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July 2014

Grace and Law

Peter Potterfield has hiked over 10,000 miles of trails on six continents.  In his book, Classic Hikes of the World, he shares some of his favorites.  Among them is Kungsleden, Sweden, the Kings Trail.  Potterfield hiked 65 miles through birch forests, open tundra, beside big glaciers, and then over the shoulder of Sweden’s highest peak, Mt. Kebnekaise towering 6,926 feet above sea level.  This trail lies 100 miles inside of the Arctic Circle, so it definitely qualifies as a far north trail.  On his tips to fellow hikers, Potterfield said that this trail can be hiked in either direction, but he advised  traveling from north to south because it keeps the sun on your face, which is no small consideration in the Arctic!
 
In Romans, Paul wrote to believers about the trail of life.  He acknowledged that we can hike this trail in either direction, toward grace or toward law.    He strongly recommended that we hike this trail in the direction of grace, because only then does the path lead to life and only then can we daily enjoy the Son before our face. 
 
Paul has been communicating through a series of questions (6:1,14) and he continues using that literary device throughout chapter 7 (7:1,7, 13). 
 
Don’t You Know that Death Releases Us from the Law?
Paul continued his discussion about how grace affects sin.  He stated that sin would not be our master because we are not under law but under grace (6:14).  We have a new master and have been freed from the tyranny of the law.  In chapter 7, Paul used several illustrations to drive this point home.  The first illustration was a simple story of how the law works and is directed at those who know the law (7:1).  The word “law” can be used in several different ways.  Paul most often used it to refer to the law of God, the 613 commandments contained in the Mosaic law, including the Ten Commandments.  In 7:1-4, the word is used in a broader sense about the laws of society, particularly those that regulate marriage. 
 
In the illustration a woman was married to a husband.  Under law, she was bound to that husband legally in the relationship of husband-wife.  If she married another man while her husband was still living, she became an adulteress.  However, if that husband died, she was freed from that law and allowed to marry another husband and was not considered an adulteress.  Death freed her from the law of marriage.  The explanation of the illustration is found in verse 4. 
 
First, just like the woman was bound to her first husband by the law, we were bound to sin by the law.  The righteous standard of the law held us in a place of condemnation, it bound us.  Remember the discussion throughout the last part of chapter 6 stated that we used to be slaves (bound) to sin.  But sin died, just like the first husband died.  How did sin die?  Through the body of Christ (7:4)! We were in Christ when he took on the sin of the world and died (6:8) and so we are dead to sin (6:11).  Since sin died, we are released from the law just like the wife was released from the law by the death of her first husband.  Now we are free to belong to another.  We are now married to Christ and instead of being bound to sin, we are bound to righteousness (6:18) not by the law, but by grace. 
 
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Prison Ministry
Desiree was born to a 16 year old single mom.  At age 2 her mother passed out while shooting heroin in the middle of cooking dinner.  Desiree pulled a pan of hot grease down over herself and got 3rd degree burns.  She was taken from her mother and lived with relatives and foster families until 18.  Sexually abused by several men she chose to numb the pain through the only thing she knew, drugs.  She has had 3 abortions and has given up 2 children for adoption.  Now Desiree is serving time in jail on drug related charges.  While in jail she has come to know Christ as her Savior and is studying Ten Life Choices.  She is beginning to discover how to choose REAL life instead of the counterfeit.  

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Surfing for God by Michael John Cusick reveals that a person's lust for pornography is really a search for their heart's deepest desire, intimacy.  Recent surveys report that over 70% of Christian men struggle with pornography.  The answer is more than "just stop it".  This book will help the reader identify their true passion and learn to choose true intimacy with God over the false intimacy of pornography.  

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The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3

 
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July 2014 Newsletter