The Good News And The Bad News
Part II (Chapters 5 – 12)
Specific Analysis Of Salvation (Expository Study of Romans 1-6)
The Compelling Power Of God's Love
During the last four chapters in Part I of this book, we have engaged ourselves in a general survey of Salvation, in what might be called a topical overview of salvation. It is now time to engage ourselves in a specific analysis of Salvation, in what might be called a Biblical exposition of salvation. To understand the plan of God's salvation for lost mankind, there is no better book in the Bible to study than the Book of Romans. During the next several weeks, it is our plan to study carefully the first six chapters of Romans, in an attempt to understand God's wonderful plan of salvation, as revealed in Jesus Christ.
The Book of Romans is God's book of Love, and it was written by one who experienced God's love firsthand. Paul, the writer of Romans, met Christ as he was travelling to Damascus where he intended to intensify his campaign of persecution against the early Christians. God struck down Paul with a bright light from heaven and Paul became a captive to Jesus Christ. The one-time persecutor of the Gospel now became the all-out promoter of the Gospel! Paul became a slave of Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:1) God chose him to be a missionary to the Gentile world. Paul's vision was to take the Good News of Christ to every Gentile city in the Roman Empire. Paul felt that he owed a great debt to all men everywhere. Paul felt indebted to God's love, and the only way he felt he could discharge his debt of love was to spread the Good News of God's salvation to everyone in the world–the Gentile as well as the Jew, the barbarian as well as the civilized, the uneducated as well as the educated. (Romans 1:14)
The compulsion of love drove Paul from city to city to organize one church after another. As someone said, Paul was "always haunted by the regions beyond". Paul was on fire with the love of God. To share the Good News of God's love with everyone was Paul's passion and dream.
There are two characters upon the stage of Romans, chapter one: God and Man. The first half of Romans 1 is focused on God's character: (1) God's love, (2) God's mercy, (3) God's justice and holiness. The second half of Romans 1 unmasks the character of man and shows man's sinfulness in all of it's vivid reality.
God's love and mercy are extended to everyone everywhere. God desires all men to accept His offer of mercy and, as a result, be saved. It is only when one suppresses the truth of God and spurns the offer of mercy that he will reap the just judgement of God.
"O God, you chose not only to save me, but to use me! I am saved from sin–negatively wonderful! I am saved to serve–positively wonderful! The love of God compels me to share, and love always finds a way! Glory!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: A bell is not a bell until you ring it; love is not love until you share it!
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Good News — Promised, Provided, Proven!
The Good News of God was promised to the prophets in the Old Testament. "This Good News was promised long ago by God's prophets in the Old Testament." (Romans 1:2, Living Bible) The prophets often spoke about judgement of sin, the 'Day of the Lord'–the day of wrath and destruction. But interspersed in these judgement announcements are declarations of hope and restoration. A future day of God's miraculous deliverance through the promised Messiah is focused on–a day of forgiveness, peace, reconciliation, and the universal reign of God. Occasionally even the narrow confines of Jewish nationalism are broken, and the message of God's salvation for the Gentiles is proclaimed!
The Good News of God was provided in the coming of Jesus. The Good News (Gospel) is centered in the Incarnation (the act of God becoming a man in the person of Jesus Christ). Paul declares, "It is the Good News about his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who came as a human baby, born into King David's royal family line". (Romans 1:3, Living Bible) If there had been no visitation by God, there would have been no redemption of man. One great thinker in the early Church said, "He (God) became what we are, to make us what he is". The source of the Good News is Jesus–God in human flesh–really and truly man, and really and truly God. Jesus is not a demi-god, half god and half man. He is fully God and fully Man. His sacrificial life, substitutionary death, and powerful resurrection provide the basis for the Good News.
The Good News of God is proven in the resurrection of Jesus. "By being raised from the dead he was proved to be the mighty Son of God, with the holy nature of God himself." (Romans 1:4, Living Bible) If Jesus had not risen from the dead, there would be no 'Good News'. Why? Because death would have had the final word, and would have proven to be stronger than life. To put faith in a crucified Jesus alone, is to put faith in a great hero, but a hero powerless to deliver one from the clutches of sin and death. The Gospel is powerful because of the powerful resurrection. God had to raise His Son to life to show that the sinless Son of God could not be overcome by the sinful sons of the devil. The resurrection is the badge of Christ's authority to establish His long predicted Messianic Kingdom in the hearts and lives of people. The resurrection validates God's claim of power to change human nature, for the power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power that is available to transform and to cleanse corrupt human nature.
"O God, what was promised by the prophets, provided by the Son, and proven by the Resurrection, help me to appropriate for my personal salvation. The Good News is only good for me personally when I accept it!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Good views are man's fashionable opinions; Good News is God's factual offer! I choose to believe God's facts, not man's opinions!
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The Good News Is Poured Out On Undeserving Sinners!
We are in the process of unmasking the characters of God and Man, as revealed in Romans, chapter one.
