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PRAYING PART FOUR

5 And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:

6 Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned.

7 We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.

8 Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:

9 But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.

10 Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

11 O LORD, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king's cupbearer.

Nehemiah 1:5-11

 

            Last time we began our look at Nehemiah’s actual prayer, with an eye towards its meeting our previous analysis of prayer.  We got through two topics last time, 1) Only God (that is the God of the Bible) is worthy of our prayers and 2) we must always acknowledge our humble state when we pray.

            Today we will explore the final two points of Nehemiah’s prayer, 1) His prayer was and our prayer must; be founded upon hope and 2) we must pray with faithful expectation. While at first glance these two may seem similar I hope to show their significant and important differences.

 

1)  Prayers must be founded upon hope  

Verse 8-9   Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations:

9 But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.

            It may seem obvious but I think it may be helpful if I first define the word “HOPE”.  Hope has come to mean the following:

noun

1. A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

            Note the uncertainty of the matter, it is a feeling and desire

2. Grounds for believing that something good may happen.

            Again uncertainty; it may happen as in "he does see some hope for the future"

 

Now the classic or dare I say biblical definition is quite different. Although considered “Archaic” or out of fashion it is: a sense of trust or confident expectation

 

            You can see the modern translation is one of uncertainty a feeling without foundation as in wishful thinking. The biblical definition conveys conviction. It is in that manner Nehemiah prayed to God.

            Look with me what he prayed;

1) He implores God to remember

2) To remember His promise to the Israelites

3) That even though they had been disobedient and scattered abroad

4) If they repented He was powerful enough to gather them

5) Gather them not just anywhere but in Jerusalem

            Nehemiah points out that God had made certain promises and Nehemiah expected God to honor them. Should we expect anything less? I dare say no, for why pray to God if you do not trust Him to hear your prayers and more importantly be capable of fulfilling them.

            Our hope today is the same as Nehemiah’s. God has promised us just as He did the Israelites. Yet our Hope is founded upon something greater than that of those of Nehemiah’s time, our Hope is still in God but founded upon Christ.

1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;  I hope you see it is still God where our Hope lies, it is just founded upon Christ and His work at Calvary.   Psalm 130:5 reiterates this: I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

            Our hope stands in stark contrast to that of the wicked (those without Christ):

 

Prov 10:28 The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish

            Our hope brings joy

Prov 11:7 When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth.

            The unrighteous only hope is death

Prov 11:23 The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath

            Believers desire (hope in) good things the sinner in evil

Prov 23:18 Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

            Our hope is in a future that cannot be taken away          

 

2)  Pray with faithful expectation

10 Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king's cupbearer.

 

You need not utterly despair even of those who for the present "turn again and rend you." For if all your arguments and persuasives fail, there is yet another remedy left, and one that is frequently found effectual, when no other method avails. This is prayer. Therefore, whatsoever you desire or want, either for others or for your own soul, "Ask, and it shall be given you." -- JOHN WESLEY

 

 

Elijah prayed to God for rain and then sent his servant to see if there was any sign of it (1 Kings 18:41–46). He sent his servant seven times—Elijah had great expectation in God! Expectant prayer conquers discouragement and waits upon the Lord. James 1:6–7 tells us to ask with unwavering faith. http://www.joelbeeke.org/author/jrbeeke/

            We have discussed many times that one must pray in a manner that honors God and acknowledges His authority and control in all matters. Praying in such a manner that imposes your will upon God, (belief things will always work out as you planned), that just by asking God He will remove all troubles in your life or asking God for proof He is with you, are all recipes for prayer disaster.

            Everyone who prays does so with expectations at some level. These prayers are either founded on Worldly Expectations or Righteous Expectations. Righteous expectations start with:

            1) God’s sovereignty - Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

            2) Obedience - Joshua 1:7-9 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success

            3) Faith - Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

            4) Confidence - 1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

            I like what R.C. Sproul says on the matter:

We can take comfort from the fact that God knows our hearts and hears our unspoken petitions more than the words that emanate from our lips. Whenever we are unable to express the deep feelings and emotions of our souls or when we are completely unclear about what it is for which we ought to be praying, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Romans 8:26-27 says, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” When we don’t know how to pray or what to pray for in a given situation, the Holy Spirit assists us. There is reason to believe from the text that if we pray incorrectly, the Holy Spirit corrects the error in our prayers before he takes them before the Father, for verse 27 tells us that he “intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”     Excerpt from Does Prayer Change Things?  by R.C. Sproul

            Let us look back on Nehemiah’s prayer a moment:

10 Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand.

