body is what is sought for, not the spirit going to heaven or the soul going to heaven, at all, but the rising of the body in its new resurrected form. The SAME body that is “sown” into the earth at death, awaiting the resurrection on “the last day”, where we will reap from what we have sown, either corruption or immortality.

THE LAW OF MOSES BECOMES THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH [1686]

We see in Romans 7 how Paul was killed by sin through the law. The conditions of this are described in 7:5. “For while we were in the flesh (the Adamic nature), the sinful passions (desires) aroused BY the law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.

This fruit is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Sin through the commandment killed him. ‘Every man is tempted when by his own desire he is led and enticed and sin full grown brings death.’ Just as it killed Adam and Eve. ‘Once I was alive apart from law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive, and I died.’

So man was subjected to a futile life under law, the law of sin and death from which there was no escape until Jesus came. Now that Christ has come, we are no longer under law. ‘Christ is the end of the law for all who believe’. 7:6 ‘But now we have been RELEASED from law, having DIED to that which bound us…’

We find that Sapphira and Ananias were accused of CONCEIVING (originating) sin in their heart, by giving way to temptation, by being led and enticed by their own evil desire to lie to the Holy Spirit regarding the sale of some land so as to gain financially. Paul said in 7:20 ‘But if I do it against my will, it is not my will but the will of evil inside me that does it’.

So all law provides the structure within us from which sin can grow and flourish, for all have sinned and all are guilty under law. ‘The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.’

But when that law structure is overpowered by mercy love and forgiveness, its authority to condemn is removed, and it loses its power to create condemnation within us. The kingdom of man which operates to rational laws concepts and precepts, is overpowered by the kingdom of God which operates only by love, forgiveness, mercy and righteousness.

The difference between living in the one or in the other is determined by our choice to live in the one or the other. Before Christ came we had no “free” will, we and our will were enslaved to a creature, ourselves, who by nature knew ONLY sin, just as Jesus knew NO sin*. Now we have a choice. “Their hearts were cleansed by faith”.

[*Jesus was able to be tempted by the ‘sin mechanism’ within, “yet without sin”. The potential or propensity for Him to sin was there, but He always disallowed and rejected its action. We see this in Romans 7:25 where there are two inner laws that are latently in place which govern man’s behaviour, and which become dynamic (spring into action) in the presence of law.][It is the knowledge of good and evil before sin the serpent ‘strikes’]

YOU CANNOT REASON WITH JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES [1685a]

The reason for this is because they have their very own text book, their very own version of the bible, which is a good handbook for Jehovah’s witnesses but has little in common with Christianity, because their variant doctrines are enshrined in their texts.

The Mormons also have their own version of the bible, called the book of Mormon.

In both cases they seem to go along with scriptural references but when push comes to shove, when inevitably there is disagreement about a subject or a scripture, THEIR version of the book comes out which is incompatible with your own. Mormons will seem to go along with the authority of the bible until there is a problem, and then they bring out the book of Mormon as their final word on it.

It’s a bit like having a text book on engineering and comparing it with a text book on cooking, it just doesn’t work. [They don’t use a “real” bible.]

https://christianlibrary.org.au/cel/documents/cults/index.html

YOU CANNOT REASON WITH JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES [1685]

The reason for this is because they have their very own text book, their very own version of the bible, which is a good handbook for Jehovah’s witnesses but has little in common with Christianity, because their variant doctrines are enshrined in their texts.

The Mormons also have their own version of the bible, called the book of Mormon.

In both cases they seem to go along with scriptural references but when push comes to shove, when inevitably there is disagreement about a subject or a scripture, THEIR version of the book comes out which is incompatible with your own. Mormons will seem to go along with the authority of the bible until there is a problem, and then they bring out the book of Mormon as their final word on it.

It’s a bit like having a text book on engineering and comparing it with a text book on cooking, it just doesn’t work. [They don’t use a “real” bible.]

https://christianlibrary.org.au/cel/documents/cults/index.html

TO BE LED BY THE SPIRIT YOU FIRST MUST HAVE THE SPIRIT [1683a]

Once we never had a choice regarding whether to be righteous or unrighteous – we were as Jesus said , “slaves to sin” because He said “the one who sins is a slave to sin”, and we all have sinned. So as slaves we had no choice at all – our will “power” was in captivity to those basic urges of primitive humanity, even civilised humanity.

