Dallas: . . . because to be a disciple is not sufficient to have some interest in this project or perhaps on Sundays to think it would be nice. It is necessary to want this more than anything else in the world and that’s what Jesus is talking about when He says, “Unless you take up your cross and forsake everything you have and deny yourself” (Matthew 16:24) and there are other ways in which He put this. Unless you do this, you cannot be my disciple.
The most searching question any person with a knowledge of Christ can ask is—“Do I in fact want to be like Him more than any other thing in this world?” This is not something, which we examine one another about unless we are in a very special relationship, but it is something every person must ask themselves. That one question—the answer to that one question will tell more about why your experience is what it is than any other thing. All right. So, that is the disciple of Jesus. [1:21]
Now, what are the disciplines? I have written up here a formula, which I read to you. Disciplines are chosen or purposeful activities wherein we learn to live by the power of God and in the character of God by the grace of God. We learn to live by the power of God and in the character of God by the grace of God.
Now, it is a simple fact, which you can discover by consulting the scriptures and experience and history that no one, no one is conformed to the image of Christ unless they go through a certain course of experience, which refines them and brings them into that position—no one does. It will not be poured upon you. It will not happen to you one day as you round the corner somewhere. It doesn’t work that way. As metal is tempered by being held in the fire, until it reaches a certain temperature and then hammered and treated in various ways when it is brought forth; the soul is conformed to Christ. That intention of God, which is so clearly stated in the 8th chapter of Romans that “we are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ occurs through a certain course of experience. [3:03]
And secondly, it occurs through a course of experience in which we in some measure engage in by choice—whatever we are to say about predestination as to the final destiny of the soul—you do not become patient without choosing to engage in your experience in a certain way. You don’t become loving. You don’t become kind. You don’t become understanding. You do not become faithful to God. You don’t become filled with hope unless you go through your experience in a certain way and choose to do that.
Now, you may to some extent, either choose to take your medicine without resistance or you may—as a minister I used to know say, “You may decide to chew your pills before you swallow them.” But, you are going to participate in this now and there’s going to be some measure of willingness. There is going to be a willingness, which says, “Oh God, put me on the anvil and whip me into shape.” There is going to be a willingness, which says, as F. B. Meyer and Andrew Murray used to say so often, “Oh God, I am not willing but I am willing to be made willing.” That’s one of the most important concepts in prayers you can ever learn to pray. [4:39]
We need to dwell on that because we so often come to the point of where we are not willing. We might even try to fake it because we think we are supposed to be willing, for example but we are not willing to do the things, which we believe that God would have us to do. And at that point, that is the point where we have to learn to pray, “Oh God, I am not willing but I am willing to be made wiling. Lead me through the experiences. I am not wiling today but two years hence I hope you will have gotten me to the place where I am. Oh God, I am not patient now but please bring me to that place. Oh God, I really do not love people now. Oh God, I really am filled with fear of other people. Oh God, I am overwhelmed with a sense of shame because of my association with the church or with Christ but I want you to bring me to the place to where I will be proud. “ See, that’s the course of Christian experience and it is the work of the disciplines to bring us there. [5:57]
Now, just this word about disciplines in general. There is no definitive list of what the disciplines are. If you look at the sheet I have handed out, you will see a number of things. I am happy to know that a number of you are studying Richard Foster’s book and you’ll see a list of things but I hope you will never believe that someone has a list of all of the disciplines. This is why I give you this general description—A discipline is a chosen activity wherein we learn to live by the power of God and in the character of God and by the grace of God. Now, whatever that may be as long as it is entered into in that faith and in that hope, it is a spiritual discipline. It’s a discipline of the spirit.
I have one more general comment about these now. Why do we call them spiritual disciplines? If you will notice, nearly every one of them has something to do with the body. This is a very deep matter and I am going to be spending a part of my time in this hour on that but I wanted to call that question to your attention right off. Why are they called spiritual disciplines? The reason is because they are the disciplines or the lessons or exercises, which we take in learning to live a life of the Spirit.