            By declaring himself and those in Jerusalem God’s redeemed Nehemiah has a righteous expectation of God hearing these prayers of His people.

11 O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king's cupbearer.

            Humbly but with confidence Nehemiah asks God to look favorably upon his prayer. The end of which is so significant but many miss it.

I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king's cupbearer.

            Note what Nehemiah asks for, mercy from the King of Persia. Nehemiah did not ask amiss. He pleaded with God to look favorably upon him not by building him up but by changing the heart of his captor. In essence Nehemiah prayed God use this pagan to bring about your will. There was no ego involved here, no vengeance against those who had oppressed God’s people, no self in this at all. Instead Nehemiah prayed for God to bring glory upon himself by using a pagan King to do God’s bidding. That my friend’s is a righteous prayer, it is a God centered prayer. Only with God centered prayers do we have a faithful expectation of being answered.

            I will close by citing part of an article by noted author and Pastor Derek Thomas. He expresses 4 points in the article and I will only quote the final.

How can we ensure that our prayers are God-centered? Consider the following five-step strategy:

1. Remind yourself that there is only one God in the universe, and that you are not Him.

2. Adoration comes first, before confession, thanksgiving, or supplication. Worship the Lord in your praying.

3. Read a psalm before you pray, and attempt to emulate what you find: a preoccupation with God in all His multifaceted nature. Find psalms of joy or grief, praise or lament, and note how the psalmist spends time with God, making Him the center of his thoughts and desires.

4. Learn to love God’s names so that saying and repeating them fills you with an inexpressible joy, a reminder of who He is and His covenant faithfulness to you in the gospel of His grace.

5. Learn to “wait” upon the Lord. Watch how the psalmist, “fainting” as he thinks of his own troubles, finds relief by deliberately focusing on the great things God has done:

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds (Ps. 77:11–12). http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/god-centered-prayer/

 

Until next time may God watch over and protect you.

 

In HIS Service

 

Response to Brokenness Continued

 

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PRAYER PART 1

 

4 And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,

           

            Nehemiah 1:4

 

            Remembering that we defined Brokenness as the state which man is not living as God intended.  We continue our series on Nehemiah this week by continuing to look at Nehemiah’s and hopefully our Response to Brokenness.

 

             A quick review, Nehemiah hears of the plight of the Jewish people back in Jerusalem. He is told that they are are in great affliction and reproach. He also learns the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. Nehemiah’s response is not to blame the government, he does not say oh well it’s not my problem; no he sat down and wept, and mourned certain days. Last week we explored his next response where he fasted. Today let us examine his final response where he prayed before the God of heaven.

 

            I may be way off base here by I would venture to say most people Christians or “religious types” or not, understand some concept of prayer. Here are some definitions of prayer:

 

Wikipedia says: Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with a deity, an object of worship, or a spiritual entity through deliberate communication

 

Focus on the Family- So what is prayer? Prayer is a relationship, wherein we humbly communicate, worship, and sincerely seek God's face, knowing that He hears us, loves us and will respond, though not always in a manner we may expect or desire. Prayer can encompass confession, praise, adoration, supplication, intercession and more.

 

Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 178 - What is prayer? A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, in the name of Christ, by the help of his Spirit; with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.

 

            I hope you can easily spot the differences between Wikipedia’s secular definition and that of the next two. I included it to make my point, that even non-believers and those who would deny a deity in any fashion (an object of worship) have a concept of prayer.

 

            As believers our concept of prayer is quite different than that of those still living in darkness. Today I want to look at five specific things Nehemiah did (and we should follow suit) concerning prayer and why he did them. They are:

 

            1) Why he/we should pray prayed

            2) To whom he/we should pray

            3) Reason(s) he/we should prayer

            4) How he/we should pray

            5) Our expectations of prayer

                       

I am going to use the Westminster Larger Catechism to look deeper into prayer in the life of Christians.

 

1.         The first question many have is why pray? Principal reason we pray because we are commanded to do so:

 

(WLC 186) What rule hath God given for our direction in the duty of prayer?

