Day Three Hundred Forty-One, Romans 3-8
At the beginning of today's reading, Paul begins to explain the reason that the law was put into place. In yesterday's reading, he made the case that Jew and Gentile alike are both under sin. So why did the Jews receive the Law? Were they expected to be able to perfectly keep this law? Many of them tried to, in an effort to be justified and consider themselves righteous. But Paul teaches that no one is able to keep this law. Rather, the law was put in place to teach people of their need for a Savior. Paul says that "through the law we become conscious of sin."
Rather than by keeping the law, Paul teaches that one is justified by faith. The example that he uses to base this teaching upon is none other than the first and foremost patriarch of the Israelites, Abraham, as "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Paul reminds the people that Abraham was justified by faith before the Law was ever given. He also teaches that this promise of justification--of grace--is not only for the circumcised children of Abraham, but for the uncircumised. He teaches that Abraham "received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all hwo believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them."
Paul goes on, and honestly, this is where it begins to sound good, begins to sound a little more like 'gospel': "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...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. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, 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."
Paul goes on to explain what this means for us as Christians. First and foremost, we should absolutely not use this grace He has given us as a license to sin. As the KJV says, "God forbid!" Paul explains that as we have been buried with Christ and raised with Him, so also, we have died to sin and have been risen to live by the Spirit. We should no longer continue as slaves of sin, but as slaves of righteousness. Paul even goes on to admit a little bit of what this struggle feels like, the struggle of trying to live by the Spirit, as opposed to living in the flesh, as he admits that "what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do...nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature...when I want to do good, evil is right there with me...what a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
This passage, where Paul speaks of the struggle with sin, is encompassed in chapter 7 of Romans, and I recall one of my favorite bloggers once writing something along the lines of feeling "trapped in Romans 7, when I'm called to live in Romans 8." I absolutely loved that comment of his, because I feel like I totally understood what he meant. Although, as I mentioned earlier, Romans has some of my least favorite writings, it's not all bad, and chapter 8 is probably its best chapter of all, just absolutely jam-packed with some precious and powerful promises of God. I'll just try to cover some of those here:
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death."
"Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies withour spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we hsare in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worht comparing to the glory taht will be revealed in us."
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordane with God's will."
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of all those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
"What, then, shall we say in repsonse to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-p-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chose? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Dead to sin, slaves to righteousness
Life in Christ
Struggle with sin
Promises of God