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Lesson 13: Clothed in Christ *

Introduction: In the last several lessons we winced when we learned that "good" Christians may well be like the older brother in the story of the prodigal (Luke 15), or the religious Jews in the story of the "Good Samaritan" (Luke 10), or the friends of the king in the Matthew 22 story of the wedding feast. The "less righteous" readers of the lesson, on the other hand, were rejoicing. Salvation by grace is good reason to rejoice and keep on rejoicing. But, Jesus gives us all ("good" and "bad" Christians alike) sobering news when He describes ( Matthew 7:13-14)the path to salvation as being "narrow" with "only a few find[ing] it." How can it be "narrow" when it is given to all who believe? Is putting on the wedding garment of salvation a one-time event which we can later forget? Or, is it more? Let's dive into our Bible study and find out!

  1. Smart Salvation

    1. Read Romans 10:1-4. What is wrong with the Israelites? Are they lazy? (No. They are "zealous," meaning "hard working." The problem is that they do not understand the gospel. They have a gap in their knowledge.)

    2. If you continue to read Romans chapters 10 and 11 you will learn that salvation is by belief, but the problem is understanding it. Read Romans 12:1-2. Against what failing is Paul warning us? (Do not to be conformed to the world.)

      1. Why is this be a problem if we are saved by grace? (Notice that Paul is still talking about knowledge. If we are transformed by the gospel, then we "will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will." To "test" something is to learn more about it.)

        1. This sounds like a science project - we test something to be sure it is true. Why do you think that conforming to the world means we cannot properly conduct the test? (The problem with the Israelites of Paul's time is that they did not properly understand God's will. We have the same challenge - how to understand God's will. If we are transformed by the gospel, rather than conformed to the world, we are given the tools to test who is accurately describing God's will. If you are in the world, you testing ability is too dull.)

  2. Sincere Love

    1. Read Romans 12:9-13. Is there an insincere love? (Yes!)

      1. If you love evil, is your love for God insincere? (This text suggests a series of standards for sincere love. It seems that sincere love involves a serious commitment.)

      2. Considering the texts that we have read, would it be fair to conclude that the misunderstanding of the Israelites who rejected Jesus arose from an insincere love?

        1. Are a lack of knowledge and a lack of sincere love the same thing in this situation? If not, are they related? (Let's continue on, we need more information!)

    2. Let's continue reading Paul's argument. Read Romans 13:1-5. If we love God, what should be our attitude towards government? (We should not be rebels!)

      1. Why is there a link between a sincere love for God and a submissive attitude towards authority? (Romans 13:1 says that God instituted authority.)

    3. Read Romans 13:6-8. What do taxes and debt have in common? (Loving God means that we are good citizens. We pay our taxes and we pay our debts.)

    4. Read Romans 13:9-10. Do those who are saved by grace obey the Ten Commandments? (Yes!)

      1. Why? (They arise from our obligation to love others.)

        1. Let's revisit our "sincere love" conclusion. Is obeying the Ten Commandments and showing kindness to our neighbor a test of the sincerity of our love? (If we are transformed by the gospel, rather than conformed to the world, we can see this is a true test.)

        2. Let's also revisit the issue of whether a lack of knowledge and a lack of sincere love are related? (Yes, they are related. If you do not understand that a sincere love is reflected in a changed life, you do not understand the gospel.)

    5. Recall the older brother in the prodigal story? Read Luke 15:28-30. Would you consider the older brother's attitude to be one of "sincere love?" (He did not feel loving towards his father or his brother. He viewed his service and obedience to the father as slavery!)

      1. Does grace get us out of obedience? (By no means. Grace means our obedience is motivated by love, not obligation. The older brother knew about obligation, he did not seem to know much about love. For further proof of the idea that grace, love and obedience are linked, read Romans 6.)

  3. Getting to the Life of Grace - The Two Part Approach

    1. So, how does this happen in your life? How do we obtain a sincere love that results in a positive attitude towards God, government and those around us? Do we grit our teeth and hum? (Unless, like the Israelites, I'm confused about this, I've lived long enough to realize that this is easy to write about, but not so easy to do. Love is not something that comes from determination, sincerity or obligation.)

    2. I believe that there are two parts to living a true life of grace. Read Romans 8:1-4. How do we satisfy the righteous requirements of the law? (Jesus satisfied "the righteous requirements of the law" for us. Jesus did it in our place. That is the first part. That was heavy lifting for Jesus, but not for me.)

      1. Notice that Romans 8:4 seems to say that Jesus fulfills the righteous requirements of the law "in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature." Does that mean something else is required of us to qualify for the first part? (It sure seems that way. This sounds very much like the "sincere love" we previously discussed.)

    3. Read Romans 8:5-8. How do we avoid living in accord with our sinful nature? (We make a decision to set our minds on what the Holy Spirit desires rather than what our sinful nature desires.)

    4. Let's jump ahead for a moment. Read Romans 8:12-15. How do we use the Spirit to put to death the "misdeeds of the body?" (This suggests a progression - living by the Spirit causes us to notice, and then reject ("put to death"), those things which are sin.)

    5. Read Romans 8:9-11. How important is it to have the Holy Spirit active in our life? ("If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." It determines the eternal outcome of our life - heaven or hell.)

    6. How, then, would you describe putting on Jesus' robe of righteousness? (It is certainly not a one-time thing. It is not a "grit your teeth and obey" thing. It is first (first part) a decision to accept the sacrifice of Jesus' perfect life on our behalf. It is second (second part) a daily choice to be led by the Holy Spirit. This is what Romans calls "sincere love.")

      1. What part of this did the Israelites of Paul's time not understand? (They did not understand the first part (Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb of God). Jesus said they were like the older brother in the prodigal story - they were motivated by obligation, not love. That means they also missed the second part.)

      2. Does this discussion of necessary parts destroy our confidence in our salvation? (No. We are saved when we decide to accept Jesus' robe of righteousness. That decision can be undone if we continue to make the wrong choices. That decision is confirmed by making a decision to live a life led by the Holy Spirit. This is the "sincere" part of our love. What Jesus has done for us makes a difference in our attitude, thus a difference in our life. We still have "misdeeds of the body" to put to death by God's power. But, we are on the right track. Praise God!)

  4. Reward

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-52. What continues until the "last trumpet?" (Our flesh and blood. The final and everlasting change comes "in a twinkling of an eye" at the Second Coming of Jesus. That is when our transformation is complete.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 15:53-57. What enemies are defeated? (The law, sin and death.)

      1. Why is God's perfect law, the transcript of His character, an enemy that is defeated? (Because the power of sin is the law. The law saves no one. It simply condemns us and shows us our sinfulness. When Jesus perfectly obeyed the law, He destroyed an enemy that would have otherwise required our death. For that reason, the law, sin and death are all defeated.)

    3. Friend, would you like to embark on the journey of transformation? Would you like to hear that sin and death are defeated in your life? If you want that, then accept by faith the sacrifice of Jesus on your behalf, and commit that each day you will ask the Holy Spirit to help you live a Spirit-led life.

  5. Next week: We start a new series of lessons on worship.
* Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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