Think of it like this. Who is a spiritual person? Who is a fleshly or carnal person? How do we enter the one realm or the other? The spiritual disciplines are disciplines, which teach us how to interact and live on the Spirit—the spiritual level. [8:03]
You remember that Jesus said to Nicodemus, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and wither it goeth . . . ” And then he adds the phrase, “ . . . so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)
By the way, we have fallen into real trouble on this phrase—“born again.” You may know that Billy Graham and begun to say “born from above.” I would encourage you to say, “born of the Spirit.” Born of the Spirit; don’t say born again. I’ve seen born again cars advertised. [Laughter] It’s incredible what’s happened to this word and pray and hope and by your example, live in such a way that the phrase “born of the Spirit” does not get misused in that way. Let’s try to keep it out of politics. Let’s try to get the life of the Spirit into politics but not the phraseology, which would be then distorted and misused. [9:11]
OK, now—the triumphant life. I’ve said a few things about that and I want to just briefly state again for purposes of review and those of you who were not here last time, who did miss that session that the triumphant life is a life of holiness and spiritual power that manifests itself in likeness to Christ. That’s the triumphant life. Of course, it feels differently but the primary element is not the feeling but the difference in character. It is a life of holiness and power that manifests itself in likeness to Christ. That, after all is what discipleship was about, wasn’t it? And the proof of it is in the transformed character of the redeemed individual.
One of my very favorite books is A.B. Bruce’s book The Training of the Twelve, and he has one of the most marvelous summaries of the effect of Jesus’ mastery over his closest disciples that I have ever seen. I would like to just read a few sentences of that summary.
“The teaching conveyed by Christ was fitted to make the disciples what they were required to be as the Apostles of a spiritual and universal religion—enlightened in mind, endowed with a charity wide enough to embrace all mankind. Having their conscious tremulously sensitive to all claims of duty, yet delivered from all superstitious scruples. Emancipated from the fetters of custom, tradition, and the commandments of men and possessing tempers purged of pride, self will, impatience, angry passions, vindictiveness and implacability.”
What a marvelous character and so characteristic of Christ.” [11:19]
I would like to just join that with a verse from the little letter of James, which I am sure many of you are familiar with and this is a description of the wisdom, which is from above. James 3:17-18—“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” Now, such a life as this is suited to bear the infinite power of God in the deliverance of a world crushed in Satan’s hand into the light of God’s Kingdom.
Our problem is not primarily with our lack of power. Our problem is that we don’t have the character to bear the power. There is no need in sending a million volts through a transistor radio. Is there now? I mean, you’ve gotta have something there to bear it and our problem is that we need to stay in the way of Christ until we have come into the character of Christ and then we can bear the power of Christ as He sends forth His own victory over the entire earth. [12:46]
Now, the question that I wanted to briefly address this evening that came up last time is this—Can you be saved and not be a disciple? And by that, we understand of course, can you have your sins forgiven and go to Heaven and not be a disciple? Well, let me start out by saying, “I hope so. I hope so.” But, let me say also that I think from a theoretical point of view you could argue about this forever; and let me say also that no matter how Christ like you become, you are not saved by your Christlikeness; you are saved by the mercy of God.
This is not a question of the foundation or basis when we address discipleship. We are not talking about the foundation of salvation. We are talking about the fruits of it. We are talking about the nature of it. We are talking about what constitutes it. The foundation is very simply the mercy of God in Christ. [13:55]
And so, from that point of view, I am quite willing and happy to say that it seems to me that there will be many people who will be in Heaven who were not disciples here on earth. I don’t want to name them because I don’t know and that isn’t a part of my responsibility, but I hope that’s true and I believe the mercy of God is very great. Do you know they are going to be so sorry because of what they missed? You see, we tend to think that discipleship is a real bummer—bad news—listen, if you haven’t heard about discipleship and what it means and is and seen it for what it is, you don’t know what the Good News is yet. You haven’t heard it yet. The Good News is you can follow Christ, and we need to have that preached loudly and clearly—YOU can follow Christ. Now! You can do it!
