Chapter 6 reminds us, in a rather blunt fashion, that Christians should not sin. Because we’re not under law gives us no excuse to sin . . .
15What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
It also reminds us that we’re slaves of who or what we obey. If we obey God, we’re slaves to righteousness. If we choose to sin and live under its power, we become slaves to sin.
. . . you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
Then Paul sums it all up by letting us know what the consequences of our choices will be.
23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Last night at Bible study we talked a lot about suffering. It frustrated me somewhat, because that’s not exactly a topic we want to think about. But one guy at our study has cancer in his neck, and next week he has to have a procedure done that may silence him for life. He may not be able to eat without a feeding tube. They found lumps in his stomach and they’re doing a CT scan to see what the lumps might be. But he was talking about how he might be a witness to the hospital staff. He saw his life through an eternal lens. That’s exactly what Paul tells us we should be doing:
3More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope . . .
It’s easy to fall into “pity me” mode when things aren’t going well. Believe me, I know. I do it all the time. But I’m not facing death. My troubles are trivial. Sure, it’s hard to get along with some people at work. Sure, I don’t make as much money as I’d like. But to face real suffering – and maintain our joy – that’s a mark of the Holy Spirit within us.
I like chapter five. It causes me to look heavenward. Jesus died, rose again, and death lost its power. We have nothing to fear.
8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
It’s not easy to always believe that God will do what He says. Sometimes our work gets old, daily existence becomes mundane, and we start believing that living the life we’re called to live is useless and impossible. We should take our example from Abraham.
20No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.
And Abraham was “as good as dead,” as Paul says, and still had not had the son God promised him. Sarah was old and barren. Yet Abraham still believed, and it was counted to him as righteousness. And Abraham saw God fulfill His promise.
And God’s promise is that anyone who comes to Him, through faith, will be saved, apart from works.
As Peter tells us, Paul isn’t always easy to understand. And Romans 3 is one of those chapters that makes my head spin a little. But what strikes me is that none of us are righteous.
For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one . . . (ESV)
And by keeping the law, we still cannot be righteous. The law reveals the knowledge of sin, but cannot save.
20For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (ESV)
So, those people who strive to keep the law, and who brag about their ability to do so, are, unfortunately, deceived.
27Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 28Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since God is one. He will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. (ESV)
Anyone, then, can be saved, through faith.
Some thoughts on Romans 2.
We always affirm that salvation is by faith alone, but what about works?
6He will render to each one according to his works: 7to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. (ESV)
These kinds of verses always make me think. If we’re saved by faith, then why all this talk about judgment of our works? I think, for me, it’s pretty clear. We will be judged on the things we do. Our faith will save us, but we must do what we’ve been called to do.
I was reading Romans 1 this morning, and verse 16 really struck me.
16For 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. (ESV)
Am I ashamed of the gospel? Do I take every opportunity to share it when it needs to be shared? Does everyone at work, and everyone I meet, know that I’m a Christian? I need to be more aware of Who I stand for, and make sure that when the day comes, I can stand before the throne and say with confidence that I fully and openly represented the gospel.