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Derek Prince - Who Will Set Us Free

Derek Prince - Who Will Set Us Free
TOPICS: Bible Study

In our last session we entered into the final stage of this pilgrimage before we reach our climax and our goal which is Romans 8. We began to study Romans 7 which is the chapter that deals with the relationship of the believer to the law. I warned you that it would be hard work but we went through just the first 6 verses in which Paul uses an analogy of marriage. I’ll just review that briefly. Paul says that when a woman is married to a man, as long as the man remains alive she’s not free to marry another. But if the man dies then she’s free to marry another. The way he applies this analogy is through the covenant of the law, Israel were married to their fleshly nature because the law requires us to do things relying on our fleshly nature, our own ability, not looking to the grace of God. But on the cross, when Jesus died, that fleshly nature was put to death in Him. Because of that death we are now free to marry another.

The other whom we marry is the one who rose from the dead, the Lord Jesus. So, we can enter into a new marriage relationship, not married to our carnal nature but married to the resurrected, glorified Lord Jesus. Through that marriage union with Him we are now able to bring forth the fruit of the Holy Spirit. While we were in the flesh we were incapable of bringing forth the fruit of the Spirit, all we could bring forth was what Paul calls the deeds or the works of the flesh and he lists them in Galatians 5:19 and following. And there isn’t one good thing among them. We need to see this very clearly. The works of the flesh are all bad and the fruit of the Spirit is all good. It’s not a little bit of one and a little bit of the other, they are totally opposite.

We shall see this brought out again in Romans 8. In the course of talking about the marriage relationship, I got into something which perhaps may have offended some of you or upset you or startled you, on the subject of divorce. I really didn’t intend to but I’m very deeply concerned about this because I believe uncounted numbers of Christians today, both men and women, are in a state of bondage or guilt because of a broken marriage. So when I wrote this book, God is a Matchmaker, the editors who had chosen books said write a chapter on divorce. I said, Brother, I’ve got enough problems as it is, I don’t need any more! But they pressed me and I prayed and I sought God and I felt God wanted me to write that chapter. It was a very hard chapter to write. In this book, although the theme is how to find your mate, there is a chapter for divorcees and there’s a chapter for those who don’t marry.

Now I cannot go into this but if you were concerned about what I said, about divorce, I think it would be fair to you and fair to me for you to get this book and read the chapter which is entitled ´divorce and remarriage´, read it carefully. And see if what I say is scriptural I feel that uncounted numbers of Christians have been kept in bondage or under guilt because of wrong teaching about divorce. I was guilty of that wrong teaching myself at the beginning of my ministry. I used to teach that way. I’ve had quite a number of letters from both men and women who read this book and read that chapter and thanked me. They said, Thank you for releasing me from a sense of guilt and the feeling of being a second class Christian.

So that’s all I want to say. Now we’re going to go back to Romans 7 and we’re going to deal with the second point in our outline which says the law brings sin to life and out into full view. Returning under the law when we’ve been released from it revives the old man who is still a criminal. Now let’s see where this is stated because it’s stated several times. First of all, we’ll go back for a moment to Romans 3 verse 20. Romans 3:20 Paul says: By the works of the law, no flesh will be justified in his sight... No one will ever achieve righteousness with God by the keeping of a law. Then he concludes:...for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. The law does not enable people to become righteous but it does bring out sin into the open and it makes us fully conscious the nature and power and evil of sin. That’s one of its main purposes. Then in this 7th chapter of Romans we read one or two verses there just emphasizing this point.

Verse 5: Romans 7:5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. Notice that what could be a very startling statement for some people. The sinful passions which were aroused by the Law. Most people don’t view the law that way. And then again in Romans 7:7–11: What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting... And the same word means lusting.

I think Paul had lust in mind more then coveting, if you ask me. ...I would not have known about lusting if the Law had not said, you shall not covet [or you shall not lust] So what the commandment did as one of the Ten Commandments is to bring the nature and power of lust or coveting out into the open. Without it Paul says, I would never have realized the full and true nature of lust. Then he goes on: But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting [or lust] of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. So, so far from the commandment making me able to overcome coveting, it worked in me an increase of coveting. I believe that’s psychologically true.

I want to say this in a way that will help you. If you are having a problem with lust or fear or hatred or resentment, you will not overcome it by rules that forbid you to do it. In fact, the more you focus on the negative rules, the more power that thing will have over you. If you keep saying, I must not lust, I must not lust, your whole mind becomes full of the concept of lust. So far from delivering you from lust it enslaves you to it. The same with fear, the same with resentment. I must not resent my mother-in-law. Well, next time you see your mother-in-law, all you can think about is resentment. That’s not the way out. Then Paul makes a very amazing statement there which I’ll come back to in a minute. He says at the end of verse 8: Apart from the Law sin is dead. I’ll tell you that I meditated on that statement for years.

I believe God has shown me the answer but we’ll go on reading a little bit to make our study complete. And I was once alive apart from the Law, but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died... The moment sin becomes alive, I die. You understand? ...and the commandment which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me. Through what did sin kill him? Through the commandment, that’s right. That’s not the words of Derek Prince, those were written long before I was ever thought about. And then in verses 16–21: But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good.

