It is my contention that Romans is all about the righteousness of God and how we can attain it.
Man, by default, tries to attain it by works. If they mess with the Bible, they attempt to get it by doing works of the law. It doesn’t work; the meticulous history of Israel in the OT shows this.
Yet many continue to try it. It is by faith that we are made right with God. This is not some mental game, but an actual reality. Believers are crucified, buried, and raised up with Christ.
We are indwelt with the Holy Spirit who leads us into righteousness. Anyone who claims to be righteous must do righteousness. Not only is this common sense, it’s also biblical.
In order to get to heaven we must do good as a way of life, according to Romans 2:7 and 13.
In our hasty effort to defend faith and grace, many have gone loopy when it comes to works and doing good. Take Scofield’s Notes on Romans 2 for instance, “In vv. 7 and 13 the cases are hypothetical.”
Scofield doesn’t think Paul means what he’s saying in Romans 2:7 and 13. That seems dangerous for Paul to mess with this like that. Seems to me Paul meant what he said.
The answer is not to run out and try to do good and keep the law. No, the answer is to come to Christ by faith, be made the righteousness of God, and fulfill the righteousness of the law by walking in the Spirit.
Romans explains to us the dilemma of righteousness–how a righteous God can declare unrighteous people to be righteous and also how people who are filled with unrighteousness can ultimately do what is right.
It’s the power of the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. What a Gospel and what a book!
Romans 12 begins beautifully:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Since we are alive to Christ and dead to sin, since we have the Spirit and we are the sons of God, since we are currently mortifying, killing off, the deeds of the flesh, see yourself as a living sacrifice.
We are not living for our fleshly desires, no, we are living for our Savior Jesus Christ. We owe the flesh nothing. The Gospel doesn’t just remove sin, it replaces sin with righteousness and holiness.
Romans 12-16 is Paul’s practical advice for what to do with the power of the Gospel that has made you new. This is what salvation-life looks like. This is what the life of Christ in you does.
We know what the world does, it’s all around us, fashioning and shaping us. We need our minds retaught and renewed. Doing what God wants is not natural; therefore, we must be retaught.
Paul gives great advice including a signoff that mentions a number of people who are doing what God wants.
In the end, Paul wraps up Romans where he started—the purpose of his ministry—to make the Gospel known for the obedience of faith among all nations.
Faith always results in obedience. The only way to obey in true righteousness is to by faith die with Christ and be raised up to new life in the Spirit. It’s the message of Romans–the righteousness of God is all yours by faith.
David Wilkerson died yesterday. He wrote The Cross and the Switchblade and was a preacher for over 50 years. I don’t know much about him, but here are two things I do recall.
His one appearance on this blog was a tad critical, imagine that. I can’t go with him in some doctrinal areas, but the guy had impact.
The other thing I recalled was a sermon he preached about anguish. I thought it was very good, which inspired me to listen to other stuff he said, which led me to understand that I can’t go with him in all doctrinal areas.
How Wilkerson stands before matters none at all, but he has now stood before God to get his true reward.
These chapters have often been referred to as a parenthesis, some people can’t figure out why they are even included. This is mainly because of the idea that Romans is about grace, not righteousness. If it’s about grace, these chapters seem oddly placed.
If it’s about righteousness, they make total sense. Romans 9 explains Israel’s national struggle described in the individual in Romans 7. Israel wanted to do good, they just couldn’t. They couldn’t because they tried to do it themselves not by faith in Jesus Christ.
Romans 9:31-32 is the main point of this section—
“But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone”
Israel sought God’s righteousness by works of the Law rather than by faith. Thus they never attained to the righteousness of the Law. Some Gentiles did because they sought it by faith.
These three chapters explain for us the failure of Israel, which should be a lesson for us so we don’t do the same stupid thing they did—revert from faith and back to fleshly works of supposed righteousness in exchange for the faithful works of true righteousness.
Israel was cut off, take heed lest ye be cut off by doing the same dumb mistake.
One would think a man would turn to faith early, but the problem with faith is that it’s humiliating! Israel refused to submit to the righteousness of God and instead went about to get their own.
We feel better seeing our tangible works of perceived righteousness than doing the humble work of obedient faith. Don’t fall like Israel.
There is much debate over Romans 7. I won’t go into the points of debate; I’ll just tell you what it’s about! You can thank me later.
Chapter 7 begins with “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?”
The main point of Romans 7 is a misunderstanding of how to go about doing this good that is required to get eternal life. Jews are traditionally predisposed to achieve it by the Law.
Jews are Paul’s main point here in Romans 7—his brothers who know the law. The law has dominion as long as you’re alive. BUT REMEMBER! Romans 6 says we’re dead because we’re identified with Christ’s crucifixion by faith!
So I’m no longer under the law’s sway. Romans 7 begins with an illustration of marriage—if a wife’s hubby dies she‘s free to marry another. Since we’re dead to the law, be married to Christ.
So now there’s a tug between the fleshly desire to achieve righteousness by following the external law of Moses and the internal law of God written in the heart that the mind wants to follow.
The law is good; we are not. The law tells us what good is, but we can’t find it in us to do it. We are wretched men indeed, thank God Christ delivers us! Now I can do the true intent of the law, not by the flesh’s power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Law gives me no power to do the law. The law is weak that way. BUT “the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
By the Spirit I can fulfill the law. By the Spirit I can mortify the deeds of the flesh and live. Those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God. In other words—by patient continuance in well doing we get eternal life!
This well doing is only possible by the Spirit of God, who is only received by faith in Jesus Christ. The flesh is dead, the Spirit is life. Live it!
Any possible linkage in some headlines for today?
—54% of Egyptians want to see the 32-year old peace treaty with Israel scrapped.
–62% of Egyptians believe laws in their country should strictly follow the teachings of the Quran.
In related news, 10-year old opera singer, Jackie Evancho, is using her money-making voice to sing to protect seals and calling for a boycott of Canadian food imports, eh.