The book of Romans is not only a Divinely inspired letter, it’s a theological masterpiece. Paul had never been to Rome, so he had a burning desire to go and preach the Gospel to the Romans. Paul would eventually travel to Rome, but it wouldn’t be a pleasure cruise, it would be as a prisoner, chained to a Roman soldier – but even in that, Paul knew his chains were in Christ.
Paul also knew the power of the Gospel, he wrote in v. 16, “…for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.”And then in v. 17, “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” – Habakkuk 2:4. I like the way the NLT translates it, “…this is accomplished from start to finish by faith.”
Paul goes on to reveal the fact that the whole wide world is guilty before God, even those who have never heard. God’s glory and invisible attributes are clearly seen through creation. Tragically mankind is guilty of suppression, they’ve suppressed the acts and facts of their Creator, and have chosen to believe the lie, that there is no Creator – mankind is guilty of idolatry, eventually seeing themselves as God. Professing to be wise they became fools, fools who would believe in a godless evolution.
This idolatry has led to perversity. God has granted mankind his desire to live without him, so God gave them up to uncleanness, and God gave them up to vile passions, things like homosexuality and other perversities. Separation from the Creator and sin spiraling down out of control, eventually forced God to give them up to a debased mind – this self-destructive sin, is a form of God’s judgment.
The list of sins describes the normal practice of the unsaved, but it also make me check my heart. “Lord please guard me from even the occasional practice of these things, such as covetousness, envy, and strife; may I no longer be proud, undiscerning, unloving, unforgiving, or unmerciful.”
The fallen world knows deep down inside that those who sin like this deserve judgment, but they not only do these things, they also applaud those engrossed in all this activity. (Gay Parades) What used to be done in the back alley because we knew it was wrong, is now strutting down Main Street. We now live in a day and age where they call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20).
Paul establishes the fact that mankind is guilty, and worthy of judgment.
Warren Wiersbe said, “The greatest judgment God can inflict on us is to let us have our own way.”
Paul continues with God’s righteous judgment. Theologians tell us that Paul is establishing the fact that all are guilty before God, the immoral man, the moral man (who’s never heard God’s written law), and even the Bible-man who’s heard it all. We’ve all fallen short of God’s standard, whether it be through the violation of conscience or commandment.
In chapter 2 Paul hones in on those who’ve never heard God’s law (the Bible). They will be judged by the way they responded to that law written on their hearts. Then Paul speaks to the Jews who, of course, have God’s law. Both are guilty (Jew and Gentile) because we’ve all violated God’s moral code as revealed through both general and special revelation – but both can be saved by faith, and you’ll see it in their lives.
Romans 2:10, “but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”Wiersbe said that, “Paul was not teaching salvation by works but works that prove salvation.”
The danger of Judaism and even Christianity is to think that because we know the Word and some even teach the Word to others, that we’re good with God, but that’s not true. As a matter of fact, if we know the truth and judge others for sins that we ourselves commit – we’re storing up judgment for ourselves. I’ve always been fearful of Romans 2:21a, “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself.”
Paul wants the Jews to know that circumcision is to no avail, it doesn’t save a person from their sins; that’s a physical (fleshly) act – God looks deeper. Paul writes in Romans 2:29a, “but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart…”This can only take place by faith in Jesus Christ.
Paul wants everyone to know they’re doomed and damned, hoping that that would lead them to a place of desperation so that they’d cry out for Christ to save them.
Paul is on his way to establish the fact that all are guilty before God, both Jew and Gentile, that there’s no difference – but he also informs us that the Jews had an advantage over the Gentiles in that they had the “oracles of God” (the Scriptures). This might, however, have created a question in their minds, “What if the Jews don’t believe? Does that lessen the faithfulness of God?” Paul answers with strength “Certainly not!” Paul also addresses other accusations the people had – that our unrighteousness serves only to highlight God’s righteousness, so how could He punish us for that? Isn’t it unfair? Paul corrects them, “God IS entirely fair, if He weren’t, He wouldn’t be qualified to judge the world.” But people got weird, even saying things like, “My dishonesty highlights God’s truthfulness,” or “The more we sin the better it is.” Paul says, “Absolutely not, and people who say such things deserve to be condemned!” We’ll see the same distorted perspective in Romans 5:20-6:1.
