Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 3 * BOOK 67
BUT GOD! (Where Sin Abounded) – Part 3
Rom. 5:20, Rom. 6:22, I Cor. 1:23, I Cor. 1:27
Again, we want to remind our television audience that we are just a simple Bible teaching program. We don’t try to attack anybody. I don’t try to move people from one thing to another, but we’re so thrilled that folks are writing and responding that they are learning to study their Bible. I had one young man, maybe I shared it on a previous program, I hope I didn’t, but anyhow, he called and he said, “Les, I’ve been in church all my life,” he wasn’t very old – 26. But he said “I always sit there with my arms crossed.” Now, I could just picture these things, I hope you can.
He said, “I sit there with my arms crossed and whatever came across that pulpit that was God’s truth.” “But,” he said, “I started listening to you on the radio going back and forth to work,” in one of the Eastern states, and he said, “I was hearing things that I had never heard before. So,” he said, “I decided to check it out and read my own Bible.” He said, “I suddenly realized that what was coming off the pulpit wasn’t in the Bible at all.” He said, “I’m now thinking about leaving that particular thing, because,” he said, “They’re not teaching what the Bible says. They’re teaching what some man thinks.”
Well, this is what we love to hear. Not that we want to take people out of their particular church, that’s not the idea, but to be able to know that this is what the Book says and not what some denomination says. You know, I got away from that, thank God, when they asked me to come out of my own umbrella denomination and teach in home Bible studies where I had all these different denominations bombarding me with questions that in a denominational setting I’d never heard. Nobody ever asked. So, I’ve learned. My goodness, don’t just sit there smug and think well, this is what my church says. Get into the Book. Don’t go by what I say. Get into the Book!
We’re back in Romans chapter 6, and we’re still on “But Now’s” or “But God” or “But…” whatever, to show how you can take the Scripture and read up to a point where all of a sudden everything is different. That reminds me of another verse. Go to Philippians before we even start Romans. This is a good one, I just can’t help it. This is my way of teaching. Philippians chapter 1 and look at verse 10. Here Paul is writing this letter of commendation. Not condemnation. I can’t find a single word in the Philippian letter where he is admonishing them or condemning them, but it is all commendation. Now, look what he says in verse 10. Well, let’s start at verse 8.
“For God is my record, (the Apostle writes) how greatly I long after you all in the bowels (or in the very most inner most being) of Jesus Christ. 9. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; (or discernment. Now, verse 10) That ye may approve things that are excellent;…” But you know how that Greek word translated here ‘excellent’ is translated in many other places? ‘Different.’ Now stop and think about what Paul says, “That you may approve things that are different.”
How different? My, it is the difference between Law and Grace. And even for church people today, if they could just get into the Book and see things that are not just according to their denominational dogma, but things that are different. I wasn’t going to mention it, but sometimes I can’t help it. I get ahead of myself. A guy called last night all excited that he was reading a book, I think it was by Martin Luther, it was one of the Reformers, and it was right in the middle of a football game, so he probably didn’t have my full attention.
But anyway he said, “Les, I’m just reading something,” he said, “It is as if you wrote it yourself. But you know what’s so unique about it? It was quoted by an anonymous writer who was writing in 1069 BC. Now, that’s 400 years before the reformation started.” And I’m waiting. He’s going to mail me a copy of it. And he said, “Les, you could have written it yourself.” Now, I’m waiting to see what it is. If it is, I just may bring it along to the next taping and share it at least with the studio audience, if not with the television.
But see, this is nothing new – what I’m teaching – but it’s different. It’s not according to the denominational dogma of Christ’s earthly ministry and under the Law and all the legalism associated. This is totally different. You’re not under Law, you’re under grace. That’s one of the verses that we’re going to read. All right, are you in Romans chapter 6? Now, the verses we’re going to look at to find the “But Now” will be way down in verse 22. I’m not going to start there, but that’s what I’m heading for.
