Posts Tagged Paul
Glad I took some time tonight to read this again.
I find myself meditating on the following verses in Romans 3:
19 Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
We are to do good deeds, and I suppose doing what the law commands was (and is?) considered “good deeds”. But the thing he’s trying to get them to understand that doing what the law commands, even if we could follow it completely and without fail (no one can), is not what saves us. The law exists only to show us how guilty we really are.
What I read about the Pharisees back then tells me that they took great pride in following God’s commands. It seems like this was their focus. The laws are complicated and lengthy. I imagine them sitting around for hours debating and discussing every little nuance. Yet, what’s important is to know that God sent Jesus to die on the cross as payment in full for all our sin. I still know there are many people thinking that if they can just do more GOOD things than BAD that they’ll be okay. Without accepting & believing that Jesus Christ did what He did, it doesn’t matter how GOOD you have been.
Paul really clears it up in the following verses in the same chapter:
27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.
It’s so simple. But it was so different than anything they’d heard.
Lord, how I wish I could simply obey and never fail you. But I know that even when I do fail, you are willing to forgive me. It’s hard to grasp the depth of your love for mankind – especially someone like me. But I’m grateful. Help me to keep my eyes on You so I can continue becoming more like you on this journey you have me on.
Today’s reading got me thinking about rewards. I’ve always resisted thinking about being rewarded by God for doing good. Yet, the Bible is clear that there are rewards for those who are faithful in God’s kingdom. Conversely, there are also consequences for doing wrong. Look at the passage in Romans 2, verses 5 – 11:
5But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 6God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”[a] 7To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11For God does not show favoritism.
As Christians, we know that our eternal life is solely dependent upon our relationship with Jesus Christ. However, reading this passage could make one think that doing good can save you. Out of context, one can certainly get that impression. However, I believe that Paul is pointing out that it is God inside us, changing us, that makes us righteous, and that results in our outward expressions of good. Look at what he says at the end of this chapter in verses 28 & 29:
28A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.
It is easy to appear spiritual on the outside, but you will know a person by their deeds (fruit). On the other hand, if God is inside a person, it will show outwardly.
As I read Romans 1 this morning, I was amazed to see the correlation of what we’re studying in Wildmen, the Wild at Heart book by John Eldredge, and the first chapter of Romans. Paul is talking about how God has revealed himself with His invisible qualities, His power and His divine nature, since creation. And, yet some choose to ignore that, suppressing the Truth for their own wickedness:
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
One thing I have come to understand is this: God created each of us with a plan. We may choose to live our lives seeking that plan (his will) and following Him, or we may choose to follow our own plan. Life is not “easy” either way because we were born into a battle between good and evil. But, I am convinced that following God and His plan for us is the only way to live a peaceful, happy, abundant life. People can choose to ignore God and make their own choices, but it always leads to consequences in ever-increasing difficulty and, ultimately in death and separation from God for eternity.
God makes it very clear. Sin is fun for a season. Some people get to the point where they abandon what they know about God and exchange the truth for their own wicked desires. That is where God turns them over to evil. I know people there now, learning hard lessons, living in turmoil and ruin, refusing to come back to God.
God will not force Himself upon us. He wants us to choose to have faith and believe in Him. Otherwise, we’d be just a bunch of robots, programmed to love God. Without faith, man may choose to worship God’s creation rather than God himself, leading to all kinds of trouble. I noticed several choice/consequences in this passage:
- They knew God, but chose to not glorify or give thanks to Him, so their thinking became futile and their hearts were darkened (verse 21)
- They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like His creation, so God gave them over to shameful lusts (verses 25-26)
- They did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind and they were filled with every kind of wickedness (verse 28)
My prayer for those people is that they would eventually get to the place where all they can do is look up and see God. I’ve been there. It’s not a good place. But, God is still there to pick us up and put us back on the road to Him. That road is not easy but the peace and comfort, knowing God is at the end, makes life worth living.
Have a great day!