by Thomas Bass | Les Feldick
“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 (in other words to take the place of that old Adam so that we could be crucified with Him), condemned (old Adam)sin in the flesh:”
I’m using the words “old Adam” in place of the singular word `sin’ throughout the Book of Romans, because that’s what it’s really talking about. Don’t forget what we have learned in the earlier chapters. When Paul speaks of `sin’ the singular, then it’s the old Adam, and he is the fountainhead of all our problems. It’s that Adamic sinful nature, and then the fruits of old Adam are the things that he causes us to do, and that’s `sins’ plural.
“That the righteousness of the law…”
The law was righteous. I said in the last lesson that it was weak, and I had you turn to Hebrews, but the main verses for that reference is in Galatians. Let’s follow that up in Galatians Chapter 4. And all of this is exactly what Paul is constantly referring to, and that was what the law could not do. It couldn’t because it was weak from the fleshly side, from mans point of view. From God’s point of view it was absolutely perfect, and always will be.
“Howbeit then, when ye knew not God,… (they were idolaters)But now, after that ye have know God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?”
What’s he talking about? The Law. The whole thrust of this little Book of Galatians is to prove to these Gentile believers up in Galatia that they weren’t under the Mosaic Law, but under Grace. The Law was weak and beggarly, and yet they thought they wanted to go back under the Law. Paul told them he could raise his voice against them because why would a believer want to go back under the Law once he has tasted of Grace? Back to Romans Chapter 8 again.
“That the righteousness of the law (as God first gave the law it was perfect, it was holy, it was righteous)might be fulfilled in us (who are believers, who now enjoy that position in Christ; and now as a result of that position in Christ which we have gained by believing the Gospel, now comes that appropriate place for that little statement in verse 1 that I said didn’t belong up there), who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” So the Spirit becomes our guideline for living. Turn over to Romans Chapter 13 for a moment, and let’s look at verse 8.
“Owe no man any thing (or defraud no one), but to love one another: for he that loveth another (in other words the love of God is operating in that believer) hath fulfilled the law.” And then you come on down to verse 10 and we find:
“Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love (the God-given love) is the fulfilling of the law.”
Nothing we could do would do it, but when the love of God that is imparted now through the power of the Holy Spirit works in our life then, yes, we fulfill the whole law. Back again to Romans Chapter 8.
“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
One of the marks of true Salvation is a change in lifestyle. It’s a change in appetite, it’s a change in our whole thought process. Because whereas we were once under the control of the world and the flesh, and the Devil, now we’re under the control of the Spirit of God. The things Paul says I once hated now I love, and the things I once loved I now hate, and that’s exactly as it should be. That’s what I always look for if I’ve had the opportunity of bringing someone to a knowledge of Salvation. I like to see that complete change in lifestyle. That change in desire, because that’s the whole point. Now, he comes into verse 5, and he makes this comparison again between the lost and saved individual, the true Christian.
“For they that are after the flesh (now I believe that this word `flesh’ is the same as sin. It’s old Adam)do mind the things of the flesh (or old Adam. That makes sense doesn’t it? When a person is still out in the world, he’s in spiritual darkness, he is blinded by the god of this world so that he can’t believe. Then, naturally, all he has any concern for are the things of this world. He has fleshly appetites, he has nothing but fleshly visions of materialism and so forth, so he has no concept of the Spirit. And so they mind the things of the flesh, or the old Adamic nature); but (the flip side)they that are (living) after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.”
Over and over I’ve seen some of the most ungodly people who never had any spiritual appetite whatsoever. And yet when they came to believe the Gospel and were genuinely saved, they can’t exhaust what’s in this Book. They just can’t get enough of it. Well, that’s as it should be. That’s exactly the way Scripture wants it to be.
