Theme: Thoughts From the New Testament Epistles
In This Issue:
- “All Have Sinned” (Romans 1 -3) by Jordan Shouse
- “The Redemption in Christ: An Examination of Romans 3:19-5:21″ by Sean Cavender
- “Development of the New Life in Christ” (Ch. 6 – 8) by Shannon Harden
- “The Gospel, as It Relates to Israel” (Ch. 9 – 11) by David Deuster
- “Practical Application of the Law of Christ” (12:1 – 15:7) by Hannah & Sarah Crawford
“All Have Sinned” (Romans 1-3)
The book of Romans is one of the most fascinating and deep writings in, not only the New Testament, but also the Bible. Luther once wrote that Romans, “is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.”
The main theme of this book can be summarized in Romans 1:16-17 – “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. 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.’”
Paul states that the gospel is the power for salvation. The word salvation implies that man is lost and in need of saving. Thus, one of the first themes addressed in this letter is the problem of sin. The church in Rome was comprised of Jews and Gentiles. These are two different backgrounds, which had a major influence in their thinking. Jews, for instance, considered themselves more special and privileged to God from their ancestry. What Paul seeks to show the brethren of this church, is how all people of all backgrounds are justly condemned because of our sins. God made it clear that price or punishment for sin is death (Genesis 2:17; Ezekiel 18:4). Paul stated in this book that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Apostle stresses to the brethren how all of them, despite their background, have sinned.
- Romans 1:18-32 – God gave them over to their sins. This includes those who do not believe in God, as well as those who know the law of God but live against it (v.32).
- Romans 2:9-11 – God will judge both Jews and Gentiles for their deeds done in the flesh
- Romans 2:12-16 – Even though the Gentiles were “without the Law”, they too have sinned, done things detestable to God
- Romans 2:17-24 – Jews who had the Law of God sinned, disobeyed God
- Romans 3:9-18 – both Jews and Gentiles are under sin, they have lived in iniquity, and are thus deserving of death.
Paul summarizes this is Romans 3:23 – “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” All have sinned. The Jew and the Gentile, man and woman, all people of all races; we are all guilty before God in sin, and thus we are justly condemned for our sins. There is no special privilege for certain individuals – all who have sinned are justly condemned, and in need of saving, in need of a Savior. It showed the Jews that they were no better than the Gentiles though they came from a special ancestry. It ought to remind us that we are no better than another, for we have sinned through our decisions, in in such have been apart from God and deserving death.
This is an excellent place to begin a study, or in Paul’s case, a letter. People will not be willing to change if they do not accept that they are in need of change, that there is a true problem. At times we, who are Christians and saved by the blood of Jesus, forget that we were once apart from God through our own doing, deserving a most horrible fate. Yet, the love and grace of God appeared through the form of His Son who died for us unworthy people. May we not become calloused to sin. May we not forget that we have sinned, and through such sin were apart from God. And may we never forget the love of God and His Son who gave His life for us. Such love ought to change the way we live our life. It ought to change our perspective of sin, and create a true, genuine devotion to Jesus. “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, being justified by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;” Rom. 3:23-24
The Redemption In Christ
An Examination of Romans 3:19-5:21
By Sean P. Cavender
Paul indicted all people, both Jew and Gentile, as guilty of sin before God (Romans 3:19). It is due to man’s ungodliness that the wrath of God is revealed, and He will judge all sin as worthy of death (Romans 1:18,32). The reality of sin is frightening, and condemning. What is even more frightening is the reality of God’s judgment of sin. Those who commit such iniquity, and unrighteousness must come to accept the reality of their guilt for transgressing God’s commandments. Those who are guilty are condemned because of their sin. Sin is a universal, and widespread problem; it has touched all people. Therefore, that guilt belongs to everyone who has ever committed sin.
What happens to a person that has committed sin, realizes that guilt, and acknowledges that God will bring condemnation upon them for their wickedness? Is there any system of forgiveness, and mercy that someone may appeal to in order to obtain good standing in the sight of God? Paul answers the latter question with an affirmative response. The Roman letter is all about the system of righteousness (right-standing before God), justification (the pronouncement of being freed from guilt), and forgiveness (the removal of guilt). Please become familiar with these terms, and using them in this way because it is the way in which we will use them in this article.
