We did it! We made it through one of the potentially more complex and difficult books of the New Testament: Romans.
Romans also contains some of the most cherished simple truths and detailed examinations of the Christian faith and life.
Some of the main themes and topics of discussion are:
- the Law
- spiritual slavery
- Jews and Gentiles
Since Romans is so in-depth, it took me a while to write this, and unfortunately, it will probably take a while for those interested to read. 🙁 I’ve separated the analysis by chapter and largely by verse.
So. Here is the recap of Romans.
Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
We are slaves of Christ Jesus. How should this define the way we live?
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
We have no need to be ashamed of the gospel of Christ. It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.
Paul is saying, “I know the antidote for sin and eternal death. I have been healed from my deadly disease. Why would I be ashamed of sharing that remedy with as many people as I can? I am not ashamed of something that will save lives.”
Why are we so often ashamed of the gospel? Perhaps because:
- We are preaching a half-true or incomplete gospel (a powerless gospel)
- We fear men more than God (those who claim not to believe in God more than God Himself)
Have you ever tried to lovingly point someone in a direction that you know will help them, and they won’t even look into it? Have you been ridiculed for suggesting a treatment or option that people have been conditioned to distrust?
Magnesium can help alleviate symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic aches.
Sun doesn’t give you cancer. Sunscreen does.
Cancer cells are there to help you. They are a sign that your body is saturated with toxins. Cancer is just a sign that you are sick. Killing the cancer cells isn’t the answer. Addressing the root disease/infection/toxicity is.
Many people have – or have had – small amounts of cancer and don’t/didn’t realize it. In the body’s effort to protect the rest of your organs and tissues from toxic exposure, the toxins are condensed into a cancerous tumor.
Mammograms often cause breast cancer to metastasize because significant pressure is applied to that area during the exam, causing the tumor to burst and the toxins to spread into other areas of the body.
Starting to think I’m crazy?
We’ve been conditioned through ads, commercials, and even educational institutions to believe that sunscreen is good for you and cancer cells are evil. That women should regularly get mammograms as they age, and that the only solution for aches is a doctor’s prescription or ibuprofen.
The medical, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries pay good money to make sure you keep believing that.
Does it hurt when you try to tell someone that they “really need to look into this”, and they won’t even check it out? They’re not even interested in finding out if:
- sunscreen could be harmful
- magnesium could be helpful
- Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is a historical fact?
It’s painful. You hurt for them. You want them to know what – and who – is truly on their side or not.
The mentality of our culture today is “You do you, and I’ll do me. Don’t push your beliefs on me.”
Yeah, okay, sure, but man, if you’ve chosen to remain in a burning building (sadly, this really happens) and I can find a way to pull you out, I’m gonna do it, even if you don’t like it. If you tell me you’re suicidal, I’m going to make sure you don’t harm yourself, even if you wish I’d just stay out of your business.
There are many times for deference, but there is a unique time for defiance. Eternal destiny is one such anomaly, in which the fate of the person is infinitely more important than their immediate comfort.
They might hate you for the rest of your life, but at least you can say you cared more about them than about yourself and their opinion of you.
Not to make generalizations, but perhaps your experience in sharing the gospel or in defending your faith has been that those who argue and debate with you are not interested in getting answers to their questions – in learning why vestigial organs really aren’t, in studying the myriad functions of non-coding DNA, learning anything new about the fossil record, or in learning about the historical reliability of the gospels or unique coherence of the Christian faith. Their minds are already made up.
Perhaps you’ve been the object of ad hominem and argument from authority attacks which question your education or whether you’re really intellectual enough to be right about anything (or whether a Christian can really be intellectual).
Perhaps you’re reluctant to ever share anything you’ve learned about healthy living again. Perhaps, in the same way, you’re afraid to ever share the gospel again. You don’t want to offend.
Perhaps, although you know the antidote, you keep it to yourself for fear of the opinions and perceptions of others. Because you’ve been told (or picked up) that quietness in these matters is the polite behavior.
But…Jesus wasn’t polite. He wasn’t nice. In kindness and love, He told people the truth.
