The Gospel According To Paul 4
Paul spent the better part of three chapters showing us
man's desperate need for a savior. Any righteousness we can earn on our own is
clearly inadequate to meet God's standards. We need to acquire a righteousness
equal to His in order to dwell in His presence. Thankfully such a
righteousness is available. It was made so by the Lord Himself, and is imputed
to us by faith in His completed work on the cross.
Peace and Joy
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. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character;
and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured
out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:1-5)
Suffering is normally not a cause for rejoicing, but as
believers we have a right to rejoice even then because we know that God is
working everything together for the good of those who love Him and are called
according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) "Rejoice in the Lord
always," Paul said. "I will say it again. Rejoice!" (Phil
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. (Romans
Notice how it says, "Christ died for the ungodly," and,
"While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Paul didn't say,
"Because you're worthy" or even, "If you become worthy,"
but simply, "Christ died for the ungodly … while we were still
sinners." Jesus died for us all, irrespective of our merit or worthiness,
whether we accept it or not. How will those who've done so justify rejecting
such a gift?
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. (Romans 5:9-11)
Saved from God's wrath. There's that word "from" again. It first
showed up in 1 Thes. 1:10 where Paul says we're rescued "from"
the coming wrath. The Greek word is "apo". It denotes departure and
separation, as the separation of a part from the whole, putting distance
between them, both of place and of time. It's used 671 times in the New
Testament and overwhelmingly means "from" or "out of".
Before the coming wrath, those who are saved will be separated from those who
aren't. Separated by distance and time. That means we won't be here when it
happens. We've been justified (rendered righteous), we've been reconciled
(returned to favor), and we've been saved (rescued from danger or destruction).
Praise the Lord!
Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man,
and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all
sinned— for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not
taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the
time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking
a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. (Romans
There was only one commandment in Adam's time, and he broke
it. This brought death and allowed sin to enter the world. Even though the
commandments were not yet given, and therefore sin was not being measured, sin
was now in the world and all men sinned, so all men died.
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the
trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came
by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the
gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed
one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and
brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned
through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant
provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the
one man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:15-17)
Though all men die because of one man's sin, the Lord's death does much more
than simply restore man to life. Immeasurable blessings will accrue to those
who receive God's gift of grace, both in this life and the next.
Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all
men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that
brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man
the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the
many will be made righteous.
The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin
increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death,
so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through
Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5: 18-21)
Adam's single trespass wound up condemning all men. Then the Law was given
to show us just how sinful we really are. But our Lord's death brought a gift
of grace sufficient to cover all our sins and endow us with a righteousness
that’s equal to God's own, qualifying us for eternal life with Him. (2 Cor.
Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that
grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any
longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through
baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead
through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly
also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was
crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we
should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been freed
from sin. (Romans 6:1-7)
This gift of grace is not a license to sin. Quite the contrary, we've been
freed from the bondage of sin. We can now choose to live a life pleasing to
God, no longer slaves but free. As we sank beneath the baptismal waters our old
selves died, and as we rose again we became a new creation with new potential
and new possibilities. The old has gone, and the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17)
Not will come, but has come. In the Lord's eyes we're now as righteous as He
is with the power to live the life He's always dreamed we'd live. A life that
brings glory to Him and peace to us.
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again;
death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once
for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ
Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its
evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of
wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought
from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of
righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under
law, but under grace. (Romans 6:8-14)
Only believers truly have this power of choice in their lives. Since we've
been freed from bondage we can choose to live a life that unbelievers could
never hope for, and we can do it without any fear of failure, aspiring to its
highest levels, knowing that His grace is sufficient when we fall. No matter
how big a disaster yesterday was, with each morning comes a new beginning,
filled with promise.
Slaves to Righteousness
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but
under grace? By no means! Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to
someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether
you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to
righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin,
you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You
have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves.
Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to
ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness
leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the
control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the
things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you
have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap
leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is
death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Dylan song goes, "It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but
you're gonna have to serve someone." We can serve the god of this world
who offers only death as a reward, or we can choose to serve the God of Life
and receive an eternal portion of His abundance. Those are our only choices.
The unbeliever looks back on his worldly life and longs for another chance,
because he knows he's gotten all he's ever going to get. The believer looks
forward to eternal life because he knows that the best is yet to come. Selah.