Justification By Grace Through Faith
The system of justification, and righteousness is not by the works of the law of Moses (Romans 3:20,21). To be justified by any system of law would require keeping the law perfectly (Galatians 3:10,12). The law of Moses was actually given as a system which would point to the need of God’s grace; it produced a knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20). “But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…” (1 Timothy 1:8,9). God gave the Israelites a law which should have allowed them to see their transgression, and to make apparent unto them the burden of sin. The law of Moses also provided an understanding of punishment for sin (Hebrews 2:2). But most importantly, the Law established a system of sacrifices, and the anticipation of atonement through the shedding of blood. The Law’s purpose was to point the Israelites unto Christ. The law of Moses was not intended to be a permanent framework, and it certainly was not God’s method to justify a nation of people that were already guilty of sin (1 Timothy 1:9). For anyone to argue that one will be justified by perfect law-keeping, especially in the debate concerning circumcision, Paul carefully refutes such a thought.
Instead of justification coming through works of the Law, the righteousness of God is by faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:22). God’s righteousness is made available unto all that believe because all believers are guilty of sin, and are in need of God’s forgiveness. No matter if they were members of the nation of Israel, and had received the law of Moses, or whether they were uncircumcised Gentiles, they were all guilty of sin (Romans 3:23). They each had the same opportunity to be justified by God through faith in Christ Jesus. Jew and Gentile would be justified in the same way. The Jew was not going to be justified through works of the Law; neither was the Gentile.
For those who wish to obtain salvation, it is found in the system of grace by faith. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forebearance of God;” (Romans 3:24,25). This justification that is available is offered freely by God’s grace. Salvation is unearned. Those who are guilty of sin are deserving of punishment, and condemnation. It is by God’s grace that we are saved. If it were not for the grace of God, then we would have no hope. We would be left to wallow in mire of sin. The conditional aspect of God’s grace is faith on the part of the sinner.
Thankfully God provided a propitiation for us. He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, who offered Himself freely upon the cross, shedding His blood for the remission of sins. The term propitiation means to appease, or to satisfy. Who was appeased, and satisfied? What were the implications of this satisfaction? Christ appeased the requirement that blood be shed. In Leviticus chapters 16 and 17 we learn of the day of atonement, and the propitiatory sacrifice. A lamb was slaughtered, and its blood was taken into the Most Holy Place, and sprinkled upon the mercy seat. Blood was necessary for atonement to be made (Leviticus 17:11). This was a foreshadowing of the Christ and His death. The principle is stated in Hebrews 9:22, “and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” It was necessary that the blood of the perfect Lamb of God be shed. God required the shedding of blood for the remission of sins. Blood is necessary to give life. We have no spiritual life apart from Christ Jesus and His death. It is in this sense that Christ is our propitiation – He satisfied the requirement of atonement, blood from the perfect and spotless Lamb of God. Through Christ’s sacrifice, God was appeased and atonement was made, and through Him the remission of sins is accessible.
The righteousness of God is demonstrated, and made available for those who avail themselves to the grace of God by faith. That is how God is just, and the justifier (Romans 3:26). God is perfectly just in the exercise of His forgiveness upon the system of justification by grace through the condition of faith in His Son. He is the One that is satisfied with the blood of Christ. Therefore, He is the justifier of all those who exercise faith in Christ.
Boasting in works of the Law were excluded because that was not going to justify the sinner (Romans 3:27,28). God is over all, and He has determined He will save all men in the same fashion – by grace through faith (Romans 3:30).
“Blessed Is The Man To Whom The Lord Will Not Impute Sin”
The apostle Paul then appeals to the example of faithful Abraham. This is key to Paul’s defense of justification by faith. Paul’s argumentation in Romans 4 is the death blow to the Jews who prided themselves in being descendants of Abraham, and argued that their justification was in circumcision (Romans 4:1).