We have seen that God has taken the great initiative to save sinning humanity. (Romans 1:1-4) The Good News was promised to the Prophets (verse 2), provided in Jesus' life and death (verse 3), and proven in Jesus' resurrection (verse 4).
But not only does God initiate the plan, He also invites the sinner to receive the plan, personally (Romans 1:5-17). The Good News is poured out on undeserving sinners (verse 5a), promoted among receptive sinners (verses 5b-9), perfected among growing saints ( verses 10-12), and personified in the Apostle's life (verse 13-16).
God not only initiates, invites, but God also evaluates (verses 18-32). God evaluates each person's response to the Gospel invitation. The last half of Romans 1 shows us that God reveals His wrath against God-rejectors. Why? Because all men are without excuse! God's character is unmistakably revealed to mankind. Therefore, man's rejection is justifiably condemned, and God's punishment will be progressively executed!
We must now look at each of these carefully outlined truths regarding God's Good News.
God's Good News (described as the kindness of God in Romans 1:5 a) is poured out upon undeserving sinners. "And now, through Christ, all the kindness of God has been poured out upon us undeserving sinners." (verse 5a, Living Bible) There is nothing in mankind that merits God's attention or that deserves God's favor. Man is a sinner both by nature and by choice.
God's kindness is inherent to God's nature. God is reconciled with all of humanity regardless of man's moral condition. He loves all men unconditionally. It is not that God has overlooked sin or that he treats sin indulgently. It is that God has turned His wrath against sin upon Himself and taken the penalty of sin upon Himself upon the Cross. God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself through the Cross. It was God dying upon the Cross, and dying for all sinners. He bore our sins in His own body upon the Cross. The Cross appeased the wrath of God and satisfied the justice of God. Because of the Cross, God can both be just in His nature and at the same time justify the sinner. Because of the substitutionary death of Jesus, God can pour out His kindness and unlimited love upon undeserving sinners!
"O God, what more can you do than what you have done! You have initiated the plan of salvation, invited the sinner to receive salvation, and are ready to give the gift of salvation to all who ask! I gladly ask and joyfully receive! Glory to God!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God's wonderful salvation is given, in order that woeful sinners (like me) might become worshipping saints!
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Good News Promoted Among Receptive Sinners!
The Good News (described as the mercies of God in Romans 1: 5b-9 Romans 1:5-9) is promoted among receptive sinners. It is promoted in three ways: (1) promoted through participation in God's mercies personally (verses 5b-7), (2) promoted through partnership in God's mercies promotionally (verse 8), (3) promoted through prayer for God's mercies practically (verse 9).
God has poured out His undeserving kindness and love upon all humanity. God's love is indiscriminately and universally poured out upon the world of men. God's intention is that all men be the recipients of this poured out love. God wants every man to receive this love.
However, although this love is given universally, this love is not automatically received universally. The love that is poured out is the love that must be promoted.
Paul later writes in Romans 10: "Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved. But how shall they ask him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? (Romans 10:13-14, Living Bible)
The message of God's kindness, mercy, and forgiveness is meant for all, but only those who hear the message, and believe the message, can enjoy the benefits of the message. Therefore the message must be spread by messengers. God's love that is poured out upon all undeserving sinners, must be promoted among all receptive sinners.
Romans 1:5b-7 (Romans 1:5-7) tells us that the Good News is promoted through participation in God's mercies personally. Both Paul and the Roman Christians to whom he is writing had personally experienced the love of God in conversion. They had appropriated the benefits of Christ's shed blood. They were experiencing peace with God and the peace of God. Paul testifies that he was going around the world of his day telling all people everywhere about the great things God had done for him, so that others could also believe and obey Christ (verse 5). Paul's dear friends in Rome were al so recipients of God's love, mercy, and peace, and were among God's holy people (verses 6-7). They were able to promote God's love because they had first experienced God's love and forgiveness.
How is it possible for a professor of religion to promote the Gospel if that professor is not a genuine possessor of the love of God?
"How can one promote what he does not possess? How can one sell what he does not use? There can be no powerful promotion without personal participation. O God, make my experience of Christ firsthand, not secondhand. Then I can promote authentically!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: There can be no 'doing' if there is not 'being' first! I will minister to others out of the overflow of my personal life in Christ!
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Born To Reproduce
We have noted that God's Good News is promoted through participation in God's mercies personally (Romans 1:5b-7 Romans 1:5-7). Further, God's Good News is promoted through partnership in God's mercies promotionally (verse 8).
Writes Paul to the beloved Church at Rome, "Let me say first of all that wherever I go I hear you being talked about! For your faith in God is becoming known around the world. How I thank God through Jesus Christ for this good report, and for each one of you". (Romans 1:8, Living Bible) The Good News is best promoted by the united Church–united in love and partners together in spreading the message of mercy to the unreached. Christians are born to reproduce. The faith of the Church at Rome was becoming known around the world. Others were being born into the Kingdom through their witness. So should it be in our Churches today! Vital sharing is the answer to growth!
