This Mystery

reflections on theology and life

Tag: holiness (page 1 of 2)

Completed by the Spirit Part 21: Do Not Submit Again to a Yoke of Slavery

This is the 21st part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

Given all that we’ve stud­ied in this series, how do we apply what is shown to us about sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion in Scripture?

How do we grow in holi­ness or coun­sel those who are com­bat­ing sin by rely­ing on the Holy Spirit and fol­low­ing imper­a­tives grounded in the indica­tive of the gospel and the gift of the Spirit of Christ to dwell in us?

Our study has pro­vided us two answers: one pos­i­tive and one negative.

We do focus on the gospel.

We do not focus on the law.

When we set our eyes on Christ and look at His per­son and work, we behold more and more what it is that our union with Him has granted to us. Con­tinue reading

Completed by the Spirit Part 16: Exhorted in our Union With Christ

This is the 16th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

Abraham Kuyper

Abra­ham Kuyper

The Holy Spirit is “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” Paul wrote in . It is, accord­ing to Abra­ham Kuyper, a “mys­ti­cal union with Immanuel.”[1]

Our sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion is achieved by God through our union with Christ. “He who calls you is faith­ful; he will surely do it” ().

The great existence-altering event that hap­pens in our sal­va­tion is our union with Christ through His Spirit.

Paul writes in : “I have been cru­ci­fied with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave him­self for me.”

To the Romans, he writes:

[3] Do you not know that all of us who have been bap­tized into Christ Jesus were bap­tized into his death? [4] We were buried there­fore with him by bap­tism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in new­ness of life. [5] For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall cer­tainly be united with him in a res­ur­rec­tion like his ().

Con­tinue reading


27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gen­tiles are the riches of the glory of this mys­tery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (ESV)


23 Now may the God of peace him­self sanc­tify you com­pletely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blame­less at the com­ing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faith­ful; he will surely do it. (ESV)


20 I have been cru­ci­fied with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave him­self for me. (ESV)


Do you not know that all of us who have been bap­tized into Christ Jesus were bap­tized into his death? We were buried there­fore with him by bap­tism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in new­ness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall cer­tainly be united with him in a res­ur­rec­tion like his. (ESV)

The Enfleshment of the Law in the Word Made Flesh

Chad Richard Bresson

Pas­tor Chad Richard Bres­son at the 2011 Bun­yan Conference

At last week’s Earth Stove Soci­ety think tank, Chad Richard Bres­son pre­sented a paper enti­tled, “The Incar­na­tion of the Abstract: New Covenant The­ol­ogy and the Enflesh­ment of the Law.”

Chad asks the ques­tion, “What does the Pri­or­ity of Jesus have to do with New Covenant ethics?” He lists five implications:

1.      That the Law is a Per­son means the Law of the New Covenant is not encoded in exter­nal imper­a­tives or principles.

2.      The Law Incar­nate has placed a Per­son, the Holy Spirit, within the believer as the law writ­ten on the heart. That’s the upshot of ’s under­stand­ing of . The law writ­ten on the heart should not be iden­ti­fied in its typ­i­cal form, but its Anti­typ­i­cal… a Per­son, liv­ing and breath­ing life into and through the New Covenant mem­ber. The entire law “cat­e­gory”, as it moves from Old Tes­ta­ment to New, lands on a per­son. The tra­jec­tory of the ful­fill­ment of the law does not land on a new set of rules or prin­ci­ples, or even a sum­ma­rized list of the law of Christ. The Law as a type has its end in Christ. The law as a type fades away into obliv­ion because all types do… it has become a person

3.      Abro­ga­tion of the law and a denial of third use is a given. The law, like any other type of the Old Tes­ta­ment, has ful­filled its prophetic and rev­e­la­tory role and is gone and done now that the Anti­Type has filled up its intended mean­ing to the fullest.

