Thursday, December 11, 2014

Living Free From Sin: Reckoning part 2


         Let's jump right into the study!

Reckoning and Faith
        The first four and a half chapters of the book of Romans has a repeated refrain of faith, faith, and more faith. In the second section we don't find the same repeated mention of faith, which could lead us to believe that the emphasis is different, but it is not. The words "faith" and "believe" drop out of use as we come to the second section of Romans and "reckon" takes their place. We know that reckoning is to account and inventory, but what is faith? I am going to lay a very simplistic definition of faith before us, that I think gets the point across rather well. Faith is the acceptance of God's facts. What is reckoning but doing the account books of God's fact? They are one and the same as used here. The use of reckon here in Romans 6:11 points us to the past. Hope relates to the future, faith can have its object or goal in the future, but "reckon" relates only to the past. To reckon is to look back on what is settled, not forward to what is yet to be. Reckoning is the kind of faith Jesus is talking about in Mark 11:24 when he says, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask  in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." If you believe you already have then, in Christ of course, you shall have. I may get, I can get, or I will get isn't the sense of faith here in Romans 6:11 nor in Mark 11:24. Faith says, "God has done it."

Temptation and Failure: Challenges to Faith
         Two of the greatest facts in all the universe are that our sins are dealt with by the Blood of Christ and that we ourselves are dealt with by the Cross of Christ. What of temptation then? Does our temptation and failure disprove that we, as believers, are dead to sin in Christ?  One of the Devil's main objectives is to make us doubt divine facts (see Gen. 3:4). After the revelation, by the Spirit of God, of our death in Christ and our reckoning it so he will ask, "What of this stirring inside? Can you call this death?" It comes down to this: are we going to believe the tangible facts  of the natural realm or the intangible facts of the spiritual realm?
         To be able to combat these questions of the Devil we must recall the facts in God's Word that our laid out as a foundation for our faith. We are never told that sin as a principle is rooted out or removed. That my friend is a false position. Sin is not eradicated, and given opportunity it will overpower us again, consciously or unconsciously. The old man has been crucified so the body, previously a vehicle of sin, is unemployed. "Sin, the old master, is still about, but the slave who served him has been put to death and so is out of reach, and his members are unemployed" (Nee To-sheng). These members are now available to be used as "instruments of righteousness unto God" (Rom. 6:13). To put it plainly, we are delivered from a power that is still very present and very real. Sin is still there but we are knowing deliverance from its power in increasing measure day by day.
        We have sin in our history, but the history of something and the nature of something can be quite different. Consider wood as an illustration, though inadequate. Wood does not sink, for that is not its nature to sink; but in history it will sink if a hand has held it under water. The history is a fact, just as the sins in our history; and the nature is a fact, just as the new nature we have in Christ is also a fact. This is why John could boldly proclaim, "No one born of God makes a practice of sinning... and he cannot keep on sinning" (1 John 3:9). The sin principle is still around, but we are no longer employed by it for we have a new nature in Christ. What is in Christ  cannot sin; what is in Adam can sin, and will whenever Satan is given a chance to exert his power.
       Our choice lies here. Are we going to count on, daily tangible facts, or God's facts? We must make real in history what is true in divine fact. It is a matter of faith. Do we count on God or the world?
Substance VS Substantiating
         "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1) Here we find the only outright definition of faith in Scripture. There is a common English translation (KJV) which translates this as, "...the substance of things hoped for". The Greek here has a sense of action with it. A translation by  J. N. Darby renders the verse as, "Faith is the substantiating of things hoped for." It implies the making of them real in experience.
