Tag Archives: Mercy

Rich in Mercy


Numbers 21:4-9
Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
Ephesians 2:1-10
John 3:14-21


Look at these two sentences from the passage in Ephesians. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boastESV

There is nothing in there for you and me to do. In fact, this is not your own doing, not a result of works. It is Mercy, Love, Life, Grace, Kindness, Gift. I don’t even need great faith. The Holy Spirit will give me the faith I need.

A key point is the last word, need. I don’t know what faith I need, because I don’t know what work I am doing for God. He controls both.

Consider Agnes Bojaxhiu from Albania who became Teresa when she joined a convent and Mother Teresa when she branched off to head her own convent in Calcutta, a mission to tend to the needs of the dying in that city of death. She became world famous for her unending work. People flocked to her side to assist for a day, week, month. Yet, after her death, her published letters revealed her own struggles of faith.

Time in 2007 reported, Yet less than three months earlier, in a letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, that is only now being made public, she wrote with weary familiarity of a different Christ, an absent one. “Jesus has a very special love for you,” she assured Van der Peet. “[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see,–Listen and do not hear–the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak … I want you to pray for me–that I let Him have [a] free hand.”

I like the last line, let Him have a free hand. Too often we believe that becoming a Christian guarantees our lives will turn to sweetness and light. Doubts will never be a problem. The reality for most of us is closer to Teresa’s.

With her, or more to the point, with Jesus I can plod on to share the Mercy, Love, Life, Grace, Kindness, Gift. I don’t need to know what I’m doing if God knows. It is enough that what I am doing is a loving, kind, underserved gift full of life.


Read my earlier comments on this theme here.


Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Our Inheritance


Acts 2:14a,22-32

1 Peter 1:3-9

John 20:19-31

Psalm 16


The first two verses of this letter from Peter are an amazing expression of the Gospel and the triune nature of God. Please take a few moments to consider those few words. God chose us, the Spirit nourished us, and Jesus saved us. The word Peter uses to describe us—those who read his letter—is eklektos, chosen, or Gods favorites.

In verse 3 Peter uses the word kleronomia, referring to our inheritance. The word in the first century was used in the law, not in religion. It meant what inheritance means to us today. Here, Peter wants to be sure we understand that God wrote us into the will of Jesus. We have been given a gift by our Father that we did not earn.

Suppose you received a letter from a court several states away saying that your grandfather’s, brother’s son, died and you are to receive a share of his estate, even though you had no idea the son even existed. That would have come from far left field, like from the moon left field.

That’s what Peter says we are getting.

Further, we need do nothing to earn the inheritance.

Even though we understand getting money from relatives when we least expect it, we have a hard time understanding why God does not put stipulations on the gift he gives to us. So, we make up rules. God will only let me share in the inheritance if I give money to the church—attend church—be kind to strangers—feed the poor—don’t lie, cheat, steal, or go with girls that do.

None of that. It comes from God’s mercy; a gift to those who do NOT deserve it. What’s more, God has it safely stored in his private vault in heaven where nothing can ever corrupt it or steal it. It is better than gold under the mattress.

We do get some benefit from that treasure before we get to heaven. Because we believe it is true, our lives are the richer for it in the here and now. It is like getting a small advance on the treasure.

We know that good Christians suffer in this earth. Torture, beheadings, cancer, and, car crashes, all happen to the good and the bad, but we have the faith that the treasure in heaven will more than makeup for what happens to us now.


Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Romans 7-11


Monday, April 21, Chapter 7

Paul writes directly to the Jews in Rome by using the example of re-marriage to show freedom from the law.  In a similar way we are all released from the law because we are now free to do what Jesus tells us to do.  It is a strange concept, being free to be a slave.  Yet, only by being a slave to Jesus can we be free.