Abraham was not justified by works, Paul argues (Romans 4:2). What kind of works is the apostle speaking of? He is speaking of the works, and deeds of the law of Moses. Throughout the context he uses the term ‘works’ and ‘deeds’ in the connection with how a man is not justified (Romans 3:20, 27-28). Now in chapter four, Paul argues neither was Abraham justified by the works of the law of Moses because Abraham was justified by faith! It is evident that Abraham was not justified by the works of the law of Moses simply because when Abraham lived there was no law of Moses. Much of what Paul was trying to prove was in answer to the Judaizing teachers who were demanding the Gentiles keep the works of the Law in respect to the matter of circumcision. Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness (Romans 4:3; Genesis 15:6), which occurred before the covenant of circumcision was ever instituted (Romans 4:10-16; Genesis 17:1-14). The conclusion is: Abraham was justified by faith.
It is important to note the false teaching surrounding this passage by those who believe in the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. They correctly point out that if we were saved by works it would not be by grace, but simply what we have earned (Romans 4:4). However, the incorrectly define the term works. They argue the term works refers to obedience to God. According to their doctrine, since a man is not saved by works, but is saved by grace, then any act of obedience would somehow be earning one’s salvation. Thus, a man is not saved by any act of obedience, namely, water baptism. If that understanding of the passage were true, then just consider how strange Paul’s statement in verse 5 would appear.
“But to him that worketh not [obeys not], but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
Is this what Paul was affirming in this passage? God is going to save a man by faith alone without any act of obedience towards God? Certainly not! Surely our denominational friends do not believe that concept. They recognize the need for good works in the life of the Christian (Ephesians 2:10). To argue that obedience is not essential, and has no role in the faith of the child of God is outrageous.
Abraham’s faith was an active, and obedient faith. He believed God and he acted upon that trust in the promises God made unto him. Abraham “staggered not at the promise” through unbelief. He was obedient to the Lord by not considering the deadness of Sarah’s womb. It was by faith that Abraham, a man who was one hundred years old, and Sarah who was ninety years old, received strength and conceived a child (Romans 4:19,20; Hebrews 11:11). The kind of faith that Abraham had, and the kind of faith that justifies a man, is the faith that is fully persuaded in the promise of God, and acts upon that faith. “By faith Abraham obeyed,” (Hebrews 11:8). Obedience does not nullify the grace of God. Grace and obedience are not opposed to one another. In fact, they are perfectly joined in harmony with one another. If obedience is not necessary then how does a man access the grace of God? By sinning more? God forbid! (Romans 6:1,2). Obedience is that which ultimately proves one’s faith in God (James 2:14-26).
Abraham is the example which Paul uses to illustrate the principle of justification by grace through faith. If Abraham was justified by the grace of God, then how do you suppose we might be saved? “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,” (Romans 4:23-25).
Another Old Testament example that Paul uses to prove the principle of justification by grace through faith, apart from works is David (Romans 4:6-8). God imputes righteousness to the believer. This is not an imputation of the personal righteousness of Christ. To use Romans 4:6-8 as a passage which teaches the believer receives Christ’s righteousness is to read something that is not in the context. God imputes, or places upon someone’s account, righteousness. It is through faith in Christ Jesus, that righteousness is imputed. It is by God’s grace, certainly not by works. Furthermore, those who do argue that we are somehow imputed with the personal righteousness of Jesus Christ, destroy the concept of grace. Through the goodness and grace of God He has pronounced a man righteous. Can God do that if He so chooses out of His love and grace? Certainly. To argue that somehow the righteousness of Christ must be transferred to my account makes a mockery of grace. Nothing is actually forgiven. At best, the righteousness of Christ just overbalances my sin. There is no true justification and forgiveness.
The imputation of righteousness is the forgiveness of sins that we receive when we respond in the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 16:26). “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered” (Romans 4:7; Psalm 32:1). It is out of God’s goodness that He forgives our sins, and removes the guilt and condemnation associated with that sin, making us righteous in His sight.