Perhaps in the past, you tried to warn someone out of love and concern, because you didn’t want them to get hurt…and they ended up fighting and hurting you.
I am guilty of being timid about sharing the gospel.
I’m so afraid of being labeled “unintellectual” (because that’s what society has been conditioned to believe about “religious” people).
I’m afraid of being labeled “judgmental” (even if I’m not the one judging, and I’m simply relaying God’s standards, the reality of sin and hell, and warning people in love of the judgment to come).
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
2 Timothy 3:12
What will they think of me?
Will I lose friends?
Will I lose respect from others?
But what about this:
Do I really love my friends? Really? What does it mean to lay down my life for them?
It means laying down my pride. My fear of rejection and ridicule.
In means being willing to die to social popularity and respect in this life so that others – even one – might come to have eternal life.
It means caring enough to tell them something they may not want to hear – a message which they might choose to outright reject rather than explore or pursue.
But if I love them, I should at least give them the chance to hear the real gospel, right? Many of them have heard a false gospel.
The true gospel is the power of God for salvation.
Whoa! That sounds like a heavy duty rescue helicopter or a potent antidote, doesn’t it?
That is what the gospel is.
Some will sadly reject it, but that doesn’t mean the rescue method or the cure is any less effective or trustworthy – or any less worthy of future application.
Although Christianity is intellectually sound, and belief in Christ and His resurrection is more than reasonable, often the best way to share the good news is to speak to a person’s conscience, because that is a God-given gift we all have. He has written His Law on our hearts, and when we realize that we’ve broken that law, we realize we need a Savior to make us right with God.
Granted, it’s not as though we can’t casually fellowship with others and ever talk about things other than the gospel. And there are many times in which we show the love of God silently – through our actions, our care and concern, a listening ear.
But we should ask God to help us be ready and unafraid to give an account for the hope within us.
but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
1 Peter 3:15
I’m working on this. Or rather, God is working on me.
Friends, I am praying that you and I both will receive courage and strength to share the true and complete gospel with those to whom God leads us.
In His time. In His way. We don’t want to run ahead of Him. We simply want to be ready.
And it’s good to remember that all does not depend on us and rest on our shoulders. God is the one who pursues people. We are simply the conduits through which He sometimes does so.
And if we “mess up” in sharing the gospel, we know that God can work in spite of our weakness and failures. He is not limited by our lack of eloquence or inability to satisfactorily answer every possible question there is. He does not depend on us to make Himself known.
‘K. After all that, onto verse 17.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
In Romans, we quickly learn that one can only be righteous in God’s sight through faith (not works or keeping of the Law).
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
- God’s wrath is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of those who suppress the truth.
- The existence, eternal power, and divine nature of God have been clearly seen from the beginning.
Our motto today seems to be “we are gods”. We are worshiping an image in the form of corruptible man.
Another popular idea is that nature comprises “God”. The notion that animals/flesh = God and that we are mere animals (and part of “Mother Nature”) brings the natural to the level of deity, and degrades our spirits/souls to the level of animal flesh by declaring that spirits/souls don’t exist and we are mere primordial goo.
God dwells in His creation and is everywhere indivisibly present in all His works. This is boldly taught by prophet and apostle and is accepted by Christian theology generally. That is, it appears in the books, but for some reason it has not sunk into the average Christian’s heart so as to become a part of his believing self. Christian teachers shy away from its full implications, and, if they mention it at all, mute it down till it has little meaning. I would guess the reason for this to be the fear of being charged with pantheism; but the doctrine of the divine Presence is definitely not pantheism.
Pantheism’s error is too palpable to deceive anyone. It is that God is the sum of all created things. Nature and God are one, so that whoever touches a leaf or a stone touches God. That is of course to degrade the glory of the incorruptible Deity and, in an effort to make all things divine, banish all divinity from the world entirely.
The truth is that while God dwells in His world He is separated from it by a gulf forever impassable. However closely He may be identified with the work of His hands they are and must eternally be other than He, and He is and must be antecedent to and independent of them. He is transcendent above all His works even while He is immanent within them.