The story is told of a great camp meeting, at which place God's Spirit was poured out in great measure, especially on the last night. Shouting, singing, and praying went on until the early hours of the morning. The next day Camp was over and many happy hearts boarded a chartered bus to take them home. All on the bus were rejoicing" and praising God together. When these happy people got home, one of the leaders of the group suddenly went into a dark and dismal depression. He couldn't pray and he seemed to have lost all of the blessing of those happy camp meeting days. He couldn't understand his 'dry' spiritual condition in contrast to his over-whelming blessing at Camp. He agonized with the Lord in prayer. Finally the Lord revealed the reason for his depression. The Lord said something like this to the spiritual leader: "You greatly enjoyed My blessing, but you were so preoccupied with your own spiritual happiness and with the blessed fellowship you were having with other believers, that you forgot to share the Good News with that unconverted bus driver who drove you home from camp. While you were so happy, he was so miserable, and he could not understand the reason for your happiness. You can only be blessed when you are sharing the Good News with the unhappy and sin-sick!"
The Good News is promoted through prayer for God's mercies practically (verse 9). Prayer for the practical needs of the witnessing believers helped provide stability and solidarity in the lives of the disciples. Through prayer, Paul made disciples who could become disciplers. It is still true that the Gospel can best be promoted through the practice of discipleship multiplication rather than mere conversion addition.
"O God, Thou art the source of all love. The world of needy people is the object of your great love. Make me the channel of your love. Let your love flow from You to them through me! Thank you!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: God will give me as much as I am willing to give away, and no more. I must learn to give away my faith!
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Good News Perfected Among Growing Saints
We are looking at God's Good News as described in the first half of Romans 1. We have thus far seen that God's Good News (described as Kindness) is poured out upon undeserving sinners (verse 5a). Also we have seen God's Good News (described as God's Mercies ) is promoted among receptive sinners (verses 5b-9). We must now see that God's Good News (described as Faith in God) is perfected among growing saints (verses 7, 10-12).
'Saints'–an interesting title to apply to brand new Christians! The youngest believer is called, by God, a 'saint'! A young child about to enter first grade is called a 'scholar'. He is given that title and that status, not because of present scholastic attainments, but because of faith in his future potential. The youngest believer enjoys the status of 'saint', but he must go through the long school of prayer, discipline, and growth before he fully enjoys the attainments of sainthood. The young child may be called a scholar, but he will experience years of intellectual growth before he is actually a scholar. So with the young Christian. He is declared a 'saint' in a moment of time, but it will take a lifetime of growth before he becomes 'saintly'.
Paul writes, "And one of the things I keep on praying for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you and, if possible, that I will have a safe trip. For I long to visit you so that I can impart to you the faith that will help your church grow strong in the Lord. Then, too, I need your help, for I want not only to share my faith with you, but to be encouraged by yours; each of us will be a blessing to the other". (Romans 1:10-12, Living Bible)
Paul was vitally concerned that every young Christian become perfected. What is the source of Christian growth? Paul wanted to visit these young Christians in order that he might impart that faith to them which would enable their church to grow. Faith then is the source of growth. 'Faith' or proposition truth, is communicated by preaching (telling the basics about the coming of Jesus) and by teaching (telling the details of the faith regarding the Lordship of Christ in daily living). Another source of growth which Paul focuses on is the 'inspiration of sharing'. Mutal encouragement derived from one another's faith is a great impetus to Christian growth. Paul, the great saint, wanted to be cheered up in his faith, as young Christians at Rome shared their faith with him.
"O God, Thou art the Author and Completer of my faith. Thou art the Ground of my being, the Source of my life. Thou wilt complete what you have begun in my life. Your goal for me is total Christlikeness. I follow on!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: He who chooses to call me a 'saint' will work in me to make me saintly–in actions, attitudes, and relationships!
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Good News Personified In Paul's Life!
The Good News is poured out on undeserving sinners, promoted among receptive sinners, perfected among growing saints, and finally, personified in Paul's life.
First, note the compulsion of the Gospel in Paul's life. "I want you to know, dear brothers, that I planned to come many times before (but was prevented) so that I could work among you and see good results, just as I have among the other Gentile churches. For I owe a great debt to you and to everyone else, both to civilized people and uncivilized alike; yes, to the educated and uneducated alike." (Romans 1:13-14, Living Bible)
Second, note the proclamation of the Gospel in Paul's life. "So, to the fullest extent of my ability, I am ready to come also to you in Rome to preach God's Good News." (Romans 1:15, Living Bible)
Third, note the power of the Gospel, demonstrated dramatically in Paul's life. "For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is God's powerful method of bringing all who believe it to heaven. This message was preached first to the Jews alone, but now everyone is invited to come to God in this same way." (Romans 1:16, Living Bible) Paul was fascinated with the Gospel. He believed that all nations could be saved through its power (verse 5). None were too sinful to be transformed by its wonder-working power! Paul felt that if he could be saved, then anyone could be saved! Many times Paul recalled his former life when he cruelly persecuted the Christians: "And I persecuted the Christians, hounding them to death, binding and delivering both men and women to prison". (Acts 22:4) Paul, the passionate persecutor, became Paul, the passionate preacher. He preached with confidence that Christ could save anyone! "How true it is, and how I long that everyone should know it, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–and I was the greatest of them all." (1 Timothy 1:15, Living Bible) If Christ can save the chief sinner, He can save any other sinner! That is the power of the Gospel in operation!