With verse 7 Paul has to defend against the possible attack that the Torah (law) is itself sinful.  He says it is not sin, it only points out what is sinful.  Remember that sin is separation from God, but also separation from our fellow humans, from all living plants and animals, even from ourselves.  In Heaven, we will be aware of every other person there.  We will be as concerned for them as for ourselves, maybe more so.  By following Jesus we come closer to God and others, even as we remain in a state of sin.  We are at best reforming sinners.  Hi, I’m Mike and I am a sinner.

The Torah teaches us about sin, but does not remove sin from us.  For that we need the Messiah.

Verse 9 may refer to the practice that a child was not responsible for any violations of the Torah until age 13, after the bar or bat mitzvah.  Paul is saying, now, what I cannot have is what I want.

Paul interchanges sin and death; they mean the same thing.

Verses 14-20 relates the human, or at least the God fearing human, condition of wanting to do good, but being unable to always do it.  For reasons we do not understand, we end up doing the wrong things, wrong because they hurt others.

Because we accept God’s Mercy of salvation through Jesus, we live in between, or perhaps in both, the world of sin and God’s perfect world where we will understand everything others say and do and we will never do anything to hurt another.

Tuesday, April 22, Chapter 8

Having explained to the whole church, but especially the Jewish followers of the Messiah, why the Torah cannot save us, Paul turns now to the joy of living in the Holy Spirit.  With the Spirit we can defeat sin more often; we can come closer to living the life we were created to live.

Paul Tillich, Witness of the Spirit, paraphrased.  This eighth chapter of Paul’s letter is like a hymn praising, in ecstatic words, the new reality which has appeared to him.  A Christian is one who participates in this new reality, that is, one who has the Spirit.  And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ,  he does not belong to Christ.  Flesh is the distortion of human nature, the abuse of its creativity.  He describes the will of flesh with a depth which cannot be equalled.  The natural man hates God and regards Him as the enemy, because He represents for man the law which he cannot reach, against which he struggles, and which, at the same time, he must acknowledge as good and true.

That is why Jesus is so important.  He connects us with God in a human way, a way we can understand, a way that seems to us to be natural.

Romans 8:26, In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

From Paul Tillich, The Paradox of Prayer.  There are two main types of prayer, the fixed liturgical and the free spontaneous prayer.  Both of them show the truth of Paul’s assertion, that We do not know what we ought to pray.  

The liturgical churches which use classical formulas should ask themselves whether they do not prevent the people of our time from praying as they honestly can.  And the non-liturgical churches who give the freedom to make up prayers at any moment, should ask themselves whether they do not profane prayer and deprive it of its mystery.

The question is: can we pray at all?  According to Paul, it is humanly impossible.  We talk to someone who is closer to us than we are ourselves.  We tell him our darkest secrets, but he knows the secrets we will not even tell ourselves.

When we pray, it is God Himself who prays through us.  The Holy Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  Words, created by and used in our conscious life, are not the essence of prayer.  The essence of prayer is the act of God who is working in us and raises our whole being to Himself.

For the last section of chapter 8, I will quote parts of Paul Tillich, The Meaning of Providence.  These well-known words of Paul express the Christian faith in divine Providence.  They are the first and fundamental interpretation of the disturbing words in the gospel of Matthew, where Jesus commands us not to take any thought about our life and food and clothing, and to seek first the Kingdom of God, for all of our daily life and needs are already known by God.  We need such an interpretation.  For there are few articles of the Christian faith which are more important for the daily life of every man and woman, and there are few more open to misunderstanding and distortion.  And such misunderstanding necessarily leads to a disillusionment which not only turns the hearts of men away from God, but also creates a revolt against Him, against Christianity, and against religion.

When I spoke to the soldiers between the battles of the last war [WWI, the sermon delivered at the start of WWII], they expressed their denial of the Christian message in terms of an attack upon the belief in Providence–an attack which obviously drew its bitterness from fundamental disappointments….  The idea of God seemed to be impossible, because the reality of our world seems to be in opposition to the all-mighty power of a wise and righteous God….

