Today, we are reading God’s word.
Why are we reading Romans?
Because it is my jam! Actually, because many consider this to be the greatest literary works of all time. It lays out the Gospel, salvation, and God’s love to ALL people who come to Him. It helped me tremendously as I tend to want to be an overachiever, depend on works for worth, and have a past of believing that is how you gain God’s favor. But Romans says otherwise. Our salvation comes from what He has already done for us, not what we will ever do. We must die in the flesh, accept His gift of Grace and be reborn in the spirit of Jesus Christ. That is Romans and it is amazing.
The Whole Series…
In this passage…
In last week’s passage, Paul brought the heat. He called out all matters of sin that begin and continue to grow into darkness when we turn away from God. When we deny His existence despite the evidence of His beautiful creation all around us, it opens the door to let temptations of our hearts and sin take over our lives. If we don’t have Him as our guide and rely on our own hearts we are destined for a rocky road. He loves us and wants us to come to Him, but if we are insistent on turning our back on Him, He will leave us to our own devices, patiently waiting for us to return.
He names it all and because we now live in such a loosey-goosey society, it may have made you cringe a little. ♀️
>>>But then, in beautiful biblical fashion, it does not end there. Paul opens up the next passage by giving you a lesson on judgment- It’s not our job. God is the judge and shows no partiality.
Remember the context…
Paul is writing this in a time when many Jews were wondering if these new ‘Gentile/ Greek’ Christians should follow Jewish law. When Paul is talking about the law here, he is addressing the Jewish law of the Torah, the old testament. Should one follow the Jewish law before following Christ? And if not, will a non-Jewish person be judged for not upholding the law, if they never knew it? This was a hot debate at the time.
When he speaks of the righteousness of God in Paul’s day this would be referring to God’s faithfulness to His promises to Isreal and His covenant with them. In Jewish courts of the time, there would be three parties, the plaintiff, the defendant, and the Judge. The judge was called to be impartial and carry out the law whether that was to punish wrongdoers or support the innocent. His judgment showed his righteousness or faithfulness to the covenant. In the same way, God’s righteousness is His faithfulness to His chosen people.
As with much of the bible, there remains a context we must understand when reading any passage. But it is a living word and the verses continue to speak to people of all ages, at all times, in all areas of the world.
God’s Righteous Judgment
1Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
6 He 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. 9There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, 10but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. 11For God shows no partiality.
God’s Judgment and the Law
12For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
17But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God 18and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; 19and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? 22You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. 24For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
25For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
~Romans 2:1-29 ESV
This passage is all about hypocrisy and what you really should be focusing your attention on. Even as believers there are many areas of our lives that we will fall short of, and God does not give up on us. Why would He want us to point out the sin of everyone around us when we are too prideful to admit our own? Does our denial help anyone? Do our accusations help anyone?
It is on us to see God’s love and recognize our wrong ways. This passage calls on us to see that His kindness is meant to bring us to repentance.
Paul addresses both Jews and Gentiles when he states that just because one knows more about God’s laws does not make him more righteous in God’s eyes. God is impartial and Paul says…
For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight. ~Romans 2:13 NLT
In 17-29, Paul speaks directly to the Jewish people of the day. He says that just because you know the laws of the Jewish people, have Jewish parents, and are circumcised, the outward sign of the covenant of those people, that does not mean you are close to God. It does not mean you carry Him in your heart.
Does this not speak to us today? Us, who are under the new covenant, knowing and accepting Jesus as our savior, how many people do we know who focus all their attention on the rules, the prestige of having family in this church or that, knowing ‘the truth’, knowing religion as it is today, knowing about Jesus, but not actually a relationship with Him?
This relationship requires us not to uphold the laws and know religion. It requires a change of heart that seeks God above all else.
Are you working on that relationship?
Questions to consider…
What is the hypocrisy that Paul speaks of in this passage?
2. Where do you see evidence of this in the world around you?
3. Do you see it in yourself?
4. What is God’s kindness meant to lead you to?
5. Spend a few minutes reflecting on areas of your life you can bring to the Lord in repentance. How can we pray for others working through sin? How can we help ourselves and others move toward that change of heart?
…Next week ~ God’s Righteousness Upheld, Romans 3:1-20
As we begin reading the book of Romans, it is good to know some backstory- Who wrote it? Why? When? Who for? Why is it special?
was a man chosen by God to explain the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. He was an unlikely pick and a testament to God’s grace and how He pursues us. His radical transformation from a Christian persecutor to who many consider being the patriarch of the Christian faith was shocking and beautiful. It symbolizes all of our hope. As Paul writes in many of his letters, in summary, if ‘this sinner (referring to himself) can overcome and be born again in Christ we all have hope in Christ.’
The letter of Romans was written by Paul to the church in Rome about 57 A.D. He wrote to them to let them know he was on his way and to apologize for not coming sooner. He also wrote this not knowing if he would make it there alive, as his ministry of bringing Christ to the world was very dangerous, something we so take for granted.
The church in Rome was not planted by Paul himself, unlike many others at the time. It is believed that the church in Rome was most likely formed by the Jews who had been in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10).
This was written to help clear up and bring the full Gospel to those disputing the justification and mercy of Christ to all believers and not just those who first kept Jewish law. At this time, there were still a lot of Jewish Christians who insisted that Gentiles who wanted to become Christians must become Jewish in their customs first before being saved by Christ.
The main point of Romans is Paul bringing the heat- He teaches that it is not by law or works that we are saved. It is not by what WE do, but by what GOD DID for us that saves us. We are justified solely because of Christ amazing gift of grace to forgive our sins. We were never expected to be perfect as God’s law is an expression of Him and therefore perfect. Our works are impossible in saving us because we are not perfect as only God is. We are expected to accept our imperfection, recognize our sin, accept His gift of grace, rely on Him through faith, and because of this our works become an expression of our love and knowledge of what He and only He could do. Law, nor works save us or make us Christian.
Resources used in this study:
Halley’s Bible Handbook, Henry H. Halley
N.T. Wright for Everyone Bible Study Guides, Romans, N.T. Wright