“We Shall Be Saved From Wrath”
Drawing this section of the Roman epistle to a close, Paul returns to the main theme of the book: salvation in Christ Jesus. The system of justification by grace through faith has been established, exampled, and proven. Thus, we have access to God, and peace with the Lord (Romans 5:1,2). We were at one time enemies found in sin (Romans 5:10). However, there is salvation from the judgment and death that sinners are deserving of (Romans 1:32; 5:9)
When sin entered the world through Adam, death was introduced, and death passed upon all men, “for all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). What kind of death was introduced through Adam because of sin? Adam did not physically die the day that sin was introduced to the world, but he did die that day. Adam died spiritually the day that he sinned in the Garden of Eden. The death which is passed upon all men is due to the reality of the sins that all have committed (Romans 3:23). It is the death which Ezekiel wrote of, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20). The death of Romans 5:12 is caused because “all have sinned.” Sin is not inherited, neither is it necessary that a person sin. All sin will result in spiritual separation, or death, from God.
Death reigned in the world through the transgression of Adam. Until Christ came, there was no sacrifice that could atone for sins. For all of those who have followed the footsteps of Adam, and have transgressed God’s commands, all were made sinners (Romans 5:19). However, those who come to faith in Christ may become righteous (Romans 5:19). Death has reigned, but it will be rendered powerless through Christ. Guilt was impossible to be removed, but now grace has been shown. We have sinned, but now we shall be saved from wrath.
“That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord,” (Romans 5:21).
Praise be to God for His mercy, and His grace. We who have sinned and were worthy of punishment, have been made righteous through the system of justification by grace through faith in the Son of God. The epistle to Romans is a wonderful study, and should cause everyone to realize the wonderful grace of God.
“The Gospel, as It Relates to Israel” (Romans 9 – 11)
The ninth chapter of Romans is one of the most difficult and controversial passages in the entire Bible. Within its writings Paul argues concerning the relationship between Judaism and Christianity, Israel and the Church, God’s plan of salvation, human will and the sovereignty of the Almighty. This being the case it is not surprising that the text before us has led to many erroneous conclusions and doctrines concerning the aforementioned topics. In particular Romans 9-11 is the most contested territory over Calvinistic theology and its consequences concerning the character of God and man’s salvation. The inspired words of the apostle are often used to uphold the Calvinistic view of God’s absolute sovereignty in particular to the irrevocable election of certain individuals to salvation or reprobation. Therefore it is good that we not seek to understand this passage isolated from the rest of the epistle and the whole of Scripture.
Understanding that Paul addressed the letter to a church which he could characterize as Gentile (1:5-6), but contained Jews (ch 16) helps us to understand the broader context of these verses and their importance to the brethren at Rome. The fact that there were tensions between the Jew and Gentile in the church brought Paul great concern. Though originally preached among the Jews the gospel concerning Jesus Christ would eventually be rejected by Paul’s kinsmen in the flesh leading he and Barnabas to turn unto the Gentiles. As time passed those coming into the church were almost all Gentiles. Therefore the theme that Paul addresses in epistle, particularly in this text, is “How the gospel can be the fulfillment of Judaism/the Old Testament and its promises to Israel when the vast majority of Jews had rejected Christ and were therefore excluded from God’s salvation and promises to them.”
After having demonstrated that both Jew and Gentile were guilty before God (Romans 3:9, 19, 20) and were, thus, in need of grace through a submissive faith in the Lord, it was important that the chief Jewish objections to the faith of Christ be answered definitively. In this text Paul addresses three of the most prominent Jewish objections to the gospel, which all centered on the singular truth of God’s expression of mercy to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. In doing so, Paul offers an inspired response to those who would attempt to restrict God’s mercy to physical Israel (Romans 11:32).
The apostle Paul was saddened at the present condition of his kinsmen in the flesh in light of the Lord’s divine purpose in the election of physical Israel. Sadly, those whom God had chosen to bring Messiah into the world to bless all men were the same people who were rejecting the promised Christ. Paul’s desire was in harmony with God’s love for all of mankind (Romans 10:1-3; 11:15).