What now does the divine immanence mean in direct Christian experience? It means simply that God is here. Wherever we are, God is here. There is no place, there can be no place, where He is not. Ten million intelligences standing at as many points in space and separated by incomprehensible distances can each one say with equal truth, God is here. No point is nearer to God than any other point. It is exactly as near to God from any place as it is from any other place. No one is in mere distance any further from or any nearer to God than any other person is.
The progression in Romans 1 is this:
- Man sees the evidence of God (vs. 19-20)
- Man rejects that which is evident, and does not even honor God or give Him thanks (v. 18, 21-23)
- God’s wrath is revealed upon the sin of those who deny His existence/nature – those who suppress the truth (v. 18)
- They are given over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, since they exchanged the truth of God for a lie. (v. 24-25)
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
If Zeus existed and people denied his existence, wouldn’t he have every right to do as he pleased to those who dishonored and mocked him? To those who believed lies rather than truth?
If Zeus would have every right to do so, then most certainly the true God of heaven does. However, accepting the notion and justness of the real God punishing wickedness is much harder for us than saying Zeus would be justified in such actions. Why? Because Zeus is a myth, so we’re dealing with the hypothetical there.
As long as the discussion remains hypothetical, any frightening concept is comfortable.
Transfer such a concept to the platform of reality, however, and ignorance becomes bliss.
To the God of heaven, all will give an account. Reasoning Him away won’t make His judgment go away, just as reasoning gravity out of existence won’t permit you to fly.
Like children, we try to hide our faces from Him, thinking that He won’t see us if we can’t see Him.
And so we live in the darkness, welcoming blissful blindness and its messengers. Forgetting that the light of God pierces everything.
But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.
Although God gives them over to that which they already chose, He does not make people sin or tempt them.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.
When people reject God, He gives them over in their wicked desires in which they’re already swimming. In other words, He abandons them because they want Him to.
God is the only One who can deliver us from sin (through Jesus Christ). When we desire His abandonment, we desire death.
God is life and the source of everything good and beautiful. Apart from Him, there is no life, beauty, or goodness.
When we enjoy good things on this earth, we are tasting the goodness of God – and experiencing His patience.
One day, those who are not covered in the righteousness of Jesus Christ will be completely separated from the gifts of God, since they rejected relationship with Him.
There is only one way to have a relationship with God – a good standing before Him.
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
Those who do not see fit to acknowledge God any longer are given over to a depraved mind.
They abandon God, so He abandons them.
He is not willing that any should perish.
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9
Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.”
Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’
But since He is Love, He gives us freedom of the will.
You cannot have love without freedom of the will.
We can choose to be reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ, or we can choose to reject that free gift of life and reconciliation.
and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
In chapter 1, Paul charges the intellectual Gentiles with sin and guilt before God.
In chapter 2, Paul charges the religious Jews with equal sin and guilt in the eyes of God. The Law cannot save them. Rather, it shows them how far they have fallen.
Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?
The Jews did not have a higher standing before God simply because they were entrusted with the Mosaic Law or practiced circumcision.
It is not works which make us pleasing to God, but faith in Christ, who fulfilled the Law and can cover us in His righteousness.
Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
The kindness of God is meant to lead us to repentance. Yet our tendency is to think that we deserve the good things we enjoy, and not that God is being kind and patient with us.
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
But when we receive the kindness of God (life, breath, food, work, clothing, intellect, creativity) and yet do not repent, we store up wrath for ourselves (v. 5):
But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,
The Law is written in our hearts.
But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law and boast in God, and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written.
When the blind (hypocritical, “Law-justified”) Jew claims to be qualified to lead the blind Gentile, they provoke the Gentile to blaspheme the name of God.
Those who boast in their own keeping of the Law are perishing. No one can keep the Law perfectly. They must die and be joined to the One who did keep the Law perfectly (God in the flesh).
God cannot sin (to do so would be to contradict His own nature and standard), therefore, Jesus never sinned, and He perfectly fulfilled the Law. All who believe in Him have eternal life. The Law is fulfilled in them because of Christ who lives in them.
Many Christians try to follow the Ten Commandments or other ordinances of the Mosaic Law, rather than to follow Christ and His commandments (love and belief), which sum up and fulfill all of the Law.