Paul concludes with the solid truth that all have sinned, that there is none righteous, no, not one! Paul quotes from many Psalms as well as the book of Isaiah to prove his point. So even though they had the law, not one of them was justified by the law.
Wiersbe, “Paul quotes from Psalms and Isaiah to show that, from head to foot, we are all lost sinners. Do you want to argue about this? Then your mouth has not been stopped! God cannot save you until you say, ‘Guilty!’”
Paul then turns the corner by teaching us that God’s righteousness comes by faith! We read in Romans 3:22-24, “even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”
Paul reminds his readers that God is the God of the Jews AND the Gentiles (v. 29). This truth doesn’t negate the law, it was all part of the law, revealed in the law, and establishes the law. Jesus had said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”
Wiersbe, “The law is a mirror that reveals our sin; only the blood of Christ can wash away our sin. It is good to do good works, but good works are not good enough to save us (Ephesians 2:8–9).”
Paul states his conclusion explicitly in Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”
In Romans chapter 4 Paul points to Abraham, who is often referred to as the Father of the faith, he’s the perfect illustration of how we are justified by faith – and not by works.
Twice in this chapter (vs. 5, 22) Paul quotes from Genesis 15:6, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”Now, the interesting thing about this statement, is not only is it before the law (which came through Moses) but it’s also before circumcision – that commandment wasn’t given until Genesis 17. So, clearly God declared Abraham to be righteous simply because he believed, he was saved, he was made righteous, it was (and is) righteousness by faith, for him, his descendants and all who believe (vs. 23-24).
A couple of things jumped out at me aside from the core teaching:
First of all, the blessedness of salvation apart from works, no sacraments, no ceremony, no circumcision necessary. How awesome and amazing it is that we as believers have the righteousness of Jesus Christ transferred to our account (2 Corinthians 5:21). Paul quoted from David on this, in Psalms 32:1-2, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.”Aren’t you blessed that your terrible sins are forgiven? That you’re declared righteous in the sight of a holy God?
Warren Wiersbe comments, “David wrote Psalm 32 after his great sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11). Can God forgive a man who commits adultery, deceit, and murder? Yes! When David repented and turned to God, he was forgiven, even though the Lord allowed David to feel the bitter consequences of his sins (2 Sam. 12). God justifies the ungodly, not the righteous (v. 5; Matt. 9:9–13).”
Secondly, I’m blessed and impressed by the nature of Abraham’s faith. We read that Abraham believed God’s promise to bless him with descendants, even though the promise seemed beyond all possibility, he was fully convinced that what God had promised He was also able to perform (vs. 17-22). That’s a pretty good lesson on the nature of faith, let’s keep our eyes on the Lord, believe His Word, and receive His promise.
Paul offers a partial conclusion to his teaching up to this point on salvation by faith – it should bring us to a place of rejoicing, after all, at one time we were God’s enemies (not good), but in Christ, we now have peace with God! In all reality – peace withGod should always lead to the peace ofGod – and then praise toGod!
We should also rejoice in trials and tribulations (see James 1:2-3) because its intention is to produce perseverance, which leads to character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. If we go through the trials with our eyes on the Lord, we won’t quit; if we don’t quit that gives God time…time to work on us, to mature us in His Word; He even proves Himself to us as life goes on. This maturity (character; i.e. changed life) offers us assurance that we really do know the Lord (see 2 Corinthians 13:5; Hebrews 6:11; 2 Peter 1:10). You might remember those famous words of C.H. Spurgeon who said, “A faith that doesn’t change my behavior, will never change my destiny.”