1. THE GOD OF THE GOSPEL IS FAITHFUL
Paul begins by answering the Jewish objection that the gospel had caused God to be unfaithful in his promises (Romans 9:6-9). The Jews had missed the promise itself because their confidence and security was in the fact they were Jews. Their understanding was that the promises of God were to be enjoyed as a result of a national, fleshly association. Paul answers the objection by showing that not all of those who were members of physical Israel were a part of spiritual Israel (9:6). He distinguishes between the “children of God,” as the class of believers and the “children of the flesh,” as the class of unbelievers. What the unbelieving Jew needed to hear was that it is not physical descent, but spiritual descent that comprises the faithful of God (Romans 2:28-29).
In order to further emphasize this point, Paul spoke of God choosing Jacob over Esau in order to demonstrate that God did not choose Israel as a nation for salvation, but that He chose Israel as a nation to provide the Savior. Isaac wasn’t saved because he was a Jew but was saved by faith (Hebrews 11:20). The “word of promise” throughout this section identifies Messiah as God’s provision of salvation for mankind. Messiah would be brought into the world through the Jewish people, i.e, “Sarah shall have a son.” Thus, Paul’s conclusion is that God’s promise and his word has not failed because physical Israel had fulfilled the purpose for which God had chosen them as a nation. The choice of God in accordance with His divine purpose, to bless all nations through the seed of Abraham, would stand through the lineage of Jacob, not Esau. God’s choice to use ethnic Israel to fulfill His purpose was not dependent upon their goodness, evil, or works, but God’s faithfulness (9:16; 11:28).
2. THE GOD OF THE GOSPEL IS RIGHTEOUS
The Jews were insulted by the truth that believing Gentiles would be included in spiritual Israel whereas unbelieving Jews would be excluded. Paul writes, “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not” (Romans 9:14). Paul affirms that God is righteous in offering mercy to the Gentiles through faith in Christ, as well as to believing Jews (Romans 9:30-33).
God has always been willing to extend his mercy to those who seek him by faith, without respect of persons. In Romans 10, Paul again expresses his concern for Israel that they might seek the righteousness of God according to knowledge and submit themselves unto the righteousness of God, i.e, the gospel. He again sets forth the terms of gospel as being justification by grace through faith and not based on national lineage. “Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:11-13).
Paul writes, “So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy” (Romans 9:16). The Jews’ disdain for the gospel being inclusive of the Gentiles would never dispense with God’s plan to “show mercy.” God’s choice that physical Israel would bring the Messiah into the world and, thus, be a blessing to Jewish and Gentile believers could not be revoked even by those who rejected Christ (Romans 11:28; Ephesians 3:1-5). It is in this sense that God’s Messianic promise was not based on the Jews’ will, but His choice.
It is as this point that Paul speaks of Pharaoh’s interaction with Jehovah in order to demonstrate that God sets the terms of mercy and not Israel. This well known event from Israel’s history would serve as an affirmation of the futility of resisting God’s purpose to extend mercy to “whosoever wills.” God has allowed Pharaoh the opportunity to do what he desired by maintaining circumstances that would allow the choice (Exodus 9:15-16). God hardened Pharaoh the same way in which he hardens all men, by his truth. When faced with a choice in obeying or disobeying the truth of God our response, i.e, obedience or disobedience, is what results in us being hardened or softened.
Just as Pharaoh had rejected God’s word to his own demise, likewise, Israel was rejecting God’s word to their own condemnation (Romans 9:27-29). God’s mercy and deliverance for his true people hardened those who remained in unbelief. This is a point that cannot be missed: God’s purpose was not thwarted by their rebellion. If anyone should have remembered the end of Pharaoh it should have been the Jews. Yet, they were following in his footsteps by their attempt to interfere with his expression of mercy to those who would serve Him.
3. THE GOD OF THE GOSPEL IS FAIR
The unbelieving Jews understanding that since God established Israel as His people through Abraham and through the Law, God is unfair if He rejects circumcised Jews who refuse to believe in Jesus Christ (Romans 2:17-24; 9:14). Their accusation against the gospel according to Paul was in reality slander against God Himself. To argue that God’s use of unbelievers to accomplish His purposes renders Him responsible for their wickedness is slanderous. Israel should have known that it was in accordance with God’s righteousness to include the Gentiles for even their own history and prophets had taught them so. “But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you. But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Romans 10:18-20).
