Scripture reading for July 20th: Romans 6:1-23
One of the questions that Paul knew would be asked concerned continuing in sin after salvation. The human mind is always looking for ways to justify rebellion and sin. These Romans were reasoning that since God’s grace was available without cost, why not allow God to show more of His grace by sinning? Paul put a quick end to that kind of thinking! “We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:2-4) People who have died no longer sin! We died with Christ and were raised with Him to a new life. This is acted out through our baptism.
Christ’s death delivered Him from the possibility of sin, once for all time. His resurrection was in the newness of eternal life, lived totally for God. These facts should motivate each believer in Jesus to do some counting for themselves. (Romans 6:11) They should count themselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Sin should be done away with. One of the ways to do this is to quit offering parts of your body to sin. Remember to offer all your body and its parts to God to use for righteous purposes. We can do this because of God’s grace. We are no longer under the law. We have been freed from condemnation through Jesus’ death!
So back to the question: “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which lead to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:15-16) We choose who we will obey and sell out. If we obey sin, we reap the wages of death. If we obey Christ, we obtain through grace the free gift of eternal life! (Romans 6:23) It’s a pretty simple choice that should not take a genius to make! Why not do some godly counting today!
Scripture reading for July 19th: Romans 5:3-21
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
We are in reality all ungodly people with no hope of saving ourselves. Paul has clearly laid out his case for the universal depravity of men, both Jew and Gentile. We are all sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God and need a savior! (Romans 3:23) But thanks be to God, He has sent His Son at just the right time to die for the ungodly! This act of God sending Jesus Christ to die for us is the supreme act of love.
The shedding of Christ’s blood brought justification to sinners. We have been declared righteous on the basis of Christ’s innocent blood shed for us. (Romans 5:9) We are no longer subject to God’s wrath against sin. “For we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:10-11) We are not ‘barely’ saved, but fully brought back into relationship with God. We can rejoice in our salvation and in God as our Father! We are safe in His family.
Sin entered the world through one man, Adam. Along with sin came death for all men–eternal separation from God. Death reigned like a ‘king’ over all men from Adam’s time, bringing condemnation to all men. The second ‘Adam’, Jesus Christ bought men back from death by an act of righteousness, His death on the cross in obedience to the plan of God! “For just as through the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one Man the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19) “so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 5:21) Praise the Lord for his wonderful grace!
Scripture reading for July 18th: Romans 4:14-5:2
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)
Paul’s great desire was to show his readers that it was by faith that God has justified men and women from Abraham’s time until the present. Abraham was justified before the law was given. Abraham simply believed God for a resurrection of his own dead body and for the dead womb of his wife and received the ability to have the promised son. Abraham’s and Sarah’s faith was in God’s ability to fulfill what He had promised them! (Romans 4:21) The result was the birth of Isaac at an age when they were beyond the ability to have children! God’s power resurrected their bodies and their faith was credited to them as righteousness.
In the same way, God is still crediting righteousness to those who believe. “The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him (Abraham) alone, but for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:23-25) It was never by works or religious activities that anyone was justified.
What does it mean to be ‘justified’? This word means to be made righteous after being guilty of sin. That is impossible for any man because all men are sinners. Sin twists the soul and brings death to our relationship with God. As it is impossible for a dead man to raise himself back to life, so it is impossible for a twisted sinner to restore a relationship with God on his own. If man could do it through some religion or good works, he could boast of special ability. (Romans 4:1-2)
But God took the initiative by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to come as a man and live a sinless life. He then willingly offered His sinless life in our place, paying the price for our sins. By faith alone, we can be justified before God! By our faith in Christ’s sacrifice, sin’s sentence of death is removed through God’s gracious gift to us! Praise the Lord!
Scripture reading for July 17th: Romans 4:1-13
“What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”” (Romans 4:1-3) (Genesis 15:6) Paul begins to explain to the recipients of his letter that Abraham was not justified by works of the law. He lived over 400 years before Moses and God simply credited righteous to Abraham for his faith. When someone works, they earn wages and they are not a gift but what is due them. God owed Abraham nothing and Abraham did nothing to get the credit except believe!
Paul then cites David who said the same thing in Psalm 32:1-2. “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” Many commentators think that David wrote this Psalm to explain the righteousness that was granted to him in forgiving his sin against God through the incident with Bathsheba. When he confessed his sin, God forgave him and covered his transgression. It was a gift and the wages that were due David through the law was death! David was thankful for the faith credit!
