5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…I delight in God’s law…” Romans 7:22

In concluding his teaching on the inner struggle between good and evil, God breathed into Paul to write on the reality of this quandary – personal to everyone – each experiencing in one’s own way. Here’s how Paul described it:

“So, I find this law at work: when I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (vv. 21 – 24)

While delighting in God’s law, many still struggle with temptation in its many forms… all stemming from covetousness (v.8). Some struggle with greed, others with control or power; still others with envy, and others with lusts of the flesh, just to name a few. Having conquered the temptation once, why should we have to face it again… and again… and again.

Seems a bit hopeless, doesn’t it? Yesterday, I struggled with the words, “nothing good lives in me”. I rewrote it three times as I was trying to remain true to the text – without giving away today’s good news. While Paul recognized the wretchedness of his own sin, he was articulating the question everyone poses when confronted with one’s own sin, “Who will deliver me?” In other words, we are unable to change ourselves and we need a Redeemer – a Savior, Who will rescue us from ourselves.

The Roman Christians who lived in a quagmire of licentiousness and immorality were under the constant challenge to deny society’s expectations and their own lusts. Paul was simply agreeing with them about the life they faced daily, while agreeing with God’s answer to mankind’s problem – The Savior, Jesus Christ (v.25). Thank God for His provision of a Savior!

Paul recognized that the struggle will always be with us while we live on this earth: “So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” The natural man/woman will always strive against the spiritual man/woman, and we have a warrior Who comes to live in the domain of the heart and mind to fight our battles for us as we die to sin daily.

In this passage we discover only Jesus can set us free; neither God’s law or one’s own strength is able to set one free from the law of sin. (Read 1 Corinthians 15:56) Paul’s inspired letter was organized in a way to present a systematic theology, and this passage leads the reader into the light of intentional living which Paul wrote about in chapter eight.

Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ, He will deliver me – making for a very blessed day!

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…nothing good lives in me…” Romans 7:18

These five words are used in Paul’s restatement of one’s slavery to sin, describing how he was “sold as a slave to sin.” (v.14) Even after one is given power to slay the sinful nature, there is an inward struggle each Believer experiences. Paul used the same words many articulate about their lives:

“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do; but what I hate, I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now, if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” (vv. 14 – 20)

In this passage, Paul described the law as spiritual and good, as well as holy and just in verse twelve. The law reflects God’s perfect holiness and righteousness. Paul had already articulated how the law defines and exposes sin. In the section of scripture above, we discover the weakness of The Law – the law’s inability to change man’s sinful nature. All people inherit Adam’s sinful nature. Though the law is spiritual (working in the inner man – the conscience), it cannot transform one who tries to live by it. In fact, The Law will only activate the carnal nature within. One theologian described it this way: “The old nature knows no law, the new nature needs no law.” In other words, the natural man cannot be restrained by rules, the spiritual man or woman will reflect the goodness and love of Christ, Who is living in and through the one who has been born again.

When Moses received the law recorded in Exodus, the obvious purpose was for educating Israel on God’s expectation for living – an outward focus. In Deuteronomy, the spiritual side of the law was presented – an inward focus on how one’s heart is to be impacted by the law (the creation of one’s conscience, able to distinguish between what is good and evil). The spiritual focus is clearly given in Deuteronomy 10:12-13:

“And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”

The words: love, heart, and soul show a deeper context of how the law is to work within, and that is how the law is spiritual. However, since the fall of Adam in The Garden, the nature of man is carnal or from the flesh. Paul stated three times in Romans 7:14-20 that sin dwells in each of us, referring to the old nature – the natural man (vv. 14, 18, & 20). The passage, however, is not speaking of the problem presented in Romans 6 (How can I stop sinning?). The new problem for the born-again Believer is: How can I ever do anything good when sin is ever present in me? Paul exposed the dilemma every Faith-walker faces – the internal struggle against temptation and the desire to allow Christ to live in and through one’s life.

Paul was not describing himself as some mentally imbalanced psycho with a split personality. He was showing to the Roman Christians that he even struggles with the decision to compromise. There is always the battle within - between one’s nature to sin or to do good. Even when one lives a “good” life, sin or evil is always lurking. While salvation makes one whole, the problem of being controlled by one of the two natures is always present, which is why the Believer is to take one’s cross daily and be a fully devoted follower of Christ – dying daily to the power of sin.

Living to Christ makes the decision to die to sin much more intentional. Though the struggle may continue, the victory over sin becomes greater the closer one draws to Christ.

Have a blessed day

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…I would not have known…” Romans 7:7b&c NIV

Through these five simple words, we find the holiness and goodness of God’s law. Without the law we would not have known what sin was, the power of it to deceive, or how despicable it is in God’s eyes (vv. 7 – 13). Paul cited the last commandment found in the Decalogue: “You shall not covet.” (v.7c; Exodus 20:17) Covetousness differs from the other commandments: murder, larceny, adultery, etc., in that it is committed inwardly in one’s mind and heart and becomes the catalyst to committing the other prohibited acts.

Paul observed that sin (the pattern of rebellion found in man since the fall in Eden) seizes an opportunity through The Law: first through one dying to goodness in the discovery of wickedness (v.9); secondly, by covetousness leading to other acts of evil (v.10); thirdly, by deceiving the sinner into ignoring the guilt and remorse of sin (v.11a), thereby being as good as dead (not responding to any stimulus of goodness or rightness; v.11b).

Paul’s observations on sin are easily seen in the nature of man. For instance, a child will deliberately disobey his parents after being told not to do something, like eat a cookie or touch a hot iron. Children do not understand the love behind the restraints given. Teenager seek to push the limits of restraint. Why? Because it’s in their nature to do so. And adults will even disregard speeding or parking laws. Why? Because it’s in their nature to consider themselves more important than the law, more important than others, and to reject imposed limits. We all have a little (or a lot) of that nature in us.