Paul transitions into God’s love – after all, God’s love is the only reason any of us are saved. We know God’s love because of the Holy Spirit who lives inside of us, and we know God’s love because of the cross of Calvary, where Christ demonstrated His love by dying for us – even when we were His enemies! God didn’t simply say, “I love you,” He proved it to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
This should be a huge hope builder, because if God was willing to die for us, even when we were sons of Satan and daughters of the devil, how much more will He “save us” (take care of us) now that we are Hischildren! 1 John 3:1a, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!”Romans 5 gives us an infinite contrast between Adam, through whom sin and death entered the world – and the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom salvation and life entered the world!
Pastor Chuck comments, “…even as it took only one man to pollute the gene pool, so it would only take one Man to make it right. Death spread through the first Adam, but life spreads through Jesus Christ, the second Adam.”
Sandy Adams said, “Some might argue that is unfair, ‘Why should we all be punished for one man’s mistake? Each person should stand on his or her own.’ But listen to Paul’s point! If I stood on my own, I would fall like Adam. Fairness would be fatal. God allowed one man to doom his descendants so one man could save them. In Adam I am a sinner. In Jesus the sinner becomes a saint.”
As Paul closes the chapter he fills it with comparisons on how the life we have is so “much more!” We find those 2 words together 5 times in this chapter! One of my favorites is in Romans 5:20b, “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.”O Lord, I thank You for the triumphs in trials, for the life in Your love, and for the grace You give so freely, even though I fall so short and fail You every single day.
In my opinion, this is probably one of the most important chapters in the entire Bible. Sandy Adams called Romans 6, “…the Spiritual schematic of our new life in Christ.”
As Christians who have placed their faith in Christ, we drink from the ocean of grace (that’s a lot of grace) – so where sin abounds, grace abounds much more (Romans 5:20). Bottom line, grace-land is amazing…so some were suggesting that we go ahead and sin unreservedly, to continue in sin, for it unleashes and demonstrates the glorious grace of God. Paul answers emphatically in Romans 6:2, “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”Paul then spends the rest of the chapter illustrating a sobering spiritual truth that as Christians we were joined to Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. The old man was nailed to the cross, buried, and not only will the new man rise one day at the next resurrection, we can walk every day in that same resurrection power.
Let’s believe this, let’s receive this; let’s reckon (recognize) the old man to be dead (v. 11), let’s present our bodies each day as instruments (or weapons) of righteousness, let’s present ourselves as slaves of God, every day, to obey, leading to holiness (v. 22) and righteousness (v. 16).
It’s imperative that we connect with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (something water baptism symbolizes). We must acknowledge that we died to sin, that we were buried (proving that we really died), and that in Christ, we have risen from the dead and can now walk in the newness of life (I like that word “newness” – v. 4).
Expositor’s Commentary offers some insight, “Our spiritual history began at the cross. We were there in the sense that we were joined to him who actually suffered on it. The time element should not disturb us, because if we sinned in Adam, it is equally possible to die to sin with Christ.” (and rise with Him as well)
Bottom line – we need to take up our cross every day (Luke 9:23; 1 Corinthians 15:31) deny ourselves, say “no” to self, and “yes” to God. In chapter 8 we’ll see the next key to victory, and that is the baptism and fresh filling of the Holy Spirit.
The final verse of this chapter is well known – Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”In closing, consider the following quote on that final passage by Warren Wiersbe, “We quote this verse as we witness to the lost, and rightly so; but Paul wrote it originally to believers. Although God forgives the sins of His children, He may not stop the painful consequences of sin. The pleasures of sin are never compensated for by the wages of sin. Sinning is not worth it!”
Whoever you are in Christ, you won’t be perfect on this side of time, but you can be proper, you can be a Godly man or woman, a consistent Christian, a faithful follower, an obedient believer – sin shall not have dominion over you! Amen?
In Romans 7 Paul teaches on the purpose of the law – speaking of the OT laws of Judaism (which included the 10 Commandments).