Abraham received the promise that he would be heir of the world and through his offspring all nations on the earth would be blessed. Abraham had no children at the time and God told him to look at the stars and count them. His offspring would be as numerous as the stars! (Genesis 15:5) It was this promise that Abraham believed.
You might say that our simple trust in God’s promises through Abraham’s offspring–Jesus Christ, guarantees our inheritance as well. It is our faith in Jesus Christ that causes us to be born again in to the family of God. It is through our faith that God credits righteousness to us as well. (2nd Corinthians 5:21) The righteous inherit the promises! Isn’t it wonderful to have faith credits deposited in our heavenly account! Thieves won’t break in and steal it. We have true riches which we will enjoy for eternity! Praise the Lord for His glorious grace!
Scripture reading for July 16th: Romans 3:9-31
I have heard it said that we all stand on level ground at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ! There are no big “I’s” or little “You’s” when it comes to our need for salvation and finding the grace that comes from our Lord’s sacrifice. In Paul’s letter to the Roman, he stresses that all are in need of this grace and explains why!
“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18)
These verses from the Old Testament quoted here show the universal rule of sin in the lives of human beings. Sin has permeated all men and is the cause of evil speech, violence, war, and rebellion against God. Put another way, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) There is no Jew who has kept the law of God and no Gentile who has not violated his conscience! (Romans 2:14-15)
But thanks be to God that He has provided a remedy! “But now a righteousness from God apart from law, has been made known, to which the law and prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” (Romans 3:21-22) Faith is the great equalizer. God has chosen to give the gift of His righteousness to all who will put their faith in what Jesus has done for them.
The real question for us today concerns whether we have come to understand and confess our sinfulness. Repentance requires that we know our need to change our minds and hearts. If we have a godly sorrow over our sins and turn from them to Christ for His cleansing, the gift of righteousness is ours by faith! This is true for all men and women everywhere. Faith is the level ground where the grace of God flows freely!
Scripture reading for July 15th: Romans 2:24-3:8
These were Paul’s words to his own people the Jews: “As it is written, “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Isaiah 52:5, Romans 2:24) He was trying to awaken an awareness that their religion was not having the effect God desired on the nations! God had called them to be a light to the Gentiles and through Abraham’s Seed, all nations of the earth would be blessed! (Genesis 12:3, Luke 2:30-32) Instead, they boasted in their law and in the fact that God had made promises to them through Abraham.
Paul went on to tell them that circumcision in the flesh was only of value if they obeyed the law. If they broke God’s law, then they would be no different in God’s eyes than the uncircumcised Gentiles! (Romans 2:25-27) Yet if the Gentile kept God’s laws, then they would be accepted as righteous in God’s sight. True Jews were not just outwardly circumcised, but had their hearts circumcised! This circumcision could only be done by the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ!
Paul was a Jew and knew just how the Jews thought. He thought that way himself until Jesus revealed Himself on the Damascus road. He was a Pharisee who knew the law “thou shall not commit murder”, (Exodus 20:13) yet he judged Christians as unfit to live and sought to murder them while claiming to have favor with God! Because of his own law-breaking, God’s name was blasphemed among the Gentiles! True Christians were afraid of Paul but prayed for him!
Jews had an advantage because of the very words of God that they had given to them by the patriarchs and prophets. They were instructed in faith through those words. They would be held accountable by God for this advantage! God would be proved justified when He judged them! (Romans 3:4) Some might twist this around to blame God, but God would be true!
Let’s examine our own lives today! Do we claim to have Christ as our Lord? Do we claim to have special favor as Christians and yet live in sin? Are we causing God’s name to be blasphemed because of our own hypocrisy? Lets judge ourselves first and get our own lives in order with God’s word and receive His grace!
