Vs. 23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Question: So what now? Not only are we forgiven our sins; the Lord has given us the power to overcome our sinful nature! Paul gives us some wonderful insight into learning how to live a Christian walk (vs. 1-14). You’ve heard the adage, “Knowing is half the battle” and this is what Paul is hoping to achieve. He does not want us to be ignorant of what Christ is offering us as new creations. Just as Christ died for our sins, we die of our sinful nature when we trust in the Lord. The more we grow in understanding God’s grace, the more we will not take it for granted. We went from slaves to sin to slaves of righteousness (vs. 11-15). Let’s never forget our identity and purpose!
Regarding application…Being Sanctified. Vs. 4, “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.” The Apostle Paul now begins to teach us a very important aspect of the Christian life: sanctification. Sanctification is the process of becoming holy; like Jesus. When we believe in Jesus and take up the cross; we live a life that reaps holiness (vs. 19-22). When my mom used to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch, we would first make the cookie dough. We would then take the nestle chocolate chips and put them in the dough. Naturally, we needed to mix in the chocolate into the dough. And lastly, we would bake it under extreme heat in the oven to make the dough and chocolate transform into chocolate chip cookies. Likewise, God transform as we mix in all the ingredients (faith in Jesus, Holy Spirit, God’s Word, etc.) The sanctification process is the sort of like the baking process. We are not going to be transformed overnight, it’s a life-long pursuit of remaining in the fire (oven) until takes us out!
Vs. 8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Question: What benefits are there to being justified before God? Often we hear of the struggles and hardships, it’s easy to forget the benefits. In the first section of our passage (vs. 1-11), Paul reminds us of the peace and joy we receive through Jesus. We have direct access to receive a peace even in the midst of living in this sin-filled world. All the crazy stuff in our life can help us to grow and actually produce perseverance, character, and hope! Our highlighted verse (vs. 8) certainly isn’t because of the good things we did. Yet, God saves us from the wrath we deserve. The latter half of our chapter (vs. 12-21) involves Paul contrasting Adam and Jesus. Because of Adam, we all fell under condemnation. If one man could bring condemnation, how much more than can one man bring salvation? The Law revealed our sin, but it was God’s grace (underserved acceptance and love) that increased over sin!
Regarding application…Bad News & Good News. Vs. 20, “The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” Question: Have you ever heard someone say, “I’ve got good news and bad news, which one do you want to hear first?” I think most of us naturally want to save the good news for last. In essence, this is what God did for us. The bad news came first; sin entered the world. It seemed like a hopeless situation. But, the Good News (Gospel) superseded the bad news and it’s effect has transformed the lives of all who choose to believe in it! I want to encourage us to remember God’s abundant grace (vs. 17). Lord willing, if I have a daughter, I want to name her the Eunhye (meaning “Grace” in Korean). It was grace that set me free from the wayward life of sin! What wonderful news we have to remember both in our personal life and in the lives of others whom we share it with!
Vs. 3, “What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Not only did the Jews look to Abraham, but God chose Abraham to be the trailblazer as an example for all of us. Before David and Moses, Abraham’s justification was not by his work, but his faith. While Abraham was obedient to the Lord, it was his faith that would justify him. And most importantly, it was his faith first that brought salvation and works followed. Paul ensures that David is also mentioned by quoting Psalm 32 in light of David’s transgressions (6-8). Even though David had sinned with Bathsheba, he understood that it was his faith in the LORD that brought true salvation. Paul clears up the circumcision issue (vs. 9-12) that many of the Jews held onto. We are all reminded that Abraham came centuries (430 years) before Moses and the Law (vs. 13-17). Though the odds were against the promise of God coming through for Abraham, his faith would endure (vs. 18-25).
Regarding application…Are You Convinced? Vs. 21, “being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” Question: Are there times in which we doubt? God gave Abraham a promise; but it didn’t happen overnight. For many, the law and the implications of it cause people to feel they must somehow achieve things on their own. Sometimes we live by the adage, “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” The Jews assumed obedience to the Law would bring the justification they would need. This is why Paul wrote to passionately to clear up these false assumptions. We can’t bring salvation on our own; whether it is our own lives or the lives of others. Faith in Jesus brings salvation (vs. 23-25). When our hearts are right with God, we will produce good fruit. The challenge for us is to remember what comes first! Faith in the Lord will produce good fruit and live by the promises of God.