Those who have not been awakened to righteousness know that sin exists without realizing how despicable it really is… the sinfulness of sin, as Warren Wiersby calls it (The Wiersby Bible Commentary, p.427, c.2, pp.5, l.3). Wiersby asserts: “Many Christians do not realize the true nature of sin. We excuse our sins with words like “mistakes” or “weaknesses,” but God condemns our sins and tries to get us to see that they are ‘exceeding sinful.’ Until we realize how wicked sin really is, we will never want to oppose it and live in victory.”

So, the truths Paul exposes in this passage are:

1.     The law is holy, righteous or just, and good (v.12);

2.     It is not the law that is sinful, it is the sinner (vv. 7 – 8);

3.     The law reveals sin, which in turn arouses further sin, leading to the death of the conscience (vv. 9 – 11).

Can we understand just how terrible sin really is, using God’s holy and good law to bring about such an awful end result? It is “utterly sinful” (v.13), its essence is evil, and its effect upon people is wholly destructive. The law is not the problem… it’s the sinful nature of man. Thank God with me that through the law our consciences were pricked by the scalpel of righteousness, leading us to Christ – The Living Word – and to His abundant life. Without someone sharing The Word and The Law with me I WOULD NOT HAVE KNOWN of my pitiful state or of God’s wonderful redemption through Christ.

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…that we might bear fruit…” Romans 7:4d

I live just six miles south from our nation’s capital. There are more lawyers per square mile in and around DC than in any other location of the country. Every department, agency, and government contractor is fully staffed with lawyers who bring their specialties to the work table for developing, defining, and following policies, while offering litigation support. Rome was very similar in Paul’s day.

Paul understood the mind of a lawyer: they understand the letter of the law, how to meet the requirements of the law,  and know every conceivable way to find any and all loop-holes for avoiding penalty when the law has been broken. Perhaps we can now understand why Paul spent the first six chapters developing a relatable platform to “…men who know the law…” (v.7:1a), for dialogue with these Faith-walkers who had followed a broken religious system all their lives.

Seeking to find common ground with as many as possible, Paul provided yet another illustration to show the law’s limits being only for those who are alive (v.1b). He used marriage as an example, describing the illegality of one having more than one spouse. The law only allows marriage to another spouse after the death of the first (vv. 2 – 3). Drawing from that example, Paul likened new life in Christ as dying to the law (Levitical Law) through the death of Christ on the cross, allowing a soul to belong to “…Him Who was raised from the dead…” (v.4a-b).

How do we tell if a plant is alive or dead? Unless it’s an evergreen, the best time to tell is in the Spring, when the plant flowers and bears fruit. Paul described how one’s old nature was one that was controlled by sinful passions, bearing the fruit of death (v.5). When one dies to that old nature to belong to Christ, one bears the fruit of God’s righteousness, serving Him, empowered by The Spirit (vv. 4 – 5). Paul offered these words to summarize this section of his letter:

“But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (v.6)

The Christian is one who reckons him/herself dead to sin’s power, recognizes the soul as owned by God, enjoys the privilege of being God’s child through adoption, and experiences the intimacy with God as The Bride of Christ. It’s not as complex as it sounds, for all these descriptions and metaphors simply reflect God’s love for us, and the second chance He gives to all who call upon His name.

Are you experiencing a life of fruitful living? Just as a plant is known by its fruit, so we are known by the fruit of our lives. Who are we pointing to Christ? How does our spirit, our countenance reflect Christ? God delivers us from the death of sin to life in Christ so THAT WE MIGHT BEAR FRUIT! How are you making disciples that make disciples… that make disciples?

Read John 15:5 and have a blessed day…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…you have been set free…” Romans 6:22a

In Paul’s plea to the Roman Christians to break free from the evil influence of their culture, he:

1.     Presented the paradigm of righteousness by faith which God had established from the very beginning (1:17);

2.     Described how sin had permeated the societies of the world, and God’s judgment of all wickedness (1:18 – 2:16);

3.     Exposed God’s truth that no one is righteous on one’s own merit, and that true righteousness comes through faith alone (3:9 – 4:25);

4.     Revealed the benefits of righteousness as peace and joy (5:1-11);

5.     Articulated the dynamic all Believers experience to combat temptation (6:1-14);

6.     Depicted the consistent narrative from the sacred texts as soul ownership (6:15-23).

Paul qualified his teaching with the words, “I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the part of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.” (v.19) He showered grace upon these new Believers by communicating a second chance. Many feel their misdeeds, sins, and poor choices are unredeemable – that they do not have an “out” for the mistakes of their past. Paul, however, mirrored God’s redemptive love, offering a life that breaks the pattern of sin. He is basically stating that IT CAN BE DONE. One does not have to continue the cycle or pattern of sin’s trap.

The convincing argument Paul offered a second time is found in the words: YOU HAVE BEEN SET FREE from sin! Christians are to realize they are bought with a price… the highest price ever paid through the torture and death of Christ on the cross. Paul challenged any hint of returning to one’s former life of sin when he asked, “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?” (v.21a), exposing those actions as that which God declared would lead to death (v.21b, Genesis 2:17). Paul offered the benefit to being owned by God as that which leads to holiness and eternal life (v.22c-d)! What greater benefits could be offered?

Paul’s concluding statement described new life in Christ as freedom from the bondage of sin while being granted holiness and eternal life. He reminded the Roman Christians once again that, “…the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (v.23) These words once again show how one’s works (deeds) only leads to death, while faith accepts the gift of eternal life through Christ. Even if one were able to be recognized as the best person on earth, it would still come short of God’s holiness… and if that one was deemed righteous enough to enter heaven’s eternal joy, then Christ died for nothing. That is why Paul described salvation as a gift.

This present offered by The King of Kings is offered to everyone. He offers a second chance… one need not succumb to past defeats. I hope you have received this free gift and possess the living hope of eternal joy! For if you have…

YOU HAVE BEEN SET FREE!!!!

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…you have been set free…” Romans 6:18a

Paul continued in his discussion on the issue of sin with a follow-up question similar to the first (see 6:1), when he asked: “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?” (v.15a) He answered his own question once again by simply stating: “By no means!” (v.15b)

Then Paul posed another question: “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey – whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (v.16) God breathed into Paul what has been divinely known since the fall of man: we are either owned by sin or righteousness. We are either dead in our sin – unresponsive to the goodness and love of God, or we are alive to Christ to be conduits of His love and goodness.

Again, Paul answered his own question. However, this answer was an encouraging word to the Believers in Rome, while also being a moment of worship: “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” (v.17)

There are times in the life of Believers when one needs encouragement to press on, as well as truth to stand upon. This world will abuse, ridicule, and belittle those called to Christ, and after enduring such treatment, there may be those who deserve and need that extra compassion from their fellow Believers. While the Holy Spirit is ever present to offer comfort, teaching and leading, He is also prompting other Faith-walkers to come along side those wounded by those in sheep’s clothing, as well as those in direct opposition to God’s kingdom.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves if we are actually slaves to righteousness. What about our living is evidence of being owned by God? Conversely, is there still evidence in our living that would support being owned by sin? Paul knew the struggle of breaking free from an old system that did not work. He knew all too well about the inner conflict the Roman Christians were experiencing, and God was using Paul to lead these new Christians away from the gamble of licentiousness and into the security of the heavenly deposit of righteous living. All around them, the Roman Christian was tested with idolatry, prostitution, entertainment, and corruption. Their world was one which, like today, marginalized those who do not conform to the pattern of the world. It’s a system which makes it quite difficult to break free.

YOU HAVE BEEN SET FREE from sin and the pattern of this world to be slaves to righteousness. In his letters, Paul frequently referred to himself as a slave to righteousness, using the Greek word, DOULOS, which is literally translated, “slave”. Paul is not the only one who identified himself as a slave to righteousness. James, Peter, Jude, and John identified with the title as well. The word is used at least forty times in the New Testament to describe Believers. Believe it or not, the Hebrew equivalent is used over two hundred and fifty times! Slaves belong to their masters (1 Corinthians 6:19-20); slaves are expected to give complete submission and devotion to the owner; the slave is totally dependent upon his/her master; and the slave is  personally accountable to his/her master. (adapted from John McArthur’s book, Slave)

Slaves, then, do not live as one who lives with complete autonomy. We may like the song, “I did it My Way”, but as Christians we are not the masters of our destiny. The Christian life is totally directed and ruled by Christ: “…no one can serve two master; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:24) Those who walk by faith are entirely dependent on God to lead and provide (Matthew 5:3; 1 Peter 4:11), making the Faith-walker to serve Christ without any impediment of need.

In Roman days, it was a great honor to be a slave to Caesar – to be affiliated with the ruler of an empire. Though known as a slave, it was to whom he/she belonged that gave the slave status. It is the same way for a Christian. John McArthur drew this conclusion of Christians being slaves was:

“…not only an affirmation of their complete submission to The Master; it was also a declaration of the privileged position every Christian enjoys by being associated with the Lord. No affiliation could be greater than that.” (Ibid, p.97)

Paul pointed to Jesus Who took on the identity of a slave (Philippians 2:7) by submitting Himself, even unto death upon a cross. He did not expect anything from His followers that He Himself was not willing to experience. His death upon the cross liberated all who are owned by sin. Indeed, you have been set free to become slaves of the King of Kings… our benevolent Friend that sticks closer than a brother, our Redeemer and Savior!

To whom do you belong?

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…count yourselves dead to sin…” Romans 6:11a

Another way to say the above phrase is, “…reckon yourselves dead to sin…”. Paul had described how every Believer identifies with Christ’s death through baptism (vv. 3 – 4a), and likewise, every Believer identifies with Christ’s resurrection by living one’s life intentionally – having the power to make good decisions for living holy and righteous lives. Paul explained that our old self – the body of sin – was done away with through Christ’s death, and that by one’s baptism, identifying with Christ’s death, one is no longer a slave to sin (that is, caught in the pattern of sin, the uninterrupted cycle of bad decisions).

Once one has understood this dynamic of identifying with Christ’s death, the Faith-walker must then allow faith to empower holy living. Paul articulated it this way:

“For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. The death He died, He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”

Paul’s explanation showed death’s permanence and Christ’s power over it. The reason Christ cannot die again is because He defeated death! Death has no power over The One Who rose again from the dead! The death Jesus died was the singular sacrifice that met all the demands of the law. Jesus died for the sins of all, so we can now reckon ourselves dead to sin, for Christ not only rose victorious over death, but also over sin. The power that rose Him from the dead is the same power given to every Believer to say no, to resist sin’s power, to interrupt the cycle of sin – a cycle that makes one believe he/she is powerless to resist.

Believer’s, then, are directed to offer the parts of their body as instruments of righteousness. With apostolic authority, Paul commanded Christians to not offer the parts of their body to sin. The Roman Christians knew all too well what he was referring to:

Ø  Hands are for building, farming, comfort, healing… not for tearing down, stealing, killing or satisfying one’s lusts;

Ø  Feet are for carrying the good news of Christ to others, for taking supplies and care to those in need, not for going to clandestine meetings, running from the law, or walking in a stealthful way to commit some evil;

Ø  The mind is for developing ways to glorify God through one’s life, not for becoming addicted to behaviors or drugs, or for devising evil;

Ø  In the same way, the parts of one’s body which are kept hidden should be used for the holy purpose of marriage and family, not to be prostituted or used to satisfy the lusts of the flesh.

Paul asserted that sin could no longer master one born again, for the Believer is under a new paradigm for living – that of living under grace, compelled by love and goodness. The law was good to expose sin, but is not needed when sin has died, for the life of righteousness is lived much higher than the demands of the law.

I was raised in the South. Many of the townspeople where I grew up used the expression, “I reckon I’ll…”, and they would tell of what he/she was about to do. Sometimes, the expression was phrased like this, “I reckon I’m just too…”, and then state his/her condition, conviction, or belief for performing or avoiding some action. When one “reckoned” to do something, it was an assertion of intentionality, an action from one’s will. If we take Paul’s inspired words to heart, we reckon ourselves dead to sin… we consider ourselves unresponsive to the temptations that have trapped us for so long in the same pattern(s) of sin. To many, this seems impossible, to others, it may take almost a lifetime to understand; but to all, Christ offers the power to overcome sin’s trap and live victorious lives.

So, today, COUNT YOURSELVES DEAD TO SIN… think, “I’ll reckon I’ll turn my back on the temptation.”

And alive to Christ!

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“Shall we go on sinning…?” Romans 6:1a

Having exposed how sin came into the world through one man and increased upon the advent of The Law, Paul proposed this question to the Christians of Rome, Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?”  Using the figure of speech known as hypophora, Paul answered his own question with a resounding, “By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Paul is exhorting these Believers to deny temptation the opportunity to become sin. He understood the reality that all living souls deal with the conflict between good and bad choices. He was not asserting that all faith-walkers live perfect lives. He asked the question to provoke the conversation further, showing the absurdity of such thinking.

Many actually rationalize bad behavior with such thinking: ‘I can get away with this action since I can ask forgiveness for it later.’ Paul had articulated how much more grace had overcome sin’s reign through faith in Christ (v. 5:15), and was challenging the thinking that grace could increase all the more for continued sin. He used the act of baptism to make his point. As a wedding ring is the symbol of marriage, baptism is an outward symbol of becoming a Christian. Paul described it this way:

“…don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the ead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

“If we have been united with Him like this in His death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection. For we know 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.

“Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him. The death He died, He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God.” (vv. 3 – 10)

God breathed into Paul these words to call out the hypocrisy of continuing in a religious system that was broken. The first century Believers were challenged to understand that baptism was just as much a symbol of fidelity and the promise of righteous living as a wedding ring is to those who promise their lives exclusively to each other. Although Christians do sin, that pattern of sin is disrupted when Jesus comes to live in one’s heart, and the intent of the heart is changed to turn from the path of bad choices and toward the practice of good choices. It’s a new discipline… a new way of living… a new perspective of life… and it’s volitional.

The Believer must awaken each day committing to die to self and sin and live to Christ by faith. It is a resolve to live life with an eternal perspective and purpose.

Have a blessed day… through intentional living for Christ!

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…grace increased all the more…” Romans 5:20c

Yesterday, we discovered how death came to all as a result of Adam’s sin, and how that consequence disrupted the relationship between God and man. The Creator though, ever reaching to His creation, knew the need before it ever existed… and He made a provision for mankind who was created in His image. That provision was Heaven sent, earthly tested, humanly spent, and divinely glorified through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Paul described Jesus as Heaven’s gift. The Greek word he used is “charisma” (pronounced, ka-ris’-ma) which literally translated is, “grace gift”. In other words, a gift given out of pure delight in the one to whom the gift is offered. There is no other motivation or agenda… it is simply an expression of love. In the description Paul offered, we find that just as sin entered the world through one man – affecting many, so God’s grace – His gift of salvation – entered the picture of humanity through one man, and that man was Jesus Christ. Here is how Paul described it:

“But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: the judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (vv. 15 – 21)

I have been often asked, ‘Was it fair for God to condemn the entire human race for the acts of one man?’ My answer: Yes. God’s wisdom is much higher than man’s. He sees from the past to our present and far beyond. If God had elected to judge each person separately, the outcome would have been identical to what happened in The Garden: God would punish disobedience.

The wisdom in God’s actions is seen in God keeping things consistent: just as through one man sin and death entered the world, so through one man justification and life (abundant life and eternal life) also have entered into the world. By Adam’s sin, he lost right standing before God and passed on that sin nature to every person that ever lived, as well as the sentence of death. By Jesus’ death and resurrection, God offers all who believe right standing before God, as well as abundant life and the blessed hope of eternal life in Heaven.

God’s law brought the microscope of holiness to expose the germ of sin found in every heart. It is through the law that one discovers him/herself as a sinner. Sin leads to death, and not just physical death but a death that will end in destruction… the name will not be found in the book of life. It will be as if that person never lived, and all because he/she rejected God’s love and the way of righteousness.

These past two days, we have been exposed to the heart of Paul’s letter to the Roman church. In this passage, Paul contrasted Adam and Jesus Christ, each committed one act – one ushering sin and death into the world, the other providing power to live righteously and experience abundant life. The passage also contrasts The Law of God, given to expose sin; and The Grace of God, given to cover sin… fulfilling The Law’s requirements, thus deeming one justified before a perfect and holy God. Through Adam, sin increased through the lives that followed, even to us today. Through Christ, GRACE INCREASED ALL THE MORE, and through Jesus mankind has gained much more than was ever lost in Adam.

The sin we cover-up… the scandal of the human race – in which we have all played a part, is uncovered by The Law. The punishment we each deserve was, instead, transferred to Jesus upon a cross. Though we have sinned, He provides mercy and pardon to all who believe and place their faith in Christ, affirming God’s wisdom to work all things out for our good and to His glory!

There is so much more that could be said about this passage. For now, consider the great GIFT that God is holding out to you. Will you accept it?

Have a blessed, abundant day of living!

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…death came to all men…” Romans 5:12c

As Paul continued to explain God’s redemption, he presented another tenet of systematic theology found in today’s five understandable words. In The Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve experienced unhindered fellowship with God and creation. There was no fear present when meeting with God or when speaking with the serpent (Genesis 2:18-20; 3:1-7). However, once they broke the one restriction given to them – by eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge – death entered the paradigm of earth, for the entire creation was affected by man’s rebellion; and with death came fear. Suddenly, Adam and Eve were afraid to meet God face to face, and God warned them of the paradigm shift in their relation to creation when He declared the prophecy of the serpent striking man’s heel (read Genesis 2:17; 3:8-15).

Death came as a result of man’s rebellion, also known as sin. Sin infected all of creation, not just the human race. That one moment is known as “the fall of man”, though in reality it was the fall of all creation – from the smallest form of life to the stars. It occurred before the written law was ever given. Paul asserted that God did not count the sins of man between the creation and the law given to Moses (vv. 12 – 13), for where there is no law, there can be no transgression. It is the law that exposes sin; and it is sin that brings death.

One simple act of compromise. That’s all it took. That one act arising from a lie and the disbelief of being accountable before God (read Genesis 3:4-5) is why death came to all men. How many times have each of us ignored the truth of God’s eyes being a witness to both the evil and the good (2 Chronicles 16:9; Proverbs 5:21, 15:3; Jeremiah 16:17)? There will be a day of accounting when God will judge the thoughts and actions of every person. Will you be found forgiven by faith in Christ or will you stand before God condemned by the law?

Paul was a superlative Jew of Jews: he was schooled under Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, zealous for the law – even to the point of leading raids on the homes of Jewish Christians who were stoned to death. Paul was so totally immersed in the law and its requirements, yet was unable to see the dynamic grace through faith until he had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. It changed everything for him. His life became ruled by God’s grace. His eyes were opened to extend that grace beyond his own race and culture.

We need not fear death when we have trusted in Christ, Who met all the demands of the law for us – literally dying for our sin. We, who, by faith, have trusted Jesus as our Savior and Lord will stand before God absolved of any and all offences toward Him and His law.

Trust in Him today…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…we have now been justified…” Romans 5:9

All the demands of the law have been met. Every sinner that comes to Christ through faith is fully justified through the blood He shed on the cross. He was the sacrifice for sin that completely met every requirement of God’s law. In fact, Jesus is the final blood sacrifice recognized by God. There was no longer a need for further sacrifices.

Paul led the readers into considering the impact of being justified before God:

“Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!” (vv. 9 – 10)

In a courtroom, once one has been tried and found guilty, the offender is then processed through the sentencing phase of his/her conviction. In other words, the offender discovers what the punishment will be. Paul showed in the statements above how one – though guilty of sin – is given a reprieve from judgment! The sinner who professes faith in Christ is recognized as a full citizen in good standing before Heaven’s law – all because of Christ’s perfect sacrifice. Even more, the resurrection of Jesus imparts the power of salvation to all who believe. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power which quickens the heart to receive the good news of God’s love, awakening one to new life in Christ and the process of transformation.

What wonder is afforded the one risen to walk in the new life of Christ! It leads one to rejoice in worship, just as Paul did:

“Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have now received reconciliation.” (v.11)

The heart that has welcomed Jesus to reside as Lord of the house overflows with perpetual worship and praise. When one considers the depth of God’s love, how He has rescued us from His judgment toward our sin, and the price it took to accomplish it, one naturally is filled with thanksgiving and joy. Have you ever felt such total joy?

Have a blessed day…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…Christ died for the ungodly…” Romans 5:6c

The five understandable words for today are just one set in a package of five which communicate this basic tenet of Christian faith. Verses six through eight are packed with rich theology – presented in five-word phrases:

  • “…at just the right time…” (v.6a) – God’s timing is always perfect, and Jesus’ earthly appearance was no different. From ages past, God had set a plan to redeem man to Himself (read Galations 4:4; Philippians 2:5-11).

  • “…when we were still powerless…”  (v.6b) – It is not by works one secures right-standing with God (read Ephesians 2:8-9), and no one is able to decide how one is qualified for heaven’s eternal joy except God. We simply cannot save ourselves, no matter how good we may be (read Isaiah 64:6; Galatians 5:19-21).

  • “…God demonstrates His own love…” (v.8a) – The one word describing God’s essence is love (read 1 John 4:7-8), it is God’s love which leads to His trait of goodness. God is good all the time, and that goodness looks for ways to demonstrate His love by blessing others with the gifts of His mercies and grace. His mercies are new every morning (read Lamentations 3:22-23), and His grace is sufficient for anything one may face at any moment (read 2 Corinthians 12:9). In fact, God’s power is demonstrated most powerfully through us in our weakness – when we are powerless!

  • “…while we were still sinners…” (v.8b; review 3:23) – Sin in every person is the ball and chain which makes one powerless to qualify for Heaven… to stand before God fully reconciled to Him. Sin is what weighs us down to earth’s perspective, leaving one unable to see through the eyes of faith (read Genesis 4:4-7). This phrase also lends one to understand how the dynamic or pattern of sin is disrupted once one comes to a saving knowledge of faith in Christ. Christians are simply to turn from sin through the power God provides as we walk in The Way of Righteousness.

Within the treasure trove of five understandable words, Paul described how God’s love stands in contrast to man’s love: “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.” (v.8) People are reticent to die – even for good causes. Jesus, however, took heaven’s assignment of redemption for mankind, dying on a cross for those totally unworthy. The descriptions of man’s unworthiness were found in the phrases we just reviewed: “without strength,” “ungodly,” and “sinners.” Christ died for the ungodly. Theologian Stewart Briscoe described man’s fallen condition this way:

“We lack the power to live as we ought even though we may have the power to live as we wish because our standards are so low. We lack the attitude of reverence and holy awe which a correct understanding of God’s person requires and demands, and we lack the capability to hit the mark or achieve the divine expecttions. This pitiful description would hardly move mankind to love such failures, but God’s love is demonstrated in the supreme sacrifice of the Son for such people.” (The Communicator’s Commentary, Vol. 6, p. 116, pp. 1, lines 5-12).

Each one who comes to faith in Christ arrives at that point only after agreeing with God about his/her condition: powerless, ungodly, sinner, and even an enemy of God (v.10 – which we will discuss in greater detail on Monday, Lord willing). Once one recognizes his/her total inability to achieve any right standing before God on personal merit or works, one is able to repent of one’s sinful nature (to turn away from the pattern of sinful practice; read Proverbs 28:13), confess one’s sin(s) and begin the lifelong journey of transformation. If you have not turned from your pattern of sin, perhaps King David’s prayer of repentance may help you have a serious discussion with God about it:

“I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to Your Word. I gave an account of my ways and You answered me; teach me Your decrees. Cause me to understand the way of Your precepts, that I may meditate on Your wonderful deeds. My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to Your Word. Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me and teach me Your law.” (Psalm 119:25-29, NIV)

Once you have repented, ask Jesus to come and give the new life He offers… the same life He spoke of to the woman at the well (read John 4:10-14). Then, ask Christ to live through your life, that it may be a pleasing offering to God (read Psalm 19:13-17; 1 John 1:7-9). Then… tell someone! Tell your family… your spouse… your friends (especially those who are Christians, as they will rejoice with you)… and those who need to hear of your new life in Christ. For heaven’s sake, even tell a stranger!

I hope you have a blessed weekend…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…we rejoice in the hope…” Romans 5:2c

The Believer is able to stand before God by His grace (v.2a&b). God’s grace is poured out to all who come before Him in faith, trusting Him to work things out for the good. It is truly something to rejoice over; and not only that, the Believer is able to rejoice in the hope of Heaven, where one will behold the glory of God!

Paul then explained that he could even rejoice in his sufferings! Times of sufferings don’t tend to lend one toward rejoicing. However, Paul explained how he was able to rejoice while suffering:

“…we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our lives by the Holy Spirit, Whom He has given us.” (vv. 3c – 5)

There are so many ways to suffer – some which are self-imposed from poor decisions. We suffer mental anguish and sorrow after some great personal loss, and one may also suffer physically during moments of grief. Certainly, those injured in an accident or in battle suffer pain. Most would agree that we work to endure the suffering with the hope of healing. The scars of life work in such a way as to create perseverance – the courage to continue working through the suffering.

Once one has developed the discipline of perseverance, the natural by-product is the character one has grown – a new perspective developed directly from the suffering. It is that same new perspective which empowers one with hope – the sister of faith, for hope confidently looks to God’s intervention and provision to end the pain and suffering.

While Paul encouraged the Roman Christians to persevere through the hardship of persecution, he was pointing them to the one hope that would never disappoint: the hope of heaven. This hope is poured-out into Believer’s hearts by The Holy Spirit, Whom God gives to all who believe (v.5). It is this hope that will enable us to see the glory of God (v.2)!

Keep believing… keep trusting… even through the hard times. Soon we will behold Him!

Have a blessed day…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…we have peace with God…” Romans 5:1b

Romans is a letter written to the church in Rome. In the letter, Paul exposed these first century Believers to the first systematic theology of Christian faith and practice:

  1. Everything created points to the Creator.

  2. Mankind prostituted creation and perverted its purpose.

  3. Mankind rejected God’s standard for living, losing favor with God (sin).

  4. God made a provision to bring men/women back into favor with Him.

Paul’s ‘argument’ or ‘proof’ is frequently laced with the word, “therefore”, and anytime the word is presented, one should see what it’s there for – to process through the information leading to “therefore”- forming a conclusion. Up to this point, “therefore” has been used to state the condemnation of mankind (3:20), and the justification of souls by faith (5:1).

Today’s five understandable words is the conclusion Paul gave once one accepts God’s provision for right-standing with God by faith in Jesus Christ and His divine work of redemption upon the cross (v.2). One is justified fully before God through faith alone, bringing God’s peace (vv. 1; Philippians 4:7). Peace and love are supernatural by-products of being in Christ – The Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

Peace is just as necessary for us today as it was for the first century Christian. Peace allows one to see beyond the pain and suffering of this earth, while lending courage to endure hardship and persecution. When one walks with the God of Peace (Philippians 4:9), one is encouraged to persevere and live victoriously through life’s challenges. I hope you can testify to that peace in your life.

Have a blessed day…

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…it was credited to him…” Romans 4:22

As we saw yesterday, “…Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him: ‘So shall your offspring be.’” (v.18) We discovered that faith in God through the new covenant established through Jesus’ sacrifice is what will unite Persians, Jews, and Christians alike… for they all trace their roots back to Abraham. (Read 4:1-17)

Abraham and Sarah were as good as dead when it came to reproduction. However, they both believed God’s promise and were rewarded by God awakening their bodies to be able to produce a son, Isaac. Paul used this premise to show how Jesus died and rose again. God, who gives life to the dead, can call things that are not as though they were (v.17). Paul concludes that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness (v.22), then he provides an explanation of the phrase… the same five words we consider today:

“The words, ‘It was credited to him’ were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness – for us who believe in Him Who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (vv. 23 – 25)

All of chapter four leads up to the above statement. Paul skillfully revealed how God established one’s acceptability before God on the basis of faith – not works. He reviewed how the practice of circumcision began – as a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham. Then, Paul explained how the old covenant pointed to the new covenant through Jesus Christ – which was also achieved through faith. In both instances, one’s works – how one lives out life – are empowered through faith.

So, we discover today that our faith, like Abraham’s, is credited to each of us – just as it was to Abraham! It’s the way God established it to work. So, how is this to affect our living today? To answer a question with a question, I can only ask: Why do we keep feeling the need to check the boxes of our Christian practice? What things are we doing out of a sense of false guilt or from a self-imposed expectation based on the lives of others?

You know what I’m talking about. We imitate the practices of others who call themselves faith-walkers, even when they aren’t getting it right. What Paul is pointing us to is the process of transformation through faith and how that process is enhanced through time in God’s Word. It was the sacred texts that Paul pointed to in his message to the church at Rome. The Word is alive and sharper than a surgeon’s scalpel for performing spiritual surgery (Hebrews 4:12)… cutting away the cancers of doubt, despair, and defeat, while also removing sin’s guilt and damage as it transforms one’s thinking and living.

Aren’t you glad IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM as righteousness? And we will receive the same favor through the mercies and grace of God’s riches!

Have a blessed day…

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring…” Romans 4:16

As we have seen, Abraham received the sign of circumcision after first demonstrating his confidence in God to fulfill the promise God gave him: the promise of an heir from whom many nations would come (vv.11a & 17a). Abraham then is, “…the father of all who believe, but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.” (vv.11b – 12)

Faith is the confidence one places in God to work all things out for the good to those who are called according to His purposes (v. 8:28). Faith is being sure of things hoped for and certain of those things not yet seen (Hebrews 11:1). And it is by faith that God’s promise (of new life, abundant life, daily mercies, and heaven) is guaranteed by grace to all Abraham’s offspring – both the circumcised and uncircumcised, those whose lives have been lived by the law and those whose lives are lived by faith.

Perhaps by this platform of faith, we can see how Jews, Muslims, and Gentiles can be infused by the Holy Spirit with the spark of abundant life through Jesus Christ. Furthermore, may Christ’s redemption be offered to all mankind, that at His feet we will worship together around Heaven’s throne. May all who are dead in their sin become alive through Jesus Christ (v.17c), so that Paul’s inspired words would come to life in our day:

“He (Abraham) is our father in the sight of God, in Whom he believed – the God Who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.” (v.17b-d)

Pray with me for people of every color, tribe, and tongue to be born again – called to life through the Holy Spirit as we hold out the Word of Truth. Their faith in Christ will show God’s promise is GUARANTEED TO ALL ABRAHAM’S OFFSPRING.

Have a blessed day…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…righteousness that comes by faith.” Romans 4:13c

Paul continued in his diatribe, that faith is credited as righteousness, by restating it another way:

“It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.” (v.13)

By articulating the idea of God’s promise, Paul reinforced the premise of faith being the platform from which works originate. By believing God’s promise, Abraham trusted God enough to:

  • venture to a land he knew nothing about (Genesis 12:1-4).

  • receive the sign of the covenant through circumcision at the age of ninety-nine (Genesis 17:1-12)!

  • believe how God would bring about a great nation through him, even as an old man (NOTE: though I would have to point out that Abraham was far from what one would think to be a model saint, since he gave his wife away twice to save his own neck. [Genesis 12:10-15; Genesis 20:1-3], and was duped by his wife into thinking the promise would be fulfilled through her maidservant after God had told them both the promised heir would come through their seed. Read Genesis 16:1-4).

  • believe God could raise his only son up from the dead after being instructed to offer him to God as a sacrifice (Genesis 22:1-18; Hebrews 11:8-19).

Paul then contrasted the law against faith by stating:

“For if those who live by (the) law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath (the consequences of sin, as well as judgment). And where there is no law there is no transgression.” (vv. 14 – 15)

So, we see then that faith is made useless if we place our confidence in our works. What’s even worse, though, is if there were no law – everyone would be a law unto themselves and there would be complete anarchy. It is through the law one is made conscious of one’s sin and the need to be saved. The law’s purpose is both divine and practical, leading one to repentance while warning of evil things one should avoid.

I am thankful that God’s promise empowers me to trust God enough for my future supplied through His provision, His protection, and His peace. If you lack faith, ask Jesus for it – for He is The Author and Finisher of our faith. Then, like Abraham, follow God’s direction.

Have a blessed holiday weekend… be safe.

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…faith is credited as righteousness.” Romans 4:5b

Now that Paul had introduced the radically new, yet ancient precept of faith apart from works, he supported his stance with evidence from the ancient manuscripts, while pointing to the forefathers of the faith. He devoted the entire fourth chapter to a teleological proof for faith as the requisite for earth’s peace and Heaven’s passport.

Paul began with the obvious: if anyone could boast about works, it had to be Abraham, who gave-up family and friends to travel to a place he knew nothing about (vv. 1 – 2; Genesis 12:1-4). Abraham put feet to his faith… he proved his faith was genuine by trusting God and stepping out. So, we see that faith preceded his works. Abraham’s works were merely how his faith was worked-out in his living. Paul reminds the reader that God credited such faith to Abraham as righteousness – in other words, good standing before God, The Ruler of the universe. He explained the dynamic like this:

“Now, when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts in God Who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” (vv. 4 – 5)

Pointing to another forefather, Paul asserted King David knew all too well that righteousness came through faith, and that David spoke of, “…the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works…” (v.6). Quoting the minstrel king, Paul cited Psalm 32:

“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin The Lord will never count against him.” (v.7)

Paul then confronted the scholars of Jewish literature by asking if the blessing was only for those circumcised or for all (v.9). He skillfully leads them to the point at which Abraham’s faith was credited to him… before he was circumcised! So, what’s the big deal about circumcision? It was a seal of the righteousness that he acquired through faith before the procedure was ever done (vv. 9b – 11b). Paul surmised that Abraham’s faith makes him the father of, “…all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.” (vv. 11c – 12)

Circumcision, as a faith practice, may seem odd to us today. Though widely done as a medical procedure, it is not the ‘seal’ recognized by God for distinguishing one who walks by faith. The seal I speak of is a new circumcision – of the heart. This circumcision is performed by The Holy Spirit when one dies to self and lives to Christ (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13-14). Now, we exercise our faith by welcoming Christ to live in and through our lives. That is the evidence we carry before the world and each other. The world will know we are his followers by our love for each other and acts of love toward the world.

What will your random act of love be toward someone today?

Have a blessed day…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“…man is justified by faith…” Hebrews 3:28

Paul transitioned his letter with the words, “But now…” (v.21). Having uncovered the law’s purpose as that which God uses to make one conscience of sin, the idea of a righteousness apart from the law was then introduced. Paul was about to present the greatest truth humanity has ever heard. This righteousness is God’s provision to all who have transgressed the law – and that, Paul stated, is everyone (v.23). God provided a new covenant through Jesus Christ, whereby one is granted good-standing before God by faith in Christ (vv.22&24).

Paul explained God’s provision this way:

“God presented Him (Jesus Christ) as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – He did it to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and The One Who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (vv. 25 – 26)

To lean on one’s pedigree, then, bears no merit before a holy and just God. Paul, a Jew’s Jew – schooled under Gamaliel, and a learned Pharisee who exercised enough zeal to hunt down those Jews who confessed their faith in Christ before he himself did so – maintained that one is justified fully before God by one’s faith, not by one’s heredity. He clarified this position with the words, “Is God the God of Jews only? Is HE not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, Who will justify the circumcised (Jews) by faith, and the uncircumcised (Gentiles, non-Jews) through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.”

Paul was not disposing of The Law’s value or function, and maintained, instead, that God’s Word should be held up before the world to work-out its purpose by God’s divine power. By inspiring Paul to present this argument, God reflects his perfect justice – where He is both judge and justifier: God upholds His own law by punishing sin, and demonstrates love to the sinner through the blood shed by Jesus, Who fulfilled the requirements of the law’s demand through His own sacrificial death.

We find, then, that both the absolute and relative attributes of God are manifested through His love. God is love, an absolute attribute of God’s character (1 John 4:8); God relates to us by His divine expressions of love through mercy and grace. In His mercy, God does not give us what we deserve (death and hell); and in His grace, God bestows that which we do not deserve (salvation, the hope of Heaven, and all the blessings of living we have each day).

Thank God for this indescribable gift found in Jesus Christ!

Have a blessed day…

 

5 Understandable Words for Today:

“There is no one righteous...” Romans 3:10

Paul introduced a concept which was foreign to the thinking of Jews and those who believed their spiritual heritage guaranteed them acceptance before God. He entered into a lengthy argument using hypophora, challenging their ancient practice which they believed was God’s ‘paradigm’ for the security of their souls – a system based upon heredity and works. They were half-right, for as we have seen in Paul’s words, to those who persist in doing good receive glory, honor, and immortality (v.2:7). God’s system for healthy humanity has always been based on faith which is evidenced through people who live good lives, because they know there will be a moment of accountability for each person’s life (vv. 19 – 20).

With hypophora, one asks and answers a series of questions to make a point. It is used as a critical thinking exercise for presenting and defending an argument. Paul presented another series of questions in chapter three which he used to bring his letter’s recipients to a point of readiness for receiving the greatest truth for humanity ever told. Here are the questions Paul posed to the Jews in Rome and the 1st century Christian church there:

  • “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision?” (v.1)

Paul asserted that there was a GREAT advantage in being a Jew. Why? They have been entrusted with the very words of God (v.2). Paul had great reverence for the ancient texts and for the history of salvation found in them.

  • “What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness?” (v.3)

Paul answered, “Not at all! Let God be true, and every man a liar.” (v.4; Psalm 116:11) Then he quoted from Psalm 51:4b, “So that You may be proved right when You speak and prevail when You judge.” (v4d)

  • “But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing His wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) (v.5)

Again, Paul answered, “Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world?” (v.6; notice that here, he answered his question with another question to show God’s worthiness to judge all people – even those He chose to take the light of faith and freedom to the nations) Paul covered all his bases, showing how far from reality the thinking of that time truly was, he presented the following question:

  • “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases His glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner? Why not say – as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say – ‘Let us do evil that good may result.’?” (vv. 7 – 8c)

Paul condemned those with such distorted thinking: “Their condemnation is deserved.” (v.8d) He was particularly disturbed by their rational and by the accusations by others who claimed Paul taught such an idea.

Paul closed this section of questions with the question:

  • “What shall we conclude then? Are we any better?”

And again, he answers negatively: “Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.” Paul borrowed from the ancient manuscripts to support his conclusion: There is no one righteous, not even one.” (v.10; 1 Kings 8:46) Again, reaching into the truths of the ancient texts, Paul supports the statement with these words:

“…there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (vv. 11 – 18)

The words above are all taken from the ancient texts. I’ll let you look up the references provided in most Bibles today. Suffice it to say that no-one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by mere observance of ‘The Law’. The purpose of ‘The Law’ is to make each person become conscious of sin. The law works in concert with one’s conscience to dissuade one from sinful acts, to bring one to repentance after sinning, and to provide wisdom in choosing righteous acts over sinful ones.

Jesus, The Word that became flesh (John 1), provides a righteousness through faith, apart from works. We will discuss how it happens tomorrow.

Have a blessed day…