So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh... I’ve sometimes commented the difference between Paul and us is that he knew it and we don’t. But that’s the only difference. ...I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. But if I am doing the very thing that I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.

Do you see what the commandment has done? By causing us to take sides with God’s law and say that’s what we ought to do and then discovering that the more we try to do it, the less we succeed, we have disclosed that there’s something in us which works against our own best intentions. What’s the name of that thing? Sin, that’s right. So what has the law done? It has forced sin out into the open. Before that it lurked there but very often we weren’t conscious of it. So the law serves a God given purpose but it’s not the purpose of making people righteous, that comes another way.

Now, I want to go back to what I think is a startling statement in verse 9. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died. Now I’m going to offer you three explanations of what Paul is saying I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin came to live, and I died. First of all, as a descendant of Adam. Paul, in a sense, was represented by Adam as we all were. Adam was alive in the garden. He was a perfect being without corruption or flaw of any kind. We don’t know how long he continued in that condition. It may have been, who knows? Hundreds of years, we just don’t know. But when the commandment came, sin came to life. Rebellion rose up in him and he did the very thing he was told not to do. There must have been thousands of trees in that garden but he wanted to partake of the only tree that was forbidden.

When he partook of it, sin came to life and he died. God had warned him. He said on the very day you eat of it, you will surely die. He didn’t die physically for 900 years or more but he died spiritually. He was cut off from God by his rebellion. He was no longer fit for the presence of God. When God came into the garden he hid himself. You know the story. That’s one possibly explanation which would apply to all of us since we’re all descended from Adam. Then, Paul was an Israelite, which most of us are not. We need to remember that Israel were redeemed from Egypt and their slavery not by the law. The law didn’t get them out. What got them out? Faith in the Passover lamb and its shed blood. The law did not get Israel out of Egypt. It was faith that got them out of Egypt.

Faith in a substitutionary sacrifice. But, when they came to the foot of Mt. Sinai God presented them with the law and they very rashly said: all that God says, we will do What were they relying on? Their fleshly nature. We can do this. What happened? What was the first thing that happened after that? They broke the first commandment. Not just some little trifling commandment but the first commandment, Thou shall have no other gods besides me, thou shall make no graven images. That’s not an accident. That’s the result of trusting in the flesh. The moment we trust in the flesh we revive that rebel and all he can produce is rebellion. He is not capable of producing anything but rebellion.

Paul says, I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing. I would like you all to say that. Don’t say it if you don’t believe it. But if you do, say it after me. I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwells no good thing. It takes most of us a long while to discover that, doesn’t it? I think—I won’t go into my pilgrimage but it took me a long while to come face to face with the fact that in my fleshly nature there was nothing good, and it was foolish to expect to get anything good out of it. If there’s nothing good in it you’ll never get anything good out of it, isn’t that true? So that’s an application to Paul as an Israelite.

Israel came out of Egypt redeemed by faith in the Passover lamb, they were alive to God. But when the commandment came, they trusted in their own carnal ability, sin came to life and they were cut off from God. They died. That doesn’t mean to say they were forever cut off because God opened a way for them to return in repentance but they had to return by faith, not by the works of the law. Then I think this statement: I was alive without the Law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died, I think it was very probably an autobiographical statement of Paul in his own Christian experience.

I have had more contact than the average, both with Jews and with muslims, and both Judaism and Islam are totally religions of works. And they say so firmly. They despise Christians who don’t have to work. I mean, they’ll say all sorts of negative things about Christianity because we don’t have to work. They have no real concept of what’s involved but they criticize and attack Christianity for that reason. I’ve pondered on this statement for years. I said to myself, that’s true. I think every Jew that I’ve ever known that came to Jesus, for awhile, went back into legalism. I thought that’s true of the Jews. Then it’s certainly true of the Muslims. I don’t think there’s ever been Jew, I mean, this may be incorrect but I could imagine there’s never been a Jew or Muslim who came to Jesus and fully escaped from legalism at the first step. It’s a very hard thing to do.

Of all the difficult things in this pilgrimage, this is the hardest: to escape from legalism. Then I thought to myself the strange thing is it happened to me, too. I won’t go into the details but I’ll say this. After I’d been a Christian about 5 years I married a beautiful lady, my first wife Lydia, who had a beautiful children’s home in Jerusalem. That children’s home was full of the Holy Spirit. Those little girls walked in the Spirit, they prayed, they saw miracles, they saw visions, they saw answers to prayer. Along I came and became the head of this household and I thought we have to have rules in this house! We have to have set times for prayer, set times for Bible study. God forgive me but I did. I spoiled a lot of what God had done. I think God graciously retrieved it in the end. But I fully recognize that I myself became a prey of legalism. More than once.