Sin was defined by the law, but now righteousness has been defined by Jesus, who by His freely given life and His freely available Spirit, has now given to us the choice between life and death. We ARE in death, but we can choose LIFE.

So believing in Jesus gives you the Spirit of Jesus. And now knowing righteousness is available and instantly obtainable, enables your choice of right over wrong, righteousness over unrighteousness, life over death. But your CHOICE now is TO BE LED BY THE SPIRIT or to NOT BE LED BY THE SPIRIT. You must choose His way of life over your way of death. You can no longer follow your OWN “leading”.

Law and sin were obvious to us, but the Spirit had to be given as a new entity, as a newcomer to the situation, so now there were two “players” in the game, apart from yourself. There is now evil AND good, which, yes, we knew from Adam’s fruit those two, from “the knowledge of good and evil”, but we were powerless, before redemption in the form of the physical body of Jesus came to us, being presented to us on a cross of wood and then Him rising to life again. So until Christ came, we were prisoners of sin, slaves of sin, subjects of law flesh sin and death. “Wretched men”.

But now we can CHOOSE to stay in the bad (death), or to be led by the good (life), led by the Spirit of life. But we must CHOOSE TO BE SO LED. Until you accept that Spirit as an entity in and of it/Himself, you will not be able to receive it/Him, and therefore be unable to be LED by Him. So if you see Him as less than who He is, you will be powerless to submit to Him and therefore powerless to follow Him.

Some people and belief systems only see the Spirit as being scripture that they familiarise themselves with, as they “assimilate” it into their minds, in other words, they see themselves as being responsible for their own salvation, despite them quoting “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” to try and justify themselves in this. The whole point of Jesus coming was that we should come to rely on HIM and not on OURSELVES for life, and the practical reality of this is that we should first gain and then be led by, His OWN Spirit, not that which we contrive, but that same Spirit which was supernaturally delivered at Pentecost.

Unless we are Spiritually, supernaturally led, we will be led back into humanity’s ditch.

THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH WILL LEAD YOU INTO ALL TRUTH? [1684a]

This was a promise I received many years ago, and since then I am pleased with the outcome of it, taking into account the necessity of God to balance revelation against the requirement that things be by faith, not by sight so much, in order that we may grow spiritually.

However, this then begs the question as to WHY the Christian world divides itself in opinion over so many issues, why the Spirit of TRUTH is not seen the more clearly when it comes to the understanding of scripture, and just WHY people “of the faith” are unable to come together with the same spiritual revelations.

In one way it will remain one of those mysteries, but in another way, it speaks of the degree to which human nature has been unable to yield itself to God, to His Spirit of Truth as the guiding light to all those apparent “mysteries” that occur in our experience.

On the one hand it is an obvious tool and source of accusation against the faith. On the other it reveals how people of different backgrounds and religious experience manage to couple together various aspects of differing religious viewpoints, using those key theologians that have popped up through history at various times. Luther, Calvin, and Augustine, have provided various “anchor” points from which wide arcs of scriptural knowledge are embraced, all overlapping to some degree, but still fundamentally separated by those foundational differing views.

Then there is the translation from foreign and archaic languages, and the various bible versions and interpretations. The AV or King James version for example, repeats a very important part of a verse where other versions do not. Romans 8 verse 1 additionally repeats a part of verse 4, which then throws a different light on justification and salvation. It also says “Sin is the transgression of the law”, which definition is not supported by other versions. And there are other subtle variations in various versions which do have an effect when it comes to supporting one view or another. There are various documents circulating with unknown degrees of authenticity or verifiability, especially also if Catholic sources are included in the mix.

Then we throw in all the more divergent non conformist views, which we tend to call sects or cults, and the waters grow even murkier. And when you actually start looking at the wide differences that these smaller opinions and options create, it becomes plain that the conventional view is not always the right view. And there is a degree of complexity because of the different hardware and software of the human brain.

Thus we get someone otherwise highly regarded and credentialed like John Piper expressing the WRONG view of Romans 7. I have no knowledge of his particular academic qualifications or otherwise, but academic training appears itself to be part of the problem. Many dissenting academics have published books which appear to be more about fame and fortune rather than honesty and truth. There appears to be little shame exhibited in this regard by many of these authors, although I would not include John amongst these.