“For to be carnally…”
What does it mean to be carnal? Sometimes Paul will speak of a carnal Christian, a carnal believer, one who is not Spirit-filled, and one who is not Spirit-directed. He’s a believer, he’s in the Body of Christ, but his priorities are mixed up, and he’s still more in the flesh than he is in the Spirit. Paul refers to that kind of person as a carnal believer, but normally when we see this word `carnal’ we think of the lost individual, the individual who is still under control of old Adam. He is still in the flesh, he has nothing of eternal life in him whatsoever, he is carnal. Now, read on:
“For to be carnally minded is death;…” Remember what Jesus said about this?
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Well, this verse 6 here in Romans is the same thing. These lost people are headed in only one direction, and that is spiritual death – eternal death, and absolutely there’s an eternal doom for those who reject the Gospel. And sad to say, all through human history that’s always been the biggest majority. Remember the analogy that Jesus used of the broad way and narrow way?
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
God has always had to be satisfied with just that small remnant. You can go all the way back to Elijah there on Mount Carmel, and the account of how he put to death all the prophets of Baal. Then Queen Jezebel heard about it and sent a messenger right back to tell Elijah that “by tomorrow at this time he’ll be just as dead as my prophets,” Then instead of standing up, and realizing that his God had just defeated all the powers of Baal, what did Elijah do? He ran, and ran, and ran. He must of been in pretty good shape. But he ran a long ways, and when he finally pooped out what did he do? He sat down under a little old Juniper tree out there in the desert and said, “God take my life, this is the last of Israel, I’m the only one left.”But what was God’s answer? “Elijah there aren’t many, but I do still have 7000.” That was a remnant. And it was that way all the way up through human history. And even now through the Church Age it’s always been just a small percentage, a small remnant, and I feel that as we’re rushing to the end times it’s getting smaller and smaller.
I appreciated the message our own pastor brought last Sunday night. He was preaching on the 144,000 in Revelation 7, and I agreed with him 110%. He said, “I foresee no great world-wide revival,” and neither do I. But he did say that there could be pockets here and there which means that we’re not to just give up and say, “Well, it’s never going to happen.” Maybe you and I can cause a revival in our little corner of the world. But there is certainly nothing in Scripture that indicates that there is going to be a vast revival in the Church Age. The Tribulation will be a different story. When those 144,000 Jewish preachers go to work there is going to be a great multitude saved. The Scripture says that. But we have to be aware, for the most part, the world today is totally unconcerned about things of the Spirit. They’re more concerned with how much salary they can make, how big their home is, and how many cars they can drive. There is nothing wrong with those things in their rightful place, but when they become first priority, blinding them to spiritual truths, they’re going to be awfully sorry someday. They are going to wish they would have had their priorities straight.
“For to be carnally minded is death (spiritual death, and eternal doom without end); but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”
And what kind of life? The eternal life of God Himself has now become part and parcel of every one of us who believes, and it’s going to carry throughout all eternity. We can’t comprehend that, at least I can’t, anymore than I can comprehend the outer edges of space; it is beyond us. When I read some of these things it just boggles my mind. I was reading an article that someone gave me the other night. To show the eternalness and the infiniteness of God, our sun in the solar system is so huge that it would take a million and three hundred thousand of our planet earth just to equal the size of it. Now, that’s beyond my understanding, and then the star Centaurus out there is so much bigger again than our sun that it would take several hundred thousand of our sun to equal the size of it. That’s the infinite God! That’s eternity! And that’s where we’re headed. So we’re dealing with eternal things that are without dimensions, that are beyond human comprehension. And what little we do comprehend, we appropriate how? By faith!
I’ve stressed over the years this is not some far out kooky stuff that some Jew sat by his camp fire and dreamed up. No, No. Because there is so much of prophecy in this Book that foretold events hundreds, and thousands of years in advance, and it’s all come true. Everything that hasn’t come true yet – we can already see the handwriting on the wall, that it’s about to. If that much is true, then why can’t it all be true? Well, it is. So when we contemplate these things, we just rest on The Word of God as absolute, it’s true, and as sure as anything can be, and we can rest on it. This next verse throws a curve at most people. And this is another thing that would be hard to comprehend if The Book didn’t say it.