The law was never able to save us from sin, it only identified sin and tempted us to sin (our fallen nature tends to gravitate towards forbidden fruit). The law is helpful and even useful in creating societal guidelines, but it does not give us the power to resist sin. The law shows us that we are exceedingly sinful and in desperate need of a Savior – and into the picture enters our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul teaches that we are no longer “married” to, or under the law, that relationship died – we are now married to Christ. The law is still useful in giving us guidelines, and as Christians we still have hundreds of commandments and principles in the New Testament to obey (although obedience to them doesn’t save us, and they can all be summarized in the 2 commandments to love God and to love others) (we are now under the New Covenant – Jeremiah 31:31; Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 8:13) but we are not saved by works, we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
But, now there’s a greater war within us. Paul teaches about the sin-nature which resides within us – it’s carnal, sinful, and even sold under sin. It brings us to a terrible place of practicing evil, and the things we hate – we end up doing that, while the things we want to do, we do not do. There’s a war within us – between the sinful nature and the new man (the inner man) who longs to please God.
Sandy Adams said, “The inner man loves God but the outer man is conditioned to sin.”
Warren Wiersbe said, “Believers are not under the law, but that does not give them license to become outlaws.”
What can we do? Paul closes with those classic words in Romans 7:24-25a, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Praise God! Jesus saves us from the power and penalty of sin. He bathes us in His blood (saved) and He baptizes us in His Spirit (sanctified) (Matthew 3:11; Romans 8).
O Lord, I thank You for that strong hope I have, that in You I can be the man that You want me to be.
Romans 8 is the one of the most amazing chapters in all the Bible – no amount of human words will ever do it justice.
Paul begins with that beautiful promise that there is no condemnation to the Christian, for he is in Christ Jesus. Often times the enemy tries to condemn us, accuse us, rob us of the joy of our salvation, especially if we’ve blown it. Beware of condemnation, beloved remember this, the condemnation of the enemy drives you away from the cross, but Godly conviction drives you towards the cross.
Paul spends some quality time teaching us that Christ has done something the law or flesh could never do – He saved us, He’s given us the capacity to live according to the Spirit, to be Spiritually minded, to actually please God – we can do this because we have the Spirit of God.
We can now, by the Spirit, put to death the deeds of the flesh. We can now be led by the Spirit. We are now children of God – twice over, because not only have we been born into the family (John 3:3) we’ve been adopted into God’s family and can ever refer to God as Daddy, or Papa, that’s how much He loves us. We now have an inner witness, the Spirit bears witness that we’re children of God. We’re joint-heirs with Christ – if we suffer with Him, which proves we’re Christians, we will be glorified with Him. This glory is so amazing that Paul writes in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
The closing section of Romans 8 is epic Bible. Let me just say that even though we go through tremendous trials on this side of time, God will work it out for good (Romans 8:28) because God is for us, not against us (Romans 8:31) and even IN these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us (Romans 8:37). At the end of the day and for all eternity, nothing and no-one can ever separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35, 39).
Paul had such a love for the Jewish people, so much so that he said he’d be willing to be damned, that they might be saved (9:3). Of course we know God doesn’t work that way – each person must make a personal decision to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Israel was blessed with much spiritual favor, but that doesn’t mean they are all saved, only those who are the children of promise, who understand the principal of promise. Paul points out that the descendants of Isaac were children of promise, not the children of Ishmael, the children of Ishmael represented the children of the flesh. In other words, it’s not the physical descendants of Abraham, but the “spiritual” descendants, those who believe, by faith, in the promise.
