Vs. 1, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Question: What does it look like to live a Christian life? First, Paul makes is very clear that even the way we think and feel (vs. 1-4) should be different now that we have put to death our old sinful nature (vs. 3). Even though our sinful nature is now dead, we must also ensure that we put to death the way we also used to live (vs. 5-9). I like how Paul reminds us that it is not about our culture that defines our identity (vs. 11). Paul then continues on to share the way we should now live as new creations (vs. 12-17). It is not a coincidence that we are exhorted additionally to ensure we are living as good examples of the faith to the people that we live with (vs. 18-25). It’s important to understand that Paul was not advocating slavery, as much as he was instructing how one should respond in their life situation (vs. 22-25). Whether your were a slave or a slave-master, there is a appropriate way to respond. It is the Lord who is in control (vs. 24).
Regarding application…Why Forgive Others? Vs. 13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” We forgive because Jesus forgave us. Before Jesus shared the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18), Peter came and asked Jesus how much he should forgive someone. Three times was customary, so for Peter to suggest to forgive up to seven times was showing certain godly grace. Yet, we are reminded the importance of why we must forgive. Question: Are you forgiving others? Is there any bitterness in your heart towards anyone? Certainly people have hurt us in our lives. Let us extend forgiveness as Christ forgave us. Yet, if a person has no desire to ask for forgiveness, than it would be hard to extend it. In the end, we should be seeking to ask for forgiveness as well as extend forgiveness in the relationships we have here on earth. Remember, generally there are two sides to as story so if there is a dispute, we should consider what we may have done to hurt the other party too.
Vs. 16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” The first half of our chapter, we see Paul warmly greet the fellow Christians in Rome (vs. 1-17). It is noteworthy to mention how Paul viewed himself (vs. 1)…a servant. Having taken Greek last semester, servant is δοῦλος which also has this understanding of a slave. Much like Paul, our lives do not belong to us and we were bought at a price (I Cor. 6:20, 7:23). As the original audience received this letter, remember, there was a mixture of both Jew and Gentile. Paul means to make it crystal clear that the Gospel is meant for all (vs. 16). The warm fuzzy feelings of the first half of the letter change to Paul having to share a reality none of us like to think about: Sin. Phrases like wrath of God, godlessness, wickedness are not nice things to think about (vs. 18). But in order to talk about the salvation message of the Gospel, Paul needed to ensure we understand the thing that can separate us from God. The second half of this chapter through first half of chapter 3, Paul presents to us this matter of sin and how it can affect our lives.
Regarding application…Live By Faith. Vs. 17, “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Question: What is the opposite of righteousness? Wickedness. If we take an honest look into our own hearts, what will we see (vs. 28-32)? Paul comes to us needing to share the “Good News – Gospel” and the “Bad News – Sin”. In the midst of seeing sin for what it is, it is important to remember that God is just in all He does. This righteousness from God reveals His goodness and grace. There is a theological term called “Natural Revelation”, which means that God reveals himself in nature. Basically, even though we may not have the Bible in front of us all of our lives, 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). The challenge for us today is are we living by faith? As a Christian, we are new creation (II Cor. 5:17)…so it is very important to remember not to revert back to our old sinful ways. Question: How are you living today? By faith or by sight? (II Cor. 5:7)
Vs. 2, “In visions of God he took me to the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain, on whose south side were some buildings that looked like a city.” Question: When will this vision be fulfilled? At the time of this vision, Jerusalem and the temple Solomon had built had sadly already been destroyed. While another temple was built about 57 years after this vision of Ezekiel, the temple that we see here is the temple that has yet to be built! This time is referring to the temple that will be built in the Millennium (the 1000 year when Jesus will reign on earth!) While the measurements don’t mean too much to us, they would have brought much joy to those who would hear a new glorious temple would be built! These measurements are increased too. Question: What about the sacrifices? Some interpret this as more of a symbolic meaning, others look at it like the church practice of communion…but it won’t have the same purpose at the Old Testament practices.
Regarding application…Tell the World. Vs. 4, “The man said to me, “Son of man, look with your eyes and hear with your ears and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for that is why you have been brought here. Tell the house of Israel everything you see.” Just as Ezekiel was to tell others what he saw and heard, we too are to tell the world! Question: What are you waiting for? Put yourself in Ezekiel’s place! Imagine…You were a part of a church that had an incredible church sanctuary! It was the pride and joy of your church. Suddenly, we are invaded by another country who destroys all the churches and takes Christians as captives. Wouldn’t it be exciting if God gave you a vision of a new promise and a more beautiful church?!?! I’m sure Ezekiel would have been very excited to share this vision. Likewise, we have God’s visions and prophecies of our future written in the Bible (God’s living Word). Let’s be excited to tell the world of the hope we have…especially with the Christmas season soon approaching!
Vs. 4, “On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals.” In the spirit of the Marines…Hoo rah~~~ There’s trouble for the enemy when God starts talking smack! Basically, God is telling the enemy…You’re going down, don’t mess with my people! I love it! Though Israel is a small nation, even in our present day…they are known for the military strength. It’s sort of like David vs. Goliath! There’s some pretty graphic scenes, but God is not in the business of sugar coating things. We then see a transition into God’s faithfulness to His people, despite their turning away from Him. Something that Ezekiel and those who lived in that time would be able to understand because of their captivity in Babylon.
Regarding application…When God Speaks. Vs. 8, “It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign Lord. This is the day I have spoken of.” Don’t make any mistake brothers & sisters…such things will happen! Recently, an NBA player, Ron Artest who recently changed his official name to “Metta World Peace”, guaranteed that if the NBA season came to fruition for the 2011/2012 season, the Lakers would win the championship. Opposing teams love posting such fodder on their walls to help motivate them. And in ways…that what the enemy does too. God has put His guarantee of victory and the enemy is doing whatever he can to foil our faith in God. But when God speaks…it would be wise to listen with faith! Praise God that all of this will sooner than we realize!