And so we arrive at individual viewpoints such as my own. What qualification do I hold to dare express an opinion opposite to these apparently highly regarded “men of truth”? I can tell you nothing except to “seek and you will find”, trusting the Spirit to reveal the truth of the matter to you. If error results then so be it, as long as you have been honest in your approach, then the Spirit will, given time, reveal that to you also.

In the mean time, the Spirit has revealed to me that Romans 7 is indeed NOT the Christian experience, but is that of a slave to sin, living in abject defeat and misery, NOT possessing salvation or victory at all, but wearing Adam’s fall to sin “under the law”.

So we have a situation where either a sinner [the unsaved Paul] is being called a Christian, or a Christian [the saved Paul] is being called a sinner. How can this not be important? How can the outcome of these two opposing views not have a critical effect on our foundational views of just what Christianity is or is not? How can we say that it doesn’t matter? And how can we live with not knowing the true answer?

Surely there is sufficient information now available on this subject, together with the Spirit’s guidance, to enable the true seeker to find THE TRUTH. The situation does indeed appear to be that many are “Clinging to a Counterfeit Cross.”

THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH WILL LEAD YOU INTO ALL TRUTH? [1684]

This was a promise I received many years ago, and since then I am pleased with the outcome of it, taking into account the necessity of God to balance revelation against the requirement that things be by faith, not by sight so much, in order that we may grow spiritually.

However, this then begs the question as to WHY the Christian world divides itself in opinion over so many issues, why the Spirit of TRUTH is not seen the more clearly when it comes to the understanding of scripture, and just WHY people “of the faith” are unable to come together with the same spiritual revelations.

In one way it will remain one of those mysteries, but in another way, it speaks of the degree to which human nature has been unable to yield itself to God, to His Spirit of Truth as the guiding light to all those apparent “mysteries” that occur in our experience.

On the one hand it is an obvious tool and source of accusation against the faith. On the other it reveals how people of different backgrounds and religious experience manage to couple together various aspects of differing religious viewpoints, using those key theologians that have popped up through history at various times. Luther, Calvin, and Augustine, have provided various “anchor” points from which wide arcs of scriptural knowledge are embraced, all overlapping to some degree, but still fundamentally separated by those foundational differing views.

Then there is the translation from foreign and archaic languages, and the various bible versions and interpretations. The AV or King James version for example, repeats a very important part of a verse where other versions do not. Romans 8 verse 1 additionally repeats a part of verse 4, which then throws a different light on justification and salvation. It also says “Sin is the transgression of the law”, which definition is not supported by other versions. And there are other subtle variations in various versions which do have an effect when it comes to supporting one view or another. There are various documents circulating with unknown degrees of authenticity or verifiability, especially also if Catholic sources are included in the mix.

Then we throw in all the more divergent non conformist views, which we tend to call sects or cults, and the waters grow even murkier. And when you actually start looking at the wide differences that these smaller opinions and options create, it becomes plain that the conventional view is not always the right view. And there is a degree of complexity because of the different hardware and software of the human brain.

Thus we get someone otherwise highly regarded and credentialed like John Piper expressing the WRONG view of Romans 7. I have no knowledge of his particular academic qualifications or otherwise, but academic training appears itself to be part of the problem. Many dissenting academics have published books which appear to be more about fame and fortune rather than honesty and truth. There appears to be little shame exhibited in this regard by many of these authors, although I would not include John amongst these.

And so we arrive at individual viewpoints such as my own. What qualification do I hold to dare express an opinion opposite to these apparently highly regarded “men of truth”? I can tell you nothing except to “seek and you will find”, trusting the Spirit to reveal the truth of the matter to you. If error results then so be it, as long as you have been honest in your approach, then the Spirit will, given time, reveal that to you also.

In the mean time, the Spirit has revealed to me that Romans 7 is indeed NOT the Christian experience, but is that of a slave to sin, living in abject defeat and misery, NOT possessing salvation or victory at all, but wearing Adam’s fall to sin “under the law”.

So we have a situation where either a sinner [the unsaved Paul] is being called a Christian, or a Christian [the saved Paul] is being called a sinner. How can this not be important? How can the outcome of these two opposing views not have a critical effect on our foundational views of just what Christianity is or is not? How can we say that it doesn’t matter? And how can we live with not knowing the true answer?

Surely there is sufficient information now available on this subject, together with the Spirit’s guidance, to enable the true seeker to find THE TRUTH. The situation does indeed appear to be that many are “Clinging to a Counterfeit Cross.”