“Because the carnal mind (anyone who is still under the control of old Adam. Someone who has never had the power of the Gospel operate in their life, he is still the carnal mind, and that mind)is enmity against God;…”
You talk to good people here in Oklahoma or anywhere else you can think of, and they’ll say, “Well, no, I don’t hate God. I love God, I believe in Him, I’m not His enemy.” Oh, no, The Book says they are, and The Book doesn’t lie. Now, how can The Book say that when people say the opposite. Because you see their old Adamic nature is still a rebel, and that’s what people have to be convinced of. Their old Adamic nature is a natural born rebel against the things of God. And if you’re a rebel, then you’re an enemy! There are many of us that use the expression, “With friends like that, who needs enemies?” Well, it’s the same way with God. A lot of these people who claim to be His friend, hey, He can’t call them His friends. They’re His enemy. Why? Because they’re in that state of mind that is rebellious. They’re not going to do what God says to do. They’re not going to admit that they’re a sinner. They’re not going to admit that they have a spiritual lacking. Well, what is that? That’s rebellion. And when you’re a rebel, then you’re an enemy, and it’s that simple. Now, reading on:
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God (now the next part of that verse is shocking): for it (the Adamic mind)is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
That’s scary isn’t it? Do you know what I always think of when I read that? I think it’s amazing that man is as civilized as he is. I really do. Because the unsaved person is not subject to the law of God. God doesn’t expect the unbeliever to keep His law. God doesn’t expect the unbeliever to be a good person, because God sees down in his nature that he’s anything but good. Let’s go back to where we were several months ago in Romans Chapter 3, and let’s start at verse 10.
“As it is written, `There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth (that is in that old Adamic nature), there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.’”
And you see people won’t agree to that, and will say, “Now wait a minute that’s not me. I do a lot of good. I’m a good citizen, I contribute to a lot of charity.” But you see that’s not what God is looking at. He’s looking at the heart. He’s looking at their old Adamic carnal mind.
“Their throat is an open sepulchre (that’s an open grave, there’s nothing pretty about that); with their tongues they have used deceit (we see this in our government and everything else); the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood (I don’t even listen to the news much anymore, because of all the murders, and why? Because that’s the Adamic nature see? And he’s being turned loose more and more); Destruction and misery are in their ways (you don’t believe that? You haven’t see the news in Bosnia lately): And the way of peace have they not know: There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Why not? Because they have no comprehension of Who God is. They have no real comprehension of the power that He can employ, they ignore Him, and push Him out of their thinking. That’s exactly what Paul is talking about in Romans 8:7. Let’s look at it again.
“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”
Now, that’s hard to swallow isn’t it? That mankind is not subject to the law of God, and can’t be? That’s what it says, and it means exactly what it says. And here’s the problem with the Christian community even in our present time now. We would like to think that maybe we could legislate some decent morality, and cause people to stop all of these murders, and stop the teenage pregnancy, to stop drug additions, but you can’t. We’ve seen that in the drug war, they can’t stop the drugs, and they’ll never stop the drugs until people stop wanting to use them. See? When people stop using drugs then the whole business will fall apart. Even back in the days of prohibition we had the same thing. They could pass a law prohibiting the sale of whisky, but did it stop? No. Because people still wanted it, and as long as someone wants it someone will produce it. That’s human nature. And even though the laws of God are clear, and precise, mankind totally rejects them. Verse 8, and here’s a conclusive thought: if this is the state of mankind which is lost; if this is the way people are when they are outside of the Gospel, outside of being positionally “in Christ,” then:
“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”
One of the absolutes of Scripture is in Hebrews Chapter 11, the great faith chapter:
“But without faith it is impossible to please him;…” (God)
And so the unbeliever who is an enemy of God is an enemy simply because he has does not have faith.