4.      Imper­a­tives have a role to play in the New Covenant, but they can­not eclipse the Indica­tive, a Per­son, from whence they come. It’s not a mat­ter of bal­ance, as some have sug­gested. The New Tes­ta­ment doesn’t not speak of, explic­itly or implic­itly, a so-called bal­ance between the Indica­tive and imper­a­tive. In fact, see­ing the New Tes­ta­ment as hav­ing a heavy empha­sis on the imper­a­tives says more about the pre­sup­po­si­tions of the inter­preter than it does about proper hermeneutics.

5.      An Incar­nate Law does not mean that com­mands in the New Covenant are not impor­tant. It does not mean that obe­di­ence is not impor­tant. It sim­ply means the grounds for the dis­cus­sion have changed. Obe­di­ence to com­mands is the man­i­fes­ta­tion of the inward obedience-causing law writ­ten on the heart.

Chad has more at his blog, The Vossed World, includ­ing a link to his paper on Scribd.


3:1 Are we begin­ning to com­mend our­selves again? Or do we need, as some do, let­ters of rec­om­men­da­tion to you, or from you? You your­selves are our let­ter of rec­om­men­da­tion, writ­ten on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a let­ter from Christ deliv­ered by us, writ­ten not with ink but with the Spirit of the liv­ing God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such is the con­fi­dence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are suf­fi­cient in our­selves to claim any­thing as com­ing from us, but our suf­fi­ciency is from God, who has made us com­pe­tent to be min­is­ters of a new covenant, not of the let­ter but of the Spirit. For the let­ter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the min­istry of death, carved in let­ters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the min­istry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the min­istry of con­dem­na­tion, the min­istry of right­eous­ness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that sur­passes it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is per­ma­nent have glory.

12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the out­come of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hard­ened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day when­ever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is free­dom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, behold­ing the glory of the Lord, are being trans­formed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (ESV)


31:1 “At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.”

Thus says the Lord:
“The peo­ple who sur­vived the sword
found grace in the wilder­ness;
when Israel sought for rest,
the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an ever­last­ing love;
there­fore I have con­tin­ued my faith­ful­ness to you.
Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
O vir­gin Israel!
Again you shall adorn your­self with tam­bourines
and shall go forth in the dance of the mer­ry­mak­ers.
Again you shall plant vine­yards
on the moun­tains of Samaria;
the planters shall plant
and shall enjoy the fruit.
For there shall be a day when watch­men will call
in the hill coun­try of Ephraim:
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord our God.’”

For thus says the Lord:
“Sing aloud with glad­ness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
pro­claim, give praise, and say,
‘O Lord, save your peo­ple,
the rem­nant of Israel.’
Behold, I will bring them from the north coun­try
and gather them from the far­thest parts of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame,
the preg­nant woman and she who is in labor, together;
a great com­pany, they shall return here.
With weep­ing they shall come,
and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back,
I will make them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stum­ble,
for I am a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.

10 “Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coast­lands far away;
say, ‘He who scat­tered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shep­herd keeps his flock.’
11 For the Lord has ran­somed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
12 They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radi­ant over the good­ness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall be like a watered gar­den,
and they shall lan­guish no more.
13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourn­ing into joy;
I will com­fort them, and give them glad­ness for sor­row.
14 I will feast the soul of the priests with abun­dance,
and my peo­ple shall be sat­is­fied with my good­ness,
declares the Lord.”

15 Thus says the Lord:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamen­ta­tion and bit­ter weep­ing.
Rachel is weep­ing for her chil­dren;
she refuses to be com­forted for her chil­dren,
because they are no more.”

16 Thus says the Lord:
“Keep your voice from weep­ing,
and your eyes from tears,
for there is a reward for your work,
declares the Lord,
and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
17 There is hope for your future,
declares the Lord,
and your chil­dren shall come back to their own coun­try.
18 I have heard Ephraim griev­ing,
‘You have dis­ci­plined me, and I was dis­ci­plined,
like an untrained calf;
bring me back that I may be restored,
for you are the Lord my God.
19 For after I had turned away, I relented,
and after I was instructed, I struck my thigh;
I was ashamed, and I was con­founded,
because I bore the dis­grace of my youth.’
20 Is Ephraim my dear son?
Is he my dar­ling child?
For as often as I speak against him,
I do remem­ber him still.
There­fore my heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him,
declares the Lord.