[What is Providence?]  It is certainly not a vague promise that, with the help of God, everything will come to a good end; there are many things that come to a bad end.  And it is not the maintenance of hope in every situation; there are situations in which there can be no hope….  But the content of the faith in Providence is this:  when death rains from heaven as it does now, when cruelty wields power over nations and individuals as it does now, when hunger and persecution drive millions from place to place as they do now, and when prisons and slums all over the world distort the humanity of the bodies and souls of men as they do now–we can boast in that time, and just in that time, that even all of this cannot separate us from the love of God.

 Wednesday, April 23 Chapter 9

Paul begins, or rather picks up again the advantages of the Jews.  Jewish tradition, believed in Jesus’ time, states that six things existed in some form before Creation:  the Torah, the Throne of Glory, the Patriarchs, Israel, the Temple, and the Messiah, or rather the name of the Messiah.  Since there is only one God, Jewish teaching does not allow for a Son of God or even a god-like man.

Paul, naturally, places the Messiah at the top of the list.  His whole point in this chapter is that Israel served as a model for the gentiles.  They acted as the custodians of the Faith until it was time for the Messiah to arrive.  Because of that special status, they were given special treatment.

With verse ten, Paul introduces the twins, Jacob and Esau, destined to be in constant conflict and destined to become symbols of faithful followers (Christians) and not faithful (gentiles).

In verse 14 Paul begins to deal with the likely objection that God is not fair, he had no good reason to pick Jacob over Esau.  The same question comes up in other forms in this chapter.  Paul’s answer is always:  God is our Creator; we are His to use as He sees fit.  Out if it all, Paul concludes that Israel and Gentiles are equal in God’s eyes.

Exodus 33:19 gives us the answer from God:  And the LORD said, I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, l  the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

Exodus 4:21 is in sharp contrast to the verse above.  The LORD said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.  Yet, both tell us that God is in complete control.  He alone decides who receives mercy and who does not.

Some people will argue that if we are the clay and God is the potter, He must be responsible for our imperfections.  Paul will have none of that.  We have free will.  Contrary to Calvin’s teachings, humans have the freedom to accept or reject God.  Did God force Pharaoh to chase after the Hebrews?  No, God knew Pharaoh would do it even before the Creation.  That is a power of God we have a hard time understanding; He stands outside of time, so can see everything that happens in the universe.  Think about an oil painting.  I know that I am a blue speck of paint next to a yellow speck; God sees all of the billions of specks that make up the complete painting.

We are made perfect by the perfect God, but we have to live in a world of sin which degrades us.  Sin works on us even before conception, sometimes resulting in malformed bodies and minds.  God wants us to meander through life, always seeking Him and trusting that He will remake us in the perfect form we started in.

Paul’s quotations from Hosea and Isaiah are proof texts of Paul’s point that both Jew and Gentile will be shown Mercy.

Paul asks an important question about Jews who have not come to follow Jesus, but he does not answer it in this chapter.  He will get to it in chapter 11.

Thursday, April 24 Chapter 10

As a Pharisee, Paul knew all too well how important it was for him to become perfect or righteous, not understanding that only God is righteous.  To become righteous, he and we must become a part of the body of the Son of God; perfect righteousness.

Verses 5-8 uses the following quotes:  Leviticus 18:5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD.  Deuteronomy 30:12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  Deuteronomy 30:13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  Deuteronomy 30:14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

The message of Jesus is another paradox; it is both simple and complex; both easy and difficult; both of Heaven and of earth.  All who believe the message and the Messenger will receive the Mercy of God, regardless of their good works or lack of good works.  It is always about the Faith of Abraham.

Friday, April 25 Chapter 25

Paul takes up the former question of the fate of Jews and provides the same answer he gives to Gentiles:  those who have faith can expect Mercy from God.  Do not be misled by the citation of 7,000 as the remnant.  Remember that 7 is the number of perfection; the thousands acts as a multiplier of the 7.  The actual number in human terms will be totally in God’s hands.