You can in fact seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and you can find it. That’s the Good News! That’s the full Good News and anything that cuts the Gospel down to a fire insurance policy hasn’t begun to get to it. So, that’s the theoretical side of this question. [15:25]
The practical side of this question, I think is one we can just absolutely answer with great conclusiveness. Let me put it to you this way. Can you see yourself sidling up to Christ and saying, “Christ, I would like a little bit of your blood. I don’t want to be like you and I’m not committing myself to follow you but I would like just a little of your blood, you know; just enough to wash away my sins.” Can you see yourself doing that? I can’t even imagine of what it would be like to do that.
Or again, can you imagine yourself advising someone just to accept forgiveness and not follow Him? I don’t see how anyone can even think of that. How could one think of it? I know that because of perversions of the message, we are encouraged often to believe that really to be like Christ is not an option to us today. But, my friends, it is the only clear option I know. I could never go to someone and say, “Now you know, you ought to accept Christ, not as Lord, you understand, just as Savior; just as Savior.” I can’t imagine anyone going to another person and saying that. That’s to me like saying, “Well, you should buy this automobile frame and body but you don’t need the engine. Don’t bother about the engine; that’s optional.” [17:07]
So, from the practical point of view, it seems to me the question is absolutely clear. It’s analogous to me when people come to me and say, “Well, do you know so and so says that there is a way to God apart from Christ?”
Now, there are two ways you can go. You can sit down and engage in a long, theoretical debate about this. It’s normally not fruitful to do so. My own response is—I don’t know of any other way and there is one way that I do know and I recommend that one to you and that’s exactly what I would say with reference to the issue of whether or not you can be saved without being a disciple of Christ. I would say, “Well, I hope people can but I don’t know that they can. I don’t know that the Gospel allows you a degree of faith, which says you can be my Savior, dear Lord Jesus but you cannot be my Lord. I don’t know that you can. [18:17]
Well, you may want to discuss that further and as I mentioned, I do want to leave a few moments at the end of the hour this evening for discussion and questions and, or you may wish to discuss that after the service.
Now, I want to begin to address the question of how it works, how do the disciplines work, why are they necessary and in order to do this, I am going to have to take you through at least a few minutes that is a little dryer than even my normal which is pretty dry sometimes. [Laughter] Because I am going to have to try to tell you exactly what Spirit is and what soul is and what body is and in particular what body is because you see, the emphasis of Christ is entirely on the body. Now, this may sound very unspiritual but you have to remember that He is an incarnate Christ. He came into a body. He came into a body. [19:32]
In the book of Hebrews, there is an interesting passage which is quoted from the Psalms, Chapter 10:5 of Hebrews—“Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared for me.—Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared for me.” Now, the body of Jesus Christ was the arena in which God defeated Satan. It was the arena in which God defeated Satan. [20:20]
Romans 8:3 contains these very instructive words—“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:” Let me try to tell you in rather familiar terms just what that means. If you have an adversary, you might try to take that adversary on to a ground where they would be at their weakest. You might seek every advantage and the mark of a good general in a battle, is that he is able to take every advantage of terrain and timing and everything else and use it to his purpose. But let me tell you what God did with Satan. He said, “Pick your grounds.” All right. Satan said, “I will take the human body.” And God said, “All right, take it.”
Having given the adversary his own choice of the grounds most favorable to the adversary’s victory, God sent His son into the flesh of the virgin’s womb and defeated sin. There a person who was a man lived as a man and yet was God. You see; it can be done. God made it so. It can be done. It can be done in the body and your bodies—your body is to be the temple of the Holy Ghost. [22:38]
Now, I believe it is very hard for us to think about our bodies in that way and, there is a lot of just natural revulsion as well as fascinated attraction to bodies. Today, someone was talking to me about Gnosticism and Docetism. These were views in the early church, which had a hard time accepting the fact that Jesus in the flesh really did have a body and to put it very simply, their view was that Jesus never was a real human body. He was always just an appearance. This fellow said to me, “Well, the human body is rather messy.” Hmm? That’s revolting, isn’t it? Disgusting. I said, “Yes, if you ever smash one, you see just how messy they are.” And that’s the kind of thing, which works on us, you see. And we think that the body is a rather messy place for God to be in. We miss the glory—will you hear me carefully? —We miss the glory of matter; the glory of matter. [23:46]
Matter is full of splendor; full of splendor. We see it occasionally when we look into the heavens. We see it in fire, which we all love, and water. We see it in the colors that play across the landscape. Someone recently told me that a cubic centimeter of water has something like 10/24th molecules or electrons or something in it, you know? [Laughter] He said that if you are going to process all of the information relevant to a cubic centimeter of water, you would need a computer—given modern computer technology—you would still need a computer the size of the solar system. Now, I don’t know whether that is true and I’m not about to check it out, okay; but I am impressed. [He laughs.] [24:52]
Matter is full of splendor. It is full of splendor. Wordsworth has a poem about this—Splendor in the Grass. Read Whitman’s poem about grass. The poets see it. Our artists find it. It’s full of splendor. Take a piece of wood and some shellac and string and put them in the hands of a Stradivarius and you get this marvelous piece of matter and then take this other marvelous piece of matter, Echach Pearlman and put his hands on it and you’ve got something that can just jerk the soul out of its body because of the splendor in matter.