21 “Set up road mark­ers for your­self;
make your­self guide­posts;
con­sider well the high­way,
the road by which you went.
Return, O vir­gin Israel,
return to these your cities.
22 How long will you waver,
O faith­less daugh­ter?
For the Lord has cre­ated a new thing on the earth:
a woman encir­cles a man.”

23 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Once more they shall use these words in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I restore their fortunes:

“‘The Lord bless you, O habi­ta­tion of right­eous­ness,
O holy hill!’

24 And Judah and all its cities shall dwell there together, and the farm­ers and those who wan­der with their flocks. 25 For I will sat­isfy the weary soul, and every lan­guish­ing soul I will replenish.”

26 At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleas­ant to me.

27 “Behold, the days are com­ing, declares the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. 28 And it shall come to pass that as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to over­throw, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the Lord. 29 In those days they shall no longer say:

“‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’

30 But every­one shall die for his own sin. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.

31 “Behold, the days are com­ing, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their hus­band, declares the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my peo­ple. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neigh­bor and each his brother, say­ing, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the great­est, declares the Lord. For I will for­give their iniq­uity, and I will remem­ber their sin no more.”

35 Thus says the Lord,
who gives the sun for light by day
and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
the Lord of hosts is his name:
36 “If this fixed order departs
from before me, declares the Lord,
then shall the off­spring of Israel cease
from being a nation before me forever.”

37 Thus says the Lord:
“If the heav­ens above can be mea­sured,
and the foun­da­tions of the earth below can be explored,
then I will cast off all the off­spring of Israel
for all that they have done,
declares the Lord.”

38 “Behold, the days are com­ing, declares the Lord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Cor­ner Gate. 39 And the mea­sur­ing line shall go out far­ther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. 40 The whole val­ley of the dead bod­ies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the cor­ner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the Lord. It shall not be uprooted or over­thrown any­more for­ever.” (ESV)

Completed by the Spirit Part 13: Love Poured Into Us

This is the 13th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

Water pouring from pitcher into a glassLove is a repeated theme for Paul.

While we have seen pre­vi­ously in this series that love ful­fills the law and that God’s love is poured into us by the Holy Spirit, let’s look at how Paul describes that love. In , Paul writes:

[1] If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clang­ing cym­bal. [2] And if I have prophetic pow­ers, and under­stand all mys­ter­ies and all knowl­edge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove moun­tains, but have not love, I am noth­ing. [3] If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

First, let’s note that in accor­dance with love being some­thing poured into us by the Holy Spirit, that love is not some­thing that would be described by Paul as “prac­ti­cal benev­o­lence. In fact, he cau­tions, “If I give away all I have … but have not love, I gain noth­ing.” Love is not the result of our actions; rather it is a God-given, Spirit-provided qual­ity that impels actions in the believer.

It is that same Spirit-provided love that forms the out­work­ing of the New Covenant ethic.

Con­tinue reading


13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clang­ing cym­bal. And if I have prophetic pow­ers, and under­stand all mys­ter­ies and all knowl­edge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove moun­tains, but have not love, I am noth­ing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arro­gant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irri­ta­ble or resent­ful; it does not rejoice at wrong­do­ing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophe­cies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowl­edge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we proph­esy in part, 10 but when the per­fect comes, the par­tial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I rea­soned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up child­ish ways. 12 For now we see in a mir­ror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the great­est of these is love. (ESV)

Completed by the Spirit Part 11: Not of the Letter, But of the Spirit

This is the 11th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

T. J. Deidun: New Covenant Morality in Paul

T. J. Dei­dun: New Covenant Moral­ity in Paul

There is one more pas­sage in which Paul speaks against the law for sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion, and that is . It is per­haps the most spe­cific com­par­i­son between a law of let­ters and of the Spirit – the γράμμα/πνε̣̣ῦμα antithesis.

[1] Are we begin­ning to com­mend our­selves again? Or do we need, as some do, let­ters of rec­om­men­da­tion to you, or from you? [2] You your­selves are our let­ter of rec­om­men­da­tion, writ­ten on our hearts, to be known and read by all. [3] And you show that you are a let­ter from Christ deliv­ered by us, writ­ten not with ink but with the Spirit of the liv­ing God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

[4] Such is the con­fi­dence that we have through Christ toward God. [5] Not that we are suf­fi­cient in our­selves to claim any­thing as com­ing from us, but our suf­fi­ciency is from God, [6] who has made us com­pe­tent to be min­is­ters of a new covenant, not of the let­ter but of the Spirit. For the let­ter kills, but the Spirit gives life. ()

Con­tinue reading


3:1 Are we begin­ning to com­mend our­selves again? Or do we need, as some do, let­ters of rec­om­men­da­tion to you, or from you? You your­selves are our let­ter of rec­om­men­da­tion, writ­ten on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a let­ter from Christ deliv­ered by us, writ­ten not with ink but with the Spirit of the liv­ing God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such is the con­fi­dence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are suf­fi­cient in our­selves to claim any­thing as com­ing from us, but our suf­fi­ciency is from God, who has made us com­pe­tent to be min­is­ters of a new covenant, not of the let­ter but of the Spirit. For the let­ter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the min­istry of death, carved in let­ters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the min­istry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the min­istry of con­dem­na­tion, the min­istry of right­eous­ness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that sur­passes it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is per­ma­nent have glory.

12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the out­come of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hard­ened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day when­ever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is free­dom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, behold­ing the glory of the Lord, are being trans­formed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (ESV)


3:1 Are we begin­ning to com­mend our­selves again? Or do we need, as some do, let­ters of rec­om­men­da­tion to you, or from you? You your­selves are our let­ter of rec­om­men­da­tion, writ­ten on our hearts, to be known and read by all. And you show that you are a let­ter from Christ deliv­ered by us, writ­ten not with ink but with the Spirit of the liv­ing God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Such is the con­fi­dence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are suf­fi­cient in our­selves to claim any­thing as com­ing from us, but our suf­fi­ciency is from God, who has made us com­pe­tent to be min­is­ters of a new covenant, not of the let­ter but of the Spirit. For the let­ter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (ESV)

Completed by the Spirit Part 8: Paul, Redeemed but Struggling

This is the eighth part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

As we vis­ited in our pre­vi­ous two install­ments, Dou­glas Moo describes three dif­fer­ent ways in which the man Paul describes in can be identified:

1. Paul describes his expe­ri­ence as an uncon­verted Jew under the law, a view we saw explained in the pre­vi­ous installment.

2. Paul describes his expe­ri­ence, per­haps shortly after his con­ver­sion, as he sought sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion through the law.

3. Paul describes his expe­ri­ence as a mature Chris­t­ian.[1]

Sin­clair Fer­gu­son advo­cates for the third view, a post-regenerate Paul (or generic regen­er­ate man) in , and sees the apos­tle as using this peri­cope to join with and to describe the strug­gle that the believer has between his remain­ing cor­rupt flesh and his new nature: Con­tinue reading


7:1 Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speak­ing to those who know the law—that the law is bind­ing on a per­son only as long as he lives? For a mar­ried woman is bound by law to her hus­band while he lives, but if her hus­band dies she is released from the law of mar­riage. Accord­ingly, she will be called an adul­ter­ess if she lives with another man while her hus­band is alive. But if her hus­band dies, she is free from that law, and if she mar­ries another man she is not an adulteress.

Like­wise, my broth­ers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were liv­ing in the flesh, our sin­ful pas­sions, aroused by the law, were at work in our mem­bers to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, hav­ing died to that which held us cap­tive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the writ­ten code.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seiz­ing an oppor­tu­nity through the com­mand­ment, pro­duced in me all kinds of cov­etous­ness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the com­mand­ment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very com­mand­ment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seiz­ing an oppor­tu­nity through the com­mand­ment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the com­mand­ment is holy and right­eous and good.

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, pro­duc­ing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the com­mand­ment might become sin­ful beyond mea­sure. 14 For we know that the law is spir­i­tual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not under­stand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that noth­ing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the abil­ity to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my mem­bers another law wag­ing war against the law of my mind and mak­ing me cap­tive to the law of sin that dwells in my mem­bers. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (ESV)


7:1 Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speak­ing to those who know the law—that the law is bind­ing on a per­son only as long as he lives? For a mar­ried woman is bound by law to her hus­band while he lives, but if her hus­band dies she is released from the law of mar­riage. Accord­ingly, she will be called an adul­ter­ess if she lives with another man while her hus­band is alive. But if her hus­band dies, she is free from that law, and if she mar­ries another man she is not an adulteress.

Like­wise, my broth­ers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were liv­ing in the flesh, our sin­ful pas­sions, aroused by the law, were at work in our mem­bers to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, hav­ing died to that which held us cap­tive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the writ­ten code.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seiz­ing an oppor­tu­nity through the com­mand­ment, pro­duced in me all kinds of cov­etous­ness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the com­mand­ment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very com­mand­ment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seiz­ing an oppor­tu­nity through the com­mand­ment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the com­mand­ment is holy and right­eous and good.

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, pro­duc­ing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the com­mand­ment might become sin­ful beyond mea­sure. 14 For we know that the law is spir­i­tual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not under­stand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that noth­ing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the abil­ity to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my mem­bers another law wag­ing war against the law of my mind and mak­ing me cap­tive to the law of sin that dwells in my mem­bers. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (ESV)


6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to con­tinue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been bap­tized into Christ Jesus were bap­tized into his death? We were buried there­fore with him by bap­tism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in new­ness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall cer­tainly be united with him in a res­ur­rec­tion like his. We know that our old self was cru­ci­fied with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to noth­ing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has domin­ion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must con­sider your­selves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin there­fore reign in your mor­tal body, to make you obey its pas­sions. 13 Do not present your mem­bers to sin as instru­ments for unright­eous­ness, but present your­selves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your mem­bers to God as instru­ments for right­eous­ness. 14 For sin will have no domin­ion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present your­selves to any­one as obe­di­ent slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obe­di­ence, which leads to right­eous­ness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obe­di­ent from the heart to the stan­dard of teach­ing to which you were com­mit­ted, 18 and, hav­ing been set free from sin, have become slaves of right­eous­ness. 19 I am speak­ing in human terms, because of your nat­ural lim­i­ta­tions. For just as you once pre­sented your mem­bers as slaves to impu­rity and to law­less­ness lead­ing to more law­less­ness, so now present your mem­bers as slaves to right­eous­ness lead­ing to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to right­eous­ness. 21 But what fruit were you get­ting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion and its end, eter­nal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eter­nal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)


8:1 There is there­fore now no con­dem­na­tion for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weak­ened by the flesh, could not do. By send­ing his own Son in the like­ness of sin­ful flesh and for sin, he con­demned sin in the flesh, in order that the right­eous require­ment of the law might be ful­filled in us, who walk not accord­ing to the flesh but accord­ing to the Spirit. For those who live accord­ing to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live accord­ing to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hos­tile to God, for it does not sub­mit to God’s law; indeed, it can­not. Those who are in the flesh can­not please God.

You, how­ever, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any­one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of right­eous­ness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mor­tal bod­ies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

12 So then, broth­ers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live accord­ing to the flesh. 13 For if you live accord­ing to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slav­ery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adop­tion as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit him­self bears wit­ness with our spirit that we are chil­dren of God, 17 and if chil­dren, then heirs—heirs of God and fel­low heirs with Christ, pro­vided we suf­fer with him in order that we may also be glo­ri­fied with him.

18 For I con­sider that the suf­fer­ings of this present time are not worth com­par­ing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the cre­ation waits with eager long­ing for the reveal­ing of the sons of God. 20 For the cre­ation was sub­jected to futil­ity, not will­ingly, but because of him who sub­jected it, in hope 21 that the cre­ation itself will be set free from its bondage to cor­rup­tion and obtain the free­dom of the glory of the chil­dren of God. 22 For we know that the whole cre­ation has been groan­ing together in the pains of child­birth until now. 23 And not only the cre­ation, but we our­selves, who have the first­fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adop­tion as sons, the redemp­tion of our bod­ies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Like­wise the Spirit helps us in our weak­ness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit him­self inter­cedes for us with groan­ings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit inter­cedes for the saints accord­ing to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called accord­ing to his pur­pose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also pre­des­tined to be con­formed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first­born among many broth­ers. 30 And those whom he pre­des­tined he also called, and those whom he called he also jus­ti­fied, and those whom he jus­ti­fied he also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him gra­ciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who jus­ti­fies. 34 Who is to con­demn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is inter­ced­ing for us. 35 Who shall sep­a­rate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribu­la­tion, or dis­tress, or per­se­cu­tion, or famine, or naked­ness, or dan­ger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than con­querors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that nei­ther death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor pow­ers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any­thing else in all cre­ation, will be able to sep­a­rate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)

Sanctification, Gospel and Effort

Tug of war in 1920'sJustin Tay­lor brings our atten­tion to an online dia­logue between Kevin DeY­oung and Tul­lian Tchivid­jian on the effort we’re called to make in our sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion. Since that ties in with our cur­rent series, Com­pleted by the Spirit, I thought it would be good to visit the dis­cus­sion as it stands so far:

The two pas­tors agree that the indica­tive of the gospel and our jus­ti­fi­ca­tion in Christ must be the basis of our sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion. But I think the dif­fer­ence can be boiled down to the dif­fer­ence between action and ontol­ogy. At the risk of over­sim­pli­fi­ca­tion, Kevin’s call is for us to “do” those things that are given to us as imper­a­tives, while Tullian’s call is for us to “rest in” the indica­tives so that the imper­a­tives flow from them.

Our view — and the one that will be explained in fur­ther posts in the Com­pleted by the Spirit series — is that Paul’s imper­a­tives are calls for us to “be who we already are.” We can do things that look like sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion but if those actions are done in the flesh, they are sim­ply behav­ior mod­i­fi­ca­tion. It’s a change in the heart that is desired, not sim­ply an out­ward change in actions.

To grow in Christ’s image, we must engage in “the hard work of going back to the cer­tainty of our already secured par­don in Christ and hit­ting the refresh but­ton over and over,” as Tul­lian explains. It’s know­ing who we now are in Christ that gives us the free­dom to be that new creature.

Completed by the Spirit Part 7: Paul, the Unconverted Jew

This is the sev­enth part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

In the pre­vi­ous install­ment in this series, we saw that the­olo­gian Dou­glas Moo describes three dif­fer­ent ways in which the man Paul describes in can be identified:

1. Paul describes his expe­ri­ence as an uncon­verted Jew under the law.

2. Paul describes his expe­ri­ence, per­haps shortly after his con­ver­sion, as he sought sanc­ti­fi­ca­tion through the law.

3. Paul describes his expe­ri­ence as a mature Chris­t­ian.[1]

Moo advo­cates for the first posi­tion: Con­tinue reading


7:1 Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speak­ing to those who know the law—that the law is bind­ing on a per­son only as long as he lives? For a mar­ried woman is bound by law to her hus­band while he lives, but if her hus­band dies she is released from the law of mar­riage. Accord­ingly, she will be called an adul­ter­ess if she lives with another man while her hus­band is alive. But if her hus­band dies, she is free from that law, and if she mar­ries another man she is not an adulteress.

Like­wise, my broth­ers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were liv­ing in the flesh, our sin­ful pas­sions, aroused by the law, were at work in our mem­bers to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, hav­ing died to that which held us cap­tive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the writ­ten code.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seiz­ing an oppor­tu­nity through the com­mand­ment, pro­duced in me all kinds of cov­etous­ness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the com­mand­ment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very com­mand­ment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seiz­ing an oppor­tu­nity through the com­mand­ment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the com­mand­ment is holy and right­eous and good.

13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, pro­duc­ing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the com­mand­ment might become sin­ful beyond mea­sure. 14 For we know that the law is spir­i­tual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not under­stand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that noth­ing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the abil­ity to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my mem­bers another law wag­ing war against the law of my mind and mak­ing me cap­tive to the law of sin that dwells in my mem­bers. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (ESV)

Completed by the Spirit Part 6: Who Is The Man of Romans 7?