“But now, (Oh, what does that mean? That it’s a total difference from what went before.) being made free from sin, (or the old Adamic nature) and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end (And that’s the most important.) eternal life.” Because see, this is what we’ve got to make people aware of, there’s an eternity out there. There’s an eternity that people are going to spend one way or another. And how much better to have eternal life as to have eternal doom? But here’s the “But” that we’re reading toward when we go all the way back to verse 14 and build up to it. It may take two more programs. I don’t know.
“For sin (That’s the other word for the old Adamic nature.) shall not have dominion (or control or rule) over you: (Why not?) for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Now, you’ve heard me teach this for as many years as I’ve been around – that we’re not under Law, we’re under grace. Two totally different economies. All right, let’s go on.
“What then? shall we sin, (Now of course it’s a verb tense – shall we just go ahead and be a lawbreaker…) because we are not under the Law, but under grace?” See, that’s the argument all through these early chapters. Listen, just because you’re saved by grace doesn’t mean you now have license to sin. Quite the opposite. We are under more stringent guidelines as a believer than the unbeliever is under his ungodly lifestyle.
Because see, I think I put it on the program years and years ago. We have two fence lines that kind of keep us hedged in. And they’re all based on love. The first side of our alleyway, if I can use a farmer’s language or a rancher’s language, the one side of our alleyway is the love of God and the love for God. What’s the other side? The love for others.
And that’s what salvation brings about. Salvation makes us a different kind of a person. We’re based on love, which is the very epitome of the work of the cross. So, we’re hemmed in on this side by our love for God and our wanting to be obedient to His precepts, and we’re also hemmed in by our love for others. That’s the whole idea of loving your neighbor as yourself. You’re not going to do to your neighbor what you wouldn’t want done to you. Well, then our love for God is prompted because of how He loved us. Look at it again.
“What then? shall we (continue to) sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? (Well, again, the answer is the same.) God forbid. 16. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants(or slaves) to obey, his servant ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” In other words, we’re going to be a servant of one master or the other. We’re either going to be servant of sin and live the sinful lifestyle of the world, or we’re going to be the servant of God and His righteousness and live accordingly. Now verse 17, here’s another “but.”
“But God be thanked, (Don’t thank yourself. Don’t thank some church or denomination or me. We thank God.) that ye were (past tense) the servants of sin, (of the old nature) but (the flipside of that) ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered unto you.” What did I say in the first program? Romans is a book of what? Doctrine.
It’s not just a historical record like Acts primarily is. Romans is doctrinal. Well, what do you suppose the doctrine is that Paul is referring to? The Gospel of the grace of God. And what’s the Gospel of the grace of God? That “Christ died for you and He was buried and He rose from dead in power and glory” and He’s ready to impart eternal life when you believe it, plus nothing. Plus nothing! Because He’s done it all. Now verse 18.
“Being then made free from sin, (and the old Adam’s power) ye became the servants (or the slave) of righteousness.” Two totally different lifestyles. You can’t mix them. It just won’t work. You can’t amalgamate unrighteousness with righteousness. You’ve got a bad mix. It won’t fly. So, it’s one or the other. Now, verse 19:
“I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh:…” Now, what’s Paul saying there? I’m coming down to your level. I’m going to talk language that you as ordinary human beings can understand. And of course, this is a Roman church over there in Italy, far removed. Paul, I don’t think ever got there until he was there in prison. But nevertheless, he writes to these people, and he’s going to bring his language down to their level.