Fourth, note Paul's description of the Gospel. "This Good News tells us that God makes us ready for heaven–makes us right in God's sight–when we put our faith and trust in Christ to save us. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scripture says it, 'The man who finds life will find it through trusting God'." (Romans 1:17, Living Bible) The Gospel is Good News because all can be saved simply by putting trust in Jesus Christ! God is not willing that any should perish, but that all repent and be saved. Have you been saved?
"Is there any power in heaven or on earth which can transform human nature? None whatever, excepting your Gospel, O Christ! If your Gospel can change Paul the persecutor into Paul the preacher, that same Gospel can change even me!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: B.C. stands for my life 'Before Christ'; A.D. stands for my life 'After Christ'. The transforming Christ makes all the difference in my life!
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Manifestation Of God's Justice
God has taken the initiative to save man by sending Jesus to live a sacrificial life, to die a substitutionary death, and to provide power through a victorious resurrection.
God has poured out his mercy upon all mankind. The message of salvation is promoted through the lives and words of earnest believers. The way of salvation is made plain for all. All can be saved through simple trust in Christ.
God loves all and wants to save all. But how does God respond to those who refuse the offer of mercy and forgiveness, made possible only through the agonizing death of His only Son?
The love of God and the mercy of God must always be seen in light of the justice of God.
Romans 1:18 says, "But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, evil men who push away the truth from them". (Living Bible) The first half of Romans 1 is filled with brightness and hope! The last half of Romans 1 is filled with darkness and judgement! Why? Simply because, if people refuse God's love and mercy, then people must be inflicted with God's judgement. God's justice is compatible with God's love. Love is one coin. Mercy is on one side of the coin. Wrath is on the other side of the coin. To refuse God's mercy is to invite God's wrath! There is no neutral ground, no razor edge of non-committal upon which man may balance precariously. Every man must choose either mercy or wrath! Either an individual responds to the call of love or he must accept the call to judgement! The God who sooths is the God who a1 so can sear, and both actions are the actions of the holy love!
Evil men who push away the Truth from them or suppress the truth by their wickedness, incite the wrath of God. This is a deliberate act of the will, a deliberate choosing of wrong instead of right, a deliberate choosing of darkness rather than light, a deliberate choosing of Self rather than the Saviour!
The last half of Romans 1 describes the meaning of God's justice: (1) God's character is unmistakably revealed (verses 19-20), (2) Man's rejection of God is justifiably condemned (verses 20b-25), (3) God's punishment of man is progressively executed (verses 21-32).
The offer of mercy is extended to you! Will you accept that mercy, repent, and be saved or will you reject that mercy, suppress the Truth and be lost? Come to Jesus now and be saved! The Good News is for you!
"O God, to refuse your love is to accept your wrath! To accept your mercy is to receive your forgiveness! Now and forever, I choose to accept your mercy. I am saved from present condemnation and from future wrath! Glory!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: There are both lines of love and lines of wrath in God's holy face. I choose only the lines of love!
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Unmasking The Character Of Man
To understand the message of Romans is to understand the dynamic relationships between God, Man, Sin, and Jesus Christ.
Romans 1 reveals the character of God: (1) God's mercy, (2) God's love, (3) God's holy justice.
Romans 1 unmasks the character of man and shows man's sinfulness in all of it's vivid reality. In this important chapter we see the unmasking of the rebel nature of man's sinful heart, the unmasking of the gross nature of man's sinful actions, and also the unmasking of the judgement of God invoked by man's wrong moral choice.
First, notice the unmasking of the rebel nature of man's sinful heart. Romans 1 makes it clear that all humanity in the beginning knew about the one true and living God. Monotheism (worship of one God) was before polytheism (worship of many gods).
Social evolutionary theory teaches that man began with worship of many gods and late in his evolutionary development man conceived of worshipping only one God. Evolution teaches that man was inferior to begin with and that man has increasingly become perfected–morally, socially, and even physically.
However, the Bible teaches that man started with perfect knowledge and worship of the one true God, but that mankind has increasingly degenerated morally, socially, and even physically. This degeneration is reflected in gross immorality and cruel idolatrous practices.