OK—I had to say a good thing or two about matter. It’s had a bum rap; it really has—a very bum rap. We are afraid of it. We are spooked by it. We are afraid of our bodies and one of the things that Jesus saw and understood was the friendliness of matter and He worked with it and He lived in it and it was a glorious thing.
Now, matter has many dimensions, which we are not familiar with even; for example, there is going to be a spiritual body and many dimensions we are not familiar with but it is a splendiferous thing—matter is. [26:27]
Now, let me tell you what spirit is and what soul is and what body is—just a phrase on each one of these. I preface it with this general remark that all existence is power. All existence is power. There is no existence that is not power. I am going to describe the difference between spirit, soul, and body in terms of power in just this way.
Spirit is dis-embodied power. Spirit is dis-embodied power. Power is the capacity to do work, by the way if you want to get into that—it’s the capacity to do work and work has to do with a process of change over time. But, I just don’t see any point in us grinding that out unless you want to but that’s what I would just say in a very informal way.
So, there is dis-embodied power. That is to say there is power that works without itself involving a body as the means. Now, that is the single most important thing for you to understand if you are going to read the Bible and know anything about God because God is Spirit. God is Spirit. John, the 4th chapter when Jesus is talking to the woman at the well, He says, “ . . . God is Spirit . . .” [28:06]
Three things we are told and by the way, your old versions and most of your versions will read, “God is A Spirit.” Now, I don’t like to make a lot of linguistic points because normally they don’t prove what they are said to prove but the fact of the matter is, there is no literal indefinite article in Greek and there is nothing in the way of an article in that passage, okay? That reads, “God is Spirit.”
We are told three things about God—God is love; God is a consuming fire and God is Spirit. Three things. You see them over and over. It would be a lovely thing if we had time to spend the time to talk about the relationship between fire and spirit because fire is one of the main manifestations of power in our universe but let’s just say for the time being –God is Spirit. [29:15]
That’s the meaning of the second commandment by the way. Do you remember what the second commandment says? “Thou shalt make unto thee any graven image. . . ” (Exodus 20:4) And then it goes through and lists all the possibilities—anything that flies above the earth, anything that creeps upon the earth, anything under the earth. They ain’t no place else—just don’t make any images. Why is that? It’s not just to avoid idolatry but it’s to go to the deeper principle that God is not something you can present through an image. You can present Him through a person. The person of Jesus Christ or any of Jesus . . . [Went silent at 30:00 and resumed at 30:10]
. . . kind and rocks can’t do that but living things can. They transform a potato into muscle or fat! [Laughter] Now, a rock can’t do that and the mark of the soul is this marvelous, spontaneous power to ingest and then in that inevitable succession to be ingested and to reproduce. [30:50]
Now, what about body? Well, I am going to say something about it first and then take it back because you see, we really do have to distinguish between living bodies and non-living bodies. Living bodies have this peculiar character of spontaneous power but they also have a character shared by non-living objects. If you drop the iron on your toe, it will hurt it. If you drop me on your toe, it will hurt it too, right? So, the iron and me, we have something in common but I can do lots of things the iron can’t do, believe me. It can do a few I can’t but I’m not filled with envy, you see? [Laughter] [31:46]
So, you see there is this intersection between non-living and living bodies. I presume that Einstein’s formula of the energy equals the mass times the square of the speed of light—that would apply to my thumb, wouldn’t it? It will apply to my thumb just like it will apply to anything else. So, we do have to hold them distinct.