Vs. 20, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” Whether Jew or Gentile, we stand before God on equal ground. Yet, Paul spends some time elaborating on the privileges of having God’s word from the Jews perspective (vs. 1-8). Though Israel had a checkered history regarding their faith, God’s faithfulness would endure (vs. 7). Though some may have the tendency to find loophole advantages of thinking sin then is okay; Paul condemns such attitude (vs. 8). There was the danger of thinking more highly than you ought; so Paul would remind all of us that we are sinners (vs. 9-20). Paul quotes several Old Testament passages to give us a broader contextual understanding of sinful inclinations. Though there are privileges to knowing God’s word, none of us are without excuse. Paul makes very clear the Law’s purpose from the above-mentioned verse (vs. 20). No one can live up to the standard of the law. The latter half of our chapter is rich in salvation (soteriology) theology (vs. 21-31). We often talk of the “good news” we receive from the Gospel, and this passage is rich in amazing news! God’s righteousness comes from faith in Jesus Christ. This is all possible because of the cross and resurrection! Being justified is not having the punishment of sin laid upon us; Jesus’ sacrifice does that for us.
Regarding application…Saving Faith. Vs. 22, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference.” Question: What do you put your faith in? Even the atheist has to put their faith in others. When you get on a airplane, you trust the pilot will get you there safely. The author of Hebrews tells us that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1). As believers, we put our faith in the Lord Jesus; this brings us salvation. My encouragement to you today is to remember that saving faith is not just a one-time deal. Faith is an ever-growing aspect of the Christian life. Saving faith is sanctifying faith that takes us on a journey heavenward!
Vs. 1, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” The previous chapter ended on a sour note of sinful actions done when sin increases in our lives. Paul now ensures before we are quick to judge others, we should consider our own lives (vs. 1-3). Sin is sin regardless of our heritage; Jew/Gentile or Christian/non-Christian upbringing. God justice is shown in His actions towards the way we lived our lives (vs. 4-11); not by our identity in this world. The next section of our chapter (vs. 12-24) deals with Paul addressing the Jews and the Law. They had a superiority when it came to the way the practiced the Law. But their attitude only condemned them because many of the Gentiles lived the spirit of the law better than the Jews. However, Paul reminded them as Jesus did that the practice of the law outwardly means nothing if the heart is bad. The last section of our chapter deals with circumcision (vs. 25-29). Circumcision was an outward mark of the covenant given to Abraham. The early church struggled at first whether or not circumcision was a requirement for the Gentile Christians. Though they came to a ruling that it was not, the Jews who became Christians still struggled with this. Paul would aptly remind them that circumcision’s most important aspect was of the heart.
Regarding application…God’s Kindness. Vs. 4, “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” God’s kindness leads us to repentance and salvation. But, often we do not reciprocate God’s kindness. Question: How does that look today? We show contempt to God’s kindness when we take it for granted from God and don’t show it to others. I think it’s a daily reminder to die to ourselves (Philippians 1:21) and remember that we ought think of ourselves lower than others (Philippians 2:3). This is the way to honor God’s kindness in our lives. Thanksgiving and Christmas is a time of year where we recall God’s kindness to us. My church is looking forward to feeding our community a free Thanksgiving lunch next Saturday. What a wonderful reminder of how we the church can honor God’s kindness!
Vs. 7, “To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul’s letter to the Romans has been one of the most profound books in the Bible. It is rich with spiritual truths that can transform our lives. Paul knew his audience well when he called himself a servant (vs. 1), for there were millions of slaves in the Roman Empire. It was important that Paul introduce himself and list out his credentials to the mixture of Jew and Gentile audience (vs. 1-7, 14-15). Their faith had become known and Paul wanted to encourage them by letting them know he was thankful and prayerful towards them (vs. 8-10). He longed to visit Rome, but had not yet been able to (vs. 11-13). It was Paul’s intention to make clear the Gospel truth and show he was not ashamed of its power (vs. 14-17). God’s wrath doesn’t come to an innocent people and so Paul will spend up until chapter the first half of chapter 3 expounding on this. In order to understand God’s good news, we must also have a clear understanding of the bad news. God has revealed Himself to us, but the wickedness of many hearts turned from Him (vs. 18-25). This would result in sinful immorality that is not easy to be mindful of (vs. 26-32).
Regarding application…Without Excuse. Vs. 20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” We are without excuse. God has revealed Himself through His creation (general/natural revelation) and through His Son (special revelation). The truth is laid out for all to see, but many selfishly turn from God. He has planted the knowledge of Him in all of His creation. It is important to note that Paul is zeroing in on the Gentile audience here in this second half or our chapter. Though all of us knew God (vs. 21), we chose in the wickedness of our own hearts to turn away from Him; before we put our faith in Jesus. We should not be ashamed to share the truth of sin to a world that needs to be saved.
Rome was the center of the Roman Empire and an amazing city! It is widely believed that Paul wrote this letter to Rome on his third missionary journey while he was in Corinth. Though Paul did not plant the church in Rome, his influence certainly had shaped it. The Gospel had reached Rome, but there were many young Christians. Paul wrote this letter to encourage and expound upon deeper knowledge of the Lord. There were both Gentile and Jewish Christians in Rome, but they were predominately Gentile. As we read Romans, you will see quite an emphasis on a very clear understanding of the Gospel! The book of Romans is a wonderful foundation in growing in our faith and sharing a clear message of the Gospel to others!