"It is not that they do not know the truth about God; indeed he has made it quite plain to them. For since the beginning of the world the invisible attributes of God, e.g. his eternal power and deity, have been plainly discernible through things which he has made and which are commonly seen and known, thus leaving these men without a rag of excuse." (Romans 1:19-20, Phillips)
Man takes honor to himself rather than giving honor properly to God. Man refuses gratefully to thank God for His benefits and blessings. "They knew all the time that there is a God, yet they refused to acknowledge him as such or to thank him for what he is or does." (Romans 1:21 a, Phillips)
Sin must be seen for what it is–a tragic rebellion against the self-revealed God. Sin is willful rejection of the knowledge and truth of God. To unmask the character of man is to reveal the rebel nature of man's sinful heart. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately corrupt; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9 RSV)
"Your revelation is both tremendous and terrible! You have revealed the perfection of God, the problem of man, and the provision of the Saviour! I, O God, am sinful–that part of revelation is terrible, but because your Son is saving, your total revelation is tremendous!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: 'Inevitable progress' (social evolutionary theory); is man's unfounded opinion; 'dramatic transformation' (divine revelation) is God's proven fact!
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1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Unmasking Sin's Perversions
In yesterday's devotional we looked at the rebel nature of man's sinful heart, as revealed by God. We must now look at the gross nature of man's sinful actions, as outlined in the latter half of Romans 1. Only when man realizes that he is a great sinner is he ready to receive Christ as a great Saviour!
We must see sin in terms of perversion–physical, mental, spiritual, and social perversion.
First, look at sin's physical perversion. Romans describes this as the shameful misuse of the body sexually. Romans 1: 24 b says that sinful mankind "dishonor their own bodies between themselves". "Their women turned against God's natural plan for them and indulged in sex sin with each other. And the men, instead of having a normal sex relationship with women, burned with lust for each other, men doing shameful things with other men and, as a result, getting paid within their own souls with the penalty they so richly deserved." (Romans 1:26-27, Living Bible)
Homosexuality and other sexual perversions are clearly condemned in Scripture, regardless of the liberal teachings of some modern-day clergymen and social reformers. Such a practice is not only a physical perversion, but it reflects a moral degeneration.
Homosexual tendencies as well as overt homosexual practices doubtless reflect serious and complex personality problems that call for sympathetic treatment. But, while Christian compassion is called for in such treatment, Christian tolerance and acceptance of the practice is never called for. Perversion must never be normalized in the name of Christian tolerance and broadmindedness. Sexual perversion, however it my be psychologically and sociologically explained, is always a manifestation of spiritual degeneration. The Christ who condemns such perversion is the Christ who can forgive and deliver the captive of such a practice.
Sin always pays its own penalty. People who defy the laws of God get "paid within their own souls with the penalty they so richly deserve" (verse 27). Not only is homosexual practices condemned, but any sexual perversion is both condemned and costly in terms of consequences. Notes Howard Hoffman, MD., "Today's sexual permissiveness has paralleled a marked increase in all forms of venereal disease. There are more cases of syphilis and gonorrhea each year than the combined number of all other reportable communicable diseases." (Pamphlet on VD, published by Light and Life Press)
"O God, you are everything I wish to be–whole, holy, healthy, and righteous! My body is made for you, not for sin's perversion! I exchange all my perversions for your wonderful purity!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: "The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body." (I Corinthians 6:13)
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The Way Of The Transgressor Is Hard!
In our attempt honestly to unmask man's sinful nature and practices, as revealed in Romans 1:18-32, we are describing sin's perversions.
Secondly, look at sin's mental perversion. It is a great mental perversion when men exchange the truth of God for a lie! Romans 1:25 says that sinful humanity chooses to believe lies rather than the Truth of God! "Instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God, they deliberately chose to believe lies." Today there is a torrent of false doctrines and false teachers. Another evidence of spiritual degeneration!
Third, look at sin's spiritual perversion. Men serve creation rather than the Creator! When man rejects the Creator, man, who is incurably religious, begins to serve the creation! "And then, instead of worshipping the glorious, ever-living God, they took wood and stone and made idols for themselves, carving them to look like mere birds and animals and snakes and puny men… So they prayed to the things God made, but wouldn't obey the blessed God who made these things." (Romans 1:23, Romans 1:25 b, Living Bible)
Many today are worshipping the things God has made, refusing to bow their knees to the God who made these things. For instance, God made money to be used to serve His kingdom, but man instead is worshipping money. Many worship the god of Materialism. God made sex to be enjoyed and used within marriage for procreation and recreation, but man has made a god out of sex. Many worship the god of Sensualism. God enabled man to discover and use the scientific method to create untold blessings and to give mankind unlimited conveniences, but man has bowed to the 'sacred cow' of science. Many worship the god of Scientism. Worshipping creation rather than worshipping the Creator–this is evidence of man's spiritual perversion.
Fourth, look at sin's social perversion. Romans describes this as total breakdown of all peaceful human relationships. Romans 1:29-31 gives a long catalogue of social sins, describing sinful man's social degeneration! "Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness and sin, of greed and hate, envy, murder, fighting, lying, bitterness, and gossip. They were backbiters, haters of God, insolent, proud braggerts, always thinking of new ways of sinning and continually being disobedient to their parents. They tried to misunderstand, broke their promises , and were heartless–without pity." (Romans 1:29-31, Living Bible)
Is it any wonder that the Bible says that the way of the transgressor is hard?
"O God, I see now that there is a high cost in not serving you. To go against you is to go against myself. To honor you is to honor myself. I choose to serve you and to honor myself!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The way of holiness is the way of happiness and health! I will distain sin and delight in righteousness!