A. The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in the duty of prayer;[1198] but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which our Savior Christ taught his disciples, commonly called The Lord’s Prayer.[1199]

 

(1198) 1 John 5:14: And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.

 

(1199) Matthew 6:9-13: After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. 

 

Luke 11:2-4.And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

 

            Christ in leaving us this model on how to pray, commands us to pray. There is no if you feel like it, when you get around to it, or if the spirit moves you suggestion here. No Christ clearly says After this manner therefore pray ye and When ye pray, say undeniably a command to pray. Prayer develops our relationship with God.

 

            One of my favorite passages of scripture (So much so my thesis is on its importance) is 1 John 1:4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. I really like the idea of a full cup of joy, don’t you? Well John in the preceding verse tells how to get that:  That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. Fellowship is the key to joy. Both fellowship with believers and with God. Now it should be obvious that fellowship with believers can happen in many ways but fellowship with God (whom we can’t see or touch) can only happen through prayer.

 

            Christ did not command us to pray just for ha ha’s no He wanted us to communicate with Him that our joy may be full.

 

2.         The next question is whom do you pray too. Unlike the unbelievers who pray to establish a rapport or connection with some unknown deity   (god, idol, immortal) Christians already have a connection to God and that is whom we communicate with:

 

(WLC 179) Are we to pray unto God only? A. God only being able to search the hearts,[1152] hear the requests,[1153] pardon the sins,[1154] and fulfill the desires of all;[1155] and only to be believed in,[1156] and worshipped with religious worship;[1157] prayer, which is a special part thereof,[1158] is to be made by all to him alone,[1159] and to none other.[1160]

 

            It is to God the one and only true and living God of the bible that we are to pray. None other can search our hearts, hear our requests, pardon our sins and fulfill our desires. Let’s face it that is the reason most folk’s believer or not pray. They are in a jam or things are just messed up and they want help (desires). The unbeliever in desperation calls out; God if you are there help me.

 

             While many cry out in desperation with no real sincerity some (like many of us at one time) cry out with true understanding of the situation and our Broken state. The importance of this cannot be underestimated, R. C. Sproul wrote on the matter:

 

Prayer has a vital place in the life of the Christian. First, it is an absolute prerequisite for salvation. Some people cannot hear; yet though deaf, they can be saved. Some may not be able to see; yet though blind, they can be saved. Knowledge of the Good News—salvation through the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—will come from one source or another, but in the final analysis, a person must humbly ask God for salvation. The prayer of salvation is the one prayer of the wicked God has said he will hear.

 

            Why God only, His word tells us so: 1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Let’s get logical for a moment. I have never met anyone that has said I will take the worst thing, the weakest person the laziest helper. No we want the best for ourselves and our families. There is nothing wrong with that. So why would you chose a lesser god?

 

            John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Now if obtaining the best means going through Jesus to God that for sure is the path I want.

 

            Nehemiah prayed to God because he knew that God alone could help in this matter. Like Nehemiah I pray to God because I want the best. I desire the guidance of He who is able to do all things.

 

3          Now let us look at the Reasons we pray. This could be a whole sermon series on its own so I am going to try and give a helpful overview by again using the WLC.

 

Q. 183. For whom are we to pray?

A. We are to pray for the whole church of Christ upon earth;[1168] for magistrates,[1169] and ministers;[1170] for ourselves,[1171] our brethren,[1172] yea, our enemies;[1173] and for all sorts of men living,[1174] or that shall live hereafter;[1175] but not for the dead,[1176] nor for those that are known to have sinned the sin unto death.[1177]

 

            That is quite the list. Some of the persons mentioned are quite easily understood. The first five would seem relatively common today.  Most folks find it easy to pray for their church family (as Nehemiah was doing here), the government (especially in these times) our families and friends, our church leaders and of course our own needs. But I want to look at two specific items on the list:

 

            a)        Our enemies, the WLC uses Matthew 5:44. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you to make this point and I totally agree. How easy it is to pray for our loved ones but those that hate and oppress us.

 

            How many of us could respond as Stephan and say:  Acts 7:59-60  And while they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, Lord Jesus, receive and accept and  welcome my spirit! 60 And falling on his knees, he cried out loudly, Lord, fix not this sin upon them [lay it not to their charge]! And when he had said this, he fell asleep [in death].