Paul then brings up the issue of election, and he uses Jacob and Esau as illustrations of this. Before they were born, God declared their destiny, Jacob was elected, Jacob was selected. But we need to be very careful that we don’t mistake this to be fatalism – that Esau never had a chance to be saved. The truth is, God knew what Esau would do one day, how he would despise his birthright, how he would choose pagan women, how he would reject the Lord, God knew all this before he was born, and God knew Jacob’s response would be positive, Jacob was a child of promise. Peter writes about this in 1 Peter 1:2, “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…”
This detail of doctrine in the area of soteriology is an in-house debate within Christendom. I find comfort with the concept that God gets all the credit and all the glory for my salvation, I can’t touch it, never, ever, ever, but somewhere deep, deep down inside, I did my part, I chose to say “yes” to Him. Charles Spurgeon was asked how he reconciled divine sovereignty and human responsibility, and he replied, “I never try to reconcile friends.” We should have the same heart, embrace both.
As you continue to read Romans 9 Paul does emphasize the sovereignty of God heavily, that God chooses upon whom He will have mercy and He hardens whomever He wishes, in order to accomplish His purposes. Paul uses Pharaoh as an example of this, but it’s interesting to note that before Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by God, Pharaoh hardened his own heart 5 times.
Paul reminds us that God is the Potter, we’re just the clay. Who are we? What say do we have in the matter? God demonstrates His wrath on the vessels of wrath, and God demonstrates His mercy and long-suffering on the vessels of mercy. The Gentiles are included as vessels of mercy, along with a remnant of Israel.
But Paul closes the chapter with the reason Israel, generally speaking, rejected their Messiah, and forfeited their salvation, we read in Romans 9:32, “Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.”
Israel clung to the works of the law, to the legalities of Judaism rather than the mercies of God…they did not seek it by faith.
Paul so desperately and lovingly wanted Israel to be saved, but they rejected the gospel, they clung to the law, instead of clinging to the Lord.
Sandy Adams said, “The Jews were lost because they rejected Jesus. They tried to muster their own righteousness, relying on performance and pedigree.”How important it is to realize that our good deeds are as filthy rags in the sight of a holy God (Isaiah 64:6).
Paul goes on to share the gospel in such beautiful terms. What a contrast to the law which tells us to “do,” the Gospel tells us it’s “done,” Jesus paid the price on our behalf, the righteousness of God is given to those who lay hold of the following passages:
Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Romans 10:11 “For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’”
Romans 10:13 “For ‘whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’”
So simple, salvation by faith.
Paul then goes on to share our responsibility in getting the gospel out. The people won’t call on Christ unless they believe, and they won’t believe unless they hear, and they won’t hear unless someone preaches to them, and no one will preach unless they are sent.
Paul closes the chapter with the truth that in one sense, they’ve all heard – the heavens declare the glory of God, and the law is written on their hearts. Israel should have known about the Gentiles being saved, because it’s all over the Scriptures. Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 32:21 and Isaiah 65:1 to prove his point.
Pastor Chuck said, “If the Jews had been paying attention, they would have realized that all God ever wanted to do was to save the world. If they had been listening to His Word, it would have been clear that God wanted to use them to accomplish that.”
The conclusion to the chapter is such a heavy word for me to consider each and every day, Romans 10:21, “But to Israel he says: ‘All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’”Other translations use the words obstinate, stubborn, and rebellious.
O Lord, thank You for Your long-suffering with me and everlasting love; may I be obedient, broken, and completely compliant to You. May I see You as You are so gracious towards me, beckoning me with open arms.
God is not done with Israel. Not only does God have a remnant of Jewish believers today, but He will do a sweeping work to save Israel in the future.
As I read my Bible, I find that if a man hardens his heart, God will eventually do the same thing to that heart as He did with Pharaoh. Israel rejected Jesus so God eventually hardened their hearts, blinded their eyes, and deafened their ears, He only honored their decision and therefore ceased to show them His ways and speak to their hearts, but, this would lead to the salvation of the Gentiles. It’s interesting how we see this illustrated in a microscopic way as Paul was ministering in the book of Acts he would almost always start with the Jews, in the Synagogue, and when they, in a general sense, rejected the Gospel, he would leave the Synagogue and focus his time and attention on the Gentiles. God has done the same and herein lies the principal set forth in Romans 11.