“…for as ye have yielded your members servants (or slaves) to uncleanness and to iniquity;…” Now, you remember what I said during the opening remarks at the first program this afternoon? What was the moral climate of the Roman Empire? Rotten to the core. We were just over in the Aegean Sea area a few weeks ago. And the guides like to show you, don’t they Bill? They like to show you the directions to the houses of immorality, because that was all part and parcel of the Roman existence. It was everyday life in their worship of the gods and goddesses and all of its attendant gross immorality. It was an every day occurrence. And it was into that kind of a lifestyle that Paul brings the Gospel of Salvation. All right, that’s what he’s talking about. Verse 19 again:
“I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: (I’m going to come down, and I’m going to talk your language.) for as ye have yielded your members (in other words, their physical bodies – you have yielded your physical bodies…) servants to uncleanness and to iniquity; (That’s all they knew.) even so now yield your members (Just as stringently to the other side of the coin, and what is it? Instead of living for the debauchery of the flesh, now live to the glory of God. Two totally different lifestyles) servants to righteousness unto holiness. 20 For when ye were (in their past life) the servants of sin, (That’s all they could think about, that’s all they could live for.) ye were free from righteousness.” Hey, good thoughts, good deeds never entered their thinking. It wasn’t part of their life. I could say more, but I won’t.
“What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?” Now, doesn’t that tell you? They didn’t even want to think about that past life, because it was so rotten. It was so filthy morally that they wanted to put it out of their mind. All right, so Paul is recognizing that.
“…for the end of those things (The end of that kind of a lifestyle was not just physical death, but what?) is death. (Eternal doom. And here’s my “But” for this lesson.) 22. But now (Oh, the flipside. Coming out of a life of degradation and ungodliness and no concept of God and eternity–) But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, (Now, look at the whole difference in that lifestyle.) ye have your fruit unto holiness, (But the most important part of all was what?) and the end everlasting life.”
Now, never forget it. My, we don’t hear it anymore. But for the believer, yes, it’s everlasting bliss. It’s everlasting glory. It’s everlasting life. And everlasting is just what it means. It’s from now until no end of time. But, for the unbeliever, eternity is just as long. It’s just as endless. And it’s going to be total regret from start to finish, because they’re all going to have the same thought – I didn’t have to come here. I could have escaped this. But they didn’t want to. All right, so this is what Paul is driving home, that “But now” on this side of our salvation experience, this whole new life.
Well, let’s see, we’ve got time. Jump over to Galatians. These are verses we have all been through so often. But, I can’t beg for forgiveness for repeating, these things need repeating. Galatians chapter 5 and this is as good a place as I can think of in all of Scripture that shows one side of the coin compared to the other side, the flipside. All right, Galatians 5 starting at verse 19, this is the sinful side of the coin. This is the man living as a servant of the old Adam.
“Now the works of the flesh (that’s another word for the Old Adam) are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, (Now you see, they’re not the same. A lot of people think fornication means adultery. No, it doesn’t.) uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20. Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,” Not a very pretty picture is it? As I’ve said before, would you like to live in a community where this is common day practice? It’d be awful! Then you’re right back in the Roman Empire. This is what they were.
“Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” They’re not going to be in Heaven. They’re going the other way.
All right, now here’s the flipside. This is exactly what we’re talking about up here in Romans with the “But now.” Verse 22
“But (the flipside) the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23. Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Why? Because they’re what you could hope for. My, to live in a community, as I’ve said before, where this is 99% of the daily practice, why, it’d be heaven on earth, wouldn’t it? Sure it would. It’s not going to happen. But for the individual believer, this is where we have to see the difference.
Okay, now let’s come back to Romans chapter 6 once again, verse 23. After the “But now” that we reached in verse 23, this is the frosting on the cake.
“For the wages of sin is death;…” Now, take that slowly. What are wages? What you work for. It’s what you expend energy for. All right so, the wages of living the sinful lifestyle is going to pay off. It’s going to pay in full with what? Death. Hell. Spiritual death as well as physical. That’s the wages of the ungodly lifestyle that he’s been talking about. But now look at the flipside?
“…but the gift of God (That which God has offered freely, without cost, to the whole human race, if they’ll take it.) is eternal life (not doom) through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Eternal life! You know, I guess the Bible has purposely not given us the description of Heaven and eternal life. You know that?