 

            An even greater example to me is recorded in Romans 5:7-8 Amplified Bible (AMP) 7 Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die. 8 But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us. Christ did more than pray for His enemies He died for them. What are you willing to do?

            b)        those that are known to have sinned the sin unto death. The WLC uses 1 John 5:16. If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it,  to make its case. There are varying opinions on exactly what John meant when writing this. I tend to agree with Dr. John Gill on the matter:

There is a sin unto death; which is not only deserving of death, as every other sin is, but which certainly and inevitably issues in death in all that commit it, without exception; and that is the sin against the Holy Ghost, which is neither forgiven in this world nor in that to come, and therefore must be unto death; it is a sinning willfully, not in a practical, but doctrinal way, after a man has received the knowledge of the truth; it is a willful denial of the truth of the Gospel, particularly that peace, pardon, righteousness, eternal life, and salvation, are by Jesus Christ, contrary to the light of his mind, and this joined with malice and obstinacy; so that there is no more or other sacrifice for such a sin; there is nothing but a fearful looking for of wrath and fury to fall on such opposers of the way of life; and as the presumptuous sinners under Moses's law died without mercy, so must these despiteful ones under the Gospel; see Matthew 12:31. Some think there is an allusion to one of the kinds of excommunication among the Jews, called "shammatha", the etymology of which, according to some Jewish writers, is, "there is death" (t).

 

I do not say that he shall pray for it; the apostle does not expressly forbid to pray for the forgiveness of this sin, yet what he says amounts unto it; he gives no encouragement to it, or any hopes of succeeding, but rather the reverse; and indeed where this sin is known, or can be known, it is not to be prayed for, because it is irremissible; but as it is a most difficult point to know when a man has sinned it, the apostle expresses himself with great caution.

 

            As Dr. Gill points out I think this is in reference to Matt 12:31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. John is relating that there are better things to pray for than those who have so hardened their hearts to the Gospel that there is little hope for them. Is that so called tough love, maybe? Yet if given the choice to pray for known needs of those listed prior and that of a blasphemer; well you get the idea.

 

            Along with people we are to pray for certain things also.

 

Q. 184. For what things are we to pray?

A. We are to pray for all things tending to the glory of God,[1178] the welfare of the church,[1179] our own[1180] or others, good;[1181] but not for anything that is unlawful.[1182]

 

            Again while this may seem obvious to all I think two areas are worth closer exam.

           

            a)        The Glory of God should be on our mind in all things especially in prayer. The Lord’s Prayer or Model Prayer as so insist, is the lasting example left by Jesus. Matthew 6:9. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Our prayers should acknowledge that God is worthy to be Hallowed or Glorified. It is not enough o just understand it it is important to express it.

 

            This is going to be a poor example but we are humans like being acknowledged to the accomplishments in life. Get an “A” on the exam and your teacher writes “excellent”. Finish your work ahead of schedule and the boss gives you a big at-a-boy. Well if sinful creatures such as us desire and deserve acknowledgement for the good we do how much more so does God?

 

            b)        …not for anything that is unlawful. Really do we need to go here, YES! for to many times today I hear Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart misquoted and out of context. It should seem obvious that unlawful things (illegal, immoral, unethical) are not God honoring. Yet I hear folks all the time willing to bend the truth of the bible to meet their needs.

 

            Listen you cannot ask God for things that are out of His will for your life 1 John 5:14. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us nor for things that do not glorify Him and expect results. That is foolish.

 

            I think this is a good place to stop for tonight. Next time we will continue with the last two things Nehemiah and we should do in prayer.

 

Until Next time

 

In HIS Service

God’s Answer

Last week we covered point number three of The Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689’s (TBCF1689) section on Free Will. There we looked at three main points: There was and is a consequence to sin; un-regenerated man (man without Christ) is dead in sin and opposed to doing good and because of this man has no ability to will or desire to do anything leading to salvation

Today we are going to look at points four and five of the TBCF 1689 that I have entitled God’s Plan. First, salvation is God’s work alone next even then (after regeneration) man will battle to choose between good and evil and finally once in glory man will always desire to do that which is right alone.