Now, if you have that distinction between spirit, soul and body, I want to leave it and begin to talk about the living body in a different way because this is where we come back hopefully from the depths of this discourse on dry concepts and begin to talk about the spiritual disciplines.
It’s a remarkable thing about a living body. You see a body is a repository of abilities. Did you ever notice when a baby when it’s born, it can’t walk. It’s not much it can do. It can’t talk. It can do some things. It can swallow, can suckle, can cry, can wave its little arms and legs and wiggle a bit and so on—there are some things it can do. You watch a little colt that’s just been born and wonder of wonders, the thing learns to walk so rapidly but when it first starts, whatever it does, you couldn’t call walking, right? Pretty soon, there it goes and in a very short period of time, that colt’s legs have obtained the ability to steady itself and propel itself along. That’s something that happens in their legs; not something that happens in their head. They don’t figure out walking and say, “Ah, yes, that muscle down there by my right hoof—now I move that one and then I move the other one.” That isn’t the way it works. They learn to walk by lurching and wallowing around until somehow their muscles get straight and there they go. [34:10]
You see, your body is a repository of powers and not just powers to explode on atomic principles. Our body is the repository of all of the abilities learned or innate which make human life possible, which make freedom possible. Nothing in the way of freedom is possible until our body begins to learn and to develop and gets the capacity to do things. From the viewpoint of redemption, the body is a repository of powers, of feeling, of action, both good and bad to be changed into conformity to the image of God’s Son. [34:56]
Now, we’ve got to talk in some concrete detail about what these powers are. I said a feeling and of action; and feeling is tremendously important. In fact, I suppose you could say that for all of us in the conduct of our lives whether we are following Christ or not, feeling is the place where the “rubber meets the road.” That’s where it really hits. That’s the primary governing factor: not thought but feeling.
What are some of the feelings that we have to recognize as dominating our lives? Well, fear of death is certainly one of the overwhelming feelings; fear of death. This is remarked on over and over again in the Bible and one of the most important things that Jesus came to announce was the abolition of death. Did you know that He abolished it? Just abolished it. Did you ever ask yourself why does the 23rd Psalm say, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” [36:11]
You know, when I was a kid, I used to read that and then I would say, “Well, yea, but what’s gonna happen when I go through the valley of death?” Why does it say shadow? Well, recently, I had a word on that which was simply this, that for the one who is in the path of the Good Shepherd, there is no death. There is only a shadow. There is no death. He abolished it. He did away with it and you see, we mustn’t save those nice verses about no death, about “ . . . he that liveth and believeith on me shall never die. . .” (John 11:26) We mustn’t save those for funerals. Those are to correct that terrible thing under which people live, which as the writer of Hebrews says that mankind is all of its life kept in bondage through the fear of death. (Hebrews 2:15) [37:10]
Shame—shame by comparison—in the world in which we live, shame is a primary tool of the manipulation of people. We learn shame by comparison constantly. A little friend of mine some years ago was getting ready to go on a short trip on the freeway and the mother wished her put on clean underclothes and handed her some that had holes in them and she rejected them because she said, “I might have an accident and have to go to the hospital and I don’t want them to see these holes in my underclothes.” We are so hounded by shame. Shame is a constant feeling. [38:01]
Here’s another one. I got this from the Publishers Clearing House. [Laughter] Look! It says in one-inch letters, W-I-L-L-A-R-D; it has a dollar sign over here and three-dollar signs after it. WILLARD—wow! [Laughter] And by the way, it came with this part showing in the envelope. A year or so ago, I got one of these dumb things and I counted the times that it addressed me as “Mr. Willard”—fourteen times in the letter—Mr. Willard. What do you suppose that’s about? Hmmm? What do you suppose that’s about? You know there is someone that got paid a lot of money to think that up and you know, it works. I brought this along to show you. I send all the others in. [Laughter]
You see, that’s the appeal to just nothing but plain old self-interest: just self- interest. What’s magical about my name? The only thing that’s magical about my name is that it’s attached to ME. ME! Just plain old self-interest—that’s all it is! See, that’s one of those things. [39:45]
All of the natural desires for comfort, for food, for sex and these are accompanied of course by pain and pleasure. Pain and pleasure and then these get quite confused sometimes. For example, in our country—and I am going to say something un-patriotic now, all right? In our country, there is a rumor to the effect that we have a right to pursue happiness. Now, we may have a right to pursue happiness. You also have a right—I guess you have a right to drive your car off of a cliff into the ocean. I hope you won’t exercise that right if you have it.