        A substance is an object or the matter making it up. Aluminum is a substance, but to substantiate is quite different. Substantiating means that I have a certain faculty or power that makes that substance to be real to me. Think of music. Music is a very real thing, but what if I am unable to hear? Music is still music, but to me, who am unable to hear it, it is not music. I need my sense of hearing substantiating music to me for it to be real for me in my experience. The same is true of color. Without the since of sight, colors are mere intellectual descriptions and ideas, but with sight substantiating color to me, well that is another matter entirely. Color becomes real in my experience. Nee makes the argument this way: "If I am blind I cannot distinguish color, or if I lack the faculty of hearing I cannot enjoy music. Yet music and color are in fact real things, and their reality is unaffected by whether or not I am able to appreciate them." Now we are talking about things "unseen" which the five senses cannot substantiate for us, but there is a faculty which can substantiate them and that is faith. Faith makes real  things become real in my experience. We must remember that we aren't talking about promises here. These are facts laid out in God's Word. They are divine fact. Facts are facts whether we believe them or not, but faith can substantiate them and make them real to us in our experience.
         "Whatever contradicts the truth of God's Word, we are to regard as the Devil's lie, not because it may not be in itself a very real fact to our senses, but because God has stated a far greater fact before which the other must eventually yield." Nee tells of a time when he was terribly sick. He had had a horrible fever for six days. God then gave him a personal word of healing from Scripture. He naturally expected all the symptoms to dissipate and be fully recovered at once, but he found himself in worse shape. He says, "The enemy asked, 'Where is God's promise? Where is your faith? What about all your prayers?'" Nee says that he was tempted to "thrash" out the whole matter again in prayer with God, but God rebuked him with the Scripture, "Thy word is truth" (John 17:17). He began thinking, "If God's word is truth [...] then what are these symptoms? They must all be lies! So I declared to the enemy..." and he woke the next morning perfectly well. Now I do not mean for us to go around declaring when we are sick that we are not sick, and I do not think that is the point Nee is making. He is saying that we are to trust God's Word with utmost faith. If what God tells you is contradicted by a whole world of experience and evidence, then in faith trust God as truth.
         As Nee put it, " We must believe God, no matter how convincing Satan's arguments appear." Now consider that Satan is the father of lies. He not only lies in words, but in deeds and experiences. He will do his best to demonstrate by experiences day-to-day that we are not dead to sin, but very much alive; God, on the other hand, has declared that we are "dead to sin". Which do we trust Satan's lie or God's truth?
         There is a wonderful illustration of this as Fact, Faith, and Experience are walking along the top of a wall. Fact walked steadily on, turning neither to right nor left and never looking behind. Faith followed and all went well so long as he kept his eyes focused upon Fact; but as soon as he became concerned about Experience and turned to see how he was getting on, he lost his balance and tumbled off the wall, and poor old Experience fell down after him.
        All temptation is primarily to look within, to take our eyes of the Lord and to take account of appearances. Faith is often against a mountain of evidence and eventually one must go. "If we resort to our senses to discover the truth, we shall find Satan's lies are often true to our experience; but if we refuse to accept as binding anything that contradicts God's Word and maintain an attitude of faith in Him alone, we shall find instead that Satan's lies begin to dissolve and that our experience is coming progressively to tally with that Word" (Nee).

         We see that temptations are still here because the sin principle is still around and at work, but we aren't employed by him any longer. We are able, by God's revealing Spirit, to reckon on what he has done in Christ and then live by it, but it depends on our own choice as to what we will believe in. Will we place our faith in Christ and God's Word or will we look to experience and fall pray to Satan's and his Lies? In the same way Abraham was tested. God commanded him to offer up his only son Issac. Abraham had received a promise from God that through his seed he would become the father of many nations. Experience told Abraham that he and his wife were too old to have another son and that if he slayed Issac on the altar as God was commanding him that he would not be able to become the father of many nations. Abraham chose to trust God despite what the mountain of evidence claimed and prepared to offer Issac. Abraham became the father of many nations. What about us? What do we choose?
        I will close us with this quote from J. V. McGee:
"You are saved by faith. You are to live by faith. You are to walk moment by moment boy faith. You cannot life for God by yourself any more than you can save yourself. It requires constant dependence upon Him, looking to the Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Spirit."
        Next time we will look briefly at "Abiding in Christ" and then have a few introductory notes for our next essential step in sanctification. Until next time, Dearly Beloved, may we rest in the truth of God's Word!

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