On the Romans Road – May
The Book of Romans is super-concentrated, isn’t it? It’s so valuable for us to step back and reflect on what’s come before. I pray this will be a useful meditation as we continue through the series.
In the early chapters, Paul has taken pains to ensure it’s clear that everybody needs saving from the consequence of their sins, and there’s only one provision for this: grace. God always intended to found the outcome of Heaven upon grace, rather than performance. God has always wanted to bring people in to His eternal Kingdom, but He doesn’t want anybody to think they earned it!
All the Benefits!
In chapter 5 of Romans, Paul outlines for us many of the benefits we have. We’ve been justified — that means “declared to be righteous”. That’s awesome! So what? Glad you asked, says Paul! Well, you have peace with God. The shalom peace that means more than just cessation of conflict. It’s that, plus heart and soul rest. Plus the seeking of our welfare. Plus provision. We know that the fullness of this is yet future, but Paul’s putting it in the present tense for us. We have peace with God now.
We’ve also obtained access to God. I think this is something to reflect on. Think about Isaiah, when he was granted to see the Lord’s throne room. You recall there in Isaiah chapter 6: Isaiah saw the Lord upon His throne, the heavenly temple shaking because of the worship taking place there. What was Isaiah’s reaction?
Isaiah 6:5 (ESV) And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
I wonder what Isaiah would have thought if, perhaps towards the end of his life, he heard this teaching. I really think he would have short-circuited. Access by faith into God’s favour? You can come into His presence, just like that?
Let’s reminder ourselves of just one more benefit. This one from Romans 6:9, where Paul says that we’ve been justified by Christ’s blood, and much more shall we be saved by His life. It’s such a comfort to me that we’ve not arrived yet. To know that God’s only really just gotten started with me is such a wonderful thought. Yes, I’m work in progress. But God’s begun a good work. And He has much more yet to do.
A Tale of Two Men
There’s a part of me that’s still taken aback by Paul comparing Adam with Jesus Christ. He even says that Adam is a type of Christ, the One to come! Surely, a creature and his Creator cannot be compared in any comprehensible way! But there is a clear point of comparison: Adam and Jesus Christ both committed a single act that had eternal ramifications. Adam’s choice to disobey God’s direct command did several things:
- It introduced sin, and sin introduced death.
- Death effectively became “king” — it began its reign, and death continues with us to this day (in case you hadn’t noticed!)
- It lead to condemnation for all (v18)
- It rendered us all sinners (v19)
It’s shocking stuff, isn’t it? But there’s a great phrase Paul uses twice: “much more.” Yes, sin did and does so much damage, but much more does God’s grace, and God’s free gift of salvation abound. Yes, death reigned through that one man, but much more will believers reign in life through Jesus Christ.
The king is dead; long live the King!
Choices and Consequences
Choices have consequences, don’t they? Nothing we do is done in isolation. I don’t imagine that Adam quite knew the full extent of his choice that day he ate the fruit. But certainly Jesus Christ knew the extent of His act of obedience. It made justification and life available to all men! Many will be made righteous! But there is still a choice to make for this to be effective. As Paul already took great pains to articulate earlier in the book, it’s the choice of faith. The choice to pledge our allegiance to Christ Jesus, instead of ourselves or whatever other thing.
As we move into Romans 6, we’re challenged to consider that the old way of life is dead. The idea of incorporating Christianity into our lives is totally foreign to Paul. You’re buried with Him if you’ve believed in Christ. The old you is in the ground, six feet under.
Paul couldn’t use stronger terms than “dead” and “alive.” But these statements don’t remove our need to act. Paul says “you must consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ.” The fact that it’s absolutely true doesn’t negate our need to consider this actively in our day-to-day lives. We had those four imperatives there in Romans 6 that we considered last week.
I wonder how you put this into practice? I was reminded of a verse we memorised a long time ago now:
1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
There is no temptation to sin that is too strong for you. One of the tools we have when facing temptation is to remind yourself — preach to yourself –– that you are dead to sin. Consider it so. Recall that what is theologically true provides a practical tool to resist the enemy’s lies.
How do you work these things into your daily lives?