When we walk in faith and love, all other things fall into place.
A person who is walking in love is NOT going to murder, steal, or seek to deceive their neighbor.
When Love (God Himself) comes to live inside us, then we are equipped to walk in love.
For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. So if the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who though having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
If you are a transgressor of the Law, circumcision becomes uncircumcision.
Circumcision and physical baptism have been likened to each other.
If you are not justified by the work of Christ (trusting in Christ for your salvation, rather than your circumcision, baptism, and church membership), then baptism is not spiritual baptism.
If the uncircumcised man keeps the requirements of the Law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?
(In the same way, if the unbaptized man is joined to Christ – the fulfillment of the Law – will not his “unbaptism” be regarded as baptism?)
We are baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire when we are joined to Christ. This is spiritual baptism.
And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
And he who is physically uncircumcised, if he keeps the Law, will he not judge you who through having the letter of the Law and circumcision are a transgressor of the Law?
In the same way, someone can have been baptized physically as an infant and yet not be in Christ – that is, not truly saved.
For he is not a Jew (or a Christian) who is one outwardly, and circumcision (or baptism) is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter.
I am concerned that many who do not know Christ – who therefore have no desire to follow His ways, but perhaps “attend” church and think that this gives them good standing – have false confidence that they are saved because they were baptized as infants.
This has the potential to be so deadly, and is the main reason I continue to emphasize that salvation is not through physical baptism, but baptism of the heart by the Spirit, which regenerates the soul. Unless you know Christ in your own soul, water baptism is nothing, just as physical circumcision was of no benefit to the religious, “Law-keeping” Jew who refused to believe in Christ.
May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written,
“That You may be justified in Your words,
And prevail when You are judged.”
But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is He? (I am speaking in human terms.) May it never be! For otherwise, how will God judge the world?
We should believe that we have broken our word rather than that God has broken His.
We cannot blame God for our unbelief or unfaithfulness. But He has demonstrated His faithfulness and love despite our dearth of the same, in offering a way of salvation (His act of love) while simultaneously executing judgment for sin (His act of judgment, which fell upon Christ).
Does God use Man’s sin to glorify Himself? No. Otherwise, He would have to abandon all judgment.
If God was causing Man to sin, He’d be causing Man to contradict His own nature, which would mean that God is sinful (and sin = that which is against God’s nature, will, and law). So He would be violating His own mind and will.
If God made us unrighteous (operating/acting against His will/nature), then He would be an unrighteous God (that is, at odds with His own holiness), and how could He judge the world?
What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;
Paul has described the condemnation of the Gentiles (chap. 1) who “reasoned” God out of existence, as well as the Jews who believed they could earn His favor. (chap. 2)
Paul has condemned the intellectual and the religious alike, who both think that they are morally decent and not under God’s wrath.
Some of us are like the religious Jews, who think that our physical baptism (circumcision) or the works of our flesh are sufficient to make us pleasing before God.
Only Christ can make us pleasing in God’s eyes.
We can’t reason God out of existence in order to be justified, nor can we work to be justified.
All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one.”
For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Faith ⇒ Righteousness
Faith in the One (Jesus) who can make us righteous is the only way to righteousness.
But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
“Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”
We can’t undo our sin or outdo it with “righteousness”. The deed is done, and we are filthy in the sight of God. A good Judge isn’t just going to let us leave the courtroom without payment for our sin. But Jesus paid the fine. He took the sentence. It’s up to us to accept that gift though. It’s futile to try to pay the fine ourselves. The price is death.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Our sins must be covered by God Himself – Christ in the flesh. Man cannot hide his sin from God.
Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.
Just as faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness while he was uncircumcised, faith is credited to us as righteousness while we are physically “unbaptized”.
As circumcision was a sign for Abraham – a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so baptism and good works are signs of the righteousness we already have by faith.
For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.
The promise of salvation was given through faith, not the Law. Therefore, salvation cannot be found in the Law. The Law is primarily a tutor.
Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Our sufferings bring about perseverance, which proves our character (that we are saved and in Jesus Christ), and that proven character brings hope. That hope does not disappoint. It is shown to be well-founded hope by the love God has poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
Our love proves that we belong to Him. (This is not a worldly, romantic, or natural affection type of love, but the pure, unconditional, selfless love of God. Sometimes, that love speaks uncomfortable truths, because painful truth is better than flattery.)
Better is open rebuke
Than love that is concealed.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Christ is and was the epitome and demonstration of the selfless, unconditional love of God which suffers for the unlovable. He loved us while we were a mess, and wanted to make a way that we wouldn’t have to suffer the just punishment for our sins.
But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.
Jesus Christ is the “reverse Adam”.
Through Adam (the firstborn of human flesh), sin entered the world.
Through Christ (the firstborn in the spiritual kingdom), all who wish are freed from the power of sinful flesh – and the death it brings – and become children of God.
They will one day be released from the sinful flesh in which they still live. Their souls are already being renewed and given the mind and will of Christ. The life they live, they live in the Spirit of God, which is at war with the flesh in which they are still encased (see notes on chapter 7).
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?
We are joined to Christ in His death and resurrection. Our bodies of sin are done away with / being done away with. Our old selves were crucified with Him, and we are raised with Him spiritually to walk in newness of life.
for he who has died is freed from sin.
Our sinful flesh was put to death with Christ on the cross.
v. 1-2, 15
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!
We should not view grace as a ticket to entertain sin.
Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
We are slaves of righteousness in Christ. We do NOT earn salvation through our denial of sinful behaviors. But our strength to resist sin comes from our salvation (legal release from slavery to sin, and binding to righteousness).
Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.
Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
The Law is compared to a husband who dies, legally freeing the woman (church, God’s people) to marry Christ.
For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
Many Christians try to push other Christians to live by the letter of the old Law. Paul makes it clear here that we have died to the Law. We serve God in newness of the Spirit, not oldness of the letter. Trying to please Him in our fleshly adherence (or efforts to adhere) to the old letter is smelly and filthy. We can only bear good fruit through the Spirit. If you walk by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
Whether we are giving into our lusts OR we are striving to please God through the Mosaic law, we are walking in the flesh.
We need to lean back into Christ, resting in Him and trusting Him to produce good fruit through us, by the power of His Spirit.
He said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light for a reason. 😉
Operating in the flesh – whether with the goal of good or evil – is wearisome. We must tap into the living water – the vine – Christ Himself – to walk in the Spirit. That tends to mean resting more than doing, because God can do a lot through someone who is simply still and yielded to Him.
“Cease striving and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
When we are restful, God is exalted, because His power is shown through us, and we are not working to be pleasing or righteous in His sight. We can’t take the credit for any change within us.
He is the One who can give us victory over the sins with which we continue to struggle after salvation. We will not find victory through moral striving.
For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
We were sold into bondage to sin. We are the children of the original man who sold himself into slavery. But Christ has purchased us.
For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
The famous passage on Paul’s (and all true Christians’) wrestle with sin. If you’re not a Christian, you don’t wrestle with sin, you dance with it. You sail in the direction of its stream. There is no battle.
This should be encouraging for any Christian who continues to beat themselves up over their earthly struggle with sin in the “body of this death”. Just because we still struggle with sin doesn’t mean we’re not saved. In fact, if there is a struggle, that means our old bodies (which are dying) are at war with the Spirit within us which is making us new. The struggle is a good sign that transformation is taking place and the Spirit is present.
What indicates whether or not a person is saved is not how much they currently struggle with their sin or even seem to practice sin. It is whether or not they desire to live in a way that honors God. Are they repentant? Do they hate their sin?
Perhaps a person has yet to see a blind spot. Just because the Lord hasn’t yet revealed that doesn’t mean they’re not saved. But once they see their sin, are they sorrowful? Even if they continue dealing with it and struggling, is it a battle? Is there a war between the Spirit and flesh in that person? If so, this is common, and in many ways a good sign.
If we find ourselves doing the very thing we do not want, this means the Spirit lives in us and hates the sin with which our flesh struggles.
With our renewed minds – which are given the mind and will of Christ – we are serving the law of God (love), but with our flesh the law of sin.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
One of the most encouraging and reassuring verses for the one who is trusting in Jesus Christ.