But Paul also warns the Gentiles not to get haughty, for just as the Jews fell, they could fall. We read Paul’s warning in Romans 11:20-21, “Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.”
Israel was the root, it was the original Olive Tree. We, as Gentiles were grafted in, but one day God will restore Israel. Just as the Gentiles were saved, God will save and restore the Jews, during the last 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation Period, what a blessing that will be. I’ve noticed, there’s always something special about a Jew, born anew.
Paul does not want us to be ignorant about the fact that we are living in the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24). When the fullness of the Gentiles takes place, the rapture will occur, and God will deal with Israel in the final week (7-year period) of the 70 weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27).
It’s challenging to understand these things, and we will never fully comprehend the wisdom of God’s plan, for we are but mere men, but we can rest in the fact that it’s all part of God’s plan and that God is good and one day, when we’re home in heaven, not one person will be missing.
Paul closes his section of theology and soteriology with a beautiful doxology in Romans 11:33-36.
Romans 12 is another classic chapter that in one sense transitions into practical application. Notice how Paul begins with the word “therefore.” This moves us from 11 chapters of deep theology, (honing in on soteriology – the doctrine of salvation – how to have life) and now we learn how to live that life. Before duty, we should always have doctrine, before behavior comes belief.
Present your bodies as living sacrifices. Our bodies aren’t sinful, they’re neutral. We can use them for good or evil, and the practical application of so great a salvation is to present them to God. I am to let Him have every member of my body. My mind, my heart, my eyes, my hands, my lips, every part of my person should be surrendered to God.
The inclination and great temptation is to live like the world – it’s trying to shape us into their mold, but I am to resist the say and sway of the world.
How does the world mold us? In their schools, through television, movies, radio, music, social media – (sexuality, materialism, appearance, entertainment, leisure, sports, selfishness, etc.) they present their mores in many ways, but our values should come only from God who has given us His Word.
On the contrary, rather than being conformed to this world I am to be transformed by the renewing of my mind, that I might prove what the will of God is for my life. The Greek word used in this passage is the origin of our English word, metamorphosis, I am to be changed from the inside out, just as a creeping caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly!
Paul goes on to encourage the church to exercise their gifts in humility. Let no one think too highly of themselves, even pastors are just a different part of the body, we’re different, we’re equal, we’re one. I like to remind Christians to discovertheir gifts, developtheir gifts, and to deploytheir gifts.
After those words on serving side-by-side with each other, Paul goes on to give some absolutely amazing words on how we are to interact with each other. There’s so much here, the scriptures that stood out to me today are:
Romans 12:9 “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.”
O Lord, please help me to love genuinely, sincerely, and fervently.
Romans 12:12b “…continuing steadfastly in prayer.”
O Lord, please make me a man of prayer.
Romans 12:14 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”
O Lord, please make me like You. When You died on the cross You prayed for those who killed You. You said that this type of heart shows I’m Your child in Matthew 5:43-48, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”
What an apt summary of ministry!
Romans 12:17-18 “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
O Lord, I like to lash back, to fight fire with fire, to rise up in my own strength and take control of the situation, otherwise I feel humiliated – my pride is hurt – I’ll get walked on. So Lord, please help me to bless those who persecute me, to repay no one evil for evil and on the contrary, to overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
O Lord, please make me an overcomer.
Wiersbe, “If yours is a godly life, you are bound to have enemies (Matt. 5:10–12; 2 Tim. 3:12); but leave all judgment to the Lord. If you let the Lord have His way, He will use your enemies to build you and make you more like Christ.”
In Romans 13 Paul addresses what might be considered a controversial issue – the government. He teaches that we are to be submissive to the Government, the authorities, police officers, Paul actually refers to them as ministers of God. Now, this is an interesting statement in light of the fact that Caesar was in power in Paul’s day. We might complain about the authorities of our day, but chances are, they were nowhere nearly as bad as Paul’s day – and yet he teaches submission.