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Sowing And Reaping — A Spiritual Law
Thus far in our study of Romans 1:18-32, we have unmasked the rebel nature of man's sinful heart and the gross nature of man's sinful actions. We must now unmask the judgement of God invoked by man's wrong moral choice. Romans 1 shows the tragic consequences of wrong moral choices. Every man is free to do only one thing–to make choices. "We are free to choose, but not free to choose the results or consequences of our choices. They are in hands not our own. Some go through life choosing to surrender to the right person and to submit to the right things–they get results; the sum total of reality is behind them, they have cosmic backing for their way of life. But some go through life surrendering to the wrong persons and submitting to the wrong things–they get consequences; they are up against reality, they are frustrated, in trouble, with themselves and others."(Victory Through Surrender, LS. Jones, p. 124-125)
Whatever a man sows, that is what he shall reap! Wrote the great psychologist, William James, "The hell to be endured hereafter of which theology tells, is no worse than the hell we make for ourselves in this world by habitually fashioning our characters in the wrong way". (quoted in Conversion, E.S. Jones, p. 33)
The high cost of not serving Christ is vividly described in Scripture. If one "sows the wind", he will "reap the whirlwind". (Hosea 8:7) No one can really break the moral law of God; one can only defy that moral law, and in the process, get broken morally.
The brilliant 19th century actor, Oscar Wilde, who won highest academic honors, fell to the temptation of unnatural vice, and finally came to prison and disgrace. In spite of his brilliance and literary fame, he sowed seeds of sin and eventually reaped a harvest of shame. He wrote, "I grew careless of the lives of others. I took pleasure where it pleased me, and passed on. I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes the character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber, one has some day to cry aloud from the house-top. I ceased to be lord over myself. I was no longer the captain of my soul, and did not know it. I allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace". (Victory Through Surrender, E.S. Jones, p. 13)
Sow righteousness and reap results. Sow tears of repentance and reap the joy of salvation. Sow righteousness and reap mercy. Sow total surrender to Christ and reap lifetime fulfillment. Sow love and reap love. Choose Christ as your God and you will get glorious results for time and for eternity.
"O God, I see now that when I serve you I get some heaven here and a lot of heaven hereafter. The heaven I make for myself on earth will be multiplied infinitely in eternity! When I serve Self, I get some hell here and a lot of hell hereafter. I choose to be a double winner, not a double loser!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: Every little action of this day either helps make or unmake my character for eternity! I will live carefully!
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Genesis 6:5-8, Isaiah 1:16-20
Sin Is Irrational!
Romans 1 reveals a progression downward in sin's judgement. First, there is a distorted mind. Refusal of God first results "in man's mind being emptied of God's knowledge and filled instead with darkness and irrational thoughts. Romans 1:21 b says, "Their thoughts have become complete nonsense and their empty minds are filled with darkness". (Today's English Version) The Jerusalem Bible translation of this verse is: "They made nonsense out of logic and their empty minds were darkened". One of sin's own judgements is a distorted, irrational mind. Think of the irrationality of man's modern-day philosophies.
How irrational is Secularism which claims that temporal values are all important, and that spiritual values are non-existent or at least unimportant!
How irrational is Materialism which says that life consists in the abundance of things which a man possesses!
How irrational is Sensualism which says that the gratification of man's physical desires is all-important!
How irrational is Humanism which says that man is innately good and the object of worship and adoration! 'Glory to man "in the highest'!
How irrational is religious Liberalism which denies the deity of Jesus, denies the virgin birth, denies the need for Jesus' vicarious atonement. Man is his own savior!
How irrational is Moral Relativism which denies the reality of any objective or absolute moral standards by which to determine right or wrong! Each man becomes a law unto himself! Every man does that which is right in his own eyes! Every man becomes his own judge in matters of moral decisions!
The mental distortions of modern-day philosophies reveal the fact that sin has taken its toll! Evil imaginations and evil systems of thought are manifestations of an evil heart. "Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done" (Romans 1:28, New Living Translation)
Second, there are misplaced values. Refusal of God next results in man's preoccupation with his own worldly wisdom, which is foolishness to God. "Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools." (Romans 1:22, New Living Translation) "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God." (1 Corinthians 3:19-20)
"O God, there are ways that seem so right to unconverted men, but the end of those ways is death! Don't let anyone capture me with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. (Colossians 2:8, New Living Translation)
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The way of reason is the way of God. Honest reasoning leads me to the feet of Jesus!
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Sin Pays Wages!
