January 31, 2022
When I started to read Romans I was not sure how to talk about it. As I prayed, I was reminded of a mission trip to Nicaragua. I was blessed to be a part of a medical team that went to villages in Nicaragua and helped with medical care and medical education. We were teaching about prevention of disease through good hygiene such as hand washing, brushing teeth, etc. After the teachings, many of the village leaders told us they were not able to carry out these practices because they lived on a river, and the water was filthy. They used this water for bathing, toileting, cooking and more. As you can see above, the water on the right was similar to the river water the people used to drink, cook, and bath. There were chunks of dirt and grotesque items floating around. It also carried much disease.
A few months later we raised enough money and were able to take a water filtration system to different households in a village. When they used the filtration system, the water went from the dirty water on the right to the pure, clean water on the left. What a difference.
This is what the gospel or Good News of Jesus Christ does for us. We start out like the water in the glass on the right; dirty. In Romans 1 and 2 Paul discuss this at length. In Romans 1:18-32 Paul talks about the sin of the Gentile (non-Jew), and in Romans 2:1-3:8 he talks about the sin of the Jew. He summarizes it by saying in Romans 3:9-10 “What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written, There is no one righteous, not even one.” Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
So how do we get the dirty water clean in ourselves? What is our water filter? It is believing Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins, and rose from the dead and is sitting at the right of God in heaven. Romans 5:6-8 says “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Do you understand that? We do not have to be good before believing in Christ. He died for us while we were sinners. It is the faith in Christ that is the water filter for our lives. Once we have faith, or belief in Christ, we are then justified (Romans 3:24). Justified means that when we believe in Christ, God cancels the guilt of the person’s sin and credits righteousness to him. Remember from last week that righteousness is meeting God’s divine standard and being declared to stand in a right relationship with God (Ladd). You see, we don’t meet God’s standard by what we do. As Paul said in Romans 1 through 3, no one person is righteous. We are born sinners. Our right standing with a Holy God can only happen because of what Jesus did on the cross and our faith in Him. Romans 5:1says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”
Once we have faith in Christ, and are justified, we have eternal life with Christ. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus or Lord.”
Thus, eternal life with Christ is a free gift. But, just like any gift, you must accept the gift. You do this through faith in Him. What an amazing God we have. This free gift from Christ is know as “grace.” The definition of grace according to Christianity.com is that “God is willing to forgive us and bless us, despite the fact that we fall short of living righteously.” I like what Philip Yancey says about grace, “Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more…And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less.”
Once we have faith in Christ, we choose to serve the Spirit and not our sinful nature. Romans 7:5-6 says, “For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”
But Paul also discusses honestly the struggle with his sinful nature, even after having faith in Christ. In Romans 7:14-20 Paul says, “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 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.[c] 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.”
If Paul is struggling with this, where is the hope for any of us? Romans 8:1-2 shows us the hope, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you[a] free from the law of sin and death.”
There is also hope in Romans 8:31-39 says, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Thus, we all are dirty like the glass of water. Even when the water looks clean, there can be bacteria in it. We can all get clean through faith in Christ and what he did on the cross as a free gift. This is our water filter. Once we do this, we are living for the Spirit. However, there is still a struggle with our sin nature. Even with this struggle, we have hope because our salvation is not dependent on how good we are but our faith in Christ. And this is guaranteed because if we truly believe, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Our glass of water is clean no matter what, and it stays that way. We have right standing with God.
Which glass of water would you like? God offers you the clean glass of water as a free gift through Christ Jesus. Won’t you accept?
Next week we will be reading Romans 9-16. Blessings to you all.