Paul rebukes the perverse rebelliousness of the unbelieving Jew, “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” (Romans 9:20-21). The unbelieving Jews had no right to demand God to be answerable to them – God sets the criteria for justification, not the Jew and not any man (Romans 10:1-3). The Jews were attempting to obligate God to fulfill their false concepts of His purpose, which were contrary to Old Testament scripture.
The apostle employs a final illustration, the Potter-Clay metaphor, in order to demonstrate from Old Testament scripture man’s need and ability to repent and God’s sovereign right to demand that he do so. God has chosen what He will do regarding the clay, (sinner), in that he has chosen to respond to the clay, (sinner), according to his/her repentance or lack of repentance. By quoting the potter-clay metaphor Paul essentially tells the Jews that God will deal with men based on their repentance—as he has always said he would deal with them. The image is that of the vessel of dishonor blaming its position on the Potter, rather than humbly submitting to God. The Potter determines the standard or criteria of acceptance, i.e., vessel of honor or vessel of dishonor. God’s patience and grace was an overt expression of God’s love and mercy and an indication that the greater glory redounds to God by the salvation of sinners than by their destruction. This instruction is carried out further in chapter 11 with Paul’s explanation regarding the “natural branches,” i.e. unbelieving Jews, being cut off and his warning to “wild branches,” i.e. Gentile believers. Israel’s salvation was dependent upon faith in Christ as Messiah (10:1-3). The notion that Gentiles were to be a part of the body of Christ had been prophesied by Hosea. Additionally, the fact that there would be a remnant of physical Israel saved had been prophesied by Isaiah. All of Israel that would be saved, would be saved in the same manner as the Gentiles, i.e. through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 11:26).
Paul’s illustrations demonstrated irrefutably that the Jewish objections to the gospel were without merit and an expression of disrespect toward God Himself.
He spoke of God choosing Jacob over Esau in order to demonstrate that God did not choose Israel as a nation for salvation, but that He chose Israel as a nation to provide the Savior. He spoke of Pharaoh’s interaction with Jehovah in order to demonstrate that God sets the terms of mercy and not Israel. Finally, he used the Potter-Clay metaphor in order to demonstrate from Old Testament scripture man’s need and ability to repent and God’s sovereign right to demand that he do so.
“Practical Application of the Law of Christ” (Romans 12:1 – 15:7)
Hannah & Sarah Crawford
When reading Romans 12:1-2, we are instructed to present ourselves as a sacrifice presentable to God. So it is safe to say that if something is not considered “presentable” to God, it isn’t to other people either. This applies to what we wear and how we conduct ourselves in public or in private. We may not be able to do everything we want to, but that is why our lives are a “sacrifice” and ones that are according to God’s word. We can do this by “renewing our minds”, which means to constantly dwell on God’s word and incorporate it into our lives to “prove what the will of God is”. This should be our goal as the younger generation influencing both the young and old. What we do has a great impact on others as well as ourselves. Verses 3-8 give us instruction on how to live our lives to the fullest in the sense of giving our best to God. Not everyone has the same talent and even with different talents we can edify each other by helping one another to grow in all areas of praise and worship to God. As the passage goes on in verses 9-17, we are told to love one another even our enemies and pay back good for evil. However, we are to be “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord”. This means that we shouldn’t “act” nice to others because we have to, but we should be sincere in our actions towards others. Otherwise, we are lying to them and ourselves thinking we actually benefitted from being insincere. The rest of the chapter discusses how we are to leave vengeance to God knowing that He will deal out perfect justice. With this being said, we are still to treat our enemies with kindness, “not being overcome with evil, but overcoming evil with good”. Verse 20 can be taken incorrectly in the part where it states, “in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head”. We are not to be considerate towards others with the intent of God punishing them because of their evil, but to be an example to them as they ought to act and treat others. Our goal is to help save as many people as we can and leading our lives based on Christ’s example so that others will see Him working in us and believe.