Now, it’s true in a political sense, we have that right, just like I have a right to bet my house and car on the slowest horse at Hollywood Park. You see, we get these things all confused but we live in a world in which pleasure and pain and happiness are right there for us to move towards. These are the things that drive us and move us. [41:02]
Now let me tell you. They are not in your head; they are in your body. That’s where the feelings come. That’s where they govern you. The feelings that war against our soul as you will see on the margin of the handout—fleshly lusts that war against the soul are in our bodies. They are in our bodies. They lie there as powers that govern us. That’s why you see these things are sent out. This is why they work. They know that there is something that, you know, when I see my name in big letters like that, I somehow feel kind of gratified in my tummy. I feel real favorably disposed and you can’t kid me, you do too. You feel real favorably disposed to see if there isn’t a particular magazine, which you all of a sudden discover you just can’t do without. You will have to tear it out and stick it on here and send it in and then, of course, having done that, you will have later to write a check, right?
Now there’s is a train of feeling there that is like a conveyor belt and when you get on that, you’ve been had. I’ve watched people who say they have bad tempers. A person who has a bad temper has a habit of feeling. They have a habit of turning themselves over to a certain type of feeling that swells up probably in the back of their shoulders and over their head and they turn things over to that feeling and then they say they can’t control their temper. And in a sense, that’s true. [43:07]
It’s the same way with sexual temptation. I have counseled with many people who have a problem with this and there is a certain point where they in effect put themselves on a conveyor belt and then they go kicking and screaming into the act. They say they are kicking and screaming. They say they are trying very hard but you see, they have turned over their will to the feelings, which are in their members. [43:33]
What do you suppose Paul means when he says in Galatians, “ . . . the Spirit lusteth against the flesh and the flesh against the Spirit . . . ?”—(Galatians 5:17) You see, there is a warfare that is going on there. Now, I’ve taken this time to describe this truth about the human body because this is where the warfare for the redemption of the person in the full sense of the life of Christ. That’s where that warfare is waged.
You may know that in the very last chapter or two it is of Revelation, there is a listing of those who will go into the lake of fire. It’s a rather unpleasant list. This is Revelation 21:8 and I have noticed that some people are very struck by the first thing that is listed there—“the fearful,” fear governs our lives but fear is a direct indictment of the care of God over us. Ever notice how often Jesus and the emissaries of God say, “Fear not—fear not?” People are scared of God. They are scared of everything. Fear and fear is something that sits in your members and it’s closely connected with rage and closely connected with depression. People who experience these kinds of feelings have their bodies “eaten up” by these feelings. That’s because those feelings are literally in their bodies. [45:27]
Now, let’s go the other way, OK? I’ve talked about the conveyor belt, the automatic pilot to sin, okay? There is also a conveyor belt to righteousness. This is gonna be hard for you to believe. I sometimes think that the most difficult verse for us to believe in the Bible is the one where it says, “Elijah was a person of like passions as we are.” (James 5:17) It’s very hard for us to believe that Jesus Christ experienced life in the way we do and in a certain sense, of course, He did not, because He chose not to sin. But, you see, the real issue for us is this—can we live as He did? The answer is that God intends to bring us to where we can. He intends us to bring us to where the conveyor belt to truthfulness, to hopefulness, to kindness, to patience is just as sure and as certain as the evil conveyor belts that run in the other direction. OK. [46:50]
Now, I want to read just a few scriptures that I asked you to look at; with all of this in mind, I want to see if you can now get a different sense of what the body is and turn with me very quickly to Romans 6 and I want to read just a few passages from there and a few subsequent verses. What I am hoping is that you might begin at this point is to say, “Well, this is just literally true! What he is saying is literally true!” All right? [47:22]