Let’s read the 1689’s point number four:

4. When God converts a sinner, and brings him out of sin into the state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage to sin and, by His grace alone, He enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good. Nevertheless certain corruptions remain in the sinner, so that his will is never completely and perfectly held in captivity to that which is good, but it also entertains evil.

Point Number One: Salvation is God’s work alone

Note is says when God converts a sinner, not when man chooses to accept, not when man agrees to this or that. No it is God’s work alone.

Col 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

Who is He that delivers, verse 12 says The Father. It is He who delivers us from the domain (rule) of sin to His Son.

Ephesians 2: 4-10 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)

6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Who set’s man free? The Son, Christ Jesus alone. True freedom is not being out of jail or kicking some addition habit. True freedom is no longer being under the constant rule of sin. And only through and by the Grace of God can anyone experience true freedom.

Point Number Two: Even then, after Salvation, man will battle to choose between good and evil

This is where I will spend the majority of my time today. Far too many pulpits preach this prosperity theology today. Saying all ya gotta do is believed and everything will be right with the world. Unfortunately that is far far from the truth declared in the bible.

I have chosen to use chapter 7 of the Book of Romans to illustrate the point. Here is the Apostle Paul describing his own action. He says he does not understand why he still falls prey to temptation and does that which he knows is bad even though he wants to do good?

Rom. 7:15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.

A little context here, this is the Apostle Paul speaking of being a sinner. Not Joe Smith that no one ever heard of. He is the man that walked with Jesus, wrote two thirds of the New Testament and handpicked by Jesus to start evangelizing the gentile world. It is he who is saying I do the things (sinful things) that I hate.

Rom 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

Amplified Bible: For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.]

I want to focus here on this middle sentence. Paul says I can “will” what is right, that is the desire of his heart is to do right.

Remember earlier we decided that no matter how “good” by the world’s standard an un-regenerated person’s desires are, they are but sin to God. So Paul here is clearly speaking of himself to believers.

But, Paul says he cannot perform the righteous thing he desires.

Rom 7:19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.

Again this verse is one that says a lot in a few words. It might be easy to focus on the last half where Paul says the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing in fact many non-Christians will quote this as to say see its all fake your God isn’t so powerful. They miss the point and the difference between them and you is in the first half. Paul says the good I want.

Friend’s this is key Paul’s, and hopefully your desire is to do good. It is the “THING” that separates believers from the world, that even WHEN we fall and sin we desire in our hearts to repent and do good.

Rom 7:21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.

C.H. Spurgeon wrote on this: Speaking for myself, I can say that, often, when I am most earnest in prayer, stray thoughts will come into my mind to draw me off from the holy work of supplication; and when I am most intently aiming at humility, then the shadow of pride falls upon me. Do not gracious men generally find it so? If their experience is like that of the apostle Paul, or like that of many another child of God whose biography one delights to read, it is so, and it will be so.

Rom 7:23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members

One of the best sermons ever on this subject is The Dual Nature and the Dual Within NO. 1459B, by C.H. Spurgeon. Here is a extract of that sermon:

THERE ARE IN ALL BELIEVERS TWO PRINCIPLES.
1. The first in order of time is the old Adam nature. It is born of and with the flesh. Some fancy that it is to be improved, gradually tamed down and sanctified; but it is enmity against God, and is not reconciled to God; neither, indeed, can be.
(1) This old nature lives in our members; its nest is the body, and it works through the body. There are certain appetites of ours which are perfectly allowable, nay, even necessary; but they can be very easily pushed to sinful extremes.
(2) The sin which lurks in the flesh will grow weaker in proportion as the holy principle grows stronger; and it is at no time to be tolerated or excused, but we are to fight against it, and conquer it.
2. When we are born again there is dropped into our soul the living and incorruptible seed of the Word of God. It is akin to the Divine nature, and cannot sin, because it is born of God. It is at deadly enmity with the old nature, which it will in the end destroy; but it has its work to do, which will not be accomplished all at once.
II. THE EXISTENCE OF THESE TWO PRINCIPLES NECESSITATES A CONFLICT. The lion will not lie down with the lamb. Fire will not be on good terms with water. Death will not parley with life, nor Christ with Belial. The dual life provokes a daily duel.
1. The conflict is not felt by all young Christians at the first. Christian life may be divided into three stages.
(1) That of comfort, in which the young Christian rejoices in the Lord.
(2) That of conflict. The more of this the better. Instead of being children at home we have grown into men, and therefore we must go to war. Under the old law, when a man was married, or built a house, he was excused from fighting for a season, but when that was over, he must take his place in the ranks; and so is it with the child of God.
(3) That of contemplation; in which the believer sits down to reflect upon the goodness of the Lord towards him, and upon all the good things in store for him. This is the land Beulah, which Bunyan describes as lying on the edge of the river, and so near to the Celestial City that you can hear the music and smell the perfumes from the gardens of the blessed. That is a stage which we must not expect to reach just now.
2. The reason of the fight is this; the new nature comes into our heart, to rule over it, but the carnal mind is not willing to surrender. A new throne is set up, and the old monarch, outlawed, and made to lurk in holes and corners, says to himself, "I will not have this. I will get the throne back again." (Read the "Holy War.") And let me warn you that the flesh may be doing us most mischief when it seems to be doing none. During war the sappers and miners will work underneath a city, and those inside say, "The enemy are very quiet; what can they be at?" They know their business well enough, and are laying their mines for unexpected strokes. Hence an old divine used to say that he was never so much afraid of any devil as he was of no devil. To be let alone tends to breed a dry rot in the soul.