For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
The Law is weak through the flesh. We cannot please God by obeying the Law in our flesh.
What the Law could not do (bring life), however, God did through Jesus Christ.
so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
We are dead to both the sin and the striving of the flesh.
We are pleasing to God because of the imputed righteousness of Christ (justification), and we are then sanctified (refined) by the Spirit, not our own striving.
Transformation comes from Him alone. Man might clean up the outside for a short time, but he can never destroy the root of the problem. Only God can do that. Striving to obey the Ten Commandments will not make him holier on the inside. But having the Spirit of Christ within results in the fulfillment of the Law in the Christian life. We have Love Himself living inside us, and love encompasses and sums up the whole Law.
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
Another very reassuring verse.
Once a son, always a son.
Even the prodigal son had a place in his father’s house when he repented and returned. The father wasn’t just waiting for him to walk back all the way, either. He saw him from a long distance off and ran to embrace him. He didn’t accept a cleaned-up son; he received a withered, weary son with a “past” – with lots of mistakes and sins behind him – before he even entered his father’s house. He was embraced in his mess.
What mattered was the heart of the son and the direction he was facing, not how far he had come.
When we look to the Father, He rejoices and meets us where we are and walks with us on our journey to His place.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
We see that there is a story leading up to justification or salvation. Those who are saved are those God foreknew. Yet mysteriously, they also chose to answer the call.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God loves all His creation, but those in Christ Jesus will never be separated from fellowship with Him.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
A very straightforward message of salvation. This does not list physical baptism as a requirement for salvation.
for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Another simple message of salvation.
Paul takes several chapters (particularly 9-11) to discuss the current state of the Jewish people.
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;
It seems from this passage that once all Gentiles who are going to be saved are saved, then the Jews will return to God.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
This is a true form of worship. Our bodies and our hearts are the temple of God.
For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:20
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Ouch. Our tendency (mine included) is to think that we overcome evil with evil. But the true power over evil is good.
For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
See also Luke 20:19-26.
Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
Owe nothing except to love one another. According to the notes in my study Bible, some debt may be permitted because of Matt. 5:42:
Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.
But according to the notes, the command is, literally, not to continue in debt. Love is a debt one can never discharge.
For this, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
If we love someone as ourselves, we’re not going to wish them harm, and we’re not going to want or seek to take something from them (be that a spouse or a material possession).
It is summed up in verse 10:
Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
One day, Christ will suddenly return in His glory and light. When that time comes, we want to be found doing things worthy of the light, not things of which we’d be ashamed. The Lord Jesus watches us even now. Even in the night (both literal, and the night before the glorious return and reign of Jesus Christ), we want to live as though it is the day. There is nothing hidden that will not be made known.
We should not judge the convictions on small matters – such as food – of our brothers and sisters in Christ, who seek to please the Lord. The one who regards one day above another or all days alike does so for the Lord. Each must be fully convinced in his own mind.
Our unity and likemindedness is not always in uniform practice, but in mutual grace and love despite differences. Of course, this is speaking of relatively minor issues, not matters of heresy, works salvation, etc. We should not be united with false doctrines or in the beliefs and teachings of false Christianity.
Head coverings would probably be another example of a matter in which women of different convictions could extend grace to one another.
However, if what we do places a stumbling block in our brother’s/sister’s way, we do not want to tempt them to do something that violates their convictions.
But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats and gives offense. It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.
According to my study Bible, unclean refers to foods not permitted by the law (Leviticus 11). Though these restrictions no longer applied (v. 20), some immature believers still applied them to their own lives. The mature brother is exhorted to abstain from those foods and also from wine, so as not to be a hindrance to his less mature brothers (v. 21). Abstention, though one may personally think it unnecessary, is better than placing temptation in a brother’s way.
Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves.
Paul willingly placed restrictions on his conduct for the sake of his witness. See 1 Cor. 9:19-27.
There’s much more that could be explored in the book of Romans. I’ve barely scratched the surface here.
I hope you enjoyed reading Romans and were encouraged and challenged by it.