Let’s look at Romans 6:12—“Let not sin therefore reign . . .”—where?—“ . . . in your mortal body . . .” Don’t let it reign in your mortal body. “ . . . that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof . . . “ Now, Paul you see is clearly implying an option that something else can reign in your mortal body, right? Don’t let “sin” do it. Notice that the word “sin” here is singular. He does not say sins. [47:58]
Those of you who have—and I know many of you have because of our conversations—have read such excellent people, as say H. A. Ironside and others know that sin is not an act; it is a state of the soul. It is a state of the soul in which the conveyor belts all run in the wrong direction. “The wicked are like a troubled sea,” Isaiah says, “casting up mire and filth constantly . . . “ (Isaiah 57:20) and the normal motions of fallen humanity in its individual and social dimensions is precisely all of the chaos you see around you. It’s precisely all of the stuff you read in the newspapers and know about the heartaches and the heartbreaks of lives around you. That’s just natural. That’s where that conveyor belt goes. That’s sin reigning in mortal bodies. That’s all that is. [48:56]
Romans 6:13—“Neither yield ye your members . . .”—what are your members? They are your hands; they are your tongues, they are your eyes, they are your ears, they are parts of your bodies. Don’t yield them! Don’t yield them “ . . . but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead . . .” That is to say, count the life of the ordinary world as something you literally have passed from by death and you are now resurrected in a new world. You live like a person who is raised from the dead. “ . . . and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.” You submit your members in righteousness unto God. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14) [49:49]
I’ll skip down to the 19th verse (Romans)—“I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.” Romans, verse 22—“But now being made free from sin . . .” Notice, free from sin. “ . . . and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”
Look at verse 5 of chapter 7 (Romans)—“For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins . . .”—notice, sins plural, okay—“ . . . the motions of sins . . .” Now, here He descends to the level of particular feelings and actions and these he treats as motions in our bodies and you see, what I am saying to you this evening, is you must take this very seriously and literally. There is something in your body that will defeat you. This is not poetic talk. It’s in your body and what you have to do is recognize that and in the manner in which Paul does it, take your stand over against it. [51:14]
Verse thirteen (Romans 7)—“ . . . sin that it might appear sin, working death in me . . .” Sin took the law itself to enforce the evil that it was doing in my life. We could spend a lot of time enlarging on that.
But now, look at Paul’s stance in verse 17 (Romans 7)—“ . . . then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” I want to deal frankly with just this one point on that verse. Many people say this is excuses; what we are hearing is an excuse and we know that it can be so if a person’s intent is to find an excuse, he could take Paul’s word here and say, “Well, I’m not doing it. It’s sin which is in my members.” See? Paul is not saying that. Paul is saying, “I stand over against. I condemn the evil, which is in my members. It is not I. I will not be that person. I will not be that person that is governed by impatience or fear or lust. I will not be that person.” It is at that point that we begin to move away and re-identify ourselves and become the “new” man, the “new” woman in Christ Jesus. This is the point at which we put off the “old” man and put on the “new.” [52:48]
Now, in the coming weeks, we are going to be looking at particular ways in which we do this. If you look at the sheets, you will see that I have divided the disciplines to be studied into Disciplines of Abstinence and Disciplines of Engagement. We are going to start out with Disciplines of Abstinence and the paradigm of disciplines that are fasting.
I didn’t leave enough time for questions this evening. I hope you will keep your questions. Don’t lose them. Write them down because we will make time and I am very happy to talk about them afterwards if you want to stop by. [53:28]
Let’s close in prayer. “Lord we thank you for your Word. We are so grateful that we’ve got a book, which tells us what is going on in us. Lord, help us to understand the way to work with you as you conform us to your image. Everyone in the particular place where they are in life—answer that prayer as we go through these coming weeks, for the glory of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Thank You. (Oh, there are extra copies of the program for the coming attractions up here on the front.)