We are looking at the progression downward in sin's judgement. Third, there is a God-allowed moral abandonment. Refusal of God eventually results in God lifting His restraints to allow man to do his own wicked thing! One of the most frightening words of judgement in all of Holy Writ is Romans 1:24. "So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other's bodies." (Romans 1:24, New Living Translation)
Fourth, there is sin-inflicted moral damage. Refusal of God then results in sin bringing its own hurtful judgement to the mind and body of the unrepentant. "Whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap." And the reaping is in this life as well as in the life hereafter. Sin pays wages, now and in eternity! The way of the transgressor is hard! The sinner gets paid within his own soul with the penalty that he so richly deserves. (Romans 1:27, Living Bible)
Fifth, there is finally God-sent death. Continued and persistent rejection of God finally results in eternal death for the sinner. We have seen that sin's judgement is progressive. The mind first becomes distorted by rejecting God's revealed knowledge and truth. Error is entertained and true values are replaced with false values. False values then lead one into a life of immoral practice. The man who persists in sin becomes calloused in his conscience, insensitive to spiritual danger, and devastating in his evil influence. "They know what God's verdict is; that those who behave like this deserve to die–and yet they do it; and what is worse, encourage others to do the same." (Romans 1:32, Jerusalem Bible)
God will eventually execute the death penalty upon all unrepentant and calloused sinners! Sin brings its own judgement in sin's divesting work on the body, mind, and spirit. Added to the this judgement will be the direct and final judgement of Almighty God on rebellious mankind.
Is there any hope for man? None, independent of God! The dark picture of man's perverted nature is matched by the bright picture of God's Good News! Man the hopeless sinner can become Man the hopeful saint! A bad man can become a good man! The hell-bound can become the heaven-bound! The perverted can become the purified! Have you trusted Christ to save you from your sins? If not, why not? To persist in unbelief is to reap judgement! To exercise faith in Christ is to reap eternal life! Come to Christ now!
"O God, sin pays wages. Sin gives the sinner what he deserves–death. But you, merciful Father, give gifts. You give the repentant person not what he deserves–eternal life! I gladly accept what you offer, not what I deserve!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: He who refuses to repent because of the judgements of sin in the body, must someday reap the judgements of the Saviour in the soul! I will repent in time, in order to be saved in eternity!
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Luke 18:9-14, Isaiah 64:6
'Down-And-Out' And 'Up-And-Out' Sinners!
Romans, chapters 1-3, is written primarily to contrast the righteousness of God's character with the sinfulness of man's character. The universality of sin among all humanity is the devastating conclusion of these three chapters.
In chapter one of Romans "Paul had painted a grim and terrible picture of the heathen world, a world which was under the condemnation of God. With every word of that condemnation the Jew thoroughly agreed. But he never for a moment dreamed that he was under alike condemnation. He thought that he occupied a privileged position. God might be the judge of the heathen, but he was the special protector of the Jews. Here Paul is pointing out forcibly to the Jew that he is just as much a sinner as the Gentile is and that when he is condemning the Gentile he is condemning himself. He will be judged, not on his racial heritage, but by the kind of life that he lives", (Barclay's Romans, Daily Study Bible, p. 41)
Chapter one is a description of 'down-and-out' Gentile sinners, morally perverted and grossly immoral. Chapter two is a description of self-righteous, hypocritical Jews who prided themselves in their racial descent, and claimed God's special favor because Abraham was the father of their faith.
The Jews' claim to moral excellence and spiritual eliteness is vividly described in Romans 2:17-20. "You call yourself a Jew; you rely on the law and brag about your relationship to God; you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, alight for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth ." (NIV)
Chapter one and chapter two of Romans reveal two sides of one coin. The 'coin' is sin. One side of the 'coin' is the life of sensuality. The other side of the 'coin' is the life of self-righteous morality. Both ways of life are condemned by God. Neither the down-and-out sinner nor the up-and-out sinner can gain God's approval. Both the sins of the flesh and the sins of the spirit bring God's judgement. Irreligious passion and religious hypocrisy both bring God's severe judgement. Sinful actions and sinful attitudes are alike condemned. The sensual sins and the sophisticated sins alike are scrutinized. Neither the life of paganism nor the life of religion can gain God's approval. The repulsive life of sensual perversion and the respectable life of self-righteous morality are equally offensive to the all-holy God, and both ways of life lead to the same eternal destination!
"O God, forgive me for secretly thinking that my own 'righteousness' in some way makes me more acceptable to you. I exchange the filthy rags of my own self-righteous for the pure garments of thy holiness and righteousness!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: The worst enemy of Christ-centered Christianity is self-centered religion!
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"God Has No Grandchildren — Only Children!"
There are two major flaws in attempting to gain God's approval by a life of outward morality.
