I never liked Romans much… All the talk about law & grace, flesh and spirit, new but still fighting the old… I kind of would just skip over for books I could identify with more, like Psalms. I understood David’s passion and desire to please God. I knew what it was like to hunger for the presence of God and what it was like to mess up. Romans was weird to me.
It wasn’t until a couple years ago that my eyes were opened to the truth that Paul was revealing in Romans…. It knocked my socks off, and it all suddenly made perfect sense!!
“For while as a result of one man’s sin death by natural consequence became the common lot of men, it was by the generosity of God, the free giving of the grace of one man Jesus Christ, that the love of God overflowed for the benefit of all men…..We see, then, that as one act of sin exposed the whole race of men to God’s judgment and condemnation, so one act of perfect righteousness presents all men freely acquitted in the sight of God.” ~ Romans 5: 15&18
ALL men freely acquitted? We were declared righteous because of his act of righteousness? I knew I was forgiven, but I didn’t feel righteous. For me, righteousness was in my distant future when I died and went to heaven. I read that I was free in Christ, but I still felt like God was keeping track of my actions to review with me when I passed through the pearly gates… on a big screen for all to see. I thought he looked at me through rose-colored glasses, loving me despite my sin. I didn’t know my sin (and the sins of the WHOLE WORLD) had been destroyed long ago!
I TOTALLY missed the whole part about us dying with Christ! I knew Jesus died for my sin… I just didn’t know my old sinful, law-following (and often law-breaking) person died with him!!
” Let us never forget that our old selves died with him on the cross that the tyranny of sin over us might be broken—for a dead man can safely be said to be immune to the power of sin.” ~ Romans 6
Immune to the power of sin? I didn’t feel immune… I felt like I was always fighting my selfish, unloving nature. I longed to be more loving and kind. I despised my pride and my apathy. No wonder I was confused, I thought Paul felt the same way I did! How many Christians read Romans 7:15-23 and think that Paul is justifying a life-long struggle with sin?
” I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.”
“Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Why was I not taught this truth in Sunday school? Our sinful natures died with Christ! HOLY COW!! This changes everything! We are not just “sinners saved by grace!” We are righteous and holy, completely new in Christ! He has set us free to be who we were always designed to be…. reflections of Him! We were created for intimacy with God and each other, to love and be loved. We were never made to live under the law, but to be completely free from worrying about sin and death. The cross made this possible! Our actions no longer define us! HE defines us! We have been joined with Christ and hidden in Him! All those who put their trust in Him can experience abundant, eternal, glorious LIFE… not sometime in the future when our mortal bodies wear out, but NOW!
I will never again condemn myself, because I know he does not condemn me! He has given me the faith to believe, and I thankfully accept it, entering into his rest. This is the easy yoke Jesus spoke of – a life joined with Him, clothed in Him, and powered by Him. My actions do not define me. HE defines me. My actions are simply the fruit of who I know I am.
We are ALL found in Him! Every one of us has been joined with Christ through his death on the cross and adopted into God’s family.
“Praise be to God for giving us through Christ every possible spiritual benefit as citizens of Heaven! For consider what he has done—before the foundation of the world he chose us to become, in Christ, his holy and blameless children living within his constant care. He planned, in his purpose of love, that we should be adopted as his own children through Jesus Christ—that we might learn to praise that glorious generosity of his which has made us welcome in the everlasting love he bears towards the Son.” Ephesians 1:3-6 (JB Phillips)
That’s Good News, my friends. We are chosen, adopted, and welcome in his everlasting love. No outsiders and insiders or clean and unclean… We’re all in the same boat. I love Romans! The Bible makes a lot more sense when you filter it all through the goodness of God and through the cross. If what you’re reading does not make you feel more peace and more joy, you probably are not understanding it correctly! Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the Word to you…. It’s his pleasure!