Pastor Chuck said, “I confess that I have a problem with the notion that every government authority is ordained by God. But when Paul wrote this to the Christians in Rome, the Roman Empire was at its apex of evil ruled by the horrible tyrant, Nero.”
By faith and obedience to God, we are not to resist those placed over us, we are to be subject to our God-given authorities, we are to pay our taxes, our customs, to esteem, and honor those in places of authority. The only time we are NOT to submit, is if their law clearly contradicts the law of the Lord (Act 5:29).
Warren Wiersbe said, “Believers are citizens of heaven, but we must not minimize our responsibilities on earth. We must be exemplary citizens so that the Lord will be glorified (1 Peter 2:11–17).”
Paul addresses another controversial issue and that is capital punishment (13:4). Paul talks about the “sword” of the government and how they are “God’s avenger to execute wrath.” The Bible supports capital punishment and teaches us to obey the laws of the land so we won’t be punished.
In a world drowning in credit card debt Paul shares a great passage for us – Romans 13:8, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
First the money point – I like the way Sandy Adams worded it, “No bondage is more depressing than financial bondage. More bills than bucks – is a dilemma you should avoid at all costs.”
Then the main point, we owe everyone love. This is huge! Jesus said in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”Love is so big, that when we love people we fulfill the entire law of the Lord. As Steven Curtis Chapman sang, “Love, love, love, love, love, it’s all about love, love, love, love, love, everything else comes down to this, nothing any higher on the list than love…it’s all about love.”
And of course the one we are to love the most is the Lord. We prove our love for Him through obedience (John 14:15). Paul closes with the exhortation to do just that, to wake up from our sleep, for our salvation is nearer than when we first believed, meaning the Lord’s return is sooner, and/or our day of passing can come at any time (I’m not getting any younger). I need to walk in the light, not in the dark; I need to cast off the flesh, and clothe myself with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 14 highlights the fact that we all have personal convictions, we’re all growing at different rates, and we’re to be super careful in judging others. As a matter of fact, we aren’t called to meddle with the personal convictions of other believers. Now that doesn’t mean we can never judge others – at times we can and are called to do so if the issue is clear in Scripture (please see John 7:24; 1 Corinthians 5:12) but even that is to be done with love.
So don’t judge a person’s diet, don’t judge a person’s day they choose to esteem (or not) – as believers we all live and die for the Lord personally and individually, that’s what this Christian life is all about (Philippians 1:21). We ultimately belong to God, and we will inevitably be judged by Him. Paul mentions that fact in Romans 14:12, “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”What a sobering thought for so many reasons.
Sandy Adams said, “Preparing my heart to meet the Master is a full-time job. It leaves little time for me to judge the heart of my brother.”
This whole realm of personal convictions forbids me to judge such things and commands me to love such people. If I know my brother doesn’t eat meat that was offered to idols, I shouldn’t offer it to him, or eat it right in front of him – that’s not love. Paul even says that such behavior can “destroy” (vs. 15, 20) my brother. What a great principal given in Romans 14:19, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”
I like the way Warren Wiersbe summarized this, “Our desire must not be to get everybody to agree with us; our desire must be to pursue peace, not cause others to stumble, and help others to mature in Christ.”
In closing, let me touch on the fact that underlying this entire chapter is something hard to understand; Paul says that all things are pure. Jesus said something similar in Matthew 15:11, “Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”Paul points to wine in v. 21 and some might see this as a license for liquor. Here’s the thing, at the end of the day the Bible doesn’t prohibit wine – it doesprohibit getting drunk (Ephesians 5:18) and wine, alcohol and all those drinks make many people stumble and have ruined countless lives. Most men cannot handle alcohol, so I believe that in the context of today’s culture, this chapter doesn’t teach us that it’s okay to drink wine, I believe it teaches the exact opposite. I believe if we choose to walk in love, we will choose notto drink alcohol, because of the simple fact that we never, ever, ever want to give even the slightest reason for our brother or sister to stumble. What might happen if my son saw me drinking? God forbid.