Scripture reading for July 14th: Romans 2:1-23
So all men are without excuse. All have been given a basic knowledge of God’s power and nature through the creation we live in. When we look at others and judge them, we must realize that we are no different ourselves. We have not responded to truth as we should either. It is only the kindness and goodness of God that has led us to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. (Romans 2:4)
In this section, Paul is making a case that God shows no partiality. Jew and Gentile alike must come to Him by faith for their righteousness. No one can work their way into God’s grace! God has given the Jew His law, and they will be judged by their failure to keep that law. God wrote the law on the hearts of the Gentiles and their consciences help them to know right and wrong behavior and attitudes. (Romans 2:12-15) Indeed, God will judge all men and their secrets through His Son Jesus Christ on a day He has chosen! (Romans 2:16) (Acts 17:31)
For those who would not repent, their own stubbornness and unrepentant hearts were storing up wrath for them on the day of God’s wrath. (Romans 2:6) God will judge evil deeds and those who reject the truth. Jews will be judged as well as Gentiles. Jews, in fact, were more responsible because of God’s law. They should have know clearly what God required in the way of actions. They knew the commandments. Yet, knowing and obeying are different! It is easy to judge others and still be disobedient yourself. Paul encouraged the Jew to learn first their own need of grace and repentance to avoid the wrath of God! (Romans 2:21-23)
As we look at this passage, we should examine our own hearts. Do we judge others while remaining in sin ourselves? Today is a good day to repent and ask God for mercy! Do we claim to be righteous because we are Christians, yet live in a state of breaking God’s laws? These laws are now written on our hearts and we have the Holy Spirit to bring conviction and godly sorrow enabling repentance! God will not and does not show favorites! There is a day of judgment when all secrets will come to light!
Scripture reading for July 13th: Romans 1:18-32
Although the gospel is the power of God for salvation to those who will by faith believe in Jesus Christ, there was another group of people who have chosen to ignore God. God has revealed Himself to all men through the His creation. Paul wrote about this group in the reading for today and it speaks to our culture and time!
God’s wrath is ongoing in our world, not just something that will come at the end of time! Paul stated that His wrath was being revealed against the wickedness of men who suppressed the truth by their wickedness. What does ‘suppress’ mean? To suppress means that the person saw the truth, but choose to ignore or push down the truth. What ‘truth’ is it that these wicked men were suppressing? That truth was the plain revelation of God’s eternal power and divine nature as revealed through His creation! (Roman 1:20)
Paul stated that when a person suppressed this truth, his heart would become darkened by the lies that were used to push out the truth that God was making evident. (Romans 1:21-22) Instead of worshiping the invisible, immortal, living God who created all things, these darkened individuals chose to worship images and idols! They exchanged truth for a lie! This is one of the worst decisions a person can make. (Romans 1:25) It brings deeper darkness and increasing immorality! Idolatry and immorality always are linked together in scripture.
Because they suppress the truth about God, God responds to their choice by giving them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity. This lust is expressed in an exchange of passions: the natural use of sex for the unnatural! Women burning for other women and men for other men are not natural! God did not design the body for this unnatural union! (Romans 1:26-27) This is a consequence of suppressing truth!
These people chose not to retain the knowledge of God, even though His eternal power and divine nature were evident to them. They also knew His divine decrees that those who practice what they were doing (unnatural sex), deserved death! (Leviticus 20:13) (Romans 1:32) They instead continued to do these things and encouraged others to do them as well! This is what we are seeing in our nation today! God’s wrath is ongoing–giving people over! How we must pray and preach the powerful gospel!
Scripture reading for July 12th: Romans 1:1-17
Paul’s letter to the Romans is a wonderful exposition of the gospel message and salvation by grace through faith. Paul wrote this letter from jail to a Roman church that he had never visited. The term ‘gospel’ is used twelve times in the letter and is used six times in first seventeen verses!
It is interesting that just this evening I was out sharing the gospel in the park with a team from our church. There was a man with a tee shirt that quoted Romans 1:16: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. . .” I asked this young man if he knew what the term ‘gospel’ meant and he said he would have to go look that up. That opened the door for me to share with him and his friends the gospel message!
Paul loved the gospel message. For him, the gospel was all about Jesus Christ. The gospel was promised by God through the prophets concerning the Son of God who was to be a descendant of David. This Son was none other than Jesus Christ, “who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by resurrection from the dead.” (Romans 1:4) The gospel was good news in that by faith Jew and Gentile could receive grace and forgiveness of sins.
Paul considered the gospel of Jesus Christ the power of God for salvation. He was not ashamed of that message, but instead was bold to share it whenever and where ever God would open the door. This gospel revealed the righteousness of God that is received by faith in both Jew and Gentile. Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 in saying, “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:17b)
Paul was so proud of the gospel because it saved him from working to try and earn righteousness through the law! He knew the futility of his own works and how this good news brought him rest and grace. He wanted everyone he was in contact with to know that grace and believe in Jesus Christ! (Acts 26:29)
If you were asked to explain what ‘gospel’ means, would you be able to? Have you experienced the power of the gospel to save you? Are you able to say with Paul, “I am not ashamed of the gospel!”