Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Romans 5

    After a week away from this series, I'm back for Romans 5 tonight! I had a bit of a crazy weekend, and I'm about to have another crazy one, so pardon my probable sporatic posting!

    Romans 5 continues the strain of discussion on justification. This chapter is beautiful because while the previous four have made the arguments for why you need the justification and what this justification is, this chapter finally begins telling you what the justification does.

    In fact, Paul opens it up with a proclamation of what it does in v. 1-2, where he says, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God." After having our debt paid and our standing with God clarified, the idea is now that we have peace with God. The wrath of God for sin is satisfied, and we are henceforth free from His anger and instead ushered into His grace.

    Interestingly, our justification provides the means to be introduced into this grace, implying that what begins at justification is only scratching the surface of the incredible grace and mercy shown to us. Jesus Christ simply introduces us to His grace through the justification. His grace doesn't stop there!

    V. 3-5 are interesting (I find myself saying that a lot). Paul says that now we rejoice in our sufferings because we know they are working to conform us to Christ. All these attributes which He describes all build us further in Christ image. One of the really cool things is if you look at what all these attributes boil down to (you're following a chain; A leads to B which leads to C which leads to D and so on) hope. Hope in what?

    When we look at any book of the Bible through Jesus-centered eyes, we see the Bible constantly returning back to Him. I believe that's what we're looking at here. The Bible simply is returning back to Jesus. So, after our justification through Jesus, we learn all these things, right? And what do they do? They inspire us to place our confidence and trust back in Jesus, right where we started! We're back to trusting Jesus. I wonder how much sweeter our relationship with Jesus would be if we simply learned that we can trust Him!

    V. 6-11 give some really cool statements. First of all, the Bible describes us as helpless when Jesus died for us. We were not able to save ourselves. We were not able to follow Christ on our own. We were helpless in sin, dead. But Jesus shows His incredible love not by dying for friends, but enemies!

    I have to admit, this seems crazy. Personally, I have no desire to die for enemies. Our natural bent is to destroy enemies, not go out of our way and suffer to save them! This is the love of Christ. Sometimes we get this entitled attitude of, "How could God do anything but save me? He would be unjust if He didn't!"

    Never fall prey to that kind of thinking! God didn't die for you cause you were a really swell guy; He died for a rebel, His murderer. He died for His enemies. And, uncomfortable though it may be, this is the kind of love we too are called to show to others. Yes, those annoying people who mosey across the street in front of you in the parking lot. Yes, the rude, hateful people of the world. Yes, the people who you'd rather run over with a truck sometimes than sit and chat with. Yes, those people, those are the people we are called to love!

     Because of this love, we now have peace with God. Now we are reconciled. Now we are justified. Now we are redeemed and adopted. We now can (v. 11) "exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation."

    V. 12-14 begins another dissertation on sin, speaking of our symbolic fall in Adam. Just as sin entered the world through Adam, and death came all with it as a part of the all-inclusive curse of sin, so the curse is removed through one man, Jesus Christ! Just as the Fall of man was done before I was born and in which I had no say at all, so Jesus' Christ death and the offer of reconciliation is done without my say and blessing! In fact, as a rebel in sin, I would remain forever so except for the Holy Spirit's drawing of me to accept the reconciliation.

    Because of Adam's sin and our fall with him (v. 14), we are slaves to sin. Every one of us. We are born depraved, by nature against God and contrary to Him. We are born, as we discussed in previous chapters, without the desire to follow God because of our innate nature to sin.

    But, because of the gift in v. 15, we are made free. God's grace is completely unlike Adam's fall, because it accomplishes the opposite. While Adam's fall brought death, Jesus' death brought us life. While Adam brought us sin, Jesus brought righteousness. While Adam made us slaves, Jesus made us free. While Adam introduced shame and guilt, Jesus introduced grace and peace. Through Jesus, the curse of sin is lifted on His redeemed.

    V. 16-19 shows us the difference. The curse of sin came about by one sin, one little sin, just one. That one sin condemned the human race to death. And through Jesus Christ's one act of love on the cross, we are given access to life. Jesus once again is undoing the results of the Fall for those who He draws to Himself and those who humble themselves before Him, accepting His grace.

    V. 20 has a special place on this blog, since it the verse from which the blog title came from. "And Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more." Think about that. The Law's whole purpose was to prove our sin, so that we would have no ability to deny it. It was never intended to save a single soul, only to show our failure.

    But, when our failure becomes obvious, then God's grace becomes all the more when it covers our failures. Where sin abounded, grace abounded more. Where sin was great, grace was greater. Where sin was strong, grace was stronger! The power of God's grace is stronger than the power of sin. God's favor and His gifts will always be stronger and will always over-power the Devil.

    Finally, v. 21 sums up the beauty of the justification. As sin reigned on earth in our old bodies, so grace and righteousness are given to reign in our lives through the power of Jesus Christ. The old has gone and the new has come. Jesus Christ has come to replace sin, to become sin, in order to make us righteous.

    He didn't become figurative sin. He became literal sin, in order that He might give us literal righteousness, that we might become literally righteous. If that's not grace, I don't know what is. And if that's not cause to rejoice, I don't know what is! We, the sinful murderers of the Son of God, are given His righteousness and our penalty is taken, our very evil nature destroyed, by the "reckless, raging fury, that they call the love of God" as Rich Mullins called it. I love that line, because it so accurately sums up God's love. It's not tame, it's not calm, God's desire and passion for us was strong enough to drive Him to the cross. That's love.


  1. Thank you so much, Taylor, you have totally shed a different light on Romans. You're giving the whole book a unity I hadn't seen before. So thank you!

    1. I'm so glad, Lauren! It's really cool when a book begins taking shape in your mind and you start understanding it better. I'm happy to be able to help!