5. It is not until man enters the state of glory that he is made perfectly and immutably free to will that which is good and that alone.

Eph. 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,

The following is taken from A.W. Pink’s The Doctrine of Revelation, Chapter 19; Revelation in Glory; The State of Saints in Glory:

But those who, by God’s grace, enjoy a real communion with Him who is "Spirit" (John 4:24), ought not to flounder on this matter, for they have proved by experience how much more important is the soul than the body, and how infinitely more real and satisfying are spiritual objects than the perishing things of time and sense. So far from regarding his soul as a mysterious, nebulous and indefinable thing, the believer looks upon it as a living, intelligent, sentient being—his real self We should view a disembodied soul as one which has cast off its earthly clothing and is now appareled in a garment of light, or, to use the language of Scripture, "clothed in white raiment" (Rev. 3:5; 4:4).

At death the soul of the saint is freed from all the limitations which sin had imposed upon it, and its faculties are then not only purified, but elevated and enlarged. It will be like a chrysalis emerging from its cramped condition, or a bird liberated from a cage, now free to spread its wings and soar aloft. It is true the body is a component part of man’s complex being, yet we must endeavour to view it in a due proportion. Which is the more important: the tenant or his tenement, the individual or the tent in which he resides? It must be borne in mind that the soul derives not its powers from the body. That is clear from the Divine account of man’s creation: after his body had been formed, and as a separate act, God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7). The mind is the noblest part of our being, and therefore it must find exercise and satisfaction in the disembodied state, otherwise we should not be "blessed" or happy (Rev. 14:13) immediately after death. "It is the mind maketh the man; it is our preferment above the beasts that God hath given us a mind to know Him" (Thomas Manton).

"The soul can and does operate without the use of bodily organs in its present state, and in many things stands in no need of them. The rational soul thinks reasons and discourses without the use of them. Its powers and faculties need them not: the will is directed and guided by the understanding; and the understanding has to do with objects in the consideration of which bodily organs are in no way assisting. As in the consideration of God, His nature and perfections; of angels and their nature; and of a man’s own spirit, and the things of it—it penetrates into without the help of any of the instruments of the body. It can consider of things past long ago, and of things very remote and at a great distance; and such objects as are presented to it by the senses, it reasons about them without making use of any of the organs of the body. And if it can operate without the body, it can exist without it; for since it is independent of it in its operations, it is independent of it in its being. Since it can exist without it, it can act in that separate state of existence without it. Wherefore since it dies not with the body, it is not affected as to its operations, by the absence of it, nor at death becomes insensible as that is" (John Gill).

Point Number 3: Finally once in glory man will always desire to do that which is right alone. In the final point today I hope the concept has been clearly laid out. Man will always battle with sin until the day he reaches glory, As long as our essence (soul) is a part of sinful flesh it will battle with that flesh. Once freed it can and will act upon its desires alone. Good or bad in heaven or in hell.

I hope and pray these three sermons have both blessed you and piqued your hunger to seek the truth of The Doctrine of Free Will.

I encourage your comments, complements and concern. Until next time may God greatly bless you.