Paul hopes that Jewish non-believers will become jealous and become believers.  He continues to preach with that hope in mind.

To the Gentiles, Paul points out that being grafted onto the root of Jesse, the Jewish root, does not make them superior to the grape branches that have broken off the vine.  They are still God’s Chosen and He can do with them as He pleases.  Never forget that the Vine Dresser will prune off unproductive branches.

If there is any doubt, study verses 25-27 carefully.  God’s Covenant with His Chosen people is still in effect.

This is what Origen (about 230 AD) had to say about verse 33:  Paul did not say that God’s judgments were hard to search out but that they could not be searched out at all.  He did not say that God’s ways were hard to find out but that they were impossible to find out.  For however far one may advance in the search and make progress through an increasingly earnest study, even when aided and enlightened in the mind by God’s grace, he will never be able to reach the final goal of his inquires.

Pelagius (about 400 AD) comments:  Paul praises the wisdom of God, who according to his foreknowledge waited until all were in need of mercy in order to take from everyone the glory that derives from unfounded boasting in works.  The judgments of God are a great deep, for they cannot be clearly grasped.

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Romans 2-6


Monday, April 14 Romans 2

Proverbs 14:34 sets the tone for this first section.  Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.  Paul wants the Jews in Rome to realize they cannot judge because they do the same things, in the sense of Matthew 5:22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.

This whole passage is built around Leviticus 19:18.  Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.  I am the LORD.  Or if you prefer, Matthew 22:36-40.  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Jewish teaching has always been that hearing the Word of God does noting.  Doing the Word of God justifies us before God.  Paul warns his fellow Jews not to assume God’s Grace is only for them.  Exodus 34:6-7a, And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.

Paul uses the idea in Isaiah 42:14a, For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back.  And Isaiah 64:12, After all this, O LORD, will you hold yourself back?  God promises to punish the wicked, but he tempers that with Mercy.  Because of his kindness to us, we are expected to repent and return to Him.

We should strive to live our lives to benefit others, not ourselves.

In verses 9 and 10, the phrase, for the Jew first, refers to their greater knowledge of God, not to any special treatment.  Paul is actually saying they will receive punishment first because they should know better.  Christians join them, we should know better.

Never having heard the Word of God does not excuse anyone from sin.  Ignorance of the law is not a defense in God’ court either.

Paul uses Jeremiah 31:33, This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the LORD. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.  And Ezekiel 37:26, I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant.  I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever.  God gives his commands to all of us, Christian, Jew, heathen.

Starting at verse 17 we should read Christian for Jew.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Paul wrote to the Philippians 4:9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.  Much the same message as Rabbi Nehorai, Fit thyself to study Torah for it is not a thing that comes unto thee as an inheritance.  We cannot be baptized and be done with it.  Being a follower of Jesus is a life long growing process.

Verse 19 uses the common Biblical theme of light verses darkness.  God is light and created light.  Light shines on the darkness of sin and shows it for what is truly is.  If I am to guide anyone, I must first walk in the light.  But it is also true that the blind can lead each other into the light.  We cannot shirk leadership of those deeper in darkness than we are.

Rather than literally robbing temples (where wealth was stored) Paul probably is speaking of our tendency to use money and possessions for ourselves when they should have been given to God.

For Paul, to mistreat a non-Christian is to violate the Torah and dishonor God.

Rabbi Ze’era said there are four uncircumcisions of humans, the heart, the lips, the ear, and the flesh.  The first three are given in Jeremiah 6:10, Exodus 6:12, and Deuteronomy 10:16.  The physical circumcision is only an outward sigh of the inner circumcision, the cutting away of anything preventing us from hearing and doing God’s Word.