Vs. 1, “Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.” Question: Why is God angry? Why is census a bad thing? There is a parallel passage in I Chronicles 21:1, “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.” It was God’s permissive will that allowed the enemy to incite David to follow through with a census (vs. 1-9). It’s interesting to note that Joab understood that such a census was not something David should do. Taking a census was what pagan kings did to show off their power and might. David was to be a different king. Question: What would make David the anointed one different from the rest? David on his own realizes the prideful sin and confesses it unto the Lord (vs. 10). Gad the prophet comes bearing an ominous message for the consequences that would come from the sinful census (vs. 11-14). Gad presents David with the three choices of consequences. In an interesting choice, David chooses plagues from God for he realizes that the wise choice was to put the consequence directly under the providence of God. The plague would destroy seventy thousand people; what a catastrophic event (vs. 15-17)! David’s heart is broken and he asks that the consequences fall directly to him. David building an alter (vs. 18-25) and paying the price reveals to the reader that David is the ideal king, though not perfect. The kings that would follow David would not be able to live up to his example, until the true King Jesus comes to fulfill the Davidic covenant.
Regarding application…Cost of Sacrifice. Vs. 24, “But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” Araunah wanted to please David by offering his threshing floor so that David could build an alter to the LORD. However, David would not hear of it. He understood something that cuts to our hearts today; there is a cost to sacrifice. I think of Cain’s sacrifice not costing him enough (Genesis 4). I think of the Pharisee’s prayer vs. the tax collector (Luke 18). Certainly, God’s sacrifice of His son and Jesus’ obedience was a cost that can never be rivaled. We cannot pay the debt. But, we can choose to make sacrifice real by giving devoting things in our lives (finances, time, prayer, relationships, etc.). Let’s be people who are doers of the faith we profess!
Vs. 1, “These are the last words of David: “The oracle of David son of Jesse, the oracle of the man exalted by the Most High, the man anointed by the God of Jacob, Israel’s singer of songs:” Though this was not literally the last words David spoke (vs. 1-7), this would represent His legacy and the future fulfillment of the covenant God made to David and his offspring. We are living out such benefits because Jesus was a part of that Davidic covenant fulfilled. The last section of our chapter focuses on something that piques my interest: David’s soldiers’ exploits (vs. 8-39). This is an account of David’s mighty men who helped David take and keep the throne. This is in essence a soldier’s Hall of Fame. Josheb-Basshebeth, Eleazar, and Shammah were David’s top three warriors (vs. 8-12). Abishai and chief warriors, and the first verses tell of their exploits (vv. 8–12). The water story (vs. 13-17), gives us insight why David had such powerful warriors so devoted to him! The last section highlights Abishai and Benaiah and then lists the rest of the warriors (vs. 18-39). How interesting that Joab is not mentioned in this list.
Regarding application…Honoring Others. Vs. 17, “Far be it from me, O LORD, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it.” David’s elite three warriors had just endangered their lives to bring the fresh water that David had longed for. David could have selfishly drunk the water. But something clicked in his head; these men are a huge part of why I am here. Certainly, it was the LORD who was sovereign over all the victories (vs. 12). However, David was able to see through his own power and give props to those who helped along the way. This list of honored soldier’s was sort of like our Veteran’s Day (US) we just celebrated this past Monday. There are many others who have paved the way for us to be where we are today. Not just our literal soldiers, but also our fellow brothers and sisters (Christian soldiers) who have helped fight the good fight. Take time to thank the Lord for them and honor them in your life.
Vs. 51, “He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever.” The books of Samuel began with a song (I Samuel 2) from Hannah, and now ends with a song from David. David probably composed this song earlier in his reign and it is nearly the same as Psalm 18. King David was an emotional man and has much to teach us about the healthiness of expressing ourselves. David experienced rejection and near death, but he also experienced adulation and joy. This song of David gives us fascinating insight to the understanding of how God works through His covenant promises. David reminds us that God is the rock (common word used for God, which connotes stability and foundation) that provides salvation. There is no ambiguity; the God of David is the most powerful God and true God. You might be curious as to David’s statements (vs. 21-24) concerning his perfection. This is not a declaration of living a sinless life, rather the integrity of David’s heart.
Regarding application…Seeking Support. Vs. 19, “They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support.” Question: When times get tough, whom do you turn to? While God does provide people in our life we can count on for support, it is the Lord whom we should first seek out. It is an obvious answer and one that any good Christian would agree with. But the challenge for David as well as us was to ensure that we are living out the truth. The church is a wonderful gift from God. Our family is a wonderful gift from God. Our friends are a wonderful gift from God. They are all sources that we turn to when we need support. But the one constant in our lives that will never forsake us or leave us is the Lord our God. I thank God for people who have my back, but I must never replace them with God. That is why this blog site exists to remind all of us our dependence upon the Lord! Question: What aspect of your life do you need to lean on for support from the Lord?