The Power of the Gospel, Part 6

Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

The depravity of man is a subject that is not often dealt with and perhaps even less of the time dealt with thoroughly. It is not a positive subject and it is certainly far from a tickle to the ears of those who gather to themselves teachers that will tickle their ears. However, if we desire to deal with our hearts in truth we must struggle with how the Bible describes and exposes our hearts. Part of the “felt” nastiness of the teaching of depravity is that human beings are not just sinners, but are slaves of sin and are even in bondage to sin. This does not fit with our concept of free-will or of some sort of freedom of human beings. However, this is a different kind of bondage. As we have seen the Bible teaches without equivocation and without shame that human beings are slaves of sin and are in bondage to it. “For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness” (Rom 6:20). “For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin” (Romans 7:14).

If we teach a gospel that is nothing more than delivering a person from our version of hell, then we will not be teaching the Gospel that is the power of God for salvation. The reality that so many refuse to deal with is that human beings are slaves of sin. If a person prays for salvation or has some sort of experience but has not been freed from that slavery, then that person is not a converted person. The true Gospel is the power of God for salvation and part of that salvation is to free sinners from their slavery. But many look to their feelings or interpret reality according to their own desires rather than the spiritual reality that the Bible sets out.

Scripture sets out that human beings are slaves of sin and if now converted they “were slaves of sin.” Notice how the Bible sets things out for us. When a human being is a slave to sin, s/he is free in regard to righteousness. When a human being is freed from the slavery of sin, then s/he is enslaved to God: “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life” (Rom 6:22). In other words, human beings are never completely free as they are always a slave. They are either slaves to sin or slaves to God. Human beings are always free in another sense, though. They are either free from righteousness or they are free from the slavery of sin. So people are correct to say that people are free, but that is not the whole point and does not get at the real issue at hand. It is a terrible slavery to be free of righteousness, yet it is true freedom to be the slave of God. It is in being a slave of God that one is set free by the truth and that one is able to be a lover of God which is true freedom. In fact, it is true life.

There is another truth underlying Romans 7:14 that points to another important point. The Law is spiritual and yet we are of flesh (sinful flesh). Those who are of the flesh and have not been born into the spiritual kingdom are in bondage to the flesh or to sin. The true meaning of the Law at its deepest points has to do with the soul and the spiritual nature of reality and how man is to be like God in the spiritual realm. But those who have not been born from above and are still in the flesh, they are dead to spiritual things and are in utter bondage to sin. They are in bondage to sin because they can do nothing spiritually and the Law can only be kept spiritually. Until a person understands the depths of the Law and its spiritual nature, that person will not understand the depths of his or her bondage to sin. The person in the flesh or the unregenerate nature is a person in complete bondage to sin. That person never obeys one spiritual command and so never fulfills the smallest part of the Law in truth. The person in the flesh has no power over sin because that person has no spiritual nature to do anything with or by. It is to be in the shackles and bonds of a master without any power to deliver self of.

But the Gospel is the power of God for salvation. The Gospel is not just a message with intellectual content to be intellectually believed, but instead it is God Himself in Jesus Christ actually delivering sinners from slavery and bondage. The Gospel is about a God who causes people to be born from above and so makes them alive to spiritual things. The Gospel is about a God that pays the ransom price of sinners and frees them from the debt that they were in slavery to. The Gospel is about a God that gives the free gift of righteousness so that sinners can be free to enter into the very presence of God. The Gospel is not just about intellectual things going on; it is about a God that actually does these things. The Gospel is about a God so powerful that He can do as He pleases. This is a God that actually does what He promises in the Gospel and so the Gospel is a Gospel of power. In fact, it is the power of God carried out in the souls of all who are delivered from sin. The glory of His power shines in the Gospel.

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