Monday, September 26, 2016

The Heart of Romans Introduction Part 1

Attitude is crucial to living the Christian life. It controls our response to all aspects of life. Whenever we input new concepts into our mind, our attitude determines how those concepts will affect us. The mind receives the information but our attitude filters our response. If left unchecked, our attitude will become the standard of our thoughts and actions.

Aircraft have an attitude indicator that tells the pilot how he is positioned with reference to the horizon. The horizon is the standard by which the plane flies straight and level. It’s easy to lose your bearings in the sky. Pilots are trained to trust their instruments. If the attitude indicator shows you are in a slow, downward spiral, you need to reposition the plane with what your gauge tells you.

John Kennedy, it was determined, had trusted his personal attitude about his plane’s flight path rather than rely on the attitude indicator. Whenever our own attitude contradicts the gauge, mark it down, we’re the one who is wrong.

Now if the attitude indicator represents to the plane the standard of straight and level, what indicates we are living according to God’s standard?

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matt 7:13-14)

With two ways, which is God’s intention?

Intentions: to have in mind something to be done or brought about. A plan designed for a particular purpose or end.

Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
1:4  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. [Righteous—that’s the indicator]
1:5 He predestined us to adoption as sons [taken out of the family of unrighteousness and placed into the family of righteousness] through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

Chosen: to choose them out from where they were with the outcome in mind to place them somewhere else.

To describe these differences, the Bible uses two words: Righteous and unrighteous—that refer to being right or wrong with God—These become the defining categories of whether we are within God’s intentions or not.

If it is His desire to take us out of unrighteousness and place us into righteousness:

Then the righteous are those who accept and conform to God’s intentions.
The unrighteous are those who do not.

To clarify the picture of that what that righteousness looks like, we need to go back to the original design.

My fingerprints were taken digitally. It showed how scarred and chopped up they had gotten throughout my life. The picture accurately recorded what they look like, but it does not reflect the original design. It has been damaged and distorted.

Gen 2:16-25

David wrote: Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? [that drawing to be right with God] And who may stand in His holy place? [desire for relationship and fellowship] He who has clean hands and a pure heart…He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Ps 24:3-5)

Adam and Eve: they were created with hearts so pure before God they could literally walk with Him in the Garden. They had a relationship with Him that was reflected by fellowship with Him. Symbol of that purity: they were naked and not ashamed.

Their hands were clean and their hearts were pure. The original design was a perfect picture of His intentions. They walked with God. To walk with Him you have to be right with Him.

Gen 3:1-11

After the fall, their hearts were so distorted they no longer reflected the original design. They no longer conformed to God’s intentions for a relationship through righteousness. Instead, they conformed to the image of unrighteousness. They were now wrong with God.

The result: guilt. The evidence of their guilt: ashamed of their nakedness and wished it concealed from God.

Adam represented all mankind so their sin represented all sin—the desire to live by their own intentions rather than God’s. The choice to be wrong with God instead of right with Him. That’s what sin is. Choosing the broad way instead of the narrow.

But their sin stained not only their lives, it stained us as well.

Then the penalty for their sin represented the price for all sin—separation from God.

When it came to the choice to remain faithful to the standard of God’s intentions, they chose unrighteousness over righteousness. And forever distorted the image of the original design. From then on, everyone born bears that distorted image.

Paul said: For by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one...Then through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men…For through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners. (Rom 5:17-19)

But just so you know, God was prepared. Remember, He knew the plan even from the foundation of the world. So how was He prepared for Adam and Eve?

When Adam realized He had broken God’s heart, He felt the shame of his guilt. Adam’s frail attempt at covering his sin was to sew leaves together, but he couldn’t keep his sin covered. God, then, made a covering for the symbol of their guilt—their nakedness.

God had to do for him what he couldn’t do for himself. God covered his guilt. This is Grace coming into the story.

God sacrificed animals whereby coverings could be made to conceal Adam and Eve’s nakedness. Which set into motion the ultimate plan by which God would reconcile people back into relationship with Him and restore them to His original intentions.

There would be a sacrifice. There would be shedding of blood.

What started as covering—Atonement—would remain in effect until the day God would present the ultimate sacrifice of His Son. On the cross Jesus would pay the price for all sin and make full restoration possible. From that day on, God would, in Jesus, reconcile the world unto Himself, and return people back to the original design where they could walk with Him in relationship and fellowship forever.

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. (Rom 10:9-10)

1.       Because of Adam, we all are born with a nature bent on sinning and coming short of God’s intentions.
2.      That nature will control our lives if left to itself.
3.      Because of what Jesus did, the power of that old nature is able to be broken and replaced with a new nature that desires to walk with God.

4.      It is God’s intention that we accept what Jesus did and walk in relationship and fellowship with Him forever. 

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