More recently, in recent experience I got involved in something which some of you know about which was pure legalism. We won’t talk any further about that! Thank God he got me out! Now, you might say well then the law’s a bad thing. Paul says on the contrary, the law is totally good. The badness is not in the law, it’s in us. So let’s look at what Paul says about the law here. Wait a minute; before I do, let me point out to you something else about returning under the law. This is a Scripture that I hardly ever fail to quote sometime when I’m preaching. Jeremiah 17:5. If I can’t turn the page, I know it by heart. But let’s see if I can. Thus says the Lord, Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind... But that’s not good. The Hebrew says who trusts in flesh or trusts in man. ...and makes flesh his strength and his heart turns away from the Lord.

Do you understand, that’s legalism. When we’ve known the Lord, tasted his grace, experienced his supernatural power and his deliverance from bondage of sin and we go back to trusting in our own ability, our own rules, our own programs, all the things that the churches are involved in, our heart departs from the Lord. And brothers and sisters, the vital fact is we come under a curse. Cursed is the man who’s known the Lord, experienced his power and turns back to his own strength and his own efforts. You’re free to make your own judgment but in my opinion that’s the condition of most of the professing Christian church today. Almost every significant movement in the church began in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Otherwise, it would never have begun. I’m not going to name any denomination but all of you can think of some that began with tremendous men of God and tremendous moves of God and today they are relying on the flesh. They’re relying on their own efforts, their programs, their promotions, their rules, their systems And instead of having the blessing of God, they’re under a curse. I’ve been that route. As I said just now, I know what happens when you do that. I came under a curse myself. I saw many people come under a curse. Thank God He was merciful and faithful to open my eyes and show me. But I mean, that was just one of countless examples that have happened in the history of the church.

You see, you can’t play around with the blessing of the Lord. He gives it freely but we’re required to appreciate it. We’re required to recognize our total dependence upon his grace and his supernatural power. You cannot be a Christian by your own strength or efforts. It’s on a level you can never attain to. When you try to do it in your own strength and your own efforts, having known the supernatural grace and power of God, you come under a curse. I think I better read the next verse, too. This is the one who’s done this. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant.

What a description of somebody under a curse. God has opened my eyes to this truth, I can’t deal with it now, but the man or woman under a curse just is a bush in the wilderness. Blessing comes all round, prosperity, liberty, freedom, but he’s there in his little bush. He never feels the rain, he never enjoys the greenness, he’s under a curse. I think the commonest reason why Christians come under a curse is legalism. If you turn to Galatians you’ll find this is the theme of Galatians. It’s summed up in chapter 3. Foolish Galatians. Who has bewitched you Do you know that you can be bewitched? They were Spirit filled Christians but they were bewitched. How did Paul know they were bewitched? Because they’d lost their vision of Jesus on the cross.

Who has bewitched you before whose eyes Jesus Christ was set forth evidently crucified? What was the evidence? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now trying to be made perfect by the flesh? That’s foolishness. We are bewitched when we try to do that. And then, Paul goes on, If you come back under the law, you come back under a curse. He reminds them. Galatians 3:10: Cursed is everyone who doesn’t continue in all the works law, and do them. If you once tried to be justified by the law, you’ve got to keep the whole law all the time or you’re under a curse. My advice is don’t try because you certainly won’t succeed.

Now let me return to the statement that I will close with. The fault is not in the law. Let’s look in Romans 7 quickly before we close this session. Romans 7, you’d think I could get there by now. Verse 7: What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? Perish the thought! On the contrary, I would not have known sin... And then verses 12–14: So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Therefore did what is good become a cause of death for me? Perish the thought! Rather it was sin... And then he goes on in verse 14: For we know that the Law is spiritual; but I am of flesh, sold into bondage under sin.

So there’s nothing wrong with the law. It’s good, it’s holy, it´s perfect, it’s spiritual. Don’t blame the law. The problem is not in the law, where is the problem? In us, in our flesh. The law performs the vital function of confronting us with the real condition of our fleshly nature. Now I’ve used the word legalism. Probably I’d better define it. I just have time to do that because I don’t want to use the word vaguely.

I’ll offer you two definitions of legalism. First of all, legalism is the attempt to achieve righteousness with God by keeping any set of rules. No matter whose rules. The Catholic rules, the Baptist rules, the Pentecostal rules; if you are attempting to achieve righteousness with God by those rules, you’re under legalism. I mean, I have to say enormous numbers of people are in that category. I’m a Pentecostal if I’m anything but I’d have to say many of my dear brothers and sisters in the Pentecostal movement are not in the liberty of the Spirit, they’re under legalism. They’re the captives of sets of rules.

Now there’s nothing wrong with rules. We need rules. What is wrong is imagining that keeping those rules will make us righteous with God. Did you see that? Have I made it clear? I’m not preaching lawlessness. I’m not preaching throwing off all the traces and just doing what you please. What I'm saying is don't deceive yourself into thinking that keeping all the rules My friend, Bob Mumford, said that in the church he pastored they had 33 rules. Somebody came to him one day and said, Why did Moses only have ten commandments and we have 33? But if you keep all 33 rules, it doesn’t make you righteous. Did you get that?

The other alternative definition of legalism is adding to what God has required for righteousness anything more of ourselves. No one is authorized to add to God’s requirements of righteousness any requirements of us. And God says, All I ask is that you believe in God who delivered Jesus for our offenses and raised Him again for our justification. That´s all you have to do to be righteous.
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