“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”
Romans 1: 16-17
Romans 1-2 (Psalm 133)
We now move into a focus upon the ‘People of the Kingdom,’ beginning with the book of Romans. I encourage you to first watch the video (click here) to gain an overview of the letter.
Paul begins the letter with the powerful, Good News, of the Gospel which is open to all. The letter’s recipients are living under the menace of Ceaser in a multi-cultural, idol worshipping, promiscuous society. The letter encourages the young Church with the truth of God’s love, power, Spirit and community; a personal visit is desired for mutual encouragement.
The Gospel that Paul outlines (1: 2-6, 16-17, 2: 9-11, 29), is the only answer to the condition of the human heart. Humanity has the knowledge of God within because His truth is plain to see, so there is no excuse. Instead wickedness and godliness abound because humans have chosen to suppress this truth and believe a lie, worshiping created things rather than the creator. This is the root of sin; it is pride, believing we know better than God (1: 18-25).
God then gives us over to our desires which also results in a depraved mind; thinking in a way that is hostile to God as opposed to having the mind of Christ (1: 24, 26, 28). Humanity chooses to live a lie rather than within the truth of God. The results of this choice relate to harmful attitudes and behaviours that war against our souls and fall outside of God’s loving plan for His creation (1: 26-32). All fall under God’s judgement as all will have to give an account before Him (2: 5-16). A judgmental attitude may exist but ultimately all are guilty (2: 1-3). Instead, the letter encourages the readers to understand God’s tolerance, patience and kindness in the Gospel; repentance is called for to receive God’s righteousness and the gift of eternal life (2: 4, 7)
It is easy when reading these chapters to focus in on the matters of sexual immorality and same sex acts, missing the long list of other behaviours. The truth is that Paul teaches, as Jesus does,* that all sexual behaviour outside of marriage is against His will and plan. A further, deeper point is missed with this focus on the symptoms rather than the cause. Choosing to believe that we know better than our creator, ignoring His truth and reality results in God giving us over to our desires and self-rule with all the consequences. Perhaps the worst punishment God can give us is our own way.
Instead, our focus needs to be upon God’s grace in Jesus and His kindness towards us, patiently waiting for us to come to repentance. The power of God awaits a penitent heart in this Gospel, where righteousness and a relationship with God is available by grace through faith.
The Question of Application
What do we believe in life, the truth of God or the lie of self-sufficiency (a belief that we know best)?
Father, there is much to mislead us in life and in our own hearts. By your Spirit help us to see and understand your truth. Reveal the grace of Jesus Christ and enable us to turn to you in repentance and faith and so receive the blessing or your forgiveness and gift of life. In the praise of your Holy Name, Amen.
How Deep the Father’s love for us – Selah
*Jesus taught that all sexual behaviour outside of marriage was against God’s will and plan (the Greek word ‘porneia’ is a catch-all term for sexual behaviour outside of marriage), Mark 7: 20-23. He taught the gift of marriage from God and the gift of celibacy (Matthew 19: 3-12).
This is not a simple subject. Judgement and offence can easily result with careless words and ignorance. Please consider this subject prayerfully and carefully, please speak in grace, truth and love.
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.