Tuesday, April 15 chapter 3

Paul opens with a strong defense of Jews and the special covenant with God. That covenantal  relationship has not been nullified by God.  Jews are still His Chosen People.

His appeal to Psalm 51:4 raises another issue, that of sinning so God can show his Mercy.  He has already rejected that argument in Chapter 2.  Paul stresses that we will be punished for our evil deeds.  Paul is punished for his sins, we are not any better.

Verse 8 makes it clear that Paul has been accused of preaching that we should sin to encourage God’s Mercy.  He rejects that idea again.

Starting in verse 10 Paul quotes Psalm 14:1-3, Psalm 53:1-3, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Psalm 4:9, Psalm 140:3, Psalm 10:7, Isaiah 57:7-8, and Psalm 36:1 all to prove that everyone sins, Jew, Gentile and Christian.

The Law tells us what is sinful.  The Pharisees believed they could obey every law.  Jesus told them they failed.  Do not commit murder by thinking bad thoughts about…anyone.

The only way is to repent as John preached and to repent as Jesus preached and to accept the free gift of the removal of the sins by Jesus’s death, the death we deserve.  We still have to be judged by God.  When that day arrives, Jesus will be our attorney and he will testify to God about our faithfullness to his Way of Life.

Paul makes use of Jeremiah 23:6-8 in describing the Messiah.  In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness. So then, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when people will no longer say, As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt, but they will say, As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them. Then they will live in their own land.

In verse 23 we fall short because we do not follow the Messiah described in Jeremiah 23:5. The days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up to David righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.  We have trouble doing what is just and right.

The word redemption was used for the purchase price of a slave to become free.  Paul urges us to give up our slavery to sin and be redeemed for a life of slavery to the Messiah.

Paul’s closing is saying that all are redeemed by Mercy, not by doing good deeds.  We are called to do good deeds because we love God and Jesus and want to do what is right and just.

Wednesday, April 16 chapter 4

Jeremiah 9:23-24.  This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.

Abraham responded to God, that is his and our only boast.

In verses 4-12 Paul develops the idea that Abraham received the righteousness of God without being circumcised.  Therefore, anyone can do the same by believing in God and in the Son of God.  If we depend on good works to  receive the blessing of God, we will fail.  We do good work because God has blessed us; we do them out of our love for God.

For you who are born as Jews, you have no special status with God until you follow Abraham and believe.  Righteousness is the reward for being faithful.  Punishment is the reward for trying to earn a place in heaven; we cannot do enough good for that.  Jesus was not raised from the dead because he healed, fed, and comforted, but only because he did God’s will every day in every way; he believed.

Abraham is our example because he looked at his 100 year old body and Sarah’s 90 year old body and still believed God’s promise to give them a son.  God does the impossible.

The last verse says it all.

Thursday, April 17 chapter 5

Peace comes only with justification, only when our faith is in God alone.  Offerings were made every day at the Temple until its destruction in 70 AD.  Peace offerings were among them.  The purpose of every offering was to atone for sin and to reestablish a correct relationship with God.  But the offerings had to be given daily because people sinned daily.  Jesus ended that process by  becoming the sacrificial lamb once and for all.  Since sin results in death and Jesus defeated death, we who believe in that miracle will follow him into Heaven.

The veil in the Temple that separates us from God can be bypassed if we hold fast to Jesus.

Christians who expect life to be easy are often disappointed.  We suffer in this world just like everyone else.  But God is with us in that suffering; if we persevere we will end up with hope.  Jeremiah 17:10.  I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.

Remaining faithful in affliction is what it is about.  Being faithful in good times is easy.

Paul uses the words: helpless, ungodly, sinners, and enemies interchangeably.

Paul  in verse 6 builds on Isaiah 61:1-3.  The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.

When you read verse 7 think of the most disgusting person you know.  Would you die for that person?  Jesus did.

