James 1:25 makes clear that understanding God's Word and applying it result in God's blessing. This blessing, however, does not mean what most people assume. The blessing we receive is the operation of grace in our spiritual growth as we increasingly become like Christ. This is something we cannot do in our own power! Romans 6 is a longer treatise on that same progression from understanding to applying to growing.
Romans 6-7 tells believers how we daily become more like God. God's grace allows us to understand and apply God's Word. We can reflect God's character in our lives only to the extent that we know His Word.
We have just finished the section of Romans that laid out the doctrine of justification, or positional sanctification, in great detail. Chapters 6-7 deal with practical sanctification, or how Christians are set apart and become holy. Romans 5:15 and 5:20 give some context for what Paul begins in chapter 6. God's grace overwhelms the power of sin when it works our salvation. This same grace is the divine source of our sanctification and the reason we can have success in becoming more like Christ.
Romans 5:12-21 concludes the first major section of this book. Alva J. McClain said about these verses, "A constant reading of this passage, under the leadership of the Spirit of God, never fails to bear fruit." It is a refrain of the blessings of justification in Paul's presentation of the Gospel.
These are all virtues that the world desperately seeks, but cannot find apart from justification in Christ.
Aspen, Colorado, has 6000 permanent residents, and 50 of them are billionaires. To some, living in Aspen is the height of material prosperity. However, people of spiritual virtue have different values. Godly moms in particular desire a spiritual home through which they may leave a faith that will remain through generations of their families to come.
Hebrews 11:6 says that faith is essential to please God. Many claim to have faith that helps them through difficult times. But there is a difference between religious faith and saving faith. True saving faith can calm us in the midst of earthly storms and save our souls for eternity. Salvation always comes by faith in Christ.
In the church of Rome, the religious element was asking questions about the Gospel and good works. Paul is answering for anyone who came from a religious background that emphasized good works.
When a natural disaster is coming, human organizations spend a lot of time and effort getting ready to withstand it safely. Rehearsing the core doctrine of justification was necessary preparation for the Roman believers about to face severe persecution under Nero. Christ and what He has done for us through the Gospel is our only anchor in any affliction.
Knowing intellectual data about Jesus is not enough to save a person. Nicodemus was a learned Jewish teacher, but he still did not possess saving faith until he knew what it meant to be born again (John 3:1-21). The longest 18 inches is the distance from the head to the heart, from knowing about Jesus to placing our full faith in and submitting to Christ.
The world likes to ask why bad things happen to good people, but the more appropriate question is why good things happen to bad people. Romans 1-3 comprehensively shows that all unbelievers are equally lost, whether they are religious, moralists, or irreligious. Those who think they have some good in them are actually the most wicked in God's eyes. No one can be saved unless they believe themselves to be the worst of sinners.
The inventor of the weather vane said its purpose is to remind us that human nature is fickle. Similarly, this first section of Romans is a reminder of our character. It is uncomfortable truth to be reminded of, but it is for our help, encouragement, and learning.
Paul continues his argument about the depravity of mankind. This section deals with the Jews or, by extension, anyone who relies on a religious system to make them right with God. Despite any religious affiliation, sin still makes everyone liable to God's judgment. This truth is actually liberating when considering our eternal destiny: it's not up to us.
People who are considered moral need God too. Many moral people can sound Christian without actually knowing Christ. There is only one Judge who knows the whole truth. Romans 2:2-16 describes four ways that God judges moralists.
God's charge against humanity continues in the divine courtroom. He is answering the question, Is all the world lost? The answer is yes, all are guilty before God. In Romans 2:1-16, we learn the moralist is just as guilty as the immoral person. It's important to remind do-gooders that they need Jesus just as much as the wicked. None of us have an excuse before God (Romans 1:20).
Some may recall a teaching method used to ingrain material in students' heads: Remember, Recite, Remediate. After material is taught, it is repeated until the students can recite it accurately. Romans 1:18-32 is a repetition of the truth about fallen humanity. It was not written primarily to convict sinners, since the letter was written to believers in Rome. It is a reminder of what we were before the Lord saved us.
Christians long to have confidence in sharing the Gospel. Paul provides a model for an effective gospel witness. Paul could say that he was not ashamed of the Gospel because he lived out the Gospel. It was something that he not only professed with words, but possessed in his daily life.
An authentic, bold gospel confidence is preceded by personal spiritual integrity. Integrity is characterized by being undivided. Paul was wholeheartedly submitted to the Gospel and the Person at the heart of the Gospel, Jesus Christ.
At the end of his letter to the Romans, Paul names many individuals who were an encouragement to him in the Lord. Paul had not been to visit the churches in Rome, but he knew many believers who had evidently moved there. The list begins with a woman named Phoebe who likely delivered Paul's letter about AD 57 (Romans 16:1-2). Her inclusion, along with Priscilla and her husband Aquila in the next few verses, reminds us that women are very important to the essential ministry of disciple-making in the church.
The theme of the book of Romans is the righteousness of God as revealed in the Gospel. We should never cease to wonder that God's mercy and power were enough to save sinners like us!
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