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Day 201

Enjoy Your New Life

Wisdom Psalm 87:1-7
New Testament Romans 6:1-14
Old Testament Hosea 1:1-2:23

Introduction

Bishop Taylor Smith, former Chaplain General to the Forces, once had a conversation with a young man that went like this:
Bishop: ‘When you think about the cross of Christ, what do you see?’
Young man: ‘I see Christ and two thieves crucified either side of him…’
Bishop: ‘What else do you see?’
Young man: ‘I see the soldiers gambling…’
Bishop: ‘If that is all you see, I think you will have trouble with the Christian life. When I see the cross – with all that – I see old Bishop Taylor Smith. I was crucified with Christ.’

In the New Testament passage for today, the apostle Paul expounds and explains what it means to have been ‘crucified with Christ’. We are ‘in Christ Jesus’. ‘We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life’ (Romans 6:4). ‘We entered into the new country of grace – a new life in a new land!’ (Romans 6:3, MSG).

Soon after encountering Jesus I wrote, ‘I died in February 1974. My old life was buried. From then onwards I have walked in newness of life. It really does seem like that. Life before was so absolutely and completely different.’

Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, you are able to live and enjoy ‘a new life.’ In the passages for today, we see how this was anticipated in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament.

Wisdom

Psalm 87:1-7

Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm. A song.

1 He has founded his city on the holy mountain.
2 The Lord loves the gates of Zion
        more than all the other dwellings of Jacob.

3 Glorious things are said of you,
        city of God:
4 “I will record Rahab and Babylon
        among those who acknowledge me—
    Philistia too, and Tyre , along with Cush—
        and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.’”
5 Indeed, of Zion it will be said,
        “This one and that one were born in her,
        and the Most High himself will establish her.”
6 The Lord will write in the register of the peoples:
        “This one was born in Zion.”

7 As they make music they will sing,
        “All my fountains are in you.”

Commentary

New song

This is a psalm of praise. It is hard to understand and has been described as one of the most problematic in the whole Psalter. It is written in the language of poetry.

The psalmist concludes by anticipating the future: ‘As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you.”’ (v.7). This picture of overflowing water is an image of abundant life which the Holy Spirit brings.

However, Jesus says that all this was fulfilled not in a place (Zion) but in a person (John 7:37 onwards). Out of his innermost being flowed rivers of living water, the living water comes from the Holy Spirit which you have now received (John 7:39). We can now sing a new song of worship to the Lord, saying of him, ‘All my fountains are in you.’

Prayer

Lord, may your streams of living water of the Holy Spirit, flow into me and out of me today.

New Testament

Romans 6:1-14

Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

6What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14 For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

Commentary

New freedom

The insane but influential Russian monk, Rasputin, taught his followers that after their conversion they should go and sin more, so that in being forgiven, they would feel more of God’s love. He failed to understand that grace is not an excuse to sin. Rather it is a reason not to sin.

Paul deals with this very issue, asking whether, if grace meets our every sin, and as sin increases grace abounds all the more, should we ‘keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving?’ (v.1, MSG).

He answers, ‘I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good?’ (v.2, MSG).

Now we are free, we have a radically changed attitude to sin. How can we, who have been so radically changed – the difference between life and death – still live in sin? Once we were slaves to sin, in that we had to obey its commands, but now we are free.

In this passage, we see all three tenses of salvation:

1. You HAVE BEEN saved from the PENALTY of sin

Paul writes in the past tense that ‘our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin’ (vv.6–7).

Through the death of Jesus on the cross for us the past is totally forgiven. Your guilt has been removed. The penalty for all your sin – past, present and future – has been paid. You have been freed.

2. You WILL BE saved from the PRESENCE of sin

Paul writes, ‘If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection’ (v.5).

Your salvation is not yet complete. There is a future tense to salvation. One day you will be united with him in his resurrection and you will for ever be freed from the presence of sin and will enjoy the uninterrupted presence of God forever.

3. You ARE BEING saved from the POWER of sin

Paul writes, ‘From now on, think of it this way: Sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to you; God speaks your mother tongue, and you hang on every word. You are dead to sin and alive to God. That’s what Jesus did.

That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time – remember, you’ve been raised from the dead! – into God’s way of doing things.’ (vv.11–14, MSG).

Jesus has set you free, not only from the guilt of sin but also from its addictive power. You do not need to sin anymore – ‘sin shall not be your master’ (v.14). You are to count yourself dead to sin and alive to God. You do not need to obey sin’s evil desires. This is the present tense of salvation. You are being set free from the power of sin as you offer the parts of your body to Jesus as instruments of righteousness.

Prayer

Lord, thank you that you have set me free to enjoy a new life. I offer you my body today and pray that you will use me as an instrument of righteousness.

Old Testament

Hosea 1:1-2:23

1The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel:

Hosea’s Wife and Children

2 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” 3 So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

4 Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. 5 In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel. ”

6 Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Call her Lo-Ruhamah (which means “not loved”), for I will no longer show love to Israel, that I should at all forgive them. 7 Yet I will show love to Judah; and I will save them—not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I, the Lord their God, will save them.”

8 After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son. 9 Then the Lord said, “Call him Lo-Ammi (which means “not my people”), for you are not my people, and I am not your God.

10 “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ 11 The people of Judah and the people of Israel will come together; they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.