O Lord, please help me to be so careful in this whole realm of judging others. Please help me to walk in love and pursue peace, to chase down ways in which I can build others up…please Lord, I pray in Jesus’ Name.
Paul picks it up right where he left off, living our Christianity as a family, a flock, bearing with one another, loving the unlovely, giving each other room to grow, following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The word scruples in v. 1 speaks of the weakness and even the sickness of others. Other translations use the words “failings” (NIV) or “infirmities”
(Wuest). How practical this is! When others fail us or hurt us, we’re to love them as Jesus did. This is a lofty request, such unity and humility, so Paul takes the time to pray for them in this matter (v. 5-6).
Sandy Adams said, “We like friends who come already assembled. When we find that a friend has idiosyncrasies that irritate, or aggravate, or agitate us, we tend to avoid them. Paul tells us that we are to bear with each other. Remember that God is not finished with your friend.”
Paul seems to transition into applying this to the relationship that the Jews would/should have with the Gentiles. He quotes many Old Testament passages to make his point – yes, it was prophesied, the Gentiles would be saved!
Paul prays for them again (v. 13).
Paul then begins to close the letter by telling the church in Rome about the ministry he so graciously received from the Lord; to minister to the Gentiles, the things that Jesus had done through Him, signs, wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, preaching the Gospel. I love the way he says it, “I have fullypreached the Gospel of Christ..” man, I want to say that one day! Paul said he makes it his aim to preach the Gospel, and to do so where Christ was not named. The NLT explains it very plainly in Romans 15:20, “My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else.”
Paul had great goals to get the gospel out! It may not have gone exactly as he planned but that didn’t stop him from doing his best to think about the future – to be proactive, is key to being productive. “If I fail to plan, I plan to fail.”
Paul planned on visiting and ministering in Rome, and then he hoped they would help him on his way to Spain and minister there. He had high-hopes and so should we. I’m not sure if Paul ever made it to Spain back then, but his letters made it to the ends of the earth, and over the ages of time. He didn’t go to Rome quite as he expected, but he did make it there as he had always been, a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The chapter ends with Paul’s request that the people join in prayer for him, for his protection, for his service, for those journeys of joy, and refreshing times of fellowship in the future…with the church at Rome. How important it is that we fight on our knees that we pray, pray, pray!
As Paul closes his letter to the Romans he begins with the commendation of Phoebe. This is an insightful section of Scripture because it clearly communicates the fact that women can have a prominent place in the church, not as pastors (1 Timothy 2:12) but definitely as deacons. Phoebe is referred to as a “servant of the church in Cenchrea.” The Greek word translated servant is diakonoswhich is the origin of our word deacon. Paul instructs the church at Rome to receive her and assist her because she has been a helper to many.
It’s surprising to see how many people Paul knows and greets – who are there at the church in Rome. Numerous names of people like Priscilla and Aquilla who risked their necks for Paul – other laborers, fellow prisoners, fellow workers, the mother of Rufus who was like a mother to Paul.
One thing’s for sure, even people like Paul need helpers, no one can do this on his or her own so we thank God for all those people who labor behind the scenes, God knows their names, they’re written in His book, dear to His heart and He will reward every single one of them one day.
The protective part of Paul resurfaces as he warns them to take note and avoid those who cause divisions and offenses in the church – they don’t serve the Lord, they serve themselves (Romans 16:17-18). He follows this warning with his reasoning, how God has done such a good work in them and he doesn’t want anyone to ruin that work. They were to be wise concerning good, simple concerning evil, and encouraged by the fact that the day will come when the God of peace will crush Satan under our feet. “O Lord, I look forward to that day!”
After the final farewells Paul closes this theological masterpiece with a benediction – how God is able to establish the people with the power of this Gospel, Jews and Gentiles alike, for obedience to the faith. What a wonderful salvation for the good of the people and the glory of God, so simple and yet so profound as we read in Romans 1:17b, “…the just shall live by faith.”