Chapter nine shares Paul’s sorrow that many Israelites will not make it to heaven. He goes on to explain that the heritage of Abraham was not meant through bloodline or DNA, but by God calling us as chosen children of God. Being a child of God is not something we made happen. God offered this freely, and we have a choice to accept this gift or not. Continue reading
From Verse 13 on, in Chapter 7 of Romans, Paul talks about how he hates the sin he does. The law made him aware of the sinfulness of his actions and the suffering it causes him and others. He now hates it, but has not yet gained the habit of changing these actions. Paul states, “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do want I want, but I do what I hate” (v15). Continue reading
Paul makes what seems to be an odd comparison with the law of God and the laws of marriage. Again, there is a logic to Paul’s thinking that is different than how we would think or make a comparison.
He starts off writing about how a woman is bound by the law to remain chaste with other men because of the laws of marriage, but when her husband dies, she is free to be courted by another man. While she is married, she is bound by the laws of marriage to remain faithful, but when ‘death do us part’ comes along, as is implicated in the vows of marriage, the law is no longer imposed on her. (So her husband is now dead to her, for he in fact is dead physically) In a similar way, when we die to sin, sin becomes dead to us. Since sin is now dead and we no longer have to obey the laws of sin, we are now free to live for God. When we are baptized, that is the moment in our lives when we are supposed to live our life for Jesus. The old life of sin is symbolized in the husband that died and Jesus is the new husband for whom we are now living. This is what is supposed to happen, but many times we want the old husband back, preferring the one who is bad for us and forsaking the good husband who is Jesus. Sin should be dead to us, not even a desire. Continue reading
In Chapter Six, Paul poses the dilemma of sin and its effects, and living righteously and its effects. Right before this chapter, Paul says that grace abounds all the more when sin is present. He knows some people might want to take the easy way out and say, “then it is ok to sin, because grace just keeps coming and makes my bad actions null and void. I can do anything I want.” Not. Paul refutes this thought by stating, “What then shall we say? Shall we persist in sin that grace may bound all the more? Of course not!” (v1). When we follow Jesus, sin itself should be dead in our hearts and, therefore, should not even be a desire. This happens when we consider sin as dead. It has no life and brings no life. It takes a certain dying to self, because some of our sins we like too much. We all have our attachments to things or actions we take. Continue reading
Chapter Four of the Letter to the Romans deals with the issue of circumcision, one of the main issues of the letter. Paul is likening works with the flesh, the law, and therefore, condemnation, while faith is spiritual and deals with justification, righteousness and ultimately salvation. Continue reading
Chapter Three presents Paul’s logic of the Law. Again, he admits a good to the law and circumcision. God’s goodness is not nullified because of the law, nor is His justice because of grace. The punishment from God does not make Him a tyrant. God is just and ought to exact justice. How many of us would complain when justice is not served to someone who has done wrong to us? Yet how many of us would complain if justice is given to us when we have wronged others? Justice is a two-way street. We never look to ourselves and our own actions. Yet all this justice does not mean that God is not merciful.
All that being said, does God enjoy exacting punishment? No. God really does not have to actively punish us anyways. As said in Chapter One, God leaves us to our own design. The fruit of our sins will always come back to bite us. It is the nature of sin to cause the sinner to suffer. If we do not want God in our lives, then He makes His absence happen. He does not impose His goodness on us. It is all based on, for lack of better terms, the nature of who God is. What is this nature? Goodness itself. God is goodness itself. Anything opposed to this goodness is opposed to God. When goodness is absent, humanity suffers.
We are all under the yoke of sin, Jew or Greek (v9). What Paul is getting at here is that no matter where you are from, every human being in the world is under the yoke of sin. We are all sinners. The law makes us more conscious of our actions in morals (v20). The law teaches us of God’s ways and how to be good and to avoid evil. So the law is good. Since all human beings are subject to sin, we are in need of God’s grace equally (v23-24). But the grace of Jesus’ blood proves God’s goodness (v25). We have access to God’s mercy and the forgiveness of sins through His blood and our faith in Jesus. So without faith, we cannot attain eternal salvation. Faith is absolutely necessary.
There are some assumptions about faith that open us to salvation. First, faith implies that we trust in God. This trust assumes that God wants what is good for us. God has no evil in His heart and would never deceive us. Second: that God loves us. If we do not trust God, we are doubting that God actually loves us. Jesus dying on the cross is the proof we need that He really does love us. Third, that we love God. It is hard to love a person whom we do not trust or believe in. But Scripture says, “even the devils believe” (Jas 2:19). Those in hell believe in God, they just hate Him. But if we believe that God is trustworthy and loves us, we ought to love Him back. Fourth: that a relationship is enjoyed. The faith we have in God is not that of some thing; I trust that my printer will print the page I want when I tell it to. It is a faith in persons, three persons to be exact, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. These three persons have entered our lives and bring us grace to every part of our lives. Fifth: that faith itself is a gift. God gives us the gift of faith. We cannot get faith for ourselves or purchase it by any means. God freely gives it to all who would accept it. We have to be willing to accept it and do so. Our actions play a part in this acceptance of Faith in many ways. A book could be written on this alone. Sixth: faith is integrated. The entire person is involved in faith. It incorporates body and soul. It involves all the powers of the soul: the intellect, passions and the will. How are you doing in all these assumptions of faith?
Works cannot provide for grace no more than the natural can provide for the supernatural. Works are natural and mere human. Grace and faith is supernatural and come from the divine. Grace can build upon works, but works by themselves can only do so much by themselves. With that in mind, works cannot give us sufficient reason to boast (v27), but faith in Him can give a reason to rejoice.
From last weeks bulletin.
Paul begins with verse 17 of chapter 2 to warn those who are the official teachers of the Law and God’s ways. He does not say that they have no authority to do so, or that their sins make null and void their authority. But he does say, for it is written Because of you the name of God is reviled among the Gentiles (v24). So there is a very real judgement they will incur. Jesus is the good shepherd and is there to take care of the sheep, not be friends of the hired help (Jn 10:11-18). So Jesus makes a commitment to love His sheep. If the hired help does not do their part, there will be justice exacted on them. To avoid this judgement, verses 21-23 gives a brief examination of conscience by which to judge themselves and keep them honest.
Circumcision, to be sure has value, says Paul (v25); not what many expect him to say. The Old Law of circumcision is still in effect, but there is also a warning with it. That warning is that the law is in effect and the blessing and curse are still fully valid (Dt 11:26). We want the blessing, not the curse. That is why Paul warns of not getting circumcision. If you live the law, then fine and good. But Paul explains that the circumcision of the heart is just as much a blessing. Jesus will bless and fulfill every promise of circumcision as if they were physically circumcised. This is the graciousness of God. Continue reading