May 30, 2017
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 30 May 2017
"Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.” If the United States had a national folk hymn, it would likely be the oft-sung and well-loved hymn written by John Newton. The author of the hymn lived a reckless life at sea, and, as a result, Newton became an abandoned and godless sailor. When converted to Christ, he often contemplated the “astonishing instance” of divine grace and mercy. The hymn continues to be a resolute assurance and declaration of the grace of God working in all our lives.
“Just As I Am” is another popular hymn, which was written a generation subsequent to Newton by a young woman – Charlotte Elliott – who inquired how she could gain God’s favor. Elliott found God’s acceptance by placing her faith and trust in Christ Jesus. Elliott sang,
Just as I am, poor wretched, blind; Sight, riches, healing of the mind;
Yes, all I need, in Thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
How wonderful to know that God receives all those who come to Him by grace through faith, and thereafter “He always lives to make intercession” for his people (Heb 7:25). The one who trusts in God has the promise of God’s favor and peace, and with those blessings is God’s enablement to live by his grace and for his glory.
In Romans 7:24, the Apostle Paul declared, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” What is it that causes people to be aware of their own wretchedness? The answer is the amazing grace that one finds in Christ Jesus.
The dictionary defines the noun form of “wretch” as a “despicable person” and a “miserable creature.” The verb form, “to wretch,” is even worse in definition, and the imagination is sufficient to contemplate its meaning. The adjective, “wretched,” attributes the qualities of being “miserable,” “unhappy,” and “worthless” to a person, place, or thing.
What caused the hymn writers and the Apostle Paul to regard themselves as a “wretch” who were found by God’s grace? The inner sense of wretchedness is the awareness of the utter sinfulness of sin, which is a characteristic of spiritual maturity, just as the denial of sin’s pervasiveness is an indication of immaturity. Understanding the righteousness of God produces a conflict between the natural and the spiritual, and this conflict rages within the heart of every maturing believer.
Romans 7 explains how the power of the gospel frees the believer from the conflict that the law and sin produce. The mature believer is not one who never struggles to obey God; rather, he or she is one who has been freed from the law’s condemnation and made free to serve its requirements by God’s grace through faith. Where the law of God condemns, the believer can trade that slavery to “the law of sin” for freedom in Christ Jesus (v. 25; 8:1-2).
Do you ever find yourself thinking, “For what I am doing, I do not understand” (7:15)? Are you willing to do what is good, yet doing the very thing that you do not want (v. 18)? Romans 7 answers those questions by depicting how victory arises from conflict.
Romans 7 conveys a vital truth. Having been justified by God’s grace through faith in Christ does not mean that one can then perform a service for the Lord. The victorious Christian life is based upon the same principle that results in salvation, which is faith in the provision of Christ the Lord (Rom 8:1-2). Just as works cannot justify (save) anyone, neither can service for the Lord (sanctification) be achieved by one’s sole efforts.
Defeat is not God’s desire for his children. The victory depicted in Romans 8 is the Lord’s longing for believers. We do well to remember the victory that God desires for us, and to pursue that not with a frenzy of activity in which we seek to please the Lord. The life of victory is serving God with the mind (7:25), and also with our actions (Rom 8) through the provisions He grants through faith.
If the ministry of Capitol Commission can serve you in any manner that would establish and equip you, please do let us know; and, if you have not allowed us to do so, please grant us that wonderful privilege, and we promise our pastoral attention, care, and counsel to you.
P.S. Reminder: the next Capitol Commission (interim) Bible Study will be held on the first Tuesday of the month: 6 June 2017.
Your Capitol Missionary-Pastor,
Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia
Capitol Commission is prepared to encourage and enable local churches to participate in reaching our capitol communities for Christ (1 Tim 2:1-4). We only need to hear from you, if you have not already contacted us. We also seek to enlist individuals, businesses, and churches to become strategic partners with us in this ministry (2 Cor 8:3-6). Our success as a ministry is based upon God blessing all facets of the ministry, which certainly includes partners in this ministry. We earnestly desire to engage those who desire to participate in the ministry by offering their time and talents (Matt 25:20). If you have not already done so, join us and experience the joy of bringing hope, light, transformation, and truth to those who constitute our capitol communities.