There is a lengthy story about the Red Heifer that underlies all that Paul is saying in this long section about dying to sin and living to God.  The entire Red Heifer was burned on the Mount of Olives with both cedar and hyssop wood.  Cedar resist decay and hyssop was used to paint the blood on the doorposts at Passover.  The combined ash was then mixed with water and used to purify anyone who came in contact with the dead.  That week long cleansing turned a “dead” person back into the living.  The connections between Jesus and the Red Heifer are so numerous it is a wonder we Christians do not use it more often.

Verses 9-11 Paul uses to list several related ideas on hope, love atoning blood, and reconciliation.

In 12 Paul begins to discuss death entering the world through Adam’s sin, but does digress before he completes the thoughts.  Do notice that God did not create death; there was only a tree of life in the Garden.  Humans were expelled from the Garden before we could eat from that tree and be forced to live for eternity in a state of sin.  Also note that the word “sin” is not used until Genesis 4:9 after Cain kills his brother.

The following is from Romans by Joseph A. Fitzmyer.  Perhaps it will help clear up Paul’s muddled section of 12-14.

But the comparison is not smoothly worked out, for Paul also wants to clarify the dissimilarity and the superabundance of Christ’s grace that now reigns instead of sin and death, which had been in control since Adam.

Just as sin came into the world through Adam (and with it death, which affects all human beings), so through Christ came uprightness (and with it life eternal).

So the Comparison should run, but Paul felt the need to explain his novel teaching about Adam and broke into the parallelism to assert emphatically that it was Adam’s sin that has affected all human beings (5:12c-d, 13-14), making them not just mortal, but even sinners.  Because of this insertion, anacoluthon [inconsistent syntax] appears at the end of 5:14, and Paul’s real conclusion of the comparison is expressed only indirectly (when he asserts that Adam was the type of the one who was to come).

Verse 15 sums up nicely.  The sin of Adam affects us all, but the Grace of God in the free gift of his own Son overwhelms that sin.  Jesus justifies the condemned.

Paul Tillich, in a sermon titled, You Are Accepted, wrote I should like to suggest another word to you, not as a substitute for the word “sin”, but as a useful clue in the interpretation of the word “sin”:  “separation”.  Separation is an aspect of the experience of everyone.  Perhaps the word “sin” has the same root as the word “asunder”.  In any case, sin is separation.  And separation is threefold:  there is separation among individual lives, separation of a man from himself, and separation of all men from the Ground of Being….  We know that the fate of separation is not merely a natural event like a flash of sudden lightning, but that it is an experience in which we actively participate, in which our whole personality is involved, and that, as fate, it is also guilt….

Grace is just as difficult to describe as sin.  For some people, grace is the willingness of a divine king and father to forgive over and again the foolishness and weakness of his subjects and children.  We must reject such a concept of grace; for it is a merely childish destruction of a human dignity….  But grace is more than gifts.  In grace something is overcome; grace occurs “in spite of” something; grace occurs in spite of separation and estrangement.  Grace is the reunion of life with life, the reconciliation of the self with itself.  Grace is the acceptance of that which is rejected.

Friday, April 18 chapter 6

We must not sin because we have given up sin to follow the Son of God.

To be baptized is to be so fully immersed that we take on the color of the dye in the water.  The word comes from the process of dyeing cloth.  Once we have taken on the color of Jesus we will not want to sin.

Paul in verse 4 states a stronger argument: only be entering the grave of death can we have life.  This is one of the great paradoxes of the Bible and of Jesus; only by giving up this life can we truly have life.  It is like a scene from the Matrix where we have to give up reject that which seems real so that we can have what is truly real.

Isaiah 53:5, But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 


While we are on this earth we have to take up our cross every day and die to sin.  Sin is a constant state in this life so we have to keep after it, like pulling weeds from the garden, there is always one more.

Paul writing to the church at Corinth gave us these powerful words.  Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul closes this chapter with a nice summary and the classic verse 23.

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence