"The Just Shall Live By Faith"
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For in it is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, The just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:16, 17)
These verses set before us the subject of the epistle. Although each word in the epistle is important, these are significant in their marvelous unfolding of the entire epistle.
The Structure of the Book of Romans
The book falls neatly into an introduction (1:1-17), a doctrinal section on justification (1:18—5:11), a doctrinal section on sanctification (5:12—8:39), a parenthetical section on Israel (9:1—11:36), a practical application section (12:1—15:13); and then a conclusion (15:14—16:27). A simple outline of this structure looks like this:
I. Introduction: The Revelation of Righteousness (1:1-17)
A. The Salutation (1:1-7)
B. Personal Items (1:8-13)
C. The Theme (1:14-17)
II. Justification, or the Imputation of Righteousness (1:18—5:11)
A. Condemnation, or the Universal Need of Righteousness (1:18—3:20)
B. Manifestation, or the Universal Provision of Righteousness (3:21-26)
C. Harmonization, or Justification and the Purpose of the Law (3:27-31)
D. Illustration, or Justification and the Old Testament (4:1-25)
E. Exultation, or the Certainty of Salvation (5:1-11)
III. Life in Christ, or Union With and Ultimate Conformation to the Righteous One (5:12—8:39)
A. The Reign of Sin and the Reign of Grace (5:12-21)
B. The New Relationship in Life (6:1-14)
C. The New Principle in Life (6:15-23)
D. The New Freedom in Life (7:1-25)
E. The New Power in Life (8:1-17)
F. The New Hope in Life (8:18-39)
IV. Vindication, or God’s Righteousness in His Relationship with Israel (9:l—11:36)
A. The Consideration of Israel’s Rejection (9:l-29)
B. The Explanation of Israel’s Rejection (9:30—10:21)
C. The Consolation of Israel’s Rejection (11:1-36)
V. Application, or God’s Righteousness at Work (12:1—15:13)
A. Application in the Assembly (12:1-21)
B. Application in the State (13:1-14)
C. Application in Doubtful Things (14:1—15:13)
VI. Conclusion, or Purpose, Plans, and Praise in Connection with the Dissemination of Righteousness (15:14—16:27)
Romans and Righteousness
(a) Righteousness needed by sinful men (1:17 — 3:20)
(b) Righteousness provided by God (3:21-26)
(c) Righteousness received through faith (3:27 — 4:25)
(d) Righteousness experienced in the soul (5:1 — 8:17)
(e) Righteousness guaranteed as permanent blessing (8:18-39)
(f) Righteousness rejected by the Jewish nation (9 — 11)
(g) Righteousness manifested in practical life (12 — 16)
Roman Road of Scriptures
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." (Romans 12:11)
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.(Rom8:28)
Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
Not only so, but we also rejoice and exultingly glory in God [in His love and perfection] through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have now received and enjoy [our] reconciliation.
But God's free gift is not at all to be compared to the trespass [His grace is out of all proportion to the fall of man]. For if many died through one man's falling away (his lapse, his offense), much more profusely did God's grace and the free gift [that comes] through the undeserved favor of the one Man Jesus Christ abound and overflow to and for [the benefit of] many.
For if because of one man's trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God's] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
For the wages which sin pays is death, but the [bountiful] free gift of God is eternal life through (in union with) Jesus Christ our Lord.
Likewise, my brethren, you have undergone death as to the Law through the [crucified] body of Christ, so that now you may belong to Another, to Him Who was raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
"For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written,’ The righteous will live by faith."
1. Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ (1)
Paul had been a servant of sin and a servant of the law. He said in 7:14, 'I am ... sold as a slave to sin.= And in 6:16 he said, 'Don't you know that you are slaves to the one whom you obey. He knew that no one lives in neutral territory. He had been a slave to sin; now he was a slave of Jesus Christ. He was writing to those who are >also among those called to belong to Jesus Christ.(6) A slave does not act on his own; he watches the movements of his master and listens to the voice of his master. He does not act according to his own will or ideas. What he does reflects the will and purpose of the one to whom he belongs. We must not live in the grey and sticky slough of ‘no commitments=-- for this is living a lie. We must live as servants of Jesus Christ. This means that I must do his will, not mine; I must be sensitive to what pleases him; I must do his business, not my own. Abraham's servant was such a servant. He did his master's work as if it were his own. He gave his whole heart to the mission his master had given him. (See 1:9)
2. Grace and apostleship
Paul was called to be an apostle. He had been an enemy of God; but through Jesus Christ's one-sided grace, he had been delivered from bondage to sin, forgiven, and he had been given a precious mission. This mission was also God's grace. In 15:16, Paul speaks of the grace God gave me 'to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.' In 1 Corinthians 15:9,10 he says, Afor I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.@ God's grace to every sinner is the grace of forgiveness and the grace of becoming a useful person in God's redemptive history. He created each of us for a purpose and his gracious salvation restores purpose and meaning to our lives. Ephesians 2:10 says, Afor we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.@
3. For his name's sake
Paul was called and sent as missionary for the sake of Jesus' name. His mission did not start with man's need, but with God's sovereignty. He went to call men to obedience so that God might be glorified. When all men everywhere repent and turn to God to obey him and serve him, the creation order will be restored; God will be glorified, man will be saved and all creation will be full of beauty and peace. The gospel itself glorifies God, for it reveals his hatred of sin and his love for sinful, fallen mankind. So when the gospel is rightly proclaimed, God is glorified. Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Our purpose in life and in mission must be to glorify God. All people must live and work for the sake of his name.
4. To call people from among all the Gentiles
Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles. He was sent to those outside the circle of God's people--to the pagan world. He was a missionary. Rome was the center of the Gentile world. Paul had never seen Rome, but he was very eager to go there. He prayed for the Christians in Rome daily (10). He wanted to preach the gospel there. He wanted the church in Rome to have missionary vision based on the gospel. Because of the grace Paul had received from God, he felt a great obligation, a debt to the whole Gentile world. (14)
5. To the obedience that comes from faith
Jesus commanded his disciples to make disciples. They were instructed by Jesus not only to make converts, but to teach the new believers to obey the commands of Jesus. (Mt 28:19,20) Paul said that his mission was to call people to the obedience that comes from faith. He was called to be a disciple-maker. He trained men to obey God's word, to be Jesus' disciples. God wants our faith to be not just in our heads, but to be in our hands and feet, to be reflected in our practical lives as well. So we must be trained in obedience by the word of God.
When we receive God's gospel by faith, we have new life in Jesus Christ. God's children are saved by God's grace, through faith in Jesus, so that we may live by faith. People without God live by their human reason or by feelings or by watching and imitating other people. But to live by faith means to study God's word and pray and allow God's Holy Spirit to lead us step by step. It is important for Christians to challenge pagan culture by lives of faith.
6. The Gospel
Faith is not a vague thing. Faith means faith in the living God, our Creator. Faith means accepting God's gospel. Verse 1 says that the gospel is God's gospel. What is the gospel?
The gospel is Jesus Christ, our Lord. He is God's Son. He was also a perfect man. He is the Messiah, descended from King David. His Sonship and his deity are declared and attested by his resurrection.
The gospel is imbedded in history. And history witnesses to the faithfulness of God, to the truthfulness and authenticity of the gospel. God promised the gospel beforehand to Abraham. (Ge 12:2, 3) The prophets prophesied about this gospel. God kept his promise and fulfilled all the prophecies when he sent his Son to be our Savior. The good news is that we have forgiveness of sin through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross and new life and heavenly hope through his resurrection from the dead.
The gospel is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes. The power of the gospel is the almighty power of God, Creator of heaven and earth. The power that changes sinners into saints is the resurrection power of Jesus, applied to our lives by the Holy Spirit. This power is released by faith--and only by faith. There is no sinner so terrible that he cannot be saved by faith in this gospel. The gospel is sufficient to solve the fundamental life problem of any person.
In the gospel God reveals his righteousness. God is Sovereign. He is holy. He hates sin and loves sinners. He makes sinners righteous by forgiving our sins. But his forgiveness is not cheap. It cost God his very heart--the life-blood of his only Son. Jesus on the cross shows us the perfection of God's righteousness and the measureless depth of God's love.
By faith from first to last. Righteousness is defined as a right relationship with God. When God forgives sinners who repent and believe the gospel, he adopts them into his family. We Christians are sinners who have been forgiven, and who, by God's grace, have a right relationship with God. This relationship begins when we believe in Jesus. It continues as we continue to walk by faith--that is, as we continue to trust and obey God. It continues until we claim our heavenly inheritance; it continues forever. This phrase is also translated 'from faith to faith.' Faith produces faith. When we act in faith, faith grows. As our faith grows, we grow in our knowledge and love of God, and in our obedience to him. Abraham's faith was like this. AFor in the gospel righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." (17)
* PAUL A SERVANT OF JESUS CHRIST (1-4)
1. How does Paul introduce himself? What does it mean that he calls himself a servant? (cf 6:16) An apostle? What does it mean to be called? (1,5,6,7) Set apart for the gospel?
2. Why does he say “the gospel of God"? What proves its authenticity? What can we learn In this passage about Jesus Christ?
* THE OBEDIENCE THAT COMES FROM FAITH (5)
3. What is apostleship? What is Paul’s mission as an apostle? What is the grace which he has received? (see 15:15,16; 1Ti 1; 15,16; 1 Co 15:10) In what sense is mission God's grace? Do all Christians have a mission from God?
4. What does it mean to be called to the obedience that comes from faith? Why does he describe the Christian life in these terms? (compare Mt 28:19,20)
5. Think about the words, “for his name's sake.” What does this phrase tell us about the underlying purpose of the gospel? What does the word “gospel” mean? Why is it good news for people? (16)
* PAUL'S PRAYER (6-15)
6. What can you learn here about the people to whom Paul wrote? (5,6,7,8) (See also 15;p)
7. What was Paul’s prayer request? Why do you think he prayed so faithfully for the Christians in Rome and wanted so eagerly to go there? (Think about the status of Rome in the world of Paul’s time.)
8. What do think the spiritual gift he wanted to impart to them was?
9. What was Paul’s attitude as a gospel worker? (9, 14) To whom and why did he feel a sense of obligation? Why? What should we learn from him?
* THE RIGHTEOUS WILL LIVE BY FAITH (16-17)
10. Why should we not be ashamed of the gospel? Why might some people be ashamed? Why is the gospel the “power of God”?
11. How is the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel? Why must it be revealed by
faith from first to last? What does it mean to live by faith?
Key Verse: 3:24
"...justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood."
The great problem of all human beings is sin. We have many small and large problems in our lives, but sin is at the root of all problems. Sin separates us from God. So, because of our own sins and the sins of all mankind, we must live without God in a world under curse. All people are under the power of sin. There are no exceptions. Sin demands our lives. The wages of sin is death. Physical death is not the end. After death is God's righteous judgment. But God is merciful. He has provided a way of salvation.
1. God's righteousness
Our Creator God is righteous. He created the world for his own glory and he created people in his own image, to glorify him. He, himself, is the absolute standard of goodness and truth. The tragedy is that because of man's sin, no one can measure up to his standard. Romans 3:23 says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Because of our sins we miss the mark; we are weighed on the scales against God's perfect standard, and found wanting.
God cannot look on sin and be indifferent, because he is righteous. He cannot ignore the situation of man whom be created and loves. God hates sin, but he loves sinful men and want to save them. He is just and righteous in all his dealings with us.
God gave us his law so that we might know what we are to believe about him and what he expects of US. His righteous requirements are revealed in the law. The law requires of us strong willpower and perfect discipline. The problem is that, although we know what God requires, we fail to do it because of our weakness and stubbornness. So we deserve God's judgment. God's judgment on all sinners shows his righteousness. Because he is righteous, he cannot ignore sin. Either the problem of sin is solved, or we are condemned to death and hell on the day of judgment. The whole world is accountable to God; no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather through the law we become conscious of sin. (3:19,20)
So God revealed his righteousness in another way, apart from law. The Law and Prophets testify to it. (This means that the Bible tells us about it.) It is the righteousness from God which comes through faith in Jesus Christ. (21,22) We cannot solve our sin problem or live up to his perfect standard, so he gives us his righteousness as a gift. Jesus Christ is God's righteousness; he is God's gift to us. When we accept him in faith, God forgives our sins and we are clothed in his righteousness. In sending Jesus, God extends to us his hand of mercy; we take hold of it by faith.
2. Costly grace
God's mercy and grace to us is free; we receive it as a gift because it costs too much for us to buy. It is free to us, but costly to God, for it cost him the life blood of his only Son Jesus. We are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood."
We are "justified freely by his grace." (24) He "is just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." (26) To be justified means to be declared innocent. Sometimes people try to solve their guilt problem by self-justification. They find many reasons and excuses for their sins, and try to justify themselves. But when we stand before God's judgment throne, we have no mouth to say anything. We stand there as condemned sinners, deserving the death penalty. But God looks at Jesus' blood sacrifice and says, 'Not guilty.' He forgives us for Jesus' sake. We are guilty and deserve to die, but God covers us with his own righteousness when we accept Jesus' death on the cross for our sins. He justifies those who have faith in Jesus. He gives us life instead of death.
Redemption is a term used in the slave market. A slave is redeemed when someone pays the price to set him free. He cannot set himself free. Roman 1:18-32 describes our slavery to sin. When we do not thank God or honor him as God, we become slaves to our own passions and emotional feelings. Romans 6:16 says that when we obey the demands of sin we are slaves to sin. Sin is a cruel taskmaster. He harasses us to death. If we are not joyfully and freely serving God, we are under the power of sin and Satan. When I do as I please, following my own feelings and ideas, I seem to be free; but when I try to change my way and obey God's law and will, I discover that the chains of sin's slavery are too strong to break. I am condemned to a useless, meaningless life and I must live under the shadow of the fear of death, judgment and hell.
Jesus paid the price of our redemption by his blood. 1 Peter 1:18,19 says that we were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to us from our forefathers, not with perishable things like gold and silver, but by the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish. He died the death I deserved to die. He offered his own life as a ransom for mine. (" ... the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." --Mk 10:45) Because he died in my place I am free from the power of sin and death. I am free to love God and serve him and walk in his righteous way, led by his Spirit.
(iii) Sacrifice of Atonement
When the people of Israel were living as slaves in Egypt, Egypt and Israel alike were under the Judgment Of God because of sin, God saved Israel and delivered them from slavery by the blood of the Passover lamb (Ex 12). Jesus is our Passover Lamb (1Co 5:7).
Romans 3:25a says, "God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood." In the Old Testament, blood represents life (Lev 17:11; Ge 9:4). The sacrificial system of the Old Testament lies behind the word that is translated “sacrifice of atonement” (NIV) or "expiation" (RSV) or "propitiation" (NAS).
In Exodus 25 God instructs Moses to make the ark, into which was put the Bible, the Law of Moses. This Law contains God's righteous requirements. The ark was covered by the atonement cover (mercy seat), which, once a year was sprinkled with blood from the altar. It was here that the righteous God met sinful man. Here righteousness and mercy met. God does not compromise with sin but he met man at the ark with its blood-sprinkled atonement cover, and unconditionally forgave him. This whole sacrificial system points to Jesus the Lamb of God. (Jn 1:29) It is the blood of Jesus that covers our sins and brings us into the presence of the Holy God. Because of Jesus' blood, we are we are forgiven. Through Jesus' blood, God's hand of wrath and judgment becomes his hand of mercy.
Jesus shed his blood to take away my sin. When I accept his blood and apply it to my heart by faith, through the work of the Holy Spirit, I am forgiven, cleansed, set free. God is righteous. He justifies those who have faith in Jesus. This is how he reveals his righteousness.
2. The universal requirement of faith
God's forgiveness is by grace alone, on the basis of faith alone. It is a free gift. There is no religious or charitable work that we can do to deserve God's grace. We must humbly accept what God has done.
So, there is no room for boasting. The ground is cut out from under all our pride. Pride is at the root of sin. When we accept God's forgiveness by faith in the blood of Jesus, we are humbled. We come to God as sinners, with no righteousness of our own. We confess our sin and receive his gracious forgiveness.
There are only two kinds of people in the world--forgiven sinners and unforgiven sinners. We are forgiven when we accept God's grace by faith. There are no exceptions. Race, nationality, material prosperity or poverty make no difference. God is one and he has chosen to forgive all sinners on the basis of their faith in Jesus Christ. There is no other condition. The righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no distinction.
* GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS (3:21-26)
1. What is the common situation of all people? What does it mean to fall short of the glory of God?
2. What do verses 21, 22 tell us about the 'righteousness from God"? What do you think the righteousness from God is? (Jer 23:5,6)
3. How do the Law and the Prophets testify to it? What does it have to do with man's sin problem as described in 1:18-3:20,23?
4. What does it mean to be justified? What does 'by his grace' mean?'
5. What is the redemption that came by Christ Jesus? What is a sacrifice of atonement? (Heb 9:14,22,26b; I Pe 1:18,19a; Lev 16:15,16; Lev 17:11; Ex 12:21-23; John 1:29)
6. In the light of the above study, what is the significance of the blood of Jesus? Why do we need faith in Jesus' blood?
7. How and why did God show his justice and forbearance toward sinners?
* THE UNIVERSAL REQUIREMENT OF FAITH (27-31)
8. How does God's grace get rid of human pride? Remember the root of sin in 1:21. Can all sinners be forgiven by faith alone? Why is this important?
“... through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
1. Peace with God (1-11)
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." To be justified means to be forgiven our sins; it means that we have a right relationship with God. Once we were God's enemies (10). We were ungodly sinners (6,8), and objects of God's wrath. We were powerless to help ourselves (6). But when we were in this helpless state, God demonstrated his love for us and sent Christ to die for us, his enemies. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we have been justified by his blood and reconciled to God. We are no longer his enemies; we are his precious possession, his own children.
The peace we have in our new relationship with God changes our lives. First, the foundation of life changes. "We have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand." (2) God's grace becomes the foundation of life. Once the foundation of my life was my own feelings and ideas; I depended on myself. This was a seemingly strong foundation, but actually it was very weak and shaky. Now, I stand in God's grace. I can only depend on him. I must listen to and obey his word by faith, and build my life on a foundation of rock.
Second, the destination of life changes. When I was living as an enemy of God, the destination of my life was hell--but I didn't know this. I thought I had no direction. I was like Cain, a restless wanderer. Now, my destination is the heavenly kingdom. I have hope of sharing in the glory of God, and I rejoice in this hope. Abraham seemed to be a wanderer, for he lived in tents and moved from place to place. But he was not a directionless wanderer. He was a pilgrim going toward the heavenly city, whose architect and builder is God (Heb 11:8-10). I follow in his footsteps.
Third, following the new destination is the new hope. Once my hope was in education or in money or the things that money could buy or in people or in some job or title or position. These are all things that perish. Now I rejoice in the hope of sharing the glory of God. Furthermore, this hope is a sure hope that will not disappoint me. It is a hope that is backed up by God's love. It is confirmed by the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in me.
Fourth, and directly related to the hope of sharing God's glory, I have assurance of salvation. "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? God loved me and saved me when I was his enemy; how much more he loves me and will complete that salvation now that I have become his precious child. My salvation does not rest on my changeable feelings, but on God's strong and sure grace and love. I cannot depend on my own faithfulness, for how unfaithful I am! But God who promised is faithful. Because of this, I can have assurance of my salvation. No one can snatch me out of the Father's hand.
Fifth, I can rejoice in all circumstances. 'Rejoice' is mentioned 3 times in verses 1-11. First, I rejoice in the hope of the glory of God; but not only this, I rejoice in suffering. This seems like a strange thing to say. How can anyone rejoice in suffering? This American culture is built on the idea of avoiding suffering as much as possible. Most people seem to be primarily interested in pleasure seeking. But one who is at peace with God learns to rejoice in suffering. Why is this? It is because God uses large and small sufferings to train us in faith. When we trust God and know that he loves us, we can have a positive attitude toward suffering. Then, when we suffer, we can learn perseverance; perseverance produces character. many people don't seem to know the meaning of perseverance. When things become a little difficult, they just quit or walk away. So people become weak and sick and easy prey for demons. If one learns overcoming faith, then he grows in the character and mind of Jesus. He can have real hope--hope that does not disappoint because it is hope in God's promises, not hope in the world. As we grow in the character of Jesus, God pours his love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. When God's love fills us, we stop becoming beggars for love, and become people who can give love to others. How joyful our lives become.
But our greatest joy is joy in God himself. Verse 11 says, "not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ....' God promised Abraham, 'I am your shield and your very great reward.' The Levites were not given any land in the promised land--they were promised that God himself would be their inheritance. The Catechism says that man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. When this joy in God is in our hearts, then suffering draws us closer to God and the closer we come to God, the greater our joy. People who spend their lives seeking pleasure find that all the things they thought would bring them pleasure only bring them heavy burdens and meaninglessness. Worldly pleasure turns to dust and the imagined joys of a worldly life turn to hell. But joy in Jesus is real, and it is forever. The things men seek to quell and assuage their restlessness and give them peace become trouble and distress; but the peace that Jesus gives is real; it is in the heart and soul and it lasts forever.
2. In Adam, death; in Christ, life (12-21)
One person is very important. One person can change the course of history for a family, a campus, a city, a nation and for the whole human race. Adam was a man who changed the course of human history into a downward plunge toward destruction. Jesus also changed the course of human history. Jesus' death and resurrection is not only the turning point in the life of one individual person who believes in him, it is the turning point of human history. Verses 12-21 is a summary of what Paul has been saying about the universal problem of sin and the universal solution in the gospel in 1:18-5:11. Through this brief summary of history, Paul explains how sin came into the world through the disobedience of one man Adam. When Adam listened to the voice of his wife and disobey the word of God and ate the fruit of the forbidden tree, the order of creation was broken. Sin came in to rule and sin brought death. When Adam sinned, all humanity was infected with the sickness unto death. All mankind followed Adam down the road that leads to destruction. From Adam to Moses there was no law to expose sin. But even when sin is not called sin, it still leads to death. Sin spread to all mankind and brought death to all the race of Adam. In these days, people try to call sin by some other name. Psychology finds excuses for sin; pragmatism rationalizes sin. But sin is sin and it's consequence is death.
Jesus Christ was a new beginning for the human race. He is the starting point of a new humanity. His obedience to death on the cross for the sins of the world opened the way to heaven and to a new life for all who believe in him. Through his death, all men can have life. His blood, offered to God as a sacrifice for sin, justifies sinners who believe and brings peace with God. The problem of sin can be solved in no other way than through Jesus. People who accept God's free gift of grace are transferred from the kingdom of Satan, where sin and death reign, to the kingdom of God, where God rules by his grace.
Everyone is either in Adam or in Christ. If we are in Adam, we are under the power of sin and death. If we are in Christ we are under the reign of grace. When we have access to and stand in the grace of God, we rejoice in our hope of sharing God's glory. Our citizenship is in heaven and our inheritance is there. In Adam, all die; in Christ, all are made alive.
Key Verse: 7:25a
"So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God."
Law was a precious gift which God gave Moses for the people of Israel when they desperately needed life direction and training. They had just come out of 400 years of slavery in Egypt, and though they were free from the chains of Egypt, the slave mentality of Egypt still bound them. They could sing and dance and praise God for destroying Pharaoh and his army and opening a way through the Red Sea for them; then, 3 days later, they could forget all about it and grumble and complain and rebel against God's servant, threatening to go back to Egypt because they were hungry. The mark of a slave mentality is the lack of a thankful heart; no sense of history; lots of grumbling and complaining; a great interest in small physical pleasures and bodily comforts.
In Exodus 20-31 God gave Moses the Law. The core of the law is the 10 Commandments. The covenant ceremony in Exodus 24 was like a marriage ceremony which bound them to God to be his own people. - The Law was the centerpiece of the covenant. It was given so that they might be trained to overcome their slave mentality and grow into a holy nation and a kingdom of priests.
The problem was, the Israelites broke their covenant relationship with God. They worshiped idols. They could not keep the law because of their sinful Human nature. So the law became an unbearable burden and a cruel taskmaster who could not save them; it only condemned them .
When we are set free from slavery to sin through our union with Christ, we are also set free from bondage to law. Does this mean that the law has become obsolete for a Christian, and we can ignore it? Does the law have any function in a Christian's life? First of all, we are freed from the law so that we might belong to Jesus and bear fruit to God.
1. To bear fruit to God (1-6)
Paul uses an illustration from marriage to teach us our new relationship to the law, and our relationship to Jesus. Paul himself once married the Law because he thought this would make him a great man; he thought this would make his life fruitful and happy. So he pledged commitment to the Law. His commitment was like a marriage. So he became "Mrs. Law and the law was 'Mr. Law.' She did her best fir Mr. Law, but he was never satisfied. He only pointed out her weaknesses and made increasingly greater demands on her and condemned her for this and that. There was no good fruit--only fruit for death. She regretted her marriage, but she couldn't get away from him because she was bound by the law of marriage. She was a slave to Mr. Law. Only death could set Mrs. Law free.
According to the law of marriage, only death sets a person free to marry another. Such a death occurred when I accepted the gospel and died with Jesus. Paul says in verse 4, "So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead in order, that we might bear fruit to God." Because we died with Christ, our bondage to law is broken. We are no longer under the law; we are married to our true husband Jesus. The purpose of this union is to bear beautiful and joyful fruit to God. We do not serve Jesus in the old way, according to the written code, but in the new way of the Spirit.
We died to the law through the body of Christ so that we might belong to Jesus. We became his most precious and beloved ones, his brides. But Christ sacrificed his very life on the cross in order to make this new relationship with us. Our relationship with Christ is possible when we make a life commitment to him who died for us. He gives us a clear destination for our lived, the kingdom of heaven. How sorrowful it is to see so many people who don't commit themselves to God. They don't even commit themselves to their wives or husbands or children. Psalm 1 says that they are like chaff blown by the wind, Let's not be like chaff; let's take root in Jesus and be built up, and bear fruit to God.
2. The function of the Law (7-24)
These days many people have an attitude toward life which resembles very much the slave mentality. They brag about living naturally. They say, "If it feels good, do it", and "Do what ever you think is right." Like the lawless slaves just out of Egypt, they have no life direction, no sense of responsibility, and an unconditionally rebellious attitude toward all authority. Such people think they are free, but actually, they are slaves. Slave-class people have no law of marriage. Men and women enjoy free sex, but men take no responsibility for women they use, and women want no responsibility for human life created by their thoughtless actions.
In Chapter 6, Paul said that we are under grace not under law--but this by no means gives us license to follow our natural desires and live lawless lives. Rather, we must grow in holiness (19). To grow in holiness requires struggle with sin and Satan. The law serves two purposes: first, it helps us know what sin is so that we can repent; second, it helps us struggle so that we can grow in holiness.
a. The law is holy and good (7-13)
God's law is not sinful. God's law is holy and just, righteous and good. It exposes sin as sin. Most of the laws concern our actions; but the 10th commandment, "Do not covet" concerns the inner motives. Covetousness comes from an ungrateful heart. I want something that belongs to someone else. This means that I am not content with what God has given me. I am dissatisfied with the life God has called me to live. Covetousness can cause a person to steal or murder or commit adultery. It is a refusal to accept the sovereignty of God in one’s practical life. Much of the violence and unrest in our society is caused by covetousness. The so-called “rights” movements are, for the most part, rooted in covetousness. God’s law says “Do not covet.” When I examine my heart, grumbling or ingratitude or the competitive spirit that arises from time to time is a violation of this law. Perhaps this is why Paul wrote the Christians in Thessalonica, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1Th 5:16-18) A thankful heart is not an option for a Christian. It is obligatory if one is to obey the command, “Do not covet.”
Paul found that he could not obey this law. The harder he tried to do so, the more impossible it was. He found that the law makes us aware of sin, that is, it brings sin to life. But the law has no power to solve the sin problem. So the law makes us fatalistic and leads us to despair. Paul wrote, “sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.” So “the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.”
So, the first function of the law is to expose sin and make me know that I am a sinner. I must know that I am a sinner so that I may know my need for a Savior.
b. The law makes me struggle and grow (14-24)
The law exposes the fact that I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. It shows me that I must fight with my slave mentality. Verses 14-25 are written in the present tense. Paul is not just talking about his present situation; nor is he talking only about his past, pre-Christian life. He is stating a general principle that is true about all of us. As long as we are in the flesh we must struggle with our sinful human nature. Paul says, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (15) He continues, “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...” Tension and inner conflict are not necessarily bad. As we grow in Christ, the Bible shows us new areas of life that need to be cleansed of sin by the blood of Jesus. We must continue to fight sin in our lives in order to grow in faith and in holiness and in Christian maturity–and in usefulness to God.
3. Jesus Christ, the only Savior (25)
When we struggle with sin, we soon realize that we are fighting a losing battle. Paul cried out in verse 25, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” The law reminds us how weak and helpless we are. What can we do? Verse 6 says, “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.” This verse opens a window into Chapter 8. Victory in the Christian life only comes when we walk by the Spirit, not by the flesh. So what can we do? We can go to Jesus. When we stop struggling on a human level and go to Jesus we can taste victory. So Paul wrote, “thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ my Lord!” He alone can rescue us from sin and death and enable us to enter into union with him. Because we belong to him we can walk in the new way of the Spirit and bear fruit to God (4,6,25).
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the Law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
This chapter is the climax of Romans. What is the great joy and hope that belongs to Christians? It is joy of new and unimagined freedom that comes from being a child of God. A child of God lives in the absolute and unshakable security of the love of almighty God. We have a right relationship with our Creator that transforms and blesses all the other relationships of life. As children and heirs of God, we may share in Christ's suffering and share in his glory. This suggests to solution to life's two most important problems: One is where we are going and the other is how we get there. The first part of this chapter talks about our walk in the Spirit and the second part, the glorious hope we have in God's kingdom. The last part of this chapter is Paul’s confession of love for Jesus.
1. There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (1-4)
Verse one says, “Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” This points back to chapter 5, 6 and 7. Chapter 5 begins, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God...” We are not condemned because we have been justified by faith–we have been forgiven. In chapter 6 we find that we are united with Christ in his death and united with him in his resurrection. We are no longer slaves to sin because we died with Christ. “Anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” (6:7) So we have been set free from sin. The Law was given to help people to live the useful and fruitful and happy lives that God created us to live. But because we have a sinful nature, we cannot live according to God's good and holy Law. The law gives good advice, but it is powerless to help us. We have to be strong--but we are weak. Chapter 7 describes this struggle and ends with a cry to Jesus, who alone can deliver us. Chapter 8: 2-3 tell us that through the death of Christ on the cross God did for us what the Law could not do. God sent his Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. Jesus lived a sinless life and died on the cross as a sin offering for us. When I accept Jesus' death personally, my sins are forgiven and I am set free from the power of sin and death. In Chapter 7 we find that we are free from the law because, “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, not in the old way of the written code.” (7:6) So, through the death of Christ, we have been set free from sin, set free from death and set free from the law. No one can condemn us because Christ Jesus has justified us. We are free to travel the pilgrim road to the heavenly kingdom.
We are pilgrims, for this world is not our real home. The Spirit of God leads us through a world fraught with all kinds of temptations and dangers, sorrows and joys to claim our inheritance in the kingdom of heaven. The problem is that we are slaves to sin. People have a false idea of freedom. They think that freedom is doing everything the sinful nature desires--with no restraints from parents, society or even from God. This is a deception perpetrated by the devil who wants to make us his prisoners. We want to be free to follow the Spirit, but we are slaves. How then can sinful man be free to live according to the Spirit of God? Verse 2 says, “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”
So we are free to follow the leading of the Spirit. But as a matter of fact, our sinful human nature is in us as long as we have mortal bodies, and it continues to make demands. This means that life is a struggle between the spiritual nature which longs for God and the sinful nature which was corrupted in the Fall.
The good news of chapter 8 is that the Spirit of Christ is living in us to help us and lead us to victory. What then, must we do? We must set our minds on Jesus. When we set our minds on Jesus and the things of his Spirit, we have life and peace. We have freedom from fear and sin and death. But if we have our minds set on what our sinful nature desires we will die. The original meaning in Greek of the word translated "sinful nature” is "flesh." To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace." Furthermore, when we only think about the demands of our sinful nature, we become hostile to God. The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God's law--indeed, it cannot. Man was created for God's glory and we should make it our aim to please God. But if we are controlled by the sinful nature, we cannot please God. (8)
But we who belong to Jesus are not controlled by the sinful nature but by the Spirit of Christ who lives in us. The Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is working in us. He gives us life. We should not be fooled by the demands of the sinful nature--we have no obligation to the flesh or to the sinful nature. We must put to death the deeds of the body by obeying the leading of the Spirit.
When we are led by the Spirit of God, we may claim the inheritance that belongs to us as children of God. We are set free from fear. We know God's love so personally that we call him “Daddy”. and his Spirit in us renews and confirms his love for us. As children we are heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ. We share in Christ's suffering as we seek to bring the gospel to the lost world; we share in the glory of the kingdom of God.
Key Verse: 12:1,2
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Paul begins this chapter with the words, "therefore", and "in view of God's mercy." Christians are not people who transform themselves. We are sinners who have received God's mercy, God's grace of forgiveness through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are great debtors to God's grace. Therefore, we must worship God our Savior.
1. A living sacrifice (1-2)
But what kind of worship is pleasing to God? It is not the offering of sheep and goats on a bloody altar. Jesus' perfect sacrifice on the cross as the Lamb of God ended all of that. God wants from us an act of spiritual worship; he wants us to offer our own bodies as living sacrifices to him. How can we do this? Romans 1:17 says, 'The righteous will live by faith.' We began by offering ourselves to God by faith. We make a decision to live by faith, to live according to God's word--not by our human calculations.
Before we knew God's love and Jesus' grace, we lived according to the patterns of the world. We did not question the standards and values of the people around us, but fit easily into the pattern and lived like everyone else. But as the people of God, we should not be conformed any longer to these worldly patterns. Rather, we should try to please God. This means that our way of thinking about ourselves, other people and the world must be changed. We must learn to think about these things from God's point of view. Instead of naturally acting to please myself, I must ask, “How can I please God?” When my mind and heart are renewed by God's grace and by his forgiving, transforming love, then I can discern what his will is, and, with his help, I can live a life that pleases him.
2. Sincere love in the body of Christ (3-13)
The first evidence of a transformed life is a changed relationship with other people. The Bible commands us to love Cod and love our neighbors. When we become children of God, we suddenly have many brothers and sisters, and our first priority is to love them. This is often the hardest part of being a Christian. It's easy to love Jesus, who is my shepherd and who laid down his life for me, but it's hard to love fellow Christians. However, when Peter confessed his love to Jesus, Jesus first, second and third commands to him were 'Feed my lambs'; "Take care of my sheep"; and "feed my sheep." If we are Christians, we must have a close relationship with other Christians. How close? Paul says that we are like hands and feet and eyes and ears on the same body. (1 Co 12) Verse 5 says, "So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."
In order to have a right relationship with others, we must not think of ourselves more highly than we ought. We must be very realistic about ourselves. We must not compare ourselves with others, for if we do, we began either to feel inferior or to feel superior to them. Both of these attitudes are wrong and keep us from loving our brothers and sisters.
Paul tells us to think about the gifts God has given us and how we can use those gifts to serve the fellowship of Christ. Some of these gifts are for anyone who claims them by faith. For instance, the gift of prophesying is very close to being a Bible teacher. This is God's grace, and it is claimed and exercised by faith. Some of these gifts seem to be opportunities to minister to other believers, and the eyes to see those opportunities. These gifts are given so that we may use them--not just hide them away and become proud. If God gives us the opportunity to serve, we should serve; the opportunity to teach, or encourage or give material things to someone in need, then we should do these things, by faith. Those put in a position of leadership must work harder than anyone else. Those who forgive others who have sinned against them should do it cheerfully. God's gifts are given to be used in humble service of others. They are not given to make believers proud.
The most important one factor in the body of Christ is love. God's people must love each other with sincere love. This means that we must learn how to love from Jesus. If we really love our co-workers and our sheep, then we must hate the things that weaken and damage their faith. We must seek their highest good, and earnestly pray for them to grow up in the image of Jesus.
To be devoted to one another in brotherly love means that we must make a commitment to the body of Christ. Commitments are not vague; they are specific. Christians should be committed to the particular body into which God has led them. Church tramps, who go here and there looking for human or spiritual benefit, never making a commitment to a particular church or community of believers can't please God or learn what it means to be a Christian, for they are always getting, never giving.
Christians should also be aware of their influence in the body of Christ. So we should not live by our feelings. We should never lack in zeal, but keep spiritual fervor; we should be faithful in prayer, and be joyful in hope--gloomy faces are not a good influence on others. we should share freely and always welcome one another with the hospitality of Christ.
3. Christians in a hostile world (14-21)
Jesus wanted his disciples to live in the world--but not be worldly. When we live a life of faith in a world that is in rebellion against God, we can expect to be persecuted and misunderstood. But we must bless those who persecute us. We are misunderstood. but we must be understanding--we must overcome ourselves and rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. (Our human tendency is to do the opposite.) We must live in harmony with believers, so as not to invite the scorn of the non-Christian world. We must not become proud and self-righteous, but humbly associate with all kinds of people in order to share the gospel with them.
Revenge is one of the big underlying motives for much of what goes on in a non-Christian society. People are created with an innate sense of justice. If they don't believe in God, they seek revenge on those who they think have wronged them. There are so many lawsuits in our present society. Of course, some of them are entered into because of money, but many lawsuits are brought for the sake of revenge. Even when we drive on a busy street, the spirit of revenge sometimes takes over at a red light, when somebody in a fast car zooms ahead when the light changes. The thought that crosses the mind is, 'I'll get him at the next light or worse, "I hope be gets a ticket." But what does Paul, reflecting the mind of Jesus, say, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil.” “Don't take revenge.” God said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay.” Paul says, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath.” But even more, he tells us to feed our enemy if he is hungry, and if he is thirsty, give him drink. We must overcome evil with good.