The Epistle to the Romans has been the most influential letter that was written by the Apostle Paul. The Spirit of God has used this writing in powerful ways to affect the lives of Christians ever since it was written. In this work, God clearly reveals that there is a new way of dealing with people that have been lost and separated from His love. In this book a righteousness that came from God was revealed to all those that had fallen short of the demands of the law. To all sinners God is revealing a way to salvation that is based on faith in the life and the sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth.
In fact, Paul begins this epistle by telling the Romans that everyone stands in need of this righteousness, even to those who had dedicated their whole life to honoring God's law. The bulk of the first three chapters were written with just such people in mind. To the devout Jew, Paul wrote that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory that God requires. Even the best of us have turned away and followed our own sinful flesh. To those Jews who were humbled by the majesty of God's law, Paul's ideas in this regard were not radical or subversive. Devout Jews knew that the majesty of the law was beyond their ability to consistently achieve. But, what was surprising to them would have been the revelation by Paul that the same mercy and grace that God had always extended to the devout was now being offered to the Gentile by faith apart from the law.
To those of the covenant of Moses it was difficult to believe that God would not require that Gentiles who were to enter into covenant relationship with God would not be brought in under the Law of Moses. Why would God change His relationship to His people at this point in time, after so many years? But Paul reminded them that the promises that God had given Abraham were given before the Law of Moses. The Promise had come before the Covenant of Law. It was this Promise that had been given to Abraham that found its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Abraham had been made righteous by God because of his faith in what the Lord had revealed to him. God was offering to make men righteous once more by the same faith that Abraham had when he was still outside of the covenant of circumcision.
To those who will believe, God offers the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for sin. Though Christ knew no sin, He became sin for us. God raised Jesus from the dead to show by the power of resurrection that His sacrifice was acceptable and sufficient. Having risen from the grave, Jesus now lives an everlasting life that has overcome sin and death. Moreover, the sin of the whole world was sacrificed with Him. Sin was judged at Calvary and was nailed to the cross until it died.
Now God makes a dramatic offer. To anyone who is willing to believe that their old sinful flesh was nailed to the cross with Christ, God offers the power of a new, resurrected life with His Son. If we are willing to die with Christ, we can also now live with Christ a new life that is based on serving God as new creations. God offers us not only forgiveness and reconciliation, but God offers to accept us into His own household. We can become not only children of God but heirs with Christ.
The righteousness and holiness of God are demonstrated by the high price that was paid so that the penalty of sin might be paid. The mercy of God was demonstrated in that He was willing to help those that were unable to help themselves. Indeed, when God chose to help us we were enemies of God. God extended His mercy when we were helpless to help ourselves. The grace of God is demonstrated because not only did God choose to forgive us but He goes beyond forgiveness to grant us complete acceptance and a new life. God does not simply wipe out the debt and leave us powerless. He raises us from the dead and gives us a new life in Christ.
The old life of the flesh is gone. It was crucified with Christ. Now we are raised by the Spirit of God and give the same life within us that raised Christ from the dead. Even while we live, we are empowered by the Spirit of God. The Spirit is given as a down payment on the complete inheritance that is to come. The Spirit is the first fruits of all that God has in store for us.
The Spirit is God Himself living within us. The Spirit is alive, and is the very person and life of God that is always with us. The Spirit guides us into truth about spiritual things. He teaches us and even prays for us when we do not know how we ought to pray. The Spirit raises us up to sit in the heavenly realms with Christ and He grieves with us when we mourn.
Because we have died with Christ and have been raised with Him to live a new life, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The law could not make men righteous, but God sent His Son to accomplish what the law could not accomplish. Jesus Christ sets us free from the law of sin and death. Because we are baptized into Christ in His death, we are raised to His resurrected life. The righteous requirements of God's law are fully met in Christ and because we are part of His body, the law is fully met in us as well. The righteousness of Jesus Christ is given to us as a free gift. It is given to us freely because Jesus was willing to pay the awful price for our freedom on the cross. The love of God is demonstrated because Christ was willing to pay this price while we were still unbelievers and rebels.
Now we are no longer rebels and sinners but we are now precious children of God. We are like branches that have been grafted into a living olive tree. Once we were wild and unproductive. Then God came and cut us out of our old life. Then He grafted us into an old cultivated tree in His orchard. The life of the tree runs through us and we bear much fruit. God is able to graft in all those who desire to live by faith in His Son.
The Law of Moses and the honor and privilege that was extended to the nation of Israel was not in vain. The law is holy and the gifts and the promise of God are irrevocable. Though the nation of Israel is hardened for a time until the full measure of the Gentiles has entered into the kingdom, God is not finished with the children of Israel. There will always be a remnant of the people that will be preserved and God is capable of grafting them back into the tree that He has cultivated.
For today, God requires from us that we walk by faith. We present ourselves before Him as living sacrifices. Our goal is to serve God in humility and obedience. We are to live as free men who have been redeemed from slavery. We are to set aside the things of the past that ensnared us and to live as free men who are guided by the Spirit of God. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds by the Holy Spirit. We are to live lives of quiet submission as we spread the love of God around into the lives of all that He brings us into contact.
Here is the revelation that Paul was seeking to bring to the Christians in Rome. A new righteousness was being offered to all men. It is a righteousness that is based on faith from first to last. It is a righteousness that is offered to all men apart from the law or any other standard of conduct or criteria for qualification. It is the very righteousness of Christ that God offers to all that are willing to give up their old life and enter into a new life with Christ. If we are willing to die and be raised to a new life with Christ, God's gift of righteousness is available to us. If we are willing to sacrifice our lives so that Christ may live, God's righteousness is available to us.
Men and women have reached out and accepted the gift of righteousness that Paul has declared in this epistle. People have believed what Paul revealed to them in these pages and God transformed their lives because of their faith. They have had the faith of Abraham. Even though Abraham was over a hundred years old he continued to believe that God would fulfill His promise. And God did fulfill His promise to Abraham. We are the ultimate fulfillment of it. Abraham has truly become the father of many nations because all those who have had the faith of Abraham are children of that promise made to him.
God has made you a promise too. God has promised to forgive all of the sin that has separated you from Him in the past. God has promised to come and live with you and to cherish you in this life and the next. God has promised that if you will only believe, He will never leave you or forsake you. Throughout the rest of this life and through the life of eternity to come you need never be alone again. God has made you a promise. He has sealed that promise by the Blood of Jesus Christ.
Have you accepted the promise of God in your life? Only the Spirit of God living in you can confirm your acceptance by God and assure you of eternal life. Pray that God will bring the life of the Son into your heart so that you will know the joy of your salvation in Christ. Follow the leading of the Spirit of God in your life. Go where He sends you. Do what He instructs you. God will lead you by the study of His Word and through the prompting of the Spirit. Have faith in God. Have faith only in God and on what He teaches you.
The righteousness of faith is available for you today. Are you willing to take it up and live faithfully to God for the rest of your life? Are you willing to trade all that you are for all that Christ is? Are you willing to leave behind the life of the world and enter the glory of the Body of Christ?
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