2“Say of your brothers, ‘My people,’ and of your sisters, ‘My loved one.’

Israel Punished and Restored

    2 “Rebuke your mother, rebuke her,
        for she is not my wife,
        and I am not her husband.
    Let her remove the adulterous look from her face
        and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts.
    3 Otherwise I will strip her naked
        and make her as bare as on the day she was born;
    I will make her like a desert,
        turn her into a parched land,
        and slay her with thirst.
    4 I will not show my love to her children,
        because they are the children of adultery.
    5 Their mother has been unfaithful
        and has conceived them in disgrace.
    She said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
        who give me my food and my water,
        my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.’
    6 Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
        I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
    7 She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
        she will look for them but not find them.
    Then she will say,
        ‘I will go back to my husband as at first,
        for then I was better off than now.’
    8 She has not acknowledged that I was the one
        who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
    who lavished on her the silver and gold —
        which they used for Baal.

    9 “Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens,
        and my new wine when it is ready.
    I will take back my wool and my linen,
        intended to cover her naked body.
    10 So now I will expose her lewdness
        before the eyes of her lovers;
        no one will take her out of my hands.
    11 I will stop all her celebrations:
        her yearly festivals, her New Moons,
        her Sabbath days—all her appointed festivals.
    12 I will ruin her vines and her fig trees,
        which she said were her pay from her lovers;
    I will make them a thicket,
        and wild animals will devour them.
    13 I will punish her for the days
        she burned incense to the Baals;
    she decked herself with rings and jewelry,
        and went after her lovers,
        but me she forgot, ”
            declares the Lord.

    14 “Therefore I am now going to allure her;
        I will lead her into the wilderness
        and speak tenderly to her.
    15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
        and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
    There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
        as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

    16 “In that day,” declares the Lord,
        “you will call me ‘my husband’;
        you will no longer call me ‘my master.’
    17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips;
        no longer will their names be invoked.
    18 In that day I will make a covenant for them
        with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
        and the creatures that move along the ground.
    Bow and sword and battle
        I will abolish from the land,
        so that all may lie down in safety.
    19 I will betroth you to me forever;
        I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
        in love and compassion.
    20 I will betroth you in faithfulness,
        and you will acknowledge the Lord.

    21 “In that day I will respond,”
        declares the Lord—
    “I will respond to the skies,
        and they will respond to the earth;
    22 and the earth will respond to the grain,
        the new wine and the olive oil,
        and they will respond to Jezreel.
    23 I will plant her for myself in the land;
        I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one. ’
    I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’;
        and they will say, ‘You are my God. ’”

Commentary

New love

God loves you unconditionally, wholeheartedly and continually. No matter what you have done, you can have a new beginning, a fresh start, a new life and a new love.

‘Hosea is the prophet of love,’ writes Eugene Peterson. ‘But not love as we imagine or fantasize it. He was a parable of God’s love for his people lived out as God revealed and enacted it – a lived parable. It is an astonishing story: a prophet commanded to marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her. It is an even more astonishing message: God loves us in just this way – goes after us at our worst, keeps after us until he gets us, and makes lovers of men and women who know nothing of real love.’

Hosea was prophesying shortly after the time of Amos (c.750–722 BC). His marriage to Gomer was a kind of analogy for Israel’s relationship with God. God spoke to Hosea and said:

‘Find a promiscuous woman and marry her.
    Make this whore the mother of your children.
And here’s why: This whole country
    has become a brothel, unfaithful to me, God’ (1:2, MSG).

Israel’s mistake was to chase after things (food, wine, fashion, jewellery and perfume) rather than God (2:5,8, MSG). They failed to see it was God who provided these things. All he asks is that you should seek him first.

God’s answer is to frustrate us when we chase after things rather than him, by not allowing us to obtain the things on which we have set our hearts. He says:

‘She’ll go on the hunt for her lovers
    but not bring down a single one.
She’ll look high and low
    but won’t find a one’ (2:7a, MSG).

God longs for you to be living in a relationship with him as close as a husband and a wife. He says, ‘I am now going to allure her’ (v.14a). He takes her into a desert (this is so often the place where God’s voice is heard) and speaks tenderly (v.14). ‘“In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’… I will betroth you to me forever”’ (vv.16,19).

This foreshadows the relationship of Jesus to his church. God promises a new love relationship between him and his people (vv.19–20). They will know (acknowledge) the Lord.

It will be a relationship of love and compassion. He says, ‘I will show my love to the one I called “Not my loved one.” I will say to those called “Not my people”, “You are my people”; and they will say, “You are my God”’ (v.23).

Prayer

Lord, thank you that through the death and resurrection of Jesus it is possible for me to know you. Thank you that I can walk each day in a relationship of love with you. Thank you that you show your love for us and call us your people. Thank you that I can say to you, ‘You are my God’.

Pippa adds

Romans 6:12–13b

‘Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body… but rather offer yourselves to God.’

We can easily get caught up with so many distractions, worries, fears, ambitions and failures that creep in and take hold.

Lets take a moment to offer our lives afresh to God today.

Verse of the Day

Romans 6:14

‘… you are not under the law, but under grace’.
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References

Eugene Peterson, The Message, 'Introduction to Hosea' (NavPress, 1993) p.1221.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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