This is the sixth part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I pre­sented at a New Covenant The­ol­ogy think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.

As we noted in the pre­vi­ous install­ment of this series, Paul draws no dis­tinc­tion in sep­a­rat­ing a New Covenant life in the Spirit from an Old Covenant life of the let­ter or writ­ten code ().

But Paul does more than tell those who would look to the law that they are wrong; he calls them adul­ter­esses. In his anal­ogy, he says that a woman who lives with another man while he is alive com­mits adul­tery. We have died to the law; to live as under the law is to com­mit adul­tery against Christ, to whom the church is betrothed, and to whom He gave His Spirit as a guar­an­tee until the mar­riage sup­per of the Lamb ().

Paul con­tin­ues in in a peri­cope of which the sub­ject is widely debated:

[7] What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” [8] But sin, seiz­ing an oppor­tu­nity through the com­mand­ment, pro­duced in me all kinds of cov­etous­ness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. [9] I was once alive apart from the law, but when the com­mand­ment came, sin came alive and I died. [10] The very com­mand­ment that promised life proved to be death to me. [11] For sin, seiz­ing an oppor­tu­nity through the com­mand­ment, deceived me and through it killed me. [12] So the law is holy, and the com­mand­ment is holy and right­eous and good.

Con­tinue reading


But now we are released from the law, hav­ing died to that which held us cap­tive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the writ­ten code. (ESV)


And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the mar­riage sup­per of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” (ESV)


7:1 After this I saw four angels stand­ing at the four cor­ners of the earth, hold­ing back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel ascend­ing from the ris­ing of the sun, with the seal of the liv­ing God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, say­ing, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the ser­vants of our God on their fore­heads.” And I heard the num­ber of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,
12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,
12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
12,000 from the tribe of Asher,
12,000 from the tribe of Naph­tali,
12,000 from the tribe of Man­asseh,
12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,
12,000 from the tribe of Levi,
12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
12,000 from the tribe of Zebu­lun,
12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,
12,000 from the tribe of Ben­jamin were sealed.

After this I looked, and behold, a great mul­ti­tude that no one could num­ber, from every nation, from all tribes and peo­ples and lan­guages, stand­ing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and cry­ing out with a loud voice, “Sal­va­tion belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were stand­ing around the throne and around the elders and the four liv­ing crea­tures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and wor­shiped God, 12 say­ing, “Amen! Bless­ing and glory and wis­dom and thanks­giv­ing and honor and power and might be to our God for­ever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, say­ing, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones com­ing out of the great tribu­la­tion. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “There­fore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his tem­ple;
and he who sits on the throne will shel­ter them with his pres­ence.
16 They shall hunger no more, nei­ther thirst any­more;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorch­ing heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shep­herd,
and he will guide them to springs of liv­ing water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (ESV)

Completed by the Spirit: Excursus — Bunyan’s ‘Of the Law and a Christian’

John Bunyan

John Bun­yan

Lest any­one think we’retreading on new ground in the blog series “Com­pleted by the Spirit” that we are anthol­o­giz­ing here, let’s take a moment and visit John Bunyan’s “Of the Law and a Chris­t­ian.” (This arti­cle is avail­able as part of John Bunyan’s Mis­cel­la­neous Pieces as a free down­load from Project Guten­berg or from Ama­zon in hard­cover, paper­back or Kin­dle formats.)

Unlike those who would say, “Moses will drive you to Christ to be jus­ti­fied and Christ will send you back to Moses to be sanc­ti­fied,“[1] it is the office of God the Holy Spirit and not the pur­pose of the writ­ten code to sanc­tify us. (The law-for-sanctification view is dis­cussed fur­ther in Part 4 of this series.)

In the late 1600’s, Bun­yan made the rela­tion­ship of the Chris­t­ian to the law as clear and plain as prob­a­bly any­one ever has in “OF THE LAW AND A CHRISTIAN” (empha­sis in bold­face mine):

Con­tinue reading

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