I’ve said it so many times before, there is nothing in Scripture to give us any clue as to what we’re going to be doing or how we’re going to be doing it throughout all eternity. All I ever tell people is that I know one thing, it’s going to glorious! But how and where and whatever, no, it doesn’t tell us. You know why? In the first place, it could never be put it into words that you and I as humans could understand. I don’t think there is any way of explaining the glory that’s awaiting the believer in words that we can understand. So, God, in so many words, says I won’t even try. We’re just going to have to wait until we get there. But this much we know, we’re going to have “eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Well, we’ve got five more minutes. If we don’t finish the next one in this half-hour, we’ll just carry it over into the next one. Let’s go all the way up to I Corinthians now, and we’ll get out of Romans for a little bit. Corinthians, you remember, is a letter written to a church that had a lot of problems. I’m going to take us to I Corinthians chapter 1. Oh, goodness, I’ve got so many in this one. I don’t hardly know where to go. Verse 23 will be our “But.” Verse 23, got it?
I Corinthians 1:23-24
“But (Paul writes by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.) we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, unto the Greeks (That is the intellectual philosophers of the day.) foolishness; 24. But unto them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, (the believing element of Jews and Greeks) Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
All right, now, again, we’re going to come to this from further back and build up to it and see how this becomes another big flipside, or other side of the coin. All right, let’s go all the way back to verse 17. We’re going to build up to this “But we preach Christ crucified.” Now, a lot of people would like to say but we preach baptism. Now, I’m going to make people smile. Way back in the beginning of this TV series and that’s quite a few years ago now, you know – 15? 14? It wasn’t long after I started that I made the comment that my experience amongst Christian people is that there’s one word in Scripture that can set people at odds with one another, can raise the hair on the back of their neck faster than any other word in Scripture. And what is it? Baptism. Because you know, so many people have got different concepts, different practices, and if you disagree with their particular take on baptism, boy, you’ve got an enemy instead of a friend.
Well, I’m not going to do this purposely to raise the hair on people’s necks, but all I want to do is show, again, how Paul is putting the emphasis where it really belongs. So much of Christendom has put it in the wrong place. And I say it kindly. All right, we’re going to start here in verse 17, we’ve only got three minutes left, where he says:
I Corinthians 1:17a
“For Christ sent me not to baptize,…” Now again, I’m going to pick your brain a little bit. Not only you in the audience, but everybody out there in television. Why did John the Baptist come to the Nation of Israel? What was his number one priority? He was to do what? To baptize, the baptism of repentance is what it’s called in the Book of Acts, and to prepare the Nation of Israel for the coming of their Messiah. So, he preached a baptism of repentance, which was part of the Gospel of the Kingdom, not the Gospel of Grace that we’re in today.
All right, now it’s that baptism, then, that carries on through Christ’s earthly ministry and on into the Book of Acts, and this is what Paul is jumping up against. He did not come, like John the Baptist did, with a baptism of repentance. Paul is making it so clear. Now, let’s finish this verse before the time is up,
I Corinthians 1:17-18a
“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18. For the preaching of the cross (not the preaching of John’s baptism) is to them that perish (That is to lost humanity. So, as far as they are concerned, it’s a bunch of–) foolishness;” That one man, 2,000 years ago, should die? Whoever heard of such a thing? It doesn’t make a bit of sense to the unbeliever, so it’s foolishness. But don’t stop there.
I Corinthians 1:18b
“…but unto us who are saved (Now the preaching of the cross is what? It’s–) it is the power of God.” How much power in baptismal water? None. I don’t care what denomination you’re from. But the preaching of the cross includes Divine power. And you’ve heard me say it on this program a hundred times. It took more power of God’s power to set this sinner free from the chains of Satan and sin, than to create the universe. Now, that’s a stretch, but I’m making my point. Without that redeeming power of the Gospel of Salvation, you and I would still be in Satan’s chains. And that’s where it’s at.