Romans 13:1-5 explains our subjection to the authorities and why we are to obey the laws. Whether good or bad, the rulers (presidents, kings, etc.) are placed into power by God’s will. We do not know the future and what God’s plans are, but we do know that God will be with us through the easy and hard times. We are not to question God’s will but believe and trust in Him. Rulers were set in power to bring fear to those who practice evil, not good. So as long as we are following God’s word and do no evil acts then we are not to be afraid. However, there will be times when authority goes against God’s word and when this happens we are to stay true to God. God is our main focus and purpose for life which is why we obey His word. Verse 4 states that, “it is a minister of God to you for good”. The whole reason authority was set up by God’s word was to benefit us by protecting us and maintaining order and justice. Verses 6-7 tells us the reason for paying taxes and who to submit to for certain things. It tells us that, “rulers are servants of God”. As servants of God, whether or not they know it, we are to give them what is theirs and give God what is His. Later, love is discussed in verses 8-10. It states that we are to owe no one anything, but love. God sent His Son for everyone, not just us. Obviously, we are not “greater than God” so we have no excuse for refusing another person love. By loving others as ourselves we fulfill the law. Loving your neighbor as yourself sums up all other commandments and gives us the relationship we need with God. Now many people will use this commandment as an excuse to accept those who practice sin. When we are told to love one another that does not mean that anything goes. If we see someone living in sin we are to reveal God’s word, rebuke, and exhort them. By allowing someone to continue living in sin we are showing a lack of love. Do our parents correct us when they see us committing evil? Of course they do because they love us and they don’t want us to continue doing something that will eventually lead us into trouble. Just as God is our Father, He does not want to see us living in sin and has given us the knowledge of His word so that we might know what is right and wrong. It’s our job to continue teaching others what they ought and ought not to do. The rest of the chapter tells us how to behave and to put on Christ. This means that when people see us they should see Christ living in us because we act and behave just as He would. It also states, “make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts”. By this we are told not to put ourselves in situations where we know we’ll be tempted and have lusts. We are to be edifying to others and not allow worldly influences to be in our way. The places and people we hang out with influence us and our beliefs so it’s important to put ourselves in an environment where outside power, especially peer pressure, won’t cause us to stumble.
Romans 14 is sometimes a confusing passage and can lead people to false assumptions about its content as well as the context to which it is applied. The main message in this passage is that we should lead our lives in a way that will not cause a fellow brother/sister to stumble. For example, alcohol is a big problem today. If there is a brother/sister who has struggled with drinking in the past and has put it behind them and they see or hear that we were hanging out with people who were drinking, whether it’s at a party, dance, or even a restaurant, they may assume that we were drinking and view us as hypocrites. They will then either turn back to alcohol or turn away from the church believing that we are not sincere about God’s word. Even if we are not drinking or participating in any sinful actions, our presence shows our approval and can give false assumptions to others. By being selfish and only caring about what and who we wanted to hang around, we could easily cause a brother/sister to fall away from Christ. Ask yourself this question, “Is what I’m doing worth causing a fellow Christian to lose salvation in Christ?” We are not to judge or fellow brother/sister if they are doing something for God. However, some people have taken this passage to mean that as long as God is their reason for their actions then they can do whatever they want. This is not true because we are to follow God’s word and laws and by correcting a brother/sister when they disobey God’s word we are helping to save them.
In Romans 15:1-7 mentions that the strong should bear the weaknesses of others to please our neighbors and edify them. By bearing others struggles and being there for them when they need comforting, we show the love and kindness Christ has made to dwell in us. This, in turn, will cause others to look towards Christ for the same comfort and love. Also, it discusses how we are not to please ourselves, but just as Jesus sought to please God, we should live our lives seeking to please God according to His will. God’s word, the scriptures, were written for our instruction so that we might have hope knowing what is expected of us and that with perseverance through struggles and encouragement from one another we can fulfill God’s word. We are also to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, which means that we should all be seeking to glorify and praise God by following His word and His Son, Jesus, who is the perfect example. Verse 7 is similar to Romans 13:9 in that both are misinterpreted to mean that we should accept everyone for who they are. We are to accept one another as fellow sinners of the world who are seeking to put their life of sin behind them and follow God’s word. If one is not willing to repent of their sins then they are not truly concerned with drawing closer to God and living their lives for Him.