First, the man of self-righteous morality is shallow in his understanding of the nature of sin. He can easily condemn the immoral behavior of 'out-and-out' sinners. Adultery, stealing, cheating, murder, and other such actions are easily and rightly condemned. But the man of morality finds it difficult to diagnose the universal disease of all mankind–the disease of self-centeredness. "The thing that is deeply wrong with human nature is not that some people commit adultery, and some steal, but that all of us are self-centered–the decent and the indecent, the nice and the nasty. Manners, polish, refinement, and culture only cover the disease, like rouge on the face of a woman dying of anemia. They can't affect the deadly disease underneath," (Questions People Ask About Religion, William Sangster, p. 58)
The second flaw in the man of self-righteous morality is his hypocrisy. Of the self-righteous Jews, God says, "You are just as bad (as the Gentiles). When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are talking about yourselves, for you do these very same things… God will punish the Jews for sinning because they have his written laws, but don't obey them. They know what is right, but don't do it. After all, salvation is not given to those who know what to do, unless they do it", (Romans 2:12-15, Living Bible)
At the time of my conversion, I was an 'up-and-out' sinner. I was living a morally respectable life, with no noticeable 'bad' habits, and attending Church services three times a week. I read the Bible, memorized Bible verses, 'said' prayers, and performed my share of 'good deeds'. I believed that because I was a fifth generation Free Methodist, I was morally acceptable to God and that God would automatically let me go to heaven. I, like the morally upright Jews described in Romans, felt that God favored me. I reasoned that because I didn't indulge in grossly immoral sins, that surely I was acceptable enough to God! The day came, however, when I realized that God has no 'grandchildren', only children. A second-hand experience of God, through my godly mother, would never suffice! I needed personally to repent of my sins–my sinful attitudes, my pride, my self-righteous claims, my dependence upon morality alone to save me. I realized that 'up-and-out' (religious) sinners needed God just as much as 'down-and-out' (irreligious) sinners. One kind of sinner can go to hell as quickly as the other kind!
"O God, I see from your Word that it is not the circumstances of my birth that make the difference; it is the crisis of my spiritual rebirth that determines my destiny for time and eternity!"
AFFIRMATION FOR THE DAY: He who is born once, dies twice–in time and in eternity! He who is born twice–physically and spiritually–dies only once in time!
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Discussion Questions On 'The Good News And The Bad News'
According to Romans 1:14, what was the scope of Paul's preaching? What was Paul's passion and dream, according to Romans 1:15?
According to Romans 1:2, to whom was the Good News of God's salvation promised? According to Romans 1:3, through whom is God's salvation provided? According to Romans 1:4, what event proved that Jesus alone is the Instrument of God's salvation?
Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "If there had been no visitation by God, there would have been no redemption of man".
What is the motivation for God to pour out His kindness upon mankind? (Romans 1:5)
If God's love has been poured out indiscriminately and universally upon the world of men, why are not all persons enjoying God's love and salvation?
Is it possible (according to Romans 1:5-7) for one to promote God's love and salvation among others if he has not first personally experienced God's love and forgiveness? (Is first-hand experience of God imperative if one is to be a witness for God?)
Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "God will give me as much as I am willing to give away, and no more; God will continue to pour out His blessing upon me only as long as I make myself available to God as a channel of blessings to others".
Tell what is meant by the phrase: "The Gospel message can best be promoted through the practice of 'discipleship multiplication' rather than mere 'conversion addition'.
What place does the practice of prayer have in the promotion of the Gospel among believers (note Romans 1:9-10)?
How (according to Romans 1:10-12) is 'faith' and 'the inspiration of sharing' each a great impetus to Christian growth amidst the fellowship of God's people?
What is involved in the process of a new believer (who is called a 'saint') actually attaining the reality of sainthood as a mature believer?
What can you say, according to Romans 1:13-17, about the compulsion of the Gospel, the proclamation of the Gospel, the power of the Gospel, and the description of the Gospel?
What will persons reap if they spurn the mercy of God? What is the relationship between the love of God, the mercy of God, and the justice of God? (Note Romans 1:18)
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Discussion Questions On 'The Good News And The Bad News' (continued)
Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The God who sooths is the God who also can sear, and both actions are the actions of holy love!"
What evidence (from a study of Romans 1:19-23) is there that monotheism (worship of one God) was before polytheism (worship of many gods) in the history of the human race? Is the evolutionary theory compatible with the teachings of Romans 1, especially as it relates to man's social and moral development?
How would you describe (according to Romans 1:23-32) the tragedy of sin's affects, in terms of physical, mental, spiritual, and social perversion?
What evidence is there, from an observation of modern-day society, that men are "worshipping creation rather than the Creator" (Romans 1:23, Romans 1:25)?
Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "We are free to choose, but not free to choose the results or consequences of our choices".
One of sin's judgements (according to Romans 1:21) is a distorted, irrational mind. List and describe some of man's modern-day irrational philosophies.
When sinful men continue to rebel against God, what frightful reaction on God's part is possible (according to Romans 1:24)? What is the final judgement of God upon unrepentant persons (Romans 1:32)?
List the five steps downward in sin's judgement, according to Romans 1:21-32.
If chapter one of Romans describes 'down-and-out-sinners' who are morally perverted and grossly immoral, what does chapter two of Romans describe?
Tell why you agree or disagree with the following statement: "The repulsive life of sensual perversion and the respectable life of self-righteous morality are equally offensive to the all-holy God, and both ways of life lead to the same eternal destination!"
There are two major flaws in attempting to gain God's approval by a life of outward morality. Describe those two major flaws.
What is the difference between an 'up-and-out-sinner' and a 'down-and-out-sinner'?
What is meant by the statement: "God has no grandchildren, only children".
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